Hear, Hear!

Hear, Hear! March 4, 2014

My friend Dave Curp, a historian of Eastern Europe and a sane conservative writes:

I devoutly wish people would stop doing this. I get the frustration at our fumbling – but we are stuck playing the grownups globally (even our President, many of whose instincts in this situation I fear are deeply wrong). It is honestly hard work to deal with such an irresponsible criminal regime as Russia (or explosive problems like Syria and Iran) – made doubly hard of course by many of Obama’s mistakes and missteps to be sure. But still, at the end of the day, Putin is creating deadly enemies all around his country – this is not statesmanship, this is folly of a high order. Every ostensible gain Putin’s Russia extorts from Ukraine will be paid for with interest.

President Obama is our Commander in Chief – we need to carefully and respectfully advocate for better policies without denigrating his leadership in international affairs. Left, right and center in this country (and also, many abroad – esp. but not only Ukrainians) – need him to get this right. There are more than enough reasons domestically to oppose the Obama administration – and also ways in foreign policy to seek to redirect US policy as necessary. But the need to denigrate the President by invidious comparisons with an aggressive imperialist are just not helping right now. The stakes are too high.

Yes, we need to draw distinctions when necessary – but give President Obama some breathing space and support right now in this and try to be constructive in criticism rather than essentially offering a kind of back-handed praise to Putin, whose collapse when it comes will startle us. The real house of cards is in Moscow and we are going to need to get it right this time when Russia once again collapses under the weight of its corruption and crimes of its ruling class.

Also there is a weird and deeply unhealthy vibe of man-love toward Putin by some conservatives that I find quite creepy. Putin’s brutality and criminality are not how you get “taken seriously” – they are how you make everyone who opposes you up-arm and spend serious time thinking about how to hurt you. Putin is not wise, not some kind of chess player, just brutal, and that is not at all admirable – nor is it going to work in the long run – there is a reason the Germans are switching to Canadian natural gas for all the extra expense it brings – b/c the Canucks are reliable business partners.

All politics is local and the Thing that Used to be Conservatism has degenerated to the point where pols like Rogers talk as though the thugs are kinda awesome if they can just make Obama look bad, as well as talking like we would be kinda awesome if we could just have “leadership” like Putin. Such overgrown adolescents should not be holding high office. Memo to FOX and the GOP, this is not marbles or chess. This is not a game. When the Ruling Class of a country becomes so incestuous and self-absorbed that it is willing to evaluate the dangers of World War III entirely on the basis of whether it makes their little tribal enemy across the aisle look bad, it’s time for a new Ruling Class. The purpose of the state is to ensure the common good, not to degenerate into an eternal struggle over who gets to sit at the Cool Kids’ Table.

Oh, and can we please get over the ridiculous notion that because Putin is hostile to homosexuals, that makes him a Second Constantine and somebody Catholics should look to with longing as a savior of the Church? Simcha Fisher warned the League of Discernment-Free Catholics about this some time ago, but with infallible anti-charism for which so many conservative Catholics are known, she was shouted down as “once reliably orthodox” in her comboxes and Putin was exalted as a hero saving us from “Mannequin Love”.

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  • A J MacDonald Jr

    We’ve been in World War III since 1994 when NATO went on the offensive. Russia is the good guy, and we are the bad guy.

    • BillyT92679

      Russia is not the good guy.

    • Dave

      More like Russia is the bad guy, and we are the bad guy.

  • Thibaud313

    Just some remarks (and I’m not Republican. I’m not even American. So I’m not trying to “score” against Obama. And actually, I think Obama has acted so far, in this matter, quite prudently and logically given US interests) :

    1. The so-called “revolution” in Ukraine is a coup where legitimate popular protests has been manipulated by a) nazi anti-semitic and anti-Russian Ukrainian groups ; b) the EU, desperately trying to score against Russia ;

    2. The first measure of the new Ukrainian government has been to forbid the use of Russian in administrations even though 40% of the population speaks only Russian. It would be the equivalent of a new US government forbidding African-American and Hispanic-American to hold public office. The immediate result was popular protests from Russian-speaking Ukrainians in the Eastern regions and Crimea ;

