I grew up with the Cold War. Unlike American conservatives, I am not nostalgic for it and hate when they attempt to replicate it as they did during the so-called war on “terror.” I should also *not* make a bad pun about such a serious matter but it’s Lundi Gras and I’m still in the Carnival bubble. So, sue me.
One of the best things I’ve read about the current crisis came to me via Liprap’s prodigious Twitter feed and was written by Rick Noack:
The Cold War was about the rivalry of two ideologies trying to conquer one another. John Mueller, a professor of political science, famously argued that the Cold War ended as soon as the Soviet Union acknowledged the end of its efforts to spread its ideology. The current conflict, however, is about military and economic power. One of Russia´s most important military bases is located on the Crimean peninsula and the new government in Kiev is likely to annul an existing agreement allowing Russia to base part of its Fleet there. Moscow does not have a real alternative to which it could relocate the affected part of its Black Sea Fleet. None of these considerations point at an ideological conflict that will extend towards other countries or create proxy wars which defined the Cold War.
Secondly, neither Russia, the US nor the EU are capable of, or interested in, initiating a new Cold War. Despite their power rivalries, they are aware that cooperation is necessary to solve some of the most pressing problems. The conflict in Syria, terrorism, climate change, and recent economic and financial crises are just a few examples. The world is not solely dominated by the US and Russia anymore. Actors such as China or India will not show any interest in a war that would threaten their economic output and development, and one that would not constitute any advantage for their developing economies.
The Ukraine, as us old farts call it, was a vital part of the Russian Empire in both its Tsarist and Communist iterations. It was the bread basket of the Empire. It’s as if California seceded from the union and was being hostile to US interests. It would have been wiser for folks in Kiev to say that they had no issues with Russian foreign policy but just wanted a freely elected guvmint.
Does this mean that I think the Russian intervention is okay? No, I don’t but it’s understandable. The situation is MUCH MORE COMPLEX than it is being portrayed in the MSM. Check out this piece by Max Blumenthalabout the neo-Nazis and rabid nationalists who were involved in the ouster of Vlad’s little friend Yanukovich. Charming, no?
The bottom line is that the US and our allies are wise to proceed with extreme caution. I realize that John McCain is eager to intervene here, there and everywhere but that’s one reason he lost the 2008 election. I think we should surround the Crimea with caution tape and not attempt to recreate the Charge of the Light Brigade. It was a disaster, after all.
Back to the bubble.
2 thoughts on “Crimea River”
Somewhere (maybe The Washington Monthly?) someone wrote (more or less) “all the more reason to be glad McCain’s not president.” Can you imagine the how horribly entangled we’d be if he was in the Oval Office? Hell, we’d probably end up opposing ourselves.
And imagine Sarah Palin occpying the number 2 slot.
What a fucking nightmare.
I gather that Crimea was part of Russia proper until 1954 when it was reassigned to the Ukraine by Khrushchev who was originally Ukrainian. (Stalin was Georgian, and look how well that turned out.)
Brad deLong had an account by a Russian officer retaking the Ukraine from the Nazis in his WWII blogging. In the eastern part of the country, it was easy feeding his troops. There wasn’t a lot of food around, but the newly liberated ethnic Russian locals were more than glad to share what they had. In the western part of the country, the part formerly belonging to Poland, he had to resort to threats and pressure to get his troops fed. (He had to do something or the troops were simply going to start looting.)
I’m hoping someone with some brains will start calling for a plebiscite. It worked in Czechoslovakia which had obvious divisions. It could work in the Ukraine. It might not be ideal for some people, but one could argue that “the people have spoken”. Russia would get a functioning client state next door, and the western Ukrainians could say good riddance and dree their own weird. The rest of the world could then breathe easier, and Putin and whoever else was involved could take victory lap as serious statesmen.
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