To article published in Foreign Affairs
I might not be reknown political scientist, but I have something to say too…….. (and of course,I am well trained in writing calm sounding walls of text…)
Dear Mr. Mearsheimer,
I read some of your work back in University, where I studied International Relations, and me and my classmates very much disagreed back then. I am from Czech Republic, yes, the former Eastern bloc, country of 10 milion… do you really think we shouldn’t have a choice which side to join and what international organizations to be members of, just because it would make Russia mad? Reason why we wanted so desperatelly be members of NATO, is because we wanted to feel safe after being soviet sattelite for four decade and occupied by USSR for two decades. I am aware some American representatives and academics weren’t sure about occupation troops moving out my country back in the 1990s, claiming that Russia might be mad and it could destibilized the region. Central Europe was not destabilized and I believe we are good allies and consumer of your goods. Economically, this was good for the USA.
USA considers 9-11 a great tragedy. It was one single attack in the post-war history. USA didn’t face long term occupation or insecurity what will be tomorrow. My country has been occupied for twenty years, many have died, there has been many political prisoners, we couldn’t travel, many people weren’t allowed to study, we faced shortages of daily items (even food) while my country has to forced to send goods to USSR for free… My parents were severly affected in their career choices, studies, they weren’t allowed to travel outside of the country….
NATO means security to us, that we will not have foreign tanks and soldiers in our country. EU provides us with economic development and gives us carreer and study opportunities that many in the USA take for granted…
That is why I stand for freedom of others to choose their way. Ukraine should decide what THEY want and what is best for them. If they wants to be members of NATO and EU, they should be free to do so and we should not prevent them, because we are afraid of Russia. This is the same logic as not defending person who is bullied, because the bully may get mad.
Much of the Eastern bloc is now thriving, we are doing much better than during the Cold war, even despite economic crisis (which is world wide problem anyways), because we had a choice to determine our way. We chose to join the Western Bloc. After all American ideals of freedom kept our dissidents, including Václav Havel (world known and acknowledge politician and first democratic president of Czech R.), going in the dark times.
Shouldn’t Ukraine have the same right? I grew up seeing the economy to devolop from empty shelves in stores to see thriving economy, where everybody with bit of smarts and starting capital has a shot. I guess over there in America, people take it for granted. Just like your huge shopping Malls with overflowing stores. These one of the many reasons why the Eastern countries want to join the Western Bloc. Ukraine didn’t gain much by being close “friend” to Russia in 1990s.
World politics is not a chess to be determined merely by strategy. Ideology plays an important role. It makes nations thrive. It makes lifes of their citizens worth it. Freedom is important concept for everybody, not just Americans. Does author realize, that if he published article criticizing Putin’s actions in Russia, he would be shot, poisoned, run over car in dark street, or relocated to Siberia. Easy to talk from Ivory Towers. Often one doesn’t realize it is people living down there too. Foreign countries aren’t pawns of fhe superpowers. Just because people were born in country that is not a superpower does not mean that they don’t have right to determine their own fate like people in the USA have.
USA determined their way back in 18th century, despite wishes of British monarchy or balance of power. American independence changes the world in many ways. They were brave enough to go against how things were done in the world back then. Others have the same right for freedom and pursuit of happiness.
We should condemn and stop Russia’s tyranical behavior and not try to make excuses for it. We don’t tolerate it in individual’s not matter how rich and powerful they are. Statesmen who were afraid of Hitler are also partly responsible for WWII. Putin doesn’t want balance of power. If it was up to him, he’d want to control the USA as well. USA cannot sleep soundly in world with Putin’s Russia. Putin is danger to the USA and to the world.