I am more inclined to forgive Ross Douthat’s maunderings on Russia than I am Anne Applebaum’s or Zbigniew Brzezinski’s. I would expect that they, at least, should know what the heck they’re talking about. I don’t expect Mr. Douthat, on the other hand, to know anything about Russia but what he reads in the newspapers.
What I’ve been trying to explain to people, both here and at Outside the Beltway, are the realities of dealing with Russia. Let me summarize what I think people should recognize:
- Russia has interests and a foreign policy which are not ipso facto opposed to ours.
- One of those interests is access to its base at Sevastopol which from Russia’s point of view is not negotiable.
- Having hostile countries on its border is a persistent irritant to the Russians.
- The present Ukrainian government is an illiberal kleptocracy.
- If pressed hard enough, Russia will use nuclear weapons.
- The EU is unlikely to impose economic sanctions on Russia with any bite.
I do not support Russia or Putin but Russia is not the Soviet Union and does not present anything remotely like the threat to us that the Soviet Union did. The Soviet Union was not only run by violent thugs, from the 1920s to the 1950s those thugs had dreams of riding to victory on the wings of world revolution and they had some reason to believe that was possible.
Ukraine is not worth risking nuclear war over.
If you want to read something reasonably sensible about the Ukrainian situation this piece by Christopher Booker in the Torygraph is closer to the mark:
The EU knows it is powerless to prevent Mr Putin in due course absorbing Ukraine’s Russian-speaking industrial heartland, leaving the EU to look after what remains of that bankrupt country, like a dismembered corpse. But there is no sign that those impotent nonentities who pose as our leaders have yet realised that their ambition to take over Ukraine must now rank alongside the euro as the two leading examples of how their collective act of make-believe is finally hitting the brick wall of reality.