2005-03-12

Ukraine




2014-03-06:
So now American media and political "elites" are all in a tizzy
over the Russian intervention in Ukraine.
See Wikipedia's take at:
2014 Ukrainian revolution
2014 Crimean crisis.
For current actions of those "elites", see for example,
Obama Says Referendum in Crimea Would Violate Law”,
Hillary Clinton’s comparison of Russia’s actions to those of Hitler in the 1930s
(original source for Hillary quote: Long Beach Press Telegram (This link even contains the audio of Hillary's remarks!);
also, another Washington Post story on this),
and any number of Washington Post editorials, for example
The West must assuage the fears of former Soviet republics”.
(The problem with that one is that the Crimea is not Moldova.
Russia has valid strategic interests in Crimea (see below)
which it does not in Moldova.
Further, trying to freeze European borders may be a foolish and unnecessary effort.)

My opinion, for whatever it's worth (which to those "elites" doesn't seem much)
is that whether the Crimea is part of the Ukraine or of Russia
is really none of America's business.
That's an internal boundary dispute in Eastern Europe,
which has no evident effect on any reasonable American national interest.

The Crimean peninsula
was part of the Russian Empire from 1783 to 1917,
then became part of the Soviet Union
.
In fact, it was part of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic until 1954, when
then General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union Nikita Khrushchev
ordered it transferred to the Ukrainian SSR
(see also Slate's take on this).

Geographically, it certainly is critical to
Russia's access to the Black Sea and the Mediterranean.
I can see why keeping such access under Russian control
is of great strategic importance to the Russian nation.
I don't see what is wrong with allowing them to maintain that control.

I just hope those in the "elites"
who always seem to be spoiling to have American get involved in conflicts
which are not really relevant to America
can restrain themselves from getting involved in this dispute.

At the practical level, those same "elites" always seem to want Russia's help
in restraining the Iranian nuclear program.
If those "elites" start sanctioning Russia,
how much help do you think the Russians are likely to continue giving
to sanctions against Iran?
Further, there are any number of ways Russia can push back against those who threaten it.
Is it really worth putting America's relations with Russia under further duress
over this issue?
I very strongly think not.















2014-03-11-WP-Kiev-Sevastopol-in-ukraines-tug-of-war-a-tale-of-two-cities
Two cities embody Ukraine’s tug of war between East and West
(Kiev and Sevastopol)
by Anthony Faiola and Carol Morello
Washington Post, 2014-03-11

2014-03-18-NYT-ukraine
Defying West, Putin Formally Claims Crimea for Russia
Cites Centuries of History in Signing Annexation Treaty (from the online version)
By STEVEN LEE MYERS, ELLEN BARRY and ALAN COWELL
New York Times, 2014-03-18



2014-03-14-Scheuer-russia-annexing-crimea-is-the-cost-of-u-s-eu-intervention-in-ukraine
Russia annexing Crimea is the cost of U.S.-EU intervention in Ukraine
by Michael Scheuer
non-intervention.com, 2014-03-14


2014-03-24-Walt-would_you_die_for_this_country_ukraine
Would You Die for That Country?
Why the United States needs to think twice before calling Ukraine an ally.
by Stephen M. Walt
foreignpolicy.com, 2014-03-14


2014-04-17-Walt-no_hawks_here_realists_international_relations_war_peace
No Hawks Here
When it comes to conflict in world politics, realists are the peaceniks of post-Cold War America.
by Stephen M. Walt
foreignpolicy.com, 2014-04-17

Once again, trouble is brewing in some corner of the world --
this time it's Ukraine --
and neoconservatives and liberals are calling upon the United States
to "do something"
to stop the irrational predations of Russian President Vladimir Putin,
the latest villain du jour.
And once again, foreign policy realists are pointing out that
1) the United States has no treaty obligations to Ukraine,
2) U.S. vital interests are not at stake,
3) Russia's behavior is not surprising
given its history, its geographic location, and the past 20 years of NATO expansion, and
4) pursuing a confrontational policy with Moscow
will undermine more important objectives.
In other words, realists are telling Americans
to keep their rhetoric under control and their powder dry.

