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Thursday, March 06, 2014 1:40 PM

What Country Should Crimea Be Part Of? Reflections on Nation Building and US Hypocrisy

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An up or down vote on whether Crimea stays with Ukraine or joins Russia is slated for March 16, just 10 days from now.

Please consider Crimea Votes to Join Russia, Accelerating Ukraine Crisis.

Crimea's parliament voted to join Russia on Thursday and its Moscow-backed government set a referendum on the decision in 10 days' time in a dramatic escalation of the crisis over the Ukrainian Black Sea peninsula.

The vice premier of Crimea, home to Russia's Black Sea Fleet in Sevastopol, said a referendum on the status would take place on March 16. All state property would be "nationalized", the Russian ruble adopted and Ukrainian troops treated as occupiers and forced to surrender or leave, he said.
Historical Background

Let's take a look at the historical and political references as noted by the Financial Times.
“Crimea was, is and will be an integral part of Ukraine,” said Arseniy Yatsenyuk, Ukraine prime minister. Speaking in Brussels, he said the referendum had “no legal grounds” and urged the Russian government not to support those advocating separatism in Ukraine.

Oleksandr Turchynov, Ukraine’s acting president, said Crimea’s referendum would be banned, its parliament disbanded and snap elections held.

Crimea has been a bone of contention between Moscow and Kiev ever since Nikita Krushchev gave it to Ukraine in February 1954, in a move to mark the 300th anniversary of the 1654 treaty that unified Ukraine and Russia.

In 1992, Crimea’s parliament voted to declare the region independent of Ukraine and scheduled a referendum to confirm the vote. But after pressure from Kiev, lawmakers backtracked, announcing the peninsula was part of Ukraine.
What Country Should Crimea Belong To?

Like it or not, it's pretty clear that in recent history Crimea was not part of Ukraine. Rather Crimea became part of Ukraine without a vote. In 1992 it almost left Ukraine, but the Crimea parliament was talked out of a vote.

What country should Crimea be part of? Should it be its own country? And should the people decide, or politicians?

U.S. Hypocrisy

Somehow it's OK for the U.S. to send troops to Iraq and Afghanistan half a world away, supposedly to protect U.S. interests, but it's not OK for Russia to protect its interests at its own doorstep.

Two wrongs don't make a right, I simply want to note the hypocritical nature of U.S. statements on the matter.

In general, I don't condone military actions. Nor do I condone Russia's military actions now. That said, Russia at least has genuine political interest in its actions.

The U.S. had zero business in Iraq and there is certainly no justification for ongoing U.S. troops in Afghanistan for the last 10 years.

Rule of Votes

Politicians don't want votes unless the vote is going their way.

That Crimea's parliament is willing to hold a vote is a strong indication of which way the vote will go.

Reflections on Nation Building

No matter how the Crimea vote goes, there is going to be a significant number of people who will despise the outcome.

This is precisely what is guaranteed to happen when politicians merge regions into countries for political reasons.

Iraq was once three distinct countries. Wikipedia offers these notes on Iraq History.

Following WWI ... "Britain imposed a Hāshimite monarchy on Iraq and defined the territorial limits of Iraq without taking into account the politics of the different ethnic and religious groups in the country, in particular those of the Kurds and the Assyrians to the north. During the British occupation, the Shi'ites and Kurds fought for independence."

Iraq achieved independence in 1932. Then came multiple coups, two US invasions, religious wars, and ethnic battles that continue to this day.

The Kurds want their own country. They once had it. Here is a Map of Kurdistan.

Turkey and Iraq are both involved in the Kurdish mess.  Kurdistan once overlapped part of Turkey and part of Iraq. The Kurds now want their own independent area of Iraq. Turkey does not want that to happen fearing it will unite Kurdish sentiment in Turkey.

Historically speaking, no good ever came from the "nation building" political exercise of forcing together widely different ethnic and religious groups into a single country.

Why should it be any different this time?

So let me ask again: What country should Crimea belong to and who should decide?

Whatever you answer, the U.S. should stay out of this mess. It's not our battle, and sending missiles to the Czech Republic as part of the solution as McCain proposes is decidedly preposterous.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock

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