Liberals are to blame for the crisis

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Published January 20, 2022 at 15.50

Abroad. The blame for the tense situation in Europe right now lies not with Russia but with liberals in the West and the policies they have pursued. This is what Harvard professor Stephen Walt writes in a high-profile article in Foreign Policy.

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Tensions in Eastern Europe are rising, and late Wednesday night US President Joe Biden announced that it is likely that Russia will enter Ukraine militarily.

Stephen Walt, professor of international relations at Harvard University, however, believes that it is not primarily Russia that is to blame for the current situation.

“The great tragedy is that this whole affair could have been avoided. Had the United States and its European allies not succumbed to hubris, wishful thinking and liberal idealism but instead relied on the basic insights of realism, the current crisis would not have occurred. Russia would probably never conquered Crimea, and Ukraine would be safer today “, Walt writes in Foreign Policy.

Stephen Walt, who represents the realpolitik or realist school in international relations, regrets that liberals have taken the helm when it comes to foreign policy in the United States and other Western countries. Instead of looking soberly at world politics and how it is characterized by power relations, liberals divide the world into “good” and “evil” countries, the latter of which are to be fought. Therefore, they lack the ability to understand how rival states reason, but instead focus entirely on trying to spread “liberal democracy” and market economy in a new world order governed by the United States, according to Walt.

In 1990, the last Soviet leader, Mikhail Gorbachev, received a verbal promise from the United States that NATO would not be expanded “a single inch” to the east. But despite this, enlargement has continued, and according to Stephen Walt, liberals lack the ability to understand that the Russians see this as a serious threat. He compares it to the hysterical reactions in the United States during the Cold War when smaller countries in Latin America, such as Nicaragua, seemed to be moving to the Soviet bloc. Nor do the US authorities seem to have been able to predict that Russia would react by annexing Crimea when the United States supported the coup in Ukraine in 2014.

“No matter how unpleasant it may be, the United States and its allies must realize that Ukraine's geopolitical affiliation is of vital interest to Russia – an interest that one is willing to use force to defend “, writes Stephen Walt and continues:

” The reluctance of the United States and Europe to accept this basic reality is an important reason why the world is in this mess today. “