    3. Putin is not a saint, but he is not a psychopath. He’s not trying to “invade and conquer” Ukraine. He is trying to force the US and the EU to accept a compromise (and, so far, I repeat, Obama and Merkel (the only intelligent European government) have acted very reasonably, prudently and intelligently to try to negociate a compromise. Obama seems much more intelligent in this matter than Bush Jr. and millions of light-years more intelligent than the EU (except Merkel)). The compromise would be along the lines of letting Russia keep his influence over Crimea (an historically Russian province, with a largely Russian population), forcing the new Ukrainian government to quit his racist anti-Russian policy towards the Eastern Region and neutralising Ukraine as a whole (ie not joining NATO, a terrorist organisation whose existence makes no sense since the end of the Cold war).

    I perfectly understand Eastern Europeans fearing and even hating Russia, who oppressed them for decades. But this is no reason for Americans and Europeans to join on the hatred and not trying to see the legitimate motivations of Russia and Russian-speaking Ukrainians. And so far, Obama and Merkel seem to be trying to see both sides of the issue and negociate a peaceful resolution. Let’s try to imitate Obama and Merkel’s moderation.

    Also, the fact is that Putin is objectively beloved by 65% of Russian and especially the Russian Orthodox Church. There are only 2 possibilities : 1) you are right about Putin which means that 65% of Russian and especially members of the Russian Orthodox Church are psychopathic, blood-thirsty monsters ; 2) Putin may be a more complex character than you think.

    • BillyT92679

      or people embrace cults of personality?

      • Thibaud313

        Good point. However, as a counter-argument, one can note that Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn was a supporter of Putin at the end of his life, and one would think he was pretty immune to cult of personnality, having devoted his entire life to fighting them (especially Stalin’s). And probably being a prophet of God, IMO 😉

        • BillyT92679

          Just cause Solzhenitsyn liked him isn’t a good enough reason to like him

    • MitchellJ

      Very sane and level headed take on the whole issue. Russia is out for its own interests, there is nothing wrong with that. Frankly it seems to me that Putin is an exceedingly shrewd politician who has massive domestic support in Russia. He has realized that post-ideological politics (aka post cold war politics) mean that instead of global powers trying to get the world on my good-guy side not the other ideological-icky-double-ungood-think-bad-guy side is remarkably like nineteenth century geopolitics. Carving out regional spheres of influence, massive amounts of treaties to support trade. So when John Kerry said the other day that Russia was playing nineteenth century politics in the 21st century he was right but that is not the insult he thought it was. The US is still so busy projecting (especially the talking heads in the media which the gov’t has to appease since all politics is domestic) its own ideological issues to the world at large. Is there stuff that Putin does that conservatives can praise yes, but he is not out to promote “conservative” values. He is not ideological that way, he is out to promote Russia. This was the failing of the neo-con foreign policy, promoting ideology over and against national interest.

      Additionally this is the problem with the new gov’t in Ukraine. They are too ideologically opposed to working with Russia. Love them or hate them they are next door you have to work with them. You sure as hell can’t fight them, and you can’t be dicks to the Russian speakers in your own country. Talk about cutting off your nose to spite your face. Ukraine should propose to Russia that in exchange for recognition of the new government as valid they will cooperate in facilitating a Referendum in Crimea to be supervised by international groups on the future of Crimea. By doing this Ukraine will not have to fear the break up or invasion of the their country and at worst loose one region that is nearly independent anyways. Co-opt Russia don’t fight them. Realpolitik not ideological snobbery will save Ukraine.

      • Mike

        Agree, Putin is interested 100% in Russia not in ideological chess with US and Western Europe. I have a feeling that the West was meddling in the Uk and for that Putin called their bluff.

  • Thibaud313

    And one other thing Mark : I acknowledge that you have one very praiseworthy goals with those anti-Putin posts : telling your US conservative readers to put their faith not in men, but in Christ. Your reasoning is : many US conservatives love Putin as the anti-Obama, to the point of seeing him as the real Messiah (“logical”, since Obama is the anti-Christ, making Putin the anti-anti-Christ, ergo Christ ;)) ; however the real Messiah is Jesus Christ, and one should never put their faith and complete hope of salvation into groups (the Tea Party, etc) or persons (Putin, etc).

