Comments

  • Ukraine Crisis
    far right and nazis uncorking bottles of champagne in Europe with Putin's great satisfaction but sure the Ukrainian denazification by Putin is what we should be concerned about and welcome.
  • Israel killing civilians in Gaza and the West Bank
    > It is simple, clearly, unambiguously genocide.

    Even if that's the case, Hamas and Palestinians who support Hamas is to be blamed for it. They provoked Israel. Israel has legitimate security concerns. They kept repeating this for decades. Given the disproportionate military capacity of Israel wrt Hamas this would be the likely conclusion. There is no single moment in which Hamas didn't lose the war to Israel. Palestinians should surrender and concede to Israel, to Netanyahu, whatever he asks of them. We should stop supporting Palestine. There was a time in which Palestinians could negotiate peace, but they refuse to accept because some dude from Iran told them to continue fighting. Israel could use nuclear bombs, etc. etc. etc. right?
  • Ukraine Crisis
    If we should not confuse military achievements with political goals, then we MUST NOT confuse Russia's military achievements with political achievements, even more so if political leaders (like Putin) defined their conflict ends in terms of strategic political achievements (like Ukraine out of NATO, denazification/demilitarization of Ukraine, keeping NATO far from Russia's boarder and out of Ukraine, stop Western provocations, create a non-Western-led world order, etc.). But the manipulative reasoning which certain pro-Russian propagandists in this thread keep showing off, dictates otherwise unfortunately.
  • Ukraine Crisis
    > But not if the US manages to embroil the two in a war with each other.

    Ok let's stick to your reasoning, despite the manipulative framing. Here is my question: by signaling willingness to a diplomatic settlement with the US since 2008 until now AND yet persisting in a conflict with Ukraine where European puppets are cheerfully embroiled into, isn't Putin (along with European political leaders), who all know to be unsurprisingly dumber and/or uneducated than Tzeench on economics, military strategy, politics, finance, propaganda etc. (so much so that he can solve anything in politics with 2 cents anonymous comments on the internet) playing by the US book and failing strategically EVEN IF he is "winning" the war ?
  • Are War Crimes Ever Justified?
    We can go further back: the Arabs colonised Palestine too. — neomac

    Which "Arabs"? When? Coz, if you want further back, we can consult Deuteronomy.
    Of course, that response was to the issue of self-determination, not who settled where in pre-history.
    Vera Mont

    OK, if "The whole situation is one of the many dark sides of colonialism" is not the issue of "who settled where in pre-history" but an "issue of self-determination", how is the reference to colonialism help us understand better a predicament where two people (or relative political leaderships, if you prefer) ultimately pursue self-determination aspirations over exactly the same piece of land?
  • Are War Crimes Ever Justified?
    The whole situation is one of the many dark sides of colonialism. Britain promises everything to everybody in order to further its own war effort and then arbitrarily disenfranchises some of its allies, while enabling other groups. They did the same with natives in North America and Africa a few decades or centuries earlier. All that guff about self-determination went on the scrap heap when the Big Four were carving up Europe after WWI, and and the even bigger three redrew the borders after WWII.Vera Mont

    We can go further back: the Arabs colonised Palestine too. What shell we do with this piece of information now?


    ↪neomac
    ↪neomac
    Oh fun, let's pretend it's inevitable for two people to bash each other's head in.
    Benkei

    I didn’t write it’s inevitable, nor implied it, nor suggested it, nor think it’s inevitable.


    The reductio of that argument is that genocide is ok. So, yes, it's wrong. And I don't care that they don't care but I (e.g. my country) shouldn't be picking a side as a result.Benkei

    If genocide is ok or not, that’s up to you to decide so I’m fine with you claiming “I don't care that they don't care but I (e.g. my country) shouldn't be picking a side as a result.”
    However if you write “I don't care that…” to others, others can say the same to you. Still the burden of costs and risks for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is more on the Palestinians AND the Israelis, than on an avg Westerner (I assume it’s your case too). So since they have much more skin in that game than an avg Westerner, my guess is that their motivation to the conflict is much stronger and unifying than that of an avg Westerner about the same conflict. What I think Westerners should care about is how strong and unified the will of certain people, countries, governments is (by comparison with theirs), what they are ready to do, what sacrifice are willing to accept or impose to achieve their shared goals. As much as they should care about means and opportunities that powers hostile to the West can exploit in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
    As long as the “not picking side“ policy is contributing to stability or symmetry of the power balance, it’s impossible to not pick side. Not to mention that the “not picking side“ policy can be perceived as a sign of weakness and cowardice by others.
  • Are War Crimes Ever Justified?
    Unfortunately contended territories easily end up in genocidal or cleansing perceived practices. When one evokes self-determination aspirations against empires is one thing, another is when self-determination aspirations of some people irreparably clashes with the self-determination aspirations of other people. That's the dark side of self-determination.
  • Are War Crimes Ever Justified?
    So, really what's your point? Two people are fighting and they both don't want to stop? So they should continue? That seems the wrong answer.Benkei

    Why though? Why should the two people care about what seems wrong to you about their beef? Why do you take your humanitarian feelings as universal if the two people do not feel the way you feel about their conflict?
  • Ukraine Crisis
    Russia is not invincible, but is winning because that's NATO policy for Russia to win.boethius

    So NATO is winning too now? Or is NATO policy to slowly lose to Russia?

    What about Russian security threats from NATO enlargement?
    Did Russia get rid of such security threats? Is NATO now more likely unable to threaten the Black Sea fleet or make military drills on Russian borders or put nuclear missiles on Russian borders or to have Ukraine fall within Western sphere of influence or give Ukraine a second chance to attack Crimea, Donbas, and land bridge in ten years or so? Did Russia get its wunderbuffer to contain Western imminent invasion of Russia and genocide of Russians? Are Western provocations finally over?
  • Are War Crimes Ever Justified?
    Are War Crimes Ever Justified?

    I guess your question refers to a non-instrumental evaluation of “war crimes”. Indeed, if “justified” means to have compelling reasons to believe that war crimes will likely enough succeed in attaining the desired outcome, then of course one can justify “war crimes”.
    The question sounds less trivial if we are talking in terms of legal and moral justification, because desired outcomes may be successfully achieved also by violating legal and/or moral constraints.
    Now, when we classify certain acts as “war crimes”, I take it to mean that those actions are major violations of the law and therefore can not be legally justified by (legal) definition. There is no legally justified crime.
    What about moral justification? If one takes morality as a set of “universal” para-legal or pre-legal norms (like do not kill, do not steal, do not lie, etc.) and takes the legal norms defining “war crimes” as a legal codification of moral norms, then I find it reasonable to take “war crimes” as morally unjustified, again, by definition.
    As far as I’m concerned, I deeply question such an understanding of moral claims. Moral norms (and, ultimately, also legal norms) MUST be grounded on historical and political conditions. This is a rational requirement, since historical-political conditions set what CAN be done by individuals in some contingent yet constraining sense.
    I’ll try to make my point more clear with a concrete example: one may believe that Netanyahu SHOULD stop the current massacre in Gaza, because killing innocents as collateral damage (i.e. unintentionally but consciously) is morally wrong by (moral) definition. This moral claim MUST presuppose at the very least that Netanyahu CAN stop the current massacre in Gaza to make a rational (not emotional) appeal to me. Well, can he?
    It seems that all that it is required for such an assessment is a credible assumption about certain Netanyahu’s rule-following abilities, like the ability to intellectually grasp moral norms, the physical ability to perform a series of bodily actions and speech acts in compliance with such norms (e.g. verbally instruct its military and political servants to withhold the Israeli war machine), and the ability to will or being disposed to act accordingly.
    Such an assessment completely and arbitrarily misses the political dimension of our human condition, more specifically the POLITICAL ROLE of Netanyahu facing a HISTORICAL PREDICAMENT (the massacre of October the 7th). To simplify, the Israeli society (or an influential subgroup of such society) has POLITICALLY SELECTED Netanyahu for his specific abilities to act in accordance with certain political EXPECTATIONS in a variety of challenging historical circumstances. To my understanding, such political abilities and expectations are what allows us to assess what Netanyahu CAN do in certain historical circumstances in a more compelling way. And the same goes with ALL other politicians (including Hamas’ leaders).
    Far from being presupposed by political expectations about individuals and collectives, moral norms as much as legal norms MUST presuppose political expectations about individuals and collectives to look rationally compelling to people living in society. The very idea that by following a pre-defined “universal” moral norm by my own initiative and in any circumstance (without considering how others will act and re-act, or what consequences will follow) will turn me into A PARADIGMATIC EXAMPLE of moral behaviour to others, presupposes the expectation that others (all or the absolute majority or the relative majority or the relevant minority etc.) have the ability to grasp paradigmatic moral examples and the disposition to conform to them.
    If moral reasoning is grounded on a set of a-priori universal norms then it’s a-political (because it is not grounded on political expectations and the circumstances of the political struggle - btw I even find it questionable that anybody concerned with social discipline can consistently adopt such a view on morality). If moral reasoning guides political life and struggles then it can’t plausibly be grounded on a set of a-priori universal norms (at best, one can extrapolate such alleged “universal” norms a posteriori by comparison across societies and/or held in support for intersocietal institutions like “international law”). In other words, “war crimes” (as legally defined) can be morally justified if one doesn’t reason in terms of a-priori and “universal” moral norms, yet moral justification may not be enough to dissipate the controversial nature of such actions. And this observation can no be used to question a specific moral reasoning, since it can be retorted against all examples of moral reasoning. Moral reasoning can not be de-politicized if it is supposed to inform political life.
  • Ukraine Crisis
    ↪neomac
    The imperialist interpretation I'm referring to has been mostly forwarded by ssu, which I'm replying to. I take it as a given others have read that interpretation, so I don't need to set it out.
    Benkei

