Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Only Paranoid Survive

Wally Shedd has some interesting and original ideas about Russia’s paranoia about NATO extension over countries around its border. He says,

In fact, I would say this alarm is strictly a Russian situation. No other country in the world is so paranoid about having strong countries on their borders, as Russia.

Actually this is not quite so. India – Pakistan, China – Taiwan, Armenia – Turkey – Azerbaijan are the most evident examples. Then we need to look at more “civilized” countries: South Korea and Japan hate each other like no one else. Turkey and Greece (both of them NATO members). If you read Turkish or Greek newspapers you’d think these countries are on the brink of a full scale war. Indonesia and Malaysia – it a mystery why there’s no war between them. Then some “mild” examples: Spain and Marocco, UK and Argentina, Chile and Bolivia. As for Africa almost every country on the continent is so paranoid about its neighbors being strong that local wars almost never stop. To sum it up – universal generalizations, like “no other country in the world”, are usually very, VERY weak arguments.

Here’s another passage from Wally’s post –

Now, Americans who might be reading this ... try not to laugh ... but many Russians really believe that they are going to be invaded again someday. No really, I told you not to laugh. Stop laughing now. There is more than ice and tundra in Russia. Really, I've been there. Many Russians believe they could be attacked for their resources. Oil, metals, wood, what have you.

Let us test this passage by inversion

Now, Russian who might be reading this ... try not to laugh ... but many Georgians really believe that they are going to be invaded again someday. No really, I told you not to laugh. Stop laughing now. There is more than mountains and sheep in Georgia. They have a lot of democracy, that Russia currently needs desperately.

You see, now Russians are laughing but Americans are very serious. So serious that they find nothing funny when Wall Street Journal publishes an article by Nino Burdzhanidze Russia Is Making Very Dangerous Noises. In this article Nino states without doubt that Russia is planning to invade and occupy poor Georgia soon, probably tomorrow. Mind it – Nino's delirium is published not in Onion and not in National Enquirer. WSJ is considered serious and respectable.

Talking about paranoia – in the world of big business only paranoiacs survive. This is true for international relations in the long term. Nobody in Russia believes that the country will be invaded tomorrow or next month but what about in 20 years? In 30 or 50 years? Can anyone look so far ahead into the future? Do you believe in 50 years the world would be paradise of peace where a lion will lie with a lamb? Such a huge and scarcely populated country as Russia survived only because it was paranoid about its security. Indian tribes in North America were not paranoid.

10 comments:

Tim Newman said...

South Korea and Japan hate each other like no one else.

They do, but I can assure you the are not in the least bit worried that one will invade the other.

As for who would invade Russia? Well, unless Russia sorts out its army so that it can protect its borders or scrapes the rust off its nuclear weapons, there is some possibility that it could lose Eastern Siberia (and all its lovely resources) to a powerful and energy-hungry China. Not in the next decade, but possibly within the next two. Possibly.

Anonymous said...

You have the notion to present your words as undisputable facts. This country hates that and the other hates some other one. Well, it is certainly not true that half the countries wants to invade the other half. I am not sure where you got that thing about Indonesia and Malaysia. Care to provide some evidence of that? By the way, there is a well-developed country like Australia and there is poor Indonesia, which is overpopulated and has a huge well-equiped army, but there is not a single talk in Oz about the possibility of them invading Australia, because there is a lot of free space.

And what's with the paranoics in business?

Konstantin said...

I know that the possibility of Japan invading Korea is almost nil. Five years ago I worked for one well-known Korean corporation. Almost of all Koreans I talked (four shots after) were absolutely sure Japan will invade Korea when given a slightest chance. Koreans are very serious about Japan military budget. When it was just 0,01% over the Japanese constitutional maximum, Korea went mad.
Back to the topic - Russia is not the only paranoid country in the world.

Sean Guillory said...

While I have yet to hear any sensible Russian worry about actually being invaded, at least there is some historical precedence for Russians to be concerned about it. Losing 28 million in people in a war will do that to you. The Cato Institute has some nerve because can't we say the same for the US, which has been invaded twice (1812 and the Mexican-American War), if you can call those invasions. The US express a similar, if not worse, invasion paranoia in casting every country *it* wants invade as the next Hitler. After all, wasn't this paranoia the justification for US foreign policy since Truman? Wasn't it Reagan who said that the Sandinista take over in Nicaragua meant that "communism was lapping at our shores"? Is not the Bush Doctrine a reconfiguration of the Truman Doctrine, which was an expansion of the Monroe Doctrine? US foreign policy isn’t concerned about its borders. It’s paranoid about hemispheres and the entire globe itself.

