March 08, 2014

Saturday Morning Essay: Ukraine, Honey Is That You?

My official position on the Crisis in Crimea, the casus belli of World War III, the Developing Situation in Ukraine:  How would I know?  All I know is what I read in newspapers that don't exist anymore.  All sources are secondary: people reading what other people surmise and then reproducing these biased conjectures as objective truth.

I was amused by Hillary Clinton's political application of Godwin's Law.  Godwin's Law is an Internet rule which posits that as the length of any comment thread increases, the odds that someone will make a comparison of someone else to Hitler approach 1/1.  Hillary, solidifying her position as the frontrunner for the Dems in 2016, the Heiress Apparent, compared Putin's move into Ukraine to Hitler's annexation of the Sudetenland in Czechoslavakia prior to World War II.  That's fairly good, as historicity goes; Hitler's rationale was that the Germanic peoples living in the Sudetenland were being oppressed by non-Germanic majorities, as Putin claims the ethnic Russians in Ukraine are being pushed around by the various factions of skinheads, anti-Semites, Neo-Nazis and other statesmen (collectively, "America's allies") urging the ouster of Ukraine's recently departed President.

However, why should Hillary reach so far back in time if the principle she is upholding is that of the right of sovereign nations to be free of unlawful invasion by another country?  Why not Afghanistan in 2001 or Iraq in 2003, invasions which Hillary voted for and passionately supported?  I've probably answered my own question.

No, one must build one's take on international events from the ground up these days.  One must state first principles and then derive one's position. This is science.  So, is Andrew Levine, writing for Counterpunch, correct?

All indications are that Obama would like to pull China down a notch or two.  Why else “pivot” towards Asia?   But if there is a way to do that without also harming the interests of the fraction of the one percent he lives to protect and serve, he has yet to figure out how... Russia, however, is another story. There, separatist forces are strong, and the economic stakes are high.  And, though you would never know it from our media, opportunities for stirring up trouble abound because the level of state repression is low.  Think how far Pussy Riot had to go to provoke an illiberal (“authoritarian”) reaction. 

Probably so, and Levine has stated an important Axiom, which we will label Axiom 1:  A nation's foreign policy is identical to its domestic business policy.  How could it be otherwise?  Thus, Secretary of State John Kerry (described by Jim Kunstler as "a haircut in search of a brain") can fulminate in his Kennedyesque way (a always pronounced as in "father") about sovereignty, but this argument is really about oil and gas pipelines around the Black Sea.  If these are personally important to you, then you should be very interested in developments in Ukraine.

The second principle (Axiom 2) is that, although Levine makes it sound like Obama's unqualified support for a tiny sliver of the American populace (the Fat Cat Coalition) is a bad thing,  it is not Obama's fault that wealth inequality has reached absurd levels of imbalance in modern America; modern American Presidents always serve the interests of the business community in everything they do. It's just that when they do that now, they're only working for about 43 people, those people who own the country.  So Axiom 2 can be restated: the President takes the nation's ownership as he finds it.  These are the people he goes to work for.  Or she will go to work for, in 2016.

And what about Putin?  Well, he works for companies that have Prom endings to their titles (Gazprom, for example).  Thus, the photo up above.  He can't let Ukraine's network of oil and gas pipelines, and his warm water port on the Black Sea, come under the control of decidedly anti-Russian elements.  Axiom 3, therefore: our opposite number in these "crises" operates from the same first principles.

Do we really want to ensure the free flow of oil and gas from the fossil fuel-rich Caucasus, as it's often called?  No, because then we'll all be incinerated by global warming.  Will we go to (nuclear) war over Ukraine?  No, because both sides recognize that the destruction of all human beings is among the worst things that can happen to business interests.

Leading to Axiom 4, which might make a good title for a blockbuster disaster movie: Humankind is bound up in a matrix of interlocking death wishes from which there appears to be no easy means of escape.

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