Obama vs. Putin - Ukraine a Modern Day Guan Du?

Discuss events that have an impact on you and the world today. A home for honest, serious, and open discussion.

Re: Obama vs. Putin - Ukraine a Modern Day Guan Du?

Unread postby WeiWenDi » Mon Sep 08, 2014 2:19 pm

Shikanosuke wrote:As I doubt this is a vague reference to the world, I think you simply mean James and I. I don't believe either one of us really been very (relative) aggressive in this particular thread. As for your latter statement, I disagree.


For the first part - fair enough.

For the second part - what are they? I'm curious, particularly about why one violent revolution (on the Maidan) gets a free pass, while another (in Donetsk and Lugansk) does not.

Shikanosuke wrote:Not being justification for subsequent events, not being 'not justified'. I typically am able to admit when I'm wrong, hypocritical, or applying a double-standard. But I'm also not going to agree that situations are identical either. How do I expect you to react? Not like we're out hunting communists and you're in the line of fire.


Here's the thing. I do not expect anyone to be responsible for a crime, besides the one who actually carries it out. In hostage situations, we don't blame negotiators for hostage deaths, we blame the hostage-takers, yes?

So when the Ukrainian 'army' is shelling mostly civilian targets, that same army is to blame for any related deaths. I don't blame the Ukrainian 'army' for fighting back against armed protesters, but it seems ludicrous to blame armed protesters for civilian deaths which they are not responsible for.

If we are to take your standard that all 'subsequent events' are the responsibility for those who picked up guns in the first place, that the civilian deaths ought to have been foreseen by the protesters in Donetsk and Lugansk, I can see no reason why we shouldn't apply that same standard even more broadly. All of these deaths can therefore be laid at the feet of the Maidan protesters, who ought to have understood that violent confrontation was inevitable when they stormed government buildings, shot and immolated police, and drove out Yanukovych. No?

It just struck me as incredibly weird that you were sort of passing the buck to a certain point and no further. And then the entire language of 'justification', applied in such a broad and unqualified manner, was kind of off-putting. Like I said, I'm not a pacifist - I can see that there are situations where violence can be justifiable; it was wrong of me to come at you with that much suspicion and assumption of antagonism, and I'm sorry about that. I still want to know where you think the line can be drawn, though.

Shikanosuke wrote:I can't speak for all of the West and I have little control over Western media. I don't think I've been ambivalent about calling out Nazis in the new Ukrainian government. I don't think I've been ambivalent about my concern over them. I don't think I've been ambivalent about not wanting to go to war over this. I also think since the discussion began I've even agreed I'd rather see Ukraine serve as a (united) buffer state, part of neither Russia nor NATO.

That said, I think one can be all these things and still have concerns over Russia's actions and intentions. I think one can have those concerns and not be considering Russia is about to blitzkrieg across Europe, that they're evil, or that we need immediate lethal action?


All of which is reasonable enough. I don't want to get into another scuffle over this, so I'm not going to go picking through your prior posts; I'll take your word for it that this is an accurate representation of your views.

But I simply don't share your view of the released NATO photographs as signifying a concerted aggressive action on the part of Russia's government. (I can well believe, however, that there are Russian citizens, veterans and even local government officials who are abetting the funnelling of arms and logistical support into the hands of the Novorussians. But I think Putin, even if he wants to do it, understands that direct involvement would easily blow up in his face.)
Some more blood, Chekov. The needle won't hurt, Chekov. Take off your shirt, Chekov. Roll over, Chekov. Breathe deeply, Chekov. Blood sample, Chekov! Marrow sample, Chekov! Skin sample, Chekov! If I live long enough... I'm going to run out of samples.
User avatar
WeiWenDi
Hedgehog Emperor
 
Posts: 3823
Joined: Mon Jan 28, 2008 12:09 am
Location: L'Étoile du Nord

Re: Obama vs. Putin - Ukraine a Modern Day Guan Du?

Unread postby Shikanosuke » Mon Sep 08, 2014 3:08 pm

WeiWenDi wrote:
For the first part - fair enough.

For the second part - what are they? I'm curious, particularly about why one violent revolution (on the Maidan) gets a free pass, while another (in Donetsk and Lugansk) does not.


We must be shooting past one another, or I've been lazy with my comments, I wasn't for the violent revolution which propped up this new Ukrainian government. I understood the citizens grievances with the corrupt regime, but I didn't think they needed a coup and was worried it would destabilize the region.

I guess what you're getting at is why is it that I'm ok with accepting the outcome of the former but not the outcome of the latter? I guess my answer to that question comes down to my understanding of the characterization of the participants. The situation in Kiev has settled, and it couldn't go back. The rebels in Ukraine, supported by Russia, is in dispute if its even a legitimate revolution or vote.

Also strangely, for some reason, I'm more comfortable with accepting a revolution in a country which replaces and old regime than a revolution which splits a country in half (especially when that half may or may not be absorbing back into an old federation). But this aside isn't too substantial.


Here's the thing. I do not expect anyone to be responsible for a crime, besides the one who actually carries it out. In hostage situations, we don't blame negotiators for hostage deaths, we blame the hostage-takers, yes?

