Russia's invasion of the Ukraine — Tsarism or Stalinism anew?

Journal/Website: 
GOPUSA.com
Article Type: 
Commentary
Published Date: 
Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Just as I was beginning to warm up to Vladimir Putin and the new emerging "democracy" in the Russian Federation (which like a phoenix rose out of the ashes of the communist Soviet Union), the Russian President and his minions in the Ukraine invade the Crimean peninsula and threaten to foment a second cold war! Who is Putin trying to imitate? Is it Peter the Great, who wanted the Russian fleet to have access to the Baltic, or Catherine the Great, who first Russian President Vladimir Putinconquered the Ukraine for access to the Black Sea? Or is it the more sinister Stalin, who first used Sochi as his private resort and, more ominously, helped start World War II by signing the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact and invading Eastern Poland in 1939?

The imperialistic designs of Tsarist Russia in the 19th century and the murderous, authoritarian legacy of Joseph Stalin still seem to lurk in the shadows of the Russian nation with the consent of a large proportion of the Russian people.(1) Is communism, for all the assurances of Western journalists and academicians, truly dead, or still able to lift its ugly head behind the former iron curtain? The grim Russian authoritarian past does not seem to allow mother Russia to move irresolutely toward a future of individual freedom, prosperity — and peace.

The geopolitics and foreign policy of Vladimir Putin in the Caspian Sea region and the Caucasus, and now the Ukrainian Crimea — from the bloody suppression of the separatist Chechnya insurrections in the 1990s, the invasion of Georgia in the South Ossetia War of 2008, the subtle intimidation of Azerbaijan, and now the overt bullying and invasion of the Ukraine — all ominously remind us of the old imperialism of the Russian Czars, if not the more recent and brutal force and Putin Hands Off Ukraine signmilitarism of the Soviet Union.

Under the watch of Vladimir Putin, the dark side of political repression and loss of civil liberties, the unexplained murder of dissidents and independent journalists at home and abroad, the resurgence of the espionage wars, frankly, also leave much to be desired.(2-4)

It was a frightening prospect that in 2008, a Russian poll found “the Greatest Russian” to be Joseph Stalin, distant second and third place went to such relatively obscure figures as Aleksandr Nevsky and Prime Minister Pyotr Stolypin, who ironically was assassinated in 1911 serving under Nicholas II, the last Czar of Russia!

The Russian people must break away from their bullying, imperial, and authoritarian legacy. Vladimir Putin and the Russian "democrats" must follow the rule of law, serve well the people they represent, respect civil liberties, leave alone their neighbors in peace. The neighboring nations, like the Russians themselves, have much to learn about constitutional government and the rule of law, but they most do so without Russian threats and aggression.

Do you remember the scandalous incident, when during missile defense Obama with Medvedevtalks in 2012 (photo, left), Obama told then Russian President Dmitry Medvedev that he [Obama] would have 'more flexibility' after the U.S. presidential election?(5) It now seems the chickens of poor diplomacy have come home to roost! And we will have to see how Secretary of State John Kerry handles the tinderbox situation in the Ukraine that the Obama administration might have helped create!

There is still time for Putin and his advisers to listen to the voices of reason, peace, and restraint. Let us hope we don't begin another cold war, with or without communism in the balance, this time based on Russian hegemony in the region. As geography now stands, Russia is still the largest nation in the world with no close second! Russia has already plenty of resources as well as access to the seas. And the times of Peter the Great and Catherine the Great are long gone, and we hope so for Stalin and the gulag too.

References

1. Faria MA. The Russian Political Turmoil. GOPUSA.com, December 26, 2011.

2. Earley P. Comrade J — The Untold Secrets of Russian’s Master Spy in America After the End of the Cold War. New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons; 2007.

3. Goldfarb A, Litvinenko M. Death of a Dissident — The Poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko and the Return of the KGB. New York: Free Press; 2007.

4. Politkovskaya A. Putin’s Russia: Life in a Failing Democracy. Tait A, transl. New York: Metropolitan Books; 2004.

5. During missile defense talk, Obama tells Medvedev he'll have 'more flexibility' after the election. FoxNews, March 26, 2012.

