Turkey Still Needs The West
Published on: June 15, 2010
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  • tg

    Turkey and Brazil stand to gain billions in increased trade with Iran as the US/Europe closes itself off the market of a major oil producing country.

    The long US drive towards sanctions produced a very weak resolution at the cost of several concessions to Russia which has resulted in some anxiety in Eastern Europe and Georgia, where the US has basically accepted Russian annexation of land belonging to a US ally.

    I’m sure they made several concessions to China as well. I haven’t heard much lately about the security council condemning the North Korean naval attack.

    Turkey’s foreign policy under the AKP has resulted in drastically improved relations and trade with it’s immediate neighbors (Syria, Iran, and even Greece). This is of course a major gain for it national interest. Turkey having poor relations with its neighbors is in the interest of US/Israel which seeks to isolate Syria and Iran.

    Naturally, this is a consequence of Turkey becoming more democratic, where it pursues policies that benefit Turks and not Americans.

  • wef

    “Their joint intervention on the Iranian nuclear program gives an impression of naive over-eagerness.” I’m sorry but WRM comes across as a whining gringo here. His broad point about Iran’s manipulations appears to be generally correct, but the snarking on Turkey and Brazil is oddly petty. Some of this reads like some French diplomat snidely commenting on those naive Americans. And, after all, the US lately has done soooo well diplomatically with Turkey, Iran, France, Russia, and so on. And now Washington is letting Brazil get feisty. Why not? Venezuela is paying such a heavy price for causing trouble for it neighbors, no? And America’s ever-growing stalwart defense of Israel is an example to all, don’t you think? I am sure India has all the more confidence in the amazing sophistication of America?

    Which country again is embarrassing itself? Which country again is looking weak and naïve?

  • andy From DC

    This may well be correct but it ignores the reality that Erdogan has his own Islamist Agenda. Erdogan does not perceive the world as we do, he is a religious fanatic determined to create a second Iran. Logic , as embodied in this article, ain’t got nothin to do with it.

  • DeepThought

    So let me get this straight, pushing stronger ties with neighboring states, which increase trade and help drive the Turkish economic engine, is bad? AK party has taken Turks from approximately 2,000 US GDP to nearly 10,000 US GDP. It has done it without expanding government and debt and a liberalization of people’s rights. Economic freedoms’ have been expanded dramatically. Religious rights have been expanded dramatically. Minority rights have been expanded dramatically.

    I find it odd that you don’t mention that the Kurds are one of the AK parties major voting blocs. I as a modern Turk, working for a Fortune 50 company am extremely happy we now have more rights and freedoms than ever before! We will never tolerate another Junta and all that comes with it. The executions, the beatings, the jailings. My father fled a repressive government in the 70’s and many Turks like him are extremely happy to see their country grow into an economic power.

    You conservatives are hypocrites. You want freedom and liberty but you only want it for the Turks as long as we tow the US line.

  • Peter

    Turkey still needs the West.

    What an understatement.

    Come close while I whisper some classified wisdom into your ear, Mr. Mead. Are you sitting down? Good. Here it is.

    Turkey’s toe hole in the modern world (technology, medicine, etc.) is completely due to and dependent upon the West.

    Turk pride might not let the Turks admit to such an obvious truth, but surely we’re big enough and secure in our emotions that we can discuss such a amongst ourselves, right, Mr. Mead?

    If the Turks want to fall back into the Middle East gutter, let ’em.

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  • “the democratic forces propelling new parties and new movements to the fore reflect domestic constituencies, domestic ideas and, in some cases, domestic fantasies about how the world works” Is there something wrong or even unusual about this? Hmmmm, that last clause reminds me of a certain recent US administration!

    “the realities and necessities of the international system” From your past writing, it seems this means acting in ways the US wants. Or do you have another definition of this typically empty statement?

    “Even very casual conversations with Russia and China would have told [US pundits] that [meaningful sanctions were] a non-starter.”

    “the Turks and Brazilians come out of the incident looking both weak and naive” Not to the Turks and Brazilians! All politics is local, no?

    “This is not a success …. You screw up here, and you pay.” This whole paragraph is inane. If only the last sentence applied to the punditry!

