by UnHerd Staff
Wednesday, 30
November 2022
Video
11:56

John Mearsheimer: The West is playing Russian roulette

We are screwed, says the realist foreign policy scholar
by UnHerd Staff

Chicago professor and political theorist John Mearsheimer joined UnHerd‘s Freddie Sayers in Westminster this week. The world-famous scholar of realism had just returned from Hungary, where he met with Viktor Orbán to discuss the war in Ukraine. In the studio, he defended his controversial take on Putin’s motives and warned that America is losing sight of the greater threat: China.

Read a full write-up of their interview here.


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Steve Cobb
Steve Cobb
2 months ago

Questions for John Mearsheimer: Was there something that Russia could have done differently? For example, could Russia have made itself an attractive model, so that young Ukrainians aspired to be closer to Russia than to Europe? Could Russia have made its neighbors less fearful and keen to join NATO? Or is Russia’s agency limited to responding to NATO?

Ellen Meyer
Ellen Meyer
2 months ago
Reply to  Steve Cobb

Russians hate Nazis, so no, it could not have been something Ukrainians would aspire to.

Ellen Meyer
Ellen Meyer
2 months ago
Reply to  Steve Cobb

Russians hate N4zis, so no, it could not have been something Ukrainians aspire to.

martin logan
martin logan
2 months ago

This war has never been about NATO expansion. It’s been about Putin’s expansion from the start.
Yanukovich, Putin’s favoured Ukrainian leader, wanted to join the EU. But that collided with Putin’s fairy tale vision of a” “Eurasian Economic Union.” It was to be the cap to the Sochi Olympics. So, the choice was between a union of corrupt, very poor nations…and the EU.
Please note, the EU–not NATO.
Putin eventually pressured Yan to stop the EU process. But that only enraged millions of Ukrainians, who no longer wanted to be as poor as Russians. So, the real villains must be Ukrainians who wanted a life better than that of the average Russian. For many, I suppose that qualifies as being “N*z*”.
Factually, Putin’s failure to create his new Union (NB, no Central Asian nation would now join), set the stage for all his failures since then.

Last edited 2 months ago by Martin Logan
Krešimir Begović
Krešimir Begović
1 month ago
Reply to  martin logan

So according to this premise, Putin decided to take down the apparently “pro-EU” government by arming Ukrainian military right-wing extremists in 2014, cause a regional drought in Crimea, ban Russian language in 2015 and incite a war in regions that via legal referendums opted in significant numbers for separation from the Ukraine?
Makes sense….or does it?
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nXkemXm4qmo

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
2 months ago

Finally, a voice of reason!
However, a second scenario was not explored in my opinion. Namely that the war will simply continue at its CURRENT level of intensity until one side runs out of ammo as it were. The Laurel & Hardy sketch where they, in their car and a belligerent motorist is his wreck each other’s cars until both are utterly ruined. The epitome of idiocy similar in many ways to the Ukraine war.. It might just keep going til everyone is dead or out of ammo or starving or frozen, set in the knowledge that their suicidal pride will not allow any other outcome!

Magdalena Algarin
Magdalena Algarin
2 months ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

continuation – yes a voice of reason. US Super power has to use its powers with mature outlook. A compromise or settlement has to be made on both sides. Is there some other motive going on behind the US proxy war?

martin logan
martin logan
2 months ago

Just explain how making peace wouldn’t stop Putin from restarting the war in a few years. HIs only real support now comes from nationalists who want total victory.
Compromise, and they may well overthrow him.
Russia has become a totalitarian, Stalinist state. A pause will simply let Russia rearm and have a go a year or two from now.
The war has to continue until Russia can never do this again.

Last edited 2 months ago by Martin Logan
Rocky Martiano
Rocky Martiano
2 months ago
Reply to  martin logan

Just explain exactly what is the conclusion of this conflict so that “Russia can never do this again”.

Last edited 2 months ago by Rocky Martiano
martin logan
martin logan
2 months ago
Reply to  Rocky Martiano

A humiliating defeat for Putin, where he loses nearly all of what he has taken since 2014.

Steve Cobb
Steve Cobb
2 months ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

Since the start of the war, the front line has been moving, never frozen, in contrast with WWI. If we were to simply extrapolate the front line’s movement from the past six months, where will it be in a year?

Jim Pemberton
Jim Pemberton
1 month ago

The Little Green men invaded Crimea on March 18th 2014…
Not February 22nd 2014…

Jonas Moze
Jonas Moze
2 months ago

Good discussion, not great though. Freddy you can feel has the approved agenda buried deep in his head (the bit of Sweden and Fins can join NATO if they darn well feel like it, as it is their Right!) – although it would be so bad in reality, and such standing on rights has led to this insane WWII.

Now Mearsheimer had 1001 valid points. My favorite being Russia is the enemy of our enemy (holds vast borders with China, and thus as a strong nation keeps China having to always be ready for war on multiple fronts and so less strong.) He neglected the Christian commonality thing I would have brought up too, so why drive Russia into China’s Camp? Insane.

