Archive for the ‘John Mearsheimer’ Category

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Have NATO leaders created a crisis to justify NATOs continuation after its original purpose expired?

Former Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul says: Without U.S.-sponsored regime change, it is unlikely that the Malaysian Airlines crash would have happened. Katrina vanden Heuvel, editor of The Nation, wonders why Washington is risking war with Russia. John Mearsheimer argues the Ukraine crisis Is the Wests fault.

William Pfaff, writing in these pages, agrees: the United States started the Ukraine crisis, which may end in a war.

Jan Oberg of Swedens Transnational Foundation holds NATO at least 80% responsible. Seumas Milne of The Guardian concurs: The EU sparked this crisis and NATO, far from keeping the peace has been the cause of escalating tension and war.

An alliance forged against the existential Soviet threat successfully deterred the enemy without firing a shot. But then it waged war on Serbia which had not attacked any member state, contemptuous of a defeated, diminished and impotent Russia.

Kosovos forcible detachment from Serbia in 1999 was the prelude to taking on a more diffuse peace-maintenance role that saw NATOs geographical reach expand to Eastern Europe, Afghanistan and Libya. If now it is taking on decidedly imperialist hues, are all members happy to endorse the transmutation?

One does not know whether to admire the chutzpah or weep at the strategic stupidity, including reversing the Nixon-Kissinger brilliance of detaching China from Russia, of todays Western leaders. The facts are easily ascertainable from public sources, the double standards obvious, the hypocrisy brazen, and the Russian response was entirely predictable.

If, despite this, the Western publics back their governments in the continued slide into confrontation with Russia, or the governments stay on that path against domestic opposition as in the 2003 Iraq war, we may rush headlong into a catastrophic war with the risk, as reminded recently by President Vladimir Putin, of nuclear escalation.

If this sounds over the top, consider that Russia can provide principled, strategic and relative justifications for its actions vis-a-vis Ukraine.

On chutzpah, the countries that attacked geographically distant Iraq in 2003 with no national security justification have the effrontery to exclaim that attacking another country without pretext is just not done in the 21st century. Leaders and countries yet to be held to domestic or international criminal account for that insist that Russia and Putin must be punished. The West may bankroll and support destabilization of an elected pro-Russian government in Kiev, but Russia must not destabilize a pro-West government installed by coup on its doorstep.

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September 8, 2014   Posted in: John Mearsheimer  Comments Closed

Global turmoil add to Obamas woes

Pick just about any area of the world and you will find turmoil, an escalation of international upheaval that is bringing more complaints President Barack Obama is not up to the task of steering U.S. foreign policy.

But there is widespread disagreement over just what the U.S. strategy should be, and whether a more aggressive approach in the Middle East and elsewhere is advisable.

If George W. Bush were president, he would be behaving the same way as Barack Obama, said John J. Mearsheimer, a professor of political science at the University of Chicago. The United States has lost two major wars in the last decade. The last thing you want to do is to have another war that its sure to lose.

Virtually all those people who say hes not tough enough have never offered an alternative strategy that is viable, Mearsheimer said. Its easy to say hes not tough enough. But the $64,000 question is how can we be tougher and be successful?

The conflicts seem to be everywhere. In the Middle East, a brutal Sunni terrorist group be-headed two American journalists and has sewn chaos in Iraq and Syria. Russian troops have occupied parts of eastern Ukraine as the Kiev government attempts to free itself from Moscows orbit in favor of the West.

Talks to persuade Iran to end its effort to build a nuclear weapon are bogged down, Israel and Hamas just ended their third armed conflict in a decade, and North Korea is holding three Americans prisoners, including Jeffrey Fowle of West Carrollton.

Obama entered office in 2009 vowing to curb U.S. military operations abroad, yet he may leave the presidency in 2017 having launched yet another American war in the turbulent Middle East.

Obamas personality is such that its hard for him to be a leader, said Lynne Olson, a former Associated Press reporter and author of Those Angry Days Roosevelt, Lindbergh, and Americas Fight over World War II.

While acknowledging that Obama has faced the worst set of circumstances any president has faced in a long time, Olson said: He reminds me a bit of Jimmy Carter in the sense of not knowing how to lead.

Retired U.S. Army Col. Peter Mansoor, the General Raymond E. Mason chair in military history at Ohio State University, said he does not see an overall design to the way President Obama approaches grand strategy.

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Global turmoil add to Obamas woes

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September 8, 2014   Posted in: John Mearsheimer  Comments Closed

Obama criticized as overwhelmed by foreign crises

Foreign policy The Daily Briefing Buckeye Forum Podcast

The Dispatchpublic affairs team talks politics and tackles state and federal government issues in the Buckeye Forum podcast.

WASHINGTON The escalation of international upheaval has prompted sharp complaints that President Barack Obama is overwhelmed by events.

In the Middle East, a brutal Sunni terrorist group beheaded two American journalists and has sown chaos in Iraq and Syria. Russian troops have occupied parts of eastern Ukraine as the Kiev government attempts to free itself from Moscows orbit in favor of the West.

Talks to persuade Iran to end its effort to build a nuclear weapon are bogged down. Israel and Hamas just ended their third armed conflict in a decade. And North Korea is holding three Americans prisoner, including Jeffrey Fowle of Ohio.

