Friday, June 19, 2015

Putin and White Supremacists

What do Putin and white supremacists have in common?  A shared belief that using threats and force will cause others to be bullied, to flee, to go away.  I was struck by this as I was reading this piece on the Charleston murders.  Apparently, white supremacists have always attacked black churches in part because they were/are centers of mobilization/organization of African-Americans as they sought civil rights and justice.  The belief is that if you attack these churches, it would dispel or diminish the energy mobilizing the protests.

History, of course, proved this to be wrong and dramatically so.  That attacks on the African-American community mobilized the community as well as whites and pressured white politicians to support the civil rights legislation. 

As Waltz and Walt have argued, it is a balancing world and not a bandwagoning one.  People respond to threats by mobilizing against them more than by caving in.  NATO is demonstrating a fair bit of unity (perhaps less than desired) as Russia attempts to break the alliance.  But the threats made by Russia to Sweden and Finland about their potential effort to join the alliance are likely to increase support and encourage greater coordination between these partners of NATO and the alliance.

So, today, we see threats and violence made by the bullies who are on the losing side of history precisely because their strategies are self-defeating.  Well, that and their ideologies are awful.

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