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"All the frogs croak before the storm."

(Original article by James Warner.)

"The longer-term consequences of [Russia's 1877 humanitarian] war [against the Ottoman Empire] are addressed by a later great Russian novelist, Alexandr Solzhenitsyn, in his historical work The Russian Question. Solzhenitsyn notes that there were four eighteenth-century and four nineteenth-century Russo-Turkish wars. Solzhenitsyn writes, “Two wretched ideas relentlessly tormented and pulled all our rulers in succession: to help and to save the Transcaucasian Christians, and to help and to save the Orthodox in the Balkans. One can acknowledge the loftiness of these moral principles, but not to the extent of total disregard for the interests of the State...”

Solzhenitsyn singles out the 1877 war for special censure -- “Such a ‘victorious’ war is worth no more than a lost one – cheaper yet, to not start it at all. Russian military and financial strength was undermined, the public’s spirit fell; and it was then that the revolutionary era with its terrorism began to gain momentum...”

The main long-term impact of the Russo-Turkish wars was to weaken both Empires to the point of collapse, with resulting humanitarian disasters exceeding those that Dostoevsky justly condemned. While the impulse towards humanitarian intervention is a worthy one, the results may be protracted civil war, escalating carnage, and the weakening of the intervening countries. Will future historians record that a spate of early twenty-first century wars in the Arab world were among the key factors that brought the American Century to a close?"

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