I'm no expert when it comes to Eastern European political and historical wrangling. In those years I sojourned with the Orthodox Christians - many from Eastern and Southeastern Europe - I realized just how deficient our modern American understanding of the world has become. I get the impression Americans in the 1910s had a better grasp of the world than we do today.
The divisions in our country are a big reason. Among many pundits, this is all about attacking each other. To he honest, I don't even know what different pundits want to happen. All I know is that they're attacking the other ones because of course they are.
As best I can tell, non-leftists and conservatives are split into two groups. One says we must stand up to Putin, and the other says we have no business getting involved in yet another foreign conflict. The left seems content with attacking group number two as traitors and Tokyo Roses for Putin and Satan and Hitler and everything else. Whether the Left recognizes group number one is unknown to me.
Meanwhile, I have watched the Biden administration fail repeatedly to stop Putin from doing what Putin clearly intended to do. Those on the Left seem more focused on defending Biden by ignoring the obvious than they are actually helping anything. In fact, most who blast those conservatives for not wanting to get involved in Ukraine appear to offer no clear examples of what we should do while making sure blame falls anywhere but with Biden (or Mr. 'Cold War is Calling' Obama).
So zealous have they been in attacking those who don't want to get involved, in fact, they come off as fanatical warmongers of the type they've long accused conservatives of being. To hear some of them scream traitor at those who don't want to get involved in a potential land war in Europe, they come across as jockeys for war in a way that would shame the Marx Brothers:
True, they're not committing to any particular course of action, and seem more concerned about scoring points against conservatives than articulating any clear solutions to the crisis. Therefore they could always insist they don't mean war while meaning nothing else at all. That's what comes from a divided and dying nation like ours I suppose.
|True across the board|
Rod Dreher has been following these developments. His extensive interactions with those east of the Danube have likely given him insights that seem to help frame things realistically. Based on what I experienced in my few paltry years with Orthodox Christianity listening to immigrants from Eastern Europe, it's also closer to what I heard than the fictional narrative hoisted on us by many of our warring pundits. He's also honest about the hot mess the West and America is in - something those on the Left wouldn't understand since they fully support the things that are killing the West.
I abhor what Russia has done today. But this did not come from nowhere. Now Europe faces the prospect of a wider war — unlikely, but not at all unthinkable, which explains the anxiety so many Hungarians I meet have — and the opening of a new Cold War with Russia … and China. The historical period that ended last night, when Russian troops crossed the border, began with the US hoping to integrate China and Russia into a liberal democratic world order. It ended with wealthy China the world’s ascendant power; Russia — an historically Christian nation — having abandoned liberal democracy after the shambles that corrupt Russians and US advisors made of the 1990s, pivoting away from the West, and now firmly in the orbit of China; and the United States, a declining empire weakened and humiliated by twenty years of failed Mideast and Asian war, and sharply divided at home by the culture war American elites have waged on half of their own people, left to figure out what the hell to do with itself and its inheritance.
In all of this, one wonders where China, and even India, will fall. Also the Middle East. So far in news reports I've seen, those condemning Putin are either European or African reps to the UN. I've seen very few allusions to ambassadors from the Middle East or China. Perhaps I just missed it. But I can't help but think it's where those cultures and nations fall, rather than the dying West, that will make a difference. For good or ill.
Nonetheless, I don't see the rulers of the world beating a path to my door and seeking my insights into the problem. For now, I can do the one thing I can do, and that's pray for peace. What happens in the weeks and months to come is the guess of others with more insight than I have. So on behalf of my sons, and the wider world, I'll offer prayers that things can be stopped before death and suffering become the norm.
Well the Middle East and China are next door to Russia so it's a fair bet they're hoping they won't be next.ReplyDelete
I'm not expert either nor do I have strong opinions (though I have been to Russia). I do know we once had leverage and more options to handle the great bear and since then we've traded it all away until now bombs & boots are our only remaining option. So I agree with Ace - those leaders who hated Trump & lied & cheated & stole to get Biden into office? This is all your doing. Own it and may it be a millstone around your necks.
