The Obama State Department rejects the vote in the Crimea to rejoin Russia on the grounds that it violates the Ukrainian Constitution. But according to the Ukrainian Constitution, the pro Russian president Victor Yanukovych should never have been driven from power in the first place. Our feckless national media tells us that he was overthrown in a “popular uprising.” Would that work here? In the United States? Obama’s support is now below 42%. Can we demonstrate and force him out? Is that okay with the national media? Don’t hold your breath.
Our hypocritical foreign policy calls for supporting democracy when it does what we want it to do, or what our national media wants it to do, but we easily dismiss it when it does what we don’t. Like Iraq and Afghanistan where we re-wrote the constitution the way we wanted it to be written. Or in Egypt where they voted in the wrong man and so now we support the military.
I’m not against what we want. Nor am I always against what the national media wants. I like the women’s rights, for example, that we insist our newly created “democracies” enact. But I am against sending our sons to die to try to force other people to do what we want. Only to have it come undone later. If we truly cherish freedom, let’s let other people have it and mind our own business.
No one was a bigger hawk during the Cold War than I but before we rush into war over Ukraine stop for a moment and consider these very different circumstances.
1.) Communism is dead. Has anybody noticed? The threat of a newly formed communist governments killing millions of citizens, including teachers , students, intellectuals and Christians is over. Far from closing churches, there is a religious renewal sweeping the CIS.
In the 1990’s the Russian government rebuilt the Cathedral of Christ the Savior that Stalin had burned to the ground. It had originally been built to honor the victory over Napoleon and was the site of the world premiere of the Tchaikovsky Overture of 1812. When a rock band, Pussy Riot, climbed up on its altars and shouted and sang obscenities Vladimir Putin had them arrested. American politicians, such as Nancy Pelosi said that this was suppression of free speech. (Presumably, Pussy Riot is welcome to shout the “F” word and other obscenities in the well of the U.S. House of Representatives or maybe the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C.)
2.) Kiev, not Moscow, was the first capital of Russia.
3.) Ukraine was part of the Soviet Union longer than Hawaii and Alaska have been American states. Imagine banishing them from the union? (Come to think of it, President Sarah Palin might like that.) Russian soldiers and naval officers have been in the Crimean city of Sevastopol since 1784.
4.) The people of Ukraine, east and west, elected a pro Russian leader because the previous pro western presidents were incompetent and corrupt. (Although Yulia Tymoshenko was a “looker.”) The economy was in a shambles. I had friends show up at their bank to learn that the government had taken half of their savings. Money soon fled the banks.
Meanwhile, crime was rampant. My translator and close friend was married twice and both times the spouse was murdered. A Ukrainian teenager who attends a private school I help administrate in Oregon had a brother killed over a parking place. Small wonder that during my annual visit a few years ago there were bumper stickers all over the Ukraine saying, “Give us your Putin.” At least he could maintain law and order.
5.) The American television executives, who liked the idea of war with Iraq, may not support a sustained war against Russia. The war in Iraq, however personal it was for George W. Bush, had the additional value of forcing America to jump into the frying pan with Israel and become a still bigger target of Islamic extremists. Now Israel was not alone in the world. It was Israel and us. But will those same television executives be ready to send hundreds of thousands to die for the people of western Ukraine? These are the people whose grandparents manned many of Hitler’s death camps, like Sobibor. Antisemitism is today stronger in western Ukraine than anywhere in the world outside of radical Islamic nations. Keep in mind. Until World War Two, western Ukraine was Poland. And before that, some parts were in the Austria-Hungarian Empire.
Most of all, a war over Ukraine would cause the death of thousands and thousands of innocent people who are now our friends. People with whom we work and love. So let’s calm down. Yes the Cold War is over and the Soviet Union is not coming back but a little tweaking of those borders based on language and politics is inevitable.