Monday, July 31, 2017

The Crimean War All Over Again?

The U.S. Senate, you know, the upper house of the American legislature with a Republican majority that could not muster enough Republican votes to appeal ‘Obamacare’ which they spent the last seven years promising to do, did manage to pass a sanctions bill against Russia, with Iran and North Korea added as an afterthought, with a huge bi-partisan majority of Republicans and Democrats. Because North Korea was added it must now go back to the House of Representatives but is certain to pass there, again, with Democrat and Republican support, with a large enough majority to override any presidential veto. The Trump has said he will sign it, despite some earlier misgivings, I think simply because he will look impotent if he vetoes a bill that becomes law anyway. Some people, on both the left and the right by the way, have warned that this is insane as sanctions usually end with war and, as Russia has thousands of nuclear weapons, such a thing could be disastrous.

U.S. forces in Narva, Estonia (which borders Russia)
What is the reason for this? It depends on who you ask. The Democrats, of course, are still wailing about Russia “hacking” the 2016 election, “attacking our democracy” and so on while the Republicans justify their support (as some Democrats do too) by pointing to Russian actions in Ukraine. The Ukrainians, coincidentally I’m sure, have also recently been talking about joining NATO and the European Union but no one in the halls of power in Washington DC or Brussels think Russia should have any reason to worry about that. However, the European Union (pertinent here as it contains most of Europe’s remaining monarchies) has said they are less than thrilled about these sanctions which will impact European companies which do business with Russia, particularly in the energy sector as Europe buys most of their natural gas from Russia. It is a far cry from the tone of the same European leaders who wailed about Russian interference in the French presidential elections or Russian interference in the “Brexit” vote and who backed the NATO military buildup in the Baltic. The EU, it seems, wants to endlessly provoke Russia but does not want to actually put their money where their mouth is.

The American politicians, needless to say, do not want war with Russia either (though a war with Syria or Iran is something I would not consider beyond them) and they would be doing none of this if they believed for a moment that Russia would ever fight back. The more dim even act as though they are completely ignorant of the fact that the choice between war or peace with Russia is one that is not only up to them but up to the leadership in Moscow as well. I really wish people would learn from history, the common lament of historians of all ages I am sure. All of this should remind us of the Crimean War and not just because Crimea and Ukraine are again at issue. For those not familiar or who would like to refresh their memory, read this past post about the Clash of Monarchies in the Crimean War. Suffice it to say that neither Britain or France really expected to get into a war with Russia over what amounted to a sort of turf-feud between Christian factions in the Holy Land. Napoleon III of France, who took the side of the Catholics (silly man), was satisfied by Turkish concessions on the issue and the British, being a Protestant country and not Catholic or Orthodox really had ‘no dog in the fight’, so to speak, concerning the original issue. How then did this all come to war?

British troops depart for Crimea
The answer lies with the British, specifically the British politicians and their allies in the media. Already sounding familiar isn’t it? One political faction in Britain wanted to fight, or at least said that they did, while the other urged compromise. They were more concerned about fears of Russian rivalry on the wider world stage, about areas where the British and Russian empires were bumping up against each other in Central Asia. They portrayed the Russians as brutes and Czar Nicholas I as a ruthless tyrant who suppressed opposition, killed dissidents and so on. Doesn’t that sound familiar? They could not compare him to Hitler of course but no doubt they did the best they could along those same lines. Their allies in the media pumped up public outrage against the Russians, picking on the poor, victimized Turks, and the demand for action by the British government began to grow at an alarming rate. This is how, in the end, the Her Majesty’s government was forced by public pressure, their own alarmism and brinksmanship into a war they did not really want over issues that could not be clearly defined.

After having stoked the fires of anti-Russian sentiment to such a degree, the politicians in London were left with no other option but to make good on their threats rather than face the public humiliation of backing down from their hysteria. The Czar of Russia was not averse to talking the matter over but he was also not about to back down over an issue in which he clearly felt that he was in the right. He would not and, given his character, could not simply wash his hands of the large Orthodox Christian population living under Ottoman rule in the Holy Land and the Balkans. The result was a war in which nearly 40,500 British troops were killed, France lost over 100,000, Sardinia lost just over 2,000 and the Turks lost almost 45,500 men. The Russians lost the war of course and had casualties of over half a million, just over 500,000 compared to total Allied losses of just over 200,000. Their position was severely weakened and yet, what had the Allies really won with their victory over Russia in Crimea? The French abandoned their interests in the region when another republic replaced Napoleon III, brought down by the Germans in 1870, and the Russian Imperial Navy was soon back in the Black Sea and the British could do nothing about it since neither the French or Germans would support them. Hopes the British had of added Alaska to Canada were thwarted when Czar Alexander II sold the vast territory to the United States. What had Britain gained? Not much.