And he is great about USA and Russia being two tigers each holding the other by the tail, to the huge mutual harm and the lack of a good way to agree on who is to let go first – wile the big lion watches… (and that 3 Prime ministers have been complicit in this double crime against humanity, covid and this WWIII that was not in our vital interests but destroying them)

But Mearsheimer said it was impossible to stop – I disagree totally. I think Biden could make one phone call to Zalenski and say ‘Stop’ and we will help rebuild, and you may continue stealing half of all we send you as you do now – But stop or not a penny more. Then tell Putin to stop and keep half he has taken and we all sign papers saying Ukraine is Neutral, NO NATO, no EU, and sanctions over, finished.

Mearsheimer says Biden cannot do that because it will embolden China – Not true. USA can leave from a position of Strength. Show how they were so strong just with Ukraine as a proxy – think how terrible we are to fight in real life. Our soldiers and armaments proven. And – the reason we quit is it is a stupid war and humanity says quit AND that we need to focus on the real Deal – on China, and to end the insane inflation it is causing, and how it is wrecking the EU.

Leave with the understanding that this is a Pointless, stupid, cruel, and expensive War so we leave it – and that we are more than ready to do it for real if called on to do it – we quit this mess because we are really turning to China –

Leave from a position of strength. See how all our armaments worked, well those were just the little stuff we gave to Zalenski – wait till you see the big stuff. See how our Real Time Intell is 100% and nothing you can do to avoid it.

He also did not mention 90% of all the good computer chips come from Taiwan (Formosa, haha) so if China invades they could destroy us totally by stopping all our industry. Put us back into the stone age. This is a Big deal. A odd thing is it can be another MAD (mutual assured destruction) trigger – if the plants get destroyed, or scuttled, , during an invasion – both USA and China are toast. Depression like never seen.

I have been off on Telegraph arguing anti war passionately in comments for a good wile – and the posters commenting there are Stupid – 100% bought in, they fantasize of dead Russians killed by freezing in trenches, smart bombs, drone fire, everything – the blood lust for Killing Russians BTL (comments ‘below the line’) has to be seen to be believed. If they had their way Russia would be 100% destroyed – every last one of them. The agenda is so strong there is is insanity – that is why I am here – to see if any reason is left in media…Telegraph and all their readership is behind the war, loving it, wanting it more and more, I can not believe it.

As I say every time

PEACE NOW!

and I have 100 reasons not touched on here – this is a wicked war. Cruel, pointless, will starve third world children and cripple and kill and destroy education mental health, infrastructure, economies….For NOTHING good, but for – and I wish Mearsheimer had mentioned – the real reason has to be ‘The Great Reset’, as there can be no other. It is for evil.

martin logan
martin logan
2 months ago
Reply to  Jonas Moze

Given the present situation, the only question is: how much of Russia does the EU control, and how much goes to China?
Russia is a very poor country that has cleverly obliterated its ground forces, and greatly degraded its air forces. Putin’s hysterical attempt to raise scratch forces and then send them straight into battle shows just how weak he has made his country.
As in 1917, it may be a very bad mistake to give arms to people infuriated at their own govt.
Our 20-year holiday of peace in Europe seems to be definitely over.
Welcome back to something called “History”…

Last edited 2 months ago by Martin Logan
Ellen Meyer
Ellen Meyer
2 months ago
Reply to  martin logan

Clearly you need to read up on history.

Jonas Moze
Jonas Moze
2 months ago

I love Ukrainians, I have been tied very close to one, life and death close – but the thing is the place is not like EU.

In listings for corruption it gets somewhere around 25th place in the globe in lists, and this is shown to be reasonable by a simple lookup – Wiki and per capita GDP. The lands have huge resources, the education is very well developed, the people very intelligent and good workers, has a good culture, Nuclear Power, industry….

USA – $75,180

UK – 47,318

Poland – 19,023

Romania – $15,619

Russia – $14,665

And at the position 110 on the world

Ukraine – $4,862

This shows the depth of corruption. The country is run by Criminal Oligarchs. Pouring this $ and £ in by the hundreds of Billions has been crazy, the plundering of it corrupted Western and Eastern people in a feeding frenzy. Putin was going to replace these corrupt Mafia with his puppets who would not be trying to enter the EU – the people would have kept their schools, jobs, work, infrastructure, houses, factories, agriculture, limbs, lives mental health and the Oligarch been swapped – and I suspect with ones a bit less corrupt. Think Vichy – and that is better than this carnage and complete destruction – by which the Oligarchs have done very well indeed – look at FXT, a pipeline back to the big guy and his party….

A bad, evil, war – the waves sent out from this intentional engineering of a regional conflict to WWIII is for wicked reasons may trigger a global depression, closing SWIFT may cause the end of the $ Reserve Currency. The Biden and Boris are up to something very wicked – this is not about freedom. You do not destroy a country to save it (as the quote from..)

