Dialogue with the Alter Ego on the Russian Intervention in Crimea
Question by Alter Ego of Noah denkt™ (AE): Russia’s decision to send troops to the Crimea peninsula in Ukraine is heightening tensions in Europe to a level unknown since the fall of the Berlin wall. While the West is decrying a “violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty” and demanding a full withdrawal of Russian troops, Ukraine has put its military in high alert. A regional war does no longer seem as remote as one might have thought just a few weeks ago. What does Noah denkt™ make of the situation in Ukraine?
Answer by Noah denkt™ (Nd): In our mind, it is largely due to a timid and mistaken calculation of Western leaders that the situation in Ukraine has heated up to the point that we are witnessing now. If those Western leaders had responded early-on to Russia’s military maneuvers in the Western district by mounting similar NATO exercises in Poland and/or Turkey [or at least by moving the US Sixth Fleet tad bit closer to the site of the emergency], we could by now be discussing constructively about the future of Ukraine in trilateral negotiations with Russia and Ukraine. Instead, Western leaders made half-hearted declarations of vigilance and the need for calm which in Putin’s mind only reads as an abdication from a forceful intention to defend Ukraine’s sovereignty forcefully. And so it is no surprise that we find ourselves in the mess that we are currently in.
AE: You cannot seriously expect that people in the West are willing to enter into a major war with Russia, only to defend the interests of Ukraine!
Nd: You can also not expect that Russia is willing to enter into a major war with a highly superior West over its interests in Ukraine. No, this standoff in Ukraine is mainly about the West’s willingness or unwillingness to play Poker and play it hard with Mr. Putin. Because this hard-ball assertion of authority is what Russia needs to maintain its own national integrity and cohesion, and it is the same hard-ball assertion of authority that Russia [in times of crisis] needs from its partners in the West in order to be able to get back to a reasonable and balanced management of its own foreign interests.
AE: Your portrayal of Russia is that of a simple minded monster!
Nd: You have to understand that Russia is both tormented and invigorated by its sheer size and geopolitical positions. On the one hand, it is a proud Eurasian power that legitimately expects to be on par with Western pretensions of supremacy. On the other hand, it is so much hampered both by the incredible span of its territory and the violent aspects of its history that you can’t possibly expect this country to be as relaxed and good-humored about its political assertions as a Hawaiian force would probably be.
AE: Still, isn’t it mistaken, particularly in a post-revolutionary situation like that in Ukraine, to answer an aggression with another aggression?
Nd: Well, in a Western context that may be true. But we are not dealing here with a post-archaic disagreement. Instead we are talking about a conflict that echoes centuries of brutal oppression by Mongolian conquerors, centuries of authoritarian rule, a serious of devastating extremist aggressions both from inside and outside, and a long history of ideological competition and struggle, if not outright cold war.
AE: And Noah denkt™ believes that this isn’t being understood sufficiently well in the West?
Nd: Unfortunately, our leaders in the West have grown up in a domesticated environment and have therefore lost the ability to be so tough that it is quite nerve-wrecking when circumstances require so. In other words, it isn’t enough to wear nice suits, make intelligent speeches and be a good dad to be a formidable leader. For that, you have to have Cesar Millan’s ability to put yourself in front of a dangerous dog and assert your authority over him.