IS PUTIN TO BLAME? #387

GOOD MORNING FROM LONDON

The Post on 10 May 2022 on Ukraine stirred the pot. Some approved. Some disapproved.

Let me bring into the debate the views of John Mearsheimer, who since 1982 has been a Professor at the University of Chicago. A 2017 survey of US international relations faculties ranked him 3rd among “scholars whose work has had the greatest influence on the field of International Relations in the past 20 years.” He attended the US Military Academy at West Point from 1966-to 70 and served for 5 years as an officer in the US Air Force.

He states “There is no question that Vladimir Putin started the war and is responsible for how it is being waged. But why he did so is another matter. The mainstream view in the West is that he is an irrational, out-of-touch aggressor bent on creating a greater Russia in the mould of the former Soviet Union. Thus, he alone bears full responsibility for the Ukraine crisis. But that story is wrong. The West, and especially America, is principally responsible for the crisis which began in February 2014. It has now turned into a war that not only threatens to destroy Ukraine but also has the potential to escalate into a nuclear war between Russia and NATO.”

Trouble started, says Mearsheimer, at NATO’s Bucharest summit in April 2008, when George W. Bush’s administration pushed the alliance to announce that Ukraine and Georgia “will become members”. Russian leaders responded, continues Mearsheimer, immediately with outrage, characterising this decision as an existential threat to Russia and vowing to thwart it.

Mearsheimer apart, Putin is a bad man. He has done bad things in Russia — and for those in the UK, the Salisbury poisoning comes to mind. He is conducting a war of terror as revealed by the nightly TV reports. But this does not excuse the West from primary responsibility, as Mearsheimer states above, and it is relevant — and uncomfortable — for us in the West to note that Putin has followed the US example of terror bombing in Hiroshima + Nagasaki, + the same UK example at Dresden. It remains the case that this War was avoidable.

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Graham Perry

Graham Perry

My understanding of China is dethatched, objective and informed unlike most other commentators who political prejudices invade their writings.