Friday, April 25, 2014

HOUSE OF CARDS


I last took a stab at this game of Russian Roulette in March when I suggested that
underestimating Russia's expansionism and its desire to acquire the Arctic region that it lays claim to would be a mistake.

Are we prepared to receive or sons and daughters in body bags to prevent, or in reaction, to a Russian military incursion into Ukraine?

Is Canada prepared to go to war with Russia? 
 
The jury is still out on our last big overseas mission, Afghanistan. The lasting legacy from the training provided by our troops will be the litmus test that will make the determination of the success or failure of the mission. 158 men and women made the ultimate sacrifice, giving their lives for the mission. Nearly 2,0000 more were wounded or injured. The impact of the mental scars of the war are just bubbling to the surface

The people of the Ukraine deserve the right to self-determination, but the United States and it’s allies, including Canada are war-weary with no appetite for a major military confrontation.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is calculating that President Obama does not have the resolve to push beyond economic and diplomatic sanctions.  The failure of the American’s to live up to it’s threat to punish Syria for using chemical weapons is proof that America talks loud but is not prepared to intervene if its own direct interests are not at stake.

Ukraine is traditionally in Russia’s sphere of influence. Until the end of the Cold War it was part of the USSR.  Russia intervened in Georgia when it felt its interests were threatened there in 2007.

America has never hesitated to interfere in the politics of nations it considers within its sphere of influence.   The NSA and the CIA, and framers of American foreign policy have been influencing politics in the Caribbean, Latin America and South America for decades.  The Americans might call it protection but many in those countries might consider it interference.

The Monroe Doctrine of 1823 warned European powers to stay out of the Western Hemisphere. Theodore Roosevelt enhanced the doctrine in 1902 when America declared that it would be responsible for all of Latin America.
In the pre-World War Two period they sent troops into Cuba, Haiti, the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua. In the post war era, America intervened in dozens of countries under the guise of stabilizing the spread of communism, preventing self-determination to pop up tin pot dictators.  Haiti, Grenada, Guatemala, Cuba come directly to mind. Boots on the ground.

There has also been no shortage of manipulation through economic and political might. A more recent example can be found in the American’s actively attempted to undermine Venezuelan President Higo Chevez.

Neither of these countries are home to large American populations, unlike the Ukraine  where Russians are the largest ethnic majority. 8,334,100 identified as ethnic Russians which translates into 17.3% of the population. Many of these people resided on the Crimean Peninsula. In Eastern Ukraine, much of the population still speaks Russian.

Don’t get me wrong, I believe in the right to self-determination. I think Putin is the biggest threat to world peace and to the mandate of the United Nations.  He is making an illegal land grab at an opportune time.  Will a return to Cold War policy of containment, turning Russia into an isolated pariah state, curtail or hasten Putin’s expansionist ambition? Will America be able to replace Europe’s dependence on Russian natural resources, particularly oil and natural gas?

There is also the nagging issue of hypocrisy, Putin appears to be motivated by the same geopolitical considerations as the United States. NATO has pushed and pushed into Russia’s backyard.  One could argue that Russia’s core strategic interests have been threatened.  How much pain is Russia willing to endure to protect its security interests? 

War over the Ukraine might be the only way to put Russian expansionism to rest. 

Are we prepared to go to war over a situation so grey and fraught with disaster? It is a complicated dance coming 100 years after the slaughter that was the Great War catastrophe.

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