    I challenge you to make explicit the “interpretation” of imperialism you think @“ssu” is forwarding, because maybe you are misunderstanding his claims.
    Here a definition of imperialism:
    Imperialism is the practice, theory or attitude of maintaining or extending power over foreign nations, particularly through expansionism, employing both hard power (military and economic power) and soft power (diplomatic power and cultural imperialism). Imperialism focuses on establishing or maintaining hegemony and a more or less formal empire. While related to the concepts of colonialism, imperialism is a distinct concept that can apply to other forms of expansion and many forms of government.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Imperialism
    According to such definition, would you consider Putin decision to invade Ukraine and annex part of its territories, imperialist or not?
    If you do not like that definition, you can propose yours.


    And nowhere have I given justification, only explanation. I think most countries largely act immoral, driven by real politik considerations. I condemn Western’s needless fanning of the flames in Ukraine, increasing their own "security concerns" as a result, raising Russia's security concerns in return.Benkei

    Well, I understand “most countries largely act immoral” as equivalent to “most countries largely act in a morally unjustified way” so it’s like your explanation however includes an assessment about justification on both sides, right?
    Anyways, if you explain and not justify, under what circumstances can one then switch from explanation to justification? From description to condemnation?

    But I note that the facts I raised do not concern Western security at all. Only Ukraine could be affected by the "near abroad" doctrine and we can hardly complain about economic integration. So we can wonder in what sense Western security concerns were protected by expanding eastwards.Benkei

    If one includes the US and Europeans as part of “the West”, Ukraine is “the near abroad” of the West too, If Russia feels threatened by the expansion of the West in Ukraine, the West can feel threatened by Russia wanting to expand in Ukraine.
    Besides if Ukraine wants to join the West through the EU and NATO, and the West would welcome Ukrainian westernisation. Russia has initiated a war in the West near abroad and hindered the Western hegemonic interest to westernise Ukraine which was reciprocated by the Ukrainians.
    Russia committed two questionable moves in terms of security in this hegemonic struggles: discounted Ukrainians will despite having acknowledged its sovereignty and started an actual violent expansion in Ukraine which violates the Ukrainian territorial sovereignty.
    Do you agree with such explanation?






    Those considerations can only be of a geopolitical nature and not a direct military threat for which NATO is in principle the answer. For existing NATO members there never was a reason to expand NATO after the cold war when the threat had actually largely dissipated. And yet we did it any way.Benkei

    If Europe is part of the West and Europe ends in Eastern European countries, then Russia is DEFINITELY WITHOUT ANY REASONABLE DOUBT a direct military threat to the West: it has motivations (hegemonic ambitions and revanchism after the fall of Soviet Union) and it has means (including nuclear arsenal). The threat kept growing under Putin given the military build-up and the centralization of power. And since the war with Georgia, Russia has actually proven its aggressive dispositions toward neighbouring countries (and not only).
    Even if, back at the end of Soviet Union, security concerns were more about anticipated than imminent military threats (which is what real politik strategic thinking in the domain of security and defence is all about), NATO was repurposed to expand the democratic and economic European institutions and Western collective in line with the US hegemonic ambitions. Also because Islamic extremism seemed the most urgent threat to deal with.
    Do you agree with such explanation?



    My main problem with "real politik" views towards geopolitics is that they a) ignore the international legal framework (but of course it will be whipped out when it supports an argument) and b) a predisposition towards conflict that must be won if it materialises, instead of fundamentally aiming at avoiding conflict.Benkei

    How do you explain the fact that "real politik" views ignore the international legal framework? And the “real politik" predisposition towards conflict, instead of fundamentally aiming at avoiding conflict?



    But the West (particularly US) will pursue conflict if it furthers their geopolitical agenda even if facts don't support their position (Afghanistan, Iraq, etc.).Benkei

    Would you say the same for Russia, China, Iran?



    If then historically we've seen the most successful roads to peace have been extensive integration and co-operation then these decisions are consequences of us-them divisions, maintaining status quos (to stay top dog, you have to kick down the competition) and projection of power. So to me, the very methodology of framing international relations in real politik terms is an important driving force towards conflict, instead of avoiding it.Benkei


    Yet, realpolitik theorists such as Mearsheimer and Walt are arguing that the idealist pursuit of “extensive integration and co-operation” and not what political realism would dictate is mistakenly driving the Western (particularly the US) in conflicts which are against the US interest (like the conflict in Ukraine and in Israel).
    BTW, do you think Russia, China, and Iran are framing international relations in terms of real politik or in idealist terms ? Are they pursuing power projection, and leaning towards conflict, unlike the US? Do you think the US is the Great Satan, namely the most evil/oppressive geopolitical entity on earth or history so that the entire world (including other Western countries) wishes (or should wish) to support Russian, Chinese, and Iranian hegemonic ambitions than the US’s in lack of better alternatives?



    And yes security concerns can justify some action. Not all and certainly not war crimes. But again, I think that mixes geopolitical theory and international law.Benkei

    This mixing is precisely what’s most worth to philosophically investigate, as far as I’m concerned, especially what allows one to switch from explanation to justification.


    I think I've said before in this thread:

    1. from a geopolitical/international relations point of view both Russia and the West are equally to blame for the war in Ukraine
    2. from an international law perspective Russia is an aggressor

    But since 2 is in any case an optional argument (pace every "humanitarian" intervention ever and western-led wars) it should be ignored in favour of 1 - as much as that goes against the grain of what I studied and worked for for decades as a human rights trained lawyer. 2 is more about how the world should be and could've been if international law hadn't been applied in such a double standard way
    Benkei


    “Ignore” in the sense that “international law” and “humanitarian intervention” do not play any explanatory role?
    “could've been if” in the sense that “international law” is sort of wishful thinking? If not, what’s the difference?
  • Ukraine Crisis
    But an interpretation of these actions as "imperialist" isn't necessary where Russian security interests suffice to explain their actions.Benkei

    You have to clarify what you take others to mean by "imperialist" before making objections to them.
    We can quibble also over Israel committing a "genocide" if security concerns is enough to justify their actions against an actual aggression from Hamas. Russia has no equivalent justification, because there was no aggression from NATO or Ukraine against Russia proper. Besides Russia has plenty of lands where to relocate what he claims to be persecuted Russians in Ukraine.

    Besides it doesn't matter how you want to call it. If Russia's security threat and sphere of influence must be taken into account in a strategic calculus, the same goes for Russia. Russia must take into account security threat and sphere of influence of all interested players. And if such concerns are inherently competitive, players will find competitive ways to settle it.

    If you take seriously perceived security concerns, you MUST do the same for the US, Europe, Ukraine, Israel, not only for Russia and Palestinians. Unless you side with them, and then pretend to be impartial.
  • Israel killing civilians in Gaza and the West Bank
    Self-determination is at the heart of Palestinian nationalism for sure and the belief that Palestinians who voted for Hamas and sided with Iran (both committed to fight Israel), have a right to do so, is a foolish way to think about international politics, people who do not have a properly functioning and acknowledged state and live next to great powers don't have the right to pursue any foreign policy they want. That's what Mearsheimer would say, wouldn't he? Best to listen to someone who’s been right for the last 30 years, right?
  • Ukraine Crisis


    Concerning Scholz's speech, I would highlight the following claim:
    “We all want peace for our time. But peace at any price – that wouldn’t be any at all.”
    (https://globalhappenings.com/politics/496848.html)
    which is pretty much in line with what I repeatedly said:
    people may not pursue peace, if that means WHATEVER peace.neomac
  • Israel killing civilians in Gaza and the West Bank
    That’s a possibility, sure, but I would need a more solid argument for the likelihood of something happening in a hypothetical or counterfactual scenario. For example, if Ukraine managed to join NATO, would still Putin attack NATO out of anger? I doubt it and, as far as geopolitical actors are concerned, they seem to doubt it too:

    ↪neomac

    People doubted he would invade a large country like Ukraine too. It’s a risk, we are talking about risks here.
    Punshhh

    indeed, the reason for Ukraine to join NATO was to deter Putin from attacking Ukraine, otherwise what would be the point of joining NATO if Putin would attack anyway just out of anger?

