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Is Russia going into the Ukraine now?
Posted 28 February 2014 - 07:47 PM
There is supposed to be a summit in Sochi in a few months. Cold shoulders abound!
Edited by Ms. Spam, 28 February 2014 - 07:49 PM.
Posted 28 February 2014 - 07:58 PM
Cold War PART 2!!! Coming this spring!
That's what they said about the Russia-Georgia war of 2008. Nothing happened, though. This thing will blow over. Russia wants to posture, but won't go all the way to restore the old president to power, and the US won't fight any kind of war with Obama as president.
Edited by El Chalupacabra, 28 February 2014 - 08:08 PM.
Posted 02 March 2014 - 12:35 AM
This is actually a much more serious and dangerous situation than the 2008 South Ossetia War. In fact, the two situations are not the same. They share some similiarities, but the core circumstances are completely different.
First, why this is more serious.
in regards to the 2008 conflict, South Ossetia is not recognized as an independant nation other than by five countries. It is semi-autonomous but technically still part of Georgia. At the time, there were Ossetian, Georgian, and Russian forces enforcing a 1992 ceasfefire agreement within all their respective sections (mostly drawn up along sectarian lines). Not going to go into the whole thing, but in 2008, The Georgians bore as much responsibility for that conflict as the Russians. It has long been an aim of Georgia, who controls North Ossetia (which has a heavy Georgian population), to bring the whole of South Ossestia (which has a heavy Russian population, although the large majority are not Russian-born but rather naturalized citizens due to Russia's willingness to grant citizens of ex-Soviet states Russian citizenship should they choose to apply) back under direct Georgian control. Now we can go back and forth all day over which side actually provoked the other more (The Georgians claim that Russian-backed South Ossetian forces, supported by Russian military peacekeeping forces, attacked Georgian communities and fired on Georgian-North Ossetian peacekeepers). Truth is that both sides had been provoking each other for years. Bottom line though is that the Georgians were the ones to overtly initiate open conflict. They launched another full-scale invasion of South Ossetia, during which Russian troops took casualties. It was probably not completely without cause. The Russians may have had a hand in inciting the conflict, and in response, Russia counterattacked on behalf of the South Ossetian forces and proceeded to brutally push further into Georgia. Russian troops were in South Ossetia from the beginning, and most likely had been pushing Ossetian seperastists to provoke the Gerogians, but their pressence there was agreed upon under the 1992 Sochi Agreement. This is why the United States was in such a difficult situation. The nationalist Georgian government was pro-US. They were allies in both the Iraq and Afghan Wars, control part of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline that carries oil from Azerbaijan, sought distance from Moscow and closer ties with the West, and were trying to apply for membership into NATO (Keep in mind this is a former Soviet Bloc state).
In the current situation, Ukraine (also a former Soviet Bloc state) is an internationally recognized sovereign nation. What makes the situation complicated is that they are under an interim government, and Russia recognizes the previous government (under Viktor Yanukovych) as the legit government. So if Russian troops deploy en masse across the boundary (or already have), then, unlike in South Ossetia where there were always Russian troops deployed under the 1992 agreement, this sudden deployment of Russian military forces would be nothing less then an invasion of Ukraine. They've done it before. Czechoslovakia, 1968. Because the Russians wouldn't be invited in by the interim government, which is the Western-recognized government. The Ukrainians aren't provoking them, as the Georgians were somewhat in the 2008 war.
if the Russians do intend to fully occupy Crimea (with designs on the rest of Ukraine), then the entire situation less resembles the 2008 South Ossetia crisis in Georgia and more resembles the 1938 Sudetenland crisis in Czechoslovakia. There you had a large, German-speaking population, self-identifying as "German," who wanted to be part of the German Reich. They were backed by the government in Berlin, and Germany was preparing to use military force to support them. Today. Crimea. You have a large, Russian speaking population, self-indentifying as "Russian," who want to be part or Russia. They are backed by the government in Moscow, and Russia is preparing to use military force to support them. In fact, in the last days of the Soviet Union, the Supreme Soviet was seriously considering returning Crimea to Russian control as oppsed to Ukrainian, but the Union dissolved before it ever happened. So there is an old claim there too.
So what happens if open conflict eventually commences between the two nations? The 2008 South Ossetia War (all the South Ossetia conflicts in the past 25 years even) was considered an old Soviet internal problem. All in all, no one really cared. Ukraine is at Western Europe's back door. It borders four nations in the NATO alliance. Everyone will suddenly care. Furthermore, there is a little known treaty that was signed back in 1994 by then US President Bill Clinton, British Prime Minister John Major, Russian President Boris Yeltzin, and Ukrainian Prime Minister Leonid Kuchma. After the Soviet collapse, Russia was trying to consolidate the Soviet nuclear arsenal, and the US was helping them (because it's easier to keep track of nuclear weapons in one somewhat strong and very large, former Soviet state than several small, weak ones where they could more easily be aquired by terrorists). This treaty, like others with former states, was basically an agreement by Russia, mediated (a gentle euphemism for enforced, really) by the US and UK, to respect the borders of Ukraine and Unkrainian sovereignty in exchange for Ukraine relinquishing control of all nuclear weapons and materials stationed there by the Soviet Union to Russia. What happens if something really goes wrong, and the two go to war, and then Ukraine invokes this treaty? Is it legally binding? That kinda ups the ante a bit, considering three of the signatories possess the bulk of the world's nuclear weapons and two belong to the largest military alliance in the world. Guarentee lawers are burning the midnight oil looking that thing over upside down and inside out right now.