    I absolutely approve of this and I recognize that I should seriously heed your words.

    HOWEVER, I do question the starting premise of your reasoning : I admit that many US conservative love Putin because they see him as the anti-Obama (for instance, pushing for anti-gay propaganda laws instead of supporting “gay marriage” and so on), BUT it seems to me that many other US conservative hate Putin because they hate Russia, because they are still stuck 3 decades in the past and see Russia as the epitome of Commie evil. I seem to recall, for instance, many self-proclaimed “devout US conservative Catholics” arguing that Pope Francis was a dirty Commie because of his cordial relationship with Russia and Putin, most notably when Francis and Putin convinced Obama to not bomb Syria.

    THEREFORE, I fear that in your praiseworthy attempt to prevent some US conservatives from putting to much faith in Putin, you are actually expressing and reinforcing other US conservatives’ anti-Russian xenophobia.

  • kirthigdon

    The US regime under Obama spent 5 billion dollars to overthrow the Ukrainian government and install in power a gang of neo-Nazi ultra-nationalist thugs. The kept American media, including Fox, MSNBC, CNN, the NY Times and the Washington Post are now full throatedly baying against Russia and Putin and the chorus is joined by such conservatives as McCain, Rubio, O’Reilly, Gibson, Hannity, etc. etc. And Mark joins right in. After warning us a couple of weeks ago against the “dark enlightenment” internet club, he’s pleased to endorse the likes of the Ukrainian Svaboda Party and “right sector” when they put riot police to flight, fire-bomb synagogues and overthrow an elected government. One of the chief rabbis of Kiev has warned all Jews to flee at least that city and perhaps Ukraine itself. But Mark thinks the villain of the piece is Putin, simply for trying to protect Russian interests in the Crimea (which was Russian from the time of Catherine the Great without prejudice to any US interests) and for speaking out for the rights of Russians elsewhere in Ukraine. There is a lot of complex history here (I’d recommend the book “Bloodlands” for some of it), but this is clearly another case of the US meddling in something it does not understand, but which Putin understands all too well. The US will do well to stay out of this; Obama and his minions have caused too much harm already. We don’t need another war and especially one which could turn thermonuclear.
    Kirt Higdon

    • BillyT92679

      Yes “protect Russian interests in the Crimea”

      There are neo-Nazi nutcases throughout Europe. Doesn’t mean that we sit back and just let Russia assert hegemony. Just like there were Commies throughout Europe in the 30s, doesn’t mean we appease Germany to stop the Red Menace, which Chamberlain certainly did.

      My interest is the Ukrainian Piedmont. Kiev and to the west, Lvov and Uzhorod. Our CATHOLIC brothers and sisters, long persecuted by Russia (and not just the Soviets, but the Tsarist Cossacks too) for communion with Rome. There’s real desire to crush the “uniates” (and the “schismatic” UOC-KP and UAOC) and set up a pan-Slavic Moscow Patriarchate New Rome. The Ecumenical Patriarch is concerned with the assertiveness of the MP over the pan-Orthodox world. And the MP is simply doing its Caesaropapist best to enable Russian tyranny.

      I’m not Ukrainian. My wife has a bit of Ukrainian blood and that means my son does too. But I LOVE the UGCC. I know what she went through, the blood of martyrs has sanctified Ukraine going back to St. Josaphat.

    • BillyT92679

      The history is plain. The US certainly understands the ramifications.

    • Thibaud313

      Hear, hear !

  • Dave G.

    The criticisms seem to be coming from various places, not just those rascally conservatives. CNN had several commenters, none apparently too far to the right, who were criticizing Obama. FOX, naturally, did so too. But not horribly. I’m sure there will be some bad apples. There always are. There have been for decades. It’s the nature of our age, and perhaps debate in any age. But on the whole, the criticisms of Obama have centered on the apparent lack of foresight or resolution in knowing what to do. CNN had multiple discussions about Obama mocking Romney in 2012 for saying that Russia is the big country to watch. That’s when Obama said ‘the 1980s are calling and want their foreign policy back – it’s not the Cold War anymore.’ And it isn’t. But that showed a president long on one liners, and short on actual plans. Not that Bush has fared better. And compared to the way he and Cheney were criticized in the day, Mr. Carp will be happy to know that most mainline criticisms of Obama have been veritable love fests. Nonetheless, it is a sticky situation. Exactly who the good and bad guys are seems tough to tell. Some, as one comment here puts it, will say we’ve met the bad guys, and they are us. But I’d say criticism is fair, as long as it points us to solutions to a better resolution. The typical post-modern tendency of criticizing to criticize everyone and anything with no ideas whatsoever, will probably be the biggest problem.

