The outlawry of war has forced tyrants to concoct excuses for invading other countries. How should we respond? Evidence shows that outcasting in the form of economic sanctions beats armed conflict
This is a very interesting article. I am not sure how much of the 'peace' of the second half of the 20th century is due to democracy, trade, etc. I think that the Pax Americana played a major role in this, too. The US military has been intervening as the World's Police across the globe for decades and that has certainly been a deterrent to petty dictators.
In any case, the conclusion is solid: exile from the community of modern economies is a better, cheaper solution than sending young men (& now women) to war. Sure, some complain that sanctions are not always effective but, as Afghanistan showed the world - twice - neither is conquest.
Sanctions are useless. The people will pay for it, the politicians won't. Higher energy prices drive up a lot of other prices and the poorest people in the world will suffer even more. Ukraine is the fault of the West: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JrMiSQAGOS4&t=5s
I tend to look at war as a larger, biological, issue. When we are immersed in the immediate fear, outrage and the ethics of how these conflicts develop, we tend not to see their evolutionary development. My premise is that processes that continue over thousands of years and in all cultures (like war and marriage) are biological in nature, even though they appear to be social in their essence. For example, even though we think of marriage exclusively as a social contract, the evolutionary biological view is that pair bondings/marriages produced a distinct biological advantage for survival. Likewise, despite the overpowering ethics of who's right and who's wrong in any war, mass killing is just our species response to uncontrolled overpopulation. We will continue to have wars and invent social reasons for them until we deal with the biology of overpopulation. It took our species about 200 years to grossly overpopulate the earth (from the 1820's industrial revolution/food production) and through multi-generational education, we can slowly reduce our population and reduce the size and scope of territorial/resource conflicts like war.
The statistics would be even more lovely and impressive if the USA had been left out. Our invasions of Afghanistan, Iraq, Vietnam, and a dozen Latin American nations before WWII all distort the figures.
That said, it is water under the bridge. Sanctions are the best 21st century response to this arrogant tsar. As you wrote, we sunk $trillions into our last two pathetic occupations, much merit as each seemed to have when they began.
If I were Ukrainian, I would be planning my underground partisan network activities against the occupying forces. The invaders may be in for a hell of a time, and the Ukrainians will be laser-focused on NATO membership as soon as the bad guys go home. That may be the most just legacy for Putin to receive.
Genuine question: Since WWII, what are the instances of outcasting that have resulted in the offending state reversing/rescinding the action(s) for which sanctions were imposed?
Excellent, highly infomrative article. Democratic governments are on the decline and autocratic forms are on the rise. More educational pieces like this may help to reverse the trend.
Michael, anyone who listened to the Trump interview knows that he was being sarcastic when he described Putin's statements and actions regarding the recent Ukraine invasion as "genius." Your Trump derangement syndrome became tiresome a long time ago.
Hathaway and Shapiro give too much credit to the Kellogg-Briand Pact, and too little credit to the threat of nuclear annihilation and to alliances such as NATO, for deterring war. They also ignore failed attempts by North Korean to annex South Korea, North Vietnam to annex South Vietnam, Iraq to annex Kuwait, and other battles that might have ended differently, thereby spoiling their statistics regarding loss of territory after World War II.
Joe Biden has made it clear that the United States is not going to send US troops to fight for Ukraine, and no important European countries are proposing to do so themselves. By contrast, Russia has made it clear it is willing to use force to achieve its core objective, which is to keep Ukraine from joining NATO — not just now but at any point in the foreseeable future. The threat of sanctions wasn't sufficient to dissuade Putin from seizing Crimea in 2014, and it wasn't sufficient to dissuade him from invading Ukraine in recent days.
Ukraine was effectively neutral from 1992 until 2008. At no point in that period did it face a serious risk of invasion. That all changed when NATO foolishly announced Ukraine would join the alliance at some point in the distant future. Since NATO was unwilling to offer immediate membership, Ukraine should have taken the initiative and announced it intends to operate as a neutral country that will not join any military alliance. It would still be free to trade with and welcome investment from any country, and it would be free to choose its own leaders without outside interference. Living as a neutral state next door to Russia isn't an ideal situation, but it is the best outcome Ukraine can realistically expect. Instead, Russia was given an incentive to invade Ukraine before it falls under the protection of NATO. Unfortunately, it may now be too late for Ukraine to continue as an independent nation.
Sanctions did help lead to the breakup of the Soviet Union, especially the sanctions applied after it invaded Afghanistan. But it took over ten years of pressure, and not just sanctions but also the Afghan resistance which received military help and a failing economic system all brought down the Soviet Union. Russia may see analogues to all three: Sanctioned, an insurgency with outside aid, and an economic system likely to fail [this time due to corruption].
been looking for an article like this all day! thanks for this write up.
" Call it the moralization bias: the belief that our cause is moral and just and anyone who disagrees is not just wrong but immoral."
This is at least partly true in almost all confrontations, especially those that lead to actions and violence.
I also wonder about another, more basic and innate human urge. Call it the status bias. Like all social animals, we have a compulsion to seek status. Proto-humans certainly behaved in ways like those we can observe in modern primates, who seem to spend most of their time in what looks, from the outside, like meaningless and unproductive acts with other individuals, but that must be incredibly important, given the effort and sometimes ferocity involved.
And from the status bias comes the status fallacy. Somebody might think, and say, "In order to achieve my status I must impose it on others. And since I have status, I am entitled to impose it on others."
I suggest that the leap from primitive status to abstract morality is short and easy.
An outstanding piece not so much for its recitation of Putin's vile behaviour--widely reported and commented upon- but for its thoughtful expanse into enquiry about the nature and history of war itself , past justifications for it . To end war which is largely reaching obsolesence in the arc of civilization's progress, this is the focus we need . In time War ought be viewed with all the taboos now brought to , say..........cannibalism . Not only barbaric , immoral , and unnecessary .
Brilliant! I loved the word revanchist, I didn't there was an anglo-equivalente to revancha. The pacifying aspect of WWII is under-appreciated. Thanks again.
ni una sola palabra acerca de ocho años de conflicto en Dombass(14000 muertos ,ataque a población civil provocando cientos de miles de refugiados),ni una sola palabra de la política expansionista de la OTAN ,ni una sola palabra de la participación extranjera en el golpe o derrocamiento en MAIDAN ,ni una sola palabra del incumplimiento de los acuerdos de minsk por kiev, que articulo tan pobre
I wonder what the Cosmonauts aboard the ISS are thinking right now. It never ceased to amaze me that for decades international space agencies of opposing political views were able to co-habitat and work together for the benefit of science, even with all of the constant political controversies weaving in and out. This invasion by Russia may be the limit to continuing this relationship. I guess 2031 can't come soon enough when the ISS will be retired.
Russia has not been banned from SWIFT. However Putin's check cashing card at Von's has been revoked.
Since WW2 the world also learnt that a commitment strategy is often required to prevent war. In essence NATO's article 5 is such a strategy and a large reason for the reduction in major wars since WW2. Surely if NATO had extended its protection to Ukraine, Putin would not have dared attack?