Baltic Conundrum

CBC International has published an interview with me about Canada’s decision to deploy troops to Latvia. You can read it here:

This is the second of two articles by CBC on the subject, entitled ‘Canada’s Baltic Conundrum’. The first article is available here:

During my interview, I was asked if there was anything that people were missing. Thinking about it afterwards, I felt that my answer wasn’t the best I could have given. What I would have liked to have added was that Russia’s decisions to annex/re-unite with Crimea and to provide support to the rebels in Donbass didn’t come out of the blue. Rather, they came after months of violence in Kiev, the unconstitutional overthrow of Ukraine’s president, and then several more months of intense combat between the Ukrainian army and Donbass rebels, which resulted in significant civilian casualties. You shouldn’t imagine, therefore, that Russia is just going to invade Latvia out of nowhere. Something very drastic would have to happen beforehand, and it is very hard to see how the conditions of Ukraine would be repeated in the Baltics. Context is all important, and it is all too often missing in discussions of Russian behaviour.

 

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8 thoughts on “Baltic Conundrum”

  1. Nice job, Paul. You can’t think of everything while your brain is focused on dealing with the question currently being addressed, and I would say your tone on what you did say was firm, but fair. Hopefully your take on it will mesh with some other opinions which previously would have been seen as contrarian, but are slowly becoming more mainstream. You seemed comfortable with your point that ‘stepping up’ as we are constantly exhorted to do actually buys us no serious influence with our allies, but you have expanded on that to suggest we might have a better chance to influence Russia. Excellent point, though if we keep on the way we are going, that option will be off the board.

    I would feel very comfortable quoting that as an informed and educated opinion.

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  2. Professor Robinson, have it ever occurred to you that the Western Powers That Be, political, media, financial and military elites, already knew perfectly well all your arguments and will ignore them anyway? That, perhaps, they are not thickheaded ignorant idiots incapable of seeing beyond their noses?

    Maybe the whole deal lies in the fact that the Western elites see no such thing as “people” and “nations”, only “human resources” and “land property”? And these aforementioned elites, who are not so dim despite their attempts to appear as such, understood that perfectly well when they admitted the Baltic limitrofe states into the glorious NATO way back a dozed years ago? Because anyone with the access to basic statistical date gonna tell you – Baltic countries, now freed from the Soviet “oppression” and reunited with the so-called “Free World” are in death spiral. They can’t possible defend themselves. Conscription won’t solve anything. Nevertheless, they are the most bellicose (along with Poland) and most ready to pick up the fight with Russia – although their usefulness to the North Atlantic Alliance is very dubious and their military contribution is ridiculous.

    Maybe, just maybe, knowing all that and not ready to relinquish their newest “conquest”, the Western elites decided that instead of compromising and patching things with Russia on diplomatic front (which would be tantamount to the surrender as it was 10 years ago as it is now, given the toxic narrative in the Western mainstream narrative provided by the hive-mind of the Free and Independent Media), so instead of fighting off “aggressive and resurgent Russia” ™, that will attack plucky Baltic Chihuahuas any moment now (just wait for it!) together with valiant Baltic soldiers, NATO countries will do that instead of Baltic soldiers. Because, let’s face it, Baltic military is *crap*.

    Okay, NATO (and its chief contributor and Big Momma the USA) can’t use Baltic troops in its “humanitarian interventions”. No one is doing charity here, only in the name of “preventing the injustices of the WW2 from happening again”, lest so the NATO. So, Baltic countries provide the only coin they can to pay for their membership in the Bullies Club of the Planet Earth – their own land. Why the NATO should not keep troops in Baltic countries? And no, this is not my question – that’s what all “red-blooded American patriots”, pro-interventionists, Polish and Baltic politicians and the whores’ chorus of associated with them Media keeps asking – indignant. They are dead set to disrespect the 1997 treaty with Russia – because they firmly believe that Russia is just a paper tiger ready to collapse or fold at the slightest pressure from the Good Guys. They don’t suffer from the usual case of “Irrusianality”, when Russia is perceived as both threatening, dangerous power and, at the same time, on the brink of collapse and defeat. They don’t consider Russia to be a thread, but they are willing to promulgate this myth if it would allow them to “deal” with Russia once and for all. Because, what an insolent country is it!

    Don’t you think, Professor, that the rot problem here is the firm belief of the Western elites that they still can “win” in confrontation with Russia? That with enough panache and show of strength Russia will crawl back on its knees asking for forgiveness? That, if it comes to that, a few well placed bribes to this or that oligarch or general would allow the NATO troops to ride unopposed all the way to Moscow and bring the poor sub-human wretches a True Free-Doom?

