March 14, 2014

Putin's lawyerly furtiveness is a good thing

The "realist" foreign policy professor John Mearsheimer writes in the New York Times:
Getting Ukraine Wrong 
By JOHN J. MEARSHEIMER      MARCH 13, 2014

President Obama has decided to get tough with Russia by imposing sanctions and increasing support for Ukraine’s new government. This is a big mistake. This response is based on the same faulty logic that helped precipitate the crisis. 
Instead of resolving the dispute, it will lead to more trouble. 
The White House view, widely shared by Beltway insiders, is that the United States bears no responsibility for causing the current crisis. In their eyes, it’s all President Vladimir V. Putin’s fault — and his motives are illegitimate. This is wrong. Washington played a key role in precipitating this dangerous situation, and Mr. Putin’s behavior is motivated by the same geopolitical considerations that influence all great powers, including the United States. 
The taproot of the current crisis is NATO expansion and Washington’s commitment to move Ukraine out of Moscow’s orbit and integrate it into the West. The Russians have intensely disliked but tolerated substantial NATO expansion, including the accession of Poland and the Baltic countries. But when NATO announced in 2008 that Georgia and Ukraine “will become members of NATO,” Russia drew a line in the sand. Georgia and Ukraine are not just states in Russia’s neighborhood; they are on its doorstep. Indeed, Russia’s forceful response in its August 2008 war with Georgia was driven in large part by Moscow’s desire to prevent Georgia from joining NATO and integrating into the West. ...
The Obama administration then made a fatal mistake by backing the protesters, which helped escalate the crisis and eventually led to the toppling of Mr. Yanukovych. A pro-Western government then took over in Kiev. The United States ambassador to Ukraine, who had been encouraging the protesters, proclaimed it “a day for the history books.” 
Mr. Putin, of course, didn’t see things that way. He viewed these developments as a direct threat to Russia’s core strategic interests. 
Who can blame him? After all, the United States, which has been unable to leave the Cold War behind, has treated Russia as a potential threat since the early 1990s and ignored its protests about NATO’s expansion and its objections to America’s plan to build missile defense systems in Eastern Europe. 
One might expect American policymakers to understand Russia’s concerns about Ukraine joining a hostile alliance. After all, the United States is deeply committed to the Monroe Doctrine, which warns other great powers to stay out of the Western Hemisphere. 

The Ukraine is to Russia kind of like a cross between what Mexico and Canada are to the U.S. The U.S. tolerated Mexico being sullenly, passively anti-American but would never ... ever ... have let it discuss joining the Warsaw Pact. (Germany's 1917 invitation to Mexico to ally against the U.S., the Zimmerman Telegram, was a big part of the casus belli.)

You'll recall that America's Monroe Doctrine has been for 191 years extremely expansive about preserving the entire Western Hemisphere (North and South America) as America's sphere of influence. When Cuba dropped into the Soviets' lap around 1960, the U.S. response was to push uncomfortably close to the brink of nuclear war in 1962. When Communists got a toehold in a couple of tiny Central American countries a few doors south of Mexico at the end of the 1970s, the U.S. response was, shall we say, unneighborly.

You could say that that was an ideological struggle, but the U.S. military mucked around in banana republics even before the October Revolution in St. Petersburg. On the other hand, it wasn't all that clear the U.S. as a whole, rather than the United Fruit Company or Brown Brothers got much out of sending the Marines to take over the customs office in Guatelombia (the Panama Canal being the clear exception). FDR knocked off invading Latin American countries for business reasons, and I can't think of how that restraint harmed the U.S. as a whole, although maybe it did.
But few American policymakers are capable of putting themselves in Mr. Putin’s shoes. This is why they were so surprised when he moved additional troops into Crimea, threatened to invade eastern Ukraine, and made it clear Moscow would use its considerable economic leverage to undermine any regime in Kiev that was hostile to Russia.

If you were born in Lwow, you wouldn't want your country to be a satellite of Russia.

Henry Kissinger talks about Finlandizing Ukraine -- Western in economy, but neutral militarily -- but it's not obvious how to get there. I don't feel like I understand all the issues involved. How do you keep Russia from dominating economically when you can't afford to keep Russia from dominating militarily? Perhaps some Finnish or Austrian readers could contribute?
When Mr. Putin explained why he was playing hardball, Mr. Obama responded that the Russian leader “seems to have a different set of lawyers making a different set of interpretations.” But the Russian leader is obviously not talking with lawyers; he sees this conflict in geopolitical, not legal terms. 

Putin won't stipulate these are Russians
Not wholly. You'll notice that Russian troops started throwing their weight around in Crimea in unmarked uniforms, not in Russian uniforms. Moreover, Putin has insisted upon lying about them not being Russian troops, claiming they are some kind of indigenous Crimean militia that has sprung up spontaneously. In other words, Putin was talking with lawyers about the implications of his actions. That doesn't mean he's not going to go ahead and do what he wants to do, but it does mean he's concerned about the precedent he's setting.

For example, the population of parts of Siberia is increasingly Chinese. It's not in the long term interest of Russia to establish a precedent that the strongest kid on the block can force a secessionist referendum on a weaker neighbor's disaffected region.

The truth is that the world has done pretty well since 1945 with the understanding that changing borders militarily is frowned upon (which is what made the Kosovo escapade so reckless). Russia is not a densely populated country, so it benefits from the international presumption that borders are not, generally speaking, up for grabs.

Perhaps if Putin wins his referendum in Crimea, he'll ... uh ... graciously ... not act upon it de jure, merely having Crimea be de jure an autonomous part of Ukraine and de facto a Russian protectorate. (A lot of foreign policy problems are sidestepped by avoiding following out the logic to its de jure conclusion. For example, the Kurds have been impressively prudent in not declaring their de jure independence from Iraq, which would alarm Turkey. Similarly, the current de jure status of Taiwan doesn't make sense, but it's kept WWIII from breaking out for 42 years, and lots of people have made a lot of money in the mean time under the de facto situation.)
Mr. Putin’s view is understandable. Because there is no world government to protect states from one another, major powers are acutely sensitive to threats — especially near their borders — and they sometimes act ruthlessly to address potential dangers. International law and human rights concerns take a back seat when vital security issues are at stake.
Mr. Obama would be advised to stop talking to lawyers and start thinking like a strategist.

Personally, I am heartened by Putin's hypocrisy. His lawyerly furtiveness is a good thing. It shows he feels guilty about stepping over the line here and understands that the world is, on the whole, better off with lines intact.

