Crimea is back in the news; the Russians have basically taken the place over again and the Ukrainians–along with their friends in the West–aren’t sure what to do. There’s a lot of bluster out there; comparisons to the Sudetenland and even the Rhineland abound, the Cold War is being reignited by the neocons, etc. Barack Obama is blindsided.
And yet…hasn’t this place driven the West nuts before? Let’s consider this, the second Collect for Good Friday from the 1662 Book of Common Prayer:
O MERCIFUL God, who hast made all men, and hatest nothing that thou hast made, nor wouldest the death of a sinner, but rather that he should be converted and live; Have mercy upon all Jews, Turks, Infidels, and Hereticks, and take from them all ignorance, hardness of heart, and contempt of thy Word; and so fetch them home, blessed Lord, to thy flock, that they may be saved among the remnant of the true Israelites, and be made one fold under one shepherd, Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end. Amen.
The Jews are back on Europe’s poop list these days, and Obama’s too. The only thing that’s changed about the West’s aversion to “infidels and heretics” is that they’re being redefined, and the people who were right yesterday are wrong today, and should be pursued with the same passion the Inquisition showed the heretics of their day.
But the Turk? Today the Turk, Islamicist running the show, is in NATO. Back before the American Civil War, when such a Collect wasn’t considered as politically incorrect as it is now, Europe’s Christian powers thought nothing of going to war with the Turk to prevent the Orthodox Russians from taking control. That war was a mess all around, including the famous, suicidal Charge of the Light Brigade, the stupidity of which was only match by the Confederates’ own Pickett’s Charge at Gettysburg a few years later.
Well, we’re back at madness again, where the Russians are excoriated for wanting to have a predominantly Russian region where the region’s best beaches are. It never occurs to our overpaid elites, however, that a more ethnically homogeneous Ukraine would be a more reliable ally then one as conflicted as it is now. (The problem here, of course, is that we’re not very reliable allies any more, as the Saudis and Israelis will tell you). But Europeans are afraid that, if you move one national border for ethnic reasons, you might have to move another, which would tear up many playhouses. The Americans, provincialised by their own experience, can barely contemplate moving a county line, let alone a national border. And the present borders of Ukraine, it should be noted, were merely the American equivalent of a state line before we all woke up one morning and found the Soviet Union gone.
I said a long time ago that I wouldn’t obsess about the Russians. I still wouldn’t.
Note about Yalta: this is another example of the Crimea driving the West crazy, in this case a very sick Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill, who agreed to Poland coming under Soviet control and the partition of Germany into the occupied zones. Some will be quick to note that the Soviets were given too much, and that’s true. The dissenting plan was that of George Patton, who thought that the two armies (American/British/French from the West, Soviet from the East) should move until they met wherever they did, which would have been to the east of the Yalta dividing line. Patton, informed by the experience of Napoleon and the Germans, never supported the idea of invading the Soviet Union, just to get the goalposts as far east in Europe as possible, something the Germans were trying to ease.