Thursday, February 27, 2014

Ukraine in a Changing World

In a way, it's business-as-usual.

Protestors waving flags; two groups, two national flags; a major power conducts military exercises nearby, saying that it wants to avert a crisis.

Depending on who's talking: folks in Ukraine decided that they want to joint the European Union; lackeys of capitalist oppressors seek to enslave Ukraine; or [religious group] wants to kill [religious group].

I've got my own opinion, but it's not quite that dramatic.

Nostalgia, Nationalism, and All That

I'm sure that quite a few folks in Ukraine were quite satisfied with the status quo before the Soviet Union fizzled out in 1991: and would dearly like the 'good old days' to return. Others are probably as dubious about dealing with foreigners as national chauvinists anywhere else.

Others, in the Crimea, are Russian: the way I'd be Norwegian if my mother hadn't married an Irishman with Campbell ancestors. Some of them probably want their part of Ukraine to be part of Russia. I sympathize with them, to a limited extent.

The last I checked, about half of the folks living in Ukraine are Ukrainian Orthodox, which is probably the "wrong" term in someone's opinion; with the rest mostly Christians, Jews and the ubiquitous "other." I'm pretty sure that all of the above have a few hotheads in their number, but that's human nature. My opinion.

Ancestors, Treaties, and Learning

I'm an American with ancestors in Norway; Ireland; Scotland, and, possibly, England. The latter is speculation, a possible explanation for why an Irish family would deliberately retain "Richard" as a name for their sons: and that's almost another topic.

I like being an American, but don't think my country can do no wrong: or no right. I'm pretty sure the same can be said for any nation: although some have gone through awkward phases.

My country finally got around to honoring some treaties made with folks living west of the Appalachians. Maybe Russia will eventually learn that some folks on their borders don't want to be part of Russia: and that conquering those folks isn't a sensible option.

On the other hand, although I can understand a "land of my fathers" sort of patriotism: my ancestors are scattered over so much of northwestern Europe that I don't share much of the feeling.

Looking Ahead: Or Not

I don't think the European Union will endure in its present form for more than a few decades. But as the start of a united Europe, it's doing a pretty good job. Just getting Germans, Frenchmen, Belgians, Austrians, and all the rest to stop killing each other for several decades was a major accomplishment.

Meanwhile, in Ukraine, I think we're seeing what happens when folks who understand that the world has changed won't cooperate with those who desperately want the "good old days."

In the news:
Somewhat-related posts:
1 Excerpts from the news:
"Ukraine warns Russia after gunmen seize Crimea parliament"
Alessandra Prentice, Alissa de Carbonnel, Reuters (February 27, 2014)

"Armed men seized the parliament in Ukraine's Crimea region on Thursday and raised the Russian flag, alarming Kiev's new rulers, who urged Moscow not move troops out of its navy base on the peninsula.

"Crimea, the only Ukrainian region with an ethnic Russian majority, is the last big bastion of opposition to the new leadership in Kiev since President Viktor Yanukovich was ousted at the weekend and provides a base for Russia's Black Sea fleet...."

"West warns Russia amid rising tensions in Crimea"
BBC News (February 27, 2014)

"Western nations have called on Russia to ease tensions in Ukraine's Crimea region after armed men seized the local parliament and raised the Russian flag.

"Russia also scrambled fighter jets along its borders as part of military exercises it announced a day earlier.

"Moscow said it was willing to work with the West on averting a crisis, but warned foreign powers against taking decisions on behalf of Ukrainians.

"Meanwhile, the ousted Ukrainian president is reported to be in Russia...."

"Russia flexes military muscle as tensions rise in Ukraine's Crimea region"
Laura Smith-Spark, Phil Black, Frederik Pleitgen, CNN (February 26, 2014)

"Russia ordered surprise military exercises on Ukraine's doorstep Wednesday as tensions in that country's southern Crimea region simmered, with pro-Russian demonstrators facing off against rival protesters in the city of Simferopol.

"As the mood soured among the thousands rallying in front of the Crimean parliament building in Simferopol, some scuffles broke out.

"One group waved Ukrainian flags and shouted 'Crimea is not Russia,' while the other held Russian flags aloft and shouted 'Crimea is Russia,' images broadcast by Crimean TV channel ATR showed. As the crowd became more agitated, a line of police moved in to divide the groups.

"Local leaders sought to calm the mood, urging the protesters to go home and resist provocations.

"One man died around the time of the protests in front of Parliament, the Crimean Ministry of Health said on its website. The man had no visible signs of injury, and early indications point to a heart attack, it said. Seven people sought medical help...."

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Note! Although I believe that these websites and blogs are useful resources for understanding the War on Terror, I do not necessarily agree with their opinions. 1 1 Given a recent misunderstanding of the phrase "useful resources," a clarification: I do not limit my reading to resources which support my views, or even to those which appear to be accurate. Reading opinions contrary to what I believed has been very useful at times: sometimes verifying my previous assumptions, sometimes encouraging me to change them.

Even resources which, in my opinion, are simply inaccurate are sometimes useful: these can give valuable insights into why some people or groups believe what they do.

In short, It is my opinion that some of the resources in this blogroll are neither accurate, nor unbiased. I do, however, believe that they are useful in understanding the War on Terror, the many versions of Islam, terrorism, and related topics.