August 1, 2016

Crimea is Russian, and saber rattling over it will launch nuclear WWIII

Now that the Democrats are becoming the warmongering party, with the neocon ball-and-chain shackled to their ankles for a change, we're hearing more rhetoric in the Establishment media about why we need to stand off against Russia, as though the Cold War were still in full effect.

Since their main charge relates to Crimea, it's worth it for us Americans to understand some basic facts about that region. The short and skinny of it is that Crimea has always belonged to Russia, and was internally transferred to Ukraine in 1954 when both were part of the larger USSR. With the rise of nationalism in Russia during the 21st century, they have taken back their long-held region, which is not only strategically important but a cornerstone of their national identity.

For a more detailed discussion, see this post by Peter Turchin, which uses the example to illustrate a more general theory about why nations behave the way they do -- they are not only rational calculators, but also honor-driven protectors of their sacred places. Key excerpts follow.

On the historical importance of Crimea in Russia:

Consider the Crimean city of Sevastopol, home to the Russian Black Sea Fleet. Initially this port was just a convenient naval base that allowed Russia to project power into the surrounding region. Because of this geopolitical value, the city played a key role during the Crimean War of 1853-1856, when Russia fought Britain and France for the right to expand into the waning Ottoman Empire. This first ‘heroic defence’ of Sevastopol left a significant imprint on Russia’s collective psyche; not least Leo Tolstoy’s important early work, Sevastopol Sketches (1855).

The second ‘heroic defence’ of the port came in 1941-42, during the war against Nazi Germany. Indeed, the siege of Sevastopol remains only slightly less resonant for Russians than the more famous Siege of Leningrad. But it is climbing the rankings. In the midst of the present conflict, Russia designated Sevastopol a city of federal significance, a status it shares only with Moscow and St Petersburg, the city formerly known as Leningrad. As we watch, Sevastopol is being woven ever more tightly into Russia’s national mythology.

On the Russian transfer of Crimea to Ukraine, and its recent fate:

If Crimea is so precious, one might wonder why Russia ever let it go. The simple answer is that it didn’t mean to. In 1954, the Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev transferred it to Ukraine as an essentially symbolic gesture. Ukraine was then a Soviet imperial possession, so this seemed an innocuous arrangement. Then, when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, Russia itself started fragmenting. Chechnya achieved de facto independence. In a more peaceful fashion, Tatarstan was acquiring greater autonomy. There was talk of the Far East seceding. Crimea, in short, was not the priority.

Such periods of disintegration generally end in one of two ways. Russia rallied. During the 1990s and 2000s, it gradually squeezed out its pro-Western liberal elite, though not before they had almost halved GDP, created extreme differentials of wealth, and lost Russia its Great Power status. With the liberals in disgrace, a new, nationalistic cadre seized the moment. Under Vladimir Putin’s leadership, Russia began to claw back its lost lands, beginning, in 1999, with the reconquest of Chechnya. And now here we are.

On the uniform support in Russia for taking back Crimea:

All parties represented in the Duma (Russian Parliament) are solidly behind Putin. In the Duma vote, 445 votes were for the annexation with only one against. It was hardly surprising that Putin’s party, United Russia, supported him. But the other three parties, Just Russia, the Liberal Democrats and even the Communists, were also solidly behind him. That is less usual.

Even more importantly, the general population overwhelmingly supports Putin on this issue. In a large sociological study that polled almost 50,000 Russians, more than 90 per cent said that they wanted Crimea to become part of Russia. Only 5 per cent were opposed. Putin’s policy of ‘reunification with Crimea’ is extremely popular. His approval ratings soared from an already high 60 per cent to 76 per cent. Sociologists such as Alexander Oslon, of the Public Opinion Foundation, and Olga Kryshtanovskaya, who studies Russian elites, say they have never before seen such a degree of unity on any issue in Russia.

On the unlikeliness of Russia giving up Crimea again:

Judging by the polls, Putin and his people are of one mind over Crimea. As I write this essay, it seems that little short of an all-out war, risking the use of nuclear weapons, could dislodge Russia’s grip from the peninsula. Not even the most punitive economic sanctions would do the job: by their nature, sacred values trump material considerations, which is what makes conflicts over sacred values so intractable. Consider the case of Jerusalem: the Temple Mount is sacred both to Jews and to Muslims, and neither is willing to give it up. Luckily, the Crimean case is different. Crimea is not sacred for the Americans or western Europeans. It is scarcely more so for the Ukrainians.

