Russia and Ukraine

by | Mar 5, 2022


Suppose that Brazil had invaded a relatively peaceful United States several times in the last century. The foreign policy of the latter country would surely be to arrange for a cordon sanitaire south of its border. That would pretty much be the be all and end all of its international endeavors.

But posit that the Brazilians set up a CATO (Central American Treaty Organization). They successively enrolled in it Columbia, then Panama, then Costa Rica, then Nicaragua, then El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala and Belize. They also enrolled Chile and Argentina and several other South American Countries in CATO. For a time, the Mexican government had a pro-US stance, but CATO put paid to that too, deposing that democratically elected leader and substituting one more to their liking in his place. As well, the Canadians were also anti-American (well, that’s not imaginary) and members of CATO.

Next, Brazil and its many CATO allies threatened to arm their new ally, Mexico with weapons of mass devastation.

At that point in history, the United Stated placed weapons in X (should this be Uruguay, Cuba, Puerto Rico? Ideally, I’m looking for an island 90 miles off the Brazilian shore, but couldn’t find any). Whereupon the Brazilians went apoplectic. It was quite alright for them to completely surround the US with hostile forces, but that country should not dare to return the “favor” to Brazil, with a military base in X.

Finally, the US invaded Mexico in our little scenario in an attempt to place a government in that country that was not hostile to it; to ensure that it never joined CATO. This latter organization threatened America with dire economic sanctions and mentioned that nothing was off the table.

Here is what the US President (not Joe Biden; pay attention) said upon this occasion:

I consider it necessary today to speak again about the tragic events in Donbass and the key aspects of ensuring the security of Russia.

I will begin with what I said in my address on February 21, 2022. I spoke about our biggest concerns and worries, and about the fundamental threats which irresponsible Western politicians created for Russia consistently, rudely and unceremoniously from year to year. I am referring to the eastward expansion of NATO, which is moving its military infrastructure ever closer to the Russian border.

It is a fact that over the past 30 years we have been patiently trying to come to an agreement with the leading NATO countries regarding the principles of equal and indivisible security in Europe. In response to our proposals, we invariably faced either cynical deception and lies or attempts at pressure and blackmail, while the North Atlantic alliance continued to expand despite our protests and concerns. Its military machine is moving and, as I said, is approaching our very border.

Why is this happening? Where did this insolent manner of talking down from the height of their exceptionalism, infallibility and all-permissiveness come from? What is the explanation for this contemptuous and disdainful attitude to our interests and absolutely legitimate demands?

The answer is simple. Everything is clear and obvious. In the late 1980s, the Soviet Union grew weaker and subsequently broke apart. That experience should serve as a good lesson for us, because it has shown us that the paralysis of power and will is the first step towards complete degradation and oblivion. We lost confidence for only one moment, but it was enough to disrupt the balance of forces in the world.

Guess who said this? Putin, of course.

Enough with the analogies. Let’s get back to the real world.

Yes, the USSR, was not a nice place, internally. Russia, too, has its problems in this regard, as do many other nations. However, all too many commentators who really should know better deduce from this fact that this country is expansionist, externally. Not so, not so. Great Britain was for many years one of the best countries to live in; the Magna Carta and all that. Yet, to say it was intent upon world domination (the sun never set on its empire), would be a vast understatement. Then, too, there are many small dictatorships which never engaged in any aggressive war. One simply cannot infer international policies from domestic ones.

Apart from some missiles placed in Cuba, at a time when the US surrounded Russia in many places, the latter country has confined itself to protecting itself from yet another invasion emanating from west of it.

Why is it so difficult to look at issues of this sort from the vantage point of the other guy, too, in addition to your own perspective. I ask this of the neo conservatives now baying for Russian blood. There but for the grace of something or other, maybe geography, go we in the US.

Yes, Putin was wrong to invade the Ukraine. War is a horror. “War is the health of the state.” Innocent lives will be shed, no matter how careful are the warring sides. However, where lies the primary blame for this unhappy occurrence? Obviously, with the US and NATO.

Decent men hope for a fast end to this conflagration. And for NATO to stop its ceaseless march to the east.


  • Walter E. Block

    Walter Edward Block is an American economist and anarcho-capitalist theorist who holds the Harold E. Wirth Eminent Scholar Endowed Chair in Economics at the J. A. Butt School of Business at Loyola University New Orleans.

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