Next Stop, Simferopol

If you haven’t been keeping an eye on the situation in Kiev, well, you should. There is yet another post-modern revolution taking place (has taken place) and the implications are dire.

What started as indignation against the government’s refusal to take European Union handouts, the benefit being potential recognition as a member-state down the road, led to mass protests, crackdowns, chaos and mayhem. As somebody who has been a keen student of the situation, I would go to bed one night knowing exactly what side I was rooting for, and waking up to a whole new ball game.

Nothing about the conflict has been black and white. There was an encampment, a-la-15M-Occupy. There was music and food and hand holding. But no hippies. I don’t think Birkenstocks would be appropriate footwear for below freezing temperatures. Oh and then there were celebrities and riot police. It looked like an occupation, circa 2011. I liked it. The good Ukrainians practicing political dissent.

All this was great until, alongside the pro-EU messaging, sprung up swastikas, Celtic crosses, neo-nationalist propaganda, and yes, even the Confederate flag. And just when the narrative started to get a little muddy, a U.S. Assistant Secretary of State, Victoria Nuland, visited the Maidan (the square used as a base of protest) to solidify the stance that the Obama administration had taken. That position, was one aligned with right-wing, neo-Nazis who wanted closer ties with Western Europe, not Russia.

Fast forward the revolution. Special riot police, Berkut, beats up activists. Activists respond with bigger demonstrations. And somewhere during that time, according to an observation by a former Ukrainian security official, mercenaries showed up to escalate the protests with pneumatic weapons. Recent footage alleges that Blackwater-Xe-Academi operatives have been operating since the early days of rising tensions in the Maidan. Also on the ground, brick throwing, Molotov cocktails and the now cliche, burning police van in the Maidan. Confused yet ? Well it doesn’t stop there. The activists fighting Berkut were both pro- and anti-EU. Like a good ‘ol fashioned, large scale demonstration, some weren’t even sure why they were there. But that was the place to be. Still is by some accounts. In the end, a new, pro-EU/US government comes to power through a swift coup.

Meanwhile, tensions in Crimea started to boil up. The largest portion of the population in this autonomous region has ties to Russia. There is also a minority Jewish and Muslim community who weren’t pleased with the fascists taking power in Kiev. And so when many of them were unhappy with the new political players, they decided on a referendum. Well good for them! Only problem is, they married their claim to autonomy with a Russian Federation merger. Putin, whom I respect as having better foreign policy understanding than the sock puppet in the White House, made appearances, several, to show his open arms.

I like it when smaller towns and regions fight for secession. I am super excited about Scotland breaking free of the ball and chain that is the United Kingdom. But when the people of these regions make the mistake of not just winning their freedom from a big, political power, but then becoming a subordinate of yet another, extra large, political power, they rejoice for the wrong reasons.

Crimea is strategic. It’s pretty. I haven’t been but I bing-ed it. Looks pretty good to me. It’s a shame that the government of my country has decided to back a right-wing, fascist government in Kiev, instead of backing the right of the Ukrainians for self-determination. But then again, I should know better. As fellow Occupy participant Caleb Maupin’s piece in RT shows, the U.S. government has always had a right-wing bias, and will keep you and I from expressing any opinions contrary to that. And God help you if you’re a leftist.

For defense contractors like Lockheed, Boeing and Raytheon, there is nothing more disconcerting than Hamid Karzai’s insistence that the U.S. occupation of his home be wrapped up. And nothing makes better business sense for the military industrial complex than to lobby policy makers to look for the next conflict theater. Though I have a feeling they’re picking the wrong fight. The Russian Federation has become a center for business, commerce and a playground for the very wealthy. Riling up NATO to pull their pants down and engage in a show and tell is not going to go well. But it makes good business sense. Can you imagine how many professionals around the U.S. would lose their livelihoods, SUVs and McMansions if our government was not engaged in any war ?

There is a lot at stake here. Egos notwithstanding, meddling in Crimea’s business will open a whole new mason jar of compost maggots. Tensions between the Western World, the civilized of the civilized, and the former Soviet Union is at its highest since the Cold War. I know what my country’s President is capable of. And his track record on foreign policy bothers me. But here is to hoping that the most powerful man in the world, Vladimir Putin, will practice restraint, like he did on the Syrian affair, and won’t give in to the schoolyard bullying from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and 10 Downing Street. Even Ron Paul thinks an intervention is a bad idea. Times like these I wish Ron Paul was making decisions beyond my control.

And to my comrades in Crimea and the Ukraine I say, let’s hope for cooler heads prevailing.

Nostrovia !


A referendum poster in Sevastopol, Ukraine Photo: Zurab Kurtsikidze/EPA
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