Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Ukraine - Blood upon Blood

My quick take on the Ukraine - have long considered the area but this is a very quick summary.

My basis is built on Tim Snyder of Yale and Tony Judt,  who between them have written perhaps the best history written on Modern Eastern Europe.  Judt died last year I think, but Snyder has written a series on the recent crisis in the NY Review of Books which can be accessed online.

The keystone is the horrific history Snyder wrote called "Bloodlands" where he succinctly and powerfully recounts the near 15 million dead in just the Ukraine part of Eastern Europe from post WWI to WW II.  Ken Lowe's "Savage Continent" carries on the this terrible history post WW II.  The concept that must be realized is that in the recent memory of all Ukraine elderly, and front and center in the Ukraine cultural memory  is a flood of blood, horror, chaos and deceit.  Horror of Conradian proportions where God has disappeared, or even some semblance of humanism.

There really is no historical country per se called the Ukraine, having been a principality of the Czar for a long time and only a recent political construct post the USSR break up.  But it does have a unique culture and "people" that has been maintained for 1000 years plus.  Religion is very important, just as in Ireland or Serbia, with a tribal sense of being either Roman Catholic, Greek Catholic, or Russian Orthodox.  Greek Catholic is the dominant religion and even thrived to the exclusion of the other two under the USSR, as the other two forms were heavily repressed relatively speaking.  Russian Orthodox has rebounded  and I suspect much of the current war has roots in this rebound with the Russian Orthodox used as a tool of subversion by Putin.  If there is a unique Ukraine people it is Greek Catholic  who readily enter union with Roman Catholic, allied together against  the re-emerging Russian Orthodox. Once Crimea is considered,  the split is much more pronounced, almost 50/50 between the Catholic versions and Orthodox, with of course with  a residual  of Moslem Tatars.

Crimea is not part of the Ukraine as depicted above but for the political tactical play, which I must say was rather brilliant, of Khrushchev gifting Crimea to the province of Ukraine in 1954.  It seems he anticipated an angry Catholic Ukraine, perhaps joined by the Tatars, and "shafted" them by sticking a  Russian enclave into the Ukraine to assure loyalty and provide justification by the USSR, and later Russia,  for any suppression of rebellion.  A Russian "Sudetenland" if you will.  The area was kept as an 'autonomous" province in Ukraine but it is all a device.  Crimea can never be seen as a "real" part of the Ukraine.  It is Russian.

Furthermore the displaced survivors of the ethnic cleansing of Islamic Tatars have returned, many with a "Great Myth" (and I don't mean it isn't true, just that it has become a fiercely near religious commonly held story of the Tatars)  of the trek they took, with well over 50% of the people killed in he trek, from Crimea to Siberia then back to Crimea.  Tatars are about 10% of the Crimean people and they are inconsolable and always at the throats of Russia like Chechnya.  So Khrushchev decided it was better to have Crimea as part of the Ukraine.

USSR also took lands from Poland and ceded them to Ukraine post WW II, so down the road this issue will emerge.  These are Roman Catholics and in the end I suspect their loyalties are to Poland and they are distinctly Polish. This also gives Poland not only a security concern given proximity but a duty to face down Russian aggression.

So USSR effectively moved the center of gravity of Eastern Europe towards Russia by joining Crimea and parts of Poland to the Ukraine.

Now to the first point. 

