Geopolitics (Too "Whataboutery" for Other Threads).

nickm

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A repost


the current head of the CIA made his views known on the issue:



With the part in bold being my primary point. You can understand the idea of provocation without also saying that Russia was justified in its invasion, and that's the broader point made by almost every academic source cited in this thread. I don't think it's controversial or that it implies a mutually exclusive premise.
And yet in the very articles you cite, Burns also says he favoured NATO expansion just more slowly. And let’s not forget, Ukraine is not a member of NATO, the West DID pay attention to Russian sensitivities on that, and yet Russia still invaded. There are lots of reasons why Putin lost trust in the West (and vice versa) and I certainly remember thinking at the time we did not handle Russia very sensitively post the fall of the Soviets, but the one thing we did do well, was establish an environment where the former Soviet republics could prosper in freely and in peace. Russia may have felt this was provocative, yes, there was a risk in that, but it wasn’t really about respecting Russian colonial interests anymore, those vanished with the Soviets. When the Ukraine war is won, it may well be seen as the point at which Russia is forced to realise that the imperial game is finally over, and they will need to find a new way of engaging with its former colonies, the same lesson everyone else in the West has had to learn.
 
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Carolina Red

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And yet in the very articles you cite, Burns also says he favoured NATO expansion just more slowly. And let’s not forget, Ukraine is not a member of NATO, the West DID pay attention to Russian sensitivities on that, and yet Russia still invaded. There are lots of reasons why Putin lost trust in the West (and vice versa) and I certainly remember thinking at the time we did not handle Russia very well post the fall of the Soviets, but the one thing we did do well, was establish an environment where the former Soviet republics could prosper in freely and in peace. Russia may have felt this was provocative, but it wasn’t really about Russian colonial interests anymore.
Well said.
 

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I find it amazing there's still people pretending that they don't understand the provocation point. It's like you've got it in your heads that it's a russian talking point so some inverse truth of action having no consequences must be believed or Putin wins.

If you can't admit it was provocative even whilst justified then you can't start to debate the implementation. If they'd have properly judged the level of provocation and taken ownership of it they'd have been able to bring Ukraine under NATO protection fully from the off and saved lives.

Historians talk about how economic policy provoked Japan and Germany in WW2 and oddly enough that isn't a justification of pearl harbour or the holocaust either. The many threads that build up to conflict aren't one sided good vs bad arguments.
 

calodo2003

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I find it amazing there's still people pretending that they don't understand the provocation point. It's like you've got it in your heads that it's a russian talking point so some inverse truth of action having no consequences must be believed or Putin wins.

If you can't admit it was provocative even whilst justified then you can't start to debate the implementation. If they'd have properly judged the level of provocation and taken ownership of it they'd have been able to bring Ukraine under NATO protection fully from the off and saved lives.

Historians talk about how economic policy provoked Japan and Germany in WW2 and oddly enough that isn't a justification of pearl harbour or the holocaust either. The many threads that build up to conflict aren't one sided good vs bad arguments.
Economic policy justified the holocaust?
 

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Economic policy justified the holocaust?
Jews had a lot of businesses. It is of course a racist stance if you think that's an issue, but transfering their businesses and money to "Real Germans" was part of it, so there was an economical aspect to that.
 

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I find it amazing there's still people pretending that they don't understand the provocation point. It's like you've got it in your heads that it's a russian talking point so some inverse truth of action having no consequences must be believed or Putin wins.

If you can't admit it was provocative even whilst justified then you can't start to debate the implementation. If they'd have properly judged the level of provocation and taken ownership of it they'd have been able to bring Ukraine under NATO protection fully from the off and saved lives.

Historians talk about how economic policy provoked Japan and Germany in WW2 and oddly enough that isn't a justification of pearl harbour or the holocaust either. The many threads that build up to conflict aren't one sided good vs bad arguments.
Define provocative. And then explain again how it applies.
 

rpitroda

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I find it amazing there's still people pretending that they don't understand the provocation point. It's like you've got it in your heads that it's a russian talking point so some inverse truth of action having no consequences must be believed or Putin wins.

If you can't admit it was provocative even whilst justified then you can't start to debate the implementation. If they'd have properly judged the level of provocation and taken ownership of it they'd have been able to bring Ukraine under NATO protection fully from the off and saved lives.