President Vladimir Putin
What is possibly the most frustrating thing for me about so many of these international issues is the empty preening of the political classes of the various countries which they often represent. For example, the U.S. is going to put harsher sanctions on Russia because they “interfered” in the last U.S. election and they invaded a neighboring country. Okay, let us suppose for a moment all of that is true, you could also say the same thing about Communist China and yet, not only does the U.S. refrain from putting sanctions on China but both parties howled in anguish when they thought the Trump was going to start a “trade war” with China. Are the Ukrainians more worthy of support than the Tibetans, Indians or Vietnamese? Was the Chinese desire for a Bill Clinton victory any more interfering than the Russian desire for a Hillary Clinton defeat? The answer is that putting sanctions on Russia has no impact on the U.S. because America does very little business with Russia anyway. It does a great deal of business with China, as everyone else does, even Taiwan, and so sanctions on China would be even more problematic for America than the sanctions on Russia are for Europe.

It is, I think, worthwhile to take a step back and look at the basic situation here. Russia does not have military forces or military bases in any country bordering the United States. Russia has not attacked the United States and the same European leaders who howled about Trump rubbishing NATO during the campaign and demanded reassurance of America’s commitment to their defense are now not wanting to get so tough on Russia after all. Iran, likewise, (and regular readers will know what I think of the monstrous and illegitimate regime in Tehran) is no threat to the United States and never have Shiite Islamic terrorists attacked the United States itself. Sunni Islamic terrorists have, many, many times and yet we are sanctioning the Islamic Republic of Iran while selling weapons to the (Sunni) Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. North Korea, finally, is more problematic and yet, one could make the case that they would not be threatening America if American forces were not right next door in South Korea and Japan. The South Korean government, particularly the new President, does not want to take a hard line with North Korea and is very friendly with China. So, on that front, my question is; if South Korea is not worried about the North, why should Americans be? Pull the U.S. forces out and let South Korea handle the situation.

Where sanctions tend to lead...
Both sides of most of these issues are doing a great deal of talking and threatening and most of them do not really mean a word of what they are saying. However, my concern is that the Democrats and Republicans in America are creating a media hysteria that will pull them into a war with Russia, a stupid, pointless war even if it be victorious, just as happened to Britain in the Crimean War. I would also point out again that the ultimate decision between war or peace is not up to the stuff-shirts in Washington alone. The U.S. once put sanctions on Japan, tougher and tougher sanctions all while proclaiming how the U.S. only wanted peace. On the Sunday morning of December 7, 1941 they found out the hard way that the other side has a say in when wars start too, not just your own. I would hate to see that happen again, particularly when no vital interest is at stake and on behalf of alliances that are a total farce.


  1. I disagree with the US leaving Europe. Sure, Western Europe doesn't want it, but Eastern Europe needs US protection against t Russia and we want to keep it. Also about KSA is that, Israel doesn't mind KSA, but hates Iran and to keep Israel happy, the US sanctions Iran

    1. One problem is that it's almost impossible for the USA to help Eastern Europe without the support of Western Europe. It's also not *that* different from what I've seen. I can well remember having an argument with a guy in Poland when Obama was president who was adamant that they would have no problems with Russia if the USA would just get out of the neighborhood.

      When you're as powerful as the US, I'm starting to think you just can't have allies at all because you're so much bigger than they are, you're going to be accused of ruling them (and thus get blamed for everything) no matter what you do. If America gets blamed no matter what, I'd rather get blamed without losing billions of dollars and thousands of lives.

      I used to argue for the US being allied to Europe, defending the civilization & all that (check the archives) but the response convinced me of the futility of it. The US has no vital interest in the region and no real friends there (at least of any substantial amount) and I'm not okay with asking anyone to die for people who practically view them as an enemy.

