The four (now five) stone statues theory of how Putin really thinks

14. Juni 2023

- now has got­ten a Fuku­ya­ma on top!

I mean one thing that shapes my who­le reac­tion to it is uh uh my sad reco­gni­ti­on that the U.S has been a fla­grant a vio­la­tor of inter­na­tio­nal law and for that rea­son I think in terms you know uh it’s it’s not as if uh you know well I I worry about uh the the the the the risks asso­cia­ted with try­ing to push Rus­sia all the way uh uh out of Ukrai­ne just in terms of likeli­hood of nuclear war but I also worry that it will not um have near­ly as much posi­ti­ve effect in terms of rein­for­cing the norm of respec­ting inter­na­tio­nal law as it would have had if we our­sel­ves um respec­ted it but, but I want to ask you I mean I also have this view that we kind of mis­play­ed our hand over the last 25 years uh and uh and we could be living in a very dif­fe­rent world that did­n’t have a Ukrai­ne war if uh if we had­n’t and I think that I want to ask you if you don’t agree with some of that becau­se I remem­ber you know the­re was a con­ver­sa­ti­on uh this this pod­cast non-zero was pre­vious­ly under I star­ted this thing cal­led uh co-founding this thing cal­led blog­ging heads TV that kind of evol­ved into this, I remem­ber a con­ver­sa­ti­on on that plat­form bet­ween you and Bob Kagan - and you were pre­dic­ting at that point that uh what we had done in Koso­vo not just the mili­ta­ry inter­ven­ti­on but we had just I think star­ted to reco­gni­ze Kosovo’s Inde­pen­dence and by the way, that was I think most peop­le would say an ille­gal vio­la­ti­on of inter­na­tio­nal law, that that uh that inter­ven­ti­on at least a lot of peop­le say that - um and you pre­dic­ted that Putin would um well explo­it that or that would make it more likely that he would start screwing around in Geor­gia which he sub­se­quent­ly did so I want to ask you were you a Cri­tic of some of our ear­ly Rus­sia poli­cy inclu­ding NATO expan­si­on or not - 

Uh well look uh you know I know you inter­view­ed uh John Mear­s­hei­mer I, mean John is an old friend and col­league of mine but I think he’s just been com­ple­te­ly wrong and he’s been play­ing a very very unhel­pful role, ever sin­ce the uh Rus­si­an inva­si­on star­ted, yeah I mean - I was not in favor of taking Geor­gia and Ukrai­ne into NATO, back in 2008 when the Bush Admi­nis­tra­ti­on pushed that okay, it was­n’t uh it was­n’t for uh the rea­sons howe­ver - that John uh cites it was real­ly becau­se I thought that you know I star­ted out as a as a mili­ta­ry Ana­lyst at the Rand Cor­po­ra­ti­on, and one of the things you know is that you can’t sup­port a mili­ta­ry ope­ra­ti­on if you don’t have the right mili­ta­ry logistics and it just see­med to me that it would be very very dif­fi­cult to actual­ly defend Geor­gia and Ukrai­ne and Ukrai­ne you know at that time being, you know divi­ded bet­ween uh russian-speaking East and a more Ukrai­ni­an uh West… Actual­ly right now I’m com­ple­te­ly in favor of taking Ukrai­ne into NATO I don’t see how you’­re going to end this war if if you if Ukrai­ne does­n’t actual­ly beco­me a mem­ber of NATO, but I think that you know the the pro­blem I had with, with Mearsheimer’s argu­ment is, that he’s com­ple­te­ly obli­vious to what Putin is actual­ly say­ing - and of cour­se, Putin has com­p­lai­ned about uh NATO expan­si­on uh and so forth but - the deeper argu­ments are so much broa­der than that you know, he thinks that the the col­lap­se of the Soviet Uni­on was a huge uh tra­ge­dy she thinks that the Sla­vic peo­p­les you know real­ly have a desti­ny that uh inclu­des the com­bi­na­ti­on of all the wea­ker uh coun­tries around him and that was not dri­ven by any kind of thre­at you know from what’s essen­ti­al­ly a defen­si­ve Alli­an­ce - it comes from his under­stan­ding of Cathe­ri­ne the Gre­at and Peter the Gre­at -- and you know Russia’s Desti­ny as uh you know as a Eura­si­an power uh and so I think that - um - uh - yeah so I, I just think that the­re are so many other dri­vers of what Putin ended up doing uh, that NATO expan­si­on you know - it was, it was impru­dent it gave him a good excu­se I guess this is the way I would put it it gave him an excu­se to do what he wan­ted to do any­how that has now beco­me per­sua­si­ve among a cer­tain audi­ence in the west and the­re­fo­re has wea­ke­ned you know the Wes­tern uh uh uh uh sup­port for for Ukrai­ne uh but I would agree with you that we’­ve made a lot of mista­kes. I mean the inva­si­on of Iraq was a huge mista­ke uh I think thats one of the rea­sons that we uh that Ukrai­ne has­n’t got­ten as much uh sup­port in the glo­bal South uh that we or peop­le like me think it deser­ves, uh is becau­se of Iraq cer­tain­ly in the Arab world I’ve had Arab friends tell me that look you did the same thing in 2003 so why are we sup­po­sed to get so exci­ted about Ukrai­ne? Uh when you know you did it your s-- - now, I do belie­ve that you can make a both a moral and a poli­ti­cal argu­ment why the­se are two very dif­fe­rent cases you know. Iraq was a real­ly rapa­cious dic­ta­tor­s­hip uh in Ukrai­ne as a you know pret­ty good demo­cra­cy, but I can appre­cia­te the point that you know in terms of Cros­sing Inter­na­tio­nal bor­ders with mili­ta­ry for­ce that was a ter­ri­ble pre­ce­dent, we sat and we’­ve made cer­tain­ly many other mista­kes in espe­cial­ly in the Midd­le East becau­se I just think that we don’t know what we’­re doing in that regi­on um uh you know that that have wea­ke­ned our posi­ti­on but - you know Viet­nam was a mista­ke too I mean, a lot of mista­kes - yeah uh well I don’t want to I mean I I kind of think Putin’s uh, the world view you descri­bed has to some extent evol­ved more than we appre­cia­te uh you know and the things he’s say­ing that see­med to go so far bey­ond a Mear­s­hei­mer world of just Natio­nal Secu­ri­ty as a moti­va­ti­on, I think uh kind of got a lot more pro­noun­ced and crystal­li­zed - I think in respon­se to his per­cep­ti­on that we uh kept uh kee­ping dis­re­spec­ting him but that’s that’s ano­t­her um argu­ment the­re I mean it goes bey­ond NATO expan­si­on in terms of the things he was uh unhap­py with - but […]