  • BillyT92679

    People really are captivated by Vladimir Putin. It’s horrifying. At least Obots are a self-parody.

  • Andy

    We have lost the moral authority to decry Russia’s intervention in the Ukraine – we finally lost it when we used trumped reasons to enter Iraq, a slow loss begin with Viet Nam. The issue beyond that is what can we do? It is fine to criticize Obama and his responses or lack there of. But if all that is offered is criticism without an alternative it is futile. The constant criticism does little to bring the country together at a time when we need to be unified.

    • Dave G.

      In fairness, Obama hasn’t. If anything, he was consistent with his criticism’s of Bush’s response to 9/11, including his invasion of Iraq. That’s why a decisive and insightful Obama would work in this case. Though as someone else said, Obama seems to be one who embraces the notion that weakened America/Western Civ. is better for the world, so that could be a built in problem. And yes, criticisms with solutions is worth far more than mere criticisms for criticism’s sake.

      • Andy

        I wasn’t thinking of Obama specifically – I was thinking many of those who are condemning Russia’s behaviors yet were cheerleaders for Iraq, demanding more intervention in Syria – yet find what we did in Libya problematic. Obama was consistent about the war in Iraq, but seems somewhat to have changed his mind – especially with drones.

  • Dave

    It’s hard to avoid the obvious. Benghazi, anyone? The President and his team of dolts simply have no clue. How could the Pres. have a clue? He simply has no executive or foreign affairs experience. He’s basically been thrown into the major league All-Star game when he hasn’t yet played in the upper levels of the minors. Hopefully, the leaders of the EU will help him out.

    • BillyT92679

      Well Obama really has no interest in foreign policy. He’s at his heart an anti-colonialist, so any actions outside of ones immediately needed he’s averse to.

      More cynically I say he’s not interested in doing anything that makes the US stronger as, to him, a stronger US equals a less “equitable” US domestically, and a domination of US ideals like capitalism overseas.

  • Glenn

    Some suggestions from KT McFarland:

    “How Obama could stop Putin’s Ukraine power grab without firing a shot”


  • BillyT92679

    The whole thing feels like another Anschluss.

    • John

      Yet another new Hitler. It’s Munich all over…Munich!

  • SteveP

    Mark: I am no longer bound by oath to obey the CINC. To that end, let me say I see little difference between President Obama and Putin. I’m sure they both equally agonize over their respective kill lists.

    • KM

      “The real house of cards is in Moscow and we are going to need to get it
      right this time when Russia once again collapses under the weight of its
      corruption and crimes of its ruling class.”

      I see not much difference between Putin and Obama in their disregard for the law and justice. This is what I was thinking, especially when I read this excerpt above. Just replace “Moscow” with “Washington DC”, and “Russia” with “USA.”

      I’m not cheer-leading for Putin OR Obama/the EU in this scenario. I’m praying the endless quest for war and killing will end. We have enough problems here in the USA without involving ourselves in yet another quagmire.

