In his latest show, Common Sense podcaster Dan Carlin talked about how the actions of Russia are in large part an answer to NATO expanding its borders almost unto Russia’s borders and rubbing its nose in areas which the Russians considers to be their business, not the West’s.
For an old and powerful country like Russia, this is simply ‘poking the bear’. It’s an intrusion into what they consider to be their sphere of influence. Consider Ukraine, which Russia has always regarded as under its sphere of influence. And perhaps rightfully so, since it’s a border country. Previously, the Ukrainians had democratically elected a government which favored closer ties with mother Russia. Then that government was overthrown by a government which favored closer ties to the West. US diplomats had been recorded talking about what they would do to increase USA/western influence and decrease Russian influence. It is perhaps not unreasonable to expect that the Russians would think ill of such provocations.
Nor would it be unreasonable that the USA would think ill of countries meddling in the internal affairs of those within the its sphere of influence. The Monroe Doctrine, issued as far back as 1823, states:
The occasion has been judged proper for asserting, as a principle in which the rights and interests of the United States are involved, that the American continents, by the free and independent condition which they have assumed and maintain, are henceforth not to be considered as subjects for future colonization by any European powers.
Essentially, the USA was telling the European powers to keep the hillel out of the Americas. The USA considers the Americas to be our backyard and quite simply, “get off all our lawns!”
I recently read an article from i09 reporting that China is mass-producing islands in the South China Sea in order to expand its sphere of influence. Now the South China Sea isn’t exactly no-man’s land. Its territory is disputed by many nations. But according to i09 and the BBC News, China’s actions are in response to American incursions into the region:
China’s land grab at sea is primarily directed at its main strategic rival, the United States. As the U.S. Pacific Fleet continues to sail regularly through the South Chinese Sea, the Chinese Navy has become more assertive. Last December, it dispatched its new aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, to shadow the U.S. Navy cruiser, USS Cowpens. A Chinese amphibious assault ship approached and ordered it to leave the area. The commander of the Cowpens refused, saying he was sailing in “international waters.”
At that point the U.S. Navy says the Chinese ship suddenly swung across the Cowpens‘ bow, just 1,600 feet ahead, forcing the cruiser to take evasive action.
There is nothing particularly innocent about a U.S. Navy Cruiser sailing through the South China Sea and then throwing its hands up in the air, saying it’s in “international waters”. It reminds me of the old children’s taunt where you wave your hands in front of someone’s face, all the while declaring your innocence, “I’m not touching you! I’m not touching you!”
Now imagine, Chinese naval vessels just happening to find themselves patrolling around in the Caribbean or off the west coast of the USA. I’m pretty sure that we would flip out.
In both instances, even if the USA sees itself as a force for good around the world, the rest of the world, especially powerful countries like China or Russia, aren’t always going to see us the same way. They’re not evil for not falling in line with America’s glorious vision of itself. They’re acting like any other powerful country would… patrolling its backyard and making sure the lesser proles stay in line.