    Again it’s about risks, probability.
    Punshhh

    Possibilities and risks are all we’ve got in a discussion like this. Yes there has been a decline in U.S. deterrence. This is probably the shift from the unipole to the competing superpowers we see now.Punshhh

    Also to assess risks on hypothetical and counterfactual scenarios you need arguments or evidences to support them.
    Besides, pointing at a risk is not enough to discourage crossing alleged red lines: motivation is surely one thing, but also means and opportunities need to be taken into account. Indeed, Putin showed his anger in 2008 at the prospect that one day Ukraine would join NATO, as Georgia. But it took Putin 14 years to prepare and find the right opportunity (which include the divisions between EU and the US, with the EU and within the US, and the declining power projection of the US vis-à-vis of its challengers) to aggress Ukraine, differently from what happened to Georgia.
    To my understanding, the risk you are referring to is more specifically grounded on Western divisions, decisional weakness, and military unreadiness, than on Putin’s anger. If the West showed a united front, stable resolve and readiness to make the needed military efforts, Putin could have been and could still be very much deterred from pursuing a war against the West over Ukraine. And notice Putin frames this war mainly as a war against the West, but still Western public opinions are far from getting how existential this war can be to their prosperity and security. That’s why Putin can count on the possibility that the West gets tired of supporting Ukraine.



    First of all, my claim was: “the more the European strategic interest diverges from the US national interest and the European partnership turns unexploitable by the US, the more the US may be compelled to make Europe unexploitable to its hegemonic competitors too.”

    This is a complicated claim, I’m not even sure it’s saying anything.
    Surely by helping EU and forming a stronger alliance with them. the U.S. would be making Europe unexploitable to its competitors. By contrast why would U.S. make EU unexploitable to herself and her competitors?
    Punshhh

    The logic is analogous to the one compelling military units to destroy their own military equipment, for example during a withdrawal, out of fear it may fall in enemies’ hands. To the extent Russia comes out emboldened and empowered from this war, the West may experience a surge of anti-Americanism which could further weaken the US power projection and leadership in Europe. So the US, along with Russia, will be compelled to try to play such divisions on their favour at the expense of the rival. Europeans experienced something similar during the Cold War: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Years_of_Lead_(Italy)



    I’ve already agreed that Trump is crazy and could upset the apple cart. He’s not really a representation of the U.S. position. He’s an anomaly and I doubt he will make it to the election with any chance of winning.Punshhh

    Such a claim sounds overly bold given the available polls. I get that such polls can be wrong and there is still time for Biden’s campaign, but no chance of winning looks definitely as an overkill.


    If it wasn’t a controversial issue between EU and US why didn’t Ukraine join EU and NATO yet?

    That’s a non sequitur, I doubt that the fact that Ukraine is not now in NATO is due to squabbling between U.S. and EU.
    Punshhh

    Non sequitur?! Doubt because...? These are the facts I’m referring to:
    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2008/apr/01/nato.georgia
    https://eu.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2015/02/09/german-chancellor-merkel-visit-obama/23115859/
    https://edition.cnn.com/2023/06/14/politics/ukraine-nato-joe-biden/index.html
    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2023-06-01/france-and-germany-are-split-over-ukraine-s-appeal-to-join-nato
    https://www.france24.com/en/live-news/20220404-merkel-defends-2008-decision-to-block-ukraine-from-nato
    https://washington.mfa.gov.hu/eng/news/why-is-hungary-blocking-ukraines-nato-accession



    I think you underestimate the strategic leverages of Middle East regional powers in the international equilibria, considering also the influence they have in the once called “Third World”. And, again, the closer hegemonic powers get in terms of capacity, the greater the impact of smaller powers can be over the power struggle between hegemonic powers.

    When you say hegemonic powers here, specifically, are you referring to superpowers, at any point? Or are you just referring to hegemonic power players in the Middle East?
    Punshhh

    To me “superpowers” is a shorthand for the US, China and Russia. While Iran, Turkey and Saudi Arabia are regional powers in the Middle Eastern area which are engaging in a hegemonic struggle in the Middle East. They are hegemonic because they are vigorously supporting military and economic projection beyond their borders to primary control the middle-east, but also in Asia and Africa (example: https://www.france24.com/en/live-news/20240312-turkey-iran-morocco-joust-for-greater-role-in-sahel).




    Can you point to a regional power who is in a strong position to influence international equilibria, or a coalition perhaps?Punshhh

    Iran is now military supporting Russia and pressing Israel with its proxies, related to two strategic regions which have compelled, still compel, and risk to compel further the US’ intervention at the expense of pivoting to the Pacific.
    https://www.congress.gov/118/meeting/house/117148/witnesses/HHRG-118-FA13-Wstate-StroulD-20240417.pdf





    The point is that the combination of persisting EU vulnerabilities plus incumbent weakening of the US leadership, will turn Europe into a more disputable area for hegemonic competition among the US and other rival hegemonic powers, and this could threaten both NATO and EU project.

    You repeat this and I agree that there has been some political interference from Russia in these issues. But I don’t see this fatal weakness you keep alluding to in EU, or U.S.
    Punshhh

    We are talking risks, right? I argued for the risks I see through historical evidences (which you admit but downplay without any counter-evidence) and strategic reasons potentially appealing to geopolitical competitors (which you conveniently narrow down based on hopes).

    It’s true there has been a complacency in Europe in becoming involved with Russia in various ways since the collapse of USSR. But the Ukraine war has been a big wake up call and this will be corrected. Likewise in U.S., although the political problems in U.S. recently are due more to populist opportunism and hopefully it will be a wake up call there too.Punshhh

    Besides “hopefully” doesn’t mean “probably”, the point is that this wake up call is too recent to have set a stable and compelling trend in Western security.
    Furthermore also non-Western and anti-Western powers had a wake up call at the expense of the West: Iran, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Israel are acting accordingly.


    Sure that doesn’t mean they are hopeless vis-à-vis with climate change:
    https://www.watermeetsmoney.com/saudi-water-investment-showcase-at-the-global-water-summit/

    Desalination will never produce enough fresh water to replace depleted water tables. The quantities required are vast and desalination a trickle.
    Punshhh

    I didn’t reference that link to argue that desalination will produce enough fresh water to replace depleted water tables. There may be more methods available to tackle water crisis depending on available and evolving technologies. I limited myself to argue that governments in the Middle East show self-awareness wrt climate challenges (as much as geopolitical challenges) and are already making efforts to deal with them. So it’s not evident to me that in the next ten years or so the Middle East will turn into a Mad Max style location because of a water crisis, and will stop playing any significant role in international equilibria.



    Besides, even though they compete for regional hegemony, yet the most acute and local problems they have to face coming from Islamism, environmental challenges, growing population

    There aren’t any Middle Eastern powers competing for regional hegemony.
    Punshhh

    If you have evidences that support your claim, bring them up so we can compare.
    I’m talking of evidences such as:
    https://www.foreignaffairs.com/iran/irans-order-chaos-suzanne-maloney
    https://www.foreignaffairs.com/iran/breaking-out-its-box-washington-tehran-regional-influence
    https://www.emerald.com/insight/content/doi/10.1108/REPS-02-2019-0017/full/html
    https://foreignpolicy.com/2024/03/20/iran-khamenei-supreme-leader-strategy-middle-east/
    https://www.fairobserver.com/world-news/middle-east-news/the-new-middle-east-a-triangular-struggle-for-hegemony/
    https://isdp.eu/irans-regional-proxies-reshaping-the-middle-east-and-testing-u-s-policy/
    https://www.nytimes.com/2024/01/30/briefing/iran-proxies-israel-gaza-red-sea.html
    https://epc.ae/en/details/featured-topics/navigating-the-iran-challenge-and-regional-instability-de-escalation-and-sustainable-development-strategies
    https://thediplomat.com/2024/02/the-iran-factor-in-the-china-taiwan-us-triangle/
    https://www.chathamhouse.org/2024/01/us-deterrence-against-iran-damaged-not-dead
    https://www.aei.org/research-products/report/pivot-to-offense-how-iran-is-adapting-for-modern-conflict-and-warfare/

    Notice that I do not need to argue for the emergence of a superpower in the Middle East. A dominating regional power can be already enough to contain the American power projection on the globe if the US' power projection is already offset by Russia and China's in Europe, Asia and in Africa.




    It depends if China and Russia perceive Islam as a greater threat than the West. So far it doesn’t seem to be the case, given the support/cooperation China and Russia grant to Iran (the only country in which the islamic revolution thus far succeeded), Hezbollah, Houthi and Hamas.

