For me, it’s been fascinating to watch the militant anti-Russia critiques from McCain and the neocon usual suspects. What’s interesting is not so much the intensity of the critiques, but the underlying similarities between the neocons and the Russians. More precisely, what’s interesting are the parallels between neocon thought and the thought that led the Russians to attack (or counter-attack). In short, both are motivated by militant nationalism.
I mean, let’s imagine if Bill Kristol could be magically transformed into a Russian. And let’s say that the Russian Kristol saw the following happen over the years: (1) the Soviet Union collapsed; (2) NATO and the West began militarily encircling a country whose foreign policy has been obsessed for 60 years with avoiding another WW2-style invasion; (3) NATO humiliated an impotent Russia by bombing the holy crap out of Serbia and then supporting independence for Kosovo; (4) a hated uber-nationalist neighbor (Georgia) wanted to join this military alliance (NATO!); (5) said hated neighbor launched an attack essentially rubbing Russia’s nose in it.
What exactly do you think Kristolovich would recommend? Respect for territorial sovereignty?
No, he’d recommend pretty much what he’s recommending now, just with the countries reversed. That’s what militant nationalists do. They convince themselves of their own unambiguous superiority. Once that point is established, everything else flows logically. Because we’re so good, we can use force whenever and wherever we want. We won’t be excessive of course, because we’re constitutionally incapable of being wrong.
And while the West must oppose Russia’s attempts to claw back territories that used to be in the Soviet Union or Russian Empire, it should at the same time recognise that our enemy isn’t the Russian people but merely their misguided nationalist leaders, and it should bear this in mind in what policies it considers.