Saturday, March 01, 2014

It's déjà vu all over again...

BREAKING: Ethnic Germans in Danzig Corridor call on the Fatherland for protection from their neighbors.

Meanwhile, the president has announced that this aggression will not stand and that, if necessary, we will join the League of Nations in drafting an even stronger condemnatory resolution.

The posturing from the White House is... well, I just don't get it. We're not going to war with a nation that commands the second largest intercontinental thermonuclear arsenal on the planet over the sovereignty of a nation most Americans couldn't point to on a map if you gave them three tries. And the EU isn't going to boycott trade with their main energy source in the middle of Fimbulwinter. Tsar Vladimir knows all this.

Putin is going to do whatever Putin wants to do in Ukraine and all the rest of the world can do is talk about it.


NewJerseyThomas said...

The Charge of the Light Brigade
Half a league, half a league,
  Half a league onward,
All in the valley of Death,
  Rode the six hundred.
'Forward, the Light Brigade!
Charge for the guns' he said:
Into the valley of Death
  Rode the six hundred.

'Forward, the Light Brigade!'
Was there a man dismay'd?
Not tho' the soldiers knew
  Some one had blunder'd:
Theirs not to make reply,
Theirs not to reason why,
Theirs but to do and die:
Into the valley of Death
  Rode the six hundred.

Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon in front of them
  Volley'd and thunder'd;
Storm'd at with shot and shell,
Boldly they rode and well,
Into the jaws of Death,
Into the mouth of Hell
  Rode the six hundred.

Flash'd all their sabres bare,
Flash'd as they turned in air
Sabring the gunners there,
Charging an army while
  All the world wonder'd:
Plunged in the battery-smoke
Right thro' the line they broke;
Cossack and Russian
Reel'd from the sabre-stroke
Shatter'd and sunder'd.
Then they rode back, but not
Not the six hundred.

Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon behind them
  Volley'd and thunder'd;
Storm'd at with shot and shell,
While horse and hero fell,
They that had fought so well
Came thro' the jaws of Death,
Back from the mouth of Hell,
All that was left of them,
  Left of six hundred.

When can their glory fade?
O the wild charge they made!
  All the world wonder'd.
Honour the charge they made!
Honour the Light Brigade,
  Noble six hundred!

Tam said...

Great poem.

Not sure how it's connected to current events.

Do the Brits even have six hundred troops? And if they did, and assuming they felt the need, could they get them to Balaclava?

Alan J. said...

I think you're right when you say that Putin will do whatever he wants, and everyone else won't do anything more than just saying "Now you stop that, or we'll whine and tell you to stop it again."

Imagine how different things might be if the Ukraine in 2014 had the same guts as Finland in 1939. Throw in a dash of Stingers and a little covert support, and then things might be better. The real question for the Ukrainians will be 'how much do you want your independence and freedom?' Thomas Jefferson could tell you the price.

Yrro said...

Tam - Do you have any recommendations for a place where this stuff is being discussed intelligently? I'd like to read more.

Chris said...

We could send some SWAT teams wearing Balaclavas and tell them that the Crimeans are cooking meth and have dogs to shoot and assets to seize.

bluesun said...

Charge of the Light Brigade is connected geographically...

Tam said...



The point is that ain't no Anglo-French Alliance riding into any valleys of death, here. Ukraine is even more on its own than Georgia was.

Chas Clifton said...

Crimea used to be full of Muslim Tatars. Stalin got rid of them and brought in more Russians.

Krushchev, if I am not mistaken, added it to Ukraine in the 1950s.

Were I a Ukrainian, I would be wondering if it was worth fighting for. Save the rest, let Crimea go?

Tam said...

Chas Clifton,

"Were I a Ukrainian, I would be wondering if it was worth fighting for. Save the rest, let Crimea go? "

It's hard to put myself in a Ukrainian's shoes, of course. I guess the closest thing for us would be... I dunno, analogies are tricky.

Would we risk war with China over Hawaiian independence?

Tam said...

(But, yeah, if I were just playing this with a hex-paper map and cardboard counters and I thought the Russian player would be happy with the Crimean peninsula, I'd let him have it and count myself fortunate.)

og said...