    I see this more as a case of “my enemies enemy is my friend”, Russia likes to engage in these ways.
    Punshhh

    Still that’s possible because the West is currently perceived as a greater threat than Islamism.
    Besides the “my enemies’ enemy is my friend” between Russia and Iran is far from being conjunctural given the numerous treatises between them like this one
    https://www.reuters.com/world/putin-irans-raisi-sign-new-interstate-treaty-soon-russia-2024-01-17/
    And the fact that their strategic alliance is increasing since the end of the Cold War.




    I don’t seek to downplay what you bring to the table, I just don’t find the suggestions that there are big geopolitical risks in the Middle East compelling. Or that there is not a big geopolitical risk in Ukraine compelling.Punshhh

    We didn’t agree on how to measure geopolitical risks. My arguments are based on my understanding of how threats are perceived and acted upon by the actual players. The US intervened in support of Ukraine and in support of Israel. And the latter even happened at the expense of the former. This is not what one would expect if the conflict in Ukraine was evidently of grater strategic importance.
    My argument is that, even if the stakes in the Ukrainian conflict may have greater impact in the hegemonic struggle between the US and China, than Israeli-Palestinian conflict one can’t reasonable use the former to downplay the latter for, at least, two reasons: there is a link between the two, and up until now the US never managed to disengage from both areas to pivot to the Pacific (and that, to me, doesn’t depend only on domestic factors like the pro-Israel lobby or the military-industrial complex)




    1. Downplaying the evidence I bring is rather pointless since what matters is to what extent geopolitical actors take such evidence seriously and act upon it. If Middle East wasn’t important to the US, the US wouldn’t engage in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict at the expense of the conflict in Ukraine.

    As I say, I don’t seek to downplay this evidence. I just don’t find it evidence of importance geopolitical developments at this time. (I’m happy to explain why if you remind me of some of it)
    Punshhh

    Concerning your reasoning, as long as the West and the Rest runs on oil from the Middle East, the Middle East is strategically important for geopolitical developments.
    I think however that their importance goes beyond that since Middle Eastern’s power projection goes beyond the middle-east. So they can play a role on securing/controlling commercial routes (https://newsletter.macmillan.yale.edu/newsletter/fall-2010/american-grand-strategy-middle-east, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Belt_and_Road_Initiative), immigration trends and political networking (through Islamism, financial means, military aid, etc.). And not only in the Middle East.




    You refer to Trump again, yes a Trump presidency might well try to go down such a course. It’s madness of course, a fools errand. Even if Trump does win a second term in office, it is an anomaly in U.S. foreign policy, which will be corrected after he has left office.Punshhh

    Some anomalies may be more than conjunctural events. See, also re-arming to face the Russian threat is an anomaly in EU foreign policy, yet it happened under the pressure of historical circumstances. And now you may wish to argue it will grow further into a stable, effective and comprehensive defence strategy. On the other side, the prospect of Trump running for a second presidential term suggests me the possibility that Trump’s political base may be wide, strong and persistent enough to survive him. As much as the burden of the imperial overstretch inducing the US to downgrade its commitments to global hegemony. Even more so, if the EU will remain structurally weak.



    for a population vulnerable to populist rhetoric

    This is often exaggerated and refers to a populist reaction to levels of immigration.

    (and often pro-Russian)

    Lol.
    Punshhh

    Here some more evidence for you to downplay (while you provided none as usual):
    https://ecfr.eu/article/commentary_putins_friends_in_europe7153/
    Concerning pro-Russian populist parties also in Western Europe, Italy offers a good case:
    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2023/aug/31/a-success-for-kremlin-propaganda-how-pro-putin-views-permeate-italian-media
    https://theins.ru/en/politics/268921
    https://www.euronews.com/2022/03/09/see-what-your-friend-putin-has-done-salvini-mocked-in-poland


    Dude, we clarified our different positions enough. At this point we seem to disagree so much on what constitutes an interesting, if not compelling, argument in support of some claim that I really don’t see the point of dragging this exchange further.
  • Ukraine Crisis
    Republicans denounce Russian propaganda within their own party:
    https://www.aol.com/news/luxury-yachts-other-myths-republican-090000423.html
  • Israel killing civilians in Gaza and the West Bank
    I’m sure that I’m “not sure if that’s relevant”.

    It’s relevant if that anger goes beyond the point of rationality.
    Punshhh

    That’s a possibility, sure, but I would need a more solid argument for the likelihood of something happening in a hypothetical or counterfactual scenario. For example, if Ukraine managed to join NATO, would still Putin attack NATO out of anger? I doubt it and, as far as geopolitical actors are concerned, they seem to doubt it too: indeed, the reason for Ukraine to join NATO was to deter Putin from attacking Ukraine, otherwise what would be the point of joining NATO if Putin would attack anyway just out of anger? Putin may attack NATO out of a more hawkish calculus though to the extent NATO countries show lack of resolve (due to economic dependency) and/or fear for escalation (for lack of readiness and will to fight for allies).


    That there are differences in foreign policy between U.S. and EU, such that U.S. would seek to keep EU down, or weak. Again I’m just not seeing it.Punshhh

    First of all, my claim was: “the more the European strategic interest diverges from the US national interest and the European partnership turns unexploitable by the US, the more the US may be compelled to make Europe unexploitable to its hegemonic competitors too.” Secondly, I argued that the conflict in Ukraine and in Palestine are straining Western public opinion and nurturing conflict of interests among allies, to the point that for example a US candidate for the next presidential elections like Trump dared to say “he would encourage Russia to attack Nato allies” if they do not comply with Trump’s demands.
    Besides, I do not think EU governments and advisors are downplaying the gravity of such claims, or the US questionable commitment toward the Ukrainian conflict.
    https://www.rferl.org/a/trump-nato-russia-attack-white-house-appalling-unhinged/32814229.html
    https://www.politico.eu/article/europe-nuclear-warfare-detterence-manfred-weber-vladimir-putin-ukraine-russia-war/
    Poland's foreign minister on concerns the U.S. will abandon Ukraine, Europe 
(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jHxjutEfhww)
    If you do not see that, again do not bother answering me.


    The alliance between them is strong and in lockstep. The status of Ukraine, or the expansion of EU and NATO to the east is not a controversial issue between them.Punshhh

    If it wasn’t a controversial issue between EU and US why didn’t Ukraine join EU and NATO yet?



    The Middle Eastern regional powers are small fry, Turkey is not far off a failed state and the Arab states just want to hold on to their decadent lifestyles.Punshhh

    I think you underestimate the strategic leverages of Middle East regional powers in the international equilibria, considering also the influence they have in the once called “Third World”. And, again, the closer hegemonic powers get in terms of capacity, the greater the impact of smaller powers can be over the power struggles between hegemonic powers.


    The point is that the combination of persisting EU vulnerabilities plus incumbent weakening of the US leadership, will turn Europe into a more disputable area for hegemonic competition among the US and other rival hegemonic powers, and this could threaten both NATO and EU project.

    This is the flawed argument I was referring to.
    I think the best you’ve got here is some sort of general malaise and internal collapse in the EU, or U.S. The EU is now rearming and stronger as an alliance due to the example of the U.K. (having left the EU). Also as I say if Ukraine joins, it will provide a considerable boost in numerous ways. The U.S. is in a more precarious position, (I see Trump more and more as a busted flush now) but is still strong militarily and can print money to pull itself out of the malaise.
    Punshhh

    You seem to be grounding your arguments mostly on possibilities, but that’s not enough to assess likelihood. Sure it could be just a malaise that the West will manage to overcome, but it is too soon to see in Western re-arming a new stable trend that will succeed in building collective strategic deterrence, despite all persisting conflict of interests. While the decline of the US deterrence and leadership has just kept notably growing since 9/11.



    Yes, however there might be severe climate issues there in a few decades. Saudi has some dubious practices including building ski slopes in the desert and depleting water tables, something they’re doing to U.S. water tables too. https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2023/07/16/fondomonte-arizona-drought-saudi-farm-water/Punshhh

    Sure that doesn’t mean they are hopeless vis-à-vis climate change:
    https://www.watermeetsmoney.com/saudi-water-investment-showcase-at-the-global-water-summit/

    Besides, even though they compete for regional hegemony, yet the most acute and local problems they have to face coming from Islamism, environmental challenges, growing population (https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2018/05/why-the-world-s-fastest-growing-populations-are-in-the-middle-east-and-africa/), plus the mediation of greater powers, like China, may also solicit greater cooperation among them to face shared future challenges, including the threats of a multipolar world like hawkish non-middle eastern hegemonic powers.

    Sounds more like a liability for China, Russia etc.. Also it would mean them getting into bed with these Islamists you talk about.
    Punshhh

    It depends if China and Russia perceive Islam as a greater threat than the West. So far it doesn’t seem to be the case, given the support/cooperation China and Russia grant to Iran (the only country in which the islamic revolution thus far succeeded), Hezbollah, Houthi and Hamas.