And what makes it even more dangerous is the sectarian division. There is a heavy Russian-speaking population in Crimea. There is also a significant Ukranian minority in Crimea. Add to the mix another minority... surprise, surprise... an increasingly militant Muslim population. So what does that mean? It means, that an influx of uninvited Russian combat forces will create chaos, just as an influx of uninvited American and Coalition combat forces created chaos after the fall of Baghdad. We can argue the differences in and the reasons for the Iraq War another time, but the fact remains that when you invade a place, chaos tends to insue. In the case of Iraq, once the regime in Baghdad collapsed, there was no functioning government, and we didn't have the manpower to establish control for quite some time. There was chaos. And what tends to rise out of chaos? Violence. Lots of violence. Especially when there are several groups who don't like each other very much. Now in this case, there is a government, and Crimea is only a small part of Ukraine. But the government itself is in turmoil. They just chased out the former leader. The new leadership is an interim government, and they're not fully established. I'm not sure that they could handle a sudden deployment of thousands of Russian troops. So people divide along sectatian lines, Russians, Ukranians, Muslims, other groups. First they're shooting at Russian troops and allied militias, then they're shooting at each other, then they're shooting at both, then they're shooting at themselves, then they're shooting at everyone and anything. One thing leads to another. This is what happened in Yugoslavia and Syria and Iraq.
And let's just say that Russia stands down on full military deployment. There is still that dangerous sectarian situation within Crimea right now. They've been rioting. Violence has been taking place daily among all these goups. Add to that a military operation (that everyone is still trying to figure out who is responsible for... Russian troops, Crimean-Russian dissidants, whoever) ending in the raising of Russian flags. This is bad. And the government, at the moment, can't deal with it. So they're weak. What if that blows up? That's actually the situation I'm most concerned about. Because chances are that Putin just wants to see how the West, and the US specifically, will react. But the people living in Crimea couldn't care less about that. Sectarian violence doesn't care much for politics under the surface of it all. So if they start shooting at each other, the Ukrainian military will obviously have to get involved. Considering those Russian-speaking people, and the fact that their Chechen province and the Middle East are just across the Black Sea, the Russians would probably be drawn in (even if only in a limited status, and that's if they're not already there)... because back to that increasingly militant Muslim population, who right now is very pissed off, their leaders are already calling for armed resistance to "Russian interference." And let's not forget that our good friends Al Qaida and their affiliates would love to jump in on that oportunity. Open up a new front in Europe, they'd love that. Next thing we know, there are 20 or more different Islamic groups fighting in Crimea, maybe even greater Ukraine, just like in Iraq, Syria, Egypt and Gaza. Ukraine can become the new Yugoslavia maybe.
Not saying that all this will happen. Just things to think about. This is not the 2008 Georgia-Russia crisis. This is a very dangerous situation that we cannot afford to hope just blows over. Maybe it will. Or maybe it will explode regardless of what we do. Who knows? But sitting back and just crossing our fingers... not the answer. Remember that discussion we had about internal conflicts and how they have a bad habit of becoming regional conflicts? This is how these things start.
Second, The Cold War never ended.
That's perhaps the biggest misunderstanding of history, especially in the United States, that the Cold War somehow just "ended." And anyone who believes that clearly doesn't really understand the East nor how they think in the East. The West likes to forgive and forget, or at least forget anyway. They don't do that in the East, even in the Christian East. It's not in their culture to do so. They hold grudges. And they dispise weakness. In the East, weakness (to include the appearance of weakness) invites violence. A grudge and a hatred for weakness taken together, not a good combo. It's why they have so many ethnically-driven conflicts. And Russia is an Eastern nation. Even aside from all that, in regards to both the US and Russia, the two toughest dogs on the block don't bury almost a hundred years of animosity and conflict simply by tearing down a wall. If it were that easy, then we would just build walls in every conflict zone, tag them up with graffitti, and then tear them down. "The Wall came down, dawg. It's over. Let's all take shots and laugh about it." Other than combatting terrorism and radical Islam, American and Russian interests have always and will always run counter to each other. Always. There was a time, in the mid-1990s, when it appeared that President Clinton and President Yeltzin could maybe set the stage for warmer relations. But taken into account that the same people who were in key Soviet positions before then are in key Russian positions now, that all ended. In fact, it all ended almost right after it began, and all the old animosities were thrown tight back into the forefront. Added to all this, the Russian leadership (specifically Russian president Vladimir Putin) has shown time and again that he has no respect whatsoever for our current president and his administration. In fact, the Russian leadership hasn't even said anything about their current move. Nothing. Not a word. That's a clear message of complete disregard for anything we have or would have to say about anything at all. It's actually more disturbing that they aren't saying anything. Usually when there's a lot of sabre rattling, nothing happens. It's just to appear tough. It's when people are quiet, that's when you worry. The Israelis are notorious for that. The Russians don't care about our warnings. Warnings were issued to the Syrian government over chemical weapons (in fact, a "red line" was stated). Nothing happened. Warnings were issued to the previous Ukraninan government concerning restraint. Nothing happened. Now "warnings" are being issued to the Russians. They don't care. The Russian parliment gave Putin a green light to use the military to protect Russian interests in Ukraine the day after President Obama warned of "consequences." They have no fear right now of any of our rhetoric. I mean, hell, we're beyond warnings now anyway. They may already be there. This move is intended to invoke a response.
This is not "Oh, the Cold War is back on." It never ended. This is serious, and we should be paying attention.
Edited by PeacefulMindedJedi, 02 March 2014 - 03:30 AM.