Zu dumm eigent­lich dass Nafta­li Ben­nett das anders cha­rak­te­ri­siert hat…

B: I got a call from this guy, Zelen­sky, the lea­der of Ukrai­ne, I heard he’s a Jew, a comedian, … 

I: Hanoch Daum tur­ned prime minister…

B: Some­thing like that.

I: -God forbid.

B: And he asked me nice­ly if I can ask Putin to talk to him, to meet with him.

I wai­ted with that, we’­ve been the­re some 5 and a half hours, we’­re tal­king, and then I say, oh, Zelen­sky asked me to ask you if you can meet. He was the nicest man up to then and his gaze tur­ned cold.

They’­re Nazis, they’­re war­mon­gers [!!! Secu­ri­ty Inte­rest may­be!!! JUST A GUESS?!], I won’t meet him.

They’­re pro-Nazis.” Now, he has an ent­i­re theo­ry and nar­ra­ti­ve sur­roun­ding this issue.

If we go back to World War II, Ukrai­ne defi­ni­te­ly was an accom­pli­ce at cer­tain times…

I: Were you sho­cked by his answer?

B: I was sur­pri­sed when his deme­a­nor chan­ged. Second… he had liqu­or. Now, I don’t like alco­hol, whis­key and the like.

Wine is the most I can drink.

But the wine isn’t kos­her. So…

He remo­ves a bot­t­le of wine, I look at Elkin and say, tell him that I don’t want wine now.

Then what will you have?” 
I don’t know what to ask for, I’m no expert. 
Gin and tonic on the rocks…

Would you like vodka?” 
I: -Was he pou­ring the drinks?

B: Yes, it was the three of us. 

I: –Wow.

B: -Me, him and Elkin the inter­pre­ter. So I said… he has vod­ka in his hand, so I said yes.

So I had to drink vodka.

I: -Was it dis­gus­ting? That’s rough. Ima­gi­ne if you got drunk. 
B: -Yes.

He was very cour­te­ous and and we for­med a rela­ti­ons­hip that will soon mani­fest, befo­re the war.

I: You got stuck the­re on the Sabbath. 
B : -Yes, I stay­ed in the hotel. He was very cour­te­ous. He heard that my wife is a chef, that she was a dan­cer, he invi­ted us to St. Peters­burg, he rea­li­zed I got stuck on the Sabbath.

He didn’t under­stand so I exp­lai­ned, I can’t on the Sab­bath, so he sent a bas­ket with lots of nice things, inclu­ding bacon. He did­n’t know. Cheese and meat… 
I: -Hilarious.