In American terms, imagine if California gave the Bay Area and northern CA to Oregon as a gift. Then suppose that California and Oregon separated into two independent nations. Don't you think California would want the Bay Area back? It was the site of the earliest Spanish missions, the Gold Rush of the mid-1800s, and Silicon Valley. Aside from the economic importance, this role in shaping California's historical identity would guarantee that it would be taken back in the event that it was donated to a fellow state that then broke off into a separate nation.

Allowing ourselves to get swept up into a phony outrage over Russia taking back its historical region of Crimea would march us closer to nuclear WWIII, so every effort must be made to prevent the Wall Street warmonger Hillary Clinton from taking office, and making sure that the Russia-neutral Trump can steer us clear of mutually assured destruction.


  1. This is the kind of thing Trump should use to attack Hillary with instead of fighting with the parents of a fallen officer.

    He needs to focus his campaign because he's several points behind Hillary in the PPP and CNN polls that came out yesterday and today. He needs to fight on the issues, not fight with people on a personal level.

  2. Yeah, I was really disappointed he took the Khan bait, if anything he should have replied that Khan and the Dems are exploiting their son's deaths and that Clinton voted for the war in which it occurred.

  3. The PPP polls have always had Hillary ahead by 4-6 points since February -- not too reliable, given all the twists and turns since the beginning of primary season. Their state polls seem more focused and reliable.

    CNN is the Clinton News Network. Overall trends there may be worth looking at, but not the absolute difference.

    The less biased USC / LA Times daily tracking poll still has Trump up by 4 points. It was tied going into the GOP Convention, then Trump +5 afterward, and after the Dem Convention only narrowed by 1 point to Trump +4.

    People's Pundit Daily is another good one with a good track record from last election cycle. They still have Trump +3, which is a narrowing from the +8 gap he had during the middle of the Dem Convention.

  4. I haven't seen Trump going off-message with the all-American parents Jihad and Wahhabi Cleaverstani.

    He took a little potshot at her not being allowed to say anything, said the son was a hero, that the father is attacking someone he doesn't even know, and that it's all a distraction from the real issue of who voted for the Iraq War (Crooked Hillary) and who's going to prevent Islamic terrorism (not the woman whose lesbo lover is linked to the Muslim Brotherhood).

    Trump hasn't made it about himself, the way he did with the La Raza judge thing. And he's not making it a culture war topic from the '90s (reverse racism, in the La Raza judge case).

    At the rallies afterward, I haven't seen him tear into them the way he did with the La Raza judge.

    It seems like the only ones talking about it this time are the propaganda outlets -- no surprise -- rather than the normies.

    He's doing a good job of not letting this take over like the La Raza judge thing did.

  5. He would score major points by matter-of-factly telling the history of who Crimea has belonged to, since nobody in America knows.

    "Listen Chuck, I'm hearing that the people of Crimea want to join Russia. And y'know, I heard that Ukraine only got Crimea in 1954 -- that's not exactly ancient history, is it, Chuck? -- and that it belonged to Russia for hundreds of years before that. Did you know that, Chuck? So Russia gave it, as a kind of gift, to Ukraine, when they were all in the Soviet Union. Well, the Soviet Union is not around anymore, and Russia wants their traditional region of Crimea back, the way it had always been before 1954. That doesn't sound unreasonable, does it?"

    1. He would have to know that history to voice it, and I am sure he doesn't

  6. Great post. First and last paragraphs in particular.


  7. How about Reuters reconfiguring their formula once Trump took the lead in their poll?

  8. I don't really care about the Ukraine that much. Russia has a decent case that it belongs to them, and in any event I don't see it worth the US while to even make a big fuss about it with sanctions let alone War. Advantage Trump in my view, as most voters are not exactly aching to fight Russia so Ukraine can have the Crimea back.

    And with Erdogan going full Sultan, it would be quite useful to have Putin at least not actively hostile to the US and possibly a more stabilizing influence in the Eastern Med and so forth. If Putin wants to go fight ISIS on behalf of the Assad I say let him. And at this point it seems that Russia would be a saner alternative controlling the Bosphorus than Sultan Erdogan, who has made the failed coup into a massive purge pretty much guaranteeing civil war there for years to come.

  9. Let me add, regarding Khizr Khan or whatever his name is, are Trump's core voters, working/middle class White males sick of globalism, diversity, AA, etc. really going to go gung ho for a lecturing, hectoring Muslim with a wife in a burqa? Really?

    If anything the Mickey Kausian "undernews" is that Trump comes off better to his core White male working/middle class supporters sick of getting a diversity lecture and a sexual harassment lecture by entitled AA HR people at work, in the media, and possibly at home.