I don't want to live in a Mearsheimer World in which the powers talk like the Athenians do in Thucydides' "Melian Dialogue." I want politicians to feel a little shame and foreboding.

The Melian Dialogue is stylized account by Thucydides, the exiled Athenian general turned historian, of an incident halfway through the Peloponnesian war between Athens and Sparta.

The Melian Dialogue has a kind of science fiction aspect to it, of pushing a certain logic to its extreme. The Athenian fleet descends upon the small island of Melos, a colony founded by Sparta that has so far sat out the war. The Athenians demand that the Melians surrender and pay them tribute, or have their city destroyed, their men killed, and their women and children enslaved. In a conference, the Athenians explain to the Melian leaders:
For ourselves, we shall not trouble you with specious pretences - either of how we have a right to our empire because we overthrew the Mede [Persians], or are now attacking you because of wrong that you have done us - and make a long speech which would not be believed; and in return we hope that you, instead of thinking to influence us by saying that you did not join the Lacedaemonians [Spartans], although their colonists, or that you have done us no wrong, will aim at what is feasible, holding in view the real sentiments of us both; since you know as well as we do that right, as the world goes, is only in question between equals in power, while the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must.

The Melians respond that it would be dishonorable, after hundreds of years of liberty, to surrender. So, the Athenians sack the city, kill the men, and enslave the women.

You can't argue with Logic.

In the long run, however, this logic didn't work out so hot for the Athenians. From Wikipedia:
Yet the Melians are also correct in trusting their kindred, the Spartans, to ultimately come to their aid. After the fall of their city, the Spartans resettled the surviving Melians on the mainland. Within a few years the Peloponnesian War resumed between Sparta and Athens, and the Melian community in exile raised funds to contribute to the Spartan war effort, which successfully destroyed the Athenian empire. The Spartan general Lysander then retook Melos and restored the Melians to their homeland. 
   

80 comments:

zolf said...

Crimeans speak Russian, consider themselves Russian, want to be part of Russia, and would be part of Russia had an elderly Stalin not added them to Ukraine. when Russians troops entered Crimea, they were not opposed.

Why is this considered a problem? It is none of our business, but my sympathy is with people who want to reverse an arbitrary act of Stalin, not the bloodthirsty US foreign policy establishment that wants any excuse to take more of my money for the military industrial complex.

At the moment, they are agitating for a B2 bomber replacement that will cost a billion per plane.

David said...

Well, if Mearsheimer is even partly correct, it is the US and NATO who are the line-crossing aggressors (or the Athenians, in the history analogy), not Russia. Putin's caution is a good thing only in the sense that it seems to say he is trying desperately to avoid WW3 - which the Half-Blood Prince or his lawyers seem hot to precipitate.

Mearsheimer's point about the Monroe Doctrine is trenchant.

Billy said...

Steve: I hate to hijack a topic, but can you please please please talk about Ann Coulter and her newfound focus on immigration?

She is citing your work by name and advocating Saileresque policies.

Do you feel any sense that your writing has finally begun to make a difference?

Anonymous said...

It is reasonable to assume that the Russian navy has thermonuclear weapons in its Black Sea fleet. Did Washington believe Putin would relinquish those to Ukraininan revolutionaries, along with access to their only year round seaport without a fight? Military needs alone require that Russia at a minimum must continue to hold the Crimea in its orbit. Putin parked a Russian war ship in Cuba to illustrate this issue. Ecconmic ties between Russia and seal the deal. Russia will fight to keep Ukraine under its influence.

The US government and the Neocons such as Vicki Nuland should take notice. Unlike the nomads Obama has been chasing down with drones, the Russians can hit Europe and the US should things get nasty.

Once again, Mearshimer is alone, pointing out obvious truths to the beltway crowd.

Steve Sailer said...

"Do you feel any sense that your writing has finally begun to make a difference?"

Of course.

Dave Pinsen said...

Why do you describe Coulter's focus on immigration as "new found"?

Anonymous said...

"Russia could invade eastern Ukraine or annex Crimea, because Ukraine regrettably relinquished the nuclear arsenal it inherited when the Soviet Union broke up and thus has no counter to Russia’s conventional superiority."

Ukrainian got no native tech expertise to maintain nukes. Also, it got no money. Maintaining nukes is fantastically expensive. Ukraine could do it only if someone would give it the necessary billions each year. So, the most like outcome of Ukraine's "keeping" its nukes would be Russia paying and maintaining it for them.

Anonymous said...

Communities in which everyone voluntarily adheres to a code of conduct can be very effective. The old European aristocracy called itself a caste of gentlemen. Obviously, they had a lot of success for a long time. If members don't have to worry about dishonesty and other kinds of selfishness within the ranks, the entire community and its individual members benefit.

This beneficial effect depends on reciprocity. If you restrict your actions by a code, but the people you deal with do not, they'll just take advantage of you. You'll be victimized, perhaps eliminated by them.

The worldwide community of nations is as far from a caste of gentlemen as it gets. The only reason we haven't had any world wars since 1945 is that nuke-based MAD has made winning impossible.

It makes no sense for any truly sovereign nation to voluntarily restrict itself to any code of conduct, so none do. There is no reciprocity or trust, only self-interest and fear among them.

In this crisis the unconstitutionally performed "impeachment" of Yanukovich and the unmarked uniforms on Russian Spetsnaz troops are utter trivialities. They're like "how are you?" in greetings - mechanically performed formalities with no meaning.

By the way, I read today that Marine Le Pen is sympathetic to the Russian position on the Crimea. That just highlights how weak and irrelevant Galician nationalists always were. The Svoboda (Freedom) party is truly nationalist, but it's so weak (partly because Galicia is so small), that the neocons supported it anyway. Even though Putin is far less nationalist than the Banderites, he's still somewhat nationalist, and Russia is dozens of times bigger and more important than Western Ukraine. It seems that Marine Le Pen came to the same conclusion, just from the opposite side. It's like a fundamentalist libertarian supporting a Republican instead of a Libertarian candidate in an American election. If he votes or contributes to a Republican, he'll at least have some chance of influencing events.

Anonymous said...

http://takimag.com/article/political_correctness_is_dead_gavin_mcinnes/print#axzz2vuwiKjPD

Mr. Anon said...