Historians talk about how economic policy provoked Japan and Germany in WW2 and oddly enough that isn't a justification of pearl harbour or the holocaust either. The many threads that build up to conflict aren't one sided good vs bad arguments.
The reason you find it amazing is because you don’t actually understand what the debate is about, clearly. I don’t suppose you’ve actually read through the last 3 or so pages in full (don’t blame you either).
 

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Economic policy justified the holocaust?
Read again, you know the part that says it isn't justification right before holocaust is mentioned. If you're all using provocation and justification interchangeable then you're incorrect and no wonder you're pushing back on a simple premise.

The US economic policy towards Japan (embargoes especially) is considered one of the provocations that led to Japans actions. Likewise the economic conditions forced on Germany set the stage for people to be swayed by fascism.
 

Smores

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The reason you find it amazing is because you don’t actually understand what the debate is about, clearly. I don’t suppose you’ve actually read through the last 3 or so pages in full (don’t blame you either).
I've read it and your post on the last page is a prime example but you weren't the main person i was alluding to. Spinning something basic into being a defence of Russia and bashing NATO.

Just because an act is provocative doesn't mean it bares blame for the outcome. Provocation isn't always intentional or deliberate it can just be careless or a series of reasonable actions that end up leading to something unintended.

As such in response to your prior arguments yes there's a difference between blame for the invasion itself and blame on the situation we're in which considers build up. History would be terribly boring if it was limited to bad guy did bad thing, context matters.
 

nickm

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I've read it and your post on the last page is a prime example but you weren't the main person i was alluding to. Spinning something basic into being a defence of Russia and bashing NATO.

Just because an act is provocative doesn't mean it bares blame for the outcome. Provocation isn't always intentional or deliberate it can just be careless or a series of reasonable actions that end up leading to something unintended.

As such in response to your prior arguments yes there's a difference between blame for the invasion itself and blame on the situation we're in which considers build up. History would be terribly boring if it was limited to bad guy did bad thing, context matters.
I think the sense of provocation that I don't agree with, and therefore the use of the word, is the sense that we should concede that Russia had some sort of legitimate imperial interest in Ukraine that should have been respected by Ukraine, and not respecting that is the provocation. The world has changed, that Russia saw it as a provocation means Russia needs to change too. Russia's defeat may well force that change, we will see.

We don't allow the "explanation" that a skimpy outfit "provokes" a sexual assault anymore, because the whole way of thinking about it in those terms, has changed.
 
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NotThatSoph

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Do you really think NATO is going to go and invade Russia if it secures Ukraine in its group?
Nuclear weapons says no, of course, but the day after some technology turns those obsolutete they'll begin draw up their invasion plans.
 

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I think the sense of provocation that I don't agree with to, and therefore the use of the word, is the sense that we should concede that Russia had some sort of legitimate imperial interests in Ukraine that should have been respected by the West, and not respecting them is the provocation. The world has changed, that Russia saw it as a provocation means Russia needs to change too. Russia's defeat may well force that change, we will see.
I do agree with that but that enters into justification. I don't think we need to concede those imperial interests are valid, only that they believe(d) them to be valid hence they'd see the act as provocative.

As MG has quoted, key officials in the US administration knew these acts were proactive in the context of the Russian view. There's a debate to be had on the actions building up to this but that's an introspective debate and not one that takes blame away from Russia.
 

Don't Kill Bill

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Provocation also implies an action designed to get a reaction. It isn't a neutral term.
 

Smores

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Provocation also implies an action designed to get a reaction. It isn't a neutral term.
It absolutely is a neutral term hence we talk about deliberate provocation. You can provoke an animal to attack without meaning to do so.

There might be a difference in legal and general usage but in a historical context provocation is nearly always used as a cause and effect relationship.
 

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It's clear to anyone that the Central, Northern and Eastern European countries who have joined or want to join NATO are not doing so because they have ambitions of invading Russia. They're joining because they justifiably see Russian imperial aspirations as a threat to their independence and self-determination and they want protection. The Americans are involved in NATO because it benefits them geopolitically to prevent Russian territorial expansion and the Russians are against it because they're not satisfied with their internationally recognised borders and want either direct or de facto control of territory outside those borders.

