Sunday, March 30, 2014

The Ukraine Crisis

Reading about World War I and World War II, it's frightening how easily the great powers ended up at war. In the cartoon version of things, or (to be more charitable) without the benefit of hindsight, the path to war is an obvious thing, and we sitting in the present day are supposed to shout out "You fools! Are you  blind to the forces you're unleashing?" But in reality, things were murky. Crises didn't seem like world-historical events then as they do to us now. "Evil" wasn't as clear cut as it's made out to be in the history books of the victors. And when "evil" was real enough (such as Hitler's racism) it needs to be remembered that Hitler wasn't this single proponent of anti-Semitism, or eugenics. An interesting exercise would be to insert the word "Jew" for the word "Muslim" in the diatribes of your typical Tea-Party member, or "Jew" for "Gypsy" in ezra levant's hateful rant.

Will the blundering and stupidity and hypocrisy that is the Ukraine crisis produce another global conflict? I don't think so. Our leaders are still connected enough to reality to know that even a weakened Russia possesses a terrifying arsenal of nuclear weapons. So far as conventional weapons go, the USA tends to prefer enemies like Iraq (which they didn't actually invade until it had been weakened by decades of war, sanctions and air-strikes against its anti-aircraft defences), Panama, and Grenada. (pop. 109,011). Not even Obama would send US-American soldiers into a slaughter such as a war with Russia in the Ukraine would be.

I rather think that Obama will use the crisis in the Ukraine to force Putin to acquiesce to Israeli airstrikes against Assad in Syria, and thereby avoid the humiliation he suffered when he had to climb-down from his hypocritical posturing about the mysterious chemical weapons attack that had been a "red line" for him previously.

If Putin accedes to this it will, obviously, be only grudgingly, and there will be retaliation elsewhere against the USA's interests. As well, China is also a player in the Middle East and places a high priority on energy sources outside of the USA's control. China would work either with Putin or without him, to make the USA pay for its heavy-handed bullying. What form this will take and what the consequences will be, I cannot say.

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