Written by Dr. Miguel Faria

Miguel A. Faria Jr., M.D. is Associate Editor in Chief and World Affairs Editor of Surgical Neurology International. He is Clinical Professor of Surgery (Neurosurgery, ret.) and Adjunct Professor of Medical History (ret.), Mercer University School of Medicine. Dr. Faria is the author of Cuba in Revolution — Escape From a Lost Paradise (2002). Dr Faria has written numerous articles on Stalin, communism, and the Soviet Union, all posted at the author’s website: www.haciendapub.com

Copyright ©2014 Miguel A. Faria, Jr., M.D.

The photographs used to illustrate this commentary came from a variety of sources and did not appear in the GOPUSA.com article. A short version of this article appeared in the Macon Telegraph on April 6, 2014.

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Putin false Anti-Muslim speech— correct in substance?

Snopes.com prides itself (or more accurately brags) that it squashes false “rumors,” quotations and misstatements in the web. A good example is debunking the fallacious statement of Putin about Muslims in Russia: “FALSE: Vladimir Putin Anti-Muslim Speech” circulated in the web. But one does need to read the "debunking" carefully because even though the exact words may have been deliberately and erroneously constructed for emphasis and to add flavor to the statements, the sentiment and substance may still be correct. In fact the false statements are frequently composed from sentiments previously expressed by that person. In the case of Vladimir Putin, the Russian President has expressed opinions that mirrors the misquoted or literally false statements. For example, the policy that migrants to Russia need to integrate into Russia society. Moreover, in the case of Putin, actions may speak louder than words, as in his reprehensible Russian actions in Chechnya. And while we are at it, let's point out that Snopes has progressive liberal bias in the “correction” of statements and misinformation. False rumors are dissected meticulously and exposed when the attributions have conservative tendencies, but seldom correcting liberal misinformation with such élan!

Snopes: Claim: A February 2013 speech by Russian president Vladimir Putin demanded that Muslim immigrants speak Russian and conform to Russian culture. President Putin did, during his introductory remarks to a meeting of the Board of the Federal Migration Service in January 2012, speak words somewhat similar to the sentiments expressed in the item reproduced above, but with much more moderated language and a much less inflammatory tone.

Putin: "On the whole, the adaptation of guest workers is a separate and comprehensive issue. We must create the conditions for immigrants to normally integrate into our society, learn Russian and, of course, respect our culture and traditions and abide by Russian law. In this regard, I believe that the decision to make learning the Russian language compulsory and administer exams is well grounded. To do so, we will need to carry out major organizational work and introduce corresponding legislative amendments. I'd like to ask the Federal Migration Service and other departments to submit specific proposals to the government. These proposals should be openly discussed with ethnic minorities as well as public and religious organizations. This should be mandatory for all guest workers regardless of their future employment."

True, this is much more moderate language and tone than those expressed in the highly charged summary bandied about, but the words taken in the context of other statements and policy are consistent with the sentiment,— and if there is any doubt about the meaning of Putin's bureaucratese words, ask the Moslem Chechens in Russia!

Warning the Russian bear in Europe!

US military leaders propose sending more forces to Europe to deter Russia
November 9, 2015, FoxNews.com

U.S. military officials have proposed sending more troops to Europe to deter the threat of aggression by Russia and have stepped training exercises aimed at countering possible interference with troop transfers by Moscow. The Wall Street Journal reports that proposals for the deployment of multiple U.S. brigades in Europe were made over the weekend at the Reagan National Defense Forum at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Calif.

The U.S. Army currently has two infantry brigades based in Eastern Europe, totaling approximately 7,000 soldiers. One other brigade rotates in and out of Europe on a regular basis. Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley told the Journal that he would like to send attack helicopter units and artillery brigades to Europe as well as more rotating brigades. Gen Philip Breedlove, the supreme allied commander of NATO, told the Journal that decisions on the proposals would be made "in the next couple of months." Any plans for a troop increase must be developed by the Pentagon, approved by President Obama and funded by Congress. The paper reported that funding for the troop increase would be included in a budget request sent to Congress early next year.

