Europe’s weak response to Russian aggression in the Ukraine is the product of short-sighted “free market” and “frugal government” policies loved by Conservatives and their Pet Economists. Free Market Economic Ideology says Russian gas will be delivered to Western Europe at market rates, no matter what. But Vlad Putin is not a believer in the Efficient Market Hypothesis or Real Business Cycle Economics and suddenly Germany’s government understands that he can turn off the heat off if they make him mad enough. And all over Europe, but especially in the UK, the fragility of economies depending on Russian investment capital has also suddenly become clear. If you are depending on politically connected Russian investors to keep your banking system afloat, you do not have the option of imposing capital controls to respond to the Crimean invasion. After centuries of financial domination that followed military domination, Europe is seeing the tables turn and the religious belief that everyone in the world must always play by the market rules that the West has imposed is being shown to be not divinely inspired.
Imagine that instead of short sighted, vindictive, and highly subsidized extraction of vigorish from Southern Europe to pay back reckless loans by German and French banks, the EU had funded a vast construction project to build solar and wind generation in the sunny states and connect Europe with high efficiency power lines. The investment would have stimulated manufacturing in Germany and France, created jobs and wealth in the southern rim and reduced European dependence on both Putin’s gas and his blood money. Ah but that kind of policy is hippie dreaming. Hard headed economists know, or think they know, that the price of gas must be set by market demand, not by the actions of strongmen and that investment capital flows to the most efficient use. Thus when Russian billionaires choose to invest in soccer teams and gambling clubs, why what mere government could try to second guess them and direct capital into solar power or wind farms?
Of course, Europe is not the only place where market fundamentalism has replaced common sense. US national security planners, under the influence of market theory, have been operating under the assumption that abject dependence on China for electronics and other technology is not a problem. Because, the Government of China would never interfere with market pricing in order to extend geopolitical power. Of course not.
There is an uncomfortable amount of truth in this op-ed: http://t.co/j4YkujH6t7— John Schindler (@20committee)March 5, 2014
Americans who objected to George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq were liable to receive peculiar, earnest, and often wildly angry lectures about how it was time to put away our unserious, girly concerns about environment, tolerance, fair trade vegan cuisine, and such, and face up to the Hard Cold World in which Rough Men guarded the Borders against Saddam Hussien, the Islamic Fanatics, and those Weapons of Mass Destruction (lots of capital letters needed to convey seriousness). So it’s depressing but not all that surprising that the Ukraine crisis is provoking essentially the same diatribes, from the same people.
This is how the RedState editorial recommended by Dr. Schindler begins - it is exactly the same argument RedState made in 2003, with a few nouns changed:
Until Friday, we lived in an age where the United States government could, with a straight face, assert that the most serious national security issue of our time is global warming.
Until Friday, we lived in an age where men could be thought of as boys, living in their parents’ basement, on their parents’ insurance, tweeting angrily in support of two dudes and an it getting married.
To be sure, some of that continues today. But while Barack Obama and his unserious advisors in a Western World grown too unserious about reality focus on unserious topics, the nations of the world continue to jockey for national interest and Kremlin tanks continue pouring into Ukraine.
That’s the rub of it. Until Friday, we lived in a world where the West had grown comfortable that Francis Fukuyama was right and history had ended.
I plead guilty to even continuing to believe that a rise of sea levels by several feet and the collapse of agriculture in the midwest might have more serious national security implications than Russian soldiers in Crimea, but the basic argument presented above, the same argument we heard in 2003, is something Dr. Schindler knows to be totally false. Schindler, a former NSA analyst, is Professor of National Security Affairs at the U.S. Naval War College in Newport, RI, and a frequent participant in discussions on Twitter. Over the last few months, Dr. Schindler and others, including myself, have discussed and often agreed on the dangerous and damaging nature of Ed Snowden’s espionage and the unpleasant nature of Vlad Putin’s police state. So Schindler knows that many of us liberal, gay rights supporting, unserious Obama infatuated types are not at all surprised to learn that “nations of the world continue to jockey for national interest”. We know that to be true and we don’t have warm feelings about Vlad Putin. But none of that makes us either want to ignore what science tells us about climate change or trust the bellicose, poorly sourced, and emotional arguments of the same people who thought Paul Wolfowitz and Don Rumsfeld should be given the US army as a toy for their inept war games.