And now, Obama, who entered office in 2009 vowing to curb U.S. military operations abroad, might leave the presidency in 2017 having launched yet another American war in the turbulent Middle East.

While acknowledging that Obama has faced the worst set of circumstances any president has faced in a long time, Lynne Olson, author of Those Angry Days Roosevelt, Lindbergh, and Americas Fight Over World War II, 1939-1941, said, Obamas personality is such that its hard for him to be a leader.

He reminds me a bit of Jimmy Carter, whose 1976 presidential campaign she covered for the Associated Press, in the sense of not knowing how to lead.

Retired U.S. Army Col. Peter Mansoor, holder of the Gen. Raymond E. Mason chair in military history at Ohio State University, said he does not see an overall design to the way President Obama approaches grand strategy.

I think he values international cooperation in foreign affairs, but I dont think he understands how critical it is to have the U.S. lead, said Mansoor, former executive officer to Gen. David Petraeus in Iraq.

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Obama criticized as overwhelmed by foreign crises

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September 7, 2014   Posted in: John Mearsheimer  Comments Closed

Will the cease-fire between Ukraine and Russian separatists last?

JEFFREY BROWN: Secretary of State John Kerry will travel to the region next week, hoping to build the coalition further.

And joining me now to help interpret these developments are former U.S. Ambassador to NATO Nicholas Burns. Hes a professor at Harvards Kennedy School of Government. John Mearsheimer, a professor at the University of Chicago, he wrote an article for the latest issue of Foreign Affairs magazine titled Why the Ukraine Crisis Is the Wests Fault. And Michael McFaul was U.S. ambassador to Russia until spring of this year. He now teaches at Stanford University.

And, Mike McFaul, let me start with you. What do you make first of this new cease-fire. Are there clear winners and losers?

And I respect President Poroshenko, who understands his security demands and challenges better than I do. So, I think its a welcome sign. Its also a cautious sign, as the president rightly said, because we have done this before.

I would just add two caveats. What it does today, by having it today instead and, say, not two weeks ago, is it freezes into place Russian gains on the ground, Russians and their allies in Eastern Europe. They have been on the offensive and they have been winning the war on the ground. This now freezes that into place.

And, secondly, the obvious point, theres no political solution in the cease-fire. Thats going to take a lot of negotiating for months, if not years to come.

JEFFREY BROWN: John Mearsheimer, where do you think things stand as of this moment, and what did you make of this announcement today from NATO about a rapid response force? Is that a useful thing or a provocative step?

JOHN MEARSHEIMER, University of Chicago: Well, I agree with the two points that Mike made as caveats. Theres no question this deal solidifies Russian gains in recent weeks. And, furthermore, I think the more important point that he made is that a cease-fire by itself a meaningless. What we have to do is get some sort of meaningful peace agreement between the three sides here.

And Im very pessimistic about that, because I think the Obama administration and the other Western countries are pursuing exactly the wrong policy with regard to Ukraine. I think getting tough with Putin, which is what we have been doing all along, and promising to get tougher in the future, is just going to make a bad situation worse.

So Im not very optimistic about the future. With regard to the 4,000-troop reinforcement capability, I think thats fine. I think the two key things we definitely dont want to do is, number one, permanently station troops or military forces in Eastern Europe, and, number two, give military aid to the Ukrainian military.

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Will the cease-fire between Ukraine and Russian separatists last?

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September 6, 2014   Posted in: John Mearsheimer  Comments Closed

Can NATO get back to its roots?

STORY HIGHLIGHTS

(CNN) — The future of Europe may rest on whether NATO can recover its roots.

With Russian President Vladimir Putin “land grabbing” and violating international law, the alliance is finding itself “brought back to its core,” says Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, NATO’s former secretary general. But it isn’t prepared.

When NATO was founded in 1949, its central task was to protect its members against military aggression and work to promote democracy — which, in the years following, often meant standing against the Soviet empire.

The alliance declares success in achieving that goal peacefully, saying on its website that “throughout the entire period of the Cold War, NATO forces were not involved in a single military engagement.”

Unmarked military vehicles burn on a country road in Berezove, Ukraine after a clash between Ukrainian troops and pro-Russian separatists.

But things changed after the Cold War. The focus was no longer on Russia. NATO says “new threats” emerged. The alliance got involved militarily in Bosnia and Herzegovina in the 1990s, and later in Macedonia. It established a military force in Afghanistan, and has forces in Somalia and some other parts of Africa.

Now, Russia is increasing its reach, and getting close to NATO terrain. It annexed Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula in March and is accused of sending its troops into eastern Ukraine in support of pro-Russian rebels, a claim that Moscow denies. So, 55 years into its existence, NATO finds itself, as the Financial Times put it, going “back to the future.”

Just how to do that is a central question as the alliance convenes its summit in Wales.

“The problem NATO has is it’s not fully ready to be able to protect its own members,” Robin Niblett, director of the think tank Chatham House, told CNN. NATO’s military preparedness is “paltry compared to the kinds of steps the Russians are taking.”

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Can NATO get back to its roots?

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What's the gap in NATO's armor?

STORY HIGHLIGHTS

(CNN) — The future of Europe may rest on whether NATO can recover its roots.

With Russian President Vladimir Putin “land grabbing” and violating international law, the alliance is finding itself “brought back to its core,” says Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, NATO’s former secretary general. But it isn’t prepared.