    2. No real friends? Sure, one guy in Poland is against the US support, but in Eastern Europe and Czech Republic, in several polls the majority always was supportive of the US after becoming free from the USSR's influence.

      The majority today wants to stay allied to the US, so you can't possibly extrapolate an entire nation based on one person when unlike Western Europe, the majority of the people see the US as an ally and unlike the USSR, as a friend and not an oppressive overlord which invades the country when it wants freedom.

      Also the US has a vital interest in that without the US, Russia will annex/puppet Europe leaving Russia much stronger and the US-Russia balance of power much more in Russia's favor.

      Lastly, the reason some Eastern Europeans are against the US is because we don't trust alliances anymore. Czech Republic was betrayed by her so-called allies in the Munich agreement and then again in exchanging us for Austria with the soviets. We weren't even helped in '67, so trusting allies no longer comes easily to us as we were betrayed 2 times and not helped on the 3rd one. So why should we trust the US to not betray us in favor of "appeasement" towards Russia when the west already betrayed us twice

    3. In the first place, I find it rather insulting that you would think my entire point of view came from an experience with one person. Second, the fate of Poland is self-evidently not a vital US interest as Russia ruled most of Poland for most of American history and it impacted America not at all. Thirdly, I wouldn't trust the US or any country for the survival of my own, particularly when that survival offers them no concrete benefit. So, why cling to a false illusion when you yourself just laid out why Poland shouldn't trust the USA? Obviously, my answer is no, you shouldn't! Which is why I've come around to being done with the whole issue and having the USA stay out of European affairs. So, thanks for making my point I guess...

    4. Well you said "With a guy" which indicates a person, so I assumed wrongly then that it comes form experience with one person. The difference is though that at that time it was firstly a. monarchy not a democracy and also the US wasn't yet the world behemoth it is now and now it would have them lose influence and lose the trust of Europe which would confine them to become a regional power again. Also I know we shouldn't trust the US or allies for help, but our politicians seem to think we should, our government is corrupt and our army is heavily underfunded and until we manage to reform our government and our army and fund it, the US is our only real defense against Russia. I do think that maybe eventually the US should at least avoid Western Europe and maybe also leave Eastern Europe then, but it would be helpful if they at least gave us time to prepare ourselves to be ready to survive Russia without the US's aid as right now Europe is dependent on the US against Russia

    5. Perhaps you shouldn't trust your politicians if your government is corrupt. I don't think the USA as a regional power is a bad thing, America has not gained anything from meddling around the world, not even the thanks of those we support. If Europe is dependent on the US for defense and the military is underfunded, I say, the US needs to clear out so that European govts have no choice but to stop under-funding their militaries and stand on their own two feet.

    6. "Perhaps you shouldn't trust your politicians if your government is corrupt" We don't trust the poltiicans, but don't have a choice. These are our choices. The only parties which we have which aren't corrupted are the communists, which is the third largest party or the monarchists, which is the smallest party as our apathy is high, that the communists are the only side which regularly goes to vote. The majority of citizens, don't even vote, which allows the communists to control 1/3. I do however argue that although the US clearing out would be good for the europeans to start actually funding their military, but for many countries, such as the basaltic, it's unfeasible for Estonia to spend as much money on their military as Russia does and if they don't, then well they'll be re-annexed by Russia. In my opinion, the best solution is the one where all nato members have to start giving the mandatory 2% GDP to the military and stop resenting the US or be kicked. The problem would then be solved. I do wonder about this statement "The South Korean government, particularly the new President, does not want to take a hard line with North Korea and is very friendly with China" as from what I found out, the South Korean government does want a hard line with North Korea and well they are becoming friendlier with china, because China recently worsened ties with North Korea in changing it's alliance to purely defensive. Also, don't forget the Domino Doctrine of communism. if North Korea annexes South Korea, than the communists will be stronger and Japan and Taiwan can be seen next as they'll lose their trust in the US and might even succumb to Chinese pressure without the US resulting in Asia being lost to communism, which in my opinion is never ok

  2. It is a sad symptom of modern society, or rather of the mass media and mob rule that it perpetuates, that leaders make decisions and threats for the purpose of popularity or due to the transient "will of the people". This world truly has become almost unrecognizable. People no longer work and fight for their Nations, Gods or Kings.
    Yet the world continues on. With tragedy and disaster but a few steps away. While the world is against us, we will win in the end. I promise you that MM.


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