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Tuesday, May 06, 2014 1:30 AM


Annexation by Force; Three-Part Reality; Actions vs. Words; Paper Legalities


In response to Misrepresenting the Libertarian Position on Putin and the annexation of Crimea by Russia a close friend responded ...

The reality is that the international community overwhelming does not recognize the annexation. Annexation by force is no longer how the world does business and that is what is at stake here.  That is why it cannot be allowed to stand. As Radek Sikorski the Foreign Minister of Poland, whose country was also ripped apart and partially annexed by Russia before World War II said, "Do not underestimate our determination not to return to the politics of the 20th Century."

Three-Part Reality

Here is the three part reality.

  1. Crimea is again part of Russia whether the world community likes it or not.
  2. The annexation will stand.
  3. The only thing that can change the above outcome is another major war.

Reflections on World Opinion

Recall that world opinion once said the earth was flat. Was it?

The US had no legitimate business in Vietnam or Iraq. The citizens of those countries did not want us there. World opinion (supportive at the time) did not make either invasion just. Polls today would likely show completely different results on the wisdom of those wars.

Personally, I do not care what world opinion is on Crimea. Nor did I care when majority opinion found it acceptable for the US to be in Vietnam or for the US to invade Iraq.

I do care about the opinions of people who live in Crimea. Overwhelmingly, Crimeans want to be part of Russia.

Question: Who the hell is the world, the UN, or anyone else to tell people living in Crimea any different?

Answer: Not only is it is the height of arrogance to force a different viewpoint on Crimeans, it also risks WW III to impose that arrogance.

Nonetheless, my friend (let's call him F1) says the annexation "cannot be allowed to stand".

Really?!

As long as we are discussing world opinions, let's consider the opinion of US citizens.

CBS news reports Most Say U.S. Doesn’t Have a Responsibility in Ukraine. "A majority of 61 percent of Americans do not think the U.S. has a responsibility to do something about the situation between Russia and Ukraine, nearly twice as many as the 32 percent who think it does. There is widespread bipartisan agreement on this."

Do opinions matter or don't they?

Tellingly, opinions only seem to matter when one agrees with them!

Paper Legalities

I have another friend (F2) who also disagrees with my overall point of view on Ukraine. F2 is a lawyer who wants to remain anonymous. F1, F2, and I all communicate daily. We see each other's responses.

F2 commented on F1's "paper thin distinctions". F2 also stated "There is no consistent legal principle that drives these events. It's always power. Eventually the international community recognizes reality. The international community's quasi/legal acts don't create reality."

On that, I am in complete agreement. In time, probably quickly (unless a major war breaks our), the international community will recognize Crimea is part of Russia.

F1 responded "I am feeling pretty good about my position. The world isn't talking about sanctions, and bolstering NATO'S eastern defenses because they see paper thin distinctions."

Will world opinion and recognition that Crimea is part of Russia change F1's mind? Time will tell.

Outrage Over Odessa

Reader Rich pinged me with his thoughts on Odessa and media bias.
Hello Mish
Thanks for your comments on Ukraine

It seems to me it's essentially a state's rights issue since polls indicate that most in the east favor more autonomy from Kiev and only a minority want independence or annexation by Russia.

But where is the outrage in the Western press over the gruesome events in Odessa. There are videos of people shooting into windows while the building was burning and people were trying to escape the flames. Why the outrage over Kiev snipers, but near silence over what happened in Odessa?

Lastly, what has been the role of CIA/FBI in directing / training Kiev's special forces who are attacking the east? Russia is almost certainly stirring the pot, but the US/EU has done so for months and years, and almost certainly continues to do so.

Where is the serious, unbiased reporting on this? I can find a little at the Guardian, BBC, and Al Jazeera. RT has useful information but they are not unbiased.

US press has an unquestioning Cold War mentality and defines things as either pro-Russia or pro-west. Given the complexities and subtleties, where is the unbiased reporting and analyses by Western mainstream media?

Rich
Question: Where is the unbiased reporting and analyses by Western mainstream media?

Answer: Generally "nonexistent". And those of us who present a different point of view are accused of being pro-Russia, unpatriotic, or traitors.

I have several emails from people who hope I am tortured to death for my opinions.

Actions vs. Words

Finally, let's consider the opinion of another close friend of mine, Pater Tenebrarum at the Acting Man Blog.

Via email, also in response to Misrepresenting the Libertarian Position on Putin, Pater writes ...
Very well said!
You saved me from having to write something along these lines myself.

Besides, here are some of the things Putin has said over time. The first quote is in response to the crisis he inherited from Yeltsin:

"During the time of the Soviet Union the role of the state in economy was made absolute, which eventually lead to the total non-competitiveness of the economy. That lesson cost us very dearly. I am sure nobody would want history to repeat itself. We should also be aware that for during the last months, we have been witnessing the washout of the entrepreneurship spirit. That includes the principle of the personal responsibility – of a businessman, an investor or a share-holder – for his or her own decisions. There are no grounds to suggest that by putting the responsibility over to the state, one can achieve better results. Another thing – handling crisis must not turn into financial populism, into rejecting a responsible macro-economic policy. Unreasonable expansion of the budget deficit, accumulation of the national debt – are as destructive as an adventurous stock market game."

"While a modern state must honor its obligation 'to take care of its population and ensure its social protection' or face the risk of collapse, European countries have been 'living beyond their means' and are now witnessing the rise of a dependency mentality … [that] endangers not only the economy but the moral foundation of society. It is no secret that many citizens of less developed countries come to Europe specifically to live on social welfare."

"Let us be frank: provoking military-political instability and other regional conflicts is also a convenient way of deflecting people’s attention from mounting social and economic problems. Regrettably, further attempts of this kind cannot be ruled out."

"We must seek support in the moral values that have ensured the progress of our civilization. Honesty and hard work, responsibility and faith in our strength are bound to bring us success. There should be no place for despondency. The crisis can and must be fought by uniting our intellectual, spiritual and material resources."

"Unfortunately, more and more often we hear that increasing military spending will help solve today’s social and economic problems. The logic here is quite simple. Additional allocations for military needs create new jobs.
 [...] At a glance, it seems to be merely a method to fight the crisis and unemployment. Perhaps, in the short run, such a measure may yield some results. But in reality, instead of solving the problem, militarization pushes it to a deeper level. It draws away from the economy immense financial and material resources, which could have been used much more efficiently elsewhere."

"One must not allow oneself to skid down to isolationism and unbridled economic egoism. ... The second possible mistake would be excessive interference into the economic life of the country. And the absolute faith into the all-mightiness of the state."

Can one in all honesty disagree with any of this? Admittedly, and unfortunately, Putin may not walk the walk, but Russia does have a 13% flat tax, and that alone is eminently praiseworthy.
Enforcing Paper Legalities

If Putin did what he said, and the US acted in accordance with its own constitution, the world would be far better off. In terms of significance, the latter is far more important.

Obama, Bush, and numerous presidents before them, all did what they wanted, not what was in accordance with the constitution.

When we go to enforce "paper legalities" the world over, we would be wise to act in accordance with our own paper first.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock
http://globaleconomicanalysis.blogspot.com

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