Sunday, March 23, 2014

To the shores of the Putrid Sea

Way back on March 5, my Facebook friend Ali Choudury in London posted this:
In late czarist times, the Russian Foreign Office commemorated a royal anniversary by commissioning a research project in the archives. In its ceremonial memorandum to the czar, the foreign minister announced that they had reviewed the last 40 wars the state had fought and were proud to declare that Russia had started 38 of them.
He did not explain what, aside from curiosity, made him do it. Perhaps he was seeing further into the future than the rest of us. Whatever, it is worth keeping in mind in the context of of nostalgia among Russians, from Solzhenitsyn to Putin, for the happy times of tsarist hegemony. If, as it appears, Putin is determined to restore the tsarist empire, then we Americans need to corral our bloodthirsty rightwingers. Take McCain. He has been involved in three wars, all lost, but he wants to keep trying. A few weeks ago he was thirsting to lose another war in the Middle East (Syria this time). Balked, something turned up in eastern Europe. In the ‘50s, our rightwingers, conscienceless cowards that they were, kept demanding a war to “liberate” the states of eastern Europe, delivering them from communism back to their preferred fascism. Thankfully, it was “all for buncombe” and they knew better than to actually fight. Bad news for the handful of brave, foolish democrats in Hungary, Poland and elsewhere who our rightwingers led down the garden path, seduced and abandoned. I am not at all sure that our current crop of rightwing war wimps like Lindsey Graham have the sense of, say, Roman Hruska. I don’t know if they are scaring Putin or not, but they are scaring the hell out of me. As usual, Americans are ready to meddle without bothering to find out anything about the people they intend to meddle with. This applies to lefties as much as to righties. A good example came a couple of weeks ago when a public radio program devoted to “in depth” reporting called “Tell Me More” had leaders in the United States of the Ukrainian and Russian Orthodox churches on the air to call for cooler heads. Obviously, they (the radio producers) had not the slightest idea about religion in Little Russia. The Little Russians have their own form of Christianity, they are Catholics. The church is called (by the very few English speakers who have ever heard of it) Uniate, because it is in spiritual union with the Vatican. No surprise that Great Russian and Little Russian Orthodox are ready to get along -- they are the same. They are not, however, ready to be peaceful with the Catholics, or vice versa. All three, of course, hate Jews. Putin is not wrong when he accuses the “democratic” revolutionaries of nazi tendencies. Some of our bought-and-paid for rightwingers have jumped on this. What the Putin fanboys don’t get is that the Ukrainians and/or Russians on the pro-Moscow side are equally nazi. Everybody in Ukraine is. The pogroms from 1882 on that drove 3 million Jews to America were concentrated in Ukraine, especially southern Ukraine, with an epicenter in Odessa. When the Ukrainians greeted the German army with bread and salt and flowers and kisses in 1941, it wasn’t just that they were glad to have been relieved of the oppression of the Stalinist Great Russians. They also admired Nazi racism. Ukrainians were enthusiastic helpers in the Holocaust. While it would be nice to defend a small nation of democrats from ruthless Great Russian perfidy, no such nation exists in Ukraine. This isn’t Munich and it isn’t 1938. Things are looking grim, again, for the Crimean Tatars, who fit the picture of an oppressed minority much better than the Little Russians do, and no worse, at the least, than the Tibetans. The problem with rescuing the oppressed in Crimea or Tibet is that you cannot get there from here. Not for nothing is the gateway to Crimea called the Putrid Sea.

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