When NATO was founded in 1949, its central task was to protect its members against military aggression and work to promote democracy — which, in the years following, often meant standing against the Soviet empire.

The alliance declares success in achieving that goal peacefully, saying on its website that “throughout the entire period of the Cold War, NATO forces were not involved in a single military engagement.”

Unmarked military vehicles burn on a country road in Berezove, Ukraine after a clash between Ukrainian troops and pro-Russian separatists.

But things changed after the Cold War. The focus was no longer on Russia. NATO says “new threats” emerged. The alliance got involved militarily in Bosnia and Herzegovina in the 1990s, and later in Macedonia. It established a military force in Afghanistan, and has forces in Somalia and some other parts of Africa.

Now, Russia is increasing its reach, and getting close to NATO terrain. It annexed Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula in March and is accused of sending its troops into eastern Ukraine in support of pro-Russian rebels, a claim that Moscow denies. So, 55 years into its existence, NATO finds itself, as the Financial Times put it, going “back to the future.”

Just how to do that is a central question as the alliance convenes its summit in Wales.

“The problem NATO has is it’s not fully ready to be able to protect its own members,” Robin Niblett, director of the think tank Chatham House, told CNN. NATO’s military preparedness is “paltry compared to the kinds of steps the Russians are taking.”

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What's the gap in NATO's armor?

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September 5, 2014   Posted in: John Mearsheimer  Comments Closed

NATO's big problem is its military

STORY HIGHLIGHTS

(CNN) — The future of Europe may rest on whether NATO can recover its roots.

With Russian President Vladimir Putin “land grabbing” and violating international law, the alliance is finding itself “brought back to its core,” says Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, NATO’s former secretary general. But it isn’t prepared.

When NATO was founded in 1949, its central task was to protect its members against military aggression and work to promote democracy — which, in the years following, often meant standing against the Soviet empire.

The alliance declares success in achieving that goal peacefully, saying on its website that “throughout the entire period of the Cold War, NATO forces were not involved in a single military engagement.”

Unmarked military vehicles burn on a country road in Berezove, Ukraine after a clash between Ukrainian troops and pro-Russian separatists.

But things changed after the Cold War. The focus was no longer on Russia. NATO says “new threats” emerged. The alliance got involved militarily in Bosnia and Herzegovina in the 1990s, and later in Macedonia. It established a military force in Afghanistan, and has forces in Somalia and some other parts of Africa.

Now, Russia is increasing its reach, and getting close to NATO terrain. It annexed Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula in March and is accused of sending its troops into eastern Ukraine in support of pro-Russian rebels, a claim that Moscow denies. So, 55 years into its existence, NATO finds itself, as the Financial Times put it, going “back to the future.”

Just how to do that is a central question as the alliance convenes its summit in Wales.

“The problem NATO has is it’s not fully ready to be able to protect its own members,” Robin Niblett, director of the think tank Chatham House, told CNN. NATO’s military preparedness is “paltry compared to the kinds of steps the Russians are taking.”

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NATO's big problem is its military

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September 4, 2014   Posted in: John Mearsheimer  Comments Closed

David J. Meadows: Reassessing post-Cold War assumptions after Russias invasion of Ukraine

Since April, Russia had been waging a proxy war in eastern Ukraine. Although no war was officially declared, Russias covert and overt support was crucial in financing, equipping, providing personnel, and supplying intelligence to the pro-Russian separatists. Still, even with such support, pro-Russian separatist rebels proved unable to counter Ukraines military advances. As a result, Russia recently made the fateful decision to undertake a direct military invasion into southeastern Ukraine, turning what was previously only a proxy war into something undeniably real.

However, even with units of the Russian army invading and occupying parts of eastern Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly denied any Russian involvement, and cynically played himself off as being a peacemaker. Most recently, Putin even had the audacity to suggest that the Ukrainian government in Kyiv needed to sit down and seriously discuss statehood for the Russian occupied regions of eastern Ukraine. In reality, Russias illegal annexation of Crimea and current invasion of eastern Ukraine, illustrates that historical patterns of Russian imperialism never went away after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Yet Russias actions in Ukraine appear to have come as a surprise to many policymakers, analysts, and media commentators in the West. Part of the problem is that many in the West were lulled into a false sense of security after the end of the Cold War, stemming from the widely accepted triumph of liberalism thesis popularized by Francis Fukuyama, where it was taken for granted that Russia and the other post-Communist states would transition into democracies and liberalized economies. As a result, many analysts and policy elites in the West generally failed to see the illiberal patterns of post-1991 transformation actually taking place in Russia. That assessment would have pointed to the coming of an increasingly authoritarian, atavistic, and re-assertive Russia.

The triumph of liberalism largely proved to be illusory and false, as Russia is far from being either a democracy or liberalized economy. But this has not been so much a reversal of reforms. Even a cursory glance at political patterns in Russia compared to the relative rates of transformation in leading liberal reform countries, such as the Baltic States, Czech Republic, and Poland would have revealed that Russia was actually a laggard in putting in place significant democratization and economic liberalization policies.

On democratization, Russia lagged behind when it came to comprehensive reforms to ensure the protection of individual rights, rule of law, and private property rights. These reforms would have all served as prime ingredients buttressing a stable democracy. Consequently, comparatively little change occurred during the crucial years of the 1990s. Instead, there was backsliding on most of the tentative reforms, and increasing reversion towards authoritarianism, as illustrated in Freedom Houses annual rankings.