The first point to make that whilst obviously American foreign policy (like all foreign policy) is self-interested and their rhetoric about protecting democracy etc. is a load of old balls, the fact that democratic decisions taken by the countries along Russia's borders happen to align with America's geopolitical interests doesn't invalidate those decisons.

The second is that there's a false equivalency being drawn between NATO expansionism and Russian expansionism. NATO membership is by no means a 'no-strings-attached' proposition, but the level of political interference involved is minimal compared to say, the control the Russian government asserts over the governments of Russia's constituent republics, it's vassal states or the various breakaway 'states' it supports. Obviously in a grand scheme of geopolitics, NATO expansion means an expansion of the American sphere of influence and America will use the means at its disposal to achieve that, but they're pushing on an open door. Russia's neighbours don't need to be tricked, bribed or coerced into wanting to join NATO when the Russian sales pitch amounts to "Don't you wish your country was a bit more like Belarus?"

Finally, the only sense in which NATO poses any sort of threat to Russia is that it forms a hard barrier to their military expansion. NATO's existence doesn't threaten Russia's borders, prevent Russia engaging in trade with NATO countries or disadvantage Russian citizens living in those countries. In fact, the Russian ruling elite has made much of their wealth from their business interests in the West. All NATO really does is stop Russia being able to bully other countries into doing what they want, and if Russia feels provoked by that, I'd say that's a perfect illustration of why all their neighbours are joining. If they were content with exerting influence over others in a non-threatening way, NATO wouldn't bother them.
 

Don't Kill Bill

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It absolutely is a neutral term hence we talk about deliberate provocation. You can provoke an animal to attack without meaning to do so.

There might be a difference in legal and general usage but in a historical context provocation is nearly always used as a cause and effect relationship.
Just to be clear.

"an action or statement that is intended to make someone angry:"

Did Ukraine/ NATO intend to make Russia angry? Was that their purpose? If you say their actions were a provocation then that is a judgment on what is behind those actions.

In my opinion the Russian invasion is best categorized as a reaction to Ukrainian independence rather than a reaction to a provocative act since being independent shouldn't be seen in itself as provocative.

All the caveats around the word may lesson the impact but they don't change its meaning. Saying that Russia thought the actions or saw the action as provocative is fine. It leaves open the judgment on the act. Saying it was a provocation doesn't.


This post really shows I've too much time on my hands :)
 

Smores

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Just to be clear.

"an action or statement that is intended to make someone angry:"

Did Ukraine/ NATO intend to make Russia angry? Was that their purpose? If you say their actions were a provocation then that is a judgment on what is behind those actions.

In my opinion the Russian invasion is best categorized as a reaction to Ukrainian independence rather than a reaction to a provocative act since being independent shouldn't be seen in itself as provocative.

All the caveats around the word may lesson the impact but they don't change its meaning. Saying that Russia thought the actions or saw the action as provocative is fine. It leaves open the judgment on the act. Saying it was a provocation doesn't.


This post really shows I've too much time on my hands :)
I'm not sure what you're quoting but there's never one definition for a word and it most definitely can be used beyond intent.

Oxford for instance has provoke as "stimulate or give rise to (a reaction or emotion, typically a strong or unwelcome one) in someone.".

If the argument or confusion is based around intent to provoke a reaction then I absolutely agree with you. The US/NATO didn't purposefully trigger Russia into a war. I think they knew the risk of their actions though and deemed it the best course irrespective.

As i said i think knowing the risk they had to go further and fully protect Ukraine. We're not yet privy to details that will come out over the coming decades so maybe they actually believed Russia would invade irrespective and thus cause a larger war. I'd bet on it being a political decision personally.

Using a different word would probably save everyone time yes :lol:
 

rpitroda

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I've read it and your post on the last page is a prime example but you weren't the main person i was alluding to. Spinning something basic into being a defence of Russia and bashing NATO.

Just because an act is provocative doesn't mean it bares blame for the outcome. Provocation isn't always intentional or deliberate it can just be careless or a series of reasonable actions that end up leading to something unintended.