Posted 02 March 2014 - 04:36 AM
Posted 02 March 2014 - 05:34 AM
Second, The Cold War never ended.
While I understand that you may see this as a distinction without a difference, I disagree with your use of the term "The Cold War never ended", and so do pretty much most historians. The Cold War did end with the collapse of the USSR, and the term Cold War is used to describe what went on POST WW2 to 1991, in relations between the US and USSR.
Now, you can correctly argue the US has always remained wary of the successor government, Russian Federation (which is only second to the US in military might), and seen it as an adversary, and that the Russians were and always have had a tenuous relationship with the West. You can correctly argue that the Cold War left a legacy that we have been dealing with ever since, and this incident is the latest among them. But the Cold War itself, between the US and USSR, did end. Mutual distrust on the part of the US and Russia didn't, and recent relations are more strained since the Cold War, and on that I agree with you.
Also, I think you may have misinterpreted my cynicism, with indifference. I actually agree with a lot of what you said, PMJ, but I never said anything about what the US should do, or what the Russians should do, because really, I am not sure what can be done. Nor did I say this situation was unimportant, and should be ignored. It is. But I think, at least with Obama as President, the US will not interfere and the Russians won't overtly "conquer" all of Ukraine, either. I agree with you and I don't think Putin respects Obama very much at all, but I think he also recognizes that he can only push so far before the US, and the world is forced to act, and that he knows where that line (the line being out and out annexation of Ukraine) is and won't cross it. He may go right up to that line, sure, but I think Putin can read the West like a book, and knows how far he can go and still get away with it. Net result, when this crisis "ends," (or maybe more properly, is less hot) is it will have blown over, as far as the Obama administration is concerned.
if the Russians do intend to fully occupy Crimea (with designs on the rest of Ukraine)
I do believe at the end of the day, that while Obama is president, the US will not do anything meaningful, just like the US didn't do much with the Russia-Georgia War of 2008, and in Syria. Just Rhetoric. The Russians, on the other hand, will not go as far as to overtly topple the Ukrainian government, and annex all of Ukraine. They obviously would like to exert their control over Ukraine, but I think Putin recognizes that would be going too far.
It may be possible that Ukraine may lose territory, IE Crimea, where the ethnic Russians in that area want to either form their own state or join with Russia. So, if that does in fact play out, net result is it will blow over, because the US and the West will not take any meaningful action, and Ukraine is in no position to stop the Russians because Ukraine VS Russia is like Rhode Island VS the rest of the US. Neither is the US in much of a position to stop the Russians, either, quite frankly. I don't see Obama having much will of doing much of anything, and even if he does, Congress, both republicans and democrats, won't back him. I think action on the behlf of Ukraine, militarily or otherwise, isn't something the US as a whole, is prepared for, or has a desire to do.
And it does appear the Russians have already invaded Crimea. Curiously, they aren't wearing any insignia.
Posted 02 March 2014 - 06:40 AM
They may if Ukraine moves its military to confront the Russians in Crimea. That's just conventional military doctrine. If contact is imminent, and you have the means and ability to do so, you go on the offensive, attack, and seize the initiative. They probably wouldn't move to take possession of the country, but they'll make it clear that they will aggressively protect their own interests in the region. God knows what Vladimir Putin's state of mind is anyway. He and his little circle have this superiority complex going on. They're just a bunch of thugs who like to throw their weight around.
Again, I'm more worried about the chaos that may ensure from a destabilized nation. These is the kind of cicumstances that extremist groups prey on.
And I don't take to heart much of what many historians say anymore, because most are political and not unbiased in their assessments of history. Many aren't much different from politicians even, and everyone knows I don't like politicians at all. It's all semantics. Yes, THE Cold War ended because the major beligerents were the United States and the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union doesn't exist anymore. So, by that logic, neither can anything relating to it which, by that logic, includes THE Cold War.
But to me, that's a bunch of political wordplay and mumbo-jumbo. I don't live by that. I live by reality, and the reality is that Russia was the heart and soul of the Soviet Union. The interests of Russia and those of the US have always run counter to each other, and they always will. Major tensions between the two have existed for a century, and relations have always been unfriendly. In the textbooks, the Cold War ended. In reality, it's still very much present. And today, it's just as cold as it was when the communists were in charge of Russia.
Edited by PeacefulMindedJedi, 02 March 2014 - 07:05 AM.
Posted 02 March 2014 - 08:57 AM
I agree with Chalup. PMJ, I think from a follower and one who studies geo-politics, the Ukrainian situation is intriguing, but there is no reason to really be this alarmist about it. The US does not have any particular strategic interest in the Ukraine, and even if it did, the US would not really be in any position to do anything about it.
What is somewhat remarkable is how irresponsibly slanted the media depiction is of what is going on. To hear politicians reply to the situation and the coverage in the news, an American could easily be led to believe that there is this peaceful wave of happy protestors, and the big bad evil Russia and the Ukrainian government is cracking down on them. Nothing could be further from the truth. Some parts of the Euromaidan are peaceful sure, but the vast majority are not. This is a mob of violent revolutionaries that have, among other things, killed policemen, burned down government buildings, and are largely armed. They're armed with mainly small arms and molotov cocktails, sure, but they're still armed. And let's not also forget that a sizable faction of the protestors are the 'Right Sector,' who by the way, are a militant group of extreme fascists.