While often overlooked by many Western analysts, Russian political culture simply lacks the historically rooted liberal-democratic traditions that often underpin democratic consolidation. Another problem has been Moscows increasingly firm control over the Russian media, which now promotes a stridently anti-democratic, anti-capitalist, and anti-Western message.

In terms of economic liberalization, evidence suggests that far-reaching reforms in Russia were marginal and not even halfway at best, particularly in Russias dubious attempts at privatization. Instead, many of the business practices from Soviet times continued to persist. This was especially apparent with Russian natural gas giant Gazprom, where the state has retained virtual control. Indeed, Gazprom has served as a key foreign policy tool used to promote Moscows interests in disputes with Ukraine, the Baltic States, and other European Union (EU) members.

Russias failure to democratize, and its reversion to authoritarianism, was also matched by historical continuities in foreign policy reminiscent of Soviet times. Although underreported and often ignored by Western media, this has been happening more and more since 1991. Throughout the 1990s, Moscow supported separatists in proxy wars in Transnistria in Moldova, and in Abkhazia and South Ossetia in Georgia. It also attempted to coerce and bully the governments of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania away from their desire to democratize and liberalize economically, which were key steps to return to Europe and move away from Russia.

To illustrate one specific example, Latvia repeatedly faced significant coercion from Russia, which included embargoes of trade, oil, and gas; delaying tactics in the closure of Russian military bases and troop withdrawals; stalling on ratifying border agreements; threats over the treatment of ethnic-Russians; and economic sanctions for not conceding privileged access to Russian oil and gas interests. Russian officials and media even resorted to baseless propaganda in calling Latvia fascist, in what can only be described as a rehearsal to the type of vitriolic propaganda being directed at the current government in Kyiv.

However, it was not until the Russian cyber attacks on Estonia in 2007, and the Russian invasion of Georgia in the summer of 2008, that many in the West began to wake up to Moscows revanchist behaviour even if such attention proved to be short-lived. Sadly, it was not until Russias recent illegal annexation of Crimea, the tragedy of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17, and Moscows support of pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine, that many Western leaders began to realize that Russian interests are increasingly out of sync with the commonly shared liberal-democratic values found among members of the EU and North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

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David J. Meadows: Reassessing post-Cold War assumptions after Russias invasion of Ukraine

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NATO, EU Should Give Up Plans of Incorporating Ukraine Dr. John Mearsheimer

MOSCOW, August 26 (RIA Novosti) The West ought to fundamentally change its approach towards the Ukrainian crisis, making Ukraine a ‘neutral buffer’ between Russia and NATO instead of westernizing it, asserts John J. Mearsheimer, American professor of Political Science at the University of Chicago.

“The United States and its European allies now face a choice on Ukraine. They can continue their current policy, which will exacerbate hostilities with Russia and devastate Ukraine in the process a scenario in which everyone would come out a loser. Or they can switch gears and work to create a prosperous but neutral Ukraine, one that does not threaten Russia and allows the West to repair its relations with Moscow. With that approach, all sides would win,” he emphasizes in his article “Why the Ukraine Crisis Is the Wests Fault,” recently published in Foreign Affairs magazine.

According to the myth circulating in the western mainstream media, Russian President Vladimir Putin is planning to “resuscitate the Soviet empire,” and overthrow Ukrainian President Yanukovych, pointing to Russia’s incorporation of Crimea as pretext. These arguments, however, collapse upon careful scrutiny, the professor notes, as “if Putin were committed to creating a greater Russia, signs of his intentions would almost certainly have arisen before February 22.” It is the United States and its European allies who bear most of responsibility for the Ukrainian crisis, he adds.

The root of the problem lies in rapid expansion of NATO and the EU in Eastern Europe towards Russia’s borders, which had begun immediately after the collapse of the Soviet Union. The Ukrainian coup has evidently become “the final straw” for Moscow, the professor underscores. According to John J. Mearsheimer, Vladimir Putin’s decision to protect Crimea was spontaneous, as “he [Putin] feared [Crimea] would host a NATO naval base.” Since the Pentagon and the pro-western Ukrainian elite have repeatedly considered Russia’s Black Sea Fleet expelling from the peninsular, his anxiety was not groundless.

“US and European leaders blundered in attempting to turn Ukraine into a Western stronghold on Russias border. Now that the consequences have been laid bare, it would be an even greater mistake to continue this misbegotten policy,” the professor stresses.

Putin’s reaction is quite understandable, asserts the author. “Imagine the American outrage if China built an impressive military alliance and tried to include Canada and Mexico,” he writes. John J. Mearsheimer emphasizes that Washington should realize the logic behind Moscow’s stance, although it may dislike it. “This is Geopolitics 101: great powers are always sensitive to potential threats near their home territory,” reminds the professor.

The US sanctions policy against Russia is a road to nowhere, he adds, as history has repeatedly shown countries could “absorb enormous amounts of punishment in order to protect their core strategic interests.” John J. Mearsheimer believes that the US and its European allies should suspend NATO’s expansion into Ukraine and Georgia as well. Furthermore, the West should present a viable economic recovery plan for Ukraine and join efforts with Moscow to accomplish this task. Along with this Washington and Brussels should “considerably limit” their social-engineering practice in Ukraine. Thus, neutral and prosperous Ukraine will become a “win-win” solution for all sides, stresses the professor.

