When I consider an issue, one of my favorite practices is to find at least two experts on the subject. I like to get their views directly, not a summary written by someone else who might impose their own values.
On the recent crisis in Ukraine, I’ve picked Dr. Fiona Hill and Professor John Mearsheimer. Here’s what they have to say.
Fiona Hill on the Ukraine crisis: What are the best & worst case scenarios?
Germany TV interview with Fiona Hill
Interview posted to YouTube on 12 February 2022 (before the invasion of Ukraine)
Dr. Fiona hill is one of the premier experts on Russian foreign policy. Formerly she was the Senior Director for the White House’s Nation Security Council Europe and Russia Department. She made headlines after testifying against former President Trump during his second impeachment trial. Lately she has been extremely critical about how the new German government has addressed the growing crisis at the Ukraine border, potentially leading to a new and deadly phase of this decades old conflict.
Why is Ukraine the West’s Fault
Professor John Measheimer
25 September 2015 (posted to YouTube on this date)
The Causes and Consequences of the Ukraine Crisis
John J. Mearsheimer
June 4-7, 2015
John J. Mearsheimer, the R. Wendell Harrison Distinguished Service Professor in Political Science and Co-director of the Program on International Security Policy at the University of Chicago, assesses the causes of the present Ukraine crisis, the best way to end it, and its consequences for all of the main actors. A key assumption is that in order to come up with the optimum plan for ending the crisis, it is essential to know what caused the crisis. Regarding the all-important question of causes, the key issue is whether Russia or the West bears primary responsibility.
Thanks for sending these links.
I have been listening to Fiona Hill regularly on CNN, but John J. Mearsheimer was unknown to me. In light of the current situation. it clear that much of what they discuss is already passé, things have turned out rather differently.
A few of my thoughts on the subject …
Of course it is essential to understand historical factors which have led to the current situation, but debate is superfluous on whose fault the current crisis is, what matters now is how to move forward.
Germany shut down the NordStream 2 pipeline a couple of weeks ago, and, together with rest of Europe, will move forward very aggressively to remove Russia from their energy mix (gas, oil and coal). Due to current sanctions supported by the USA and EU, the tightest in the history of the world, Russia’s already declining, fossile-fuel-based economy will slowly wither on the vine.
Last Friday Germany dramatically changed its military stance, they will ship arms to Ukraine, breaking with a doctrine in place since World War II not to send arms to conflict areas. And Germany will raise defense spending from 1.5% to the 2% of GDP demanded by Trump.
European borders must remain sacrosanct, meaning Russia must vacate Crimea, Donetsk and Luhansk (Ukraine) as well as Abkhazia and Ossetia (Georgia) and Transnistria (Moldova). None of the former Soviet republics nor Warsaw Pact countries want to have anything to do with Russia, they are in NATO because they understandably fear Russia. Due to current events Sweden and Finland are now also seriously considering joining NATO, possibly even Austria as well. Switzerland is special case, a neutral country with no business scruples is needed by the (corrupt) elites of all countries, the Nazis di not invade in World War II because they needed such a place.
The British, French, Austria-Hungary, Spanish and Portuguese empires are no more, they are not great powers, and have no significant spheres of influence. To the greatest extent these nations have gotten over the loss of empire status. By all standards (economic power, population, etc.) Russia no longer an empire deserving of an sphere of influence, the empire died with he demise of the Soviet Union. But many Russians, and especially Putin himself, have a aggreaved minority complex coupled with a sense of entitlement to the empire and sphere of influence they have lost. However the problem is that Russia has huge military resources and countless nuclear weapons.
We have seen the true Putin recently. He may have been coolly calculating and strategic in the the past , he is evidently deranged now. Of course Trump is too, last week he profusely praised Putin for the Ukranian invasion, comparing it to a great real-estate deal!
Why I am reminded when thinking about Neville Chamberlain when it comes to dealing with Russia?
Thank you for your thoughtful comment!
On the military front, I’m no expert. All I can say is that, unlike 1939, the superpowers (especially the US and Russia) still have absurdly large nuclear stock piles. My guess is that neither the US nor Russia want a nuclear war. That’s why nuclear superpowers have only fought proxy wars since 1945.
I have no idea about whether Ukraine can fend off Russia militarily. Of course, even if Russia “wins” the initial battle to take control of the country (e.g. it occupies major cities, etc.), that doesn’t mean Russia will be able to effectively occupy the country. They failed to do that in Afghanistan, as did we. Ukraine would seem to be an even bigger challenge!
Perhaps the economic sanctions the West is putting together will work. I certainly hope so.
The only other front, as I see it, is the diplomatic one, which can be used in combination with sanctions. Here is where I think the historical knowledge of people like Fiona Hill and John Mearsheimer may come in handy. If you understand the history of a conflict, that might help you formulate viable diplomatic proposals.