Sunday 21 June 2015

"Understanding" Putin

Compare this:

The German result, where the majority of those interviewed said they would not support assisting a NATO ally that was attacked by Russia, is particularly disappointing given that it was commitment of Federal Republic of Germany's (BRD's) NATO allies to defend it against Soviet aggression that ensured its existence during the cold war. 

Whilst German circumspection in those days might have been ascribed to the thought of their own country becoming the battleground for a NATO-Soviet conflict, in the question asked above no such excuse exists. Indeed it is the indomitable Poles who would be the most likely to find their country fought over in a NATO-Russian conflict in the above list but who are still amongst the most loyal to their commitment to their fellow NATO allies. Doubtless the strange sympathy some East Germans have for their former occupiers (totally unlike their immediate neighbours to the east) is also a factor here.

That the countries whose populations are least likely to wish to honour their commitment to their allies if they are attacked by Russia are also those whose leadership in the last decade have enjoyed the most cosy relations with Putin's regime is also something of a recognisable pattern here. From Gerd Schroeder's partying which Putin, to Berlusconi's dalliances with paramours on "Putin's Bed", to Nicholas Sarkozy's arms sales to (and excuse making for) Moscow, Putin's connections with the leadership in Germany, Italy, and France, appears to have legitimised his rule to an extent in the eyes of some in those countries. 

Of course, no leader of the past decade seems to have been totally immune to Putin's charms. Tony Blair is currently in St. Petersburg attending the even that has been dubbed "Davos for Dictators", whilst George Bush famously said that he was "able to get a sense of [Putin's] soul". Fortunately given the mood favouring further conquests of neighbouring country's territory in Russia, aggression against neighbouring states by a dictatorship is still regarded as something of a red line in the UK and US that people are not yet willing to reason away or "understand".


justrecently said...

There's always a risk to generalize one's (i. e. my own impressions, but many Germans appear to believe that the media are providing rather slanted coverage about Russia, at leastwhen it comes to German media.

And there's one thing that Americans and Britons might easily forget: there are Germans who wonder where their country's sovereignty is when NSA and GCHQ spy freely on them. Sure - that's something they need to hold their government accountable for, and have it renegotiate these mechanisms - but I don't think that Americans or Britons would have such a sober or analytical to-do lists when it comes to their demands to their own governments, or their allies.

Therefore, it wouldn't surprise me if the 58 per cent counted here would be about accurate - but I don't think either that, without a lot of context, these surveys are able to reflect realities. For instance, it refers to a defense situation - but NATO is no longer a merely defensive organization. Maybe some respondents are simply smarter than the questions that are put to them, Foarp.

But ni fang xin ba: the truth is that Germany suspended conscription some years ago. All active soldiers now are volunteering. And they'll probably go whereever they are told to go - NATO or elsewhere. Pretty much the same as soldiers from other countries: in accordance with or in violation of international law.

Gilman Grundy said...

The thing that's impossible for me to comprehend is that there are a substantial number of people in NATO countries who believe that if Russia invades, say, Poland, their countries should not lift a finger in its defence. These people seem to both be reading the wrong news and the wrong history books.