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Saturday, March 8, 2014

Crimea, and self-determination

The State Department is now saying that what is going on Crimea is illegal, and that they can't just declare their independence from the Ukraine. But I find it hard to get too worked up over an invasion where not a single shot was fired and the local residents all cheered the Russian troops as they moved in.

When I first read of the protests in Maidan Square, I found myself siding with the protesters, and when I heard that President Yanukovych had fled the country, I felt gratified. Even if Yanukovych had been elected democratically, he was obviously corrupt, and the country was better off without him. Also, it seemed popular sentiment had shifted since the last election.

But why should popular sentiment not prevail in Crimea as well? Western Ukraine wants to be part of the European Union, and the Crimean want to be more closely allied with Russia. Why not let both have their way?

What's happening in Crimea is -- or at least feels like -- a far cry from the Soviet Union deposing Alexander Dubcek in Czechoslovakia in 1968. Yes, it still constitutes foreign meddling; but "foreign" is a somewhat relative term when 60% of Crimean residents identify as Russian.

Ethnic ties are stronger than national boundaries -- our country is proof of that -- and if the Crimeans would prefer to be part of Russia, my instinct is to say, let them.

I suppose the other way to look at it would be to equate it with one of our states, say, New Mexico, wanting to declare its independence from the USA and become part of Mexico. They can't just have a referendum and declare themselves part of Mexico. Or, rather, they could, but I doubt the rest of the US would let them go without a fight. Especially if Mexico sent troops up to Albuquerque to insure protection for those of ethnic Mexican descent -- and even if the local Mexican-Americans cheered on the Mexican army as it arrived.

So, it's a complicated situation geopolitically. And I guess that's my point: it's so complicated that I just can't seem to work up a lot of outrage about it.


Steven said...

I feel the same.

John Craig said...

Steven --
My guess is a lot of people do.