Word of the proposed troop increase comes a day after Defense Secretary Ash Carter warned against Russian aggression in some of his strongest remarks since becoming Pentagon chief this past February. He described Russian forces' "challenging activities" at sea, in the air, in space and in cyberspace. Carter also said Moscow was "violating sovereignty in Ukraine and Georgia and actively trying to intimidate the Baltic states."

"We do not seek a cold, let alone a hot, war with Russia," Carter said. "We do not seek to make Russia an enemy. But make no mistake; the United States will defend our interests, our allies, the principled international order, and the positive future it affords us all."

Under President Vladimir Putin, Russia is challenging the U.S. in many arenas, including the Arctic, where last year Moscow said it was reopening 10 former Soviet-era military bases along the Arctic seaboard that were closed after the Cold War ended in 1991. Russia also is flying more long-range air patrols off U.S. shores and increasing submarine patrols and exercises…

Wrangel Island

Putin Pushes the Envelope
By Phyllis Schlafly, GOPUSA,September 3, 2014

While the world's attention was distracted by his incursions into Eastern Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin quietly made another provocative move that could lead to a direct confrontation with the United States. The Russian Navy sent a ship to remote Wrangel Island, planted a Russian naval flag on August 20, and announced plans to build a naval base there for Russia's Pacific Fleet.

Wrangel Island is a frozen, nearly uninhabited island in the Arctic Ocean, about 90 miles north of Siberia and 300 miles northwest of Point Hope, Alaska. It's about the size of our two smallest states, Delaware and Rhode Island, combined.

Wrangel Island has little economic value in itself, but it is hugely important because it is the closest land to a vast swath of the Arctic Ocean, which is estimated to hold 25 percent of the world's recoverable oil and gas. According to a European reporter, Putin has said he wants to expand Russia's presence in the Arctic, both militarily and economically.

It's not the first time that Russia has planted a flag to claim territory in the Arctic, hoping to extend its control over that resource-rich region. In August 2007, a Russian submarine planted a Russian flag on the ocean floor at the North Pole.

When the Canadian foreign minister expostulated that Russia could not expect to claim territory under rules of "the 15th century," the Russian Foreign Minister cited a more recent precedent: "Whenever explorers reach some sort of point that no one else has explored, they plant a flag," he said. "That's how it was on the moon, by the way."

Yes, the United States did plant a flag on the moon on July 21, 1969. Planting the American flag was Neil Armstrong's first task after taking that "one small step" which was a "giant leap for mankind." The sight of that flag, beamed back to earth, was rendered sweeter because many so-called experts had predicted that the Russians would get there first.

Americans beat the Russians to the North Pole, too. On April 6, 1909, Adm. Robert Peary, after an arduous expedition with dogs and sleds over hundreds of miles of ice, triumphantly wrote: "I have this day hoisted the national ensign of the United States of America at this place, which my observations indicate to be the North Polar axis of the earth, and have formally taken possession of the entire region, and adjacent, for and in the name of the President of the United States of America." Peary's claim was reaffirmed when our first nuclear submarine, the USS Nautilus, reached the Pole on Aug. 3, 1958.

Russia claims that its recent flag-planting on Wrangel Island was 90 years to the day from when Russians had planted a Soviet flag there on Aug. 20, 1924, claiming the island for the USSR But there again, American explorers had already claimed the island for the United States some 43 years earlier.

Wrangel had not yet been officially discovered when the United States purchased Alaska from Russia in 1867. The $7.2 million purchase price agreed to by U.S. Secretary of State Seward was considered so large that Alaska was ridiculed as "Seward's Folly" until gold and oil were discovered years later.

The brave American explorers who reached Wrangel Island on Aug. 12, 1881 were aboard the United States Revenue Cutter, the Thomas Corwin, which regularly cruised the Bering Sea and Arctic Ocean off the coast of Alaska. The party included the famous environmentalist John Muir, founder of the Sierra Club, whose account of the 1881 expedition to Wrangel Island was published after he returned to the mainland.