    This is the flawed argument I was referring to.Punshhh

    Weak argument, unless we are talking of a world slipping into distopia. Climate change might deliver this though.Punshhh

    Clearly mine is just a speculation. But a principled one because I take into account strategic logic of geopolitical players and historical circumstances to assess likelihood. And the conclusion is that we have reasons to worry about how things may evolve in Ukraine but also in the Middle East given the current predicament.
    Your argument seems mostly about downplaying the evidence I bring, insisting on the need for the US to have a strong EU to counter Russia and China, insisting on the fact of European re-arming, and on the incumbent crisis in the Middle East due to climate change.
    What I counter is:
    1. Downplaying the evidence I bring is rather pointless since what matters is to what extent geopolitical actors take such evidence seriously and act upon it. If Middle East wasn’t important to the US, the US wouldn’t engage in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict at the expense of the conflict in Ukraine.
    2. Insisting that the US needs something doesn’t imply it will get it. Besides the pivot to China, may lead the US to appease Russia’s hegemonic ambitions in Europe to turn Russia against China (which is the raising power, geographically closer to Russia than the US), as argued by various political analysts including Mearsheimer. Indeed, Trump's approach to Russia can be in line with such view (https://carnegieendowment.org/2017/05/24/donald-trump-s-plan-to-play-russia-against-china-is-fool-s-errand-pub-70067). Russia’s appeasement in Europe on the other side may be costly for EU/NATO/Ukraine, and also turn more destabilising than the US may tolerate (if not to Trump’s administration, to post-Trump’s administrations) , soliciting a hegemonic competition in Europe.
    3. European re-arming is a recent phenomenon so it doesn't help much to assess the future and effectiveness of the collective European defence strategy (considering various strategic factors like defence industry, conscription, nuclear, etc.) given its controversial costs for a population vulnerable to populist (and often pro-Russian) rhetoric.
    4. Climate change is definitely an incumbent challenge that concerns the entire world, and Middle East governments are aware of its risks and urgency, especially due to how exposed they are. That doesn’t mean they are doomed to succumb to a climate crisis or to geopolitical irrelevance, given how pro-actively and effectively they are already acting wrt climate change and evolving geopolitical challenges.
  • Ukraine Crisis
    When speaking specifically about dissidents — those critical of their own countries — it’s kind of silly to ask “is there anything good about the US foreign policy?” The response, “All the countries we haven’t invaded — I like that,” and his explanation of why it’s silly is pretty obvious. In that context, it’s “not the job” of a dissident to discuss things he likes is clear.Mikie

    If that's the task of a dissident, then he can still be very misleading (because a balanced view should consider pros and cons of one country's policies and regime among existing alternatives) and exploitable by hostile and authoritarian foreign powers. But I guess it's not the job of a dissident to warn you about it, right?
  • Ukraine Crisis
    Right, simple minded people admire dissidents for speaking truth against power in their own country where they have an impact, that's why rival powers support dissidents in other countries not in theirs.
    ShowImage.ashx?id=332746
    Noam Chomsky, a leading American intellectual highly critical of Israel’s policies toward the Palestinians, meets Hezbollah mentor Grand Ayatollah Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah in Beirut, in 2010 (credit: REUTERS)
  • Ukraine Crisis
    I think here below Chomsky tells it quite clearly why this criticism against the US.ssu

    I find it rather perplexing:
    1. He claims that credit is given to those who criticize their own government's foreign policies not other people's government foreign policies: so how about Palestinians criticizing Israel? Ukrainians criticizing Russia? The Rest's grievances against the West?
    2. He claims at min 1:13 "to an extent I can do something about it especially in a pretty free country like this one now we understand" so despite all duping propaganda, no matter how massive, CIA conspiring, hypocritical, etc. but without considering any links between freedom and power. If authoritarian countries are insulated from internal criticism, people can't do much to change it so it will remain authoritarian. So an overwhelming foreign power is needed to contain hegemonic authoritarian regimes. While free countries are NOT insulated from internal criticism, so people can do something to change it which also includes the possibility of turning the free regime into an authoritarian regime. Besides, the free world can be infiltrated and intoxicated by foreign propaganda of authoritarian regimes to weaken the overwhelming foreign power that contains them .
  • Ukraine Crisis
    What I find baffling is how certain people cling on the charicatural idea that
    - the US is the world’s superpower and that is a major player in shaping world affairs, yet at the same time they keep reminding all foreign failures: Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Ukraine, Palestine, etc.
    - the US is the evil mastermind conspiring against states and people around the world through lies and bribes (which everybody non-brainwashed is aware of), and yet systematically failing to achieve strategic goals other than the self-defeating ones by wasting resources and reputation in failed (proxy) wars
    - the US is driven by hypocritical and greedy people supported by a gullible majority (still?), lacking basic humanity principles, and which the entire world has to condemn (especially if Westerner) and to hold as the number one responsible for everything wrong there is in this world (including climate change)
  • Israel killing civilians in Gaza and the West Bank
    What I find baffling is how certain people cling on the charicatural idea that
    - the US is the world’s superpower and that is a major player in shaping world affairs, yet at the same time they keep reminding all foreign failures: Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Ukraine, Palestine, etc.
    - the US is the evil mastermind conspiring against states and people around the world through lies and bribes (which everybody non-brainwashed is aware of), and yet systematically failing to achieve strategic goals other than the self-defeating ones by wasting resources and reputation in failed (proxy) wars
    - the US is driven by hypocritical and greedy people supported by a gullible majority (still?), lacking basic humanity principles, and which the entire world has to condemn (especially if Westerner) and to hold as the number one responsible for everything wrong there is in this world (including climate change)
  • Ukraine Crisis
    Neomac, notice what Tzeentch argued:

    Russia proposed to give back all the territory they conquered during the invasion in exchange for Ukrainian neutrality. — Tzeentch


    Where is this kind of argument was my question. Please read what I say.
    ssu

    AFAIK, there are no official documents about the negotiation proposal (which was not an agreement, of course, and far from being one) just reports, like this:

    Russia would withdraw to its position on February 23, when it controlled part of the Donbas region and all of Crimea, and in exchange, Ukraine would promise not to seek NATO membership and instead receive security guarantees from a number of countries.
    https://www.foreignaffairs.com/russian-federation/world-putin-wants-fiona-hill-angela-stent
  • Ukraine Crisis
    I don't recall hearing this. But please give an actual reference on it.ssu

    This is claimed to be part of the 10 points of Instambul Communque:
    Proposal 1: Ukraine proclaims itself a neutral state, promising to remain nonaligned with any blocs and refrain from developing nuclear weapons — in exchange for international legal guarantees. Possible guarantor states include Russia, Great Britain, China, the United States, France, Turkey, Germany, Canada, Italy, Poland, and Israel, and other states would also be welcome to join the treaty.
    https://faridaily.substack.com/p/ukraines-10-point-plan

    Then confirmed by Bennett and Arestovych among others (https://www.intellinews.com/top-ukrainian-politician-oleksiy-arestovych-gives-seventh-confirmation-of-russia-ukraine-peace-deal-agreed-in-march-2022-302876/)
  • Israel killing civilians in Gaza and the West Bank
    Do historical aspects justify more or is it the will of the people? Which justifies more?

    As having studied history I understand the role of history here quite well: history is usually used to push an agenda by focusing and giving importance to the details that makes the agenda important. Thus history is usually done from a national point of view that justifies the existing state and all little details that have made it so. If history is a tool for this, it still is a tool. Existence of a state and a desire for an independent state is a lot more.
    “ssu


    Your question intrigues me because it’s the kind of core question where apparently meaning looks so intuitive, and yet all sorts of ambiguities show up at a second thought. The shortest answer I feel comfortable to give is that I take “justification” as a normative claim which one appeals to in order to ground beliefs so that they do not appear arbitrary. Therefore, the will of the people needs to be grounded on a justifying system of beliefs, which is what I think we normally refer to when talking about “the narrative”, in order to not appear arbitrary, especially to those who do not share such will or worse have to lose. On the other side, the justifying belief system is also what helps identify whom the people are we are referring to when talking about the will of “the people” (also across generations). And this turns particularly problematic when sovereignty over a territory and the popular representativity of political decision makers are disputed. If a specific narrative justifying the right to land is what politically qualifies Palestinians as Palestinians vs Israelis as Israelis, discounting such a narrative would make the demand for a Israeli and Palestinian nation-state arbitrary. While taking it into account would make both demands incompatible. One might wish to say that both Israelis and Palestinians may find an agreement for a peaceful however unjust resolution (since narratives remain incompatible) but, so far, they didn’t manage to. On both sides there were/are elements strong enough to boycott such a resolution again in light of incompatible narratives. Invoking third party actors as mediators, instead of fixing the conflict, may be useless or worsen the situation, since also third party actors may be in conflict among themselves also due to incompatible narratives.




