Hyperbole abounds, especially in the media. My eldest roared with laughter last night when a very earnest Channel 4 reporter described the Ukraine situation as ‘the greatest European crisis since the end of the Cold War’. I would love to see him go to Bosnia or Croatia and deliver that line. A death toll of zero due to the actual invasion of the Crimea, and a few dozen people in the Kiev area during the glorious revolution, and just as quickly as that, acts of genocide involving the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people are relegated to a footnote of history. I guess this is just what happens when you aren’t part of the news cycle any more…
Eldest didn’t find a further comment during a section of the report regarding ‘pro-Russian mobs’ which have been demonstrating in the Crimea and, rather more significantly, in larger cities and townships in Eastern Ukraine, quite as funny. In fact, she sputtered with annoyance at the double standard on display.
“We can’t be sure how real these pro-Russian mobs are,” opined our gallant reporter. He might as well have air-quoted the word ‘real’, considering the emphasis he placed upon it.
The people who used catapults to throw lethal missiles at what were then government personnel, buildings and barricades were, of course, described only as protesters or demonstrators. Only the pro-Russians out on the streets who appear not to have injured a single person thus far are ‘mobs’. And certainly no suggestion was made that the gallant protesters/demonstrators could have contained any ‘unreal’ agent-provocateurs looking to stir things up against the regime, as was clearly being intimated was the case with those ‘mobs’.
I don’t have a dog in this fight. Not at all. But I know a simplistic, partisan agenda being pushed by our ever-compliant media when I see one, and I deplore the plethora of generally quite perceptive people of my acquaintance and in the West in general whose brains dribble out of their ears the moment someone cries ‘freedom’ in a foreign nation they know absolutely bugger all about.
Was the Yanukovych regime corrupt? Yes. Was it authoritarian and fairly repressive? Yes. Was it democratically elected? Yes, albeit under dubious circumstances, but no more dubious than, say, a snap British by-election conducted in a Labour Party stronghold with tens of thousands of postal votes collected early by Labour supporters and counted by Labour placemen on a Labour council, where another party can clearly win the popular vote on the day of the actual election and yet lose the postal vote tally by a massive margin to…Labour.
So, the pro-EU Ukrainians – who we shall call the Goodies, because once again they have automatically been painted as whiter than white freedom-fighting Liberals with absolutely no skeletons in their closet whatsoever, no sirree – are doing nothing more than overthrowing a repressive regime to replace it with a liberal democracy of one stripe or another. Sound like a familiar narrative at all? Egypt, for example? Libya? How did that turn out, hmmm let me think…
But then there’s Svoboda. A *large* part of the political landscape in Ukraine. This isn’t the BNP with a couple of MEPs achieved through the D’Hondt system and a brief day in the sun where they managed a few dozen local councillors before fading off into the sunset. This is a party which makes up a sizable chunk of the national Parliament, achieving 10% of the popular vote at the last election and having no less than six Government Ministries in the new Cabinet either in their own right or in one case via a man who formed his own splinter group that thinks Svoboda itself is too moderate (!). They are ‘Social Nationalists’ (see what they did there?) and are rabidly nationalistic, anti-Jewish and anti-communist, or perhaps to be more accurate anti-Russian. Their Party Leader openly gives Nazi salutes at rallies, and they are to all intents and purposes a fully-fledged Neo-Nazi Party, with a hatred of ethnic Russians. Part of their program is to use Positive Discrimination programmes to favour those they classify as native Ukrainians, and also to remove the limited but unique autonomy that the Crimea enjoys as a municipal region of Ukraine.
So when Russia Today talks about fascist elements as prominent in the new Ukrainian regime, its actually not telling lies. To use the Channel 4 news reporter’s parlance, these are indeed ‘real’ Fascists. Yes, as the Huffpo piece spins, they are serving alongside a Jew and a Muslim in the new Ukrainian government, but the BNP had more than a handful of Jews amongst their number too, the most prominent of them being Pat Richardson, and that certainly didn’t and doesn’t stop media outlets such as HuffPo from calling them fascists without the slightest hesitation.
Or, to put it in easier terms given current domestic events, if five outright Neo-Nazis had senior spokesman posts in UKIP, would they be given a free pass just because their Small Business spokesman is a Muslim? Given our domestic media’s constant attempts to use the most incredibly tenuous of links (such as casting a woman who wrote her thesis in the seventies on Far Right parties and once accordingly attended some NF meetings during that time as proof that she is a neo-Nazi) to smear UKIP, it does beg the question of why a Cabinet literally stocked full of genuine Fascists is being given a free pass. Its not just illogical and inconsistent, its downright hypocritical as well. Our media is literally lauding Nazis, but then these are pro-EU Nazis so they are officially Goodies no matter what their other sins – contrast this to how the media describes Greece’s anti-EU Golden Dawn, who are far less openly Nazistic, barely murmuring to comment when their leadership was recently arrested and thrown in jail on the most tenuous of pretexts.