I believe that Austria was akin to the western counterpart of Finland during the cold war. It was clearly a part of the west, but neutral, and not part of NATO. Europe needs a neutral zone of non-aligned nations between NATO and Russia. The arrogant nitwits who run our state department don't understand this. They are fools playing with loaded guns.

Mr. Anon said...

zolf said...

At the moment, they are agitating for a B2 bomber replacement that will cost a billion per plane."

It will be very stealthy. So stealthy that neither you, nor I, nor indeed anyone, will ever see it.

GrahamSeib said...

Steve, as a guy who lives here I will quibble on only one point. This was a legitimate revolution by the middle class against a bungling despot. It deserves sympathy from the west.

Yes, the NATO idea was a provocation. Nobody here was terribly excited about it. Nobody could answer the fundamental question of how it would benefit Ukraine. It was sponsored by ineffectual politicians such as Yushenko, and it died.

The rebellion against Yanukovych was similar to the uprisings against King George III and Louis XVI. A leader so incompetent and rapacious that he weakened himself to the point he was vulnerable. With the exception of Svoboda, the leaders are all men who have been on the political scene for a long time. They are known quantities, and moderate. Tianybok of Svoboda has been tempering his rhetoric now that he has a national stage.

This reminds me of the French Revolution, when every tyranny in Europe was aroused by the fear that such an example might succeed. Russia, Europe and the US each want to snuggle up to, read, smother, this spontaneous outbreak of real democracy.

Anonymous said...

Just like a vote for a Libertarian candidate is really a vote for Democrats (you're splitting the anti-Democrat vote), support for the very nationalist Svoboda party is really support for neocons, globalism and WWG. The neocons got it, and it was amusing to see someone on the other side get it as well.

eah said...

David Stockman says basically the same thing:

For several centuries the Crimea has been Russian; for even longer, the Ukraine has been a cauldron of ethnic and tribal conflict, rarely an organized, independent state, and always a meandering set of borders looking for a redrawn map.

Anonymous said...

A very elderly Stalin--he was dead for two years. It was Krushchev who was a Ukrainian but it simply seemed sensible to make it part of the adjoining Ukraine rather the far way Russia. Besides it wouldn't matter. Fifty-nine years later---it did.

scottlocklin said...

Steve is a one man think tank. Of course it's getting through.

FWIIW, those insignia-less soldiers might very well not be Russian soldiers. One possibility is they are whatever the Rooskie equivalent of Blackwater is. They're also often confused with the local cossacks in the media (to my annoyance when they show pictures of cossacks), and the cossacks are definitely local militia. I had a chance to interview a General of those guys for Takimag while I was in Sevastopol, but I picked loafing on a beach instead, thinking they were some kind of overgrown boyscout types. Alas, journalistic ambition. Oh yeah, Inna Shevchenko seemed kind of dumb too.

Anonymous said...

Basically, despite all this bull about the UN and so-called 'international law', you'll find that all these 'conventions' that came in after 1945 quickly fall to pices once any isssue of *real* value flares up and any player of *real* worth starts getting involved - then you're right back to the world of the ancient Greeks or even the cavemen, same instincts, but different weapons.
Did the UN, the EU,'the Council of Europe, NATO, the OCSE etc etc do a blind bit of use in stopping that recent bloodbath in Bosnia?.
Same old, same Nietzschean paradigm.

Anonymous said...

Not only that but Sevastopol where the Russian fleet is based was given to Ukraine by Yeltsin in the 1990s in exchange for guarantees that the status of Russian military base would not be threatened. The pro-NATO coup in Kiev clearly constitutes a threat to that.

Anyway, Crimeans will vote in the upper 70% tomorrow to become a part of Russia. Then the political ballet will ensue. On the other hand, blood is being spilled in Eastern Ukraine as we speak. The pro-Russian manifestations are being suppressed with brutality. Let's see if Putin will have the nerves to stop that. My guess is that only if EU (i.e. Merkel) will impose significant sanctions, the Russians will proceed to "liberate" Eastern Ukraine. The US sanctions will not matter much to Russia: our economic ties to Russia are very weak.

A fun fact: Ukraine's army is in complete shambles right now and has only about 6,000 troops that are ready for any sort of engagement.



Simon in London said...

Putin seems to have higher regard for international law than successive US administrations have had, going back to the 1998 Kosovo War against Serbia. After that and the 2003 Iraq war, any US claims to the moral-legal high ground are laughable.

Anonymous said...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foundations_of_Geopolitics

Pretty interesting book, allegedly used in the education of Russian officers.

Anonymous said...

Melians? Spartans? Crimea? Ukraine?
Obama's too busy watching his advance copy of "Game of thrones".
It's scary to think that the most powerful man in the world watches TV instead of reading history.

Sean said...

No Steve, Mearshiemer does not say states ever openly avow offensive realism. He says elites usually act in accordance with it, but speak the languge of idealism in public. EG, the Reagan invasion of Grenada was ostensibly to protect (a handful of) American students. If was really because it had become a soviet client complete with an airbase.

"The edgiest parts of Tragedy are when Mearsheimer presents full-bore rationales for the aggression of Wilhelmine Germany, Nazi Germany, and imperial Japan.

The German decision to push for war in 1914 was not a case of wacky strategic ideas pushing a state to start a war it was sure to lose. It was . . . a calculated risk motivated in large part by Germany’s desire to break its encirclement by the Triple Entente, prevent the growth of Russian power and become Europe’s hegemon."

See, it is when they are pushed into a corner (ie believe they are on the 'wrong side of history') that states decide war is necessary. Japan did not go to war with the US because it thought it was stronger than the US. There is no way Russia is going to back down in its own back yard, where it is a match for any combination of distant powers. Ukraine is led by fools who think diplomatic coup is adressing the UN in English . The Russians don't care if they are 'live on american television'.

What Reagan did in central America “’THEY slit some of the kids’ throats, and many they hanged from the tree … The soldiers kept telling us, ‘You are guerrillas and this is justice. This is justice.’ Finally, there were only three of us left. I watched them hang my brother. He was two years old. I could see that I was going to be killed soon, and I thought it would be better to die running ...' Several months after the massacre, the Salvadoran army returned to the scene and collected the skulls of some El Mozote children as novelty items, the Post reported. ‘They worked well as candle holders...’”"

And, like it or not, we live in a world where the US facilitated those tactics, which worked rather well.

Anonymous said...

"This was a legitimate revolution by the middle class against a bungling despot. It deserves sympathy from the west."