    The subhead “Ataturk Again” forced me to quit reading. For some actual insight into Turkey’s actions, read Daniel Larison.

  • WigWag

    Anyone interested in learning more about Turkey, especially about the relationship of the Ottoman Turks to the Armenians and the situation of contemporary Turkish minorities like the Kurds and Alevis, should read the new book by Christopher de Bellaigue entitled “Rebel Land: Unraveling the Riddle of History in a Turkish Town.” The book is available for the Kindle.

    The book came out just a few months ago and it is written by a sophisticated British author who is fluent in Turkish, Kurdish and Farsi (he now lives in Iran with his Iranian-born wife). de Bellaigue is a well-respected journalist and his book his engaging and fascinating.

    Here’s a link to the book reivew from the New York Times,


  • Missed a tag for Larison’s latest Turkey post.

    Wag, that’s not a very good review: “a deeply unconventional book that is as much memoir as proper history. It’s a murky and uneven book, too, one that Mr. de Bellaigue’s twitchy intellect and acid prose can’t quite rescue. Mr. de Bellaigue lets us know early on that “Rebel Land” is not going to be, at bottom, a research project. ‘I would not pore over books in libraries and faculties,’ he declares.”

  • Gregory Koster

    Dear Mr. Mead: I think you overestimate the possibilities of Turkey’s joining the EU. When you write:

    ” For the secularists, EU laws on human rights and free expression will limit the ability of the religious lobby to ‘Islamize’ Turkish public life.”

    How well have “EU laws” worked to defend, say, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, in the Netherlands?

    You rightly point out that the French and Germans are reading their old blandishments to Turkey and getting a swell bellyache. But what’s in it for the Turks? If you think the Germans are mad about bailing out Greece, wait until the “Easterners” in Turkey start bawling against Athens and having to cough up for Greek public pensions. Further, given the increasing insolvency of the PIIGS in the EU, Turkey might feel like, er. a turkey being served up for an insatiable gang of rapacious grafters. More, the Turks aren’t nearly such ninnies about the uses of military force as this link to the CIA’s WORLD FACTBOOK will show. If I were a Turk, I’d consider the undoubted benefit of a far bigger market, but would weigh it against the likely calls to bail out the PIIGS and the sudden light flashing on in the EU chancelleries:”Hey! We can get those barbaric Turks to fight in the Middle East for us. They’re right next door, they won’t mind sending those dolts of theirs, who join the military services because they couldn’t qualify for the civil service, to get their asses shot off while our diplomats keep riding the “peace process” sorry-go-round.”

    Put that way, the case for the EU looks a good deal dimmer. The Easterners would do better to look farther east, to India.

    Sincerely yours,
    Gregory Koster

  • Blane Burns

    We should have destroyed Syria years ago. We still can. It would solve many problems. Iran should be taken down now. Yes, they may get the Bomb but we can still destroy them many times over. We should. It is time to stop being Mr. Nice and show the world what an Imperialist power with real POWER could do. They want it. Lets give it. I suppose our diplomats (spit) and government (spit) want US citizens to die forst so we are justified. All the justification we need is victory. Destroy a city for every citizen killed and terrorism will quickly stop. [inadvisable exhortation removed — ed].

  • K2K

    How can Mr. Mead write about Turkey without one mention of the Gülen Movement? If Gülen supporters turn against the AKP, Erdogan loses.

    Erdogan’s embrace of Syria and Iran is his way of “settling the Kurdish problem”, and not in a peaceful way. Both Turkey and Iranina militaries are regularly violating the sovereignty of Iraqi Kurdistan in order to kill Kurds.

    If the West had any spine left, it would embrace Kurdish self-determination, the most disgraceful betrayal of 1919.

    A vibrant Kurdistan might also lead to a secure Armenia.

  • No one needs the west. the west is the supporter of injustice. Who supports injustice? 1.5 million people in Gaza are held under Israeli siege without having their primary needs of water, oil, medicine and food. How come? Is this a world of humanity? No. this is a world of cowboys and blood suckers. Turkey needs its right of freedom and justice. the west denies this right. I am from Egypt and want to say, we all love Erdogan. He is our hope to get rid of the axis of the evil, i.e America and whoever stands by it.