Then we have the officially designated Baddies. The Russkis. Estimates of the percentage of ‘ethnic Russians’ in the Ukrainian population vary wildly dependent on the source (I’ve read numbers anywhere between 20 and 40%, I suspect the truer figure is around 25% from what I can tell). That’s not a small number of people, and brings Svoboda’s 10% vote into even sharper perspective in terms of the makeup of the Goodies, as clearly none of those ethnic Russians will have voted for them.
Those ethnic Russians are only deeply concentrated in the Crimea, which as mentioned above enjoys a few special areas of autonomy which other regions of Ukraine don’t, a tacit acknowledgement to that demographic concentration which once again, our media is trying to avoid mentioning. Elsewhere they are mostly found in the east of the country, which was notable for the great absence of large Goodie demonstrations. This may be because it is the Eastern half of the country which is significantly more economically viable and productive and they were too busy working to build catapults and barricades. However, that reticence seems to be fast vanishing as those ‘unreal mobs’ grow in size by the day, emboldened by Russia’s invasion of the Crimea.
What these demographic, economic and political differences raise is the prospect of an actual, honest-to-goodness split in Ukraine. Commentators have poured cold water on the idea, saying that such a thing could never happen in a modern nation. Everyone will work together, neo-Nazis and the Russians they despise and all those in between, because soft power and diplomacy will always triumph, just as it did with Hillary Clinton and her Reset Button. Well, apart from that pesky invasion thing…oh, wait.
Just as in Afghanistan, just as in Iraq, we have in Ukraine a melting pot of differing nationalities and cultures, differing economic models, beliefs and aspirations desperately thrown together and lumped in as one due to lines on a map drawn by a bunch of mostly dead people, and from this we are to take the conclusion that this state of affairs is irrevocable, binding and must never be subject to change.
Why do we have this bizarre attachment to those lines on those maps? Why do we insist that under no circumstances can we have competing cultural groups, artificially forced together by their former lords and masters, be they Communist dictators or colonial empires, negotiating a settlement whereby they can amicably divorce from the administrative and political ties that bind them and create new nations of a culturally homogenous nature which will no longer be riven by historical tensions, hatreds and violence? How much blood and death could be avoided by an acceptance that there are regions of the world where the least violent solution to ongoing conflict is to allow the opposing sides to simply divorce geographically from each other and seethe at each other from the other side of a bloody great fence rather than insist that they stay cheek by jowl, keeping those hatreds burning high? You never know, they might even learn to live peacefully next to each other, even if they can’t manage it with each other*.
How does this apply to the Ukraine? Well, that’s where the Baddies come in. Putin is of course an officially designated Baddie nowadays, but it is a notable pointer to the somewhat…specific values of western Liberals that he only really became so after passing some mildly repressive laws against homosexuals. Mildly in relative terms, of course – by comparison to certain other countries which seem to attract rather less attention for their far more repressive and outright murderous attitude to homosexuality, at least. From the stupendous overreaction to the ‘Gay Laws’ passed by the Putin regime you’d have thought that it had never practiced any form of repression or totalitarianism against any of its people whatsoever before that point. I certainly didn’t notice Saint Stephen Fry making documentaries about the tens of thousands of cracked skulls which have occurred at the hands of Russian security forces during anti-regime rallies in the last decade or so, but then violent repression against all dissidents isn’t nearly as bad as mild repression against an official Victimhood Group if you are a Liberal, so this was what it took to wake some people up, it would seem. At least recent events in Uganda have started to be widely publicised by the Liberal commentariat, although once again other regimes which are literally murderous towards homosexuals are continuing to receive a free pass, because the Liberals are salving their consciences at actually criticising a country full of people on the darker side of pale by making it all about Uganda’s strong evangelical Christianity.
So to sum up, Putin – already a designated Baddie – has sent in troops to support other Baddies who still feel themselves to be Russian despite many of them never having been born there and to secure a set of genuinely strategically important military installations. Those Baddies, not without some justification given the prominence of figures who have an open, violent hatred towards them in the new government which they never voted for, are calling for help and demonstrating against the coup d’etat which has been so wildly celebrated by the West. So far he has only entered the uniquely ‘Russian’ area of the Crimea, but if violence breaks out in the eastern half of the country directed specifically against those same Russians he is clearly more than capable of sending troops into that area to (ostensibly) protect those populations. If Russia decides to exert itself, there is probably little militarily that Ukraine’s forces can do stop it doing so and creating little enclaves within the country as a whole.