The Corwin's captain dispatched a landing party led by William Edward Reynolds to plant the American flag on the island, claiming it for the United States. Reynolds later became Commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard and retired as a Rear Admiral.

Although Russia's claim to Wrangel Island dates only to 1924, while America's claim dates to 1881, the U.S. government shamefully failed to assert and defend our prior claim against Russia's more recent one. Indeed, our State Department on several occasions purported to surrender America's claim to this important outpost.

In the 1970s, Secretary of State Henry Kissinger tried to negotiate a boundary agreement giving away Wrangel Island to the Soviet Union, but the deal fell through because the Soviets kept demanding greater access to fishing near Alaska. Again in 1990, Secretary of State James Baker tried to make a deal with Gorbachev to give the island to the collapsing Soviet Union, but that was not completed before the Soviet Union dissolved in 1991, and anyway has never been ratified by the Russian Duma.

In light of Russia's chronic misbehavior on the world stage, let's correct a historical blunder by reviving America's historic claim to Wrangel Island, thereby extending our jurisdiction over the riches of the Arctic.
Full disclosure: During World War II, I spent two years test-firing .30 and .50 caliber ammunition at the world's largest ammunition factory while my future husband served in the U.S. Navy helping to protect Alaska against a possible Japanese invasion.

Phyllis Schlafly is a lawyer, conservative political analyst and author of 20 books. She is the co-author, with George Neumayr, of the New York Times Best-Seller titled "No Higher Power: Obama's War on Religious Freedom."

http://www.gopusa.com/commentary/2014/09/03/putin-pushes-the-envelope/?s...

Czechoslovakia, 1938 or Ukraine 2014?

Let us hope Vladimir Putin does not blunder and history does not repeat itself with grave consequences, forcing World War III.

Consider the comparison: In 1939, Hitler, after orchestrating the Anschluss of Austria into the Third Reich (March 1938), claimed that the Sudetenland was also part of Greater Germany. Among the reasons, Hitler insisted those parts of Czechoslovakia were mostly German-speaking and the populace of German descent. Great Britain and France, allied to Czechoslovakia yielded. Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain flew to Munich to placate Germany and thought he had "brought peace in our time." French Prime Minister Edouard Daladier agreed with the annexation (Munich Agreement, September 1938). Thus was Czechoslovakia betrayed in an attempt to placate Hitler.

Thus placated but not yet satiated, Hitler ordered the Wehrmacht to invade and occupy the Sudetenland, which the German army did successfully, and this part of Czechoslovakia was duly annexed to the Third Reich (October 1938). Of course, that was not enough, and Hitler subsequently invaded and ceased the rest of Czechoslovakia (March 1939). Nazi Germany then signed the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact with the Soviet Union (August 1939), and Hitler now allied with Stalin, also ordered his Panzers to invade western Poland (September 1, 1939), while the USSR invaded and seized eastern Poland. World War II in Europe had begun.

Now in 2014, there is a perilous situation whereby Putin and the Russians (assisted by proxy troops) have invaded and seized the Crimean Peninsula. Presently, the Russians have destabilized Eastern Ukraine and also threaten invasion of this part of Ukraine, which, like the Crimea, has a population where the majority of the people are of Russian descent and largely Russian-speaking. Russia's and Ukraine's neighbors, including former Soviet Republics — such as Kazakhstan, Belarus, Moldova, and Azerbaijan — may not have ethnic Russian majorities, but they do have large-Russian speaking populations, and consequently are at risk and vulnerable to a Russian offensive. Even separate nations, like Romania and Poland, now members of NATO, are worried. Will they be next? These nations have suffered and know history has a way of repeating itself, sometimes with catastrophic results. — MAF

But is it fair play?

