The Hill: Russia’s policy of humiliation is nonsense

Andrew Latham, a professor of international relations at the American University of Macalastre, warned against the growing frequency and intensity of calls to “humiliate” Russia and inflict a “real loss” on Russian President Vladimir Putin. Latham quoted what Anne Applebaum wrote in “The Atlantic” as she called for a humiliating, swift and comprehensive victory over Russia with a military defeat and economic pain.

In the absence of a complete defeat on the scale of what happened in 1945 and which is obviously not discussed today, the goal should now be a negotiated solution that will leave Russia and Ukraine exhausted, relatively complacent and feel si pak. humiliated as much as possible.

Latham argued in The Hill that such calls could satisfy sentiments, but that the intention to inflict such a loss on Prussia should not be allowed to become politics. History teaches its readers that such a defeat will not produce the beneficial effect on international security that the defenders of this goal assume. in opposite. Causing a humiliating and total defeat to Russia is likely to create the ground for further disagreement and dispute.

To pay attention to this factor
It is necessary, according to the author, to pay attention to a catalyst that is often overlooked or underestimated in the traditional calculations of foreign policy and grand strategy: humiliation. Most theories of international relations tend to postulate the existence of rational actors seeking to enable or rationally protect the national interests of the state.

While they are not entirely blind to “irrational” factors in individual or collective decision-making, these approaches tend to systematically underestimate or ignore the role of emotions in shaping states’ foreign policies. But as Clausewitz has long warned, emotions in general can and do play an important role in foreign policy, especially when it comes to war.

A book on humiliation in international politics
In her recent book, The Implications for Humiliation: Anger and Status in Global Politics, Jocelyn Barnhart argues that humiliation has proven to be a major driver of foreign policy — particularly the kind of revisionist, vengeful foreign policy that often leads to war. Barnhart’s persuasive argument begins by defining humiliation as “a negative, complex, conscious emotion that combines a sense of mistreatment with a painful sense of self-doubt and helplessness in the face of that injustice.” It is a pillar of “national humiliation” that “arises when individuals who consider themselves members of the state experience humiliation as an emotional response to an international event.”

According to Barnhart, national humiliation occurs either when a country “can quickly get out of a country with less military capacity” or “when others undermine it unjustly.” Either way, this humiliation involves the “unjust loss of prestige” of the state on the world stage. Barnhart cites historical examples of humiliated states trying to overcome this situation and restore their prestige by “using force against the state responsible for their humiliation or against third states that were not involved in the primary event of humiliation.”

What to avoid

The writer added that it does not take much imagination to see how a devastating Russian defeat of the kind that Applebaum backs would humiliate the country’s leaders and motivate them to take whatever step they deem necessary to start a war. next to overcome this humiliation. . According to Barnhart, a prudent policy aimed at minimizing the humiliation of possible nations and all unintended consequences should “avoid codifying inferiority in formal and informal treaties and negotiations.” In other words, it should avoid imposing punitive treaties and agreements that legitimize inferiority and seek to diminish the prestige of the possible state.

Desired solution
In the absence of a complete defeat on the scale of what happened in 1945 and which is obviously not discussed today, the goal should now be a negotiated solution that will leave Russia and Ukraine exhausted, relatively complacent and feel si pak. humiliated as much as possible. Russia has already been punished by its devastating defeats on the ground and the harsh economic sanctions imposed after the invasion.

Its conventional military power has been destroyed and its soft and sharp power has been greatly reduced. In short, Latham continued, Russia had to pay a heavy price for its war of aggression. Indeed, it would likely have suffered a major national humiliation, though it would not compare to what it would have suffered if its almost complete loss on the field had been reinforced by an almost complete loss at the negotiating table .

Her advice is inappropriate
Latham defines Russian defeat on the ground as failing to achieve effective victories on the ground or achieving significant gains on the ground after February 24, causing great human and material losses. The writer believes that this defeat is enough to punish Russia without raising the level of national humiliation to a stage where the next war is guaranteed.

In other words, history can teach observers that now is not the time to act on Applebaum’s advice and escalate Russia’s national humiliation to an extreme. Instead, it may be time to conclude an agreement to provide Putin with a “golden bridge,” a plan used by Roman General Sebius Africanus to encircle the enemy army on three sides and leave a fourth open, so that the army could be properly withdrawn. to avoid a devastating war. This bridge would allow Putin to end the war without reinforcing Russian humiliation to the point that after a prolonged period of anger and reconstruction, Russia would launch another war against its western neighbor.

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