Thursday, April 03, 2014

Winter is coming?

My friend Ael had a nifty tagline for the latest anthropomorphic global warming report from the UN and the potential for some life-altering changes it describes:

"Summer is coming".

Any Song of Ice and Fire-themed political references are jake with me, and it has the added encomium of being terse and ominous at the same time.

That's the scary long-game.

In the short-term, however, some people are getting all sorts of up in the Big Whack about Eurasian politics:
"Nato's military commander in Europe has issued a warning about the build-up of Russian forces on Ukraine's border. Supreme Allied Commander Europe Gen Philip Breedlove said Nato was in particular concerned about the threat to Moldova's Trans-Dniester region."
Wait, wait, I hear you say. Why is this whack, Chief? I hear you say.

After all, Putin is an Evil Emperor, right? Oligarch, Stalin-wannabe, all-around thug and blight on the landscape who wants to grab back all the bits of the old Soviet Union and reassemble the Evil Empire? Why is it whack to be concerned about him waving the Big Red Stick around his western borders?

OK, I'll put it this way; is NATO, and, by inference, the United States, ready to fight Russia over Moldova?

Because that's really the bottom line. Is the West willing to fight (since assuming that the only way to ensure that Putin's ambitions don't mean Russian troops back in Latvia, say, or eastern Ukraine) to contain Russia in its present borders and prevent the reassembly of the Soviet Union? Will we fight to preserve the independence of the Baltics, or the states on the Ruthenian plain?

We weren't in 1945, and that was before the Soviets had nuclear weapons.

We weren't for Hungary in 1956, or for Czechoslovakia in 1968.

Even beyond the question of open warfare, are we prepared for a new Cold War over eastern Europe?

We might need to be, as we were prepared to face off with the Soviets over Western Europe in the last half of the 20th Century.

But if that's the case we, We the People, should really have a serious talk.

Are we ready for another Cold War? What's our goal? What's our strategy? How much are we willing to spend in blood and treasure?

Where do we draw the line where we'll fight the Russians rather than let them cross?

The eastern border of Latvia?

The eastern border of Ukraine?

The eastern border of Poland?

Do we even know?

This isn't a spur-of-the-moment sort of decision, or one that is best made around one individual incident. And, no, I don't like what Putin has been doing in the Crimea and I don't trust his ambitions in the Near Abroad. But to mobilize for a new Cold War is committing ourselves to a winter that might last for generations as the previous one did.

I don't trust GEN Breedlove - or any other serving officer - to make that decision for me. There's a reason that Congress was given the authority to declare war and formalize peace, after all.


Ael said...

It is all about phoney baloney jobs and terrorists don't cut it anymore.

Lisa said...

Yes, why ARE we always cruisin' for a brusin? Always for the rebels (except when we're not) ... and we've been taught somehow that every thuggish clash with a leader is the blossoming of something great, that we wanna be on-board with?

Ukraine's Inconvenient Neo-Nazis

Syrbal/Labrys said...

All of this is just grist to the GOP mill grinding out bitchery about Obama not being "strong" enough. (Never mind that much of his "weakness" has to do with seeking THEIR Congressional approval.) Right….like GOP Bush was strong enough to spend more fighting a bunch of guys with their religious ideals AND military tactics lodged firmly in the 19th century…and NOT really win anything except a big bill?

America could do with some "weakness" if that is "strength."

FDChief said...

I think as much as anything it's a sort of Great Power reflex. Nations, and the people who run them, tend to fall into habits and the habit of fucking around in other people's business is strong and hard to break. Thucydides pretty much summed it up a couple of thousand years ago; "The strong do what they can; the weak suffer what they must."

I think you're overestimating the luuuurve for some Ukraine here, Lisa. This is about being against-Russia rather than for-Ukraine. And the Ukrainian government - which is largely NOT neofascist - is certainly no worse than Pinochet or Marcos or Somoza or Pahlevi or Rios Montt or...Christ, we've given hugs to some real bastards, haven't we?

And the GOP is as useless as a tampon in a typhoon, Labrys. We could do well by starting from the position of doing the exact opposite of whatever they recommend...

Lisa said...

I agree that these rumblings are not so much pro-Ukraine as they are anti-Russian.

I guess one could say we are "pragmatic", using anything at our disposal to do what we want to do.

And what is it we want to do in that sphere? Is this just residual anti-Red sentiment?

Anonymous said...

I don't believe that their plutocrats and our plutocrats will let anything beyond bluster happen.

And, Russia has both RT in America and Larry King. What could happen?

One might hope that with the recent Senate report on the CIA naughties out, Snowden and Greenwald et al, the US and EU diddling in Ukraine, and the possible revitalization of our US media, nothing could possibly happen.


FDChief said...

I don't think that anyone in the U.S. power structure really WANTS to push the Russians too hard. After all, this is sort of their equivalent of the Caribbean, their "Monroe Doctrine" sphere, and the downsides of going in hard on them are high compared to the rewards.

If there were to be a collision I think it'd be just because the two sides underestimated each others' boneheadedness. Which, as the millions of dead of WW1 could tell you, is always a possibility...

Lisa said...

As an aside, bb, I do not see any "possible revitalization of our US media".

Instead, I do see more personality, more slant, less news, because that sort of reportage is being overtaken by what we want ... which is material that caters to our wants and points of views. We will become less informed from a disinterested vantage point.

I think this bad because it make us more vulnerable to ideologues. From Elia Kazan's "A Face in the Crowd (1957)":

Rednecks, crackers, hillbillies, hausfraus, shut-ins, pea-pickers - everybody that's got to jump when somebody else blows the whistle. They don't know it yet, but they're all gonna be 'Fighters for Fuller'. They're mine! I own 'em! They think like I do. Only they're even more stupid than I am, so I gotta think for 'em. Marcia, you just wait and see. I'm gonna be the power behind the president ...