The basic tension in US foreign policy theorizing is between moralism and realism.Moralism is an idealistic position that urges that we bear any burden in support of liberty. Realism is a far less idealistic position that says we’ll ask ourselves — realistically — how much of a burden we’re willing to bear in support of liberty.
There is virtually no one who is a 100% moralist and virtually no one who is a 100% realist. Virtually everyone is a mix, somewhere on the spectrum between these two poles.
The disputes come not between absolute moralists, who don’t exist in any large numbers, and absolute realists, who likewise don’t exist in large numbers, but between those who urge a more moralistic foreign policy, and those who ure a more realistic one.
Though those urging for more moralism are still informed by realism and those urging realism are still animated by moralism.
It’s a question of degree.
My diagnosis of the foreign policy establishment’s and neocons’ analysis of foreign policy is that they view things through an almost purely moral lens, as if it’s dirty and grubby to even consider pesky little questions like “What realistically can be done to vindicate this moral right? What can reasonably be asked of the American people to vindicate this moral right?”
And I would argue that the foreign policy establishment, and the neocons who dominate the foreign policy establishment’s right-hand wing, are far too devoted to a risibly moralistic concept of foreign policy that results in immoral and perverse outcomes.
Let’s look at the Ukraine.
Ukraine has always been dominated by Russia. Russia colonized it. Russia annexed it. Russia suppressed Ukrainians’ own language as well as its (Christian) church.
I’ve known some Ukranian-Americans, and they were flag-waving patriots of both America and their beloved Ukraine. They loved Reagan, because Reagan understood Soviet evil — an evil Ukranians had been suffering under for their entire lives.
The Ukrainians have long wished for true freedom from the bullying (and worse) of their large, powerful, evil neighbor.
And they have every moral right to that freedom.
The trouble is, while they have every moral right, they do not have the physical might to be totally free of Russia’s domination.
Ukraine, while formally an independent country since it broke away from the Soviet Union in 1991, continued suffering under Russian domination. Technically they were independent — but Russia acted as a cynical colonial power interfering in Ukrainian political decisions and thwarting the will of this long-oppressed people.
In 2013, the so-called Euromaidan Revolution began.
You can read up on that as you like, but the major thrust is that Ukraine wanted to join the EU. They wanted to align themselves with free Europe, and distance themselves from Russian control.
So they kicked out the Russian puppet president of Ukraine.
Russia didn’t like that. And the threat of a Russian invasion loomed.
The EU and the United States had different reactions to the Ukraine’s morally-righteous but politically-provocative actions.
The EU understood that it was a nation of self-interested pacifists who would not under any circumstances do much of anything — apart from issuing communiques and the like — to guarantee the Ukraine’s political independence and territorial integrity. Basically, the EU counselled the Ukraine to go very slow and not upset too many Russian applecarts.
Cowardly? Maybe. But while they could be accused of physical cowardice they can’t be accused of the cowardice of lying to themselves. They knew damn well they would not lift a finger to help Ukraine should Russia invade, and they said so pretty clearly.
So they told Ukraine to not do anything so provocative in declaring their independence from the Russian empire that the Russian empire would reassert its dominance.
They did not lie to themselves about their willingness to fight for Ukraine, and so they did not lie to the Ukraine, either.
On the other hand, there’s Barack Obama. The man who would, by the very power of the charisms God granted him, cause the oceans to recede by the power of his arrogant gaze alone.
Remember Victoria Nuland’s “Fuck the EU!” phone call that leaked?
Well, the “Fuck the EU” concerned the EU’s cautious, go-slow urgings. The US chose to ignore misgivings about a possible Russian invasion and encouraged the Ukraine to get into a fight with Russia that they could not win.
Well, the Ukraine got into that fight — presumably expecting help from the US, which had encouraged it to get into a fight with Russia.
And guess how much the US helped?
That’s Obama being “flexible”. The left thinks Trump talking tough to our allies and foes weakens America (it doesn’t) but can’t see how hanging friends out to dry, letting them get killed, destroying governments then walking away and unleashing the worst plague ever upon mankind, ISIS, causes severe damage to our credibility and trustworthiness.
Knowing Obama, perhaps that is by design.
In the 2010 runoff vs. Timoshenko, Yanukovych won the Crimea and every oblast east of the Dneiper by margins of over 60 to over 90%. Timoshenko won the west by similar margins, but not enough to win the election. Yanukovych may have been a Russian puppet, but he was and still is the only legitimate, democratically elected president the Ukraine has ever had.
It is true that the western Ukraine, historically part of the Polish-Lithuanian empire and Catholic and the site of the Kulak genocide is western oriented and would like to be in the EU. Western Ukraine is also the part that actively supported the Nazis in WW II, and it is still the home of an active Nazi (old style) movement and armed Nazi militias. These militias are the property of Ukrainian oligarchs, and they are preventing adoption of the Minsk accords by Poroshenko. They have threatened to kill Poroshenko if he does.
The east was the part originally conquered from the Muslims by Russia, and it is largely Russia-friendly and Orthodox. It is the site of the resistance to the US instigated coup d’etat that removed Yanukovych.
If the Minsk accords, which are designed to unify Ukraine, cannot be activated, then maybe separation into East Ukraine and West Ukraine is better.
The current chaos that the US created cannot possibly be described as realist. It is similar to the chaos and death the US has imposed in North and East Africa and the Middle East. That is not realism. That is criminal stupidity.
Sorry BBC “news” is about as trustworthy as CNN, Churches are now allowed in Russia. After Christian Orthodoxy Islam is the second largest religion, evangelizing is not allowed outside of church, including online. This could change in time as Russia would like to increase their population.
Stalin-era religious restrictions—including outlawing religious activity outside of Sunday services in registered churches and banning parents from teaching faith to their kids—Baby steps.
Urkraines history is tragic. Perhaps an east and west Ukraine would be a beginning to allow some healing time. Difficult to determine without unbiased information.