Monday, March 3, 2014

5 Reasons why we should do nothing about the Russian occupation of Crimea

More than 50% of the Crimean population is welcoming Russia with open arms

It turns out that a good portion of the folks living in Crimea don’t self-identify as Ukrainian, but are rather “ethnic Russians” that live in the Ukraine.  Sort of like how we have a whole bunch of Mexicans here in the US that live here but still identify as Mexican. 
Pictured: Either ethnic Russians or Mexicans.
I'm not all that good with this stuff.  Where is Russia again?
 It seems that the remainder of the folks there aren’t thrilled that the Russians are there, but hate their own government just as much.  The general attitude toward the Russian occupation of Crimea by the people there, then, seems to be amounting to something between “AWESOME!” and “Meh.  Doesn't matter, I was getting effed with either way.”  This does not strike me as a very good reason to start rattling our saber.

Not that it'd really mean much these days, anyway.  

Russia has military bases there in Crimea, with the permission and support of the Ukrainian Government

America has military bases in Germany.  We have a large American population in Germany supporting those bases.  Imagine for a second that Germany underwent a massive political turmoil; a coup or revolt, similar to that in Ukraine. 

I know that's sort of hard to imagine.  Try really hard.
 Now, imagine America not doing anything to secure its interests and bases in Germany during this uprising.  It’s silly to argue that we wouldn’t do exactly what Russia is doing right now, under similar circumstances.  Now, further imagine Russia getting shitty with us and acting all outraged because we did so.
"How do you say it in America?  'I am your huckleberry?'
Is right, comrade?"
 Yeah, doesn't seem so outrageous now, does it?

Ukraine does not have any mutual protection treaties or agreements with the United States

Much ado has been made about a memo that was signed in 1994that supposedly gave Ukraine promises of US military protection in return for sending all of their Soviet-era nukes back to Russia.  The folks who read and misunderstood it think that it obligates us to intervene, when all it really does is obligate Russia to provide an explanation to the US for its action that is satisfactory to the US. 

"Uhh, we did it for freedom? Isn't that what you Americans always say?"
For instance, explanations like “we are there protecting an ethnic Russian population and Russian military interests that were in Ukraine legally under treaty,” will probably be sufficient for us to shrug and say “well, sounds good to me!”  At that point, we’ll have satisfied our requirements under the memo.  And rightfully so, and thank God, because…

There is no strategic reason for the US to invest blood and treasure into saving the Ukraine from Russian occupation, and a million reasons NOT to

The US doesn’t require a free and independent Ukraine for any reason at all.  We don’t get oil and gas from them.  We don’t trade that much with them (and in fact, trade a lot more with Russia than Ukraine).  They don’t hold a strategic position in world trade routes that we need to fear Russia gaining control of.  In short, there is nothing in the Ukraine that the US would have a vested interest to protect.  Period. 

Pictured: Not strategically important to the USA.
Also, funnily enough, see how the Crimean Pennisula is not
shown as part of the Ukraine here?  Ooooh, Nostradamus-ey! 
The entirety of Ukraine is not worth the blood of one Kentucky National Guardsman, much less the Crimean Penninsula, and the cold, bloody truth is that we’d lose much more than that if we were to start playing “brinksmanship” with Russia over this.  The last time we had a world war, 40 million people died as a direct result, and possibly another 100 million in the aftermath; and no one had nukes until the last second then, either.  Crimea is not worth it. Forget about the difficult logistics of getting troops and material to Crimea.  Forget about the fact that our military is already spread thin fighting a diffuse war in the middle east.  Forget about all of that, and think about this:

The largest nuclear power on Earth should not be confronting the second largest nuclear power on Earth over a questionable occupation of a peninsula somewhere that could be argued to be wholly justified, depending on how it is handled.   

The United States of America has allowed Europe to become indolent and dependent upon it for military purposes

There was a time, post-World War II, when Europe was rebuilding, and it made sense the US to lend its military to Europe for its own protection, so that it could spend money on rebuilding and not worry about being invaded again.  During the Cold War, Europeans mostly rode the US’s coattails for their own defense.  The majority of the military might of Europe came from US troops stationed there.  It wasn’t mainly German and French soldiers looking down the barrel of their rifles at the Fulda Gap, waiting for Kruschev’s army to come storming through, it was Americans. 

As a result, European countries have been able to afford socialized medicine and guaranteed salaries and benefits to its people, because they haven’t had to pay for a military.  They look down their noses at us, because we don’t have those things, and consider us base and low, but fail to understand that the only reason that they’ve been able to afford those things is because we’ve paid their way, defensively, for the last 70 years. 
Because "FREEDOM," bitches!
Enough is enough, I say.  Let Europe handle it this time.  We’ve got no vested interest.  Let those who DO have a vested interest do something about it.  Let those who depend on Russia for their gas and energy needs, because they’ve voted in legislation to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and thus, gut their energy infrastructure, tell Russia to stop what they’re doing to secure the very oil and gas pipelines that serve their needs (which run right through the Ukraine, funny enough).  Let THEM deal with it.  Let THEM figure out how to project military force and might without the US for once. 

