Friday, September 12, 2014

RUSSIA, THE UNITED STATES, SYRIA AND IRAQ - GLOBAL HEGEMONY AND HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE


Boy, what a boring-sounding title. If I were a reader of my own blog and came across this, I might be tempted to skip it, but let me see if I can make it a bit less weighty-sounding and try to relate it to the blog post I wrote recently, regarding “World War II – Was It the Last Good War?”

In response to my Twitter buddy, Jason Linkins who writes political op-ed for HuffPo and does it very well, he is absolutely thrilled that we are once again being given the opportunity to hop back into a quagmire and protect the political aspirations of a bunch of affluent politicians, I can't say he's wrong at all. Thirteen years after 9/11, we've done. . . what? Killed Osama bin Laden, sure. But we've managed to destabilize an entire region, which we seem to be immensely terrific at doing (see Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia) in the mid to latter part of the 20th century.



So, Dubya got a hair up his ass, after 19 terrorists from Saudi Arabia, backed by money provided by al-Qaeda (suspiciously close to the Saud family, who were hand-holding with the Bush family, in case anyone forgot) bombed the World Trade Center and the Pentagon (although I wonder about that) and went tearing into. . . Iraq? Only after we had staged a semi-invasion of Afghanistan, and that was always kind of iffy to me, because Afghanistan is known as bein' the “Graveyard of Empires” and all. I'm still trying to connect the dots. When Dubya made his brave assertion “Mission Accomplished” just what in the Hell was he referring to? We never really managed to “quell” the “dissidents” in either Afghanistan or Iraq, a fact that can still be measured in body counts and terrible stories of atrocities, coming out of, now, specifically, Iraq, and of all places Syria, which has it's very own home-grown Strong Man in place, the son of the late President Assad.

In all honesty, I don't know if this is a good thing, or bad. I also don't know if it's a good idea for President Obama to sit down and treat with this man, seeing as how he's got lots of his own countrymen's blood on his hands. At least, Obama isn't sitting down with al-Qaeda, which was the worst idea I ever heard, since I said “yes” to Bill Nunnally. You DO NOT treat with terrorists. Terrorists are not countries; they are not sovereign entities; they are not realms or Kingdoms. They are a bunch of zealots with nothing in their jackalheads except creating terror in the hearts and minds of the people around them to further their cause, which is usually couched in some amorphous language and difficult to attain, even with more measured people and responses. They have no mission statements; they have no credo, other than “Death to the Infidel” and are sectarian in the extreme; they will kill members of their own “faith” quicker than Christians and Jews, because those Sunnis were closer to Allah and should have understood that they were committing heresies. I liken them to the IRA at its worst. The Crusades sound more moderate, when you remember that the Christians who lived there, routinely met and worked with the other faiths in the Middle East.



And now, we come to this: I TOLD YOU SO. Russia. Last week, I implied that basically, the whole mish-mash between Russia and Ukraine should be left alone. They've squabbled and gone back and forth for centuries. They are two countries, who, while not having a lot in common, bear a very similar culture and a shared history; at times amicable, at times, downright horrible. Stalin went out of his way to starve the Kulaks, the rich Ukrainian farmers in 1934, and several million people starved to death. It has been referred to as “Harvest of Sorrow” and a fine historical book of the same name, written by Robert Conquest, depicts the horror and devastation wrought upon the Kulaks. But, again, this was not the first time Ukraine and Russia had adversarial dealings with one another and would not be the last.


Again, there are many ethnic Russians living in Ukraine, just as there are many ethnic Ukrainians who live in western Russia and Belarus. The ENTIRE region has seen many different rulers, from the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the Ottoman Empire, to the Czarist rulers. It really is no wonder that one day, Ukrainians want one thing, and another day, they wish for something else. There is a kind of schizophrenic zeitgeist that exists in this entire region and when you look at the maps and how the empires overlaid one another, it is easy to understand why.
courtesy of: deviantart.com

The writer P. J. O'Rourke once went to Eastern Europe and Russia when the Iron Curtain first fell, and the salient point he took away from his experiences there, aside from all of the horrible automobiles looking like they had been made by the Dinky Toy Company, was the complete and utter confusion that the new “nation-states” wanted and why they wanted it. “We want Democracy!”, some shouted on one day. When asked why, they yelled, “Because, Democracy is good!” without having clue one what it was all about.

