Dan Nexon Profile picture
12 Jan, 13 tweets, 3 min read
<thread> IMHO, It's a mistake to conceptualize Russia-Ukraine only – or even primarily – in terms of "national states" (e.g., the map below). That's going to skew your analysis.
1. For (at least) some key players, it's mostly about "regime security." "National interests" drive foreign policy mostly because leaders think that pursuing those "national interests" is good for their regime's prestige and political fortunes.
2. NATO and the EU are crucial players. At a general level, the EU and (to a much lesser extent) NATO, have key features associated with state autonomy: such as standing bureaucracies & explicit organizational interests that are distinct from the interests of constituent members.
It's obvious, but also important, that the crisis in 2014 was directly tied to EU neighborhood policy – the association agreement. That's created i) a sense of responsibility for and ii) the idea that the EU has a lot at stake in Ukraine.
This, IIUC, helps explains why even Russia-friendly member states have generally supported deep EU involvement in Ukraine
3. The US and Europe make up a transnational political community – what @profmusgrave, Megan McConaughey, and I call an "informal confederation." doi.org/10.1017/S17529…
As we argue confederations may have "nothing" that looks like a "central administration" but instead manifest in a variety of arrangements that, if viewed on their own, look like bog-standard interstate cooperation – and may involve states peripheral to/outside of the community.
Even if you're too locked into state-centrism to recognize an informal confederation when it's staring you in the face, there's no question that we're looking at a transnational political community. Call it "the West" or a "Security Community" or whatever you want. It exists.
It's reinforced by a fairly dense web of multilateral and bilateral ties in multiple sectors. (Yes, it's got an ugly racial dimension. Yes, it's not remotely as politically potent or salient as more localized communities – national, regional, whatever.)
In either case, it's not exactly *wrong* to do the whole "How would the US act if Mexico were part of the CSTO?" thing, but it also carries with it the presumption that Ukraine and the United States are "in" different neighborhoods. In many respects, they're not.
Now, it's entirely possible to view that as a *bad* thing – to think that the U.S. should secede from the whole arrangement. I'm not making a normative claim; I'm making an analytical one.
For one thing, you don't need to resort to arguments about power maximization to understand why the U.S. is acting more like a European power rather than one an ocean away.
For another, it underscores how Moscow's demands amount to a sweeping rejection of the Euro-Atlantic international order in favor of traditional realpolitik principles. <end>

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More from @dhnexon

16 Dec 21
Robert Jervis wrote more than one book.
Look, I'm just seeing a lot of people talk about Perception and Misperception, but almost nothing about The Logic of Images or the work he considered his most important: Systems Effects. Jervis' The Meaning of the Nuclear Revolution was a very significant book.
Another Columbia professor, Ira Katznelson, stresses the importance of reading the acknowledgements. The Logic of Images doesn't disappoint; it provides crucial insight into Jervis' scholarship.
Read 12 tweets
16 Dec 21
On Earth-6, the US came down hard on China in the wake of Tiananmen. Its containment policy meant a substantial strategic reorientation toward Asia. NATO never expanded.
Now it's December 2021. The foreign-policy commentariat is buzzing about JJM's most recent article. In it, her makes the case that aggressive alliance-building policies in East Asia have backfired, making an unnecessary foe of Beijing.
"The stopping power of the Pacific," he contends, "means that China will never pose a true threat to the United States. It can't even achieve hegemony in Asia, where Japan, South Korea, and Australia are capable of blocking any bid for domination."
Read 8 tweets
16 Dec 21
.@CooleyOnEurasia and I have a new piece in @ForeignAffairs. We argue that the travails of "liberal international order" are "only one manifestation of a much broader crisis" of political liberalism. foreignaffairs.com/articles/world…
Once I'm done grading, I expect to have (a lot) more to say about it. But here are some quick framing notes for those of you who read it.
1) It's kinda sorta the final installment of a trilogy of "Exit from Hegemony" pieces that we've done for Foreign Affairs. The others were written or mostly written during the Trump presidency. Picture aside, this is more of a creature of the Biden administration.
Read 6 tweets
24 Nov 21
I generally agree with @tzimmer_history about👇; blaming "polarization" for the crisis of U.S. democracy is a convenient, "nonpartisan" way of glossing over the real problem. But, I think he winds up downplaying the reasons why polarization does matter.
NB: We should distinguish between two different conceptions of polarization.

1) a process in which some categorical (identity) pair – such as Protestant and Catholic, Serb and Croat, capitalist and proletariat – increasingly organizes, and bounds, all other social relations.
In a hypothetical society that was *completely* polarized around the categories of "Protestant" and "Catholic," we'd see no ties that crossed that boundary: no Protestant-Catholic marriages, no Protestant-Catholic trade, and no Protestant-Catholic friendships.
Read 11 tweets
2 Oct 21
This thread treats “grand strategy” as primarily a prescriptive matter rather than an analytical one. That, and the definition @ProfPaulPoast winds up on, is just the tip of the iceberg.
The most influential piece on the concept of grand strategy in recent years is probably Nina Solove’s Security Studies article. tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.10…
What are those three meanings?
1) grand strategy as a plan Image
Read 12 tweets
26 Sep 21
<thread> I think @michelleinbklyn and @NGrossman81 are on the right tack but missing the forest for the trees. We are on the other side of a *massive* cultural change *and* we also crossed an inflection point around ten years ago.
As @profmusgrave is fond of reminding me, public opinion on same-sex marriage and marijuana legalization shifted at an unprecedented rate. I suspect if U.S. pollsters had consistently included opinions on trans rights we’d see even faster change.
If you look at almost any aspect of the “cancel culture” wars, you’ll find almost nothing that wasn’t a live issue in the 1980s – or even earlier. I was in college during the “PC” wars of the early 1990s, and the script feels very familiar.
Read 9 tweets

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