If you've not noticed, "the west" is well into the process of impoverishing its working people, and the process is now affecting the middle classes on both sides of the pond.

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/2/abcb8b3e-7ece-11e3-a2a7-00144feabdc0.html

http://billmoyers.com/2013/09/20/by-the-numbers-the-incredibly-shrinking-american-middle-class/



The despot might indeed be bungling, but don't imagine a "Westernised" Ukraine will be like 1950s America for the middle class.

Incidentally, I note that the British media's huge daily reporting of what was happening in Kiev, well before people started being killed, isn't being replicated for Donetsk.

Steve Sailer said...

Ukraine is very poor relative to their TIMMS and IQ scores. Better government would help them live up to their potential. The Maidan protests perhaps demonstrate a national will to stop taking the sleazy way out and buckle down to the hard work of being a respectable nation.

Russia has security interests that need to be respected, but the Finns demonstrate that you can have a self-respecting internal system without threatening Russia. But it's hard work.

Anonymous said...

"It shows he feels guilty about stepping over the line here and understands that the world is, on the whole, better off with lines intact."

I somehow doubt he feels guilty.

Hunsdon said...

One thing I'd point out about the guys who might be Russian guys or who might be Crimean guys but who definitely are not in Russian uniforms: they've got no magazines in their Kalashnikovs.

Now, it is not a huge matter to pull a mag from a mag pouch, seat and rack it, but every picture I've ever seen of Tommy Atkins in, say, Belfast in the 1970s, Tommy had his mag in.

As a child of the Cold War, I grew up thinking the world would end in nuclear fire, a confrontation between the US and the Soviet Union. Reading history, I thanked God that we didn't "go big" in '56 when the Sovs rolled into Budapest, or '68 when they rolled into Prague.

I don't even know if I can convey the feeling of relief I felt when the Berlin Wall was breached, and the Soviet Union, basically just like that, disappeared, like, in Hammett's phrase, a fist when you open your fingers. Relief? Absolution? Redemption? A pardon?

The good people of Ukraine have my sympathies. Like them, I sure wish we, too, had honest and accountable government. But I'd steal a crutch from a cripple if it would stop World War Three.

Chubby Ape said...

Good article by John Mearsheimer and good commentary here. I would say though that Russia's claim that the troops we see in Crimea are local Crimeans has more truth to it than we might think. Keep in mind the Russians have had all the time in the world to prepare for the eventuality of Ukraine going off its rails constitutionally. For the Crimeans and Russians it'd be a case of carrying out a long awaited scenario.

I've seen quite a few pictures and video of guys in Crimea wearing clean, new uniforms but who look too out of shape or too old to be Russian marines or other special forces. Don't get me wrong, I've also see plenty who do look the part.

Sean said...

20 years after becoming independent, Finland, which was allied with the west (Britain under Chamberlain along with the French sent military aid to Finland) found out that Britain France and Germany were no help and ended up losing a chunk of territory to Russia in a war. THEN they knew not to annoy the bear. Ukraine, 20 years after becoming independent, is going to get the Finland treatment.

sunbeam said...

Okay, I never get much of a response when I ask for people to explain geopolitics to me.

But someone please explain to me what the downside of having a "Strong Russia" is for both the US and the Europeans.

I know there is a lot of historical bad blood between segments of the European Community (Poles, some others here and there). And opposing Russia is ... well something we have done since WWII.

But it is a new era. Perhaps I am naive but I really don't think sending hordes of tanks across the Fulda Gap is in the cards. And I don't think Russia has the capacity or desire to rebuild the old Soviet East European client states.

So what is wrong with a strong Russia? What is the downside?

It may come as news to some, but we are never going to be much good, neither us or the Europeans, at projecting power into central Asia and the 'Stans.

So what is our motivation? What are we trying to do, other than some kind of "There can be only one" thing like in Highlander?

AMac said...

Russian gas exports to Europe constitute a large part of the end-game for all parties involved. This isn't receiving nearly enough attention.

For exports at the current scale, most gas must transit Ukraine. Pipeline map here.

Russia used to sell gas to Ukrainian customers at below-market prices. In the past few years, this has been the source of much acrimony.

At present, Ukraine is effectively in default to one of the Russian gas companies -- they've piled up an unpayable debt for the gas they used (use).

Who's vulnerable? Western Europe, which needs (relatively) cheap and stable supplies for heating and cooking? Russia, which needs the foreign exchange? Ukraine, which needs the transit payments, and gas for domestic use?

Of the three, Russia is probably in the best position to endure a slowdown in gas exports, both short- and long- term. Ukraine is the most vulnerable.

It would be nice to hear from readers who are well-informed on the subject (I'm not, particularly).

Did Ms. Nuland and her chums reflect on this issue before placing their bets on the Kiev Sweepstakes? Somehow, I doubt it.

Anonymous said...

"For example, the population of parts of Siberia is increasingly Chinese."

This is repeatedly said but it is pretty much a myth... there's not really all that many Chinese in Siberia.

Chicago said...

For what reason do the EU and US need the Ukraine? Enrolling it into NATO would be a threat to the Russians and they can't be expected to take it laying down. Why keep pushing and pushing against them right up to their front door? We didn't like having missiles in Cuba and that set off a major confrontation even though we had them in Turkey. Yatsenyuk is arguably an illegitimate prime minister yet Obama immediately recognizes him and invites him to the White House. The Kissinger formula seems reasonable enough in that it would exclude NATO from the Ukraine but it appears that's not what the US wants.
It's very disheartening to see this constant drive towards confrontation, war and power politics, attacking one country after another even as our society rots from within. One day these too clever people are going to bring a disaster upon us. It's become just downright criminal.

Harry Baldwin said...

Obama's too busy watching his advance copy of "Game of thrones".
It's scary to think that the most powerful man in the world watches TV instead of reading history.


And don't forget advance copies of "True Detective." The president needs to be ahead of the curve on quality TV. "The president has seen my boobs!" said actress Alexandra Daddario.

Ain't it inspiring? Obama reminds me of Tom Hanks in "Big" when he got the toy company job and found out he could order up tapes of the World Series with the commercials edited out.

Anonymous said...

"It's not in the long term interest of Russia to establish a precedent that the strongest kid on the block can force a secessionist referendum on a weaker neighbor's disaffected region."

That precedent has been established long ago--by the US/NATO--in Kosovo. Hooray to reaping what we sow!

Anonymous said...