As such in response to your prior arguments yes there's a difference between blame for the invasion itself and blame on the situation we're in which considers build up. History would be terribly boring if it was limited to bad guy did bad thing, context matters.
You’re missing the point. I’m specifically at issue with the use of the word “provoke”. Provoke by definition implies that the other party was led to their decision. No one is disputing that NATO and the US made decisions that Russia was upset about. I just dispute that that amounts to provoking. For two reasons really:
1. If someone pokes you in the shoulder, your response can’t be to stab them in the eye. Similarly, the invasion of Ukraine isn’t proportional to whatever NATO and the US did, and so can’t really label it as provoke.
2. As above, provoking implies one reaction was a consequence of the other. And so you cant claim one provoked but then not apportion blame to the response. That is by definition and by meaning of the word provoke. Not a judgement or opinion.

Provoke is just the wrong word. The correct point is that Ukraine, NATO, and the US made decisions which Russia would not like, and therefore Russia on its own account decided to invade. This acknowledges why Russia invaded without suggesting that the actions of the west are a valid reason for that invasion. It’s a very small but significant meaning.
 

rpitroda

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It absolutely is a neutral term hence we talk about deliberate provocation. You can provoke an animal to attack without meaning to do so.

There might be a difference in legal and general usage but in a historical context provocation is nearly always used as a cause and effect relationship.
This is bullshit. You fundamentally do not understand the word provoke. You can’t “accidentally provoke”. Provoke would just not be the right word to use, simple as that.
 

Smores

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This is bullshit. You fundamentally do not understand the word provoke. You can’t “accidentally provoke”. Provoke would just not be the right word to use, simple as that.
It is and you don't. A movie can provoke an uninteded emotional response, a song, a post. A bit of positive PR can provoke an angry backlash on twitter.

Provoke isn't solely to goad or incite which is what you seem to think. It's a perfectly acceptable usage to use it for cause and effect in relation to events which it widely is. In fact google unintentional provocation and you'll quickly see it n case laws for animal attack liability. Words have multiple meanings.

Odd argument but then so much of this thread is as it's mostly argument for the sake of it. Whining that everyone is just out to criticise NATO.
 

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It absolutely is a neutral term hence we talk about deliberate provocation. You can provoke an animal to attack without meaning to do so.

There might be a difference in legal and general usage but in a historical context provocation is nearly always used as a cause and effect relationship.
Normatively speaking, its only neutral if you ascribe equal morality to the actions of both sides. To most here, Putin is clearly in the wrong and seeks to invade Ukraine for neo-imperialist conquest to preserve his domestic prowess, not because NATO was on his border (if the latter were true he would be invading Finland as we speak). This is why no one buys the provocation argument - because its being incorrectly applied as part of a Tu quoque fallacy to create moral equivalence between Ukrainian aspirations for freedom, democracy, and self-determination, and Putin's malicious and predatory desire to conquer neighboring nations because he fears democracy one day reaching his own regime and toppling him from within.
 
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Mciahel Goodman

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Normatively speaking, its only neutral if you ascribe equal morality to the actions of both sides. To most here, Putin is clearly in the wrong and seeks to invade Ukraine for neo-imperialist conquest, not because NATO was on his border (if the latter were true he would be invading Finland as we speak). This is why no one buys the provocation argument - because its being incorrectly applied as part of a Tu quoque fallacy to create moral equivalence between Ukrainian aspirations for freedom, democracy, and self-determination, and Putin's malicious and predatory desire to conquer neighboring nations because he fears democracy one day reaching his own regime and toppling him from within.
But if the former were true, then he would also be invading Finland? Or any other country which borders Russia? I don't think you can take NATO/Ukraine in isolation. I don't rule out Russian imperialism, as it would seem to be implied within the idea of sphere of influence, but Russian imperialism is not by itself a sufficient explanation (in the context above).

I basically agree with Smores' interpretation blow. The tu quoque fallacy is also misplaced. "And you too?" doesn't seek moral equivalence, it seeks contextual depth. You find it in every history ever written.

I've read it and your post on the last page is a prime example but you weren't the main person i was alluding to. Spinning something basic into being a defence of Russia and bashing NATO.

Just because an act is provocative doesn't mean it bares blame for the outcome. Provocation isn't always intentional or deliberate it can just be careless or a series of reasonable actions that end up leading to something unintended.

