Apparently, Victor Davis Hanson doesn’t understand the Monroe Doctrine:

Putin now assumes Eastern Europe and the former Soviet republics fall under his own Russian Monroe Doctrine.

Is Hanson saying that Putin believes Russia should respect the independence of its neighbors and not interfere in their affairs? Is Russia guaranteeing the independence of these states against “extraregional predators”? That is what a “Russian Monroe Doctrine” would be. If U.S. Russia policy had somehow helped bring such a formal Russian policy into being (it hasn’t), that would be a huge success. Of course, that is the opposite of what Hanson is trying to say.

He wants the reader to believe that eastern Europe and the former Soviet republics are now all effectively within Moscow’s sphere of influence, which is misleading in significant ways. Some of these states are in Russia’s sphere of influence, just as they have been for some time, and others are not. He further wants the reader to conclude that this is the fault of current Russia policy, which is remarkably ill-informed. The sovereignty and independence of eastern European states and ex-Soviet republics are no worse off because of Russia than they were before 2009. The Monroe Doctrine did not set up the U.S. as some sort of overlord of the Western Hemisphere with the right to dictate to our neighbors how they should run their own affairs. U.S. policy toward our independent republican neighbors under the Monroe Doctrine was the opposite of that sort of intrusive, overbearing approach.

Here’s a quick review of what the Monroe Doctrine stated:

The political system of the allied powers is essentially different in this respect from that of America. This difference proceeds from that which exists in their respective Governments; and to the defense of our own, which has been achieved by the loss of so much blood and treasure, and matured by the wisdom of their most enlightened citizens, and under which we have enjoyed unexampled felicity, this whole nation is devoted. We owe it, therefore, to candor and to the amicable relations existing between the United States and those powers to declare that we should consider any attempt on their part to extend their system to any portion of this hemisphere as dangerous to our peace and safety. With the existing colonies or dependencies of any European power we have not interfered and shall not interfere. But with the Governments who have declared their independence and maintain it, and whose independence we have, on great consideration and on just principles, acknowledged, we could not view any interposition for the purpose of oppressing them, or controlling in any other manner their destiny, by any European power in any other light than as the manifestation of an unfriendly disposition toward the United States. In the war between those new Governments and Spain we declared our neutrality at the time of their recognition, and to this we have adhered, and shall continue to adhere, provided no change shall occur which, in the judgement of the competent authorities of this Government, shall make a corresponding change on the part of the United States indispensable to their security.

Hanson continues:

A new loose axis of Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea threatens to create a nuclear buffer to U.S. interests.

I don’t know what this is supposed to mean. These states don’t form an axis, loose or otherwise. (A good way to encourage all of these states to band together is to pursue confrontational policies toward all of them.) North Korean proliferation has been a problem for a long time, and it is not a given that Iran’s nuclear program will actually produce a nuclear weapon. Yes, Russia and China are still nuclear-weapons states. What is Hanson’s point? That the U.S. will not be able to threaten any of them with military attack in the future? The “nuclear buffer” to which Hanson refers is the same one that has existed in Russia and China for decades. What U.S. interests are being impeded by this “buffer”? Hanson doesn’t say. Perhaps that’s because there aren’t any.

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