    Finally, if Palestinians do want an independent state from Israel while not recognising Israel, then also Palestinians don't want a two state solution. — neomac

    Umm... they did recognize Israel. At least the PA did. (Do you know the Oslo peace accords?)

    Following the Oslo I Accord in 1993, the Palestinian Authority and Israel conditionally recognized each other's right to govern specific areas of the country.


    This is the reason why Netanyahu just loved so much Hamas that he even financially supported them. For him the Palestinian that cannot be negotiated with is the Palestinian that he wants to have. Far more easy to ethnically cleanse when the other side are "human animals".

    (And naturally many Israelis want to uphold the idea that they cannot negotiate with the Palestinians, that Palestinians just want to drive them to the sea. Or something like that.)
    “ssu

    We have discussed that already. Whatever agreement decision makers may have found at some point, they weren’t able to enforce them on either sides. The legal implications of such failures are also disputed. What we may still do, before drawing our conclusions in light of our moral standards and political leaning, is to assess the impact of Palestine and Israeli’s approach to their strategic goals in terms of efficacy. What we are seeing is that the Palestinians are bearing the greater material and human costs wrt the Israelis so far. While Israel resisted also foreign pressure and persisting resistance (Hamas keeps firing rockets against Israel, and holding Israeli hostages), so far. Which one is getting closer to its strategic goal?
  • Israel killing civilians in Gaza and the West Bank
    Not sure if that’s relevant: Putin may have been furious and still deterred.

    ↪neomac

    Are you sure about that?
    Punshhh

    I’m sure that I’m “not sure if that’s relevant”.

    Especially in the firs years of his Presidential mandate, imagine during the Chechen war.

    That’s unrealistic, you’re taking it back to a point where Russia was weak compared to now. Putin has been agitating in Ukraine for a long time. If Ukraine had been fast tracked into NATO that would have blown up on the eastern front.
    Punshhh

    If you are reasoning in terms of counterfactuals, I can do the same. There were US political advisors pushing for NATO enlargement (including Ukraine) way before Putin (https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/CHRG-105shrg46832/html/CHRG-105shrg46832.htm) and “relations between Ukraine and NATO were formally established in 1992, when Ukraine joined the North Atlantic Cooperation Council after regaining its independence, later renamed the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ukraine%E2%80%93NATO_relations). So my counterfactual is not arbitrary.
    On the other side if we are talking about starting from the current conflict, it would be certainly problematic for political and strategic reasons wrt NATO and wrt Putin, still I think Putin would have big problems to start a war against NATO if the non occupied part of Ukraine was successfully fast tracked into NATO (like Finland), as Putin is even having problems to end the conflict in South and East Ukraine.

    How am I conflating “superpower status” with “the unipolar world”, if I’m intentionally stressing their difference, and what you wrote is again a paraphrase of what I just claimed to have understood from your views?

    Your whole argument about U.S. looking to weaken the EU, rather than form a constructive alliance, (apart from it being a flawed argument) only makes sense from the assumption that the U.S. is in a unipolar position and doesn’t require that alliance.

    I thought it was accepted knowledge that the U.S. isn’t in a unipolar position.
    Punshhh

    First, I was trying to understand your views, so I made explicit what I thought it was left implicit in your argument. And the point is that if the superpower status of the US in one-to-one comparison still holds in the current non-unipolar world, I’m not sure the US will preserve its superpower status so defined in the next decades if certain strategic alliances are necessary for the US to keep its superpower status: technological gap is already decreasing, military projection is already grown unsustainable, monetary dominance is challenged or worked around, and reputational costs are mostly against the US. So the US power projection as world power can be severely damaged in the longer run.
    Second, if the US needs a strong EU as an ally to sustain its power projection wrt rival alliances, I don’t think it will evidently succeed either because a strong EU will never materialise, and if it will materialise it still will at best balance not overwhelm rival alliances, even more so, if the contribution of Middle-Eastern regional powers can weigh in.
    Third, to be more precise, my whole argument is “the more the European strategic interest diverges from the US national interest and the European partnership turns unexploitable by the US, the more the US may be compelled to make Europe unexploitable to its hegemonic competitors too.” The point is that the combination of persisting EU vulnerabilities plus incumbent weakening of the US leadership, Europe will turn into a more disputable area for hegemonic competition among the US and other rival hegemonic powers, and this could threaten both NATO and EU project.


    Other than oil, money, terrorism, control over commercial routes, criminal business, immigration, exporting islamism in Asia, Africa and the West, maybe nothing. That’s however may be enough to help a Russia-China alliance against a US and EU alliance, even more so with a weak EU.

    Good luck (for this alliance) in holding all that together. Just more failed states. The only reason the Gulf states have their current prosperity and security is due to implicit support from the U.S. (the West) in return for oil. That oil will shortly become less important with the transition to net zero. By the way, Russia has the same problem with oil becoming a stranded asset.
    Punshhh

    Concerning the Middle East, I find at least the leaderships of regional powers like Turkey, Iran and Saudi Arabia, enough aware of their geopolitical role and strength, despite rivalries and vulnerabilities. They are open to balance the US hegemony in cooperation with Russia and China. They try to develop their sphere of influence even beyond the Middle East in Asia and Africa. And even though they will exploit their oil as a main source of revenues, they are already planning for a post-oil transition (https://www.forbesmiddleeast.com/lists/the-middle-easts-sustainable-100/, https://www.dw.com/en/how-the-gulf-region-is-planning-for-a-life-after-oil/a-67067995, https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10668-021-01424-x). Besides, even though they compete for regional hegemony, yet the most acute and local problems they have to face coming from Islamism, environmental challenges, growing population (https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2018/05/why-the-world-s-fastest-growing-populations-are-in-the-middle-east-and-africa/), plus the mediation of greater powers, like China, may also solicit greater cooperation among them to face shared future challenges, including the threats of a multipolar world like hawkish non-middle eastern hegemonic powers.




    Actually I’m more skeptical about the idea that whatever happens in the Middle East, it won’t play any decisive contribution in the power balance of major hegemonic powers.


    So points 2 and 5, wouldn’t happen? Are you sure about that? Or that on the other side of the picture, that this could happen if Russia had lost in Ukraine and sleeked off with her tail between her legs?
    (2, U.S. will be obliged to support EU, and be drawn into EU wars with Russia.)
    (5, EU are vulnerable to Russia picking off states, pre-occupying EU while China can threaten U.S. play one off against the other.)
    Punshhh

    There is some logic into the 2 hypothetical scenarios you have described but given the current circumstances I’m less certain about their likelihood. And the end of the Ukrainian war may look more messy than an uncontroversial victory or loss.
  • Israel killing civilians in Gaza and the West Bank
    But how much some Bohdan Khmelnytsky was an Ukrainian nationalist is an interesting question (especially when he allied with Russia).ssu

    My understanding is that back then Poland was perceived to be the oppressor and Russia the convenient protector. Unfortunately such an alliance didn’t play as expected, i.e. in favour of the Cossack state’s independence, because it lost progressively sovereignty, autonomy and then it got Russified (especially, the local elites), despite following resistance.



    But here's the real question to you. The Zionist idea of Israel is very young. And so is the idea of independent Palestine. But the age of the idea doesn't matter, it's how many people genuinely believe in that cause. There is absolutely no prestige, no larger credibility or justification on this age issue. This is just the nonsensical debate that parties who want to thrash the other side in the Palestine/Israel debate. I don't understand at all the reasoning for this debate or why should it be important. The Palestinians do want an independent state from Israel. The Israelis don't want a two state solution.

    We've actually seen just now a coming and going of one idea, an Islamic Caliphate in the form of ISIS/ISIL/IS/Daesh come, emerge and be squashed in the region. This isn't anything new, actually. Hence likely that the region hasn't seen the end of new nation forming. Likely in the year 2424 the map can be totally different from now. And those states will trace their glorious history back to our time and beyond to older history.
    ssu

    Despite your initial announcement, I don’t see any question.
    Besides you are making claims that do not add up to me: if all that matters is what people believe, how is it possible that the age of certain ideas which are part of people’s belief systems and, actually, help justify and identify such belief systems doesn’t matter?
    Finally, if Palestinians do want an independent state from Israel while not recognising Israel, then also Palestinians don't want a two state solution.
  • Israel killing civilians in Gaza and the West Bank
    If Ukraine had joined NATO before now, there would be a war between Russia and NATO now.
    — Punshhh

    I don’t find this counterfactual evidently true. It can be argued that if Ukraine had joined NATO previously, Russia would have not tried to aggress it the way it did

    How angry do you think Putin would have been if Ukraine had joined NATO a few years back?
    Punshhh

    Not sure if that’s relevant: Putin may have been furious and still deterred. Especially in the firs years of his Presidential mandate, imagine during the Chechen war.

