Garry Kasparov is one of the greatest chess players in history and has a significant record of opposition to authoritarianism. He was an early and vocal opponent of Vladimir Putin, and left Russia in part because of fears for his safety. Politically he is chaotic, but the core is opposition to Putin and a desire for electoral integrity in Russia.
Unfortunately his vaunted intellect didn’t extend to any understanding of NATO and its purpose, which is simple: Support for the principles of the United Nations, and the collective defense of its member states.
NATO is not the world’s policeman, no matter how desperately Ukraine and others would like its sadly depleted shield to extend over them. The expansion of its role is up to its member states, and absent the coalescing force of the Soviet Union there is no argument to be made that NATO should expand its role. In fact, there is a cogent argument to be made that NATO is a relic of the Cold War and should be disbanded. The defense of Western Europe against a Soviet invasion is no longer a rational basis for the existence of a huge bureaucracy supporting a treaty designed to combat an enemy that no longer exists.
It’s about 500 words and worth a read, not so much for its conclusions but for a glimpse into the arguments for a European war. Because let us be honest…that is what would happen. [Here it is on Twitter. and here is a PDF.] Kasparov argues eloquently that there is a moral imperative to honor the Budapest Memorandum, and while it is an embarrassing chapter in a long book of Western and American failings, it was not a treaty and we are not bound to it.
He goes on to argue that the concept of deterrence must be backed up by force if necessary, and claims that:
Russia is not the only nation with a nuclear deterrent. If Putin & his generals are certain they will be annihilated if they use nuclear weapons, they will not. If they doubt the West will retaliate, the odds of Russian use in UKR & E Europe is higher.
Notice the Straw Man? He creates a binary problem which is simply nonsensical. If Putin were to use nuclear weapons (which I doubt) why would he use them against anyone other than Ukraine? And why would the Western response be annihilation?
These are emotional arguments that will sway the easily led, but the real question is whether it is in America’s and NATO’s interest to enter a war and immediately making it much larger and dangerous. Yes, there are slight parallels between Ukraine and Sudetenland, but why this involves NATO and America is still unanswered.
NATO nations, led by the United States, are being challenged to stand up for the values of human life & liberty while Ukraine bleeds. Those are Putin’s real targets and destroying Ukraine is a means to that end. He must not succeed. Glory to Ukraine.
No, we are being challenged to spend our blood and treasure to defend a foreign country 4,000 miles from our borders. We are being goaded to be — once again — the world’s policeman when Europe has carefully avoided all responsibility for its own defense. They have assumed correctly that America will jump into the fray, over and over and over. That has to stop. If there is blood to be shed it should be by Ukraine’s neighbors, not by Americans.
And where was Kasparov when Ukraine was an epicenter of corruption, influence peddling, money laundering, etc? Is that the glory he means?
America has not comported itself well. Of that there can be no argument. There were ample opportunities to moderate the conflict…real or imagined…between Ukraine and Putin’s Russia. That we did nothing, or the wrong thing is a testament to our foreign policy chaos and the corruption inherent in our own political process.
But none of that is a Casus Belli, and a NATO and American entry into this conflict will have reverberations far larger than the current war. There are options available far short of war that a wise, or at least rational American administration can choose that will put tremendous pressure on Putin and Russia to end the fighting and find an excuse to declare victory and leave, keeping a token few miles as a sop to Putin’s ego.
That we will not do any of it is sad and unfortunate, but once again, is nowhere near enough of a reason to go to war.