Lord. Now we're just presenting like low caste baboons.

staghounds said...

Never mind Taiwan or Australia, they are China's when the Chinese want them.

Tam said...


Die ganze Ukraine ist nicht die Knochen eines einzigen Alabaman Grenadier.

Tam said...

Seriously, where's the US national interest in this? Other than mail order brides and fantasy MIG rides, what do we get from Ukraine?

Anonymous said...

I think you're right, Tam. Obama did nothing to help the pro-democracy Iranians in the first year of his administration and is backing muslim fundamentalists allied with Al-Qaeda in Syria and Egypt. The only way Obama will help the Ukraine is if Yulia Tymoshenko dons a burkha and declares the Ukraine an Islamic Republic.

Looking into the history of the Ukraine is it unlikely that the Crimean peninsula could be controlled by Kiev in any case. The Imperial Russians seized Crimea from the Ottomans in the 1780s and it was Russian territory until Nikita Krushchev 'transferred' it to the Ukraine in the '50s as a political gesture and also to 'settle' Ukrainian farmers into the arable lands of the Crimea to increase food production for the USSR. The current population of Crimea is over 60% Russian, who have been there for three centuries while the Ukrainians have only lived there since they were forcibly settled there in the 1950s. If the Russian majority in Crimea said 'Nyet!' to Kiev, what could Kiev do that would not ignite a revolution and give Bad Vlad an excuse to send in the tanks? If the population were to go to the polls in a plebiscite as to which country to join, the Russians would win hands down.

og said...

That's the point. We don't even NEED to present.



John A said...

Well, there is that treaty thingy... Bot to call a certain Archduke about 100 years ago... Or the Sudetenland...

Hopefully, Putin will limit the troops to quelling possible riots/massacres, and not interfere with Ukrainian politics otherwise.

Sebastian said...

Never mind Taiwan or Australia, they are China's when the Chinese want them.

My solution to Taiwan is to quietly arm them with nukes. I don't think the Chicoms will trade Beijing for a shot at Taipei.

But Australia we'd have to go to war over. Same with Japan. If we let the Chinese just walk off with either the game is over. Time to hunker down and threaten to nuke anyone who makes a play for US territory.

Sebastian said...

We wouldn't go to war over Ukraine even if we didn't have an empty suit in the White House. I agree with Tam, there's just no scenario where it would happen, and it's not in our interest.

But we could, possibly, have more options at our disposal to contain the bear. Obama is threatening not to go to the G8 summit. Oh my. I'm sure Putin is quaking in his boots over the very thought.

Kristophr said...

I did some more research on Ukrainian nukes.

It looks like Bill Clinton convinced the Ukrainians to hand them all over to Yeltsin, in return for a promise of American "protection".

( cue Beavis and Butthead laugher )

The Jack said...

If I recall the US (and the UK) has a defense deal with the Ukraine.

I think it was part of the deal to have the Ukrainians give up the nukes they got from the USSR breakup.

So, in abstract, the US has an interest in upholding the value of it's promises.

If the US doesn't obligate it's pledge to defend from an invader here, other nations, such as Japan or Taiwan or Poland won't be reassured that *their* deals will be honored.

Now, that's no an endorsement for the US to go to war. Especially if our national interest is "Well it makes us look like we'll uphold deals we've made in the past."

But that is a reason I shake my head at the simplistic saber-rattling of the current admin knobs.

The problem with "acting tough" is that if someone calls your bluff, you'll look even weaker than if you didn't go with the bluster.

What, do they think the Ukraine and other nations will be reassured that the US will come in to save them if the President talks tough and maybe hints that the 110st to jump into Sevastopol... and then stop?

Then again, this is the crew that has threatened people to not call their bluff, and a President that sees giving a speech as the limits of his responsibility.

Course, I also fear that these knobs will get caught up or simply get war-fever and send US troops in.

And unlike Syria I'm not sure Putin can be counted on to save Obama.

Will said...

