The situation in Ukraine hotted up this weekend and threatens to blow this morning with the Kiev government affecting to send “anti-terrorist” troops into the eastern cities where ethnic Russians seized buildings. (In the olden times of Europe, they had witches and devils. Now, thanks to our example, they have “terrorists.”) While this impending civil war would be rather dire for Ukraine, it presents the obvious questions: 1) does it matter to anyone outside the region? And in particular, 2) is it any business of the USA?
War hawk kibitzers on the sidelines (e.g. The New York Times) are making a big deal of the 40,000 Russian troops marshaled around the border of eastern Ukraine. So what? That’s just a few thousand more than the 33,000 US troops deployed to Afghanistan, America’s current “nation-building” project. But the troop numbers swing to our side of the balance beam if you throw in the nearly 3,000 American boots-on-the-ground stationed in Kyrgyzstan, a former Soviet republic, and the roughly 15,000 in Kuwait and Bahrain. I don’t remember the Russians complaining very much about all this US military hyper-activity in their part of the world over the past decade.
At least somebody has stuffed a cheese Danish (or something) in John Kerry’s pie-hole the past week. The walking haircut-in-search-of-a-brain has stopped making ridiculous commitments to the US-and-EU-installed Kiev government. And President Obama has stopped drawing laugh-out-loud lines in the sand. I suspect if they resume beating that drum, they could provoke some unrest in our own country. Not everyone is glued to the Kardashian Channel with his fist in the Cheez Doodle bag. And not all of the army vets returned from operations in Muslim lands have such a high opinion of the overall outcome there.
Barack Obama, who I voted for twice, is on his way to becoming the worst US president in my lifetime, at least — and maybe in the whole cavalcade going back to the very start of the republic. I don’t want to get too sidetracked in this brief blog space today, but isn’t it stupendously asinine that Mr. Obama’s Justice Department and his SEC appointees only just last week became interested in the pervasive swindle of high frequency trading on Wall Street after author Michael Lewis went on 60 Minutes. Like, they hadn’t heard about this years-long orgy of front-running until now? Strange to relate, I actually might feel more comfortable if Vladimir Putin was massing troops on the Mexican side of the US border to keep Americans safe from our own bungling and destructive government.
Aren’t a number of things obvious about the Ukraine situation? Such as: the Russians have a greater interest in preventing chaos there than the US has in any provisional disposition of the Ukrainian border and the composition of its government. Such as: for most of the 20th century Ukraine was essentially a Russian province, and at various times before that the ward of several other eastern European kingdoms. Such as: Russia has a huge investment in gas pipeline infrastructure in Ukraine upon which depends a substantial portion of its national income, not to mention the winter-time comfort of most of the countries in western Europe.
Hence my plea: will parties in the USA (including Obama camp “progressives”) stop cheerleading for a showdown over this hapless doormat of a faraway nation whose destiny is not entwined with the people of Ohio, Nebraska, Rhode Island, or any of the other fifty states? We have enough to do in our own country to adjust to the new realities of the unraveling turbo-industrial global economy — and, by the way, we are not doing a damn thing to address any of it. Our domestic political conversation at all levels is juvenile and idiotic. I’d rather see US troops shut down WalMart, which has been way more destructive to the US economy (and the livelihoods of our people) than the bandits in any central Asian rat-hole. I’d rather see the US spend its dwindling capital restoring our passenger railroads than paying off the debts of strangers half a world away.
This is turning into a Vietnam moment for the US political scene. Where are the Fullbrights and Bobby Kennedys of today who have the guts to rally US citizens against insane government behavior? What elected officials among all the bought-off Koch Brother catamites and Wall Street errand boys will stand up for reality-based principle? When will the young people of this country pull their eyeballs away from their iPhones and their heads out of their cloacal vents? When will the United States begin the long-overdue task of getting its own act together?
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