This was a legitimate revolution by the middle class against a bungling despot

BS. Kiev has more middle class than any other place Ukraine. And yet, Maidan was primarily populated by people who came from outside. Look at the :
list of dead
No more than 10-15% are from Kiev and about 30% are from Galicia. This was a nationalist revolution against ineffective and corrupt politician who was perceived to be an enemy of nationalists.

Anonymous said...

"Henry Kissinger talks about Finlandizing Ukraine -- Western in economy, but neutral militarily -- but it's not obvious how to get there."

Steve get your elder statesmen straight. That was Zbig, not Kissinger:
http://www.dw.de/brzezinski-finland-role-model-for-ukraine/a-17448110

Anonymous said...

"Henry Kissinger talks about Finlandizing Ukraine -- Western in economy, but neutral militarily"

That's what the 1994 memorandum was about. EUSUK broke it by showing they wouldn't accept the pro-Russian side winning Ukraine elections.

.

"In other words, Putin was talking with lawyers about the implications of his actions."

Marketing consultants.

.

In international affairs neocons simply can't be trusted. They talk about international law while funding detabilization campaigns all over the world through billionaire oligarchs.

At root they're not interested in whether or not some group or other is a threat. What they want is for that other group to not be capable of being a threat and that means turning whoever they consider to be a threat into Iraq.

Anonymous said...

"Once again, Mearshimer is alone, pointing out obvious truths to the beltway crowd."

True. So are the beltway crowd exceptionally dumb or exceptionally dishonest?

.

"I had a chance to interview a General of those guys for Takimag while I was in Sevastopol, but I picked loafing on a beach instead, thinking they were some kind of overgrown boyscout types."

Coassacks are ex frontier dudes so have a higher percentage of psychos than the average western population - not as much as the mountain tribes but enough to make a difference.

.

The West lost its moral advantage.

Other people don't care as much about being the good guys but modern Westerners need to believe they are the good guys or they don't fight well.

(nb I'm not saying the West had an actual moral advantage; it's the belief that matters.)

The grand-parents of the neocons destroyed that moral advantage on the political Left (with Vietnam, Nicaragua etc). The neocons have fatally wounded that moral advantage on the political Right.

Anonymous said...

The Finns demonstrate no such thing. The USSR had veto rights over who got elected president until the day the Soviet Union fell. So yea now that Russia is weak and frail Finland gets to do basic features of soverignty like decide its own leaders but as long as the USSR was powerful they did not.


I think and excellent comparison is Cuba. We had an important military base there and when the commie took over we trained an army of Cubans and tried to take it back. Putin on the other hand invade the Crimea and lied and said it was a indigenous spontaneous militia.

I love the guy trying to bring up El Salvador. The same guy probally bitches and moans about the left wing press but when it comes to El Salvador thems the words straight from gods mouth I tell you suh. Russia used worse tactics themselves in Chechneya as recent as 2001. Not people they might have trained at the school of the Americas not people they may have armed actually Russian military personnel during an invasion.

Anonymous said...

The comparison between Austria and Finland just proves how much crappier Russia behaved than the us. Austria was not only allowed to conduct its own foreign policy it did not have to get NATO to sign off on who it elected president. Finland did have to deal both with Russian control of its foreign policy but also Russian veto over who was president. Guys read someone other than Seymour Hersch and David Halberstram.

Born Again Peacenik said...

"Crimeans speak Russian, consider themselves Russian, want to be part of Russia, and would be part of Russia had an elderly Stalin not added them to Ukraine. when Russians troops entered Crimea, they were not opposed."

I'm with Mearsheimer on this. We should stay TF out. But what this person said is nonsense.

There isn't such a thing as a Crimean. There are Crimean Tatars, 12% of the population, who hate Russians.

There are Ukrainian Crimeans, who hate Russians.

Then there are Russian-speaking Crimeans, who are split. The younger folk don't want to be part of Russia.

It's complicated, much more complicated than this commenter said. But it's not our problem and we'll make it worse with our interfering.

Plus, I despise Victoria Newland.

I don't doubt that the Ukrainians who want closer ties w/the West have their point.

But it's not our problem. Let's try to cool the whole thing down. We really could start WW3. I don't like this idea at all.

Anonymous said...

"Finns demonstrate that you can have a self-respecting internal system without threatening Russia. But it's hard work."

It was hard work during the cold war. It's a breeze today between Russia and Finland.

It would be easy with Ukraine if not for substantial Russian population there. That is the great hurdle.
Finland doesn't have lots of Russians.

Anonymous said...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foundations_of_Geopolitics

I hope Putin doesn't listen to Dugin - except on some of the defensive aspects; history clearly shows the single most important factor in long-term geopolitics is nurturing your own nation's human capital. Long-term, everything else pales into insignificance compared to that.

In the long-term pretty much the worst way of maintaining the core nation is to found a multi-national, multi-racial, multi-religious empire and the worst of all is add lots of unassimilated stupid people - especially if they've got a different religion and even more especially if they live up mountains.

If you've got mountains full of crazy people on your borders then leave them there as a booby trap for your enemies.

If you really must try and conquer the world then do it very slowly in bite-sized chunks and assimilate or replace as you go.

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure the Finns are the best example, since they're much more homogeneous and much smaller. Ukraine is really 2 or 3 nations in one country.

Anonymous said...

By the way, I read today that Marine Le Pen is sympathetic to the Russian position on the Crimea. That just highlights how weak and irrelevant Galician nationalists always were. The Svoboda (Freedom) party is truly nationalist, but it's so weak (partly because Galicia is so small), that the neocons supported it anyway. Even though Putin is far less nationalist than the Banderites, he's still somewhat nationalist, and Russia is dozens of times bigger and more important than Western Ukraine. It seems that Marine Le Pen came to the same conclusion, just from the opposite side. It's like a fundamentalist libertarian supporting a Republican instead of a Libertarian candidate in an American election. If he votes or contributes to a Republican, he'll at least have some chance of influencing events.

French nationalism has a long history of seeking rapprochement with Russia to counter American dominance.

Anonymous said...

SI: Putin gave $150k to American MMA fighter Anthony Ruiz to get his nose fixed. http://extramustard.si.com/2014/03/13/vladimir-putin-sent-an-american-mma-fighter-150k-after-watching-him-lose/?xid=si_mma

rec1man said...