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NATO, EU Should Give Up Plans of Incorporating Ukraine Dr. John Mearsheimer

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August 31, 2014   Posted in: John Mearsheimer  Comments Closed

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Have NATO leaders created a crisis to justify NATOs continuation after its original purpose expired? Former Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul says: Without U.S.-sponsored regime change, it is unlikely that the Malaysian Airlines crash would have happened. Katrina vanden Heuvel, editor of The Nation, wonders why Washington is risking war with Russia. John Mearsheimer argues the Ukraine crisis Is the Wests fault. William Pfaff, writing in these pages, agrees: the United States started the Ukraine crisis, which may end in a war. Jan Oberg of Swedens Transnational Foundation holds NATO at least 80% responsible. Seumas Milne of The Guardian concurs: The EU sparked this crisis and NATO, far from keeping the peace has been the cause of escalating tension and war. An alliance forged against the existential Soviet threat successfully deterred the enemy without firing a shot. But then it waged war on Serbia which had not attacked any member state, contemptuous of a defeated, diminished and impotent Russia. Kosovos forcible detachment from Serbia in 1999 was the prelude to taking on a more diffuse peace-maintenance role that saw NATOs geographical reach expand to Eastern Europe, Afghanistan and Libya. If now it is taking on decidedly imperialist hues, are all members happy to endorse the transmutation? One does not know whether to admire the chutzpah or weep at the strategic stupidity, including reversing the Nixon-Kissinger brilliance of detaching China from Russia, of todays Western leaders. The facts are easily ascertainable from public sources, the double standards obvious, the hypocrisy brazen, and the Russian response was entirely predictable. If, despite this, the Western publics back their governments in the continued slide into confrontation with Russia, or the governments stay on that path against domestic opposition as in the 2003 Iraq war, we may rush headlong into a catastrophic war with the risk, as reminded recently by President Vladimir Putin, of nuclear escalation. If this sounds over the top, consider that Russia can provide principled, strategic and relative justifications for its actions vis-a-vis Ukraine. On chutzpah, the countries that attacked geographically distant Iraq in 2003 with no national security justification have the effrontery to exclaim that attacking another country without pretext is just not done in the 21st century. Leaders and countries yet to be held to domestic or international criminal account for that insist that Russia and Putin must be punished. The West may bankroll and support destabilization of an elected pro-Russian government in Kiev, but Russia must not destabilize a pro-West government installed by coup on its doorstep.

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September 8, 2014   Posted in: John Mearsheimer  Comments Closed

Global turmoil add to Obamas woes

Pick just about any area of the world and you will find turmoil, an escalation of international upheaval that is bringing more complaints President Barack Obama is not up to the task of steering U.S. foreign policy. But there is widespread disagreement over just what the U.S. strategy should be, and whether a more aggressive approach in the Middle East and elsewhere is advisable. If George W. Bush were president, he would be behaving the same way as Barack Obama, said John J. Mearsheimer, a professor of political science at the University of Chicago. The United States has lost two major wars in the last decade. The last thing you want to do is to have another war that its sure to lose. Virtually all those people who say hes not tough enough have never offered an alternative strategy that is viable, Mearsheimer said. Its easy to say hes not tough enough. But the $64,000 question is how can we be tougher and be successful? The conflicts seem to be everywhere. In the Middle East, a brutal Sunni terrorist group be-headed two American journalists and has sewn chaos in Iraq and Syria. Russian troops have occupied parts of eastern Ukraine as the Kiev government attempts to free itself from Moscows orbit in favor of the West. Talks to persuade Iran to end its effort to build a nuclear weapon are bogged down, Israel and Hamas just ended their third armed conflict in a decade, and North Korea is holding three Americans prisoners, including Jeffrey Fowle of West Carrollton. Obama entered office in 2009 vowing to curb U.S. military operations abroad, yet he may leave the presidency in 2017 having launched yet another American war in the turbulent Middle East. Obamas personality is such that its hard for him to be a leader, said Lynne Olson, a former Associated Press reporter and author of Those Angry Days Roosevelt, Lindbergh, and Americas Fight over World War II. While acknowledging that Obama has faced the worst set of circumstances any president has faced in a long time, Olson said: He reminds me a bit of Jimmy Carter in the sense of not knowing how to lead. Retired U.S. Army Col. Peter Mansoor, the General Raymond E. Mason chair in military history at Ohio State University, said he does not see an overall design to the way President Obama approaches grand strategy.

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September 8, 2014   Posted in: John Mearsheimer  Comments Closed