The only reason anyone in the US is nominally supporting the protestors is because they happen to be more "pro Western," which is basically just a fiction that has really dubious origins and appears to be created out of thin air. The protestors are more accurately described as "anti Russian," not necessarily "pro Western." Sure, they are more in favor of closer ties to the EU, but that's only because the EU was offering a larger loan package than Russia back in November. The protestors are better described as Ukrainian nationalist than anything else, and they would align with other Western European countries only for as long as they're getting something out of it. I mean, they certainly aren't some type of pro-Western freedom fighter faction, which is why I can't understand why everyone seems to be depicting them as such.
Which brings me to the US position, which as of now, is somewhat schizophrenic and makes no sense. Yanukovych, whatever you might think of him, was the democratically elected leader. Is he more pro-Russia than EU? Sure, but guess what? That's what a majority of people in Ukraine wanted and that's what they got, and Yanukovych didn't do anything that he didn't promise he would. It's not like he was an evil dictator or anything. His platform was pro-Russia, and when he won, his policies were pro-Russia. That's all. What did you expect? Just because you lose an election does not mean you have the right to take out the rifles and pitchforks and start rioting. The Democrats didn't do that in 2004 when they lost, and the Republicans didn't do that in 2008, because, well in the US, we actually, from time to time, try and act like civilized f-cking people. So why, exactly, should we be supporting the protestors? Is the US' position seriously going to be- "we support global democracy, but only if you elect the leaders we like. Otherwise, we support violent revolution." Is that it? Really?
I mean, we saw the same thing in Syria, which boggles the mind. Here, we were supporting the rebels for no reason I can even articulate, other than maybe because the Syrian government had some Russian support. OK, fine- granted. I get it- Russia, big bad ooooo scary booegy man, whatever. But, why does that now mean we support the rebels? The rebels, by the way, who consisted in large part of the Islamic Front who are fundamentalist Muslim jihadis that explicitly stated they reject secular government, democracy, want to establish an Islamic state with Sharia law, and regularly killed Christian civilians. So these are the people we were funneling arms to? Over Assad? The man who was secular, has a Western (British) family, educated in the West and was cool with a large Christian population in Syria for years? We're opposing that guy in favor of some fundamentalist jihadis? Explain this to me? There doesn't really seem to be an explanation, except the Syrian government made Israel nervous, and as we all know, Washington DC might as well just be a freaking extension of Jerusalem.
But at least in Syria, you could kinda-sorta make ties to the US national interest. We have strategic interests in the Mid East. Russia, Iraq and Iran have ties to the conflict and so on. And the Jewish Lobby, who love em or hate em, pretty much own Congress at this point, got all stirred up about it, as I noted above. But Ukraine? Please. Somebody point out the strategic interest we have in the region. PMJ, when you ask whether we should just sit back and cross our fingers, you know what- that's exactly what we should do. The Obama Administration should condemn both sides for violence and say that we hope a peaceful solution can be reached, and then we should do nothing else. We have literally no particular reason to go beyond that, no matter if Russia gets militarily involved. And quite frankly, it is completely reasonable that they would, and we would do the same thing. For example, let's say a violent group of anti-US protestors took over the Mexican government, burned down buildings, and, oh by the way, this group happens to be militantly Mexican nationalist and anti-US. Would we get involved? You bet your ass. In fact, this is not particularly a hypothetical, take the Monroe Doctrine. And, we've done this many times in the past when instability was in our corner of the world: Guatemala coup, bay of Pigs, our invasion of the Dominican Republic in 1966, Grenada invasion, the Nicaraguan contras, Colombian drug war, Chile (you know, the one where the CIA replaced the government), and let's not forget Panama. Where we invaded a whole country for the sole reason of grabbing their leader and throwing him in a freaking US jail.
So it's absolutely 100% hypocritical for us to get on Russia for something that we not only would do, but have done, about a dozen times or more in Latin America. Now, am I saying we shouldn't have done any of these actions? Not at all. That's a different debate for a different time. But what I am saying, is wake me up when there's actually a credible, explicit, quantifiable threat to US national security. Until then, let the Russians and Ukrainians fight amongst themselves for the rest of time for all I care.
Edited by Carrie Mathison, 02 March 2014 - 09:04 AM.
- El Chalupacabra +1 this
Posted 02 March 2014 - 12:50 PM
Is the US' position seriously going to be- "we support global democracy, but only if you elect the leaders we like. Otherwise, we support violent revolution." Is that it? Really?
Has U.S foreign policy ever been anything else, Carrie? Borrow yourself a Ouija Board and ask Salvador Allende, perhaps.
Posted 02 March 2014 - 12:50 PM
They may if Ukraine moves its military to confront the Russians in Crimea.That's just conventional military doctrine.
True. But it's only military doctrine, if that's the Russians' objective. It's too soon to be clear on what exactly Russia's end game is. I think they do want to exert influence on Ukraine, but I would be surprised if they actually topple the Ukrainian government. But it seems so weak, it may topple by itself, anyway, and I think the main reason they are making the move they are is because (from their point of view) they are attempting to stabilize the situation, in case of a political collapse of the Ukrainian government. If that happens, maybe the Russians will indeed fill that power vacuum. And honestly, I would rather see the Russians fill that vacuum, than a mob of rebels that may include Islamic fundamentalists. Like them or not, Russia is at least a stable government.
They probably wouldn't move to take possession of the country, but they'll make it clear that they will aggressively protect their own interests in the region.
Not unlike what the US has done, in the Russian point of view. I think they really do believe they are justified.
God knows what Vladimir Putin's state of mind is anyway. He and his little circle have this superiority complex going on. They're just a bunch of thugs who like to throw their weight around.