    I can appreciate your effort to clarify your views, but I still find your claims a bit misleading. On one side you support the idea that the US will keep its superpower status on the other the vulnerabilities of the US and the power balance against the US may increase for the US if the EU is weak.
    So even if the US preserves a superpower status versus other superpowers in a one-to-one comparison, still you are talking about a scenario in which the unipolar world with the US on top of it is over and power balancing alliances are needed. Besides a weak EU would tilt the power balance AGAINST the US.

    You seem to be conflating “superpower status” with “the unipolar world”. I haven’t once mentioned a unipolar U.S. I’m working from the assumption that that is over now and we have competing superpowers. Therefore the U.S. will rely on a strong partner in the EU to fend off potential challengers and maintain the status quo.
    Punshhh

    How am I conflating “superpower status” with “the unipolar world”, if I’m intentionally stressing their difference, and what you wrote is again a paraphrase of what I just claimed to have understood from your views?

    Besides if one is reasoning in terms of alliance also an alliance between Russia, China and the Middle-Eastern countries can tilt the power balance at the expense of the US and EU alliance

    I don’t see this. The Middle Eastern countries are incapable of reaching such a stature and control of the region is not of any importance In the power balance between U.S. and China. The times when gulf oil was of great importance are over, what else do they have to offer?(other than money laundering)
    Punshhh

    Other than oil, money, terrorism, control over commercial routes, criminal business, immigration, exporting Islamism in Asia, Africa and the West, good dates, and carpets, maybe not much. That however may be enough to help a Russia-China alliance against a US and EU alliance, even more so with a weak EU.

    Still I expect the region to become an inhospitable wasteland of failed states once climate change bites.Punshhh

    It seems a good location for Mad Max style movies

    As you seem to dislike the notion that the Ukraine war is pivotal in Europe, Russia and by extension the U.S. and China.Punshhh

    Actually I’m more skeptical about the idea that whatever happens in the Middle East, it won’t play any decisive contribution in the power balance of major hegemonic powers.
  • Israel killing civilians in Gaza and the West Bank
    Yet, to distinguish Palestinians as a specific nation within the wider Arab ethnic group, Palestinians should also be able to see themselves as distinct from other Arabs, not simply as Arabs living in Palestine fighting against the Jews. — neomac

    I still think that their history makes them quite different from Jordanians, Egyptians or the Lebanese. As I said, Swedes and Finns are both Europeans. Both are majority Christians and share a common past. Yet for example the Swedish speaking Finns do not consider themselves Swedes, but Finns who just happen to talk Swedish. (And btw. this has been a huge reason why there isn't any rift between these two ethnic groups in Finland)
    And let's remember that Pan-Arabism was tried and it crashed. Just ask the Syrians how well did that experiment go with the Egyptians having a one-Pan Arab state. And the relations between the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) member states who all are also members of the Arab League show how brittle these relationships are.
    ssu

    This is a poor analogy. Independent Ukraine is 33 years old, Ukrainian nationalism and sentiment has definitely a longer history, much longer than the Palestinian nationalism. — neomac

    And how was it shown in 1945-1991? Yes, there is a history of Ukraine, but so has Palestine even a longer history. And Ukrainian nationalism emerged only in the 19th Century. And do notice that Palestinians had the Arab revolt in 1936-1939 against the British, where actually the Jewish fought alongside the British and gained military experience and competence (the Haganah just didn't sporadically emerge from refugees from Europe). And prior to that they were part of the Ottoman Empire, just as everybody else.
    ssu

    I have no problems to acknowledge that historical circumstances are often more messy than narratives and ideas about them suggest. Yet to the extent such narratives and ideas inspire collective political consciousness and action they can play some explanatory role. My understanding is that Palestinian nationalism promoting 1. a national identity uniting all Palestinian Arabs in Palestine in a distinctive manner within the rest of the Arab community, and 2. dedicated nation-state institutions to represent such people didn’t become predominant until Arafat. And this didn’t happen just because the pan-arabist project failed and the treatment of the Palestinians prior to 1967 (like the Gazans under the Egyptian rule and the West Bankers under the Jordan rule) wasn’t that brotherly, but also because the USSR was pushing national liberation movements in the Third World to fight American imperialism (Israel being one expression of it). In other words, Arafat with his nationalist narrative managed to emerge thanks to the USSR financial, military, intelligence and propaganda aid. So much so that, back then, it became clear in the West that Arafat accounted for an essential undercover operative for the KGB for years to come (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palestine%E2%80%93Russia_relations).


    There is an understandable motive for the Israeli skepticism about Palestinian nationalism. It's quite similar to the skepticism of Ukrainian nationalism by the Russians.Ordinary you don't give credence to the enemy you are fighting and his objectives. Actually it's quite natural. And this goes vice versa: the talk of Israel as an "colonial enterprise" is a way to diss Israel.ssu

    I don’t discount the psychological factor you are pointing out, but I’m talking about something else. The historical Ukrainian nationalism is much older than Palestinian nationalism there is no question about it. Here Timothy Snyder: Ukraine has a very old national idea, actually. The idea of Ukraine goes back into the 17th century at least. And one can talk about the history of Ukraine which is much older than that. The Ukrainian national movement comes from the 19th century and really it was a quite typical European national movement - anti-imperial, focused on the people as the subjects of of history.Ukraine, unlike other East European nations, was unable to establish a state in the early 20th century after the First World War. Its statehood only really emerges in a durable way after 1991. https://www.weforum.org/podcasts/radio-davos/episodes/ukraines-history-and-why-it-matters/
    Of course the historical Ukrainian nationalism got politically updated when it merged with the Western idea of the nation-state as much as the Jewish national identity which stems from biblical times but got politically updated when it merged with the Western idea of the nation-state. Palestinian nationalism has its historical roots in Arab nationalism, and only after 1967 it redefined itself as a function of a Palestinian nation-state. To the extent people use history as a source of legitimacy for their political claims (Palestinians and Israelis do resort to historical arguments to support their rights to the land) we can’t ignore the history of such political claims either.



    In 1948 yes, the neighbors didn't care a shit about Palestinians. But now I think it's different: nobody wants to be responsible of 7 million Palestinians. So OK for them to have their own country...as it's Israeli territory, anyway.ssu

    Mmm… not sure about that:
    https://www.reddit.com/r/Bolehland/comments/17939xb/can_someone_explain_why_he_said_palestinians/?rdt=61460
  • Israel killing civilians in Gaza and the West Bank
    1. its ideological roots are in pan-arabism and pan-islamism, both of which are broader ideologies than the idea of a Palestinian nation-state — neomac

    I think that Palestines and Palestinians ideological roots have more to do with how the "Jewish Palestinians", the Israelis have gone with their own nation building.
    “ssu

    As I've said, Palestinian aspirations are reinforced how Isreal treats them, starting from the thing that Israel never was for them in any way.“ssu


    Sure, I also already acknowledged that the conflict with the Jewish colonisers and Israel shaped Palestinian Nationalism. Yet, to distinguish Palestinians as a specific nation within the wider Arab ethnic group, Palestinians should also be able to see themselves as distinct from other Arabs, not simply as Arabs living in Palestine fighting against the Jews. And my understanding is that until Arafat the pan-Arabist views were dominant (e.g. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arab_Nationalist_Movement, https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2009/7/13/the-nakba-catalyst-for-pan-arabism). Besides as long as Saddam Hussain was there and depicted himself as a pan-arabist leader (https://apps.dtic.mil/sti/pdfs/ADA240117.pdf, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ba%27ath_Party), Arafat’s call for Palestinian nationalism seemed locked with a regional power game bigger than the Palestinian cause (https://www.aljazeera.com/program/plo-history-of-a-revolution/2009/8/22/arafats-costly-gulf-war-choice). This may be seen as a necessary compromise to serve the Palestinian nationalism, even more so with the strategic alliance with Iran (which replaced Saddam Hussein) and contributed to somehow estrange the Palestinian cause from the Arab world. However the rise of Hamas as an extremist and islamist fringe off-shooting from the pan-islamist Muslim Brotherhood with tighter financial and military ties with Hezbollah and the pan-islamist Khomeini (as Khaled Mashal declared in 2007 “Hamas is the spiritual son of Khomeini” https://israel-alma.org/2022/10/18/hamass-role-in-irans-grand-strategy-of-multi-front-attack-on-israel/), make Hamas’ nationalist ideology look more compromised, although at the same time I believe Hamas has greater autonomy from Iran than the shiite Hezbollah.