Obama criticized as overwhelmed by foreign crises

Foreign policy The Daily Briefing Buckeye Forum Podcast The Dispatchpublic affairs team talks politics and tackles state and federal government issues in the Buckeye Forum podcast. WASHINGTON The escalation of international upheaval has prompted sharp complaints that President Barack Obama is overwhelmed by events. In the Middle East, a brutal Sunni terrorist group beheaded two American journalists and has sown chaos in Iraq and Syria. Russian troops have occupied parts of eastern Ukraine as the Kiev government attempts to free itself from Moscows orbit in favor of the West. Talks to persuade Iran to end its effort to build a nuclear weapon are bogged down. Israel and Hamas just ended their third armed conflict in a decade. And North Korea is holding three Americans prisoner, including Jeffrey Fowle of Ohio. And now, Obama, who entered office in 2009 vowing to curb U.S. military operations abroad, might leave the presidency in 2017 having launched yet another American war in the turbulent Middle East. While acknowledging that Obama has faced the worst set of circumstances any president has faced in a long time, Lynne Olson, author of Those Angry Days Roosevelt, Lindbergh, and Americas Fight Over World War II, 1939-1941, said, Obamas personality is such that its hard for him to be a leader. He reminds me a bit of Jimmy Carter, whose 1976 presidential campaign she covered for the Associated Press, in the sense of not knowing how to lead. Retired U.S. Army Col. Peter Mansoor, holder of the Gen. Raymond E. Mason chair in military history at Ohio State University, said he does not see an overall design to the way President Obama approaches grand strategy. I think he values international cooperation in foreign affairs, but I dont think he understands how critical it is to have the U.S. lead, said Mansoor, former executive officer to Gen. David Petraeus in Iraq.

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September 7, 2014   Posted in: John Mearsheimer  Comments Closed

Will the cease-fire between Ukraine and Russian separatists last?

JEFFREY BROWN: Secretary of State John Kerry will travel to the region next week, hoping to build the coalition further. And joining me now to help interpret these developments are former U.S. Ambassador to NATO Nicholas Burns. Hes a professor at Harvards Kennedy School of Government. John Mearsheimer, a professor at the University of Chicago, he wrote an article for the latest issue of Foreign Affairs magazine titled Why the Ukraine Crisis Is the Wests Fault. And Michael McFaul was U.S. ambassador to Russia until spring of this year. He now teaches at Stanford University. And, Mike McFaul, let me start with you. What do you make first of this new cease-fire. Are there clear winners and losers? And I respect President Poroshenko, who understands his security demands and challenges better than I do. So, I think its a welcome sign. Its also a cautious sign, as the president rightly said, because we have done this before. I would just add two caveats. What it does today, by having it today instead and, say, not two weeks ago, is it freezes into place Russian gains on the ground, Russians and their allies in Eastern Europe. They have been on the offensive and they have been winning the war on the ground. This now freezes that into place. And, secondly, the obvious point, theres no political solution in the cease-fire. Thats going to take a lot of negotiating for months, if not years to come. JEFFREY BROWN: John Mearsheimer, where do you think things stand as of this moment, and what did you make of this announcement today from NATO about a rapid response force? Is that a useful thing or a provocative step? JOHN MEARSHEIMER, University of Chicago: Well, I agree with the two points that Mike made as caveats. Theres no question this deal solidifies Russian gains in recent weeks. And, furthermore, I think the more important point that he made is that a cease-fire by itself a meaningless. What we have to do is get some sort of meaningful peace agreement between the three sides here. And Im very pessimistic about that, because I think the Obama administration and the other Western countries are pursuing exactly the wrong policy with regard to Ukraine. I think getting tough with Putin, which is what we have been doing all along, and promising to get tougher in the future, is just going to make a bad situation worse. So Im not very optimistic about the future. With regard to the 4,000-troop reinforcement capability, I think thats fine. I think the two key things we definitely dont want to do is, number one, permanently station troops or military forces in Eastern Europe, and, number two, give military aid to the Ukrainian military.

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September 6, 2014   Posted in: John Mearsheimer  Comments Closed

Can NATO get back to its roots?

STORY HIGHLIGHTS (CNN) — The future of Europe may rest on whether NATO can recover its roots. With Russian President Vladimir Putin “land grabbing” and violating international law, the alliance is finding itself “brought back to its core,” says Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, NATO’s former secretary general. But it isn’t prepared. When NATO was founded in 1949, its central task was to protect its members against military aggression and work to promote democracy — which, in the years following, often meant standing against the Soviet empire. The alliance declares success in achieving that goal peacefully, saying on its website that “throughout the entire period of the Cold War, NATO forces were not involved in a single military engagement.” Unmarked military vehicles burn on a country road in Berezove, Ukraine after a clash between Ukrainian troops and pro-Russian separatists. But things changed after the Cold War. The focus was no longer on Russia. NATO says “new threats” emerged. The alliance got involved militarily in Bosnia and Herzegovina in the 1990s, and later in Macedonia. It established a military force in Afghanistan, and has forces in Somalia and some other parts of Africa. Now, Russia is increasing its reach, and getting close to NATO terrain. It annexed Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula in March and is accused of sending its troops into eastern Ukraine in support of pro-Russian rebels, a claim that Moscow denies. So, 55 years into its existence, NATO finds itself, as the Financial Times put it, going “back to the future.” Just how to do that is a central question as the alliance convenes its summit in Wales. “The problem NATO has is it’s not fully ready to be able to protect its own members,” Robin Niblett, director of the think tank Chatham House, told CNN. NATO’s military preparedness is “paltry compared to the kinds of steps the Russians are taking.”

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September 6, 2014   Posted in: John Mearsheimer  Comments Closed

What's the gap in NATO's armor?

