Eternal Hope is right in the contention that military advisers in Ukraine can snowball. We're in a dangerous situation. Obama's focus on diplomacy is the right one, and I have to admit that military advisers make me nervous.
The main issue here is that we have to act for three extremely important reasons: Iran, Pakistan, and India.
Ukraine is the only nation on this planet to willingly give up its nuclear deterrent, in exchange for the promise that they would be perpetually protected from invasion and military attack by the UN, NATO, Russia, and China. Everyone promised Ukraine that they would be protected.
So if we want Iran to be willing to give up its nuclear program, or India or Pakistan, we have to prove that we intend to keep that promise. We have to isolate Russia. We have to respond.
The Diplomatic options, the economic options such as crashing the price of oil, they're working. And there's a worry that in response, Russia will step up its invasion. And let's call this what it is: an invasion. It's one that's happening in a cloak and dagger fashion, but this is nothing new to warfare.
In the 16th to 19th centuries, imperialist powers used proxies for conquest. Famous proxies have included Privateers like Francis Drake, who captured Portuguese and Spanish treasure ships, greatly enriching England. The English reponse was simple: It's not our fault that your navy can't defend itself from our private citizens. If our private citizens attack your navy, shoot back. Sink them. We're not going to war over some crazy privateer we had nothing to do with. Similarly, the East India Company was set up to allow Britain to wage open warfare on every single European power without actually risking an invasion of Britain. The Company was a proxy that allowed for imperial growth without risking an actual war.
Now, the Russians are doing the same thing. They're using proxies so that they have enough plausible deniability to avoid open warfare. It's a chess game.
Nobody has access to good information about what's going on in the region. I will tell you right now that if you don't have spy satellites, AWACs flights, and an intelligence agency feeding you information, you have no idea what's going on in the region.
I don't know if sending advisers is a good idea or a bad one, but considering the even handed, intelligent, and reserved way that our president has been handling Russia, I trust him. Advisers make me extremely nervous, and again, Eternal Hope is right to raise some questions, because this really can get out of hand. We should not allow this to spiral into a Vietnam scenario, and should focus primarily on diplomatic and economic action, because those are far more likely to be successful than any kind of military solution.
But I do have some good news: for once in our recent history, we're actually on the right side.
What we are dealing with is a fascist "Pan-Slavic" ideology. Pan-Slavism had an identical ideological origin to the Pan-Germanism favored by the Nazi party themselves. In the same way that the idea of Großdeutschland declared that Germany had an imperial right to reclaim all land populated by German speakers, pan-slavism declares Russians to be the primary 'mother' Slavic group, with a right to "reclaim" all land populated by Slavic peoples. All other Slavs under this formulation are derivative child races, who need mother Russia to embrace them, bring them the light of the orthodox religion, to bring them education and civilization, and save them from themselves.
In the same way that the Indians and Africans were child races, who needed the white master race to save them from barbarism.
This is the 19th century imperialist ideology that Ukranians are currently fighting. This ideology is so alive right now, you can even see it in the comments here at DailyKos. Allow me to quote one of the most racist things I've ever seen posted here at dailykos, a comment which has at the time of writing 13 upvotes. This should be instructive on imperialist, pan-slavic dogma:
You talk about Ukraine as if it were some unified, cohesive entity. As if, by using the designation "Ukraine" one might carve out, or identify a national "State" apart from the several States that have historically defined what this region actually has been, and still is. The Ukrainian region and culture has never been an independent "Nation" until very recently. It has never had definitive boundaries.
The Western tendency to delineate complex historical realities as simplified "National" boundaries has instigated, and continues to cause many unnecessary conflicts. In the South-Eastern regions Ukraine, public sympathies clearly align with Russia, and a Socialist idea of government. In Crimea even more so. Whereas the western and northern parts of the region tend to orient toward Europe and capitalism, with a dash of fascism thrown in for good measure.
There is no such entity as "Ukraine" as an historical, political, unifed entity. A cultural and linguistic entity, yes certainly -- a political, military, and economic entity, no. That has not existed in recent history.
First of all, let's point out the factual inaccuracies here. Ukraine has existed in multiple iterations for centuries. It's been called Kiev, Ruthenia, and a number of other things over its long history. As a cohesive economic and political entity, it existed during most of the 20th century as the Ukrainian SSR, a member state of the soviet union, along with SSRs like Estonia and Kazakhstan. These are nations which have existed for a long time. Like Poland, and every single other nation in Eastern Europe, Ukraine spent some of its time as a conquered subject of a larger empire, and was divided up into pieces at various times by Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Russia. Another nation which was similarly conquered was Greece. But nobody will ever say that "Greece does not actually exist, and they all have been fighting Amongst themselves for so long. They aren't a viable state. I mean, look at Crete. And the Ionian Islands were independent once..."
The exact argument being used against Ukraine's right to exist as a nation and as a cohesive group of peoples could easily be used against Greece.
And if you don't believe that this statement is both factually inaccurate and racist, then allow me to edit it slightly.
You talk about India as if it were some unified, cohesive entity. As if, by using the designation "India" one might carve out, or identify a national "State" apart from the several States that have historically defined what this region actually has been, and still is. The Indian region and culture has never been an independent "Nation" until very recently. It has never had definitive boundaries.