  • fw

    This is video from flotilla organizers on board the Marmara, exhorting volunteers to throw the Israeli commandos overboard if they try to commandeer the ship, which they fully expected. The whole thing was a setup.


  • Peter

    ” I am from Egypt and want to say, we all love Erdogan. He is our hope to get rid of the axis of the evil, i.e America and whoever stands by it.”

    A pipe dream.

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  • Georges Makhtouf

    The process of joining the EU, if not the membership itself, has already brought huge benefits to Turkey’s AKP as one of its cornerstones was reducing the interference of the military in politics.

    Without that it’s unclear AKP would have been able to embark on its new aggressive foreign policy.

    Perhaps the less naive European and American view should really be to block decisively Turkey’s entry into the EU and let the Kemalist and secular military decide where to pin the blame and how to preserve Ataturk’s legacy.

    Raw power politics are not for the exclusive use of Turkey’s AKP.

  • Yuval Brandstetter MD

    All of the above may be true as long as oil keeps its value. But its not. If Israel, Japan, Denmark Australia and China have their way, the ICE engine will be scrapped by the year 2020 and the majority of the wolrd’s cars and trucks will be electric. As oil prices drop but gas prices go up (driven by increasing taxation on dirty energy) the power of oil producing nations will dissolve into nothing leaving one shining beacon of tech prowess on the eastern mediterranean: Israel. Should Turkey throw its lot with the Oil and terror people, it will go down with them. Should Turkey revert to its secularist pro-Israel days, it will roar back into real significance.

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  • valwayne

    Clearly Turkey and Brazil don’t agree! They see a weak and incompetent U.S. administration and see no down side to striking out on their own and against U.S. interests. So far it looks like they are right!!!

  • thomas pain

    The Turks are idiots. I hope they stay on this new path as it will make life MUCH harder for Turks in the long run. It will also lead to the Recognition by the West of not only the holocausts of the past, but to stop a new one will lead to KURDISTAN breaking off from eastern Turkey. Greece, Bulgaria, Cyprus and others will join in this new Anti-Turk alliance with US support. Let the fool Erdogan start the eventual fall and breakup of the ‘state’ of Turkey into its historic parts. It will happen, just like Yogoslavia. The West was Turkey’s ONLY shot. They’ve blown it. Enjoy.

  • Parker1227

    If Turkey wants to make waves in the big pool by indulging its incipient anti-Semitism, anti-Americanism, and bigoted Islamist barbarism – then so be it.

    Turkey will go down into the ash heap of history along with Iran when the #$% hits the fan.

    Turkish betrayal of the United States will be LONG remembered.

    Islamist bigotry is a disease upon the world.

  • nat turner

    It is really none of America’s business , but not in our best interest . Why do we want a Muslim theocracy , which after all we have done for them to keep them being slaves to the USSR refused the US overflight and put our 173rd Airborne at the additional risk of a combat jump ? [unkind reference to NATO ally deleted — ed].

  • Andrew

    Perhaps Turkey’s growing hatred of all things Jewish is a ploy, to better fit in with Europe’s trend towards the same.

  • Rudy Hartmann

    Wait a minute. The only reason Turkey is part of Europe is because the Ottoman horde stole Constantinople from the west. Also, if you’ve ever been to Europe or lived there, most Europeans don’t want to admit Turkey to the EU. I was born in the Netherlands and just got back from living in Germany for a couple of years. I saw posters all over the place that said “Germany without Turkey” or “Deutschland ohne Turkei. My family in the Netherlands is against it too. In Germany most German neighborhoods are nicely kept up. Not the Turkish ones. Although I do like Donner Kebaps.

  • CatoRenasci

    This article is hopelessly naive. A Turkey that is an Islamist-run country has absolutely no place in the West, let a lone Europe.

    It’s time to stop pussy-footing around with Turkey, the Army has refused to act and the Islamist government has steadily pushed the country towards radical Islamist views. (Or should one say, traditional Islam – since Islamism is pretty much the same thing as a traditional, strict interpretation of what the Koran actually says.

