Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Ukraine Thoughts

1.  I spent time reading on the history of the area, the background of the conflict, the economics of energy dependency by countries such as Germany and France.  It's not quite true that the more I read the less I knew, because understanding the recent history, the economics, the ethnic divisions and the culture of the area IS helpful.  But different experts state very different things, and I have no basis for deciding who is more correct.  Indeed, my latest reading is that nobody really knows what's going to happen next.

2.  Then I tried to understand Vladimir Putin better, the one horseman of the apocalypse.  Does he simply wish to recreate the world power the Soviet Union had, with those old KGB principles of icy force, but using socially conservative, religion-backed nationalism in the place of communism?  And if he does, how many other areas will Russia need to re-swallow to feel sated?  I can't see the logic in this step, given Russia's weak economy and so on, but if the logic is in Vlad's reptile brain...

3.  There's something about protest movements and revolutions which makes me very sad.  They often begin because the people have shitty lives (as is the case in Syria, Egypt and Ukraine), but once they get going and the existing power of the dictators recedes the emerging power vacuum is there for the taking.  And it is not taken by the protesters but by those smaller groups which have ready frameworks, guns and money.  Often they have values no more democratic or less so than the values of the earlier dictators.

This is sad.  It doesn't mean that revolutions are without effects, but the effects may be a very long time coming.  And democracy is an art which requires practice.  That practice requires time.  Without the practice, a different type of non-democracy will win, at least in the short-run.

4.  When it comes to the possible role of the US in all this, my reading quickly got into the tinfoil area of odd conspiracies and so on.  What's pretty clear, however, is that too many American politicians think everything is about the US, and too many commentators apply US terms and ideas to a conflict which is about something different.

Then there are cheap shots like this one:

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) took to Twitter this afternoon to connect the Russian invasion into Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula to the Obama administration’s response to the 2012 terrorist attack on a U.S. consulate in Libya that left four Americans dead.
“It started with Benghazi,” his tweet proclaimed. “When you kill Americans and nobody pays a price, you invite this type of aggression.”
It's cheap because he could have used the US invasion of Iraq as the example, not Benghazi, and the analogy would have been more apt.

This cheap aspect of politics makes me enormously tired.  Because the Republicans want to keep Benghazi in the news, in case Hillary Clinton will run for the presidency one day, every event with suffering in this world must somehow be related to it.  To manipulate the voters.