And if they can’t, I see no compelling reason that we should do it for them anymore. 

The United States needs to implement a new policy of “We are not the world’s police anymore, so fuck off.”

Being “world cop” has brought us nothing but pain, loss, grief, and expense, and all in return for everyone hating us.

So fuck them.  They want to hate what we’ve been doing for them?  Let them deal with it from now on. 

If something comes along that directly impacts US security, then take care of it, but until then, it shouldn’t be our problem anymore.  


  1. Chamberlain called the crisis in Sudetenland in 1938 'a quarrel in a faraway country, between people of whom we know nothing'. A big mistake. The Crimea and the Ukraine do concern the USA, just as the Crimea was of strategic interest to Britain a hundred and fifty years ago, leading to the Crimean War 1853-56. Incidentally, Europe didn't depend on the USA for defence - the British and American garrisons were left in Germany after 1945 as much to keep the Germans down as the Russians out.

    1. And at the time, Chamberlain made a smart move, based on the information that he had available to him at the time. The 20/20 hindsight of history has us all saying that he should have acted, but the fact is, there was not popular support for war at the time, nor was there a reasonable causus belli for Britain, specifically, to commit blood and treasure because of Germany taking back the Sudetenland.

      Chamberlain was not perfect, by a long shot, but it is only with the 20/20 hindsight of history that he’s been generally maligned as incompetent.

      Furthermore, I think that your efforts to compare the two situations are tenuous, at best. Unless you’d like to make the argument that Russia has plans to continue invading and dominating the entirety of Europe (or even of the remainder of Ukraine, for that matter), there is no comparison. None. Russia has gone to Crimea with an intent to protect ethnic Russians and Russian military interests, and their response has been measured and reasonable. We’d do the same thing in their shoes, as I’ve stated before. This is not the annexation of Austria, it’s just a major imperial power protecting their interests in a time of unrest. Totally different. So different that I’m surprised you can’t see that.

      As for the Ukraine and Crimea being a concern for the US, support your thesis. The fact that they were a concern for Britain, who was a Mediterranean imperial power at the time of the Crimean War, does not indicate why the USA, who is NOT an imperial Mediterranean power, should care. Saying “Britain did it 170 years ago” is not a good enough argument for me to send young men off to the Ukraine to die in order to stop an occupation that is widely celebrated by the people there. Remember Vietnam? Remember how shitty it was that half of the population of the people we were trying to “save” actually fought against us?

      How about we don’t do that again, what do you say?

      I’d also like to point out that it didn’t exactly go well for Britain back then…

      As for the Europe depending on the USA for defense thing, we’ll agree to disagree, and I’ll keep thinking I’m right until you show me a military in Europe that would have had an icecube’s chance in hell at stopping the East Germans, much less the entire Russian Army, at any time between 1945 to 1990. I’ll be here.

  2. Heh, it would be enough to say honestly that the U.S. would be "financially inconvenienced" by the prospect of yet another armed conflict on the horizon with too little profits for its efforts. "Realpolitik" at its finest.

    Buying into Russian framing of the issue is another thing altogether. I wonder, in what manner were those ethnic Russians in Crimea discriminated against? Even more funny, remembering how Russians were never (LOL) complicit in discrimination against non-Russians in their borders before.

    What if there is a certain logic to actions of Putin? Let's push a little here, then a little more there, then still more at another point... When would it become apparent that each of those moves wouldn't happen without a tacit approval of the previous one?

    1. Oh, don’t think I’m buying into the Russian line, friend. I’m just looking at this with common sense. If a situation arises where I go “that son of a bitch, why is he doing that?” and then I think about it for a second and realize that I’d do the exact same thing as he is doing under the same circumstances, it causes me to sit back and realize that maybe, just maybe, he doesn’t have evil intent and he really is there to do what he says he’s there to do. There’s enough “zOMG WWIII is STARTING! Teh Hitler invaded Sudetenland! Sky is falling, comrade!” running around the ‘net right now. I thought I’d just put another option out there and see if it sticks.

      As for the claims about discrimination, etc - I never made them. I said explicitly that Russia was there protecting it's interests - which are Russian citizens and Russian Military bases - during time of unrest.

      I’ll bet it does. Putin isn’t an idiot. Despite all his other flaws, he’s not dumb enough to go full imperialist right out in the open like this. Their economy is not strong enough to withstand an embargo. This may just be the driving force to finally get the Keystone XL pipeline pushed through – supplying Europe’s energy needs due to the Russian embargo.

      As for the incrementalist thing - if Russia ever gets to a point to where we decide that we need to stop them, then we'll do it.

      Now is not the time, and I think that's pretty well backed up by common sense. Crimea is NOT the hill to die on. Poland? Hell yes. The Czeck Republic? Absolutely. The remainder of Ukraine? Maybe.

      But I'll bet you right now that it never gets there. because I'll bet you that what they say they're doing there is actually what they're doing there.