Russia, as any other country, has legitimate strategic interests in what happens in lands with which it shares borders. On the other hand, the idea that a country has legitimate strategic interests in lands located on the other side of the globe remains an invention of American politicians. It is difficult to see how NATO’s eastward expansion since the collapse of the Soviet Union (despite earlier promises to the USSR that there would be no such expansion) or the alliance’s current deployments close to Russian territories are all about “deterrence and de-escalation”. If the situation were reciprocal and Warsaw Pact troops were being deployed in Mexico or Canada in response to American aggression in Panama, Serbia, Iraq, Afganistan, and Libya the US would hardly see such deployments as serving the cause of de-escalation. Unwillingness on the part of our politicians to imagine such reciprocal scenarios reflects their view that only the US is in the position to define what is and is not geopolitical legitimacy.

NATO vs Russia?

NATO ups military presence amid Russian threat

BRUSSELS (AP) April 16, 2014 — NATO is strengthening its military footprint along its eastern border immediately in response to Russia's aggression in Ukraine, the alliance's chief said Wednesday.

Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said NATO's air policing aircraft will fly more sorties over the Baltic region and allied ships will deploy to the Baltic Sea, the eastern Mediterranean and elsewhere if needed.

"We will have more planes in the air, mores ships on the water and more readiness on the land," Fogh Rasmussen told reporters in Brussels, declining to give exact troop figures.

Moscow must make clear "it doesn't support the violent actions of well-armed militias or pro-Russian separatists" in eastern Ukraine, he added.

NATO's eastern members — including Lithuania, Estonia, Latvia and Poland — have been wary following Russia's annexation of Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula, demanding a more robust military deterrence to counter neighboring Russia.

He said the NATO deployments are about "deterrence and de-escalation" in the face of Russia's aggressive behavior.

The NATO chief did not mention naval deployments to the Black Sea — which Russia would likely see as a direct aggression even though NATO members Bulgaria, Romania and Turkey also border the sea. He insisted, however, that "more will follow if needed."

NATO estimates Russia has amassed some 40,000 troops on Ukraine's eastern border and could invade parts of the country within days if it wished. Fogh Rasmussen urged Russia to pull those troops back.

The 28-nation alliance has already suspended most cooperation and talks with Russia. The United States has dispatched fighter planes to Poland and the Baltics, enabling NATO to reinforce air patrols on its eastern border. NATO also performs daily AWACs surveillance flights over Poland and Romania.

Crimea tinderbox discussion!

Hello Dr. Faria,

I am a journalist writing on Crimea these days. I read your article and posts on this site about Crimea. They are some of the most informative I've read. I would be very happy if you would stop by my Facebook group dedicated to the Crimean Conflict and comment on some of the posts.

Thank you,
Day Donaldson
Guardian Liberty Voice, World Section

To Day Donaldson:

Thank you for the kind remarks. Unfortunately, I'm not on Facebook, but you are welcomed to comment on my website. I'm sure I could learn something from you too. Feel free to use to my articles and comments on your Facebook group so your readers may read the information I have posted.

I also invite you create an easy to sign up and free account at haciendapub.com (drmiguelfaria.com) and post comments on my website, at your leisure.

We have many interested readers and experts on various subjects who write comments or articles. Our main topics, of course, are history and politics, with emphasis on world events. Such topics as Russia, past and present; collectivism and Stalinism; Cuban communism; and cold war espionage are of particular interest. I have also recently been interested in Afghanistan, the Pakistan ISI, and the Taliban in both countries. Anything on history and political science as well as public health, such various subjects are of interest to us. Thank you for interest and accolades!

All the best,
Miguel A. Faria, Jr., M.D.

Stalin deniers

I saw the signs carried by some of the protesters with Stalin's picture, and thought these people are insane, ignorant, or suicidal.
"The Russian people must break away from their bullying, imperial, and authoritarian legacy." But how can this be possible for a people who still adore Stalin, who literally enslaved their relatives, took their land, tortured them with totalitarianism, and murdered over 20 million of them?
Are they brainwashed by the Russian media disinformation, still in fear of going to prison if they voice opposition to comrade Putin--as is still the case there, or they would prefer a powerful tyrant like Stalin or Putin to no authority (granted there is a great deal of difference between the two in accomplishment of totalitarianism if not desire)?
Education and admission of their past and the horrors of communism must be accepted and acknowledged. How can they recover from their refusal to accept their past crimes, if Russians are still in denial of it?

