Political Theory In the News: The Ukraine

Relatively recent international events seem to be parallel to a large amount of what we have discussed in class. Probably the most prominently televised and overused issue in the media is the Russian occupation of Crimea, so I apologize in advance for bringing it up again. Despite this, I still think that it is a perfect example of a thoroughly debated topic in our class; the concept of justice only being present between equal parties. Without a doubt the Russians and Ukrainians are not on equal ground regarding their levels of power, because the Ukrainians’ potential to defend their country would likely be insufficient to counter Russia’s military power, especially when considering the domestic instability of the Ukraine, which is more than likely a result of covert Russian interference.

Ukraine is in no position to demand the release of the Crimea because of this and it appears that nothing further will be done by the Western nations sympathetic to the Ukrainian cause beyond economic sanctions, which have appeared to fail in discouraging the giant nation from interfering with the Ukraine’s affairs. Despite this, I doubt any further incursions will take place in the Ukraine because there is some impetus behind the movement to include the Ukraine in NATO, but irreversible damage has already been done with the annexation of Crimea. I think that in this case-where the Ukraine is practically alone in its conflict-there will be no justice for Russia, and that the idea of justice among equals in the Melian Dialogue cannot be present in that scenario, however there are other events that have occurred in history do provide a caveat for powerful nations that ponder aggression towards their smaller and more helpless counterparts.

Throughout the course of history there are countless instances where nations and conquerors abused their powerful positions and subjected many other countries to their rule. Although they initially face little opposition to their violence, all of them end up losing control over their gains, and often lose their nations as a result of the nature of their actions. When given enough time, every empire built on aggressive expansion is destined to collapse; civil unrest is bound to happen after a country overextends its resources and its subjugates and citizens exploit the opportunity, becomes torn apart by disputes of who controls claims within its borders, or simply encounters a foreign enemy or coalition that is in a stronger state than the aggressor’s exhausted and unconsolidated one.

Basically I believe that there is a snowball effect concerning a conquering nation’s control over its destiny once it reaches a certain point of expansion, since its power is increasingly stretched thin and becomes unable to effectively deal with problems. So by all means a group in a superior position can do as it wishes to another, but it will ultimately have to deal with the ramifications of its actions depending on how poor they are. The Athenians did eventually occupy Melios and enslave its survivors, but slavery became a factor in the downfall of the Greek city-states. In modern times Russia’s aggression, if continued, would further tarnish its already weak reputation and likely result in a more hostile stance in the international community against it, which could devastate the country’s progress and prosperity.