[Sounds pretty much exactly like what I said back on March 16.]

...


2014-04-29-Scheuer-obama-mccain-and-the-natoeu-gang-better-war-than-saying
Obama, McCain, and the NATO/EU Gang: Better war than saying: “It’s our fault”?
by Michael Scheuer
non-intervention.com, 2014-04-29

Once again Americans are watching their government involve itself
in an issue in which the United States has nothing at stake economically
and no genuine national security interest at risk.

Ukraine is a place that is worth neither a single American dollar
nor more than a brief scan of the headlines by U.S. citizens.
And yet Obama and his fellow European interveners and democracy mongers
are conducting themselves in a bellicose manner
that could lead to some kind of military conflict in Eastern Europe.
Indeed,
they already are conducting warfare against Russia via economic sanctions,
a punitive exercise they promise to make more severe in the next few weeks.

And for what?
When all is said and done Obama and Team Democracy appear to prefer a war
to publicly admitting that it was their democracy crusading last winter in Kiev
that brought on this worrying and sharpening confrontation.
Into a increasingly bitter political battle between the Kiev regime and its domestic opponents,
the EU as an organization and individual European governments
sent a steady flow of diplomats, officials, and money
to help the Ukrainian opposition prevail over the Kiev regime.
This foreign intervention in a purely internal domestic dispute
was clearly designed to overthrow the legitimate Ukrainian government.
It is the kind of imperialist exercise that the UN was created to condemn and stop,
but that organization’s recent history shows that
it now exists solely to support unjustified — and usually unjustifiable —
U.S. and Western political and military interventions.

We will never know how the internal Ukrainian dispute would have worked itself out
if the Ukrainians had been allowed an exercise in self-determination,
but what we do we do know is that
the EU’s arrogant intervention in the country’s internal affairs
tipped the scales in the opposition’s favor and led to the Kiev regime’s collapse.
And we know that Obama, Kerry, and Biden steered clear of the problem
until they saw that the EU’s intervention might succeed.
Faced with that reality, these U.S. leaders put their best interventionist foot forward
and joined the Europeans to wreck both Ukraine and European stability
in the name of a democracy that will never see the light of day in Kiev.
Washington, NATO, and Brussels are now well on their way to creating in Ukraine
the same kind of democratic paradise they previously delivered in Egypt, Libya, and South Sudan.

They are also striding cluelessly along a road
that could lead to a war in Eastern Europe.
Why? Simple.
The democracy mongers operate on the assumption that
only the United States and Europe have legitimate national interests.
[This is strikingly like the view that led to World War I.
When Serbian terrorists assassinated Archduke Ferdinand,
the Entente powers, Russia, France and Great Britain,
refused to recognize that Austria-Hungary had a legitimate grievance against Serbia.
Their failure to recognize the legitimacy of that grievance led them
to go to war with Austria-Hungary and Germany.
(That interpretation of events is well-documented in Christopher Clark's The Sleepwalkers).
Now we have much the same combination of forces,
with
Austria-Hungary versus Serbia
being replaced by
Russia versus Ukraine.]

Actions taken by non-Western states
to defend what they perceive to be life-and-death national interests
are labeled by Washington and NATO
as illegitimate, aggressive, war-causing operations.
But hold on for a moment.
Was it Russia that intentionally fomented revolution in Ukraine?
No, there is no evidence of that.
Was it Moscow that publicly threatened the Ukrainian opposition
with force and trials for war crimes?
No, it was the West and the UN
who treated the legitimate Ukrainian regime in that manner.
So it was, in fact, Washington, NATO, and the EU
who took a solely internal Ukrainian conflict
and, by intervening in favor of anti-Russian Ukrainians,
made it into a showdown between the West and Russia.