B: He was very cour­te­ous and hospitable.

I: –Okay.

B: So we for­med a rela­ti­ons­hip in Sochi, we tal­ked on the pho­ne about all kinds of mat­ters, but mean­while things with Ukrai­ne were star­ting to heat up.

Decem­ber, 21st of January.

I’m not too preoc­cu­p­ied with it at the time, I’m not fami­li­ar with the map and Ukrai­ne… Not a major issue to me. I’m over­seas, I don’t remem­ber if it was Bah­rain or the Emi­ra­tes, and the Ame­ri­cans are say­ing that war is immi­nent. There’s a deba­te whe­ther or not to invade.

So what I focus on is get­ting Israe­lis out as quick­ly as possible.

I think it was on the 24th… 
I: -From Ukraine?

B: –Yes. Becau­se… I’ll tell you some­thing in gene­ral. When it comes to the world, for­eign poli­cy and all that, my focus is on Israel’s interests.

That may be a nar­row view, but my pri­ma­ry focus is on…

I: Your people. 
B: -My peop­le. Soon the stra­te­gy will come to light in this regard. The war breaks out.

I: Do you want to get the Israe­lis out or the Jews?

B: The Israe­lis at this point. 
I: -Okay. And based on the poli­cy are you thin­king that this is war? 
B: They’­re going in and… The ent­i­re world thinks that this inva­si­on will be a pie­ce of cake.

There’s not that much talk of con­que­ring Ukrai­ne, more of defea­ting Ukraine.

Ever­yo­ne knows that Zelen­sky is finis­hed, Ame­ri­ca sug­gests Zelen­sky seek refu­ge with them, this is public information.

I star­ted stu­dy­ing the topic. When a new topic comes up I want to under­stand what the stra­te­gy of each side can be, but the world ful­ly under­stands there’s no com­pe­ti­ti­on in this regard.

The war breaks out and I’m instant­ly bet­ween a rock and a hard place.

On the one hand, the Ame­ri­cans clear­ly expect, this is lar­ge­ly led by the Ame­ri­cans, that we all ral­ly for Ukraine.

On the other hand, I have two oppo­sing interests.

One is our rou­ti­ne acti­vi­ty in Syria, once or twice a week - we attack the Ira­ni­an pre­sence in Syria, and Rus­sia, the super­power, has the S-300 the­re, and if they press the but­ton, Israe­li pilots will fall.

I: Who will save them?

B: Who will res­cue the next Ron Arad? Biden? Zelen­sky? It will be my problem.

So all the talk [!] of being on the right side of histo­ry, …

I get it, but I have a natio­nal need.

Second, the­re are many Jews in Ukrai­ne and Rus­sia and as prime minis­ter of the Jewish sta­te, I have a responsibility.

So what do I do?

I came up with a stra­te­gy that says, when I’m pres­su­red on two sides, I take a third and the third was crea­ting con­ta­ct with both sides and try­ing to mediate.

Jetzt ist es wie­der so unglaub­lich erstaun­lich, dass das deut­sche Aus­wär­ti­ge Amt und der Deut­sche Ver­tei­di­gungs Aus­schuss, immer im Gleich­schritt mit den der Medi­en­be­richt­erstat­tung (also wenn wie­der mal ein ehe­ma­li­ger US Bot­schaf­ter ZUUUUUUUFÄLLIG bei den Munk Deba­tes fal­len lässt, dass er auf dem Weg zur Debat­te Sny­der gele­sen hat, und das (Bloo­d­li­nes) ein so ein tol­les Buch ist, und da drin eigent­lich alles steht was man über die­sen Krieg wis­sen muss), von Revi­sio­nis­mus als Kriegs­grund zuerst zu Neo­ko­lo­nia­lis­mus, und dann zu Impe­ria­lis­mus gewech­selt sind.

Wäh­rend Sny­der das Impe­ria­lis­mus Argu­ment erfun­den und in die Öffent­lich­keit getra­gen hat (er macht das sel­be Argu­ment bereits seit sei­ner Pro­mo­ti­on, und PLÖTZLICH wird er jetzt Teil des gefea­tur­ten Media Cir­cuits und der Exper­te schlecht­hin.). Wäh­rend Fio­na Hill bei der Broo­kings Insti­tu­ti­on [What is the Broo­kings insti­tu­ti­on?] das Cathe­ri­ne the Gre­at and Peter the Gre­at Argu­ment für die Öffent­lich­keit erfin­det.

Oh, und Fuku­ya­ma hat kei­ne Ahnung wovon er spricht - davon wir sind jetzt aber nicht wirk­lich über­rascht, oder?

Die­se Gesell­schaft ist das abso­lut abgrund­tief Letzte.

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