The rest of the world has been saying this about the US, for years, really. From the Russian point of view, it may very well be that they see this as protecting ethnic Russians in Crimea. They may actually think they are doing something justified and right. I am not saying it is right, just that they may be convinced they are, and this isn't just some simple power grab.
This is what I think when I look at this situation:
- Russia attempting to reconstitute its hegemony in the region. That's something everyone knows.
- The US interest seems ill defined to me. Other than the fact that it is because they are siding against Russia, as CM said, there doesn't seem a coherent reason to oppose the Russians, and support what basically was a coup in Ukraine. If you look at this map, it's clear Ukraine is quite literally split in half, with the Eastern half being ethnically Russian, and having been pro-Yanukovych http://edition.cnn.c...article_sidebar
- The US has very little influence on this situation, and really can't do much of anything by itself. In fact, the US doesn't have near the clout it did even 12 years ago. So when it comes to Russia (in their view) protecting ethnic Russians, they aren't interested in what the US has to say. As far as they are concerned, this is an internal matter.
The EU probably has more influence in that region, than the US does alone, so if someone needs to step up, its the EU, like they did with the Georgia crisis. It is in their back yard, after all.
The US, EU, or NATO don't want an armed conflict with Russia, Russia knows this, and doesn't want one with them, either. So posturing and threatening Russia at this point is not much more than feel-good rhetoric. They know we aren't going to do much of anything. Rhetoric only hurts the inevitible negotiation process that concludes this situation.
Ukraine has 2 choices, fight a losing war and be crushed, or surrender, as the Russians are now demanding. With a government that is teetering, and the Russians moving as swiftly as they did, Ukraine is in no position in fighting a war, right now. In effect, Ukraine's military has already lost the war, before it started. Russia has effectively surrounded them and I would be surprised if Ukraine troops open fire on Russian troops at this point. The Russians have such an upper hand, they don't need to open fire.
I think some deal will ultimately be brokered, where Eastern parts of Ukraine are granted "independence" from Ukraine, and it will be set up with a puppet government, that answers to Moscow. Maybe Yanukovych will be at its head, maybe not. Seems most of the Eastern half of Ukraine is ethnically Russian, and the majority seems pro-Russia, so maybe it wouldn't be a bad thing. Western Ukraine can go one way, Easter Ukraine can go the other, and maybe it can be accomplished with little bloodshed. That would be more ideal than a chaotic, bloody civil war, or a war where Russia curb stomps Ukraine.
Posted 02 March 2014 - 01:06 PM
OK, fine- granted. I get it- Russia, big bad ooooo scary booegy man, whatever. But, why does that now mean we support the rebels? The rebels, by the way, who consisted in large part of the Islamic Front who are fundamentalist Muslim jihadis that explicitly stated they reject secular government, democracy, want to establish an Islamic state with Sharia law, and regularly killed Christian civilians. So these are the people we were funneling arms to? Over Assad? The man who was secular, has a Western (British) family, educated in the West and was cool with a large Christian population in Syria for years? We're opposing that guy in favor of some fundamentalist jihadis? Explain this to me? There doesn't really seem to be an explanation, except the Syrian government made Israel nervous, and as we all know, Washington DC might as well just be a freaking extension of Jerusalem.
This is what I'm talking about. U.S foreign policy has ALWAYS been like this. They also backed the Mujaheddin in Afghanistan, don't forget.
Posted 02 March 2014 - 03:29 PM
It's going to be interesting to see who takes on Ukraine's debt. aSomeone has to do it, and America is balking (for obvious reasons).
The IMF rejected an extension on a loan back in 2008 I believe. A lot of the Soviet Block Countries that broke off have had issues governing and growing. The Ukrainians are dependent on Soviet energy but they have something that a lot of those other countries don't in that they are the third largest producer of grains and they have some industry. 17% of the population is Russian.
Posted 02 March 2014 - 03:53 PM
The Soviet Block countries have always struggled. Perhaps this goes back a millenium or more because historically the area was always easy to conquer. From both ends moving back and forth, like Alexander the Great, Marco Polo and Genghis Khan. The only one "government" one could say that had lasting results in the region is religion. The Eastern Orthodox Church is still strong here as well as Tartar populations.
Russia doesn't want the whole of the Ukraine. They don't want the debt and the governing headaches. They want Crimea because of Sebastapol. And so people wishing that they would go in may be disappointed in the results.
I think the US reaction is going to be interesting though. A lot of the old Hawks have died out and the Hawks in Congress are not what we wish for. The US government in its current administration has even gone on to reject Israel. Which is quite different and refreshing from previous administrations.
Posted 03 March 2014 - 09:04 PM
I think the US reaction is going to be interesting though. A lot of the old Hawks have died out and the Hawks in Congress are not what we wish for. The US government in its current administration has even gone on to reject Israel. Which is quite different and refreshing from previous administrations.
The U.S blew their brains out financially in Iraq and Afghanistan, and their military is, from what I understand, war-weary and morale isn't great. I don't know if they're in much position to do anything about the Ukraine, and as Carrie suggested, they don't have any real interest there anyway other than to check Russia for no other reason than to, well, check Russia.
So naturally now's the time North Korea starts rattling its saber.
Posted 04 March 2014 - 05:13 AM
Morale within the US military is fine. War-weariness is tied to multiple deployments alone, not any sense of purpose or lack thereof.
Some parts of the Euromaidan are peaceful sure, but the vast majority are not. This is a mob of violent revolutionaries that have, among other things, killed policemen, burned down government buildings, and are largely armed. They're armed with mainly small arms and molotov cocktails, sure, but they're still armed. And let's not also forget that a sizable faction of the protestors are the 'Right Sector,' who by the way, are a militant group of extreme fascists.