The entire Ukraine has been  a river of blood and gore since WW I and even before that if the Ukraine -Poland War and the Russian carnage on the Eastern Front of WW I is thrown in.  The history of the Ukraine is such a massive interplay with death that I think it bewilders almost all non-Ukrainian policy designers and most historians to date.  That is  why Snyder and Judt were/are so important as they reintroduced this record of  carnage, combining the Holocaust with the Holodomor.  And the Holodomor  is the central core factor for understanding the Ukraine, explaining  why the Maidan protesters were so brave and willing to be slaughtered with incredible fortitude and fatalism.  All Ukraine knows death the way Americans know baseball.  Death and blood is the central tenet of their being as a nation.  Death is the national binder and creates the Ukraine as a nation. You cannot  make sense of the Ukraine until you understand the Holodomor, the policy of mass execution of a people by Stalin via forced starvation.  For a time, in the Ukraine, unless one was very fortunate or politically protected, one was an active cannibals. Scenes that were considered fantastic in the recent movie "The Road" was reality during the Holodomor.  It is hard to imagine let alone define what that does to a people's shared psychology. Almost every single Ukrainian lost family in the Holodomor and very likely they were eaten by their forefathers.  This sounds crazed and over the top, but it is true.  Estimates are wide ranging to as small as 5 million Ukraine dead to as much as 12 million.  So every Ukrainian living today has been impacted by the Holodomor in very similar fashion that Israel was impacted by the Holocaust.  Roman Catholic Ukrainians and to a lesser extent Greek Catholic perceived Hitler as a liberator at first and this is why the psychology becomes even more twisted as most of the Holocaust prison guards were volunteer Ukrainian SS and actively fought in SS units with the Romanian SS, doing a significant amount of the fighting as Germans swept through Crimea.  Which is the reason Putin keeps citing "fascists" backing the Maidan protests and  central tenet of Russian propaganda is the current Ukrainian government is either backed by or is "fascist".  It is bizarre that the Holodomor motivated many Ukrainians to become active participants in the Holocaust.  The evil brilliance of Stalin torqued and kicked Ukraine into a strange political machination of Russian will - and Khrushchev carried this on with attachment of Crimea.    

That means  an unrelenting problem until a "true" Ukraine is established that is not based on the political machinations of Stalin.  They do have a "people" which would be the basis of a stable country, but their experience in rule of law and sovereign political ways and means is young if not naive.  Therefore the corruption and passion that without guile or shame keeps swarming to the top.  But the West must realize that Ukraine will not settle and acquiesce on some immediate expedient solution.  They have a tempered and forged ability ability to die in droves for a cause. Perhaps the Chinese are the only similar fatalistic people who accept death as a normal political means.

This centrality of death in the Ukraine, as seemingly innocuous and trivial as the Ukraine is in terms of economics, has the ability to re-introduce war to Europe.  While Europe could accept great carnage in Serbia and calmly waited for the Americans to implement a remedy,  they cannot accept similar in the Ukraine.  Poland alone will act if Russia invades Ukraine as well as the  other bordering states.  Turkey will act on behalf of the Tatars.  Russia must be backed down to prevent war and the traditional dance with death of Ukraine stopped.

The intelligent approach, or really the only approach, but if applied will likely start the end of Putin and  fascist Russia, is to simply correct the manipulation Khrushchev applied to the Ukraine.  Simply irrevocably force Russia to assume full sovereignty over Crimea.  This must occur to prevent war.  While doing this it will provide  great gain as a continuation of  a Kennan  like containment of Russia.  I see it as a "judo flip", where Russia is given immediately much more than it aspired to, or really wants (it wants Crimea to continue as a justification to control Ukraine), so it will have to accept the return of these Russian people.  Furthermore rights and privileges for the Tatars could be added which would end with the West having a reason to always monitor and even act on behalf of the Tatars.  Likely the Tatars begin a long slow burn subversive war which will give Russia a real security problem and tie them down in the Crimea.

Then, grant Ukraine immediate MAP NATO status and then swiftly bring them into NATO.  There is no tactical way Ukraine can permanently guarantee its sovereignty but to join NATO.  Look how effective membership in NATO has been for Latvia which backed Russia down from cyber attacks and using the "planted" displaced Russian homesteaders sent into Latvia by Stalin to be used just as the Crimea is being used now.  Georgia was granted MAP status three days ago and seems to be headed for NATO membership.  Ukraine and Georgia were some of the rare non NATO nations who deployed troops (Tonga being another) in Iraq and Afghanistan.  The majority of the catholic Ukraine, which would be the actual majority once Crimea is returned, main objective has been to join NATO.  It can be said the entire conflict to date has been caused and is about NATO membership.

