A Reverse Crimea in the West: Kaliningrad

Look at the Kaliningrad Oblast. It used to be Prussian Koenisberg, an important detail: Many Germans still feel for it, like Russians for Crimea. This is one part of Europe toward which the Germans might loose a little of their current prudent cool and cooperate.

Find Kaliningrad on the map.

Source: BBC
Source: InKaliningrad.com

It’s a small Russian exclave on the Baltic. It’s entirely sandwiched between two NATO members that are also members of the European Union, Lithuania and Poland. It must have some military value because it’s the headquarter of the Russian Baltic Fleet.

Kaliningrad has no direct land links to the rest of Russia. Sea links are along the shores of unfriendly to very unfriendly countries. I don’t see why it would be difficult to apply an on-and-off siege to that territory. I don’t mean that the West or the US should actually attempt to starve its about one million people. I am thinking cutting off the water intermittently, for example. Perhaps a few US warships could cruise off Kaliningrad with all guns carefully covered. We should be able to cause enough unpleasantness there to stampede part of the civilian population. We might just let Russian sailors there lead lonely and even more drunken lives than they do now.

After the gobbling up of Crimea, making it difficult for Russia to staff its isolated western outpost would be a worthwhile goal. Even giving high Kremlin officials a few bad nights of sleep would be better than nothing. Letting bullies get away with anything is always a bad idea. It’s like asking for more bullying in the future.

I don’t know why no one is talking about it, not the Obama administration, not the Republican opposition, not the supine press.

Are we that pathetic or merely ignorant?

23 thoughts on “A Reverse Crimea in the West: Kaliningrad

  1. A libertarian cannot advocate for wars of this nature.

    ” If one distinct attribute of inter-State war is inter-territoriality, another unique attribute stems from the fact that each State lives by taxation over its subjects. Any war against another State, therefore, involves the increase and extension of taxation-aggression against its own people. Conflicts between private individuals can be, and usually are, voluntarily waged and financed by the parties concerned. Revolutions can be, and often are, financed and fought by voluntary contributions of the public. But State wars can only be waged through aggression against the taxpayer.

    All State wars, therefore, involve increased aggression against the State’s own taxpayers, and almost all State wars (all, in modern warfare) involve the maximum aggression (murder) against the innocent civilians ruled by the enemy State. On the other hand, revolutions are often financed voluntarily and may pinpoint their violence to the State rulers; and private conflicts may confine their violence to the actual criminals. We must therefore conclude that, while some revolutions and some private conflicts may be legitimate, State wars are always to be condemned.

    Some libertarians might object as follows: “While we too deplore the use of taxation for warfare, and the State’s monopoly of defense service, we have to recognize that these conditions exist, and while they do, we must support the State in just wars of defense.” In the light of our discussion above, the reply would go as follows: “Yes, States exist, and as long as they do, the libertarian attitude toward the State should be to say to it, in effect: ‘All right, you exist, but so long as you do, at least confine your activities to the area which you monopolize.’” In short, the libertarian is interested in reducing as much as possible the area of State aggression against all private individuals, “foreign” and “domestic.” The only way to do this, in international affairs, is for the people of each country to pressure their own State to confine its activities to the area which it monopolizes, and not to aggress against other State-monopolists—particularly the people ruled by other States. In short, the objective of the libertarian is to confine any existing State to as small a degree of invasion of person and property as possible. And this means the total avoidance of war. The people under each State should pressure “their” respective States not to attack one another, and, if a conflict should break out, to negotiate a peace or declare a cease-fire as quickly as physically possible.”

    Murray Rothbard, The Ethics of Liberty, ch.25

    • Adam: I agree with most of what you say but it’s not completely correct. Some states do not live or wage war by taxation. Such states may be the most dangerous because precisely, they encounter few internal restraints associated with resisting taxation. Petro-states in general fall into this category more or less, some, completely. Kuwait is a case ; Russia is an imperfect example. I recommend as an introduction: “The Distributive State in the World System.” It’s still pretty useful although it’s by me and it’s old. You c can find it on the Internet.

    • I wouldn’t discount tariffs as a form of taxation so quickly. More importantly though, while Kuwait is currently operating with a taxless surplus from oil revenue that state of affairs cannot last forever.

      “state expenditures will exceed oil revenues within a few years if spending keeps rising at the current rate. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) says this could happen as early as 2017 while the government believes there could be a budget deficit in 2021.”

      Kuwait will have no choice but to cut spending or increase taxes which will cause the unrest you believe is absent.

      “ut any marked reduction in subsidies could erode stability since Kuwaitis have a recent history of street protests and industrial action to voice dissatisfaction with the government of the U.S.-allied Gulf Arab state.

      “There will be a revolt in Kuwait,” said Abdullah al-Shayji, political science faculty chief at Kuwait University. “Kuwaitis will cope with anything, but don’t come too close to their wallets and chequebooks. They will really put up a big fight.””

      The government there is playing the classic bread and circus’ game with its people and eventually the money will run out and the people will be angry. This in my opinion makes these states less dangerous since they are in a very precarious position to begin with. The more free from government theft people are the more resistant they will be to losing that freedom.