Since they actually built the nukes there in Ukraine, who's to say they don't actually have a few left lying around? When you are talking thousands of them, easy to "misplace" a handful. Putin could get a hell of a surprise, if he gets carried away.

Weer'd Beard said...

I wonder if this is how all that shit in "Terms of Enlistment" started....

fast richard said...

If we did make any security guaranties to Ukraine, this episode will pretty much prove all such guaranties to be worthless. The next time such a situation comes up, the next tyrant, whether Putin or someone else will be less restrained.

I see a slippery slope, but the valley is obscured by clouds and fog. There's no telling what the slope looks like below. There's not much we can do about it, either.

Anonymous said...

Ukraine is not that distant from the West! Ukraine is only bordered by four (4) NATO members; Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, and Romania.

Goober said...

The only similarity is location. The events described in the poem also occured in Crimea.

Cue snarky "you think I didn't know that, dumbass?" In three, two....

My defense is that some of your readers may not know.... please be gentle

Goober said...

Exactly. This is a perfect time for Obama to keep having cocktail parties and keep his noisehole firmly shut.

I can't even imagine why we'd get involved even on the "strongly worded letter " front. That's what the UN is for.

Not saying Tam wants to get involved, just agreeing with you here, og.

Tam said...


"Not saying Tam wants to get involved, just agreeing with you here, og. "

I even made comments to this very post at 1130 and 1132 hrs this morning so that people who had started reading my blog just this week might have an idea of what my feelings were on the topic.

NotClauswitz said...

I just keep thinking "Anschluss und Lebensraum." I know, it's a small thought, and we didn't help Austria much at all but I believe the anti-Hitler side (and the ones who got killed at the barricades) was mixed blend of Social-Unionists (predominantly, which might have appealed to FDR), Monarchists, and Nationalists - but the common-language thing blurred everything.

gth871r said...

There is a serious problem. When the Ukraine gave up its nukes it got a security guarantee from the US. In hindsight they would clearly have been safer to keep their nukes. Now that it's obvious that American promises are worth less than the paper they are printed upon, I would bet that the heads of the nuclear physics programs at the universities of Warsaw, Tokyo, Taipei, Seoul, Helsinki, etc all just got phone calls from their nations presidents asking how long it would take to get a nuke put together. The answer for these countries is between a few weeks and a year or two. Many more nations will follow suit in the next few years. We will soon see a complete breakdown in the nuclear nonproliferation treaty and we will have a world with dozens of nuclear armed states. This does not inspire a restful night's sleep.

staghounds said...

Promises aren't magic, they are meaningless without both the will and ability to carry them out.

We have demonstrated for seventy years that our promises, like the promises of every King, nation, bride, and groom are of little value when they become more painful to keep than to discard.

Goober said...

That's why I clarified: so as not to be misunderstood.

tanksoldier said...

I'd rather let the Russians fight a war in the Crimea than fight there ourselves.

How do you say "Light Brigade" in Russian?

Windy Wilson said...

I wouldn't risk war with China over San Francisco's continued membership in the USA.

Windy Wilson said...

I predict the next irredentist move will be far to the east regarding a certain large island. . .
And our esteemed Reader-in-Chief, Ethelred, will ask for cooler heads to prevail and then keep his piehole closed.
I don't see any real American interest here except so far as it destabilizes eastern Europe, and our interest there is in the stability of Europe generally. Putin is scaring everyone who ever had to stand for the Soviet national anthem.

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't risk war with China over San Francisco's continued membership in the USA- Wendy Wilson

I would make them take LA too.

Matthew said...

We have to hold Manhattan though, cause next they'll take Berlin.

Kristophr said...

I think it's all over except the shouting, anyway.

All of the Ukrainian military units in the Crimean region have declared for Putin.

Not exactly a surprise, since the East half of the country is almost completely ethnic Russian, thanx to Stalin.

Ian Argent said...

What value a twenty-year-old promise of assistance from a country that has had 3 major changes in political leadership since then (and I-don't-know-much-much) turnover in the legislature?

To a certain extent, it's nobody's business but the Turks (and Poles, &c). OTOH, the turks (and poles &c) are NATO members, so they could make it our business...