So, ‘what is to be done’? Obama’s soft power and famously mocked Reset Button have clearly achieved precisely nothing to halt Russia’s expansionist ambitions, in fact its those supposedly moronic Republicans like Sarah Palin and Mitt Romney who called this one, isn’t it? The feathers have been getting everywhere this week as the American Left has been reluctantly forced to chow down on all that crow, its actually been quite amusing to watch. And as for Kerry’s ‘you just don’t do that’ remark, I have yet to relate that line to a single person who didn’t howl with laughter at an American official referring to invading other countries on flimsy pretexts as a dreadful, 19th Century Act. Russia has a far stronger casus belli for entering the Crimea than the US ever did for entering Iraq.
Well, I have an idea as to what should ‘be done’. Nothing. It’s not our damn business if one repressive regime intervenes to protect its diaspora and its own economic interests from a new regime on its doorstep which established itself by means of a coup and contains significant elements with an overtly violent antipathy towards that diaspora. There are no real Goodies here, unless its the ordinary Ukrainian who doesn’t really give a hoot whether he is a ‘native Ukrainian’ or an ‘ethnic Russian’ and just wants to live his life and feed his family. But those voices have been drowned out by the real and unreal mobs on both sides, and the western media and assorted collection of diplomats and posturing politicians absolutely do not want to hear those voices, as they have all worked damn hard to establish the Goodie/Baddie narrative in order to have their moments of thundering condemnation in the sun for their domestic publics to see.
As for the idea of sanctions from the EU, are you kidding me? There are countries in the EU which depend on Russian gas for significant proportions of their energy needs – some import over a third of their gas supplies from Russia, two thirds of that amount via pipelines which run through the Ukraine. And as for Britain, blighted by insane Greenery and Warmist hysteria leading to huge reductions in our generating capability, we also import a large amount of that gas which we simply cannot risk trying to do without. Britain’s ‘stretch capacity’ for electricity generation was less than 10% for expected peak demand this winter, and that’s according to the DECC’s very generous estimates. Generating companies themselves gave a figure of 5%.
That’s just 5% ‘spare’ generating ability for a ‘coldest, stormiest, worst-case’ scenario generated by the totally unreliable Met Office, whose track record in predicting the actual weather as opposed to rehashing Warmist talking points has been nothing short of abysmal in the last decade. And that’s before EU Directives force us to close still more coal-fired power stations this year. Therefore, the idea that we can start wielding any form of economic strength to force Russia into doing so much as blowing its nose when we literally need Russian gas simply to keep the damn lights on is laughable at best, and downright irresponsible even as a suggestion.
The fact that it is the meddling of the EU in its attempts to expand ever further eastwards (using British taxpayers money as what are bribes by any other name in order to sweeten the deal for Ukraine) which sparked this entire crisis seems to be going largely unremarked, with the media of course preferring to cast them as the benevolent Goodies who are the new regime’s closest supporters rather than the outside instigators of a coup, which is what they actually are. To use the aforementioned Channel 4 reporter’s parlance, the EU acted as a ‘real’ agent-provocateur in this situation**.
So, to sum up, we have a swiftly established Goodies/Baddies narrative which could lead to genuinely serious consequences for Britain and Europe as a whole, and is also redolent with hypocrisy in its wilful ignoring of the reality of the Goodies’ nature and agenda. Personally I think this is a very, very bad thing indeed, and the fact that neither side should in fact be a particularly attractive proposition for support should be promoted at every opportunity.
In fact here’s me, right now, promoting it. Tata for now…
*And yes, if the Scots vote for independence, good luck to them. They’ll need it once the English money tap is turned off at last and they realise how economically dysfunctional their little Socialist paradise actually is without those mean old sassenachs to subsidise it for them.
**I do note with Machiavellian admiration the way Angela Merkel was gladhanding Putin not that many moons ago as the new Nordstream gas pipeline was finished right before starting to offer those juicy trade incentives to Ukraine, whose own status as the major channel for Russian gas to Europe had therefore just been drastically altered by the opening of the new installation. See what she did there? Push for a new pipeline which will bypass Ukraine and affect its economy negatively, then start offering economic incentives to the same country she has just enthusiastically shafted if only it will shuffle out from under the Russian umbrella and under the EU one instead.