Dean Clough

February 23, 2022

Portico Darwin: Red Scare

I don't believe in the invasion of one sovereign nation by another, and I certainly don't condone the actions of Trump's puppetmaster, Vladimir Putin.  I also think this will go down as a large blunder by the Russian dictator, and that he's going to find himself bogged down by both the war and the economic sanctions that come with it.

But I will let you in on a little secret.  We pushed Russia into it.  Or at least mostly.

In the 1990s and even in to the new millennium, the world was unipolar, with a hegemonic United States leading the way, militarily, economically, and socially.  Russia was no threat to Europe (and therefore NATO - the North Atlantic Treaty Organization), and not to any other US interests.  We had fought and won The Cold War.

So what did we do?  Did we attempt to further a stable peace, and establish a security framework for Russia, its former republics (Ukraine, etc.), and its former Iron Curtain protectorates (Poland, the former Czechoslovakia, etc.)?  Or did we expand expand NATO, and if so, why?

Well, you know the rest of the story.  We expanded NATO, for no real national security reason.  Sure, we wanted to expand our influence and draw these formerly communist nations into our capitalist clutches.  Some also had Soviet nukes.  But returning them to their rightful place in the community of Europe is different than bringing countries at Russia's doorstep into our most important military alliance.

Take a look at these lists and then the map, noting the proximity to Russia of each new NATO member.

1999 NATO Membership Class 
  • Czech Republic
  • Hungary
  • Poland

2004 NATO Membership Class
  • Bulgaria
  • Estonia
  • Latvia 
  • Lithuania
  • Romania
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia

It doesn't take a foreign policy wonk to see why Russia would feel less secure with NATO lapping at its borders.  And on top of that, Ukraine had been seeking NATO membership for years, and NATO has never said no.  Among other things, it was America's refusal to rule out Ukraine "ever" being in NATO that prompted Putin to roll his tanks now.

Again:  please do not mistake any of this as a justification for Russia's action.  There isn't one.  As I said at the outset, no country should invade another.  And I get that Vlad The Impaler is no choir boy in general.  He may very well had done worse if we hadn't expanded NATO into his subdivision.   

But if you consider the reaction the US had when the tiny island of Cuba had missiles aimed at us (as Poland has now, but aimed at Russia), perhaps it's a bit easier to see the nuance in the situation.  We almost had a nuclear war over our desire to keep the then-Soviet Union out of our subdivision. 

So maybe we should have considered expanding NATO a bit more carefully when we held all/most of the cards? 

(And maybe Trump should have supplied military aid to Ukraine when asked, instead of making it dependent on digging up dirt on Hunter and Joe Biden?) 

But now?  Hopefully the sanctions will work and this will end in some non-awful way, for Ukraine, the Russian people, and Europe.  Both the Ukrainians (having been invaded) and Russians (living under Putin) are victims here. 

Thank you to any one that is reading this newsletter.

You can only listen to samples via TIDAL, as I don't own this in any format except for vinyl (amazing!), and I'm still not linking to Spotify.  But it's too perfect for today and also just a wonderful, Diamond Certified listen - maybe you can find it on the music service to which you subscribe.  No, Hunter Deuce, it is not the original score from "Fiddler on The Roof".

Rather, here are some Balalaika Favorites from the Osipov State Russian Folk Orchestra.


About Dean Clough

Plans To Enjoy Life.