There is no such entity as "India" as an historical, political, unifed entity. A cultural and linguistic entity, yes certainly -- a political, military, and economic entity, no. That has not existed in recent history.
This was factually true of India in 1945, and was one of the main justifications used by imperialist powers in their conquest of India. India was such a hellhole, it needed imperial intervention to save the Indians from barbarism and conflict. We had to take up the "White Man's Burden" and save these people from themselves. It was a racist, ideological, economic, imperial expansion on the part of the British Empire that intentionally dehumanized an entire people into non-existence. They aren't viable. They aren't cohesive. They aren't "Really" a country, but a bunch of disparate groups.
And to talk a little more about the extreme racism that exists in Ukraine, we need to talk about Crimea, and the ethnic cleansing which took place there under Russia. The Crimean Tatars and most other non "russian" ethnic groups, including Greeks, were removed from the Crimean peninsula by the Russian military, by force.
Why were they removed? They were accused of having colluded with Fascism. They helped the Nazis, went the argument, so they had to be punished. This was, of course, false, they proudly served in the Red Army. There were entire Tatar regiments. Joseph Stalin recognized Sevastopol as a vitally important port for the Soviet Union, and so he wanted to guarantee that Crimeans would be loyal to Russia, which meant an ethnically Russian population.
But remember that accusation of Fascism? Well, it keeps propping its head up:
Whereas the western and northern parts of the region tend to orient toward Europe and capitalism, with a dash of fascism thrown in for good measure.
In the same way that the Golden Dawn exists in Greece, the EDL and BNP exist in the UK, Ukraine has the same problem that other European nations have: a neo-fascist minority. Despite the fact that these forces in Ukraine are a small minority that exists in every other European country, every single person criticizing Ukraine brings up fascism. That's because this is the justification which was used under the Soviet Union for continuing the racist policies of the Russian empire, or even building upon them. They weren't being racist, they were fighting fascism. Race doesn't exist. We are all Russians together. Anyone talking about race is a fascist attempting to divide all of us, and needs to be punished. Sometimes entire regions are full of fascists, and everyone needs to be punished. Hence the process of ethnic cleansing.
In Crimea, the local Ethnic population of Tatars has recently attempted to return home. Crimea having a largely independent government, those Tatars have dealt with: racist housing policies, where homes they build are cited for code violations and destroyed; racist political policies designed to keep them from being represented in local government; and they have been generally regarded as fanatical muslim neofascist terrorists. White Crimeans view the Tatars in a way that is not entirely dissimilar from how the American South viewed Black Americans in the Jim Crow era. The real reason for their support of Russia is, in addition to ethnic ties, the fact that they don't want the Muslims moving in next door.
Ukraine is probably better off with the extreme racism of the Crimean populists poisoning someone else's democracy. The big losers will continue to be the Crimean Tatars who will deal with the consequences of their homeland becoming an independent Oblast in Russia where the racists get to make even more extreme laws designed to push out the last of the Tatar population.
They're not likely to be murdered, just encouraged to leave with racist laws and regulations. The Crimean Tatars will see economic forces pushing them to move to some other similar ethnic community. There are other Tatar communities, but they're as distinct from each other as Swedes from Norwegians. These are different groups of people we're talking about here. The real hope for them is that they'll be able to move over the border into Ukraine de Facto, and form a long lasting community there.
If they don't do that, they will cease to exist as a people. They survived Stalin's ethnic cleansing, but according to the Tatars themselves, they aren't handling exile well. They're losing their language and their cultural traditions. If they can't return to Crimea, and the white, christian population there wants to kick out the ones who still remain, then they'll need to have a homeland in Ukraine, or they're done as a cohesive ethnic group. They'll wither away, destroyed by racist, imperialist dogma. And the worst part is, there's probably nothing we can do about that.
I can't tell you what's going on today. I can't tell you who is butchering who, or how many civilians have been killed in artillery strikes, or anything else, because there's too much disinformation. I can tell you that it looks to me like the rebels have been routinely targeting civilians indiscriminately with heavy weapons. Hence the Airliner that was shot down. Hence the photos posted to Reddit from a Ukrainian who was woken up by a Russian artillery rocket engine smashing into his apartment's balcony. He was lucky, he said, that it was just the engine, and not the warhead.
I can't tell you what happened today with any sense of certainty. There's too much disinformation.
But I can tell you about the racist, imperialist history that Ukrainians are fighting against. Which says that they're not really a nation, not really an ethnic group, and need Russian masters to civilize them.
For once, we're on the right side.
Yes, we do need to be extremely careful not to get bogged down in a quagmire, because Ukraine could easily make Vietnam look like a Sunday picnic. The heavy weapons just lying around over there were built to take on American armed forces, and there are people alive today who spent their entire adult lives war-gaming "Defend Ukraine from an American/NATO Invasion." This is extremely dangerous, and we've got to be careful. I agree with the post on the community spotlight there.
But can we please have a little bit of perspective on the history of this region, and on the history and ethnic ideology behind Russian Imperial Dogma?
Can we stop pretending that racist, 19th century imperial dogmatism has any place in our modern discourse?