STORY HIGHLIGHTS (CNN) — The future of Europe may rest on whether NATO can recover its roots. With Russian President Vladimir Putin “land grabbing” and violating international law, the alliance is finding itself “brought back to its core,” says Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, NATO’s former secretary general. But it isn’t prepared. When NATO was founded in 1949, its central task was to protect its members against military aggression and work to promote democracy — which, in the years following, often meant standing against the Soviet empire. The alliance declares success in achieving that goal peacefully, saying on its website that “throughout the entire period of the Cold War, NATO forces were not involved in a single military engagement.” Unmarked military vehicles burn on a country road in Berezove, Ukraine after a clash between Ukrainian troops and pro-Russian separatists. But things changed after the Cold War. The focus was no longer on Russia. NATO says “new threats” emerged. The alliance got involved militarily in Bosnia and Herzegovina in the 1990s, and later in Macedonia. It established a military force in Afghanistan, and has forces in Somalia and some other parts of Africa. Now, Russia is increasing its reach, and getting close to NATO terrain. It annexed Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula in March and is accused of sending its troops into eastern Ukraine in support of pro-Russian rebels, a claim that Moscow denies. So, 55 years into its existence, NATO finds itself, as the Financial Times put it, going “back to the future.” Just how to do that is a central question as the alliance convenes its summit in Wales. “The problem NATO has is it’s not fully ready to be able to protect its own members,” Robin Niblett, director of the think tank Chatham House, told CNN. NATO’s military preparedness is “paltry compared to the kinds of steps the Russians are taking.”

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September 5, 2014   Posted in: John Mearsheimer  Comments Closed

NATO's big problem is its military

STORY HIGHLIGHTS (CNN) — The future of Europe may rest on whether NATO can recover its roots. With Russian President Vladimir Putin “land grabbing” and violating international law, the alliance is finding itself “brought back to its core,” says Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, NATO’s former secretary general. But it isn’t prepared. When NATO was founded in 1949, its central task was to protect its members against military aggression and work to promote democracy — which, in the years following, often meant standing against the Soviet empire. The alliance declares success in achieving that goal peacefully, saying on its website that “throughout the entire period of the Cold War, NATO forces were not involved in a single military engagement.” Unmarked military vehicles burn on a country road in Berezove, Ukraine after a clash between Ukrainian troops and pro-Russian separatists. But things changed after the Cold War. The focus was no longer on Russia. NATO says “new threats” emerged. The alliance got involved militarily in Bosnia and Herzegovina in the 1990s, and later in Macedonia. It established a military force in Afghanistan, and has forces in Somalia and some other parts of Africa. Now, Russia is increasing its reach, and getting close to NATO terrain. It annexed Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula in March and is accused of sending its troops into eastern Ukraine in support of pro-Russian rebels, a claim that Moscow denies. So, 55 years into its existence, NATO finds itself, as the Financial Times put it, going “back to the future.” Just how to do that is a central question as the alliance convenes its summit in Wales. “The problem NATO has is it’s not fully ready to be able to protect its own members,” Robin Niblett, director of the think tank Chatham House, told CNN. NATO’s military preparedness is “paltry compared to the kinds of steps the Russians are taking.”

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September 4, 2014   Posted in: John Mearsheimer  Comments Closed

David J. Meadows: Reassessing post-Cold War assumptions after Russias invasion of Ukraine

Since April, Russia had been waging a proxy war in eastern Ukraine. Although no war was officially declared, Russias covert and overt support was crucial in financing, equipping, providing personnel, and supplying intelligence to the pro-Russian separatists. Still, even with such support, pro-Russian separatist rebels proved unable to counter Ukraines military advances. As a result, Russia recently made the fateful decision to undertake a direct military invasion into southeastern Ukraine, turning what was previously only a proxy war into something undeniably real. However, even with units of the Russian army invading and occupying parts of eastern Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly denied any Russian involvement, and cynically played himself off as being a peacemaker. Most recently, Putin even had the audacity to suggest that the Ukrainian government in Kyiv needed to sit down and seriously discuss statehood for the Russian occupied regions of eastern Ukraine. In reality, Russias illegal annexation of Crimea and current invasion of eastern Ukraine, illustrates that historical patterns of Russian imperialism never went away after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Yet Russias actions in Ukraine appear to have come as a surprise to many policymakers, analysts, and media commentators in the West. Part of the problem is that many in the West were lulled into a false sense of security after the end of the Cold War, stemming from the widely accepted triumph of liberalism thesis popularized by Francis Fukuyama, where it was taken for granted that Russia and the other post-Communist states would transition into democracies and liberalized economies. As a result, many analysts and policy elites in the West generally failed to see the illiberal patterns of post-1991 transformation actually taking place in Russia. That assessment would have pointed to the coming of an increasingly authoritarian, atavistic, and re-assertive Russia. The triumph of liberalism largely proved to be illusory and false, as Russia is far from being either a democracy or liberalized economy. But this has not been so much a reversal of reforms. Even a cursory glance at political patterns in Russia compared to the relative rates of transformation in leading liberal reform countries, such as the Baltic States, Czech Republic, and Poland would have revealed that Russia was actually a laggard in putting in place significant democratization and economic liberalization policies. On democratization, Russia lagged behind when it came to comprehensive reforms to ensure the protection of individual rights, rule of law, and private property rights. These reforms would have all served as prime ingredients buttressing a stable democracy. Consequently, comparatively little change occurred during the crucial years of the 1990s. Instead, there was backsliding on most of the tentative reforms, and increasing reversion towards authoritarianism, as illustrated in Freedom Houses annual rankings. While often overlooked by many Western analysts, Russian political culture simply lacks the historically rooted liberal-democratic traditions that often underpin democratic consolidation. Another problem has been Moscows increasingly firm control over the Russian media, which now promotes a stridently anti-democratic, anti-capitalist, and anti-Western message. In terms of economic liberalization, evidence suggests that far-reaching reforms in Russia were marginal and not even halfway at best, particularly in Russias dubious attempts at privatization. Instead, many of the business practices from Soviet times continued to persist. This was especially apparent with Russian natural gas giant Gazprom, where the state has retained virtual control. Indeed, Gazprom has served as a key foreign policy tool used to promote Moscows interests in disputes with Ukraine, the Baltic States, and other European Union (EU) members. Russias failure to democratize, and its reversion to authoritarianism, was also matched by historical continuities in foreign policy reminiscent of Soviet times. Although underreported and often ignored by Western media, this has been happening more and more since 1991. Throughout the 1990s, Moscow supported separatists in proxy wars in Transnistria in Moldova, and in Abkhazia and South Ossetia in Georgia. It also attempted to coerce and bully the governments of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania away from their desire to democratize and liberalize economically, which were key steps to return to Europe and move away from Russia. To illustrate one specific example, Latvia repeatedly faced significant coercion from Russia, which included embargoes of trade, oil, and gas; delaying tactics in the closure of Russian military bases and troop withdrawals; stalling on ratifying border agreements; threats over the treatment of ethnic-Russians; and economic sanctions for not conceding privileged access to Russian oil and gas interests. Russian officials and media even resorted to baseless propaganda in calling Latvia fascist, in what can only be described as a rehearsal to the type of vitriolic propaganda being directed at the current government in Kyiv. However, it was not until the Russian cyber attacks on Estonia in 2007, and the Russian invasion of Georgia in the summer of 2008, that many in the West began to wake up to Moscows revanchist behaviour even if such attention proved to be short-lived. Sadly, it was not until Russias recent illegal annexation of Crimea, the tragedy of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17, and Moscows support of pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine, that many Western leaders began to realize that Russian interests are increasingly out of sync with the commonly shared liberal-democratic values found among members of the EU and North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

