War in Europe 💔

I fundamentally disagree with Mearsheimer’s conclusions.

Let’s use this video as our example. The good professor talks extensively about what America, NATO, and the EU want. He also talks about what Russia wants.

He devotes no time to what the Ukrainians want.

There’s a clear majority of Ukrainians that wish to join NATO and the EU. That majority has only been increasing, and although there hasn’t been a recent surveys on it, I would be willing to bet on it being a supermajority now.

They idea that we need to respect what Russia wants because Putin is still clinging to ab antiquated great powers mentality ( much like Mearsheimer is doing) is just downright stupid.

NATO is not at fault here. Putin is.

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Mearsheimer’s brand of realist theory leaves no room for factoring in the wants of individual human beings. As I have noted previously, I have been teaching in the field of international relations for virtually my entire adult life, so I know these paradigms intimately. The theory of realism in international relations holds that states are self-interested, rational cost-benefit maximizing entities that see interests as part of a zero-sum game. Realists strive to formulate a parsimonious theory which specifies the fewest number of causal variables hypothesized to bring about observed outcomes. To do this, realists exclude considerations of politics apart from the external qualities of states conceived of in terms of power. Power determines states’ interests and as the international distribution of power changes this alters states’ interests. In furtherance of a parsimonious theory emphasizing power, realism does not factor in the political preferences of people.

Mearsheimer has branded his variant of realist theory “offensive realism.” It is a play on words. “Offensive” has two meanings. It suggests that states project power as opposed to defending against it (hence “offensive”). However, Mearsheimer also means that as objectionable as his theory may sound (it is “offensive” to hear), he argues that it is an accurate depiction of how the world really is (hence, “realism”).

As noted previously, Mearsheimer is a very polarizing figure in academic circles, for obvious reasons. I personally don’t announce my theoretical proclivities to students (I like them to decide for themselves), but needless to say, I find Mearsheimer’s thesis riddled with ontological, epistemological, and methodological flaws, not to mention morally bankrupt, but that is another question.

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Wow! I actually find the whole area of political science really fascinating (some amateur dabbling for some years, but it’s great to have a proper professional here!). Commanding more attention and making a big noise is something that probably definitely helps an academic career, but not always the best indicator of true quality, IMO! :smile: Interesting comments on his talk. I got a certain 19th century “Great Game”/balance of great powers vibe from it. Hopefully, the world has moved on a bit from that period with the establishment of international institutions etc. It would be depressing if it hasn’t. However, I thought he still made an interesting counterpoint to the current situation, because I’m not sure the world has actually come as far as many think it has come (probably not quite the stable world order and and Fukayama’s “end of history” etc.). With the rise of China, and Russia not as weak as it was, the US and its allies is no longer quite having it all its own way (as will probably be the case for the rest of this century).

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Opinion polls can be a major tool of deception especially when its misused to make assumptions about what the Ukrainian people really want.

Seeking a categorical answer, the way the question is framed makes all the difference:

1- Do you want this shoe? YES
2- Do you want this shoe for a $1000? :dizzy_face:

Few would question if the Ukrainian leadership acted wisely. Selling heroism on TV does not make one a hero especially when ordinary people pay the price. People who cheer this act of defiance are usually less affected, watching events unfolding from afar.

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The situation is messy, murky and extremely unpredictable. Putin is the one responsible for this war but I sense a need for more compassion, respect and understanding all across the board. I truly hope people in power don’t only want to seem brave and tough but also try their best to do what is right.

Couple of tweets/quotes worth reflecting on :

I know sober thinking on this topic goes back 70 years at this point, but nuclear arsenals just drop negative infinities into so many decision trees. The fact that there's a very short path from, say, Putin feeling humiliated to the end of life as we know it is literally insane.

— Kieran Healy (@kjhealy) February 27, 2022

Ever wondered what happens when you strangle the economy of a nuclear-armed, autocratic great power in the midst of a major war?

I guess we're about to find out. No clear historical precedent to light the way.

— Nicholas Miller (@Nick_L_Miller) February 28, 2022

I sincerely hope that behind-the-scenes offers have been made to Russia to pull back some of the worst sanctions here in exchange for a Russian cessation to the war. That would be a good way to use these tools.

As simple punishment, however, they may just lead to escalation.