  2. I don’t know why no one is talking about [Dr Delacroix’s proposal], not the Obama administration, not the Republican opposition, not the supine press.

    I think the reason why nobody is talking about this idea is because it’s insane, not because the West is ignorant or pathetic.

  3. Jacques, do you really propose such a direct confrontation of a nuclear-armed Russia? How about these ideas instead, based on Russia’s almost total reliance on energy exports to keep its economy afloat.

    1. Sell 700 million barrels of oil from the strategic petroleum reserve to drive world oil prices below Russia’s high cost of production.

    2. Allow exports of U.S. natural gas to Europe and remove barriers to construction of additional LNG terminals. Result: Russia’s sales of natural gas to Europe are undercut.

    See this weekend’s edition of Barron’s for more.

  4. Hah, I like it Jaques, although I do think the Germans and/or Poles should do it instead of the US, the direct US-Russia thing is a concern, making sure, quietly of course, that everyone knows we agree with them.

    My vote is ignorance by the way. I had always wondered where Koenigberg had got to, and if I didn’t know, I’ll bet nobody running this amateur hour does either.

    Warren’s ideas are very good, except that we have no way (as far as I know) to load LNG, and I suspect oil loading facilities are tight as well. Someplace I read that we only need to force the price of crude below $90 a barrel to make Russia lose money, which should be doable, especially with summer coming on.

    Tit for tat is always acceptable in the great game, and it’s not a libertarian world, at least yet, no matter how much we wish it was.

    This kind of thing is, for those that have forgotten, how we won the cold war.

  5. I imagine reviving a sense for Germany’s lost Lebensraum would be problematic in the minds of many people. Not to say that the city of the marvelous Kant should not revert back to Germany, for as Brodsky said, “the trees whisper in German.”

    Unfortunately it would simply be a form of state terrorism, and inapplicable in any theory of a just war. Only combatants engaged in warfare can be targeted for any purpose, and non-combatants not at all, so to harass the Kaliningraders in this manner would be inadmissible. Why? It creates the conditions of war without an actual war, and if we are to take a principled stand on Crimea, we cannot advocate for the same aggressive principle that the Russians themselves put forward.

  6. Brandon: Cutting off water intermittently is insane?

    Thank you for adding the maps. It makes the short essay much more useful.

    In my posting either Ukraine I or Ukraine II (on factsmatter), I said clearly that the Obama administration response should be to do everything it can, a lot, to ruin the Putinist gangster state by flooding the world market with petroleum . Mr Obama won’t do it. Encouraging our most threatened advice in Europe to cut off water is easier given his political constraints.

    Matthew: Koenisberg has no relation with Lebensraum, conquests in the East. It was a German city acquired by Stalin as war booty at the end of WWII. Europeans who know heir history even a little know it’s historically a German city. (Americans think Paris is conveniently near Florence, and Koenisberg must be a mountain in Bavaria, ah,ah!) By the way, I did not evoke a German reconquest of Koenisberg but the idea that Angela might leave her ordinary pacifism behind for a while and approve of water shortage there, water shortages, folks, not nuclear missiles!

    Warren: We must accept anything Putin wants because Russia has nuclear weapons, anything at all? Alaska comes to mind, and then, Coney Island which has a lot of Russian speakers. Expansionists tyrants must be stopped, The earlier it’s done, the easier it is: 1936 easier than 1939, 1939 easier than 1940.

    • Yes, cutting off the water supply of citizens is insane. The reason nobody is even thinking about this idea is because it’s batshit crazy. Loony. Nuts. An absurdity.

      Let me illustrate this with an example. Suppose the United States invaded a country (let’s say Grenada) in order to suppress a political wave that it did not think was favorable to most Grenadans.

      The US used a light military invasion to crush the political wave and virtually nobody was hurt.

      Now suppose that Brazil, a country with almost no ties to Grenada, decided to teach the politicians in Washington a lesson about being bullies by intermittently cutting off the water supply of the Monterey Bay area.

      Great idea, right?

      By the way, I think I’ve done a good job discrediting Jacques’s foreign policy quackery already (“American Foreign Policy: predictions, Assumptions, and Falsehoods“). His continued comparison of states he doesn’t like to “bullies” is an awful way to look at international relations. Such a method invites ridicule and contempt from the more erudite among us, and the temptation to lie becomes almost unbearable.

    • Brandon: It would be a great idea. Brazil couldn’t do it. The US might be able to swing it with respect to Kaliningrad through its NATO allies, Poland and Lithunania. There is a reason those countries joined NATO. If the worst happens, we are bound to fight a war on their behalf. Brazil has no friends in the North and not many close to home except the perennially bankrupt Argentina. Bad scenario.

      PS: You invoke batshit too easily. It’s a sacred concept that should not be used for lack of m a more suitable word!

    • Germany reconquering her old lands would, as I said, conjure up disturbing ghosts in the Fatherland’s neighbors. Was not the Sudetenland an outpost of German culture? Czernowicz, the birthplace of German poet Paul Celan, in Ukraine? The comparison is certainly apt.

