This perspicacious conversation, which took place on 3rd March, was hosted by the Committee for the Republic, which is a non-partisan, nonprofit American organization that sponsors regular conversations on the challenges faced by the American Republic. This conversation features John Mearsheimer and Ray McGovern giving their views on the ongoing crisis in Eastern Europe. As I have previously shared Mearsheimer’s views (from 2015 and from days before the invasion) on the crisis, I will start the video at McGovern’s segment and outline his key argument here.
Ray McGovern is a long-time Russian specialist. After serving as an Army combat intelligence officer, he was a CIA analyst focused on the Sino-Soviet conflict and then chief of the Soviet Foreign Policy Branch. In encapsularing his position, McGovern offers the analogy of being bullied at the hands of bigger bigger guys as a kid, “When I get big I’m never going to let anybody do that to me …. Putin just got big, he got big last year, he got big when the Chinese decided to throw their lot in with him,” McGovern’s proposition is that the shift in the balance of power brought by an emerging Russia-China alignment helps explain Putin’s apparently irrational invasion of Ukraine, an invasion that McGovern himself had failed to anticipate.