A Border Dispute
“Why should the world risk nuclear annihilation over what is essentially just a border dispute between Russia and Ukraine?” So ask the Glenn Greenwalds and Tucker Carlsons of the world. Let us assume, for the sake of argument, that such people are not being directly instructed by the Kremlin to pose the question that way, but that it represents their sincere, independent view of the situation. How shall we answer them?
How, that is, shall we answer a question deliberately framed so as to obscure or deny most of what we actually know about the nature and development of the situation: about its recent antecedents and parallels, about the explicit statements and aspirations of the Russian president, about the past century of Russian brutality against neighboring countries, about the moral and rhetorical distinctions between the Western democracies and a strongman tyranny under the lifetime control of a former KGB officer who openly pines for the glory days of the USSR, about the obvious one-sided reasons for the continued “cold war atmosphere” between Russia and the NATO countries today, about the ongoing war of terror and mass murder against the civilian population of a sovereign country?
A border dispute? May we now redefine every unprovoked invasion in history, every war of aggression against an unthreatening neighbor, as a border dispute? The moral equivalency and Orwellian distortion of language just ooze deliciously from that phrase, don’t they?
If there were even one speck of evidence, one hint of plausibility, to support the notion that what is happening in Ukraine right now is merely an isolated “dispute,” a little disagreement that might have to be solved diplomatically between two independent countries, but which bears no implications or ramifications for any other countries, let alone any U.S. allies, then answering this question might start to look like a reasonable intellectual disagreement. But when the only way to make the isolated “border dispute” interpretation fly is to evade absolutely everything we all know about the situation, then where can one even begin in seeking to present an alternative point of view?
I insist that the sun is cold, and all this concern about finding shade on a hot day is just nonsense, since the sun is nothing but a big block of ice. How are you to answer me? That is precisely the predicament we semi-rational humans find ourselves in today, faced with the Greenwald, Carlson, Tulsi Gabbard crew with their deliberate obfuscations about principles and intentions, and their careful dismissals of every relevant fact. If you follow the fool’s errand of trying to reply to such people directly, with reason, you will be met only with smirks and repetitions of the same reality-denying distortions and catchphrases.
Vladimir Putin is a tyrant of the expansionist, empire-building sort. He has openly and frequently expressed his longing to rebuild the Soviet empire from which he sprang, and of course it is of the nature of an expansionist empire to continue expanding until stopped. From the perspective of a totalitarian imperialist like Putin, every border entails a border dispute by definition, and everyone residing outside of his conquered domain is by necessity embroiled in a de facto border dispute of his instigation. His “dispute” with Ukraine is built entirely on his own desire for territory he can use to move his military closer to the West, which would have no compelling justification to warrant the extreme measures he has employed to achieve this goal if increased confrontation with the West were not in his plans. That is to say, Ukraine is his latest border dispute by proxy, but in truth he disputes all borders that would limit his power. Thus, one side in today’s “border dispute” — the side that actually has the rightful claim to the land in “dispute” — is begging the semi-free countries of the world to intervene and save its population from mass annihilation and enslavement, while the other side is threatening the semi-free countries with nuclear war should they dare to get involved in the effort to save millions of human beings from enslavement or extermination by a representative of the very tyranny from which those millions so recently escaped.
In response to this scenario, Greenwald et al argue that Putin’s threat to initiate a nuclear war should be sufficient reason for staying out of that faraway border dispute — in other words, that the world should simply concede the demands and, by implication, submit to the intentions of the expansionist tyrant, whose desires, as history proves with a thousand examples, will only be heightened by the confidence born of successful intimidation.
Oh wait, I forgot, the sun is a block of ice, and seeking shade the act of fools.