First of all, not everyone who is nationalist if a fascist. That's just pushed by people (mostly Europeans) who are scared to death that the Nazi Party will rise to power again if people take pride in their own national identities. There is a certain level of American nationalism that comes and goes in waves (i.e. WWII, the 1980s and 1990s, every post-disaster time period, etc.), and I'm pretty confident that portaits of Adolf Hitler are not going to be seen in the halls of the White House any time soon. We call it "American Exceptionalism," and it's not something to be feared. It's actually a strong, unifying factor in our society. It may be the only unifying factor we have left.
Second, that's exactly what I'm talking about. So you see it the way I do then. I'm not blind. These people are not of cool heads right now. They're divided along ethnic/sectarian lines, they're very pissed off, and they're acting out violently. They were beating on each other and rioting. And as if that weren't bad enough, now some 20,000 or more Russian troops have been thrown into the mix. Basically, an invasion of their country. This recipe is for a meal that doesn't taste very good.
Somebody point out the strategic interest we have in the region. PMJ, when you ask whether we should just sit back and cross our fingers, you know what- that's exactly what we should do.
The strategic interests are that it borders four nations in the NATO alliance and that our allies and adversaries are watching our response.
I'm talking about what is known as "2nd and 3rd order effects." Short-sighted people always point out the obvious. In this case, it's the fact that the problem is between the nations of Russia and Ukraine. "It's a Russian-Urkrainian problem, right?" Yes. It is. But let's not be so short-sighted. It's also a Chinese-Japanese problem and a Chinese-Taiwanese problem and an Indian-Pakistani problem and a North Korean-South Korean problem and an Iranian-The Rest of the Middle East problem. That's beyond 2nd and 3rd order. More like 4th and 5th and 6th order. Everyone watches everything we say and do. Our response in this type of situation sets a precedence. It sets a precedence on how our adversaries, allies, potential adversaries, and potential allies view us, our commitments, and our priorities. We don't want these guys thinking, "Hey, dawg, we can do whatever we want, because they're not going to do anything." We live in a global age now, regardless of whether or not people want to see it that way. People can whine and moan all they want about the old cliche of how we're not the world's policemen. Correct. We are not. Regardless, we are a world leader, the world leader. We are a permanent member of the UN Security Council and the leading member of NATO. We don't need to go to war, but we need to do something. "Oh, it's not our problem." It is our problem.
And furthermore, speaking of 2nd and 3rd order effects, If the Russians (who are now threatening to do so) advance further into Ukraine and/or if the nation implodes on itself, and everyone starts shooting at each other, then we get another Eastern European internal conflict (complete with multiple factions, sectarian lines, terrorist groups, and ethnic cleansing) that could threaten to spill over into alliance nations. It's happened before. The war within Yugoslavia almost pulled the entire region into conflict with each other, from Slovenia to Turkey. Could a NATO member invoke Artlice 5 of the alliance's charter if the fighting threatens or even moves across their border? There's 2nd and 3rd order effects.
That's the strategic interest. Preventing it. Impying to the Chinese and other adversaries: "Don't try it."
So, y'know what, no. Sitting back, that's not what we should do. We should persue an aggressive policy of economic and political pressure. There are more than a few things we can do to put the heat on Russia. We should slap them down in order to send a message to the rest that it won't be tolerated.
PMJ, I think from a follower and one who studies geo-politics, the Ukrainian situation is intriguing, but there is no reason to really be this alarmist about it.
I wouldn't say that everyone who brings up things to think about and/or warns that something shouldn't be shrugged off is being "alarmist." I'm not exactly yelling at the computer screen as I type nor advocating upgrading military readiness to DEFCON 1.
I hope this thing gets resolved without a shot. But the longer it plays out, the more dangerous it becomes. Because sooner or later, some groups (possibly those increasingly militant Muslim groups) may just get a little tired of seeing Russian troops outside their homes... and someone may begin to funnel weapons into the region... and these groups may begin to acquire these weapons... Then the first IED goes off... Then it starts.
That sounds so familiar.
Edited by PeacefulMindedJedi, 04 March 2014 - 05:20 AM.
Posted 04 March 2014 - 07:04 AM
I don't think anyone here is saying the US should do nothing, PMJ. But what more, at this point, would you have done that hasn't already been done? Obama's already spoke the platitudes and threatened sanctions. The EU has also done as much. You point out we are in a global world now, and how the US is a permanent member of the UN Security Council. But guess what? So are France, UK, China....and Russia. Therefore, we can't just act unilaterally. If I am not mistaken, our closest permanent bases in Europe are in Bulgaria, Italy and Germany, but we would have to move through several nations to reach the Ukraine border. What do you think the Russians would do, if we start massing troops along the Polish-Ukraine, or Romanian-Ukraine border?
Posted 04 March 2014 - 02:17 PM
PMJ, I'm not saying you're yelling DEFCON 1 at the computer screen. So maybe alarmist wasn't the perfect word, but I do think at the very least, you're being a bit sensationalist and exaggerating the strategic importance of what is going on.