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September 3, 2014   Posted in: John Mearsheimer  Comments Closed

NATO, EU Should Give Up Plans of Incorporating Ukraine Dr. John Mearsheimer

MOSCOW, August 26 (RIA Novosti) The West ought to fundamentally change its approach towards the Ukrainian crisis, making Ukraine a ‘neutral buffer’ between Russia and NATO instead of westernizing it, asserts John J. Mearsheimer, American professor of Political Science at the University of Chicago. “The United States and its European allies now face a choice on Ukraine. They can continue their current policy, which will exacerbate hostilities with Russia and devastate Ukraine in the process a scenario in which everyone would come out a loser. Or they can switch gears and work to create a prosperous but neutral Ukraine, one that does not threaten Russia and allows the West to repair its relations with Moscow. With that approach, all sides would win,” he emphasizes in his article “Why the Ukraine Crisis Is the Wests Fault,” recently published in Foreign Affairs magazine. According to the myth circulating in the western mainstream media, Russian President Vladimir Putin is planning to “resuscitate the Soviet empire,” and overthrow Ukrainian President Yanukovych, pointing to Russia’s incorporation of Crimea as pretext. These arguments, however, collapse upon careful scrutiny, the professor notes, as “if Putin were committed to creating a greater Russia, signs of his intentions would almost certainly have arisen before February 22.” It is the United States and its European allies who bear most of responsibility for the Ukrainian crisis, he adds. The root of the problem lies in rapid expansion of NATO and the EU in Eastern Europe towards Russia’s borders, which had begun immediately after the collapse of the Soviet Union. The Ukrainian coup has evidently become “the final straw” for Moscow, the professor underscores. According to John J. Mearsheimer, Vladimir Putin’s decision to protect Crimea was spontaneous, as “he [Putin] feared [Crimea] would host a NATO naval base.” Since the Pentagon and the pro-western Ukrainian elite have repeatedly considered Russia’s Black Sea Fleet expelling from the peninsular, his anxiety was not groundless. “US and European leaders blundered in attempting to turn Ukraine into a Western stronghold on Russias border. Now that the consequences have been laid bare, it would be an even greater mistake to continue this misbegotten policy,” the professor stresses. Putin’s reaction is quite understandable, asserts the author. “Imagine the American outrage if China built an impressive military alliance and tried to include Canada and Mexico,” he writes. John J. Mearsheimer emphasizes that Washington should realize the logic behind Moscow’s stance, although it may dislike it. “This is Geopolitics 101: great powers are always sensitive to potential threats near their home territory,” reminds the professor. The US sanctions policy against Russia is a road to nowhere, he adds, as history has repeatedly shown countries could “absorb enormous amounts of punishment in order to protect their core strategic interests.” John J. Mearsheimer believes that the US and its European allies should suspend NATO’s expansion into Ukraine and Georgia as well. Furthermore, the West should present a viable economic recovery plan for Ukraine and join efforts with Moscow to accomplish this task. Along with this Washington and Brussels should “considerably limit” their social-engineering practice in Ukraine. Thus, neutral and prosperous Ukraine will become a “win-win” solution for all sides, stresses the professor.

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August 31, 2014   Posted in: John Mearsheimer  Comments Closed


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