Annexing Countries Is Wrong

The word “annex” means that the process is non-consensual. It is a breach of the U.N. Charter. However, as Kissinger suggested in the Spiegel interview (Sketches, November 17), there are special cases. He mentioned Crimea. Ukraine is in the same category. For centuries Ukraine used to be part of Russia.

Putin’s lawyers would not get far if they used this argument in a U.N. proceeding condemning him.

The question can, however, be considered in a political, non-legal perspective, as Kissinger does. The art of politics requires subtlety. If countries wish to re-integrate former possessions, they should use subtle methods to achieve their objectives.

Americans should stop lusting after Ontario and New Brunswick, which were once populated by Loyalists. It would be rather crude if Mexico simply marched into California. No, subtlety is required. China should study Confucius before attacking Taiwan. Lithuania should hesitate before assaulting Ukraine and forget that their empire once extended to Kiev. Sweden should stay out of Norway and Russia, Austria and Germany should, please, respect Polish borders.

The trouble is that the world is full of special cases.


7 responses to “Annexing Countries Is Wrong

  1. One major difference between the Russia-Ukraine situation and all the others mentioned is that it is very recent. There are still millions of people alive who grew up in the strong state known as the USSR and who think it entirely natural that the Ukraine should be in the same state as Russia. Putin may or may not be the sort of monster our prime minister makes him out to be, but I suspect any Russian leader would at this juncture have to support the Russian-speaking majority in the eastern Ukraine and also seek to block too close a union between the Ukraine and hostile states to the west. Recognizing this is simply Realpolitik, as Dr Kissinger, the student of Metternich, knows very well.

    • You are absolutely right, of course. Tim. But I wanted to show off my masterful command of history. But I didn’t know how to handle Alsace-Lorraine.

  2. Elisabeth Ecker

    Is it possible that having NATO at his doorstep makes Puton very nervous?

  3. With regard to China, I’d be interested to hear how you, Eric, and anybody else reading this, would fit Tibet into the equation. It was part of China on and off at various times over the centuries, but is culturally, ethnically and religiously very different from Beijing. China has been not-so-subtly taking over since the murky 1950s when the Dalai Lama was forced to flee. In Lhasa (2008-ish) we saw a heavy military presence and, with the new Chinese-built rail line to Lhasa, loads of Han Chinese immigrants were being shipped in. The Tibetans are fiercely independent in spirit; the ruling Chinese see them as misguided and in need of Chinese “protection.” The situation is far less clear than China/Taiwan!

  4. What to do with the people who live in the Annex? Should they be considered a special case of ‘annexees’?