    Independent Ukraine is only 33 years old. And many Russians are totally confident about the utter artificiality of the country as you are of the Palestinians...when compared to the Israelis.“ssu

    This is a poor analogy. Independent Ukraine is 33 years old, Ukrainian nationalism and sentiment has definitely a longer history, much longer than the Palestinian nationalism. Besides the historical Ukrainian nationalism is also about refusing to be identified with the Russians (as an ethnic group), while Palestinian nationalism defined in opposition to Zionism was not about refusing to be identified with the Arabs (as an ethnic group), at least not at the beginning. In any case, I do not believe in the “utter artificiality of the Palestinians”, not even “when compared to the Israelis”, reason why I didn’t express myself in these terms. I simply get to the plausible roots of Israelis’ skepticism about Palestinian nationalism. Yet I also questioned the excesses of such skepticism on several grounds: 1. All nations are “artificial” as cultural products 2. The short history of Palestinian nationalism doesn’t make it deeply felt and bloody conflict with Israel made it sure that Palestinian feelings sedimented in Palestinians’ hearts 3. Palestinian nationalism is not only grounded in the opposition to Israel, but also in how the predicament of the Palestinians has estranged them from the Arab world enough to give greater credibility to their nation-state aspirations. 4. Zionism as a colonialist enterprise run mainly by non-indigenous European jews has its own degree of artificiality.





    Yet it's very typical in a world made of nation states, people think that there must be something wrong with the people that don't have their own country. Either they are weak, incapable or not actually genuine. This silly argumentation on who has more moral right to the land where they now live and have lived for generations shows this.“ssu

    That’s not my argument, though. My argument is that Palestinians and Israelis have to fight for their right to the land if their demands are incompatible, because there is no way to consistently ground both demands on the same justifying narrative. Notice also the following ideological asymmetry between Palestinians and Israelis: even when Palestinians claim to acknowledge Israel statehood (in favour of a two state solution), this is not grounded in a change of their anti-Zionist narrative about Israel. On the other side the more original and secular Zionist narrative was compelled since the beginning by the Palestinian Arabs as majoritarian indigenous people to Palestine, so it was more amenable to a compromise than Netanyahu’s approach.



    I think however that there are other factors that Israel can’t discount: 1. How the Arab states’ questionable attitude toward the Palestinians (and Palestinian refugees) may reinforce the Palestinians’ aspirations to a distinctive Palestinian nation-state. — neomac

    Yet is it questionable that Arabs now see Palestinians differently from them? Finns and Swedes are surely European, even Nordic, but two different countries and people still. Are Palestinians then Jordanians?
    “ssu

    What I care to focus on is to what extent Palestinians can see themselves as a distinct nation from the larger Arab community. I think the way they have been treated by other Arab governments and people may have contributed to a reciprocal estrangement which reinforced Palestinian Nationalism.


    Which is more pro-Israeli and which would be more neutral? Just asking.“ssu

    It doesn’t matter if it is pro-Israeli to me, it matters if you have more compelling counter-arguments on the merit of what the article is arguing.


    What is the present Europe is happy about? — neomac

    Hmm... prosperity, peace, integration. When compared to Middle East, which is the more happy story?

    What is so confusing in calling for “pivot to Asia” by American ‘pivot-people'? — neomac

    Because the US is already there in SE Asia. So continuously repeating about "turning to Asia" that focus isn't here but there. What is message you try to say here? That's the thing confusing.
    “ssu

    It’s not me who is calling for “pivot to Asia”, but US administrations and advisors.

    U.S. President Barack Obama's East Asia Strategy (2009–2017), also known as the Pivot to Asia, represented a significant shift in the foreign policy of the United States since the 2010s. It shifted the country's focus away from the Middle Eastern and European sphere and allowed it to invest heavily and build relationships in East Asian and Southeast Asian countries, especially countries which are in close proximity to the People's Republic of China (PRC) either economically, geographically or politically to counter its rise as a rival superpower.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/East_Asian_foreign_policy_of_the_Barack_Obama_administration

    Ideally Biden would support it:
    https://www.npr.org/2021/10/06/1043329242/long-promised-and-often-delayed-the-pivot-to-asia-takes-shape-under-biden

    But there are thorny issues with that: https://thediplomat.com/2024/03/the-lost-decade-of-the-us-pivot-to-asia/

    Besides it’s not me to introduce the idea of “pivotal” (vs “distraction”), but Punshhh.
    I find such distinction potentially misleading for reasons I’ve argued.
  • Israel killing civilians in Gaza and the West Bank
    We have two ongoing conflicts one in Ukraine and another in Israel, and many in the Rest and in West (including in the US) are blaming the US for one reason or the other.

    ↪neomac

    What’s new. This has been going on for decades with every conflict the U.S. has been involved in.
    Punshhh

    All right, so it’s not that you do not see. You do not see anything new. Even though foreign policies can be inherently controversial, especially if motivated by aggressive hegemonic ambitions, maybe the Gulf War was the least controversial among them.



    What issue? The US and EU diverged on the case of Ukraine vis-à-vis Russia to the point that Ukraine didn’t manage join NATO up until now, even if the US was warmly supporting it.


    The partnership between the U.S. and the EU will have tensions, so what?
    Punshhh

    There have been tensions between the US and the EU about economics.
    Now we are talking divergence about security needs, military alliance, wars, genocides on top of the economic tensions. That’s the reason of concern especially if power balance wrt aggressive competitors is at stake as you too pointed out.


    If Ukraine had joined NATO before now, there would be a war between Russia and NATO now.Punshhh

    I don’t find this counterfactual evidently true. It can argue that if Ukraine had joined NATO previously, Russia would have not tried to aggress it the way it did (example: https://muse.jhu.edu/pub/1/oa_edited_volume/chapter/3881915)




    That's the kind of foreign policies I'm referring to.

    So am I, the Israeli conflict won’t have big geopolitical consequences.
    The Ukraine conflict will have big geopolitical consequences, but the direction of policy here hasn’t changed for decades. It’s the fallout from the Cold War and the U.S. and E.U. are pretty much in lockstep.
    Punshhh



    So you mean that no matter how the Israeli-Palestinian conflict goes, it doesn’t change the superpower status of the US, while the conflict in Ukraine may change the superpower status of the US, is that it?

    Not U.S. superpower status, rather the strength of the anti China alliance.
    Punshhh


    if Russia wins the war in Ukraine, then the US might lose its superpower status, that’s why the US wants to the hegemonic conflict against Russia in Ukraine, and a strong EU and NATO are kind of necessary to achieve that. Is it that what you mean?

    At no point have I said anything about the U.S. superpower status. Its position as a global superpower is secure and isn’t going to change.
    I’m saying if Russia wins in Ukraine, it will greatly weaken and threaten the EU (as opposed to EU status if Russia loses the war). This will leave the U.S. vulnerable on two fronts, the Pacific and the Atlantic..
    Perhaps bullet points will help.
    If Russia wins;
    1, Russia strengthens, becomes a threat to EU on her borders.
    2, U.S. will be obliged to support EU, and be drawn into EU wars with Russia.
    3, Russia becomes strong re-establishes the Russian empire forms a strong alliance with China.
    4, U.S. is vulnerable on two fronts from China and from Russia via threat to EU. While China and Russia are in strong alliance
    5, EU are vulnerable to Russia picking off states, pre-occupying EU while China can threaten U.S. play one off against the other.

    If Russia loses;
    6, Russia is greatly weakened, may even collapse.
    7, Putin is seen as a failure, pariah
    8, Ukraine becomes part of EU, NATO.
    9, EU becomes strong with no threat on her border.
    10, EU forms strong alliance with U.S.

    In both cases a strong alliance is formed between two large powers. In the first case between China and Russia in the second case between U.S. and EU..
    Punshhh

    I can appreciate your effort to clarify your views, but I still find your claims a bit misleading. On one side you support the idea that the US will keep its superpower status on the other the vulnerabilities of the US and the power balance against the US may increase for the US if the EU is weak.
    So even if the US preserves a superpower status versus other superpowers in a one-to-one comparison, still you are talking about a scenario in which the unipolar world with the US on top of it is over and power balancing alliances are needed. Besides a weak EU would tilt the power balance AGAINST the US.

    Now going back to the Israel Palestine conflict.
    There is no global shift in power, with either outcome in the conflict. Israel either becomes an isolated country bristling with weapons. Or Israel collapses and becomes another failed state in the Middle East. Either way it makes no difference to the geopolitical balance in the world.
    Let’s say Israel goes to war with Iran. Again two more failed states with no change in the global power dynamic. There are other things that can happen in the region which could have geopolitical consequences, like oil, or conflicts between larger regional players. But they are not influenced that much by what happens in Israel Palestine.
    Punshhh

    Everything that happens in the Middle East often has often links with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1973_oil_crisis
    And even though Middle-Eastern countries individually have no superpower status, still they can very much weigh in not only in hegemonic conflicts in the Middle East but also in other parts of the world including Europe (see the support of Turkey alone to Ukraine and the support of Iran to Russia). Besides if one is reasoning in terms of alliance also an alliance between Russia, China and the Middle-Eastern countries can tilt the power balance at the expense of the US and EU alliance. The closer Western and anti-Western alliances get in terms of overall capacity, the greater the influence of yet unaligned minor powers is when it's time to pick sides. So I wouldn’t discount this factor when talking about the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict.