"There has been no greater advance than this, gentlemen," the President of the United States said. "It is a definite guaranty of peace. It is a definite guaranty by word against aggression."
"If you look back upon the history of the world you will see how helpless peoples have too often
been a prey to powers that had no conscience in the matter... Now, the world, expressing its conscience in law, says there is an end of that."
The year was 1919. The speaker was President Woodrow Wilson and the tremendous advance in human history that he was talking up was the League of Nations.
Thirteen years later, Japan seized Manchuria and turned it into a puppet regime. China turned to the League of Nations which ordered Japan to withdraw from Manchuria. Japan instead withdrew from the League of Nations.
The United States declared that it would not recognize the new government. Japan replied that its puppet regime was "the necessary act of the local population". Five years later, Japan invaded China. China asked for help from the League of Nations. The League proved to be just as useless again.
Western sanctions against Japan were erratic. Chamberlain vowed that Britain would never submit to Japanese threats, but tacitly recognized Japan's conquests. He called Japan's repeated humiliations, "almost intolerable".
Japan told Robert Craigie, the British ambassador who urged appeasement and would go on to chair the UN War Crimes Commission, to apologize for Britain's opposition to the Japanese conquest and its acceptance of all future Japanese conquests as a pre-condition to further negotiations.
The UK had accepted the annexation of Austria and abetted the seizure of the Sudetenland. Japanese officials knew that behind British diplomacy lay not strength, but fear of provoking the rising power of the Rising Sun.
A few months before WWII, British negotiators had finally convinced the Japanese to stop stripping British subjects naked, but by then the forcible stripping of British men and women had served its purpose of stripping British power naked.
"We lived on bluff from 1920-1939, but it was eventually called," Alexander Cadogan, the Permanent Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs, wrote.
Wilson's "definite guarantee of peace" had failed miserably. International law had been exposed as magical thinking. When confronted with aggression, the diplomats who had talked boldly of ending war crawled on their bellies and proposed territorial partitions, desperately trying to appease Japan, Germany and Italy.
The end of war really meant the beginning of a self-righteous appeasement in which decadent states besotted with their own moral high ground sacrificed the weak to the strong in exchange for maintaining the moral illusion of their peacemaking.
The rhetoric of the illusionists of peace hasn’t changed. Diplomacy must be given time to work. The invaded countries brought it on themselves. The invaders have a legitimate territorial claim. Does anyone really want to die for Manchuria, the Sudetenland and Abyssinia? They didn't. Instead they ended up having to die for Hawaii, London and Paris.
Debating whether Putin is following the Hitler playbook displays a basic ignorance of history. Japan followed that same playbook in its invasion of Manchuria; a staged incident, a rapid invasion and a puppet regime. It didn't originate that playbook. It's probably as old as human history. Hitler's invasion of Poland made it notorious in a world that has managed to forget everything else that happened around that time.
The League of Nations was the successor to a 19th century organization and the men who conceived it and built it had largely been born in the 1850s and 60s. They weren't 20th century men building a better world, but 19th century men inflicting ideas that were already outdated on the modern world.
Their ideas didn't work then and they don't work now.
The bewildered responses to Russia's invasion of Ukraine are a naïve piece of theater that should have been retired in the 19th century, but somehow endures into the 21st as the lovers of peace insist on guaranteeing an end to aggression based on worthless pieces of paper that they have no intention of defending by armed force and then act surprised when their bluff is called and they frantically scramble to convince their own people that peace has been secured for our time.
Alexander Cadogan's blunt statement remains relevant today. The Pax Americana is over. We have been living on bluff and Putin called it.
Our response will be a variation on the Stimson Doctrine in which we will refuse to recognize Russia's puppet regime in Crimea, just as we refused to recognize the Soviet annexations of Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia. There will be endless debates over whether the Ukrainians had it coming and praise for our wise leaders who kept us out of war.
Eventually war may come anyway.
The peacemakers have never been known for their honesty. When Woodrow Wilson tried to sell Americans on the League of Nations, he did it with the Pueblo Speech in which he accused opponents of the League of being disloyal foreign traitors.
"Certain bodies of sympathy with foreign nations that are organized against this great document," Wilson claimed, the great peacemaker sounding like the cheap jingoistic agitator with KKK sympathies that he really was. "Any man who carries a hyphen about with him carries a dagger that he is ready to plunge into the vitals of this Republic whenever he gets ready."
This vast hyphenated dagger conspiracy was directed at preventing Wilson from dragging the country into an international organization that would undermine national sovereignty
Switching back to imaginary progressivism, Wilson claimed that the League would work because countries would be embarrassed to invade other countries for fear of being frowned on by their neighbors.
"He will be afraid of the eyes of his neighbors. He will be afraid of their judgment of his character. He will know that his cause is lost unless he can sustain it by the arguments of right and of justice. The same law that applies to individuals applies to nations."
But foreign leaders are not part of a community of one street, instead they answer to the cultural pressures of their own societies and nations. Wilson’s expectations of decent behavior meant nothing in Berlin, Rome or Tokyo. They still mean nothing in Beijing, Moscow or Tehran.
Wilson assured everyone that China would be taken care of. "I am proud to have taken part in an arrangement which promises the protection of the world to the rights of China."
The League of Nations proved unable to protect China's rights. Only China was eventually able to do that.
International law did not protect any of the weaker nations of the world. Strong alliances did. There is no world government of the moral high ground that can substitute for alliances built on strength. International law does not stop invasions. Armed force does.
Ukraine is a reminder of the folly of putting our faith in 19th century illusions that have been discredited more times than spirit-rapping or phrenology. The only law that matters is the law of strength. The only agreements that matter are those that are kept, either through genuine friendship rooted in a shared cultural history, or the threat of force.
The illusion of international law is pervasive. It tells us that the world does not have to work the way that it really does if only we hold hands, think good thoughts and pledge to wage war no more. Its advocates pretend to be sober and sensible, but they might as well be the counterculture hippies trying to levitate the Pentagon.
There is no exit strategy from reality. The moral high ground is no substitute for battleships and peace doesn't come from pieces of paper, but from weapons and men willing to use them.
The United States did China no favors by holding out the promise of a collective security based on a common decency that had no defense against its violation except a scandalized harrumph and we have done Ukraine no favors by offering it useless pieces of paper while encouraging its disarmament.
"These men were crusaders. They were not going forth to prove the might of the United States. They were going forth to prove the might of justice and right," Woodrow Wilson said of the dead Doughboys of WWI, but the two are indivisible.
Wilson did not live long enough to discover that without the might of the United States, justice and right were easily overpowered by tyranny and evil.
American might allowed the advocates of international law to live in an imaginary world in which their doctrines and documents actually matter. And now that they have finally succeeded in tearing down American strength and ushering in a post-American world, their own world will end.
International law is a Potemkin village. A hollow facade upheld by the might of the United States. A post-American world means the end of international law.
"International law is a Potemkin village. A hollow facade upheld by the might of the United States. A post-American world means the end of international law."ReplyDelete
We won't miss international law.
We will miss the American world. Greatly.
I hope Israelis learn soon.ReplyDelete
While I do not like what the Russians are doing I find it completely understandable. They live in a dangerous part of the world and the kind of niceness aspired to in safe and secure Europe is not really an option for them. One can dislike the old predatory state model, but we are going to go back to it because the alternative set up to replace it is not working. The EU has not made Europe safe so much as self neutered. And while the United States may still be intact as an institution, we have so corrupted our original ideals that I doubt we have the will to act on any project that requires real sacrifice.ReplyDelete
This whole Ukraine thing could very well turn out to be a sea change. The end of the thinking that arose at the end of WWII. The Russians are not so much a predator attacking the current European ideal, as a vulture picking away at its near dead carcass.
Except that we now live in a world that's already seen 1938 and seen WW2. Those people eventually felt they had no choice but to respond and they did. This world we live in sees those realities not as lessons learned but at cautionary tales. Not only is 'international law' a bluff but the whole notion that west will confront anyone any where at any time about anything thing is a bluff. Why have values when you can simply chant that every group down to a village or a clan or a tribe is 'entitled' to their own country just because they say so. No I'm afraid Putin is just the sharp point of the first spear the west will be in permanent retreat from. When he 'liberates' all of Ukraine, Moldova, the Baltics, the Karelian peninsula, eastern Poland, the Caucuses the west will simply stare at its own shoes and announce that the Free Democratic People's Republic of Downtown Riga is and always has been a noble 'project'.ReplyDelete
"The Russians are not so much a predator attacking the current European ideal, as a vulture picking away at its near dead carcass."
The same is true for Islam.
"No I'm afraid Putin is just the sharp point of the first spear the west will be in permanent retreat from."
Indeed. Soft power mandates a permanent state of self-righteous retreat by an international order of scolds.
This is the logical extension of the policies of Teddy Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson. We have a liar and fraud for president; a less than honorably discharged naval officer as Secretary of State, preceded by the least effective and most offensive SoS ever, and a population where 51% are receiving federal aid, with the lowest literacy level and educational standards ever.ReplyDelete
These results were broadcast on "The Justplainbill" podcasts broadcast on blogtalkradio during the early Obama years. They are archived for those interested.
The solution is located in "The Albany Plan Re-Visited", available through Barnes and Noble ebooks.
Drawing a 'line in the sand' when your enemy has already passed it, is as arrogant a stupidity as anything that Chamberlain & Wilson ever did.
Still you don't mention the violent coup d' etat funded by the EU & USA to overthrow an elected government.ReplyDelete
I find it amazing that a Conservative blog that is usually perceptive about the left is supporting the actions of Democrat warmonger Obama & the Marxist EU. They've attempted to devour the Ukraine to subject the people to loss of their nation, identity and wealth.
It's what the EU has done to the rest of Europe - just look at Greece, Spain & Portugal and even my own country Britain.
I am not sure in this case that supporting Obama against Putin is good for the Jews (this is my only perspective -- what is good for the Jews and Israel). Putin has been supporting the Jews in Russia and may be amore reliable ally to Israel than Obama. Putin is not an ideologue like Hitler or Stalin were. Putin is a pragmatists -- a dictatorial power seeking pragmatist. Obama is a socialist ideologue -- so, I am not sure who I would prefer to deal with.ReplyDelete
Don´t to worry, Obama Pajama knows betterReplyDelete
Putin supports Iran.
This isn't about the EU. It's about an expansionist KGB dictator vs a coalition of Ukrainian nationalists and liberals.
Obama isn't a warmonger in the Ukraine. He is an appeaser. If he were a warmonger, US forces would be in Kiev.
I suspect Obama's reasoning went like this; "John are there any Blacks in Ukraine?" Ans; 'Not to my knowledge'. Response; " Okay, I'll be teeing off now, call my caddy if there are any developments."ReplyDelete
We have a one note President who went into politics to become wealthy, and Be Somebody in his chosen elitist community. Having to Do Something was not part of the plan.
At least the downtrodden of the world know better than to look for 'the shining city on the hill'. The electricity has been turned off, there is no shine.
Obama is acting under 'obligation'. He has no reason to care about the Ukraine and probably finds the arguments that America caused it by being provocative fairly convincing.
Daniel, I'm afraid I have to conclude that your opinion piece is vastly overstated and deeply flawed. It is error first because Russia today can in only one measure compare to the Japan of the 1920's or the Germany of the 1930's. And that one measure differs significantly in degree. Both Japan and Germany were possessed of a certain drive I will describe as desperation that drove them to expansionist moves and war. With a combination of ideological / political and economic needs, Japan and Germany saw exapansion as the best way to insure survival in a hostile world. Russia under Putin sees much the same thing in Crimea and it's southern border regions. However, where Japan and Germany were desperate, after a fashion, their desperation was born of confidence and ascendant power. They needed to feed their vibrant industrial engines with more raw materials. They also felt entitled by virtue of their demonstrated strength. This cannot be said of Putin's Russia. Putin is indeed desperate. But his desperation springs from weakness and diminishing strength. He needs the Ukraine to support his economy as a crutch or a prop to keep Russia afloat for a bit longer. Putin hopes to cobble together something that will keep Russia from the abyss. He hopes he can bluff his way forward as he sees a decadant and weak America under a hapless Obama. So, Putin is dangerous and he is desperate. But, he is weak. Putin has no political support at home for his actions and is isolated internationally. Fortunately, in this matter the west doesn't need America to do very much. The European countries can handle Putin just fine with the U.S. taking a supporting role only. Already we have seen the former soviet states sign military agreements to supplement their military power. Poland and Germany together with Ukraine are already a match for Russian military might. In very short order, that power could be multiplied many times. I predict that Putin will look for a way to save face in the short to medium term as he realizes that guerilla war in Crimea and agitated, antagonized and re-armed western neighbors are the wrong direction to go. Let me conclude by putting to rest the silly idea that the overthrow of Putin's puppet in Ukraine was somehow illigitmate. There is a fundamental political truth which supercedes any election and it is this, there is no legitimacy without the consent of the governed. Is there any question that the Ukranians, by a huge majority, did not consent? There is not.ReplyDelete
Germany wasn't reacting to a hostile world. The world wasn't hostile, it was impotent. Hitler had to expand to outtrun built in economic failure. Ditto for Putin's Russia.ReplyDelete
Putin isn't desperate, but his economic miracle has no future. Ukraine won't salvage the economy, but it will help distract the people and any economic turmoil will then be blamed on Western sanctions and sabotage.
Eventually Putin may be planning to raid wealthier countries, but for the moment he has convinced the Russian elites that he is still in the driver's seat.
Michael, thank youReplyDelete
Taken out of context, I can see Obama's point, but I mourn the loss of our country's beacon of hope, not to mention how wide the door has been opened for other despots to seize whatever property they choose.ReplyDelete
Our country's 'policies' both foreign and domestic, have become a house of cards, and we all know how easily such a flimsy house is toppled. In the end, this also threatens our national interests.
I knew the fix was in when O started firing every General with whom he disagreed, and tried, unsuccessfully, to embarrass Netanyahu.I remain convinced that those incidents were no coincidence.
Obama is not yet qualified to sit a the Big Kids table..
It's already toppling.ReplyDelete
"... A post-American world means the end of international law."ReplyDelete
International Law guaranteed by American blood and treasure. That "end" is a good thing, and the Europeans better understand that Zero has stumbled into a policy that was long overdue, and they better start depending on themselves for protection. They are lazy and weak, and weakness brings bullies, who will steal from you and do what they wish. Lessons of history are easily forgotten.
I have to agree with the next to last Anonymous, that Putin is taking advantage of the opportunity a weak and confused U.S. Administration gave him. He needs Crimea, and he knows he won't have to fight for it, because EVERYONE knows they don't have a plan or the courage to try and stop him. I do not worry about him trying to restore the former Soviet Union. He's relatively weak too, and doesn't need the BK ex-satellite countries and their problems. That fear is unwarranted.
Thankfully, there is no support for another war, and even meathead McCane is keeping the rhetoric just loud enough to satisfy his ego image as an expert on foreign policy. Putin doesn't need brilliance to see the U.S. Senate is deathly afraid of any more negatives; the People are sick of them, and they know it.
I am sure that Obama told Putin, on the phone, that he had to make some public statements condemning Russia, but that's all he will do, AND THAT'S A GOOD THING.
An interesting essay. As a European what really worries me is that it looks as if the US will definitely leave Europe to itself one day and that it may be sooner that we think. This will happen whoever is in the White House. Then we will need a protector as we ourselves are terminally weakened by affluence and liberal left ideology.ReplyDelete
Russia could be the one nation that will defend the rest of Europe. For a price naturally. But that might be worth paying if the alternative is a Europe falling to barbarism and a resurgent Islamic world.
Indeed the Ukraine will not salvage the Russian economy and Putin risks far more than a bit of economic turmoil. He has placed Russia into a bear trap and hopes and prays that it will somehow work out. It will not. Putin will be lucky to extract his nation from a widespread guerilla resistance movement that could destroy Russia. The vast worldwide expansion of gas and oil production will eliminate his leverage in that department sooner than later and the former soviet block countries are already making the decisions to make that happen. Putin may have figured the U.S. to be weak with Obama at the helm, but his real worries lie much closer to home. His own population for starters. Whatever support he has is being eroded with each passing day of economic malais and will quickly evaporate once the body bags start coming home again. The Russians are sick of endless war, poverty and corruption and if Putin isn't desperate, he should be.ReplyDelete
Daniel, what exactly should Obama do?ReplyDelete
EX: Israelis know, it's just that their thoughts haven't translated into action yet.ReplyDelete
Phrenology and Putin...that would be fun!ReplyDelete
Seriously though, I doubt Putin meant it when he said that he was content with Russia being one of the great nations among the greatest. He's not exactly interested in alliances and being a great among other greats. The faux alliances are just a means to an end.
Ex-Dissident: “I hope Israelis learn soon.”ReplyDelete
“Israel has an important principle: It is only Israel that is responsible for our security.” Yitzhak Rabin
Aside from an almost obligatory dunce or two (their X%), Israel is a star pupil among the class of nations and people.
The world wanted the end of American dominance, well they got it spades. Enjoy grovelling under the boots of Russia and China. I hope the electricity stays on long enough to watch them all suffer.ReplyDelete
It's all about money, not ideals. The oil pipelines and the people who stand to lose money if things get bad over there. The U.S. government doesn't care about the Crimea or its people, other than how much it cost our investors when the Russians eat up all the profits or assets. Everything, all the time, is about money.ReplyDelete
Daniel you say:ReplyDelete
"This isn't about the EU. It's about an expansionist KGB dictator vs a coalition of Ukrainian nationalists and liberals."
That's not true at all. This is about the new world order. It's very much about the EU who have sunk billions into getting their tentacles around the Ukraine.
Here's a simple fact: If the EU & USA hadn't conducted a violent coup d' etat to overthrow a UN approved democratically elected govt & replace them with a band of pro-EU thugs - including, bizarrely neo-nazis of Svoboda - this situation in the Crimea doesn't happen.
Now it has happened, Putin has moved to protect Russians from this illegal EU/USA backed mob. The Crimean people have voted to be ruled by Russia. Self determination is a right for all, that applies to Crimea as much as it does to Israel and it's a right the EU denies to people of Europe.
Maybe Americans don't understand the true evil nature of the EU. There's a reason we call it EUSSR.
We've lost enough Americans and Britons in wars recently all for these evil Marxist parasites who destroy nation states and steal the wealth of the people. We don't want anymore.
Anonymous says this piece is "... vastly overstated and deeply flawed" and then proceeds to give us the wisdom that " The European countries can handle Putin just fine with the U.S. taking a supporting role only." What rubbish! DenisO. has it right when he says "...EVERYONE knows they don't have a plan or the courage to try and stop him." The US has paid to much for way too long for the post war recovery and cold war stability that Europeans don't invest in for themselves. If they did, they wouldn't have the largess to provide the great social benefits that those countries tout as so glorious and humanitarian.ReplyDelete
Meanwhile, American taxpayers have paid the freight all around the world for decades of security and bonded that freedom with precious blood and lives.
Daniel is on point all the way through. And any thought that the EU will be able to stand up to Putin is a pipe dream. As for the EU looking to Russia to defend them from Islam is like asking the wolf to guard the hen house. You had better not blink or nod off because not only would your eggs be gone but your feathers wouldn't hit the floor before Putin and his troop move in. I'd say it's time to start training and building your own forces boys! Because the wolf from the East will soon be at the door, just as the wolf from the south already is in your midst.
Why do people keep expecting Barry to act as an "American" President? Good grief people! He is not the slightest bit interested in America or benefiting it's people or it's general welfare. When will you get that through your thick skulls?? When?? He has a totally different agenda.ReplyDelete
There's not much Obama can do. You can't bluff when no one believes you. You can't show strength when you have none.
Russian remains obsessed with having an empire.
There is that.
This isn't about the EU, which has utterly failed to stand up to Putin. It's about a thug empire. Russians were not in "danger."
"We've lost enough Americans and Britons in wars recently all for these evil Marxist parasites who destroy nation states and steal the wealth of the people."
Oddly you're saying this in defense of a KGB regime.
Nobody is looking to defend them from Islam. Everyone is letting Islam play divide and conquer with them.
