“It’s Déjà Vu All Over Again”

I’m feeling like Yogi Berra.

In the 1930s Hitler dismembered and subjected the countries surrounding Germany starting with the ethnic German peoples in Czechoslovakia and Poland. Then he annexed or subjugated whole Germanic countries, like Austria, creating a Greater Germany. Now Putin uses the same approach to create a Greater Russia. (It ended badly for the world last time.)

Crimea was only added to Ukraine in 1954 by Nikita Khrushchev, a Ukrainian. The transfer was a “symbolic gesture” marking the 300th anniversary of Ukraine becoming a part of the Russian Empire. A quarter of the population are Muslims, so Russia may be making another Chechnya.

Interesting that Russia is so supportive of Muslim nations internationally but so repressive to Muslim people at home.

Teddy Roosevelt, famously advised, “Speak softly and carry a big stick.” Modern politicians do the opposite. The USA won’t go to the mat over Crimea, so we should temper our words to our intended actions, which seem to be . . . nothing.

War of Words

“History teaches, perhaps, very few clear lessons. But surely one such lesson learned by the world at great cost is that aggression, unopposed, becomes a contagious disease,” said Jimmy Carter in 1980, responding to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. A Washington Post headline reads, “Forget Reagan–we’re starting to miss Carter.”

“President Obama and European leaders are ratcheting up their rhetoric against Russia. Too bad Vladimir Putin is a man of action who hasn’t seen anything worth stopping his assault on Ukraine,” opined the Wall Street Journal.

Will Rogers said one way to prevent war was to ban peace conferences, because we use them to substitute words for action. We’re certainly trying to talk Russia to sleep. (That, and cancelling a few visas.)

All our talk may have the Russians oligarchs “concerned” but not Vlad the Imperialist.

Valdimir Knows What He’s Doing

Now Putin says, “I didn’t start it.”

Merkel’s right: Putin’s “living in his own world,” not “in touch with reality.”

Why are we so afraid of offending him? He’s been no help with Iran. No help with Syria. And we think he’s our friend?

No, he’s trying to re-build the Soviet Union. Ivan Ilyin, a Russian philosopher Putin often quotes, wrote, “The hour will come when Russia will rise from disintegration and humiliation and begin an epoch of new development and greatness.”

Only this time, no Mister Nice Guy.

Referendums to Dismember Ukraine

Little was said in our press until today of the Crimean “autonomy referendum.” Kherson, Mykolaev and Odessa (oblasts covering all of Ukraine’s Black Sea coast) have declared their desire to join Crimea.

You know how that election will turn out, giving Putin further justification to dismember and strangle Ukraine. Putin did the same, on a smaller scale, in Georgia six years ago. By reducing opposing states to tiny, crippled enclaves, he can just scoop them up when he chooses. Meanwhile, he makes Europe and America look as impotent as we are.

Russia’s Black Sea Fleet ports at Sevastopol in Crimea. The Russians effectively seized Crimea days ago.

All our words don’t pressure to Russia, but we honestly have little leverage.