Spheres of Influence

SPHERES OF INFLUENCE….Earlier this morning, Matt Yglesias suggested that if there are conservatives who think we ought to go to war over Georgia, they ought to say so forthrightly. Henry Farrell counters by suggesting that if there are liberals who believe in realist “sphere of influence” geopolitics, they ought to say so forthrightly:

Russia sees the spread of democratization as a threat to its control of the ‘Near Abroad.’ It has been pushing quite deliberately for a redefinition of the norms of territorial integrity and intervention that would legitimate its continued presence in Georgia and elsewhere, and allow it to reconsolidate control over what it perceives as its rightful sphere of influence. What it would like to see is tacit or active recognition by other great powers of its right to intervene in countries such as Georgia, the Ukraine, Moldova etc.

….Russia had been maneuvering for a very long time before Kosovo to get the democratizers out of the Near Abroad, and to be recognized as the rightful settler of disputes/intervenor when it wants to intervene, in the various states around it. The recognition of Kosovo provides a useful rationale for Russian actions, but Russia has been playing an offensive rather than a defensive game for quite a while.

….Now it may well be that Steve [Clemons] and those who take similar positions [] do believe that it is better to formally recognize spheres of influence — there is certainly a realist case to be made for this. But if so, they should say so, and recognize that this isn’t a situation where Russia has been wronged; rather it is one where the US, Europe and Russia need to come to a tacit accommodation that reflects the balance of power or whatever. This is disagreeable if stated plainly in the terms of US political discourse — but it surely is where their position is leading them.

The whole post is long but worth reading. Click here.