Everybody is Wrong About Ukraine…Everybody.

Here it is, that place you didn't know existed a few weeks ago that the Republicans want to start a new Cold War over.

Here it is, that place you didn’t know existed a few weeks ago that the Republicans want to start a new Cold War over.

I was amazed to see today, beneath the continuing headline story of a plane that got lost, a story about the Ukraine. Apparently there’s some kind of “Russian aggression” happening?

Geesh, that was so last week.

Despite the corporate media’s fixation on the missing airliner, the crisis in Ukraine has continued in the intervening days, and I’ve got to say, if we’re going to cover round the clock a news story in which nothing happens, it would seem to me that the nothing happening between Russia and Europe would be a more important kind of nothing to keep people’s attention fixed on.

But hey, who am I? What do I know about Russian aggression?

Well, for one thing, I know that “aggression” is usually a little more aggressive.

Granted, Russia is trying to seize Ukrainian military assets in Crimea as part of its vision of a re-annexation of Crimea. That sounds really terrible, but there are a couple of considerations that might be worth remembering: 1) Crimea is a chunk of Russia that was given away to the Ukraine as a bit of internal Soviet backscratching only a few decades ago; 2) Crimea’s population is mostly ethnic Russian, differing starkly from the Ukrainian speaking population of the rest of the country; and 3) Russia’s main warm weather port for its Navy is there in Crimea.

I mean, really, how would America react if Cuba tried to assert its right for territorial integrity over Guantanamo Bay—a much less important installation to us than the base in Crimea is to Russia?

So, when the West accuses Russia of violating Ukraine’s sovereignty, it’s a bit disingenuous. Yes, Russia’s proposal to allow Crimea to hold a referendum on seceding violates the Ukrainian constitution, but so did the ouster of President Viktor Yanukovych.

That ouster, by the way, was pulled off in no small part because of raucous street gangs spouting Neo-Nazi propaganda in Kiev. Yeah, they’re on our side. Yay!

So, yeah, the CNN and U.S. State Department version of events is not exactly a water-tight narrative.

Clearly, then, the West should back off and let Russia absorb the Crimea!

Oh, wait, what was my title again? Oh yes: Everybody is wrong.

Russia actually signed a treaty with the Ukraine promising to never, ever, we-swear-you’ve-got-nothing-to-worry-about, do exactly this thing they’re doing now. In exchange, Ukraine gave up its nuclear arsenal.

Oops.

Plus, there’re already signs of intimidation inside Crimea directed towards the minority Tartar population, who have faced no small measure of persecution as denizens of Russian empires past.

What do we do when everybody’s wrong, then?

We talk it out, people. The loudmouths on the right have been quite critical of President Obama for being “weak” on foreign policy (I guess that “I put a bullet in Osama” luster has finally worn off) and have blamed his timidity for creating the situation in Ukraine.

The reality, though, is that this crisis is the product of a complex world without easy solutions where colliding interests create conflict. We can resort to bellicose saber-rattling like the Republicans want us to—which will only create more conflict down the road, regardless of who “wins” this particular round—or we can strive for a world governed by reason, international law, and, above all, a consideration for the rights of all the real human beings living in the Ukraine and Crimea.

Go ahead and have a referendum, but not right now. No such vote could be legitimate with so little time to prepare and a foreign power’s troops looking over the shoulders of people at the ballot box. Russia should–well, rather “must”–pull back its forces and UN monitors should supervise the evolving democratic institutions in this troubled country, whether Ukraine retains its current borders or not.

 

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