John Mearsheimer: The West is playing Russian roulette

Freddie Sayers meets political scientist John Mearsheimer, the world-famous proponent of realism in international relations. Recorded in London on Monday 28th November 2022.

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00:00 – 00:47 – Introduction
00:47 – 05:28 – John Mearsheimer’s view of how the West forced Russia into its current position.
05:28 – 09:37 – What is the difference between a realist and a realistic view of the war?
09:37 – 14:27 – At what point would the West resist Russian aggression?
14:27 – 21:41 – What is the most likely outcome of the Ukraine War?
21:41 – 28:07 – What would happen if Putin used nuclear weapons?
28:07 – 33:47 – How has the UK responded to the crisis?
33:47 – 38:51 – How does the Monroe Doctrine apply to the U.S?
38:51 – 46:02 – Russia’s invasion in February
46:02 -49:45 – Is there a crisis on the horizon between China and Taiwan?
49:45 – 55:51 – Is it in the strategic interests of the US to send forces to defend Taiwan?
55:51 – 01:03:14 – Why did John Mearsheimer go to Hungary?
01:03:14 – 01:09:08 – Does Mearsheimer worry about being perceived as an activist?
01:09:08 – 01:17:13 – Concluding thoughts

#UnHerd #JohnMearsheimer #UkraineWar

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  1. Great interview! I actually question whether Russia has done as poorly militarily as many would have us believe. Russia definitely underestimated how far the US had already armed Ukraine with modern weapons designed to counter the exact action that Russia undertook at the start of the war. No argument there! But it seems quite obvious that Russia has tried to execute its policy incrementally. First they tried diplomacy but were pretty much made fun of by the United States and treated as an inferior party. They then took the next step which was actual military action but it was as much to show the Ukrainians and West that they weren't bluffing about Ukraine being a red line and then hoped for the US to reconsider its attitude towards Russia in the negotiations. If Russia intended to totally destroy Ukraine from the beginning they would have taken out the energy infrastructure then because we now know they were totally capable of doing it if they had wanted to. Ukraine and the West took advantage of Russia's controlled military messaging and tried to humiliate Russia and kill as many Russian soldiers as possible. Russia then understood that it was in for a full scale war and changed its strategy accordingly to focus purely militarily on the Donbass and other areas close to the Russian border with large ethnic Russian populations. Now that they are treating it as a real war Russia has deployed over 300,000 reservists and destroyed Ukraines energy infrastructure, which is something the US did on the first day of their military action against Iraq and also Serbia. Thus, we are seeing that they are starting to wear down the Ukraine military and Donetsk looks like it's going to be totally taken by the Russians. Western media still tries to play up the retaking of the Kharkiv region and also Kherson but this is all old news and the tactical situation on the ground now is totally different. Yes, Russia is taking serious casualties in the process but what would you expect when they are fighting against almost the full military capabilities of Western military technology! Considering that the West has given Ukraine so much military support that they are actually running out of ammunition and effective weapons they can send I would say that they have underestimated how far the Russians would be able to endure both militarily and economically. It's certainly ugly but Russia looks like its going to win and this will not only be a tragedy for Ukraine (it is whoever wins), but it will be another humiliation for the collective West that they couldn't beat Russia militarily, economically, or Geo-politically. The Russians will have learned a lot more about how they need to fight future wars against US military equipment than they learned fighting the useless Georgians! Expect Russia to have literally millions of cheap drones in their arsenal within a couple of years. This has changed how wars will be fought!

  2. I have listened to hours of Mearsheimer and do not agree with his core premises. His basic flaw is that he sees a country like Ukraine as having no agency; they must submit to the realist bear living beside them. In Mearsheimer's view, might makes right. If we followed his arguments to their logical conclusions, the former Soviet states should likely rejoin the Putin circle lest they suffer terrible consequences. This is like saying the UK was wrong to stand against the Nazis because Hitler was so strong. In my humble view, a people like the Ukrainians should be supported if and when they have the opportunity to throw off the yoke of oppression, as they do now. Russia has seller's remorse for having let Poland, Ukraine etc escape their clutches, but that does not mean the Ukrainians must roll over and submit. The West offered Russia 5,000 bridges of trade and integration and only lightly armed Ukraine prior to Feb. 24, so please don't say the West provoked Putin. Now those bridges have been withdrawn and Russian gets to learn what it means to stand on their own, beholden to their traditional enemy China, while superior western weapons chew apart their forces. From a longer term view, what is happening now is perhaps the final battle of the Russian attempt to hold onto their former serfs. I pray this war ends soon and Russian goes away to lick their wounds so the Ukrainian people can get on with rebuilding their shattered lives.

  3. Russia is such a bully! They have a web of military bases all over the globe; they control world finance and use it to punish decent; they control the seas with a giant navy; their underground government agencies have an unlimited budget and a green light to start revolutions within any country whose leader talks back to them; they even claim some divine right to rule the world, enforced by some rules only they know about! Such a bully must be stopped!

  4. Freddie is extremely biased. He views everything from the start, we are good and everyone is bad. But in reality the british are the worst. All wars lead to london.

    As for claiming russia is not motivated only adds to the western arrogance and ignorance. After napoleon and hitler try telling russians that nato on their border is not another western invasion. The problem is that liberals like freddie are too prideful but dont know much outside of their bubble.

  5. So many unfounded premises in John Mearsheimer's commentary. Things like Ukraine is beating Russia (huh?). And the Russian economy is deing destroyed by the sanctions /war. (Oh really?) And then his obsession with a potential Russian use of nuclear weapons, when they have never suggested doing that, while the Ukrainians daily risk a serious nuclear incident by attacking the nuclear power plant.
    All of those things only make sense to people trapped in countries that censor real information about the state of things in Ukraine, and so swallow the Western propaganda.
    What a shame this didn't start at 46:02, where the most sensible things were said.

  6. He’s wrong about the amount necessary for invasion given Russian air superiority without nato bombers in play, let alone the drones. Germany would absolutely sent an army of drones if they had that technology. His comparison does not work. The question was did it appear they were invading? Ask the Ukrainians that question…

  7. There was peace between Ukraine and Russia from the end of the USSR up until the USA got between them and attempted to turn Ukraine into an outpost of its own power. Russia is of course still to blame for its own actions, but without the US this war likely wouldn't be happening, and something like the 1990-2014 status-quo would still be in place.

  8. I cannot believe you are saying that Mr. Mearsheimer. After all, China is also a nuclear power. Are we going to war for Taiwan, thousands of miles away. China simply is an equal to the US nowadays. Why go to war with China. China will be a greater power than the US. It is wiser than the US in general. It is an ancient culture that will survive given that there is no thermonuclear conflict in which case we will all be incinerated.

  9. Why why why why do we forever need an enemy? In fact imperial powers always fall, and the US is a brief imperial extremely destructive moment. China could be a trading partner. China will be the new power. We need to get real about this. China needs to be at the very least, a country we can work with because that's coming.

  10. America needs to force its political institutions to take scientists and other intellectuals much, much more seriously. Politicians are obligated to be very tribal in their worldview and their modus operandi, and that has to be balanced against, heavily. I'm not American and I've never studied the US Constitution but I'm pretty sure it would have to be at least a Constitutional Amendment to bring that about in a way that could not be easily undone by such a minor event as a new administration winning the White House. One reason to hope is it seems likely that a bi-partisan approach could succeed.

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