    • There is a sane middle ground in dealing with a nuclear-armed Russia. Neither abject submission nor reckless provocation makes any sense.

  7. “His continued comparison of states he doesn’t like to “bullies” is an awful way to look at international relations.”

    In general, comparing a nation state to a human being is not useful. However, comparing the leader of a nation state to a human being can be sensible. The utility depends on how much power the leader has. I think there are several nation states where leaders have acquired enough power to assume that, in general, they are the decision maker. Iran springs to mind, as does North Korea. I’m beginning to think that Russia falls into that category.

    Personally, I don’t think the water supply should be officially cut off. There should be an industrial ‘accident’. That’ll give the CIA something to do besides rifling through senate computers.

  8. Terry: I do not compare states with human beings except where it conforms to your own decision rule: Russia clearly belongs. Putin was elected and re-elected with wide margins. There is no doubt he is wildly popular, like Hitler in 1939. He has an effective blank check.

    As you often do, you manage to combat my opinion without divulging your own judgment: “…states he doesn’t like” sounds arbitrary as hell, almost capricious. Do YOU like Putin’s Russia? Are you that devoid of moral sense or is your moral sense so divergent from mine? This is a moral question. (For better a or for worse, you are my main liberal guinea pig.)

    • “As you often do, you manage to combat my opinion without divulging your own judgment: “…states he doesn’t like” sounds arbitrary as hell, almost capricious.”

      You’re confusing Brandon’s words for mine. Take up arbitrary & capricious with him. There are only 2 here not combating your opinion, me and Neo. My major disagreement with you [and Neo] is that I don’t think it should be Lithuania or Poland and I don’t think it should be ‘official’. It should be a “covert” operation [huge air quotes around covert].

      “Do YOU like Putin’s Russia? Are you that devoid of moral sense or is your moral sense so divergent from mine?”

      We already know that our moral senses diverge greatly it’s inherent in our politics. I think Putin is a thug of the worst sort; well second worst sort, Stalin set a pretty high bar. His admittedly wild popularity doesn’t make me think very highly about civil society in Russia as a whole. I need to be careful though, between theocons, neocons, and teapublicans I don’t think very highly about a large chunk of civil society in the U.S.A. either.

  9. Adam: I don’t discount tariff revenues. They are just another way in which your model of rule through the repression of taxation is incomplete.

    As for Kuwait, I am not a prophet. Abdullah may be right that the oil will eventually run out. In fact, he is sure to be right at some point, maybe one hundred years from now, maybe less. In the meantime, the Kuwaiti ruling circles manifest no nervousness on that account (THAT account). Arab intellectuals have been predicting the end of oil since I started paying attention, in the early seventies. In the meantime, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia have been running states almost completely free of the particular repression of income taxation for about sixty years. I wonder (WONDER) if the Islamic Republic of Iran would be as stable as it seems to be without the cushioning effect of oil revenues. Having a ready-made welfare fund not extracted through taxation, not accountable to the people must surely smooth one’s political path.

    In my book, these major exceptions are enough to damage severely the scenario you seemed at first to
    represent as universal.

    That’s the only point I was making in my response to your comment.

  10. I’m sorry, but did Dr Delacroix really state that cutting off the water supply (“intermittently,” of course) of millions of people would be a “great idea”?

    You, Dr J, continue to lose even more credibility with statements like this. Your idea doesn’t even border on cranksterism; it’s the poster child for cranksterism.

    Just to recap Dr Delacroix’s silly argument:

    Russia, a fascist state for all intents and purposes, stepped in to help a large faction in the Ukrainian region of Crimea.

    Ukraine is essentially a fascist state as well.

    Dr Delacroix’s solution would be to urge Poland and Lithuania, two minor states in the Baltic, to engage in state-sponsored terrorism against civilians in an exclave of the Russian state.

    He thinks this would a “great idea.” He thinks that his idea is worth fighting a war with nuclear-armed Russia over.


    I’m always very surprised when neoconservatives (a neoconservative is simply a hawkish man of the Left) such as yourself lump states you don’t like into a single category (“dictatorships,” and ‘yes’ I’m being sarcastic).

    I can tell you are a neoconservative because of your disdain for international law and agreements (however tenuous they may be). Remember when you stated that Washington wasn’t arming Islamists in Syria even though the CIA was arming Islamists in Syria? I do.

    When you display this kind of obstinate ignorance in the threads, it makes your whole camp look bad. A good analogy of your rationally ignorant approach to international relations would be like an atheist having a discussion with a Christian about Mother Mary’s miraculous birth. In this instance, you are the Christian.

    On dictatorship.

  11. “Remember when you stated that Washington wasn’t arming Islamists in Syria even though the CIA was arming Islamists in Syria? I do.”

    I remember saying they weren’t. I don’t remember you proving they were. I’m willing to rehash that argument if you like.

  12. In answer to your closing comment “Are we that pathetic or merely ignorant?” – well no ….. “we” are sane, civilised and believe in the rule of decency, democracy and in not lowering ourselves to their level.
    Or quite simply, you’re a moron.

  13. A very likable idea but German winters are cold and Russia sells the heating gas to the Germans, right? Seems some solution for that will be needed.

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