This morning David Goldman sizes up the crisis in the Ukraine. Since his commentary proved to be exceptionally accurate on the crisis in Egypt, we take his views with the utmost seriousness.
Admittedly, improving on what foreign policy experts have been saying is not a great challenge, but, someone had to do it.
First, Goldman debunks their wishful thinking. He dismisses the idea that the recent rebellion against the elected president would put the Ukraine on the road to democracy.
For those who worry about Putin sending his army into the Ukraine, Goldman points out that the commanders of the Ukrainian army are… Russians.
When Ukraine imploded, our leaders–from Victoria Nuland at the State Department to the neo-conservatives–rather assumed that we would reverse Ukraine’s polarity to the West, and humiliate Russia with the loss of Crimea. Putin called our bluff, and we had no viable military options.
Putin doesn’t need to send the Red Army into Ukraine. Every Ukrainian officer above the rank of major came up through the ranks in the Red Army. Ukrainian commanders won’t fight the Russians. They are the Russians. Yesterday we watched Ukrainian paratroopers turn their armored vehicles over to Russian separatists. Maybe John McCain can send them more weapons to hand over to Moscow.
As always, Goldman offers us some much-needed perspective on the reality of the Ukraine:
Never mind that Ukraine is a basket case with a per capital income a tenth that of the European Community, whose best young people (along with some of its worst) have left the country, with a ruined economy and a declining population. Putin isn’t playing by the rules printed on the inside top cover of the board game. He’s another Hitler! Where is our Churchill? It’s a Monty Python remake of Dr. Strangelove. A few provocateurs holding a Russian flag pass out handbills demanding that Jews in Eastern Ukraine register with the authorities, and the whole of the media as well as the Obama administration hyperventilates, until the affair is exposed as a hoax.
According to Goldman, Putin will now sit back and watch the Ukraine fall apart, waiting for the opportunity to pick up whatever pieces he chooses:
The threat, as the great chess theorist Aron Nimzowitsch wrote, is mightier than the execution. Putin will let the West take ownership of the Ukrainian disaster until it festers, and then he will pick and choose what he wants. We will huff and puff and bloviate about Putin, the new Hitler, while Ukraine’s economy disintegrates. Bismarck’s aphorism applies: die ganze Ukraine ist nicht die gesunden knochen eines pommerschen Grenadiers wert.