About Mr. Putin.
One must say that he is not a particularly likeable man,
and he is, after all, the legatee of
a political system that killed and starved-to-death 60-plus million people.
(NB: Odd, is it not, that the West spends years and billions of dollars
tracking down a handful of two-bit Serbian and African murderers,
but never utters a word about Russian and Chinese genocide-merchants
who have killed far more than 100 million people?)
Anyway, what has Putin done that makes him and Russia
the sole bad guys in this sorry Ukrainian drama?

Well, Mr. Putin had the gall to see that
the aggressive but always effete democracy mongers
were mindlessly intent on a regime-change operation in Kiev
that would put an anti-Russian regime in power,
increase animosities between the country’s ethnic Ukrainians and ethnic Russians,
and destabilize Ukraine and perhaps have a knock-on destabilizing impact
along much of Russia’s western border.
Faced with this prospect,
Putin unleashed his armored columns and took Kiev and all Ukraine, right?
No.
Faced with what the West was doing to make Ukraine an anti-Russian bastion
and promote civil war in the country,
Putin simply did what genuine Russian national interests required,
he took what always has been and always must be Russia’s,
the Crimea and its naval bases.
Any Westerner who claims he was surprised by this action —
or the cause of it —
is either a liar or ignorant of Russian history.
Given the state of Western education,
the latter is at least as likely as the former.

So Putin takes Crimea and it votes to join Russia. End of crisis?
No.
Even though it is obvious that
U.S.-NATO-EU intervention caused the crisis in the first place,
the democracy mongers sanction Russia for protecting its national interests
and then pick-up the pace of intervention
by pumping funds into the anti-Russian regime in Kiev,
deploying U.S. military forces in NATO’s Eastern European members,
and Obama trying to prove he is not the terminal adolescent that Putin knows he is
by waging war against Russia via sanctions.
And, of course, there on the sidelines,
are America’s Neoconservatives urging the West
to threaten the use military force against Russia
and at least heavily arm the illegitimate government now operating in Kiev.

Like the terminal adolescents they are,
the leaders of both parties in the United States
and their counterparts in NATO and the EU
cannot bring themselves to admit the clear and simple fact that
they are responsible for the festering problem in Ukraine.
They have encountered in Putin a man who is unsavory and no hero
but one who is a thorough-going nationalist who will not roll over and play dead
and abandon his country’s security interests
because the intervention-addicted Western democracy mongers demand he do so.
Western pride, historical ignorance, and hubris makes admitting a mistake impossible,
so we continue meandering toward war.

A final word on sanctions.
Western interventionists ought to recall that
(a) economic sanctions are attacks on the targeted nation that amount to acts of war, and
(b) economic sanctions that savage an already fragile economy — like Russia’s —
can make the attacked state opt for war as a last resort.
Americans still debate whether FDR’s sanctions against Japan were an attempt to change Tokyo’s foreign policy or to force Japan to start a Pacific war FDR wanted to fight but the American people overwhelmingly opposed.
Which side of that debate is accurate is irrelevant here, and perhaps it is unknowable.
What is irrefutable fact, however, is that
FDR’s sanctions forced Imperial Japan to decide between war
and the withering away of its economic and military power
and the eventual termination of its status as a Great Power.
Even the West’s ill-educated leaders must know
the decision Imperial Japan took as the result of FDR’s sanctions.


Two comments:

First, a comparison with the causes of World War I.
The immediate causes of that war were
the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand at Sarajavo
and the failure of Serbia to make an appropriate response to Austria-Hungary.
(See Margaret MacMillan and Christopher Clark’s (The Sleepwalkers) recent books for some good analysis.)
16 million deaths and 20 million wounded over that?
Obviously, to me at least, the major powers got too tied into their alliances.
The powers then got overly involved with Balkan politics;
now the West is making the same mistake with respect to Eastern Europe.
Compare Austria-Hungary/Serbia then to Russia/Ukraine today.

Second, why is Putin always painted so negatively?
Could it be because of the problems he has made for Jewish oligarchs?

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