    The Muslims follow the strong horse. Europe and the US should bluntly tell the Turks to make a choice: the secular Ataturk state and welcome in the West or the end of their membership in NATO and a potential membership in the EU, the return home of all the Turks working in the EU (with none of them being allowed to keep EU citizenship), American and EU support for an independent Kurdistan (the whole thing, including the parts in what’s now Eastern Turkey), elevation of the Armenian Genocide to the level of international condemnation equivalent to the Holocaust, and a return to International (i.e. Western) control of the Straits.

  • Beth

    Right, let a Muslim country into the EU. What could possibly go wrong?

    Just ask any local in any European country where the population has to interact with Muslim immigrants. Can you say, Malmo Sweden? The hushing up of rapes of “infidel” Swedish women by muslim gangs? The banileus of France where car-b-ques by “unnamed” youths are a common occurance? Honor killings in Germany by Turkish immigrants? The harrassment and murder of Jews and Christians in major western cities such as Paris? The murder of Hindus in India? The brutal treatment of Christians in Pakistan? This information is available to anyone who reads the news.

    Go to Jihadwatch.com to see the true face of Islam in the west. [Unfavorable references to renowned religious leader deleted — ed] Read the verse of the sword in the Koran. Learn about the principal of abrogation (later, more violent Koranic verses supercede the earlier peaceful ones). Read how nonmuslims are treated in muslim countries today at Jihadwatch. Watch the beheading of Nick Berg to chants of “God is Great” (that one will keep you up at night). Look at attempts to impose muslim values throughout the west through the outright implementation of barbaric shariah law. Read about how Islam replaced Zorastrianism in Iran through a gradual campaign of infiltration, harrassment, and increasing violence until non muslim Iranian villagers would either move or convert.

    Islam and western civilization are incompatible, period. Muslim immigration to the west must end. Trade ties and energy dependence on muslim countries must end. Let them have Islam, and nothing but Islam.
    Anyone who suggests deeping ties with an Islamic country is a fool who does not understand that Islam does not intend to coexist. It intends to conquer.

    With a hat tip to Samuel Huntington, this truly is a battle of civlizations. I know whose side I am on. Do you?

  • K2K

    It is the EU who has pushed Turkey to keep their military from ever launching another coup to preserve Kemalist secularism.

    I would amend CatoRenasci’s ultimatum 1) allow Alevi Turks to stay in Germany, 2) add complete Turkish withdrawal from their illegal occupation of northern Cyprus, and 3) end Turkey’s illegal closing of their land border with Armenia since 1993 (which of course would happen if there were an independent Kurdistan).

  • Charlie

    I’m sick of hearing this racist anti – Turkish sentiment. The EU is anti Muslim, anti Islamic and Turkey is becoming very tired of such racist rhetoric coming from so called tolerant European countries. Turkey is a secular democratic country, but this does not matter to the EU. The EU as well as people writing comments in this forum, complaining that Turkey has only 10 percent of its geography in the Europe and use this as a pretext to refuse Turkey’s entry. Cyprus is nowhere near the EU, not even 1 percent of Cyprus’s geography in the Europe, but none of you conveniently remembered this when only HALF of Cyprus was admitted into the EU, this is not even mentioned by anyone commenting in the EU or in this forum? The EU said nothing when 18 million East Germans became EU members overnight? No one even thought of asking Europeans for a referendum!! Turk’s livings in Turkey are now saying, if you don’t value Turkeys help and you do not value Turkey as a regional power, then Turkey will focus on doing business elsewhere. While the EU’s economy is faltering, Turkey’s economy is still booming. We will see who, will need who. Turkey is now an energy hub with oil and gas pipelines coming into Turkey from the ME and Russia. Turkey helps protect EU borders against terrorism, drugs and immigration. Can the EU really gain anything from losing Turkey? The answer is obvious to me. Either way, i don’t think most Turks are bothered if they join or not quite frankly, and why should they?