I'm far from being expert either Nate, but I notice talk versus action. Biden talks like a punk who thinks he's tough but acts like likes a coward when confronted. Putin knew this. China is watching what Biden and the West does with Putin and if the time is right Taiwan will fall also. China is not stupid. Both China and Russia know Bidens' skeletons he's hiding in his closet which keeps Biden from acting.Delete
I remember when Putin went into Georgia. The universal narrative was how Bush's ineptitude had allowed that. Heck, I remember when Hussein invaded Kuwait on the heels of the end of the Cold War and every liberal pundit/professor/journalist I know framed it as America only caring about oil because what was it to us if he invaded a neighboring country. That's the bad part here. You get the feeling so many care more about defending Biden or attacking the Right than they do what's happening in Ukraine. And that includes when the Right now sounds an awful lot like they did whenever something like this happened under a GOP president.Delete
You notice how he blames American advisers for Russia's cultural dysfunctions and policy failures? Rod Dreher cannot write one paragraph without making a prick out of himself.ReplyDelete
My experience with friends from Russia, and those I met at the Orthodox Church, that is not a view unique to Rod. Back in the 90s in graduate school, we made friends with several from Russia, and Ukraine. At that time they felt the US was exploiting the collapse of the USSR for its own ends with no particular concern for what it was doing to Russians on the street.Delete
That's easier than asking yourself why you cannot get it right.Delete
Here's a thesis: what happened was that the transition to a market economy was terribly botched because no one had ever attempted such a thing before. The result was disruption in the production process to such an extent that you had a severe implosion in output extended over several years. The decline in per capita output among the post-communist states typically took place over a seven year time span and incorporated a 40% decline in living standards. It took a total of 16 years before the typical post-communist country could break even. Russia had the median experience in this regard, to which was added something you did not see elsewhere: a hideous decline in public order. By 1999, the homicide rate in Russia was at Latin American levels. The whole mess was something you might expect would generate a revanchist response and there's remarkably little of that evident. You're seeing a delayed response now. The thing is, the victim is the Ukraine, which was another country injured at the time. The next victim teed up might be one of the Trascaucasus states or one of the Baltic states.
Note, there were countries which had a more circumscribed contraction and a more dynamic recovery. They managed to break even during the period running from 1995 to 1998. These were the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, and (surprisingly) Roumania. Roumania now qualifies as a high middle income country, while the others are in the 2d rank of the world's affluent countries. Slovenia and the Baltic states took longer to recover, but are now about as affluent as the other five.
My guess is both could be true. There were parts of Russian society and history that lent itself to problems coming out of the ground zero of the Cold war. On the other hand I don't find it difficult to imagine interests from the West rushing in to capitalize on the fledgling market no matter what the cost. Since I can watch them do that now relative to our nation, it's even easier to imagine.Delete
I imagine there were all kinds of skeevy characters looking to land an ownership stake in a privatized firm or land lucrative mineral rights, although the Russia specialist of my acquaintance said the regulatory regime in Russia at the time was quicksand and quite inhibiting to foreign investors. The trouble is, even had there been no such characters, there were going to be horrid transition costs because no one had a reliable policy package for avoiding them. The Czech Republic got away with a 10% decline in per capita product over a two year interval. I assume some student of the process knows how they managed it.Delete
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China supports Russia under the table (I suspect it's because Ukraine is a good distraction from Taiwan and the warcrimes they're commiting in the Uyghur conflict). Middle East countries are too busy killing each other to care (some are Russian allies, others American allies). The Taliban made a statement on the conflict, but I don't remember what it entailed.ReplyDelete
I suspect it is first and foremost because this is a good way to have Russia indebted to China, but secondarily because, if people thought about it too much (so, not much of a real threat), there are parallels with the Chinese invasion of Tibet. But then, there are also parallels with the way the US acquired Texas and Hawaii. Once you start pulling at that thread, the whole map can quickly become unraveled.Delete
It seems like China has come down harder now on Russia. I'm not sure. Most Middle Eastern countries, other than Iran which firmly blamed NATO, seem to have taken a 'can't you all get along' approach. We'll see. I think whatever happens with Ukraine, it will be what happens after Ukraine that will be the big story in the coming years.Delete