China, India and Japan will continue to buy Russian oil

Japan despite verbally being against Russian action is continuing its 2+2 dialog ( military + foreign minister ) dialog with Russia

In 1971, with Russian veto, India split off East Pakistan into Bangladesh, despite being condemned in UN General Assembly, 104 - 10 ( 10 members being Warsaw Pact + Bhutan ), and despite Nixon sending in US Enterprise to the Bay of Bengal.
The UN is toothless against a big power

What Putin will do is get east Ukraine to do street demonstrations like Maidan-Kiev and if there is a crackdown, use that as excuse to send in Spetsnaz.

jody said...

steve, bro. come on. do you really think this had anything to do with lawyers?

so when the US sends in their agents without uniforms, which they do EVERY TIME NOW, it was because they consulted with lawyers first?

it's amazing how these guys with no uniforms show up in all these hot spots all over the world and whoops, they turn out to be american agents most of the time. it's gotten to the point where people around the world have started to be able to identify them. i've seen cell phone videos where these non-uniformed guys are outed, and run and hide their faces.

jody said...

"SI: Putin gave $150k to American MMA fighter Anthony Ruiz to get his nose fixed."

lol. sounds like the first time wlad knocked out tony thompson, then after talking with tony after the match, gave him an extra 50 grand to buy all new appliances for his house when tony told him he was having trouble paying for his 6 kids.

i remember the last time wlad boxed in the US, max kellerman was interviewing him after the match and wlad was talking about his charity drive for kids in africa and the contempt kellerman was showing for klitschko, barely being able to hide his displeasure that the champion was not an african from the US.

Anonymous said...

Better furtive lawyer than passionate one.

jaakkeli said...

"20 years after becoming independent, Finland, which was allied with the west (Britain under Chamberlain along with the French sent military aid to Finland)"

It's curious that no one in Finland ever saw this "military aid" or these "alliances", Vladimir, uh, I mean "Sean".

Instead what happened was that after lot of failed attempts to find any alliance Finland ended up with naive liberal leaders who thought they could get away with focusing on democracy, human rights and all that instead of building a proper military in the belief that Britain, France and the League of Nations would intervene if a nice behaving democracy gets attacked. Finland ended up fighting the Winter War with no help whatsoever besides some individual volunteers and practically no tanks, airplanes or any proper equipment at all because, believe it or not, the Finnish leadership really was stupid enough to think that the League of Nations had the power to prevent war.

The war left Finland completely disillusioned about the West who talked endlessly about democracy, about standing up against tyranny and all the nice things... and then France keeled over in war and Britain keeled over in peace. Sure, they actually declared war on Germany when they attacked Poland but then they just gave away their ally to tyranny anyway. What is the point of allying with the West?

jaakkeli said...

"Russia has security interests that need to be respected, but the Finns demonstrate that you can have a self-respecting internal system without threatening Russia. But it's hard work."

There is no way you can call Finlandization "self-respecting" if you know what it was like from the inside. Brzezinski doesn't know.

First of all, the non-socialists could tolerate Finlandization as they didn't expect communism to be permanent - we'd just try to delay as much as we could and hope that communism dies before we get the Prague treatment. Russia is Russia now and it's likely to stay the way it is.

Second of all, Finlandization was not just coming from the Cold War on the outside, it was the result of a Byzantine Cold War fought inside at every level of Finnish society after we had to agree post-war to fill everything from the secret police to the media with communists. So you had things like former hardcore nationalists pouring dollars and vodka into making personal friends with the Soviet leadership, stealing elite Russian sponsors from the communists who actually thought that anyone in the Soviet Union still wanted to chat about Marxist theory in the 1960s.

This isn't at all comparable to Ukraine now. There's no universal ideology, it's ethnic, and they have sides and friends set.

Third of all, Finlandization was mostly the result of one man, Urho Kekkonen, sort of like our Putin except a lot taller. Never missed a manly photo opportunity either and managed to stay Prime Minister for 6 years and President for 25 years. When he ran for President nine of the biggest political parties supported him. And this was not faked. That sort of stuff. Putin would envy.

Finland was not a normal country but a bizarre authoritarian cult that strangely enough looks a lot like what Putin leading a small country scared of a bigger country would look like. Whatever happens in this crisis Ukraine hopefully becomes a somewhat reduced country with normal elections, not another Eastern European cult of personality like Cold War Finland.

Fourth of all, if you think mainstream media ignoring certain subjects is bad in the West, it's nothing compared to Finlandization. I remember learning English from American papers that we acquired just to get news about the Soviet war in Afghanistan etc - this kind of stuff was taboo in Finnish media. Today with the internet, cell phone cameras and all this kind of "one official truth allowed" censorship tends to blow up in your face unless you go full Belarus.

Fifth of all, it's not exactly true that the "cold peace" was achieved without showing any teeth. There were events like this...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Weapons_Cache_Case

...which showed the Russians that, despite all the bowing and scraping by the political leaders, pacifying Finland would not be just a matter of sending tanks to watch over an already disarmed population like in certain other places. Finnish defense is based on Finland not being worth the cost of taking and pacifying it and Crimea and Ukraine are much, much more important to Russia than Finland is. Crimea is worth so much to Russia that Ukraine alone can't hurt them badly enough to make Russia back off.

Sixth, bah, too long already...

Anonymous said...

"Foes of America in Russia Crave Rupture in Ties"

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/16/world/europe/foes-of-america-in-russia-crave-rupture-in-ties.html

"As Russia and the United States drift toward a rupture over Crimea, the Stalinist writer Aleksandr A. Prokhanov feels that his moment has finally arrived.

“I am afraid that I am interested in a cold war with the West,” said Mr. Prokhanov, 76, in a lull between interviews on state-controlled television and radio. “I was very patient. I waited for 20 years. I did everything I could so that this war would begin. I worked day and night.”"

Anonymous said...

The president needs to be ahead of the curve on quality TV. "The president has seen my boobs!" said actress Alexandra Daddario.

JFK and Clinton would have done a lot more than 'see' them. How low we've fallen!

Anonymous said...

FWIIW, those insignia-less soldiers might very well not be Russian soldiers.

I saw a pic of at least one where you could see his t-shirt - the white with blue stripes of the Russian Naval Infantry (Marines). They also seem to use the same style of body armour.

Of course, anyone can buy a t-shirt and little green martians need to look spiffy...

Hunsdon said...

jaakkeli asked: What is the point of allying with the West?