    Finally, I disagree with what you state is the “ideal” goal of Russia in resolving the tensions with the West. It’s been said by all parties involved several times that there is no possibility to return to the “Business As Usual”. Russia aims to revise the whole Uni-Polar World Order with the USA as the sole Hegemon of the globe. Russia wants respect to its efforts to exercise its sovereignty both within its borders and within its sphere of influence. It’s failure to admit just that which lead to the Ukrainian crisis. And there will be another such crisis should the West ignore Russia’s concerns in this respect another time. Without agreeing to that revision there won’t be ANY rapprochement between Russia and the West, no matter the amount of sweet words or bilateral talks.

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    1. ‘have it ever occurred to you that the Western Powers That Be, political, media, financial and military elites, already knew perfectly well all your arguments and will ignore them anyway?’ – It hasn’t only occurred to me, I am fully aware that I will be ignored, as I have been repeatedly in the past. Back in December 2002, I wrote in The Spectator that, the threat from Iraqi WMD was a ‘figment of some overactive imaginations’. I was ignored. Does that mean that I was wrong to say it, that I shouldn’t have bothered trying? Of course not. One does what little one can in whatever small ways one can in an effort to slowly shift opinion. It may prove ultimately to be a futile effort, but at least one knows one has tried.

      As for the rest of what you say, I think that you give our powers-that-be far too much credit for long-term strategic thinking. It’s the same mistake so many people in the West make about Russia, imagining that what it has done in Crimea and Donbass are not ad-hoc responses to sudden crises but the result of deliberately planned aggression, as part of a greater strategic purpose of reshaping the world order, as you put it.

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      1. I do not think that Crimea can strictly speaking be called an ad hoc response.
        Given the enormous professionality of this affair, the crimean operation obviously had some major planning (pretty creative planning I may add) behind it. This planning likely originated in contingency plans based (General staff basically do contingency planning all the time) on scenarios of Ukrainian hostility. They were strongly motivated by some pretty dumb things Kiev did during the Yuschchenko era (seriously, if you want to steal or expel the black sea fleet, dont fucking fly to Tiblissi and announce your intentions to do so to the worlds press, but rather fake friendship to Russia until you got everything prepared.).

        Come to think of it, I do wonder why Ukrainian nationalist leadership is so completely and consistently sub par.

        This may actually be partly due to the Soviet Union. If you were Ukrainian, competent and ambitious, you could make a credible play to become “first in Russia” rather then “second in Kiev”. I mean, Breznev basically did just that and was perhaps the worlds most powerful person. Why would anyone with ambitions of grandeur resign himself to “being first in Ukraine” when the might of the USSR could potentially be his to command? I do speculate that this resulted in the Ukrainian nationalist often being those who had no realistic chance of surviving, let alone advancing, in Moscow or who had try to make a play in Moscow but lost (the Kiev patriarch comes to mind here), or those who were not motivated by massive ambition (you want ambitious guys to lead your nationalist rebellion).

        I could further speculate that, deep down, West/Central Ukrainian elites are fully aware of the insufficiency, and that this partly explains the curious degree of acceptance that western overseers in gubernational and ministerial positions enjoyed.

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      2. “As for the rest of what you say, I think that you give our powers-that-be far too much credit for long-term strategic thinking.”

        So you are outright denying that they have such plans? Do you also deny the impact of Brzhezinsky and his ilk role in forming both grand stratagems and plans, and infecting entire generations with their ideas? That the US foreign policy is basically the same – to maintain their country’s hegemony? Don’t you also think that surely Military-Industrial complex had plans how to earn a big one with the NATO expansion and now, because there is an “urgent need to re-arm”?

        Plus – why there is still such an urgent need for the European shield, if the “Iranian nukes” threat (nonexistant in the firts place) is officially gone?

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  3. @Lyttenburgh

    “Evil turned out not to be a grand thing. Not sneering Emperors with their world-conquering designs. Not cackling demons plotting in the darkness beyond the world. It was small men with their small acts and their small reasons. It was selfishness and carelessness and waste. It was bad luck, incompetence, and stupidity. It was violence divorced from conscience or consequence. It was high ideals, even, and low methods.”

    (c)

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    1. Exaclty!

      Anatol Lieven once described (paraphrased) the whole regime change apparate as a beurocracy operating on an autopilot.

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