The troubled soul of Mother Russia!

It is scary scenario Koba! It reminds me of the end of World War I, the Treaty of Versailles in 1918, and the mentality of the defeated Germans. Although Germany lost the war, defeated by attrition — the Germans, considered themselves "betrayed" and exploited by Hitler, believed themselves to have been undefeated militarily, only betrayed by pacifists and Jews! The more militant Nazis rearmed and came back to fight again in World War II. Likewise, the Soviets "lost" the cold war and communism, but the Red Army was undefeated militarily (except for in Afghanistan which, likewise, in 1847 defeated and remained unconquered by the British). The Russians look nostalgically to the time when they were "respected" (feared), and Stalin, Uncle Joe, was even cajole by FDR!

Solzhenitsyn had suggested that the Mongol occupation and subjugation of the Russians for three hundred years deeply affected the spiritual soul of Mother Russia! Russia was liberated by Ivan the Great. Ivan the Terrible was a malevolent successor, and when he died, the Russians lamented his demise! When his son Fedor died in 1598, the Russians, used to autocracy, could not rule themselves, and the anarchic "Time of Troubles" began — until the Romanovs were inaugurated in 1613, bringing stability to Russia for three hundred years. Yet, the last Romanov, Nicholas II, "Tsar of all the Russias," was executed, shot, as you know, with his family, wife and children, by the Bolsheviks! A grim history!

And apparently it is Vladimir Putin and his United Russia Party that is keeping the Communists, left-wing parties, and the ultra-nationalists, from gaining power! See my article on "Russia's Political Turmoil" listed in the references.

Interesting comparison

Although USSR lost and we won (President Reagan paraphrased here), it may well be that many there have not accepted it, just as Germany did not after WWI. Of course Germany was severely punished, hence contributing to WWII, I believe in the Versailles Treaty with the War Guilt clause, huge reparations, and even land confiscation that led to unsustainable inflation, etc.

However, USSR has not had to admit their guilt regarding their crimes under communism, paid no reparations, and now seeks to grab the land they lost.

First Russia takes the Georgia provinces of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, then Crimea, and now Ukraine. The US is supposed to defend the Ukraine under the 1994 Budapest Memorandum in which the Ukraine gave up its nuclear arsenal in return for the US, Russia, and Britain's protection. No protection has been provided thus far, only sanctions against a few individual Russians and VISA restrictions.
The Obama administration announces it seeks to drastically cut our military and has not sought to install the missile defense system in Eastern Europe. This sends an obvious signal that we are weak.

But to your point, I think the communist loser deniers are still alive and well.

Geopolitics & Trans-Caspian Baku oil pipeline

Another area of trouble is the Caspian Sea, formerly part of the USSR where several "Republics" bordered each other in suppressed animosities. Stalin took advantage of this to divide and rule, his legacy fomenting discord among ethnic minorities — while the Russian bear suppressed them all. Stalin's policy lives on with Azerbaijan remaining at odds with Armenia, and Georgia with South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Azerbaijan is actually split in two by a strip of Armenian land, and remains in conflict with the latter over the highly disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region within Azerbaijan.

Instability remains in these strategic geopolitical areas, rich in oil and other natural resources, pipelines, and nuclear concerns. If Russia were to again seize or even establish hegemony over the rest of Georgia, Azerbaijan, and the Baku oil field region, it would be a disaster for Turkey and the E.U., which is still theoretically allied to the United States via NATO. A look at the oil pipelines going through Georgia in the Caucasus tell the story. From the Baku oil fields, pipelines run from Azerbaijan to Russia as well as through Georgia and Turkey to the West.

TransCaspian Pipelines



The West — and now China and India in the East — need coal, natural gas, and oil, and with the ever-increasing world population and consumption of resources, energy supply is a growing concern for the entire world, including the U.S. Many people with contempt (implying superior knowledge) dismiss troubles in the Middle East as "it is all about oil!" But then, in their next breadth they complaint about the price of gas and the profits of the oil companies, not understanding the importance of these regions in terms of geopolitics.