Hunsdon said: The West is a mighty thin reed to rely on. Ask the Hungarians, ask the Czechs, ask the Montagnards, ask the South Vietnamese.

Trust in your history, trust in your valor, trust in the weapons you have; trust not in the West, because they'll sell you out in a heartbeat.

Anonymous said...

Spontaneous? After america spent billions to rouse them up?

Anonymous said...

Woodrow Wilson shoul have kicked back on1917.

Chicken will come to roost this time.

Anonymous said...

Finland is not that strategic and has very little to offer the world. Ukraine was fought over for centuries.

Have you ever heard about Halford Mackinder? Most people onlu know the nazi Karl Haushofer. All of his 'ideas' came from Mackinder.

Mr. Anon said...

"Anonymous said...

The comparison between Austria and Finland just proves how much crappier Russia behaved than the us."

That doesn't really matter to my point. My point was that Austria was neutral, though firmly in the west.

And, anyway, now it is America that is crappier than Russia. What we offer to potential client states is Miley Cyrus, tattoos, gangsta-rap, neo-liberal economics, gay marriage, trans-sexualism, color revolutions, and demographic suicide. We are the Weimar Republic with aircraft carriers and a surfeit of insufferable arrogance.

Anonymous said...

"I did everything I could so that this war would begin. I worked day and night."

Um, so did the NYT which quoted him there.

Sean said...

jaakkeli look

While Britain was at war with Germany, Chamberlain agreed with the French a plan that after invading Norway the expeditionary force would go to aid Finland. against the USSR.

Britain did far more that could reasonably be expected, especially as Britain was under no treaty obligation.

Listen sunbeam, the motivation is that the EU is the political wing of NATO, which the Americans seem to think they lead. As Mearsheimer says states (like the US) take any opportunity to increase their power relative to rival powers. Ukraine created this situation by not keeping its nuclear weapons, like Mearsheimer proposed.

Mount Shasta Inquirer said...

Isn't it time to start negotiating about money? How much is it worth to Putin to have the Crimea and not have sanctions against Russia? He was willing to give the Ukraine $15 billion before. $50 billion reparations, most to the Ukraine but some gas price reduction to all, might be doable. The west throws in written guarantees of no NATO, never for the Ukraine. Both countries help organize a voluntary people exchange, with Russians encouraged to move to the Crimea, to reduce the rightist vote in the rest of the Ukraine..

Anonymous said...

@jaakkeli

Good posts.

.

jaakkeli asked: "What is the point of allying with the West?"

Hunsdon said:"Trust in your history, trust in your valor, trust in the weapons you have; trust not in the West, because they'll sell you out in a heartbeat."

Quite.

1) Maximize your human capital.
2) Have massive secret underground bunkers full of guns.

.

"We are the Weimar Republic with aircraft carriers"

Awesome - i'm stealing that.

Anonymous said...

This is such crap to the extent thar anyone has been a reliable ally it is the United States. When has Russia ever helped another nation defend itself? One time it did and two years later the czar was dead and Comintern was trying to overthrow the whole western world. Typical Russian behavior is two swing it's dick around then get is assed stomped in its own backyard like in the Crimean war or to team up with a neighboring country and invade another country. I wish paleocons could segregate their self hatred from the views of the US. It's not this country's fault that you are single lonely and crotehcy.

Anonymous said...

"Isn't it time to start negotiating about money?"

Putin's holding all the cards.

Hunsdon said...

Anonydroid at 2:11 PM said: I wish paleocons could segregate their self hatred from the views of the US. It's not this country's fault that you are single lonely and crotehcy.

Hunsdon said: It's not this country's fault that you're functionally illiterate, either, but it makes me sad all the same.

rec1man said...

When has Russia ever helped another nation defend itself?
--

1971 Bangladesh liberation war

Vietnam war vs China in 1978

both times, weapons and satellite imagery

In 1971, Soviet Submarines pinged and followed USS Enterprise when it entered the bay of Bengal

jaakkeli said...

"Britain did far more that could reasonably be expected, especially as Britain was under no treaty obligation."

Right, so you went from "Finland poking the Russian bear by allying with Britain and France" to no alliance and a *plan* that some politicians *discussed* *after* Russia attacked? (Finland doubtlessly would have allied with Britain if Britain had been willing: it had an elite full of anglophile classical liberals. That's why Finland hadn't invested in military...)

We're having an exact repeat of the 1930s - not the Nazism part but the useless liberalism part. The Western powers are busy building institutions like the EU and the League of Nations that are very good at disarming small European countries that actually follow treaties and completely useless against anything more powerful than Iraq. This isn't the first time everyone thought history ended with liberalism. Not even the second time. We'll never learn.

We even joined that land mine ban championed by Britain. BRITAIN. That is like Mongolia championing naval disarmament. When we act like this it's no mystery why we've ended up a small nation... if anything, Ukrainians should look at us as an example of what listening to the liberals does to you.

jaakkeli said...

"When has Russia ever helped another nation defend itself?"

Well, there was that one time when it went to war to help Serbia...

The Ghost of General George Patton said...

America is Weimar Germany with Aircraft Carriers.

Worse still, it will not have fanatical white farmboys prepared to defend it to the last man in World War G. For that you have the LGBT Main Battle Tank and the Big Pink Stiff One.

Anonymous said...

Yes, the NATO idea was a provocation. Nobody here was terribly excited about it. Nobody could answer the fundamental question of how it would benefit Ukraine. It was sponsored by ineffectual politicians such as Yushenko, and it died.

A provocation, to put it mildly! Imagine if you saw Nato as your enemy (at least potentially) and your Black Sea fleet as an indispensable strategic resource. Then imagine the fleet's home base being a enclave in Nato territory.

For Ukrainians to have considered the option, even briefly, suggests a diminished sensitivity to Realpolitik.

Now, you say the idea rightly died. But: after an unconstitutional revolution (or coup, the words mean the same) to install a pro-Western government, how was Putin to know - how is anyone to know - that it wouldn't come back to life?


The rebellion against Yanukovych was similar to the uprisings against King George III and Louis XVI. A leader so incompetent and rapacious that he weakened himself to the point he was vulnerable.

I don't doubt that, but wasn't some feeling that you could wait a year and vote him out at the next election?

Cennbeorc

Anonymous said...

First of all, the non-socialists could tolerate Finlandization as they didn't expect communism to be permanent - we'd just try to delay as much as we could and hope that communism dies before we get the Prague treatment.