The Russia will be ring fenced, with NATO surrounding its immediate borders (but for Belarus) from the Baltic to Georgia.  They will have nowhere to turn, lose diversification and the "granary" of the Ukraine, lose their high tech centers which was also Ukraine, and have the majority of their border with Europe indefensible.

Of course it is not certain at all that leadership will be as thoughtful, or as mindful of history - or even recent history.

The current US administration seems to have lost all their foreign policy makers of the long line of Kissinger to Brzezinski to Kennan, who all were students of the Mackinder thesis of the "world island" or "heartland" vital nature of the Ukraine.  Snyder evaluates this as having Ukraine being the most important strategic land in the world,  measured in terms of blood.

But if the current administration does not understand this now they will understand it as war, starting as a civil war in Ukraine, begins.

Also Russia is very dangerous now.  After Sochi it is broke and is near completely dependent on natural gas sales which transmit a great part through the Ukraine.  Yet I think Russia leadership either believe themselves, or have the Russian people believing, that they are a mighty nation again.  They are not.  But this produces a most dangerous Russian power who will  try adventures under unreal beliefs.  They must be placated and allowed to save face, and  then final stage of the destruction of Russia as a major force begins.  A  Fukuyama "rule of law'" like  movement starts in Russia and then full liberal market based democracy emerges.  Or Russia sinks into anarchy and the kleptocracy becomes the visible versus merely hidden. And after that devastation Russia seeks out Europe.

Russia is headed towards becoming European.   I think Putin does not wish  that but he could not have adopted a more disastrous chain of events than to have attacked Latvia via cyber, then Georgia, then hold the Sochi monstrosity, and now invade Ukraine.  The response is NATO membership for all these countries and NATO becomes a noose around his neck.  It will be the end of Imperial Russia and the emergence of a country on par with Poland and ironically the Ukraine.  But of course how does this come about - another bloodletting or thoughtfully, or at least somewhat managed with damage contained.  I truly wish, dumb or not, we had Bush II in power now, or at least Hillary Clinton who is ruthlessly pragmatic.  I suspect we have war.  Sochi might be such a huge cost on Russia that the oligarchs throw Putin out office and plead out to Europe.  Putin has maneuvered himself with a genius for self destruction. 

This event could "make Europe".  The entire EZ crisis has been caused by the German ruthless exploitation of  weaker EZ members.  They have been able to do this based upon the bizarre level that the post-reunification DM went into the Euro, with the level rationalized by the terms of the prior Ostmark conversion to DM.  Clearly a deal went down with the then USSR and at the same time Stasi files went back to the KGB.  Merkel is East German.  Shcroeder, after ending on the board of ex-KGB controlled Gazprom and after securing energy dependency upon Russian natural gas through the "Nord" pipeline, is reasonably suspected of being a long time Stasi agent.  I think at one point everyone who was anyone was either a ex-Nazi or Stasi agent or CIA agent or all of three simultaneously. The connections current German leadership has with Russia are undeniable.  Most of the current German leadership started in radical leftist street politics, all the parties, and all those groups were funded and controlled by Stasi.  Then of course Germany has the legacy of causing about 1/3 of the bloodletting in the Ukraine.  Germany must be and will be reclused from the problem.  The risk of war, not in Serbia, but in Europe proper now,  will bring back the core reason for the EZ,  which is peaceful unity versus the habit of horrors of the prior century.  The US will insist on greater participation from Europe as Ukraine joining NATO insists on greater level of generally shared expense.  Soft power nonsense goes out the window.  Defense budget for Europe will double if not triple.  So with the decline of German say in this matter,  and with the EU military build up required, and with the US leaving Europe,  forcing Europe into greater self-reliance, a trans-EU command and control structure is required and a central EU treasury based on the EZ is required to fund and define. In short a trans-EU defense force will be required.  I would imagine the European people will insist on a democracy overseeing this and the "democracy deficit" of the EZ and EU will be solved.

Ukraine will bring about the final step in the Jean Monnet plan and the European sovereignty emerge.  Or I could be out to lunch and general war resumes.  I think that will be the choice.

No comments:

Post a Comment