”‘It became necessary to destroy the town to save it’, a United States major said today. He was talking about the decision by allied commanders to bomb and shell the town [Bến Tre] regardless of civilian casualties, to rout the Vietcong.

–Reporter Peter Arnett, in Vietnam, February 7, 1968, verified by US Captain Michael D Miller, who was present.

martin logan
martin logan
2 months ago
Reply to  Jonas Moze

Certainly, that’s what Putin would say.
Fact is, Ukraine is a corrupt country because its neighbour is one of the most corrupt nations on earth–Russia. Criminal gangs in each nation work with one another to smuggle various items into Europe and beyond.
Ukraine is poor simply because it is adjacent to a nation that wants it to remain poor and dependent on Russia.
That’s why Puti9n has consistently tried to prevent Ukraine from joining the EU. Indeed, he has invaded it twice. When a poor nation has to stay armed to the teeth, it generally doesn’t get rich. Note that the EU spends far less percentage-wise on defence than Ukraine.
Learn a little bit about Ukraine before you post meaningless figures–and quotes that affirm that wars of aggression seldom succeed.

Tonis Arro
Tonis Arro
2 months ago

Unbelievable that I see this kind of absurd nonsense here. I understand the right and value of dialogue and discussion, but this doesn’t mean that all ideas are worth listening to. “No evidence that Russia intended to conquer Ukraine or any other country” – what value do see giving the floor to someone like John Mearsheimer for uttering such absurd statements?

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
2 months ago
Reply to  Tonis Arro

It is not acceptable that you pick out one small phrase and then write the entire presentation off as invalid.
I hold the opposite view namely that the piece made good sense in the vast majority of the points raised. Perhaps you will be more giving in your counterarguments?
On the one point you do raise, please bear in mind Putin waited 8 years before invading and tried hard to negotiate a settlement during that period. Zelenskyy himself was willing to do so (after the invasion) before NATO stopped him.
But perhaps your mind is too closed to even contemplate any other scenario apart from you own narrow, simplistic, black and white interpretation of the facts?

Magdalena Algarin
Magdalena Algarin
2 months ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

great reply to Tonis…

martin logan
martin logan
2 months ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

Putin only waited 8 years because he thought he could undermine the Ukrainian govt. Indeed, Zelensky ran on a peace ticket, and was supported by nearly all the Russophones in the south and east.
And if Zelensky couldn’t cut a deal–which was impossible because of Putin’s demands–there simply was no basis for peace.
Nations normally don’t commit suicide.
At the core of this conflict is a delusional leader who didn’t bother to truly understand Ukraine, but instead fell for his own propaganda.
And he will destroy Russia.

Last edited 2 months ago by Martin Logan
Steve Cobb
Steve Cobb
2 months ago
Reply to  Tonis Arro

The value in giving a platform to John Mearsheimer and Jeffrey Sachs is that they are the most articulate, most credible proponents of the blame-NATO camp. I check on them every couple of months to see the state of their arguments, and it leaves me confident that they are mostly wrong.
Word to the wise: you would be more credible if you tried to steelman their arguments rather than dismissing them as “absurd nonsense” and revealing your own biases.
Mearsheimer’s mistake here lies in confusing Russia’s interests with Putin’s. Russia has no fear of Ukraine, but Putin does. A democratic Ukraine could lead to Putin’s gaddafication, and the Bolotnaya and Euromaidan protests give him nightmares.

Ellen Meyer
Ellen Meyer
2 months ago
Reply to  Steve Cobb

Clearly you know Putin personally and intimately. How else would you know what he thinks, feels and dreams of?

Krešimir Begović
Krešimir Begović
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve Cobb

Perhaps one should ask themselves where does this hypothesized “fear of Ukraine” coming from?
It cannot be from the 2014 military coup orchestrated by the US and backed-up by transcripts and actual audio of Victoria Newland, the protegee of Joe Biden, planning already in 2013 to construct the new leadership of Ukraine, apart from saying “f*ck EU” in the process?
Or could it be by the fact that US (read: NATO) has been installing missile silos with potential capacity to carry nuclear weapons with every expansion of the NATO borders, this time in Poland and the Baltic countries, less than 1000 km from Moscow?
Remember, US did the Bay of Pigs for the Cuban Missile Crisis, so lecturing on Russia’s intervention in regions of a country who in significant majority support separation from the most corrupt country in EU, a banana-state that allows foreign interventionism and has been demonstrating anti-Russian extremism whether CNN would like to hide it or not, can really be based on either emotional poor judgement of the presented facts, or simply subduing to the overarching Western propaganda – the same one that caused the biggest economic crisis with copy-paste-ing crisis management during the “most deadly disease in human history” (with the median infection-fatality rate of 0.05, influenza is 0.04).
I choose facts, and prof. Mearsheimer has plenty of them…