Friday, February 25, 2022

Russia and Dependency Theory

The unthinkable has happened.  Russia has invaded Ukraine.  I was clinging to the hope that their actions would not go beyond saber rattling.  Unlike they were in Iraq, U.S. leaders were right in warning about the threat posed by an outsider nation this time.

Dependency theory (DT) is a sociological theory that was formulated in response to modernization theory for how to advance the poorer countries inn the world.  Modernization theory states that countries need to be modernized in order to enable them to feed their populations.  Dependency theory states that poorer nations need to be self sufficient and not dependent on organizations like the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Dependecy theory classifies nations as undeveloped, underdeveloped, and developed.  Undeveloped refers to areas with primitive tribal economies that are self sufficient.  These nations are views as being on the periphery.  Underdeveloped refers toto countries indebted to organizations like the World Bank and the IMF in an effort to modernize.  These nations are categorized as being on the semi-periphery.  Fully developed countries are in the core and exploit the periphery and semi periphery for resources.

Wars can be explained by dependency theory.  Germany fought World Wars I and II because, in spite of their achievements in art and science, they were not given core status.  They were punished severely after WWI which created resentment that Hitler could exploit.  

After their defeat Germany was finally given core status by the U.S. in the west and the Soviets in the east.  In return for allowing Germany to reunify in 1990, Gorbachev was promised by George H.W. Bush that NATO would not expand eastward.  This promise was broken by later Presidents.  NATO expanded into the former Soviet bloc states like Poland and Slovakia and their former republics of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania.

Russia was sanctioned by the west and excluded from the G-8 summit after they annexed the Crimean peninsula.  They commenced the invasion after western countries refused to promise that Ukraine would not be added to NATO.  Further sanctions are unlikely to stop the current Russian aggression.  Further expansion of NATO is totally unacceptable for them.

Of course none of this justifies Russian aggression just as it did not justify German aggression in the last century.  Dependency theory does help explain their actions.  Russia's status is semi-periphery.  There is still time to avert a third world war.  It was averted in the Cuban Missile Crisis when the U.S. agreed to withdraw nuclear missiles from Turkey in return for the U.S.S.R.s withdrawal from Cuba.  

We've already used the stick with Russia, it's now time to try the carrot.  I did suggest in previous posts that inclusion of Russia into NATO might give them the status that they seek.  I know such an action is unlikely.  Inclusion might corral them.  Greece and Turkey almost went to war over Cyprus in 1974 and were prevented from doing so as they were both members of NATO.

**Related posts**

Russian Saber Rattling over NATO?

A Proposal to Fix Relations with Russia: Russia in NATO