  • Catholic Fast Food Worker

    Mark Shea (chezami) & his friend, the reason we don’t support Obama in foreign policy is because he supported the overthrow of Mubarak (who was a horrible pres. but at least stable) in Egypt. He then gave foreign & military aid to Morsi (a MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD member), whose thugs then go on & persecute/kill CHRISTIANS (especially the Coptics) & many other non-Muslim Minority groups. Same in Libya, & Tunisia.
    The same also goes on in SYRIA with its corrupt but still stable Pres. Assad. Pres. Obama is doing close to NOTHING to stop the killing of Christians (& other Non-Muslim Minorities) in Syria. In fact, Obama & McCain even supported the Christian-murdering rebels in Syria. This is where your friend is wrong. The Pres. of the supposedly most “Christian nation” (God bless us, USA) is doing less to stop the persecution of CHRISTIANS by MUSLIMS than the ex-KGB Putin of former pro-Atheist Soviet USSR. That speaks volumes to me. No, Putin is not Constantine, but Obama & McCain & the ilk aren’t either.
    This is one of the biggest crimes of this century: Christians are being persecuted worldwide (especially in Muslim lands), & close to no one in the West (except for the Pope & few others) cares. In fact, the West ridicules/mocks Christians in media & ignores the cries of Christians overseas. And MUSLIMS are allowed to immigrate to Europe (& USA will follow) in record numbers & they’re granted religious rights (even though they reject them to Christians in Muslim lands).
    “SAUL, Saul, why do you persecute Me?” Why do you persecute My Body? is the question the powers of the WEST will be asked by Lord Jesus on Judgement Day. St. John the Apostle & Revelator hears the cries of our modern church in Muslim lands being persecuted, pray for us.

    • BillyT92679

      Again, just because Russia, is, (I think cynically) on the right side of things is no absolution for their behavior.

      Consequentialism is a sin. The ends do not justify the means here.

    • chezami

      You have to make a choice: is it so important to you that Obama fail, that you would like to see him stumble into WWIII just so he will look bad? Or would you rather he succeed and avoid universal destruction? Sane people know the answer to that question. Insane people struggle with it.

      • Dave

        I’m sure we all hope he will succeed. But it’s more like hoping that Mark Shea can deliver the game winning home run for the Mariners, even though he has not been trained in baseball.

        My hope is in God to prevent our bumbling into WWIII, not Obama.

      • Catholic Fast Food Worker

        The basis of our American foreign policy should be: does supporting a specific action in a foreign situation of crisis help Christians overseas (& also people of good will) or does that action harm Christians overseas (& people of good will)? If the political support, military aid & Foreign Aid that Obama so freely provides hurts Christians overseas (& people of good will), then I would rather have the President Obama do NOTHING than to do “something”. This might be a minority position in a so-called “Christian nation” but that is still my position & I rather die a martyr & fool than support any bloody presidents, including Obama.

        • IRVCath

          I know that letting Ukraine be dominated by Putin will harm CATHOLICS. You know, our fellows who are actually in Communion with us.

          • Catholic Fast Food Worker

            I agree. But also letting Ukraine join the failed project of the European Union (which is the most powerful Anti-Christian, pro-Secularist, pro-Death Culture in the European continent) will be just as harmful for our faithful Catholic (Roman & Greek) brothers & sisters. The Russian (ex-Soviet) Federation is also harmful to Ukraine’s Catholics. But why must it be: either join EU or support Russian Federation? Why can’t Ukraine be free & sovereign from transnational forces?

            • IRVCath

              But the so-called pro-Euro side seems to have little interest of joining Brussels in the near future. At most they seem to want something like NAFTA. Even then, Poland, Hungary and Lithuania have shown one can resist the secularist agenda even while an EU member.

              Of course, neutrality could also work.

        • chezami

          A *consideration* of our foreign policy should be Christians, not the basis. Christians slaughtered other Christians in Rwanda. Propping up Catholic butchers should not have been the basis of our foreign policy. Justice should be the basis of our foreign policy.

          • Andy

            Without justice we have nothing – I agree –

          • Catholic Fast Food Worker

            I disagree on that point. Someone must look out for the welfare of Christians overseas. But currently, USA (as well as European entities) has other interests in mind when it comes to pursuing interests overseas (oil, resources, military complexes, etc.). Christian welfare should be central priority. Under this Administration, it is the least of concerns (if it’s even a concern at all). If a Catholic becomes a butcher dictator, he becomes a threat to the welfare of Catholics. Seriously, Mark, when was the last time we had a “Catholic butcher” dictator (someone one who made Catholicism the central priority not merely having a “Catholic” label)? Was it the Polish president? Did I miss something?

            • chezami

              So… even if it’s unjust we should make Christians the basis of our foreign policy in all cases, no matter what. Smart.

