Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Godwin's Law

"He was expressing the fact that he needed to send in troops to protect those in Crimea of Russian ancestry and Russian language and certain religious groups," he said. "And what the President made clear to Putin was, this was unacceptable."

Someone pointed out in a NYTimes story today, a Ukrainian citizen in fact, that the claim that you need to invade a country to protect ethnic Russians and Russian speakers from their government has just got Nazism written all over it.  Not just fascism; we're talking about a very specific set of ethnocentric claims about the identification of a group of people with a state, and that the state itself is an expression of the ethnic composition and identity of that group.

There are people who, by virtue of colonial histories, happen to find themselves "left behind" when the colonizers depart.  For those people to demand the colonizing country come in and protect them, indeed invade and run the damn thing, is the height of entitlement.  The UK left people all over the globe and spent many years using slights to Englishness as a pretext for invasion; thankfully that's a policy Her Majesty's government no longer pursues.  During the 60s various former European colonial powers would send in rapid-reaction forces to get their citizens to safety; that's one of the benefits of a passport, that there's a Marine regiment waiting somewhere to keep you safe.  (This is true of Belgium, France, Holland, the US and the UK, for instance.  Canada has no such policy and, in fact, much of the populace and the better editorial pages will happily blame you for any trouble you might find yourself in - for Canadians, once you leave you're on your own.)  Algeria comes to mind, as does northern Ireland, of instances where it gets more complex: a whole group of people and a significant portion of the population born in the colonized territory who identify as colonizers and aren't willing to give up the colonial project.  Israel, through certain lenses, looks similar.

Imagine if the US or Canada used such a pretext, though.  Imagine if the bellicose Prime Minister of Canada, Stephen Harper, were to claim something like "If you counted up Canadians in Phoenix they would constitute Canada's fifth largest city.  And they have expressed dismay at the ethnic jokes and ignorance of Canadian traditions they must suffer daily, and moreover the unfortunate turn toward socialism recently taken by the Kenyan usurper.  And so they have asked the Canadian armed forces, starting with JTF-1, to protect them until Phoenix can be incorporated safely into Greater Canada."

If you want to be Russian, or English, or Canadian, then move to Russia or England or Canada.  Don't move somewhere warmer and sunnier than your preferred country and then demand to be annexed. 

Otherwise you're just a dick.  Putin enjoys being a dick and quite clearly many in Russia are pleased with him performing that role.

But we must find a way to keep this argument from holding any water.  


This is what happens when you give in to conservatives and let them set your foreign policy.  I've long believed that inside every true conservative is a romantic sentimentalist who wants to go back to elementary school.  The retired Russians in the Crimea want to stay there, and they want to keep their pensions and be treated with the proper deference by the locals.  So Russia, which is a conservative dream-state - big on old-time religion, traditional values, strong men and empty shows of force, a neocon's fever dream - will now have to pay for the delusions of its many many strong men.
99 knights of the air
Ride super high tech jet fighters
Everyone's a super hero
Everyone's a Captain Kirk
Even if there is no bloodshed, the Russian taxpayer is signing up to keep these idiots safe in their dreamworld.

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