I am seriously baffled by the popular reaction to the events in Ukraine. As far as I can tell, Americans across the political spectrum are saying " Oh yeah, makes total sense. The ultra-corrupt President-for-life we just spent the Olympics criticizing rolls into the neighbors house when they are having a bad week and tries to annex part of the country? Cool beans!"
I know the arguments, and they are all over GD right now, so I want to step away from the arguments themselves and look at where this attitude is coming from. I can’t really get a read on the political spectrum on this (besides, of course, the Obama-can-do-no-good crowd). Is there a left or right spin?
My initial theory is that we are just making excuses because we know we can’t do much about it. So rather than admitting we are militarily over committed and politically divided, we are all just telling ourselves “No, nothing to see here. It’s totally cool to invade countries, duh!”
Then there are realists who are hoping to sacrifice a bit of land for a pro-western Ukraine. I get that, I guess.
But I sense there is more to it than that. What is going on?
There is certainly a left/right spin on it. For different reasons, both left wingers and right wingers of a certain type are basically saying what you mentioned in the OP…namely that it’s all good that Russia is dynamically assisting their poor Crimean brethren and sistren to break away from the Ukraine and join the mother country as the gods intended, etc etc, blah blah blah.
No, I don’t think so. There is more to it than a realistic assessment that there is little we (as in the US) can do to directly impact events (the Euros probably COULD do more, as sanctions from them would have a greater impact on Russia than ones from the US…pretty obviously and rightfully, military options are off the table).
On the right wing side I suspect that this (in the US) has more to do with further underscoring that Obama et al are weak, don’t know what they are doing, etc. Really, nothing new to see here…it’s the same meme they have been touting for years now, and while certain aspects shift the over all tune remains the same. Ironic, considering this is Russia we are talking about, but then politics make for strange, Onion-esque type events.
On the left wing side, I think CNN said it best here:
The spin I’ve seen is from crazy train McCain et al that we should be taking a hard line on the Russians. Wrong. The reason for the spin is to increase and perpetuate the military/executive budget, which has been grossly overfunded since the end of WW2.
We have hawks wanting military action (makes sense). We have right wingers wanting whatever is the opposite of Obama’s stance (kind of makes sense? But really, pro-Putin?). We have peace activists who have chosen to support Russia (baffling), and we have leftist a who support Russia for reasons unknown.
There are some right-wingers going apeshit over this while others such as the American Conservative Union founded by Taki and Pat Buchanan(who are so right-wing they’re fans of Franco) are supporting the Putin line.
All the leftists I know are sad because there isn’t anything that can be done. Roll in the tanks? Air strikes? Crippling economic sanctions? Not so good.
Best we’ve got are diplomatic channels and some mild economic sanctions. Russia is still close enough to a military superpower to be immune from direct confrontation, and parts of Ukraine isn’t important enough to go to war over.
If Russia tried to conquer the whole of Ukraine…that might lead to war. ETA: And even many leftists would (reluctantly) agree with that war.
Yea, I haven’t really seen what the OP describes either. At least in the US, there’s a certain amount of shoulder shrugging that there isn’t much we can do, but I don’t think I’ve seen sizable chucnks of any side of the political spectrum saying its OK for Russia to invade.
(As a general rule, it really helps if you start a thread that says: “group X says Y”, you link to an actual example of someone in that group actually making the claim.)
Agreed. We’re seeing a few posters here cheerlead Putin, but I think they are mostly non-Americans. Outside this board, I’m not seeing any Americans say this is fine and dandy, but many of us are resigned to the fact that there isn’t much we can do about it.
I think the idea that Americans are calmly accepting that they have no power on the world stage is, itself, something new. Maybe, however, there is a parallel with the annexation of the Baltic states (Est., Lat., Lith.) into the Soviet Union, where the US never officially recognized it but de facto totally accepted it as a done deal.
Maybe (shock horror) this is not a “left vs right” issue at all. I think people are simply choosing to reserve judgment for the time being because there aren’t any clear good or bad guys, and it only gets murkier the more one looks at it. There is nothing wrong with that and it’s a refreshing attitude in some ways.
I think we’re all* clear on the fact that Russia is bullying it’s way into Crimea, even if there isn’t anything we can do about it. There might be plenty of bad guys in Ukraine, but there are bad guys in lots of countries.
Well, I would not support that war, but if you take the opposite position, what is to stop Russia from annexing any small state on its borders? If I were Finland or Poland, I would be very nervous that this had such a weak condemnation in the West.
The right talk machine is spinning it as Putin=strong, Obama=weak. In fact, Putin is NOT strong at all and is taking considerable risk placing troops into a country that has a good-sized standing military and air defense capability. Let some Russian soldier shoot down a Ukrainian citizen and there will likely be all out civil war erupting there, with Putin in the middle of it, bleeding money and lives away a la their disaster in Afghanistan. He’s also weak because he didn’t take this to the UN, thus weakening Russia’s voice in international affairs everywhere else in the world. The US is in the stronger position of standing back, condemning the action, and being able to say “you know, Vlad, I told you not to get into this mess, and now you’re on your own.”
Not much. The West should have thought of that when they decided to expand East. Many well known Russia experts, including George Kennan (architect of the policy of containment) opposed that just for this reason.
The problem isn’t Russia vs. USA, we’re both responsible adults (metaphorically speaking) and we’re both sane enough, presumably, to keep the missiles inside the silos.
No, the problems are the little geeks – Iran, Syria, and especially North Korea – who would see a war between the Big Boys as a perfect opportunity to make their voices heard, one way or another.
That’s basically how WWI started, btw – all those petty rivalries reaching a boiling point at once. And that’s probably why there won’t be any war over Crimea, because thankfully, both world leaders realized they’d better learn from fucking history or they’d be doomed to repeat it. (For now…)