As such in response to your prior arguments yes there's a difference between blame for the invasion itself and blame on the situation we're in which considers build up. History would be terribly boring if it was limited to bad guy did bad thing, context matters.
 

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But if the former were true, then he would also be invading Finland? Or any other country which borders Russia? I don't think you can take NATO/Ukraine in isolation. I don't rule out Russian imperialism, as it would seem to be implied within the idea of sphere of influence, but Russian imperialism is not by itself a sufficient explanation (in the context above).

I basically agree with Smores' interpretation blow. The tu quoque fallacy is also misplaced. "And you too?" doesn't seek moral equivalence, it seeks contextual depth. You find it in every history ever written.
You do have to look at Ukraine/Russia as an individual case since there are literally no other cases like it in the world at the moment. Therefore attempting to apply the nuanced specifics of each of the actors to other hypotheticals doesn't work.
 

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It's clear to anyone that the Central, Northern and Eastern European countries who have joined or want to join NATO are not doing so because they have ambitions of invading Russia. They're joining because they justifiably see Russian imperial aspirations as a threat to their independence and self-determination and they want protection. The Americans are involved in NATO because it benefits them geopolitically to prevent Russian territorial expansion and the Russians are against it because they're not satisfied with their internationally recognised borders and want either direct or de facto control of territory outside those borders.

The first point to make that whilst obviously American foreign policy (like all foreign policy) is self-interested and their rhetoric about protecting democracy etc. is a load of old balls, the fact that democratic decisions taken by the countries along Russia's borders happen to align with America's geopolitical interests doesn't invalidate those decisons.

The second is that there's a false equivalency being drawn between NATO expansionism and Russian expansionism. NATO membership is by no means a 'no-strings-attached' proposition, but the level of political interference involved is minimal compared to say, the control the Russian government asserts over the governments of Russia's constituent republics, it's vassal states or the various breakaway 'states' it supports. Obviously in a grand scheme of geopolitics, NATO expansion means an expansion of the American sphere of influence and America will use the means at its disposal to achieve that, but they're pushing on an open door. Russia's neighbours don't need to be tricked, bribed or coerced into wanting to join NATO when the Russian sales pitch amounts to "Don't you wish your country was a bit more like Belarus?"

Finally, the only sense in which NATO poses any sort of threat to Russia is that it forms a hard barrier to their military expansion. NATO's existence doesn't threaten Russia's borders, prevent Russia engaging in trade with NATO countries or disadvantage Russian citizens living in those countries. In fact, the Russian ruling elite has made much of their wealth from their business interests in the West. All NATO really does is stop Russia being able to bully other countries into doing what they want, and if Russia feels provoked by that, I'd say that's a perfect illustration of why all their neighbours are joining. If they were content with exerting influence over others in a non-threatening way, NATO wouldn't bother them.
This would be a correct interpretation of reality.
 

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You do have to look at Ukraine/Russia as an individual case since there are literally no other cases like it in the world at the moment. Therefore attempting to apply the nuanced specifics of each of the actors to other hypotheticals doesn't work.
I agree. Part of that, what divides Ukraine from Finland, is demography, the ethnic composition which is split along linguistic and cultural lines from the West and North to the South and South East. Part of it is also Russia being accustomed to influence/control within Ukraine that does not exist in other cases, except perhaps Belarus but that offers a different set of problems.
 

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I agree. Part of that, what divides Ukraine from Finland, is demography, the ethnic composition which is split along linguistic and cultural lines from the West and North to the South and South East. Part of it is also Russia being accustomed to influence/control within Ukraine that does not exist in other cases, except perhaps Belarus but that offers a different set of problems.
Even if this weren't true, common demography and culture wouldn't be a legitimate reason for Putin to invade Ukraine. Otherwise Canada would be a 51st US state.
 

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The Japanese example given by Smores is a good one. No one says Pearl Harbour was justified but all serious scholars take note of American actions in the Pacific which were viewed as provocations and which the Americans knew would be viewed as such. That's what's meant here by "provocation" which doesn't justify a disproportionate response, whether that's Pearl Harbour or Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

And this:

Russia may have felt this was provocative, yes, there was a risk in that, but it wasn’t really about respecting Russian colonial interests anymore, those vanished with the Soviets. When the Ukraine war is won, it may well be seen as the point at which Russia is forced to realise that the imperial game is finally over, and they will need to find a new way of engaging with its former colonies, the same lesson everyone else in the West has had to learn.
Agreed.
 