I know what you mean by 2nd and 3rd order effects, but I'm not seeing a connection here, even a dubious one. The other examples of global hotspots you mention are on a completely different level than this situation- they aren't analogous to the Ukraine at all. You mention Japan, the Koreas, Taiwan. Those are just in a whole different ballpark. We have treaties and security guarantees with Japan and Taiwan. We have bases in Okinawa and a significant military presence in Korea, such as a large FORSCOM unit headquartered there (2nd Infantry Division). Seoul and Tokyo are significant to US markets- they are some of the world's leading shipbuilders, electronic and semiconductor manufacturers, and so on. You also mention Iran, and again, that's on a different level. Iran is a country we encircled via Iraq and Afghanistan, and they have direct routes to US strategic points, such as the Gulf, Kuwait, and the Strait of Hormuz, not to mention that Iran is a direct enemy of two important US allies, Israel and Saudi Arabia. So, I just don't get your comparison. All these other places have direct strategic importance to the US. I mean, if North Korea was so foolish to actually attack Seoul, they would see an immediate, overwhelming, and quite frankly, an awe-inspiring response from the US. The very fact that we haven't done anything of the like in Ukraine sorta proves my point.
Second, I'm not getting your precedent point. We'd only be setting a precedent that we "never intend to act," only if people actually believed that we would ever act in the first place. But guess what, everyone knows that the US is unlikely to do much, so we're not exactly letting anyone down here. Your point that we are implying to China to not "try it," is really simplistic and borderline laughable. I mean, what exactly is China now going to be reluctant to do, if we get involved in Ukraine? China's strategic interests are in a completely different area of the world and their calculus and decision making is going to be based on factors completely different than what we did or didn't do in Ukraine. I don't see how failing to act sends any sort of message to China. Perhaps it would if they were expecting us to get involved and then we chicken out or something, but China knows we're not getting involved over something as small as this, they never expected us to, and again, even if they thought we would, it's not like they're gonna change their whole grand strategic vision over this. China knows what areas we're likely to intervene in, and those that we aren't. International politics is really more a game of chess than poker. It's not like we can hide a hand, and neither can they. We can see their pieces and they can see ours. It's more about how skillfully you move the pieces.
Finally, let's say for the sake of argument that I agreed there was some interest in Ukraine. What, exactly, are we supposed to do about it? First, recall the lengthy post I wrote above detailing how the revolutionaries can't even really be considered allies of the US in any sort. Second, even if, for some reason, we are supposed to care about some Ukrainian revolutionaries that dislike democracy, I don't think there are any effective measures to use. Direct sanctions? Well, that seems unnecessarily antagonistic and unlikely to do much. I mean, sure I would certainly agree with your analysis above that even though the Cold War ended, Russia is properly viewed as a global adversary, and not necessarily as a friend. But even if that's the case, it's not particularly wise to just start poking randomly at adversaries for no reason and when we get no benefit. So what else are we to use? Redlines? That idea only works if we intend to back up the redlines, and everyone knows we're not going to. See Syria for a good example of how we embarrassed ourselves by setting a redline and then doing nothing about it. And that's exactly what we'd do in Russia, because we're not going to war with them- they know it, we know it, and everyone else does too, so a redline would only serve to embarrass ourselves. I mean, you wanna talk setting precedents and messaging to China, well doing nothing is actually quite a bit better than embarrassing ourselves with a bunch of half-hearted measures that everyone knows we aren't going to back up.
So what's left really? Well, there's boots on the ground, but we already know that's not happening. So really, the only option we have is the one we've taken- some words to the press and then nothing. There's a lot of news pundits and so forth saying we should do something about Ukraine, mainly Republicans, but as we all know, they're just criticizing lack of action because it's Obama in the White House. They don't have any practical thing we should do, and quite honestly, if a Republican was in the White House, we'd be doing the exact same thing we're doing now. Now I'm not saying you're in this group of pundits, but I'm just saying I grow tired of hearing this criticism out there, because it's just like, what is your alternative? And this is coming from me, a Republican, who has had sharp words for Obama and parts of his domestic agenda, but quite frankly, I would be doing pretty much the exact same thing as him here. In fact, I would be even more non-committal, I would support neither side at all, not even nominally the protestors, and would just say I hope a peaceful solution can be reached.
So if you wanna do something- tell me what that is. Be specific. Not just "pressure." What exactly. And why. What benefit are we getting here? From supporting the violent revolutionaries that are anti-democratic, are not aligned with the US, in a country that is not in an area of strategic importance to the US, is not allied with any important ally of the US, has no ties to significant US shipping lanes or commerce, and is not in NATO? What, pray tell, is the benefit?
In fact, the most benefit might be precisely gained from doing nothing. Let Russia spend years of money, time, and resources on fighting this regional skirmish. Really, at the end of the day, who gives a sh-t what group of Slavs owns that dump that is Crimea? Let's say we were in a boxing match with Russia, and Russia got distracted by a third man that entered in the ring. Would it be smart to put yourself in between that? Where you could just end up getting punched yourself? Or rather, let Russia use up his energy and stamina on the third guy, and then move in for the strike after he's leaning down on the mat and tired?
Posted 04 March 2014 - 07:36 PM
The media hype has been fun though. We do love our wars!
Posted 05 March 2014 - 03:22 AM
The other examples of global hotspots you mention are on a completely different level than this situation- they aren't analogous to the Ukraine at all. You mention Japan, the Koreas, Taiwan. Those are just in a whole different ballpark. We have treaties and security guarantees with Japan and Taiwan. We have bases in Okinawa and a significant military presence in Korea, such as a large FORSCOM unit headquartered there (2nd Infantry Division). Seoul and Tokyo are significant to US markets- they are some of the world's leading shipbuilders, electronic and semiconductor manufacturers, and so on. You also mention Iran, and again, that's on a different level. Iran is a country we encircled via Iraq and Afghanistan, and they have direct routes to US strategic points, such as the Gulf, Kuwait, and the Strait of Hormuz, not to mention that Iran is a direct enemy of two important US allies, Israel and Saudi Arabia. So, I just don't get your comparison. All these other places have direct strategic importance to the US....