— Emma Ashford (@EmmaMAshford) February 28, 2022

If Putin ultimately stops entertaining Western negotiators and unleashes the big war, the death and misery that it will cause will be his responsibility. But the world in which such a war is possible has been forged jointly by Russia and the United States, starting twenty-three years ago.

— Masha Gessen: How the Kosovo Air War Foreshadowed the Crisis in Ukraine, February 15, 2022

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And while the tanks rolled…

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One way or the other…

“This splitting of the atoms has changed everything, save our modes of thinking and thus we drift towards unparalleled catastrophe.” …Einstein

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Thanks, I’ve heard this term but never really understood what it meant.

It’s sad how people can think that compassion, morality, and a sense of higher purpose were not just as human as greed, hate, and delusion.

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Biden used veto when UN was about to stop Israel Palestine war. No leader on the world stage can be ascribed pure Buddhist mindfulness

The following is an interesting thread on the racism of media with this war:
https://twitter.com/non_philosophy/status/1498000420815396872?t=1zrNgZadw0DTaBdsGNMG0w&s=08

It’s perfectly normal to feel more concerned with those closer to us, either personally or because of group belongings – culture, ethnicity, etc. But we should extend those circles and break down barriers.

So, in the spirit of Thich Nhat Hanh, today I’m the Ukranian kid trying to escape, and the Russian soldier marching into the city, and the victims and refugees that don’t “look like me” nor are European nor from a so-called “civilised” nation, and the non-white Ukranians having a harder time entering Poland.

Feel free to add.

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Thank you for sharing that thread on Twitter and yes, it’s a bit silly to see how people are suddenly more compassionate just because the situation or people might be more familiar to them.

On the border with Poland, I just have to add that the Ukrainians are just incredibly lucky because they are not entering the EU as refugees. Rather, they are already allowed to enter the EU through a previous agreement between Ukraine and the EU. They will only become refugees/seeking asylum after staying for 90 days. No EU country can refuse them, for now.

Considering how anti-refugee Poland is it’s not a surprise at all that this rather discriminatory situation has sprung up. I’m not joking when I say that if Ukraine didn’t have this agreement the situation would have been completely different. I live in the EU. Our governments regularly deport many people that come in from any location. It doesn’t matter if it’s in Europe or not. My country at first rejected the Ukraine agreement in a referendum and it was mostly because there would be too many Ukrainians coming in…

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This is why we should abolish the notion of nation. With the internet, the new generation should already be feeling that we are one world. Migration is going to be the norm going forward into the era of super hot earth. Russia would benefit from global warming, which is why they seem to not mind the climate goal of not burning more and invading Ukraine for more fossil fuel. Whereas if there’s no nation, there’s no issue of who benefits when who stays where, and no question of somethings (fossil fuels) are meant to stay underground.

Hopefuḷly this war can let humanity see the uselessness of nationhood, and overcome the historical inertia of the baggage that is the concept of nationhood.

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The irony is that Putin started this war in part because he doesn’t want to recognize Ukrainian as a nationality. Rather, he considers them Russian and therefore they should to be under his dictatorship.

There is also a religious undertone, since the Ukrainian Orthodox Church split from the Russian one in 2018. This even caused the Greek-Russian Orthodox split. The Russian Archbishop has actually sanctioned this war…

And in general, Ukraine wants to stay a democratic country and that is what Putin absolutely wants to fight: democracy. The conflict doesn’t seem to be motivated very much either by one nation vs the other nor do fossil fuels seem to play much of a role. It is very much about oppressing the Russians themselves.

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I wonder how the USA would react if Mexico or Canada tied themselves closely to Russia or China, became a partner of their club, - would an invasion north or south come as a big surprise, and would they easily believe China and Russia saying “you have nothing to worry about, relax …”?

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Here is where things get complicated. Realism is a theory of international relations. One of the founders of modern realist theory, Hans Morgenthau, argued that while humans abide by certain universal moral laws, relations among countries are different because there is no world government. Countries (or states as they are more commonly known in international relations theory) exist in a condition of anarchy. Under anarchy different principles apply than under a system of government where humans abide by moral precepts.

Many, but not all, realists take their inspiration from the writings of the British political philosopher Thomas Hobbes. In one of his most famous passages Hobbes describes a world without government as one where “the life of man is nasty, poor, brutish, and short.” Humans in what Hobbes called a “state of nature” act only according to their need to protect themselves from others.

