Mr. Ross Douthat plays the part of the Wilsonian Naif, in his essay of March 22,2014, to the hilt, in the rhetorical pose of cultivated ignorance in regards to the five billion dollars spent by America to subvert the government in Ukraine, with the help of another one hundred million from NGO’s, and the subversive power of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies. And don’t forget Ms. Victoria Nuland’s contribution to this episode of pernicious American Meddling. Mr. Douthat is a political conformist who repeats the American Party Line. Mr. Douthat can become self-servingly incurious at propitious moments.
The quality of his analysis is demonstrated in his opening:
SINCE the end of the Cold War, America’s policy toward Russia has been shaped by two dangerous illusions.
The first was the conceit that with the right incentives, eyes-to-soul presidential connections and diplomatic reset buttons, Russia could become what we think of, in our cheerfully solipsistic way, as a “normal country” — at peace with the basic architecture of an American-led world order, invested in international norms and institutions, content with its borders and focused primarily on its G.D.P. Not the old Russian bear, and not an “Upper Volta with rockets” basket case, but a stable, solid-enough global citizen — Poland with an Asian hinterland, Italy with nukes.
But here is the actual New Cold War vision of Mr. Douthat,in the guise of speculation on illusions :
The second illusion was the idea that with the Cold War over, we could treat Russia’s near abroad as a Western sphere of influence in the making — with NATO expanding ever eastward, traditional Russian satellites swinging into our orbit, and Moscow isolated or acquiescent. As went the Baltic States, in this theory, so eventually would go Ukraine and Georgia, until everything west and south of Russia was one military alliance, and its western neighbors were all folded into the European Union as well.
Here we have the ‘New Containment’ without a ‘New Cold War’:
The key here is balance — recognizing that Russia is weak and dangerous at once, that the West has been both too naïve about Putin’s intentions and too incautious in its own commitments, and that a new containment need not require a new Cold War.
When illusions are shattered, it’s easy to become reckless, easy to hand-wring and retrench. What we need instead is realism: to use the powers we have, without pretending to powers that we lack.
What is inconvenient to Mr. Douthat’s argument, in regards to the Russia’s claims and exercise of it’s claims, is that it ignores America’s hegemonic claims in the Monroe Doctrine of 1823, and it’s dismal history of the exercise of those claims. The lynchpin of Mr. Douthat’s essay is a self-serving American myopia.