With this kind of foreign policy history, why would the Russians accept NATO at their border as some sort of benign force? NATO is after all a military alliance that was created as a bulwark against it! I wouldn't imagine that if the US had something similar on its border, it would stand for it either. And understandably so.

The Cato report has some nerve.

And Konstantin is right. The fact that the WSJ would publish such an insane idea that Russia will invade Georgia is laughable.

W. Shedd said...

I can't say that you cited a single accurate example of another country that worries so much about a security agreement between its neighbor and the US. In fact, even your list of countries is so very, very short, as to completely support my case that the CATO authors misspoke in saying that "Russia is like any other country" in regards to being threatened by security agreements between the US and a country which it borders.

So thank you for making my case.

As for the business about Russia worrying about US aggression .. you don't have to look any further than headlines in your own country, to find plenty of examples of this paranoia. Everything from headlines shouting "US Soldiers to be Closer to Russian Border" in response to 2,000 troops in Poland as part of NATO excercises, to an old woman saying "They finally got us, American finally got us" in response to a small lake that drained through a sinkhole overnight. This attitude in Russia certainly exists, but you prefer to imagine that it does not.

Instead, pointing out examples of US silliness, makes you somehow feel righteous and correct. Quite feeble, and one argument has little to do with the other. Further, when you attempt to cite examples of US over-reacting to Communist expansion, you fail to grasp that a very real explicit doctrine of Communism is the elimination of Capitalism. I think you will not find that the doctrine of NATO or the US is the elimination of Russia, or else they might be more justly anxious over the expansion of member nations. And to correct Sean Guillory, NATO was initially created to oppose expansion of the USSR, of which Russia was only a member state. It is not explicit in its charter to be anything other than a military alliance. Perhaps we should ask people of Poland, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania what they hoped to gain by NATO membership. Was it a chance to invade Russia ... or protection from a possibly aggressive neighbor, after being occupied by the USSR for 50 years?

Konstantin, You should really just save yourself the time of posting. We all get the message. Russia is always right, you are always right, the west is always wrong, and anything even slightly negative said about Russia is just wrong. I think we all got that repetative and boring message from you by now.

Next time instead of mischaracterizing my posts and quotes on your blog, you might just post a comment directly. It seems rather weasel-like to post something where I might read it and challenge it some days or weeks later. I don't find much of what you write any more interesting than say ... Glazunov's most recent paintings.

Konstantin said...

Wally! Don't go mad. Your comments could be very interesting if you: (1) stop making so many universal generalizations, (2) stop using argumentae ad hominem so intensively, (3) try to make your posts more logically structured, as you like to bring dozens of unrelated facts together. Last but not least, your posts are very very very long for so few ideas.

W. Shedd said...

Source: United Nations Association of Georgia

Date: 08 Feb 2006
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Georgia: Tbilisi fears Russia may use force to 'protect its citizens' in S.Ossetia

Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 2006-02-08 12:00:31 - The Georgian Foreign Ministry demanded "proper explanations" from the Russian side regarding how it is going to protect the rights of its own "citizens" in the Tskhinvali region, the Georgian Foreign Ministry said in a statement issued on February 7.

This statement by the Georgian Foreign Ministry follows an interview by Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin with the Russian newspaper Vremya Novostey, in which he said Russia will protect its citizens and maintain stability in South Ossetia, while answering the question of whether the Russian peacekeepers will leave the conflict zone or not.

"We would like to state unequivocally that the Georgian side has plans to decide, with all seriousness and responsibility, whether or not to extend the presence of the peacekeeping forces in the Tskhinvali region. We are insisting that proper explanations be given by the Russian side as to how it is going to protect the rights of its own 'citizens' in the Tskhinvali region and maintain stability there, which we read as an undisguised threat to use force," reads the statement by the Georgian Foreign Ministry.

Anonymous said...

We really have no reason to invade russia, we have good ties with them, maybe not the greatest but why would we actaully go over there and waste hundreds of thousands of lives, billions of dollars to go over our budget, (which bush has already done) just to say we are more powerful than russia (even though we are) and make ourselves look like idiots. The Iraqi freedom war is stupid enough. Just recently there was a missle launched from southern Alaska(U.S. owned) and landed in a desert in arizona or somethin, and the radar protecting california picked it up. This is evidence that we are making a missile defense system, even though its in violation of the MAD treaty between all the nuclear nations of the world. Think about for a second, its pointless, completely pointless! China woudlnt react to us because they cant even take over TAWAIN!!! im mean seriously....thats extremely sad. Yes there are documents that the U.S. CIA and FBI have mad after world war 1 and has been updated over the years even through to cold war to attack every single nation on planet earth, They are coded with colors. Even the brits have been planned against following the arms race with the capitol battle ships and all.

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