 The boast last year by General Nikolai Makarov, Chief of the Russian General Staff, who many thought was bluffing, was fulfilled with the Ukraine. As Erick Erickson pointed out there are "chickens roosting in the Crimea," and the Obama administration may be partially to blame!

On the Russian invasion and other misnomers!

It is interesting how the current focus is on the so-called Russian invasion (when no military operation has taken place as of yet) rather than on the fact that the current so-called government in Kiev has assumed power by a violent overthrow of a democratically elected president in Ukraine. It is also interesting and instructive that governments most known for their insistence on the spirit and practice of democracy have embraced a non-democratic, illegal, and violent process, labeling it somehow legitimate.

It is interesting to ponder what the official response in Washington DC, or London, or Berlin would be to an organized attempt to occupy government buildings, put up barricades in the streets, and assault the police force. And now, when the people in the Crimea are about to take a democratic step toward determining their own future, the Western powers, all the while speaking of sovereignty and self-determination, are calling that democratic step illegitimate. That Russia has strategic interests next door is obvious, just as it is obvious that the US has strategic interests as far as its immediate neighbors are concerned. It must be kept in mind that Crimea was never a part of Ukraine until Khruschev gifted it to the Soviet Socialist Republic of Ukraine as a part of the Soviet Union. One of the first official acts taken by the very nice, kind, and democratic people who took over the Western part of the country was effectively to eliminate Russian as a second official language in a country where Russian is spoken by millions of people. Who should protect the interests of Russian speaking people in the area from the thugs who took over power in the western part of the country? Mr. Obama, or Mr. Cameron, or perhaps UN peacekeepers? Or should NATO protect Crimea that way it "protected" Kosovo?

Justifying Putin!

Dear Dr. Orval Tisbe,

Welcome back to haciendapub! Much of what you write here, as always, is true, but some assumptions are not entirely correct. Invasion? Yes, there were maritime landings of Russians in the Crimea, as well as tightening of a loop of bellicose Russian troops all around the Ukraine, while "Pro-Russian" minions, acting from the inside, did the dirty work as a Fifth Column!Crimea War Map

It is a miracle there has been no bloodshed, the result of prudence on the part of the Ukrainians. Let me repeat what I stated in my opinion article:

"The neighboring nations, like the Russians themselves, have much to learn about constitutional government and the rule of law, but they most do so without Russian threats and aggression."

The pro-EU forces did act thuggishly and undemocratically, but the "democratically elected government" of the Ukraine under President Viktor Yanukovych acted also undemocratically and was not angelic, flagrantly abused power, violated civil liberties (imprisoning political opponents under trumped up charges, as with Yulia Tymoshenko and others), placing the interest (and fear) of Russia above those of the Ukraine in the eyes of many observers.Yulia Tymoshenko

Yulia Tymoshenko (photo, right), a businesswoman who led the Orange Revolution and a former Prime Minister of the Ukraine, spent three years in jail under horrendous conditions (affecting her health adversely) purely for her pro-Western political beliefs and state policies. If imprisoning political opponents may be democratically justified (majority rule), it certainly is not under constitutional governance in a free society under the rule of law.

Regarding the Crimea, the Soviets placed it within the "Ukraine Republic" under the USSR, from the time Lenin appointed Stalin as Commissar of Nationalities (1917-22; based on his expertise gained by Stalin's authoring his famous report on nationalities in 1914, "Marxism and the National Question"). Stalin used his power and the bureaucracy to convert the union of nationalistic republics into a totalitarian Soviet state. Before that the Crimea was part of the tsarist Russian Empire, as were Georgia, Byelorussia, all of the Ukraine, and most of the so-called Soviet Republics.