    • Dan C

      Can you describe Muslims with some charity? The anti-Muslim rant (and this is oddly a post not about Muslims) reveals much.

    • Andy

      How is the situation in the Ukraine about Muslims? THis rant loaves me confused – but let me say that it is this type of rant that makes it difficult for the world to take the US seriously in so many ways.

      • Catholic Fast Food Worker

        The post is about supporting Pres. Obama in foreign policy just as it is about Ukraine. I merely stated the horrible foreign policy record of our Pres. His policy has done much to indirectly hurt many Christians overseas & people of Good Will.

        • Andy

          I have yet to see a president who worried about Christians when making a geo-political decision. Presidents whether I agree with them or not do not factor in a Christian worldview, whatever that may be, into their decision making. You seem to saying in the above that only Muslims are guilty of atrocities – actually all people are capable of atrocities.

          • Catholic Fast Food Worker

            Andy, you’re looking at how the world is rather than how it should be, that’s your mistake #1.

            • Andy

              I am looking at the world as it is yes – I am praying for it to change – i am doing my best to do that – but I refuse to let what I might want blind me to the what is – in your eyes a mistake – in mine a recognition of where we start.

              • Lorenz

                Andy, look at the extermination of Christians in the middle east (Copts, Chaldeans, Orthodox, Melkites, etc). Please let me know if there is something similar going on in the world against Muslims.

                • Andy

                  Lorenz – The Russian action in the Ukraine is NOT about Muslims – it is about Russia. I never said that some Muslims were not doing reprehensible thins – merely that ranting about Muslims really makes it difficult to take true complaints seriously.

  • KM

    This Guardian article gives some good background on the Ukraine crisis, and notes that the crisis can be contained “if cool heads prevail.” The article basically states that Russia is reacting to the expansionist threat of NATO near its border, and that NATO needs to back off in order to calm the situation down.

    Let’s pray that wisdom and cooler heads prevail.

    “Both John Kerry’s threats to expel Russia from the G8 and
    the Ukrainian government’s plea for Nato aid mark a dangerous
    escalation of a crisis that can easily be contained if cool heads
    prevail. Hysteria seems to be the mood in Washington and Kiev…”


  • Dan C

    I have enjoyed Kevin Drum’s predictions on how things would unfold. Posted on Saturday:

    1. Vladimir Putin will do something belligerent. (Already done.)

    2. Republicans will demand that we show strength in the face of Putin’s provocation. Whatever it is that we’re doing, we should do more.

    3. President Obama will denounce whatever it is that Putin does. But regardless of how unequivocal his condemnation is, Bill Kristol will insist that he’s failing to support the democratic aspirations of the Ukrainian people.

    4. Journalists will write a variety of thumbsuckers pointing out that our options are extremely limited, what with Ukraine being 5,000 miles away and all.

    5. John McCain will appear on a bunch of Sunday chat shows to bemoan the fact that Obama is weak and no one fears America anymore.

    6. Having written all the “options are limited” thumbsuckers, journalists and columnists will follow McCain’s lead and start declaring that the crisis in Ukraine is the greatest foreign policy test of Obama’s presidency. It will thus supplant Afghanistan, Egypt, Libya, Syria, Iran, and North Korea for this honor.

    7. In spite of all the trees felled and words spoken about this, nobody will have any good ideas about what kind of action might actually make a difference. There will be scattered calls to impose a few sanctions here and there, introduce a ban on Russian vodka imports, convene NATO, demand a UN Security Council vote, etc. None of this will have any material effect.

    8. Obama will continue to denounce Putin. Perhaps he will convene NATO. For their part, Republicans will continue to insist that he’s showing weakness and needs to get serious.

    9. This will all continue for a while.

    10. In the end, it will all settle down into a stalemate, with Russia having thrown its weight around in its near abroad—just like it always has—and the West not having the leverage to do much about it.

    11. Ukraine will….

    Actually, there’s no telling about #11.”

    He has been doing well with at least describing the events and the responses.

    • Dave G.

