Monday, March 31, 2014

Alan Grayson is wrong this time (on Crimea)

Rep. Alan Grayson is somebody I agree with most of the time and really admire for his guts, but this time he's got it all wrong. I fear he's having an Ameri-centric, knee-jerk left-wing reaction against the right-wing reaction against Putin.

First, "bloodless" cannot be the measure by which we judge the legitimacy of armed incursions by foreign powers. I daresay the U.S. could bloodlessly take over many countries if we came in with enough force quickly enough.  But that wouldn't make it right.

Second, as I've said before, the conditions in which the March 16 Crimean referendum were held, and the ridiculously short time frame, made the referendum illegitimate. Nobody in Europe would hold, much less recognize, a referendum organized under similar conditions on their own territory; so there's no reason for Europe or the West to recognize it in Crimea. To do so is actually a form of Western condescension: "Well, it's good enough for them."

(To illustrate it, I ask you to imagine a referendum for Florida's secession from the USA to join Cuba, since millions of ethnic Cubans live in Florida.  Imagine that this referendum started after Cuban troops invaded the Florida statehouse one night in Tallahassee; days later, those deputies who were allowed in by the Cuban troops, er, "local self-defense forces" voted to join Cuba (although there was no record or witness of the vote); then these deputies announced that this vote would be "confirmed" by a referendum in 2 weeks. This would be contrary to the U.S. Constitution and Florida's Constitution, just as Crimea's secession was contrary to Ukraine's and Crimea's, but that wouldn't matter, I suppose, under the ABSOLUTE right to anybody anywhere in any territorial sub-unit to their own self-determination.  Imagine further Cuba sending in troops to "protect" ethnic Cubans and "protect" their right to hold a referendum, while issuing ultimatums to local and state police, local military units, courts, etc. to pledge their allegiance to Cuba BEFORE the referendum was even held.... Need I go on illustrating how absurd this "legitimate" referendum in Crimea was?)

Third, let's recall that President Yanukovych fled Ukraine without explanation.  He was not "thrown out of power" by anybody; he chose, inexplicably, a day after coming to a compromise agreement with the opposition witnessed by EU ambassadors, (but not agreed to by Russia!), to flee Ukraine. This is not how a legitimate leader behaves.  In a few days it was discovered by the new government that $70 billion were unaccounted for in the state coffers; my guess is that Yanukovych fled preemptive to being arrested.

Finally, just to show that this is not  all about the U.S. and what we  think about a "second Cold War" or similar, just look at the reaction of Ukraine's neighbors in Poland, Moldova, the Baltics: they are not taking this "bloodless" revolution lightly, not to mention Ukrainians staring at 30,000+ Russian troops massing on the other side of the border. They are seriously frightened of Russia and what it might do next; and Grayson's official appeasement does not put their  fears at ease. 

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