The re-energized jihad against Putin's Russia has already begun. Only a matter of time before the Ukrainians begin guerrilla style warfare against the occupying forces in Crimea and along the eastern border region. Putin has bitten off more than he can chew. Now add the speeded up military reorganization and re-equipping of the former soviet republics to the mix and you will soon see increased demand for Leopard tanks, helicopters and all manner of military hardware. Putin may have just destroyed Russia.ReplyDelete
I doubt it really. I'm not sure they have what it takes to engage in guerrilla warfare now or considering the death toll in Chechnya, that Putin will back down because of Russian death.ReplyDelete
If international law is an “illusion” then why does Ukraine matter? Do you think there is a great threat that Putin will roll into Prague, Budapest or Warsaw with an armored column in a decade? I do think Ukraine matters, but that is because the sanctity of international borders matter and because the honor of the United States, which made an agreement by which Ukraine gave up nukes matters.ReplyDelete
I'm sorry, but I would be glad to sacrifice Crimea for an end to the preposterous notion of "international law".ReplyDelete
If you disband the UN, I'll even throw in the Baltic states!
MarchH, at this point, what's going to stop him?ReplyDelete
srhcb, it won't end with Ukraine or the Baltic states.
Crimea has been annexed, and Ukraine invaded!ReplyDelete
"Round up the usual suspects..."
Sanctions against a handful of Russian bureaucrats as a response to armed aggression...that, yes, that is fantasy. Kalashnikat.
Remind me Daniel:ReplyDelete
Who gave us the break up of Yugoslavia & the criminal bombing of Serbia? The annexation of Kosovo? "Shock & awe" in Iraq? The debacle of Afghanistan? The mess of Arab spring in Egypt, Libya, and Syria?
It isn't Putin whose stomping around the world murdering people and overthrowing regimes he doesn't like.
It's about NATO & EU expansion and Putin nailed it yesterday. I defy any American who posts here to say they'd accept Russia behaving the same say, with Alaska for example. In fact USSR tried it in 62 and Kennedy rightly stopped it.
If this isn't about the totalitarian EU why are they offering billions to Ukraine?
Why does NATO still exist? The cold war is over. Russia isn't our enemy our nations are being destroyed by the same elites who've created this crisis.
Interesting that "Proud Brit" expresses the textbook position of a Russian propagandist down to even the appellation.ReplyDelete
So does that mean people who disagree are taking the textbook position of an Obama propagandist even down to the appellation?
Resorting to ad hominem is the sign of a defeated argument. It's why the left deploy it so much.
@ Proud BritReplyDelete
I agree that the eviction of the Taliban from Afghanistan devolved into a protracted, unwinnable quagmire. And, I generally agree that U.S. military adventures in asia, africa and the middle east have been huge blunders. I'm not a fan of the diplomatic blunders either. However, it would be misguided to use our mistakes as an excuse for Putin's invasion of the Crimea. Russia has never been under any sort of threat, implied or direct, from American adventurism. To the contrary, we have helped him in his own battles against Muslim extremists in the caucasus. Putin would have been far wiser to follow the Chinese, Indian, Japanese, American and European examples and make peaceful business deals with the former soviet republics. Deals that are profitable and constructive for all concerned. Instead, he has placed Russia on the chopping block. Jihadists will soon be crawling all over Crimea and inside Russia blowing stuff up. There are 3000,000 fighting mad Tatars in the Crimea. Ukrainians are already reported to be infiltrating sabotage teams inside Russia. Russian speaking Ukrainians. Huge business deals with Germany and others will be scaled back or eliminated. Jobs and investments will evaporate. Nobody needs Russian business and to whatever extent they do, they will very quickly learn to bypass. Russia is in deep trouble and Putin doesn't care. Power has gone to his head and he can only think of keeping it for himself as long as possible. Which won't be long as his base of support evaporates in the face of economic, political and military collapse. W.C.T.
No, it means you are a textbook Russian propagandist.
So it also means you're an apologist for the "progressive" Obama who left US personnel to die in Beirut and the Marxist EU who are up to their necks in corruption and war crimes. Bravo.
But you keep hurling insults - proves I'm right, truth hurts.