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April 08, 2014

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I think the more normal attempt at territorial aquisition will usually involve the local aggressor with international backers--Israel with the backing of France and England in 1956 Suez Crisis, Ethiopia/Somalia 1977 Ogaden with Cold War dynamics, etc, etc. Unilateral actions by a single country without specific support for the action, like Iraq into Kuwait almost always fails (outside of end-of-colonialism context as discussed in post).

In general the side with the larger number of international backers win, or the most powerful and attentive regional hegemony. Such hegemons typically discourage smaller entities from aggregating, because that would mean that certain geopolitical actions from the hegemony toolkits wouldn't work as well.

I think that the main reason countries do not annex very much in the scheme of things is because protectorates are usually much cheaper and uncomplicated to handle. Sweden doesn't run the Baltic States, and they don't want to, but they have about as much control of the area as they want with minimal state expenditure. So if you look at it from Russia's standpoint--they are going to the expense of annexation because they aren't certain that the rest of the world respects its interest in Ukraine as a protectorate of Russia. As an exercise, imagine if Thailand, with the backing of Japan, India, and Australia, decide to help propel a "Golden Shower" Revolution in the Shan state of Myanmar, thus bringing Northern Myanmar to Thai orbit. Would you think that China:

a) Recognize that democracy has occured and respected the realignment south.

b) Fund Nyapyidaw's suppression of the political movement, which may or may not have interesting new weapons and personnel on its soil.

c) Invade Shan state, and kinda sorta forget to leave.

As with the Bangladeshi Independence, you don't need to formally annex a country area, just support an independence movement and the resulting weak government...

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