And this story they tell themselves about how only they have the courage to face up to the hard cold world out there and the rest of us are wallowing in wishful thinking, drinking lattes at the Co-Op, fingering our Tibetan Love Beads or something - what a hapless delusion.
You want to see an example of wishful thinking ? Here’s Paul Wolfowitz in 2003
Block: At the United Nations yesterday there were envoys from Muslim countries warning of massive political instability in the region, of huge numbers of deaths and injuries as well as refugees.
Wolfie: Clearly some of the fears come from I think probably exaggerated notions of what may happen… But at the end of the day I think many of these governments understand that…that it will be an act of humanity [to] the Iraqi people, that it will be an act that will bring more stability to the region, not less.
Block: There are concerns, too, though about the rise of Muslim extremism in the region inflamed by the U.S. occupation of Iraq…
Wolfie: We’re not talking about the occupation of Iraq. We’re talking about the liberation of Iraq. We’re talking about the liberation of one of the most talented populations in the Arab world and perhaps the most long-suffering population in the Arab world. Therefore, when that regime is removed we will find one of the most talented populations in the Arab world, perhaps complaining that it took us so long to get there… basically welcoming us as liberators…. The Arab world is going to see that and it’s going to have a very big impact not just in Iraq but throughout the Arab world.
Block: The presence of U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia has been one of the most inflammatory things for al Qaeda and groups like that. That they see U.S. occupation or U.S. presence in that country as something that they must fight against. How would it be any different in Iraq?
Wolfie: The Iraqis are among the most educated people in the Arab world. They are by and large quite secular. They are overwhelmingly Shia which is different from the Wahabis of the [Saudi] peninsula… But the most fundamental difference is that, let me put it this way. We’re seeing today how much the people of Poland and Central and Eastern Europe appreciate what the United States did to help liberate them from the tyranny of the Soviet Union. I think you’re going to see even more of that sentiment in Iraq. There’s not going to be the hostility that you described…There simply won’t be.
Those who want to convince the public that Putin’s actions in the Ukraine are more important than Climate Change need to come up with two things that appear to be completely unattainable for them. The first is a situational analysis that contains some actual data and knowledge about both the regional crisis and the global implications - for example I’d like to see some serious discussion of economic factors, the structural condition of the Russian state, and energy sales to Europe. You know, some scholarship rather than inchoate screaming and the kind of ignorant superficial nonsense Wolfowitz produced. And second, how about some suggestions that are more concrete than “show resolution” and other similar? In the Ukraine, the US appears to have no military options, even the “hawks” admit that. So exactly what do you want us to do?
You want people to take you seriously, do some work and - by the way, citing RedState is not helping your case.
The vociferous hawkish critics of US foreign policy in Ukraine and Syria often like to “explain” that the Obama admin & EU have profoundly misunderstood Vladimir Putin’s character and world-view. The critics argument is that Western governments have assumed Putin is just like them, law abiding, mild mannered, nice. But, in reality, they tell us - Putin is a cold eyed pirate who looks out and sees Obama and the EU as weak, cowardly, naive, and easily bullied, and he responds to that by aggressively grabbing what he wants, when he wants it. In other words, they believe Putin’s view of the Obama administration is, why - exactly the same as their own view.
Isn’t that incredible? We begin by believing something is true, apply our much advertised deep skills and knowledge to the problem, and then conclude we were right all along. We don’t have to do any heavy lifting, think about NATO, about the Russian power structure and opposition, about economics or history (e.g. how this is similar or different to the little incident in Georgia that happened during the Bush administration), or anything else. All we have to is take Lindsey Graham or Dick Cheney’s view of Mr. Obama, ascribe it to Mr. Putin, and QED! Our premise and conclusion are the same. We are smart.
Just for the record, there is zero evidence that anyone in the White House or US State Department has ever had any faith in Mr. Putin’s character - during this administration.
He said it was time to move beyond Cold War attitudes, away from mutually assured destruction towards mutually earned respect.
"I looked the man in the eye. I found him to be very straight forward and trustworthy and we had a very good dialogue.
"I was able to get a sense of his soul.
"He’s a man deeply committed to his country and the best interests of his country and I appreciate very much the frank dialogue and that’s the beginning of a very constructive relationship," Mr Bush said. BBC.
A cynical person might conclude that these hawkish critics are seeing what they want to see and failing to subject their prejudices to sufficient scrutiny. And since most of these same people had credulously assumed that Don Rumsfeld would successfully prosecute the War in Iraq, perhaps the real locus of naive analysis is not in the current administration.