Interesting. Back in the 1960s and 1970s, American political scientists expected the Soviet Union to go on for generations. A lot of them thought Eastern Europe would eventually stop rebelling and turn into another set of SSRs.

Good to know the Finns knew better. Churchill did too. I believe he told a young aide in the early 1950s that if he (the aide) lived a normal lifespan he could expect to see the end of Communism.

Cennbeorc

Anonymous said...

When has Russia ever helped another nation defend itself?

This might be a trick question, there's a case that can be made that Russia was instrumental in keeping the British and French from recognizing the Confederacy during the US Civil War. Russia thus might haved saved the Union:

"In 1863, during the American Civil War, the Russian Navy's Atlantic and Pacific Fleets wintered in the American ports of New York and San Francisco respectively. Some historians credit this visit as a major factor in deterring France and England from entering the war on the Confederate side."

Anonymous said...

Mongolia exists as independent nation thanks to Russia.

jaakkeli said...

"Interesting. Back in the 1960s and 1970s, American political scientists expected the Soviet Union to go on for generations."

Oh, our *political scientists* were useless. Any form of "anti-Sovietism" would immediately ruin an academic career.

It's the right wing that could have upset the situation as if a right-wing government had attempted to break away from the neutrality/Finlandization consensus and get closer to the West, the Russians might have done the Prague thing.

But precisely those parts of the right that would have been eager to contest communism were also convinced that the Soviet Union was declining. As I said, even the right wing worked to build connections in Russia so that the communists would not have had a monopolized channel to feed the Russians ideas about "fascism" in Finland.

My grandfather was in the parliament from the 1950s to the 1970s for the main right-wing party and I've heard more than a few stories about this stuff. I doubt in any other country the military wing of the right wing party did banya diplomacy in the Soviet Union, drinking all that truth serum together...

Finlandization left the right *very* unhappy as any significant post was off limits to the right wing, the leftist witch hunts ruined careers just by accusing someone of "anti-Sovietism" etc. This would not have been tolerable if the right-wing would not have had its reasons to expect communism to die. They most certainly discussed risky alternative plans.

Brzezenski clearly has very little idea how Finlandization happened and just why it didn't end with *what just happened in Ukraine* ie a right wing uprising against the accommodating regime.

RS said...

> It was Krushchev who was a Ukrainian but it simply seemed sensible to make it part of the adjoining Ukraine rather the far way Russia.

The strait between it and faraway Russia is three miles wide.

Sean said...

Finland did look West. It could not have avoided coming under pressure from the USSR. The british and french were going to help Finland next but their army was kicked out of Norway. Finland compromised because it thought Russia would get nasty otherwise.

I'm sure Finland like the rest of Europe has been totaly 'Finlandised' by the US. Finland was not given a key region in the fifties though. Russia might have reacted quite differently if that was the case.

Ukraine has been very foolish to think Russia would stand for a Western orientated Ukraine, or that Russia would back down in its own back yard.

The west got Ukraine to give up its nuclear weapons because it thought Ukraine might need to use them to stop the Russians. The US knows it could get drawn into a nuclear war between Russia and Ukraine, so they disarmed them, and Ukraine got a piece of paper with empty promises from the US and its client states. Foreign policy is not moral.

As for the thirties. The moderate progressive establishment figures like (admirer of Gandhi ) Philip Kerr, 11th Marquess of Lothian were not too worried because with Austria Hitler seemed to be gathering in Germans into a German state. Hence Lothian's remark that Hitler was Just marching into his own back yard could be used in the article.
Munich: On 15 Sept Chamberlain agreed to Germany anexing those provinces that voted for it in a plebicite in the Sudetenland, which given that in was basically German meant he accepted Germany was going to get it in a few months time. Then on 22 Sept Hitler demanded immediate German occupation of the Sudetenland without a plebicite. Chamberlain had already conceded that Germany was going to get the Sudetenland in half a year. So at Munich Chamberlain's big concession was on on the TIMING. The timing of when Germany got Sudetenland. Which Chamberlain had had already, in effect agreed to when he agreed to the plebicite. I think that shows that Chamberlain was angry Germany was issuing dictats, but what they were demanding was considered German, and then getting it not unacceptable, if done through negotioation. Chamberlain was very much a political moderate. Yes Conservatives who wanted to confront Germany in the 30's on were on the far right of the party and the same ones who wanted to keep India irrespective of the what Indians thought, like George Lloyd, 1st Baron Lloyd. Churchill too On 15 March, Germany invaded the Czech provinces of Bohemia and Moravia, including Prague" That was a key shift, (because those territories were not in any sense ethnically or historically German unlike previous ones Hitler had acquired) and Chamberlain immediately started making veiled threats of war, . It was a watershed.

Similarly there was a huge shift in attitude when the Nazi Soviet pact was announced. "Only after the German soviet nonagression pact of August 21 did Halifax implement the unilateral guarantee to Poland with aa formal mutual assistance Pact" Source: The Anglo American Establishment by Carroll Quigley page 300. As Carrol Quigley says, Chamberlain had no problem with Germany going to war--with the USSR. In fact he and Halifax tried to facilitate it.

Anonymous said...

America is to blame for all of this. It caused Kosovo to secede from Serbia. It opened Pandora's box.

jaakkeli said...

"Finland did look West."

No, Britain thought Finland would become a German ally and tried to sabotage Finland at every turn. During the Russian Civil War, Finnish troops fought a mini war against the British expedition who tried to block Finnish independence and hand Finland back to Russia.

You're so ignorant of history that it's pointless to talk to you. It's as if some Russian guy wrote about World War I and claimed that obviously Britain and Germany were close Western allies plotting together against Russia.

If you wanted to write some propaganda about Russia needing to attack Finland to prevent it from allying with a foreign power, that power for Finland would have been Germany (a self-fulfilling prophecy if there ever was one...), not Britain which was at every turn hostile to Finland for exactly the same reason - they thought Finland would become a German ally.

Even the neutrality agreement that began Finlandization stated that Finland was banned from ever allying with Germany - not "the West" or "Britain", Germany. The Russians were never worried about Britain, they were scared of Germany.

There was no friendship whatsoever between Britain and Finland. The liberal elite became big believers in the League of Nations when they solved a border dispute with Sweden and they won over the pro-German faction as the West kept assuring them that the League would be backed with military force. When the Western liberal project turned out to be toothless against any country that isn't Sweden, the liberals were instantly discredited and the pro-Germans were put in charge.