  • Mapiro

    EU and US helped AKP to come to power. They want week Turkish military so they can monipulate the Turks the way they want. Secular Turkey have been begging for help from west for a long time, but no vail. EU is supporting PKK for two reasons. 1- Divide Turkey and make it smaller like Yogoslavia. 2- This also will give more land to Armania. I agree with many of the writters that Turks are not ready to join the EU yet. They may need another 200 years to catch up with EU culture. (Remember Turks missed the renaissance). But in the main time EU should help Turks to get there. As far as Ataturk concern, he was a great general and a leader. His piece offerings were never understood by west. If west would have known him better, some of the wars would have never happened. West must forget that Ataturk beat them in the battle in Dardinell and Anatolia. West need a stronger, secular Turkey in Middle East. Turks always have protected Jews in the past. Their frendship must continue to establish a stabilizing forces needed in this reagon until Christ comes back. In the mean time Arabs must make piece with Israel. This will solve most of the world’s on going problem.

  • Pete

    “For more than six months now, Russia has been the world’s primary disturber of internati­onal tranquility.”

    I guess the guy is so buried in Moscow that he doesn’t hear much of Iraq and Syria.

  • Duperray

    Looks good. But west shall stop groundless hysterical media campaign against Russia (this alone can lead to real war). Also, NATO shall return to 1991 agreed terms and borders: Expanding NATO coverage is agressive, as would be the extension of russian military forces into ex-soviet peripheral states. But core of present problem is the bling 100% support to Kiev skin-head parties from EU (I should say from “US-driven EU”).

    • Nathaniel Greene

      Anything you say, Comrade!

  • BobSykes

    Russia??!! Good grief!! Russia is merely responding to US/EU/NATO in-your-face aggression. The US is plainly the most aggressive country in the world and its chief source of violence, terror and war. The US has been almost continuously at war since the sinking of the Maine 116 years ago. No other country has participated in so many wars, large and small, for so many years and actually world wide as has the US. Actually, we have been almost continuously at war with someone since Roanoke. Or would that be St. Augustine?

    Just think of the sheer number of them: Cuba, Puerto Rico, Philippines (Morro insurrection), China (boots on the ground), every country in the Caribbean and Central America several times, Columbia (creation of Panama), Mexico, WWI, Russia (boots on the ground), again every country in C. A. and Caribbean several times, WWII, Korea, Cuba (Bay of Pigs) Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, again the Caribbean and Central America, Chile (the Allende thingy), Columbia (again and ongoing, the drug wars), Iran (set up Shah), Angola, Somalia (boots on the ground, ran away), Iraq (now three times), Afghanistan (defeated), Yemen, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Syria, Ukraine (boots on the ground). JHC!!! Did I forget someone? Oh, yes, the American Indians. Isn’t Canada due for another try?

    There is a real chance of nuclear war in Europe and the US because Russia’s stated policy is that if it is attacked conventionally it will respond with nuclear weapons. This policy reflects the weakness of Russia’s conventional forces v. v. NATO. Russia also many more nuclear options than US/UK/France because it retained large numbers of tactical nukes.

    The real threat to world peace is the unbridled hubris of the Western Ruling Class They think that their economic and military power are so transcendentally overwhelming and and their own moral rectitude so obvious and unquestionable that Russia must of necessity grovel and beg for crumbs.

    Vlad here simply expresses their arrogance and self-righteousness.

    • MikeB

      Nuts. Self-hating, value-free and above all context-free load of obfuscating bull from comrade BobSykes.

  • MikeB

    Brilliant, incisive thinking, and kudos to the professor. What he is proposing is plain common sense, but common sense is not very common in our world. Therefore I am afraid the chances are zero to none that anything like this package of proposals would ever get implemented, except perhaps after a major nuclear clash between Russia and America (Europe/Eurabia does nor count), which might bring the contending parties to their senses. Having said this, I will be the first to admit that America’s Russia-policy has been catastrophically stupid from the word go after the collapse of the Soviet empire, particularly its drive to encroach on former Soviet territory by expansion of NATO (talk about scattering blank cheques without the slightest credit cover!) and by covert and overt support of dissidents within Russia and anti-Russian political movements in Russia’s near abroad. Because it wasn’t enough for America to win the Cold War, they couldn’t resist in rubbing the Russians’ nose in the dirt. Well, they that sow the wind will reap the whirlwind, as the good book tells. I love America, but despair of its dysfunctional inanities.