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Even if this weren't true, common demography and culture wouldn't be a legitimate reason for Putin to invade Ukraine. Otherwise Canada would be a 51st US state.
Yeah I agree, it isn't legitimate. But it does give a partial reason as to why he sees value in a Ukrainian invasion but not in Finland or elsewhere. Wasn't his whole idea that he'd be welcomed, in those regions at least, as a liberator?
 

Smores

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Normatively speaking, its only neutral if you ascribe equal morality to the actions of both sides. To most here, Putin is clearly in the wrong and seeks to invade Ukraine for neo-imperialist conquest to preserve his domestic prowess, not because NATO was on his border (if the latter were true he would be invading Finland as we speak). This is why no one buys the provocation argument - because its being incorrectly applied as part of a Tu quoque fallacy to create moral equivalence between Ukrainian aspirations for freedom, democracy, and self-determination, and Putin's malicious and predatory desire to conquer neighboring nations because he fears democracy one day reaching his own regime and toppling him from within.
Genuinely no idea what you're even referring to here. If only you'd debate the actual thread and not this defensive reflex of every argument being either a justification or equivalence of Russian actions.

It's the equivalent of Fox News shouting commie and Venezuela every time capitalism is critiqued. Just drown out any debate through noise until people get bored.

Either NATO didn't identify the consequences of their actions, believed they were inconsequential, or knew and proceeded to let Ukraine face the force of the response. It sounds like sufficient US officials recognised the consequences so it's the last option isn't it. We can overlap justification, strategic interests, and moral choices on top of that but it doesn't change the premise.

Either way it's relevant to discuss in a thread specifically about geopolitics. If you can't retrospectively discuss contributory actions (if we prefer that term)) to an event because you're only focused on the morals of those in the wrong then good luck discussing geopolitics.
 

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Genuinely no idea what you're even referring to here. If only you'd debate the actual thread and not this defensive reflex of every argument being either a justification or equivalence of Russian actions.

It's the equivalent of Fox News shouting commie and Venezuela every time capitalism is critiqued. Just drown out any debate through noise until people get bored.
What I wrote above is pretty simple and easy to grasp. There are nuances to how the term is applied based on a variety of factors.

Either NATO didn't identify the consequences of their actions, believed they were inconsequential, or knew and proceeded to let Ukraine face the force of the response. It sounds like sufficient US officials recognised the consequences so it's the last option isn't it. We can overlap justification, strategic interests, and moral choices on top of that but it doesn't change the premise.

Either way it's relevant to discuss in a thread specifically about geopolitics. If you can't retrospectively discuss contributory actions (if we prefer that term)) to an event because you're only focused on the morals of those in the wrong then good luck discussing geopolitics.
NATO isn't a person, its a collective security organization with a wide range of stakeholder views that vary wildly (see Turkish apprehension of Swedish NATO membership due to domestic policies of both nations as a recent example). Therefore this argument that NATO collectively plotted to provoke the Russians simply doesn't make sense, especially when you consider it was Ukrainian domestic policy by their democratically elected government (aka the will of the Ukrainian people) to be a part of NATO that is driving it.
 
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Demyanenko_square_jaw

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Genuinely no idea what you're even referring to here. If only you'd debate the actual thread and not this defensive reflex of every argument being either a justification or equivalence of Russian actions.

It's the equivalent of Fox News shouting commie and Venezuela every time capitalism is critiqued. Just drown out any debate through noise until people get bored.

Either NATO didn't identify the consequences of their actions, believed they were inconsequential, or knew and proceeded to let Ukraine face the force of the response. It sounds like sufficient US officials recognised the consequences so it's the last option isn't it. We can overlap justification, strategic interests, and moral choices on top of that but it doesn't change the premise.