...I'm not getting your precedent point. We'd only be setting a precedent that we "never intend to act," only if people actually believed that we would ever act in the first place. But guess what, everyone knows that the US is unlikely to do much, so we're not exactly letting anyone down here. Your point that we are implying to China to not "try it," is really simplistic and borderline laughable. I mean, what exactly is China now going to be reluctant to do, if we get involved in Ukraine? China's strategic interests are in a completely different area of the world and their calculus and decision making is going to be based on factors completely different than what we did or didn't do in Ukraine. I don't see how failing to act sends any sort of message to China.
Here's what I mean when speaking about precedents. You're absolutely correct about everything you brought up. And because of everything you brought up, because we have more strategic interests in these other places, the precedent must be set that we will not stand by and shrug when our adversaries show unprovoked aggression. We should want our adversaries to think to themselves that it may not be worth it. If it appears important to us in places that are less crucial, then they'll know it's important to us in places that are more crucial. I'm talking about the policy of "Containment."
You're right. Nothing will probably come (nothing big anyway) from the Ukraine crisis. But we, if nothing else, should at least make it appear that it was due not to our own failure in action, but perhaps due to others' unwillingness to cooperate.
You're right. Are the Chinese going decide that moving on the Senkaku Islands now would be advantageous to them because the United States didn't take a tough diplomatic stance (assuming that is what will happen) with Russia over Ukraine? Probably not. But the problem is that this is the second or third time now that the US has threatened a hard stance and not followed through on it (Again, assuming that is what actually happens; it still remains to be seen). And someday, if this trend continues, someone may come along who thinks that it would be. Their mindframe is opposite to ours.
Sometime down the road, the Senkakus, for example. No one lives on the Senkakus. And although It has been found that the area surrounding them may be rich in oil and natural gas, no one does anything there. So is the US (who has a defense treaty, as you pointed out, with the Japanese) prepared to go to war over them? Over a few garbage islands? Three governments lay claim to them. Now when I ask this, I'm not asking it from the American perspective. So we can't answer it using our frame of mind. I'm asking it, putting myself in the place of the Chinese perspective, as in if the Chinese were asking each other. They don't think the same in the East as we do in the West, and that's the important detail to remember. What if we're not, and it becomes yet another embarassment? Or... what if we are, and it ends up being a serious miscalculation on their part? Then we're involved in a major war that we don't want over a few stupid islands. Niether scenario is good. I don't want them thinking about it at all. Yes, Ukraine is more of a European problem. It's in Europe. And because it's in Europe, anything we might try (i.e. economic pressure) would be heavily dependant on European cooperation. In the Pacific, we're much less beholden to the Europeans, and our current focus is reposturing to the Pacific (which is why I bring it up). We can act much more unilateraly there. The Chinese know this. I would want them to think that with fewer boundaries, we would make them hurt (politically, economically). Even if we wouldn't, just the thought of it may be enough. To you this is just Ukraine and Russia, and everything else is completely unrelated. At this moment, you're right. Looking at the current crisis just for what it is, alone. Yes. I'll concede that to you. But in the bigger picture.... Even though there is probably no threat as of now of a move like this being made, if you don't think that Chinese naval and army officers sit in smokey rooms and discuss this exact thing, you're sadly mistaken. They calculate everything.
Now it's possible that we've already done everything we can do. But it seemed to me that people were advocating that we do nothing and should do nothing. And I don't agree.
You probably think all this is just a big stretch. I don't. So I guess this is just where we're going to have to disagree.
After reading your post again, I get the impression now that you think what I'm saying here is that this one, single crisis is the pinnacle event, and that the fate of the world depends on our decision of what to do about Ukraine. Let me clarify. That's not what I'm saying. When I say "precedent," I'm talking about a string of events, not a single event. I'm talking about a string of events that has already begun and could continue for some time, years even. We could use Syria as the example, but Ukraine is what the topic is about, so that's what I used. No, what happens with Ukraine is not going to determine the fate of the Senkakus or Taiwan or wherever. We agree on that. I think we were not understanding each other. I'm using this as just another example of threats without action (assuming there is no action), and I'm saying that if this trend continues, it could embolden someone, sometime down the road. You can't deny that.
Either way, I hope you're right.
Now, aside from the issue of precedents, if you're talking about my concern over the country imploding on itself, then, yes, that is a concern of mine right now. And that's much more of a concern at this time than any action that China or other adversaries may consider sometime in the future based on a string of events (however long it may be).
Really, at the end of the day, who gives a sh-t what group of Slavs owns that dump that is Crimea?
We do. We want the group that's more advantageous to us.
Edited by PeacefulMindedJedi, 05 March 2014 - 03:24 AM.
Posted 05 March 2014 - 11:30 AM
Whenever Russia does something like this I always think of the end of Back to the Future when George calls Biff on lying and he caves and starts apologizing. Russia is like a bully that used to have power, but lost it to a suckerpunch, and occasionally tries to get away with ****.
Posted 05 March 2014 - 01:07 PM
I for one know jack crap about the history of Russian military engagement, beyond a few of the obvious things like WWII and the Cold War. So I admit my ignorance out of the gate. But I really don't care. We don't need to be in another war that is not our business. And I'm not real sold on the UN either-- they have been an ineffectual organization at best, so if we refused to go along with support for a counter strike, nothing would happen. I think it's time we retire as world police officer and let somebody else have a turn.