  • Anthony

    Essay obviously has been composed by someone both familiar with land mass in question and concerned about its geopolitical and economic well being going forward. The essay is a quite insightful (and as previous commenter noted incisive) exposition vis-a-vis long game between Russia and West. Here’s hoping others beyond TAI reading audience examine authors three steps and their legitimate applicability to international diplomacy post Cold War.

    “…the West’s strategy toward Russia should probably not be focused on the search for a final decision, but rather on developing a mechanism that would allow such decisions to be tabled for the future.”

  • Big Bad Vodoo Daddy

    Absolutely dumb…

    His steps in part I essentially allows Putin a domestic victory in his media, and, means nothing (in terms of western media) by saying, “perhaps we jumped the gun in invading the Crimea, and East Ukraine”, and the west renounces the sanctions. Putin’s legions of online bloggers will use it then as a cudgel continuously on their assault on western unity and disinformation campaigns in western (English and non-English) media. In effect over the long term, it will have seriously deleterious effect on democracy and “poison the well of democracy”.

    His step in part II creates an new international security architecture that accepts Russia in its near abroad and far abroad strategy and there is no gain in any way for the western world, or the world security environment as a whole.

    Step III is a bumbling of words with no insight.

    I give the article and the author an “F” He completely ignores the aggressive nature that the Kremlin has taken, and instead rewards the Kremlin by saying “promise me you won’t do it again”. Further, he ignores the metamorphosis of Russian state media into ultra nationalistic propaganda and its effect on populace. In effect, you can’t put humpty dumpty back together again once you rouse the people for Putin’s self-determined goals of maintaining his Kremlin in power amidst the Kremlin’s failure to govern democratically, and for the people of Russia. And finally, there is no mention of the geo-political nature of Russian soft tools in Syria, Iran, Egypt, and Turkey let alone in Moldova and Georgia and Kazakhstan.

    I’ll end with this, Ukraine is a symptom of the problem and not the problem itself. Anyone who can’t identify the problem should have no right to claim the answers to the problem. Please take away his car keys as an author….

    • MikeB

      Getting a tad hysterical, aren’t we? Contrary to the position expressed in the above comments, I doubt that we hold too many aces in our hands in the current game of thrones in Eastern Europe to justify any kind of truculent approach to counter Kremlin expansionism. We must also remember that for Russia its near-abroad is like Canada for the US, and I doubt if Washington would have sat on its hands if the Soviets attempted to incorporate Canada in the Warsaw Pact, even if the majority of Canadians were enthusiastically for it. Suggest some cool-headed rethinking of the comments above in light of the realistic options America actually has in its current attempts to contain Russia.

      • Big Bad Vodoo Daddy

        Yeah, got it. Other than the fact you are acting as an apologist for the Kremlin….
        You talk about Canada hypothetically joining the Warsaw Pact. The difference is the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact states were directly controlled by Moscow. Canada is a democracy and so its a poor corollary. On the other hand, Ukraine is seeking to be free of Russian interference and a more democratic future. The Kremlin is trying to maintain weakened states on its borders. Again, a weak corollary between Canada and Ukraine.
        Nothing suggested in the article was about containment realistically, but more about avoiding conflict with Russia despite Russia’s aggressions. Stop playing the game gopnik, you won’t win here…
        I could go on and on, but I made the point. You are just another apologist at best, and under the NASHI umbrella at worst.

        • MikeB

          Apologist for the Russians? Hardly. As a teenager, I fought against them in Budapest in 1956, and never forgot their depredations in Hungary. In the early nineties I made extensive visits in Russia and the Ukraine to facilitate the emigration of dozens of Jewish families to Israel and America. In matters of civic virtue and ability to organise themselves and get their act together politically, economically and socially, the Russians seem almost as retarded as the Arabs, and I have nothing but the the deepest contempt for the average antisemitic drunkard bully there.