 courtesy of: allaboutturkey.com

Later on, during the same trip, P. J. asked some of the same people what they wanted. “We wish to stay with the Motherland!”, they shouted. When asked why, they hollered, “Because she takes care of us?”, although many were not sure this was true. This was over twenty years ago, and it is still pertinent today. If you look at the maps, you see that some of the western parts of Ukraine were in the Austro-Hungarian sphere, the southern parts in the Ottoman Empire, and the Eastern portion were part of the Russian Empire. Divestiture came in 1914, but in 1917, the Russian Revolution took place and the Communists were firmly in power, after fighting a civil war against the Royalists. After World War II, as part of the agreement at Yalta, Russia retained Ukraine, Belarus, Poland, and the other “buffer” states, as there were already ethnic Russians living in these places, and because Stalin was a murderous, land-grabbing rat-bastard. Regardless, I believe that, if by some miracle the Romanovs had remained in power, and they were somehow, by another miracle, able to best the Nazis, they would have demanded Ukraine and Belarus and all the rest as their spoils of war. This is a Russian thing; NOT a Soviet thing.

Again, it speaks to the peculiar phobia that Russia harbors towards the West and we help no one by meddling in this. To top it off, today's headline in “The World” is this:

courtesy of: HuffPo


I TOLD YOU SO!

Followed by this article:

courtesy of: HuffPo                   

I mentioned last week that the situation between Russia and Ukraine will find it's own solution. That may sound like weak sauce, but what I mean is they are better left to their own devices, especially since the west and most particularly the United States has such a horrible track record when it comes to intercession. People can quote Panama and Grenada all they want, but the simple fact is, we invaded weak 3rd world countries, one in an attempt to divert a horrendous foreign policy decision on our part, when we were involved in Lebanon, in 1983.

Let's play a "what if" scenario and see if this doesn't make a bit more sense. Suppose the United States was having some kind of squabble with Mexico, over god-knows-what. Water rights, illegal immigration, the number of donkeys displayed in crappy mariachi bands north of the border was in dispute, whatever, and things got heated. Maybe we have some troops lined up along the borders, ostensibly to keep out "undesirables". We've had our issues with Mexico in the past, but we've always managed to get them straightened out. But this time, we're dragging it along, and for some reason, both sides are being belligerent. On the outside, the rest of the world is throwing their two cents in about what a bunch of imperialist dogs the United States is, and we should never have left Merry Olde England. Yada, yada. After several weeks of this, with tensions ebbing and flowing, things get kind of mind-numbing, what with all of the other stuff going on. Then, out of the blue, or not-so, England is invaded by France and Belgium, and some not-so-nice things begin to happen. Do you honestly think that for one minute, the United States isn't going to have something to say, or do something about that situation, to mitigate and save their long-time ally? The same case can be made for Russia as regards Syria, I refuse to say "vis a vis" because it's pretentious, and I realize I am kind of shoe-horning some facts in here and making it a bit ridiculous, but it's for a reason. 

The Russian-Ukrainian relationship is a very special one; much like ours is with Great Britain. Why? Because, history.

I'm not a historian, or a military historical buff, but I do understand long arcs and how actions from the past resonate into the present. What we do now will make a difference. It might be a decade, or it might be a century. Wise men have the gift of being able to predict what our actions now will predicate for our future. I am not one of those, but I'm a damned good observer and student of global hegemony. I truly think that we should do nothing at all about the Russian-Ukraine situation and tread very, very lightly with this mess in the Middle East.


This isn't even a war movie. It's an exploration into the heart of darkness, based on a Joseph Conrad novel.


I know I called for taking a stance last week, regarding ISIS or ISIL and they are fearsome and what they are doing is beyond horrific. I cannot imagine the charnel house over there, and the suffering of the people who live there. I have friends in Tunisia and Morocco and Egypt and I fear for them, but we did a terrible job in Iraq. We destabilized the country; something we excel at, and upon our departure(?) we managed to foist some mediocre bureaucrat upon the country, along with a less-than-useful fighting force. This is nothing but Vietnam Redux. Francis Ford Coppola did a much better job with “Apocalypse Now Redux” and it still sucked. Watch the original. But, let's not create our own “Iraq Redux”. That's nothing anybody wants to sit through.
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