    I know unmarried and recently married White women love that stuff, and "Trump is a meanie" probably resonates with their feelz the way Merkel got that special feeling for her Rapefugees; one of whom in Belgium stabbed a Priest today. But they were Hillary voters anyway; the working class and pressed middle class White female voters are probably not that sympathetic to a very un-assimilated Muslim family with a high profile and income when they are struggling. Wages have been so stagnant real earnings for the median household is at 1996 levels so I read.

    The Undernews is probably that rather than virtue signaling, "I can't even" Hillary! and Wow Just Wow Media, there is anger, jealousy, and "where is our privileges and money" given that "All-American" does not really describe a lecturing, accent-ridden, devout Burqa wearing Muslim couple.

  10. Khan is apparently an immigration law specialist (i.e. working to bring more Mooslimbs here) anyway, it looks like he can't stand the scrutiny he put himself under with this stunt, so moot point.

  11. Those Melania pics I alluded to in previous comments got put out by the New York Post...
    They did Trump a huge favor: get it out of the way now as there was no way those were not coming out.

  12. All part of God's plan to get culture wars out of politics. For every suburban mom who got turned off, ten blue-collar men got turned on.

  13. Think I lost my last comment, so trying again just in case...

    I don't freakout over polls at such an early stage, but they're useful, of course.

    There seems to be a cycle with Trump:

    1. He puts the voters first
    2. They respond and he rises
    3. He gets comfortable and puts focus from voters to self
    4. Voters respond and he falls

    I don't believe at all that the voters up for grabs care about the judge, that Muslim guy, or whoever Trump was personally trying to settle scores with. What they're responding to, instead, is Trump himself, and in these cases, Trump being "selfish".

    Trump didn't have this problem with his Republican rivals and I expect similarly he will not be perceived as selfish when he goes after Clinton during the debates and elsewhere, but when he goes after anybody not a direct competitor...

    I've come to believe Peter Turchin has Trump absolutely pegged as the epitome of the striver trying to parlay his wealth into political power/status. And this is why we get these "selfish" moments. I hope he's a fast learner and can break out of this cycle.

    P.S. latest Trump outrage + Melania pics... I think this is as low as he can get, this is his basement: that's not too shabby!

  14. Trump made an off-hand remark swatting away an aggressive muzzie foreigner jabbing his finger into the TV screen. He hasn't focused on those two at all -- not in interviews, Twitter, or rallies.

    He did make it personal with the La Raza judge, but not here. And also not with the slump before that -- Michelle Fields, abortion question from Chris Matthews, etc. Maybe the re-tweet of Ted's psycho wife vs. Melania.

    BTW, who do people see as more selfish -- Trump defending against an unprovoked attack, or the hectoring muzzie exploiting his son's pointless death for political points against someone who had nothing to do with that death, while campaigning on behalf of someone who did?

    There's no selfish angle behind his up months and down months. It's just a cycle that nervous voters are going through, and at best rationalizing after the fact why they're waxing and waning.

  15. Turchin is entitled to being off here and there, especially since he wants a populist to win but is upset that he's coming from the right rather than the left.

    He's already written on how over-production of elites leads to increased political competitiveness -- it's not billionaires trying to steamroll their way into high office without being a politician before. It's the soaring numbers of law school graduates -- Senators and Presidents are almost exclusively from this background nowadays.

    Trump is the opposite of a conniving legalistic schemer. He's an open-book, honor-driven brawler.

    And Trump didn't even bother getting an MBA like the yuppies did -- George W. Bush, for example. He built up his own company, has never gone public, and doesn't jump from one company to another like a typical MBA parasite / decomposer, e.g. corporate raider Mitt Romney.

    Trump is restoring the model of leadership back to someone who has actually accomplished something on their own in a big leadership role (of the Trump Org.), rather than some credential-seeking striver.

    And obviously his policies, if elected, will be contrary to his own class' interests, and his own individual interests -- fewer foreigners piling into Manhattan means less rent on his apartments.

    The idea that Trump is a self-centered power-grabber is simply moronic. He doesn't need to be doing this -- he's doing it for our benefit.

  16. Initially, I thought Turchin was off, too, and was downright offended. But I don't think the two have to be mutually exclusive: he really does want to Make America Great Again, but is also driven by ego.

    But everyone who has ever run for office has been driven by ego. Your description of him as "an open-book, honor-driven brawler" probably just lays this drive bare more. And he is new, hence why I hope he's a fast learner.


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