Thursday, March 20, 2014

151.3 - Update: Ukraine

Update: Ukraine

Two brief updates before we go to break.

First, I talked last week about Ukraine. It's still not a topic well-suited to a weekly show, but I wanted to mention a couple of things quickly, almost like bullet points

- So the vote in Crimea was held and oh my what a shock, "the people" want to secede from Ukraine and become part of the Russian Federation. We're told. Just two days later, Russian President Vladimir Putin announces the annexation of Crimea.

The thing that struck me is the claim that 97% of voters wanted this, wanted immediate unification with Russia. Please. Nothing gets 97% of the vote in a legitimate referendum. Hell, I figure if you had a referendum on "Should people breathe air?" you still wouldn't get 97% "yes." So either that figure is a lie, only the desired votes were counted, or - most likely - no one else voted, knowing they would merely be lending credibility to a farce where the "choice" effectively was between "join Russia now" and "join Russia a little later."

- The Russian invasion and now annexation of Crimea is not universally popular in Russia: A protest in Moscow on March 15 against the invasion drew an estimated 50,000 people.

- The first blood has been shed: A Ukrainian soldier was killed when gunmen attacked a besieged military base near the capital of Crimea on March 18.

- Finally, I'm disturbed at the ease with which some folks on the left - my people - embraced the notion that all the troubles in Ukraine, all the protests that lead to the ouster of Viktor Yanukovich, were the result of the machinations of the US and/or but usually and the European Union. I'm disturbed by the ease with which some folks assume that people in Ukraine could not have had legitimate grievances and legitimate - or at the very, very least, honestly-held - fears. The ease with which some assume that all troubles, all conflicts, are the result of something we do, that we exercise extreme if not total control over events worldwide. Yes, we are a powerful nation, yes, we are very probably the most powerful nation, but we are not that powerful.

It's unfortunately easy to be blinded. It's easy to be so blinded by the historic wrongs committed by our own government, to be blinded by the evils that we have committed and still are committing, to become so blinded by what we as a nation have done and are going, that we become incapable of seeing that we are not the only ones who commit wrongs, that we are not the only ones who seek power, that we are not the only ones who look to influence and control events to their own selfish benefit. We've seen it before, we are seeing it again here.

I would commend to everyone the wise insight of Joan Baez, who some years ago put it in context: "The US isn't the worst," she said. "It is, however, the biggest."


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