Ironically the Crimea was the last stronghold of White Russians fighting for their lives in 1919-1920 against the advancing Red Army. General Kolchak's armies disintegrated in Siberia, while General Denikin retreated to the Crimea. There Denikin demoralized resigned his post to Baron Wrangel, the White Army general who had the unenviable task of evacuating the peninsula, the last anti-communist stronghold, leaving it to the advancing, victorious Red Army of seasoned Bolsheviks.Stalin and Khrushchev

Since that time, the Ukraine, including the Crimea, has been a place of sorrow, famine, and death under Russian communism. Khrushchev presided over a virtual genocide of the Ukrainians, massacring kulaks and forcing collectivization of farms for Stalin. All of this is well recounted by Robert Conquest in his books and documentaries. The Ukraine was the somber nation of assassinations of political leaders (e.g., Stepan Banderas) and the extermination of brave, anticommunist freedom fighters, workers as well as rebellious peasants, resisting Stalin and Khrushchev (photo, left), and subsequent Russian tyrants imposing communist rule. The collective leadership in 1954, taking a page from Stalin's book of fomenting divisiveness and discord among minorities, ceded the Crimea to the "Ukrainian Republic" to keep that nation divided, as we see now!

As to the Crimean democratic, self-determination plebiscite, not allowing the rest of the Ukrainians the vote to participate, "it is interesting to ponder what the official response" in Washington DC, London, or Beijing would be to an organized attempt to have self-determination plebiscites conducted in pockets of ethnic populations or boroughs in the suburbs of London or residual islands of the Indian Ocean in the British Empire, Bermuda, Gibraltar, etc.; Hong Kong, Tibet, or rather all of Sinking, for China; or U.S. territories in the American Samoa, Guam, the Aleutian islands, even El Paso (Texas), or Indian Reservations claiming large tracts of land in such states as Arizona, New Mexico, Oklahoma, etc? The repercussions would be enormous. How small a population needs to be before ethnic groups gather to vote their own sovereignty over a territory they claim? The way our country is headed much of the South may well want to have a plebiscite for possible secession! I strongly suspect this might be the unspoken reason of why some Southerners are wishing for a Convention of States to take place. As always I appreciate your thoughtful, instructive and always challenging comments!

Putin vs Obama II

Letter to the Editor in the Macon Telegraph

Putin vs Obama

So Russia has annexed Crimea (it was part of Russia until 1954). Rushing into action (no pun intended) the fearsome John Kerry/Barack Obama foreign policy juggernaut belatedly slapped tiny sanctions, not on Russia proper, but against 11 rich Russian oligarchs over the Crimea situation.

Our policy experts did not sanction the country that broke U.N. treaties but did sanction apparently unconnected Russian oil company executives? What kind of smoke was in that meeting room?

I believe they all live in fear of Vlad Putin and his “put Russia first” leadership. The KGB tough guy disrespects the community organizer. Go figure. Putin has no need for Obama’s approval for anything. He will do what’s best for Russia, no matter the blather from Washington, D.C. That must really confuse American liberals. Imagine, being proud of your own country. How quaint.

Letter writer John Brogden, March 31, 2014

Astute observation!

...While Obama and his unserious advisors in a western world, grown too unserious about reality, focus on unserious topics [e.g., climate change, unisex bathrooms, income inequality, etc.,] other nations of the world continue to jockey for national interest and Kremlin tanks continue pouring into Ukraine.

Putin Cartoon

...Until last week [Russian invasion of the Crimea], we lived in a world where the West had grown comfortable that Francis Fukuyama was right and history had ended. Events would still happen, but the world would inevitably evolve toward liberal democracy. We all learned in college that liberal democracies were more stable and least prone to violence of all forms of government. Barack Obama, the British prime minister, the French president, and the rest of the West could sit around tables fretting about the environment, income inequality, unisex bathrooms, gay marriage and other issues. The West had concluded there were no longer national interests, but global interests where we would all win or all lose together.

It is the foreign policy view of the naive elite in comfortable times detached from the real world...

Erick Erickson, GOPUSA, March 7, 2014



Diary of Dreams performs at the 2016 M’era Luna festival in Hildesheim, Germany. M’era Luna, “one of the biggest dark music events in Germany,” is held each year on the second weekend in August. Close to 25,000 people attend the festival annually to hear gothic, metal and industrial music performed on two large festival-style stages.