Tuesday, March 4, 2014

What Happened to the Mustache, Mein Führer!?!

During this current crisis in Ukraine a lot of noise has been made about how poorly the weak-kneed Obama compares to -say- Reagan if he was suddenly resurrected and stood at the helm of state, staring down Putin like a real man should.

Not to channel Reagan's ghost or anything but his former ambassador to the Soviet Union , Jack Matlock, appears like a big softy in his response to Russia's incursion into Crimea when contrasted with the hyperbolic response from the White House - consumed as it is in its ritual, global alpha-male dance (lest anyone deem Obama "weak" in response to a crisis in a country many in the West didn't realize even existed until a few weeks ago).

His essay on this issue is recommended reading for people interested in different perspectives on this situation. Then again, judging from the media coverage, many are content to view Putin as the new Hitler (the lack of menacing facial hair aside).

Also noteworthy in this moment of momentous struggle for freedom, is that the current Ukrainian state owes its entire existence (and the never-ending instability within) to maps drawn by the totalitarian hand of one Joseph Stalin.

Some excerpts:

" If I were Ukrainian I would echo the immortal words of the late Walt Kelly’s Pogo: “We have met the enemy and he is us.” "
1. The current territory of the Ukrainian state was assembled, not by Ukrainians themselves but by outsiders, and took its present form following the end of World War II. To think of it as a traditional or primordial whole is absurd. This applies a fortiori to the two most recent additions to Ukraine—that of some eastern portions of interwar Poland and Czechoslovakia, annexed by Stalin at the end of the war, and the largely Russian-speaking Crimea, which was transferred from the RSFSR well after the war, when Nikita Khrushchev controlled the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. Since all constituent parts of the USSR were ruled from Moscow, it seemed at the time a paper transfer of no practical significance. (Even then, the city of Sevastopol, the headquarters of the Black Sea Fleet, was subordinated directly to Moscow, not Kiev.) Up to then, the Crimea had been considered an integral part of Russia since Catherine “the Great” conquered it in the 18th century.
a. It has been a mistake for all the parties, those in Ukraine and those outside, to treat this crisis as a contest for control of Ukraine.
b. Obama’s “warning” to Putin was ill-advised. Whatever slim hope that Moscow might avoid overt military intervention in Ukraine disappeared when Obama in effect threw down a gauntlet and challenged him. This was not just a mistake of political judgment—it was a failure to understand human psychology—unless, of course, he actually wanted a Russian intervention, which is hard for me to believe.
c. At this moment it is not clear, at least to me, what the ultimate Russian intent is. I do not believe it is in Russia’s interest to split Ukraine, though they may want to detach the Crimea from it—and if they did, they would probably have the support of the majority of Crimean residents. 

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