      He appears to have missed the part where even folks over at CNN admitted that Obama seemed to have put his foot in it back in 2012 when he mocked Romney over Russia, and at times does not seem to be decisive in his responses. Not that Bush got off any better, and not that anything remotely positive that comes of it won’t be placed at Obama’s feet. But still the observations have been made in some unusual places.

  • Dan C

    As an interesting aside on this matter, how is the Russian Orthodox Church responding? The RCC has, in modern times, shown sensibility on matters of war and peace. Has orthodoxy, especially Russian Orthodoxy, which is so tied to Russian nationalism? I have seen nothing critical of Putin on this matter, in fact, I think there have been some serious supportive statements of Russian “interventions” in this region.

  • Lorenz

    Peter Hichens, a journalist who has lived in Russia has excellent commentary:


    Another sane perspective from the Guardian:


    A complex region, the modern Ukraine is made up of different ethnic groups with different histories and were only unified as a nation with the fall of the Soviet Union. The central and eastern Ukraine are largely Russian speaking and tied to the earliest history of Russia. Kiev was the capital where St. Vladimir and the Rus were based and from which the Russian nation grew. The Western Ukraine’s history is largely tied to Poland. Crimea is a whole different story and since post war period has a majority Russian population.

    In a nutshell, although a tyrant and despot, Yanukovych was democratically elected and ran on an anti-EU and anti-NATO platform. There are credible reports that the mob has been encouraged and even financed from the west. The wicked neocon warmonger McCain has even went to Kiev to edge them on. Think about that. Imagine Vladimir Putin flying to New Mexico or Arizona to cheer on the movement for those states secede and join Mexico. Think about him flying to Scotland to encourage Scottish independence. Also, imagine how it would play out if the Tea Party violently attacked police and demanded the ouster of Obama.

    This is all about geopolitics. McCain, Kerry and the rest of the suspects don’t care 2 cents about the Ukrainian people and the possible violence and ethnic battles that are simmering at this moment. Greed, central asian oil, and pipelines is all what this is about.

  • kirthigdon

    Obama’s response on this has actually been better than his rhetoric. Notwithstanding posturing, he is not about to take the US into WWIII for the sake of Ukraine or Crimea, nor should he. Russia will definitely end up with Crimea (as either province or client state) and perhaps with Russian speaking areas of the eastern Ukraine. As to the western parts of Ukraine with the “right sector” thugs and pogromists, Vlad will be glad to let the EU and by proxy the US have them for a problem. And they will be a problem – the “right sector” boasts of their plans for a European reconquista – and a problem that Obama and the US and the EU will richly deserve. But that’s the bad news for us westerners. The good news is no thermonuclear WWIII. Nice try, neocons; no doubt you’ll be back soon with another crisis.
    Kirt Higdon

  • margaret1910

    Putin has what he wants. Control of the Black Sea, and a really good way to have a way to control the Bosphorus Straits if there are world issues. He doesn’t care about Western Ukraine. He is backing off only because he has what he really wanted in the first place. There is nothing that we or western Europe can do to change this..other than declare war on Russia. Which is something we will not (and should not) do.

  • Mark R

    Right on David!
    I am no Putin apologist, but he has had to cobble together Russia as a viable state — of course he has magnificently personally gained from this. He was all there was at the moment.
    Solzhenitsyn supported Putin likely for the reason stated above. Solzhenitsyn — like others under the influence of older ways of viewing things, considered Ukrainians, Byelorussians and Russians to be basically the same people. I am half Carpatho Russian and I accept this to a degree but it does not necessarily mean they should be forced into the same nation-state. I like Ukraine a lot also.
    The Orthodox Church’s response is to pray for peace. (This is really in God’s hands.) Many, many clergy and bishops in the Orthodox Church in Russia are from Ukraine. They are mostly Russian speakers, but consider Ukraine home.
    So much of this mess can be traced to 19th Cent. powers penchant for playing their minorities against one another, or for majorities’ currying favors with various minorities.
    Ukrainian nationalism can be messy. In the diaspora it was often quite unbearably militant. In the diaspora, as well as Ukraine, it has resulted in multiple Orthodox jurisdictions. The Greek Catholics hold up pretty well, but they are mostly in the extreme west. There are sprinklings of them all over Ukraine, though. They move across country just like Americans.