Either way it's relevant to discuss in a thread specifically about geopolitics. If you can't retrospectively discuss contributory actions (if we prefer that term)) to an event because you're only focused on the morals of those in the wrong then good luck discussing geopolitics.
I don't think it's difficult to see what is at the bottom of this sort of attitude, especially for the Brits and Americans. You've got a site where a lot of members are from countries that in this century have been at the heart of not only very murky, but outright unjust geopolitical conflict/dealings. Iraq looming over everything that even the authoritarian powers had managed, until Putin decides to try for the crown.

So another conflict erupts, one that is as black and white as it gets in terms of the invasion being unjustified and their governments are on the right side this time. Quite a few are going to cling to that with both hands, especially those with political tendencies that were more militaristic, more pro Western World Police back in 90s/00s when it was a talking point, before Iraq tainted the concept for good. Not even the tamest of dry, academic geopolitical discussion looking at various possible factors in the years/decades leading up to this invasion is going to be easily allowed. Not without a contingent looking for whataboutists/useful idiots/russian propagandists behind every post...
 

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I'm not sure if "provoke" is the right term. I associate the word provoke with an act that is deliberately aimed to get a response. But that's a semantics game.

I do think it is also somewhat of a moot point. We may think whatever we do is not a provocation, but the Russians perceive it different. And we may think the oil embargo imposed on Japan before Pearl Harbor wasn't a provocation. But it seriously impacted Japanese decision-making. Then again, the embargo was (partially) a response to Japan's invasion in China. So there's that.

It's not justification but you have to know what the other party is thinking and how they're perceiving your actions. Otherwise you're doing foreign policy as a blind man, not seeing and understanding your enemy's moves.
 

Pintu

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Yeah I agree, it isn't legitimate. But it does give a partial reason as to why he sees value in a Ukrainian invasion but not in Finland or elsewhere. Wasn't his whole idea that he'd be welcomed, in those regions at least, as a liberator?
There is a big difference between Finland and Ukraine. Finland's contacts with the Russian public are very limited. Only a certain upper-middle class is in touch with Finland. In the case of Ukraine, the language and the history makes things much more sensitive. The democratization process has always been seen by the Russian regime as a cultural threat. Russia can tolerate Ukraine being a flawed democracy that is corrupt and unable to develop economically (almost proving that democracy is bad). But if they turn towards the EU and start building a solid independent economy, then they might convince the Russian public that this "western democracy virus" is actually a good thing.
 

MTF

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I don't think it's difficult to see what is at the bottom of this sort of attitude, especially for the Brits and Americans. You've got a site where a lot of members are from countries that in this century have been at the heart of not only very murky, but outright unjust geopolitical conflict/dealings. Iraq looming over everything that even the authoritarian powers had managed, until Putin decides to try for the crown.

So another conflict erupts, one that is as black and white as it gets in terms of the invasion being unjustified and their governments are on the right side this time. Quite a few are going to cling to that with both hands, especially those with political tendencies that were more militaristic, more pro Western World Police back in 90s/00s when it was a talking point, before Iraq tainted the concept for good. Not even the tamest of dry, academic geopolitical discussion looking at various possible factors in the years/decades leading up to this invasion is going to be easily allowed. Not without a contingent looking for whataboutists/useful idiots/russian propagandists behind every post...
I think there's some truth in your comment, I don't think all of the truth but some for sure.

I can comment that this war has if anything made me more critical of the US-led wars in Iraq and even Afghanistan. I think I had already been moving in that direction somewhat in recent years, but this war really consolidated the thinking. The main parallel I see is the weakness of the casus belli.

I was 14 when the US invaded Iraq so I hope am afforded some leeway for not realizing how manufactured the WMD claims were, with the main weakness not simply that they later proved to be false, but that at the time they were being presented by people who had long wanted to invade Iraq, and that an artificial deadline for resolution/compliance was created that had little to do with nature of the alleged threat (March 2003 was nothing besides a convenient time to invade).

I hope that this current war is teaching me in the future to be more critical of any calls for initiating conflict on the part of the US and any allies.
 

nickm

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It's not justification but you have to know what the other party is thinking and how they're perceiving your actions. Otherwise you're doing foreign policy as a blind man, not seeing and understanding your enemy's moves.
I agree with that although there is a difference between "the Russians will find this action provocative" and "NATO provoked this invasion".