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Monday, May 19, 2014

National interests

The fight over  the future of Ukraine between Russia and America is most interesting as a test of the value of national interests. Policies which enhance the power of a State in the World should be pursued and those which do not should not be pursued. It is the simple and cold logic of the realists. But that was for a modern, Westphalian globe. Now the interests of the State are only one of many policy considerations, not the main one. On Ukraine, Russia has major interests at stake while the US has relatively little, other than denying it to Russia. But ,as S. Walt noted the costs for the US to support  Ukraine far outweigh the benefits. It is one thing to put on the requisite show of disapproval for the sake of NATO allies but another to risk damage on an array of pressing political and economic issues. Finding asymmetric sanctions is not the question. Knowing what and who you need is. But in a postmodern age, pushpin is a good as poetry. Thus, a bit of self-interest, some sanctions, some posturing can all happen together. If so, the response should be muddled too. No retreat from Russia but no invasion either; no breakup of Ukraine but no national solidarity either....a frustrating, exciting, incremental political world

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