Realists replace the term “state of nature” with the concept of anarchy. Since the international system is anarchic, states are like the brutes in Hobbes’ state of nature. Again, not all realists necessarily make their assumptions on the basis of an analogy with Hobbes’ state of nature. So-called “neo-realists” such as John Mearsheimer argue that one does not need any assumptions about human nature to hypothesize about the motivations of states. Rather, they observe that anarchy requires that states act as self-interested actors in a zero-sum game because if they don’t, they cease to exist. The logic here is somewhat akin to the nature selection theory of evolution. Individuals that do not protect themselves by acquiring and projecting power are made extinct.

But, I repeat, realists do not deny that humans abide by moral principles. However, states are different from human beings in that states exist under conditions of anarchy. For realists that is the key to their theory. Anarchy makes different requirements of states than what is expected among humans in a governed society. In a society of human beings with rules and laws, moral considerations then come into play.

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This hypothesis is consistent with realist theory. However, in his classic article on the level of analysis problem in international relations, J. David Singer argued that all theoretical models should be able to describe, explain, and predict. A description of facts related to Mexico and Canada would suggest that neither country has indicated much interest in forming a military alliance with China. Additionally, the vast majority of people in Mexico and Canada much prefer the economic and political institutions associated with liberal democratic values.

More importantly, the hypothetical situation of Mexico and Canada aligning themselves with China incorporates the realist assumption that states can be treated as unitary rational actors. Domestic political interests, as in the preferences of citizens, is irrelevant in realist theory. That may be fine for the purposes of theoretical parsimony (to which realist theory strives), but at a certain point, when facts are inconsistent with theoretical assumptions, one has to question the utility of said theories.

I listen to the unison twittrings of western leaders where they claim to have done all they could to prevent this situation, but I havent heard any of them saying clearly: Nato membership for Ukraine is out of the question in the foreseeable future.
They have said and in quite an arrogant manner that the russians have nothing to be afraid of, and thats not a wise way to treat strong feelings in their enemies.

A few years ago USA was shaken and scared, and their reaction ended with total chaos.

When they say: Dont be afraid!

Who can believe in statements like that?

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There is such a thing as a wheel-turning monarch. The world is changing rapidly and the outcome of the conflict will be eradication of the Russian barbaric mentality, and already seen is a more humane attitude and the rejection of cruelty which is fertile ground for the growth of Buddhist values. One woman in a bomb shelter in Kiev said, “I don’t pray to god anymore, I trust the Ukrainian fighters.” This links with the human centred nature of Buddhism.

""And as I remained thus heedful, ardent, & resolute, thinking imbued with harmfulness arose in me. I discerned that ‘Thinking imbued with harmfulness has arisen in me; and that leads to my own affliction or to the affliction of others or to the affliction of both. It obstructs discernment, promotes vexation, & does not lead to Unbinding.’

“As I noticed that it leads to my own affliction, it subsided. As I noticed that it leads to the affliction of others… to the affliction of both… it obstructs discernment, promotes vexation, & does not lead to Unbinding, it subsided. Whenever thinking imbued with harmfulness had arisen, I simply abandoned it, dispelled it, wiped it out of existence.”—MN 19

What’s your view of Putin? Russia was under no obligation to invade Ukraine.

I find this post a little troubling. I am of Ukrainian descent (third-generation immigrant) and have Ukrainian family, but I don’t believe in a “Russian barbaric mentality”. The Russians I have known personally have not had such a mentality, and I have heard of and from many online recently who are risking personal harm by protesting against Putin’s mentality (which, arguably, has barbaric features).

On a smaller note I am not sure I follow when you say “rejection of cruelty” and follow it up with “I don’t pray to God anymore, I trust the Ukrainian fighters.” I have never followed any Abrahamic faith but I do not think that God has to involve cruelty (the Problem of Evil is present but I think theodicy can do some work to say that this is not cruelty to the point that, even if I end up disagreeing personally, I would never say that ‘God is cruel’). And I do think that the acceptance of fighters, even freedom fighters, can have cruelty in it. Using a gun without some desire to harm others is likely very difficult: I think I would rather die than attempt such a task.

The idea of a Just War is one that I find chilling.

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