David Hines
Crimea and punishment
By David Hines
May 5, 2014

Seems like 160 years ago. The place in question was Crimea. It was then Russian territory. It is today, too – first through lease agreement, then through referendum and annexation. A popular song written about the previous episode had a refrain "by jingo." It gave rise to a new political description.

Then as now, jingoists claimed that Russia needed to be constrained and confined. Turkey, the sick man of Europe, was threatened. The Tsar said he was intervening to protect Orthodox Christians.

Old enemies made common cause. Christians teamed with the Turkish Muslims they had long feared and fought. France and Britain set aside their centuries-long enmity to cooperate in an invasion of Russia.

Then as now, ham-handed leaders promised quick and decisive resolution. The result was opposite the expectations. Troops suffered in the trenches while their leaders feasted aboard their yachts or took the winter off to go home on "personal business." Logistics had severe problems, being far from the invaders' home bases and close to the enemy's.

The sick man of Europe continued to wheeze for a bit more than a half-century. He was still around to ally with the Central Powers in the Great War. Then he was to be dissected by the British and French, who had earlier fought to keep him alive.

It seems that whether a nation can be dismembered depends entirely who is doing the dismembering. Crimea's vote doesn't count but the Kosovo Liberation Army desire for secession in Kosovo does. Serbia was bombed in support of Kosovo secession; Russia is threatened for supporting Crimean secession from the Ukraine. One must wonder what the position shall be on Venice's recent vote on secession from Italy, Catalonia's growing desire to separate from Spain, and Scotland from the UK.

When Egypt's government was overthrown there was debate about whether the US could legitimately send aid. The reality of a coup was said to prevent it. There was a coup in Kiev, and Congress is rushing to give aid on the US taxpayer's dime. Curiouser and curiouser.

Europeans dependent upon Russian gas are balking at accepting punishment along with Russia. They'd have to pay more for fuel to support American embargo, a.k.a. "sanctions." So there is talk of shipping liquefied natural gas from the US, punishing Americans with higher cost. Liquefying natural gas doesn't come free.

Crimean adventurism is primarily, if not solely, a production of American jingoists. What is constant then and now is that the armies get to do plenty of fighting and arms manufacturers do a booming business – by jingo!

© David Hines


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David Hines

Born in a mill town, David Hines has seen work as a furniture mover, computer programmer/analyst, and professional musician... (more)


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