          What the Kremlin has done and is attempting to continue on doing in the Ukraine is of course akin to Hitler’s grab at Sudetenland (which at least occurred with the acquiescence of France and the UK in Munich), and just as dangerous and disruptive of international order. (And never mind that it was just as unfathomably stupid of the Entente powers after World War One to allocate solidly ethnic German areas to what became Czechoslovakia, as it has been unfathomably stupid of America to holus-bolus accept the internal administrative boundaries of the Sovietunion, or for that matter of Yugoslavia, as international borders of newly emerging East European countries, regardless of the ethnic realities on the ground, thereby repeating the catastrophic errors of the Brits in Africa, the Middle East and elsewhere, for which we continue to pay a heavy price to this day.)

          Now, the Ukrainians are of course perfectly entitled to their own independent country without being bullied out of parts of it by Russian proxies conducting an asymmetric war. Unfortunately however, Ukraine has become an irredeemably corrupt and misgoverned failed state over the past two and a half decades (no doubt in part due to Russian machinations) incapable of effectively defending and protecting its own interests, and never mind joining the EU and NATO as a permanent economic, social and political liability. It did not have to turn out like this, but sadly, in the case of the Ukraine we really are talking about the Lower Slobbovia of the Li’l Abner cartoons. America should not have touched the place with a forty foot pole, and should have known better than meddling there with the Orange Revolution and the Maidan insurgency. Had America desisted from meddling there, and continued to respect it as a Russian zone of influence, and at most a Finlandized buffer between Russa and Central Europe, none of the disaster that has befallen the Ukraine of late would have occurred, and the place would have continued as a quiet, if irredemably corrupt backwater that might as well have been located on Mars.

          Now, given the actual current realities and power relations on the ground, two things must be achieved simultaneously. On the one hand, war needs to be avoided, if at all possible: there is no American dogs in the fight, and the ukraine, or for that matter the Baltics, are simply not worth a possibly nuclear clash with the Russkies. On the other hand, the Kremlin’s expansionist ambitions must be contained, brought to a dead stop, then gradually reversed over time. To achieve both these ends, will need a lot of fancy legwork and some pretty tricky tactical and strategic moves on the part of America, and this is where the professor’s suggestions can come in as very useful thought starters.

          It is of course an open question whether America, which has the attention span of a fly on the wall these days (sadly), still has the capacity to formulate a coherent strategy and the staying power to see it through to implementation. If not, then the game will irretrievably be lost. This is, unfortunately, the Achilles’ heel that probably makes this entire discussion moot.

          • MikeB

            Thinking about the unthinkable, it seems to me, furthermore, that if the people of the Ukraine really and truly wished to join the West, including membership of the EU and NATO, the ultimate Russian price tag on this would be the partitioning of the country, with a contiguous land bridge ceded to the Russians around the entire North of the Black Sea from the Donetsk/Luhansk region to Transnistria on the Moldovan border. The remaining Ukrainian territory from Lvyv across to Kyiv, Dnipropetrovsk and Kharkiv, with Ukrainian Catholic in the West and Ukrainian Orthodox in the East, could then come under Polish mentorship (as has also been historically the case for long periods of time) and guided through a graduated catch-up program over a decade or two.

  • David Lanceburg

    Putin doesn’t get “softly”… he only understands brute force. Look at how he lies and manipulates EU…. and now USA wants to kiss Russia’s behind… shame.

  • bscook111

    What a bunch of crap. When Canada, Mexico and Cuba morph into Germany, Mongol-China and Turkey, complete with their histories; then we may begin to understand Putin’s foreign policy at more than grade school level. Presently, and notwithstanding all their warts, God bless Putin and the Russians for providing at least a modicum of check to the incredible incompetencies of the West and Islam.

  • Brett Champion

    The only reason that Ukraine has become an issue for the West is that the West made Ukraine an issue. Trying to bring Ukraine into the fold without Russian approval was an idiotic move by the EU.

    The West should have the good sense to know when a cause is lost. Setbacks happen quite frequently in international relations, but the main structure of the system persists nevertheless. And the main structure of the world system is highly favorable to the West and even more unfavorable to Russia. In 20 years, when Russia is an economic wreck and a political bomb about to implode, we’ll all be wondering what the fuss was over Ukraine.

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