So when the Ukrainian 'army' is shelling mostly civilian targets, that same army is to blame for any related deaths. I don't blame the Ukrainian 'army' for fighting back against armed protesters, but it seems ludicrous to blame armed protesters for civilian deaths which they are not responsible for.


Well , lets be more clear about this analogy. In the situation you described the Ukrainian 'army' would be the negotiators/police, the rebels would be the hostage-takers, and the civilians the hostages. When the police fire at the hostage-takers no one cares. What you're suggesting is the situation is that the police are either firing not at the hostage-takers but at the hostages, or that they're firing at the hostage-takers but with such disregard that its likely all will die.

In the latter situation, I think there is a two-fold blame. I blame the hostage-takers, as they prompted the situation and had they surrendered peacefully they would be arrested and the hostages would go free. Secondly, I would blame the police for a disproportionate and negligent response.

I think the situation you described in which the police are shooting purely at the hostages is somewhat in dispute, and it likely is a problem because you've noted the 'army' isn't exactly all of one mind or unit?

If we are to take your standard that all 'subsequent events' are the responsibility for those who picked up guns in the first place, that the civilian deaths ought to have been foreseen by the protesters in Donetsk and Lugansk, I can see no reason why we shouldn't apply that same standard even more broadly. All of these deaths can therefore be laid at the feet of the Maidan protesters, who ought to have understood that violent confrontation was inevitable when they stormed government buildings, shot and immolated police, and drove out Yanukovych. No?


Slightly, yes. Don't get me wrong, some of their grievances were legitimate. And they should have been able to peacefully protest and expect not to be brutalized by a security force supposedly there to protect them. However, when they began their violent protest they took on some of the blame to what would come next. They knew they were playing with fire. That said, the security forces in said situation share the majority of the blame. They have a duty to execute and only so much leniency should be given.

It just struck me as incredibly weird that you were sort of passing the buck to a certain point and no further. And then the entire language of 'justification', applied in such a broad and unqualified manner, was kind of off-putting. Like I said, I'm not a pacifist - I can see that there are situations where violence can be justifiable; it was wrong of me to come at you with that much suspicion and assumption of antagonism, and I'm sorry about that. I still want to know where you think the line can be drawn, though.


That is quite fair. I suppose I'm still drawing it. I'm sorry for the salvos of sarcasm on my part. I know you're very passionate about Russian-related things. I don't know if my above paragraphs helped elucidate at all where I thought the line should be drawn. If not let me know and we can hash it out.


All of which is reasonable enough. I don't want to get into another scuffle over this, so I'm not going to go picking through your prior posts; I'll take your word for it that this is an accurate representation of your views.

But I simply don't share your view of the released NATO photographs as signifying a concerted aggressive action on the part of Russia's government. (I can well believe, however, that there are Russian citizens, veterans and even local government officials who are abetting the funnelling of arms and logistical support into the hands of the Novorussians. But I think Putin, even if he wants to do it, understands that direct involvement would easily blow up in his face.)


That is fine. I am curious though what you think they do signify and what kind of blame (if any) we should therefore assign. What do you think Putin's long-term plan is, or do you think he has one?
User avatar
Shikanosuke
Scholar of Shen Zhou
 
Posts: 4308
Joined: Thu Nov 09, 2006 2:22 am
Location: US

Re: Obama vs. Putin - Ukraine a Modern Day Guan Du?

Unread postby WeiWenDi » Tue Sep 09, 2014 12:18 am

Shikanosuke wrote:We must be shooting past one another, or I've been lazy with my comments, I wasn't for the violent revolution which propped up this new Ukrainian government. I understood the citizens grievances with the corrupt regime, but I didn't think they needed a coup and was worried it would destabilize the region.

I guess what you're getting at is why is it that I'm ok with accepting the outcome of the former but not the outcome of the latter? I guess my answer to that question comes down to my understanding of the characterization of the participants. The situation in Kiev has settled, and it couldn't go back. The rebels in Ukraine, supported by Russia, is in dispute if its even a legitimate revolution or vote.

Also strangely, for some reason, I'm more comfortable with accepting a revolution in a country which replaces and old regime than a revolution which splits a country in half (especially when that half may or may not be absorbing back into an old federation). But this aside isn't too substantial.


Well, add to that that the Novorussian rebels aren't themselves entirely clear about what it is they want, whether it be federalism within Ukraine, home rule, independence or Russian repatriation. At this point they are a fairly broad coalition of armed groups aligned against the regnant Ukrainian government. That might also account for some of the uncertainty regarding that last point you made.

Shikanosuke wrote:Well , lets be more clear about this analogy. In the situation you described the Ukrainian 'army' would be the negotiators/police, the rebels would be the hostage-takers, and the civilians the hostages. When the police fire at the hostage-takers no one cares. What you're suggesting is the situation is that the police are either firing not at the hostage-takers but at the hostages, or that they're firing at the hostage-takers but with such disregard that its likely all will die.

In the latter situation, I think there is a two-fold blame. I blame the hostage-takers, as they prompted the situation and had they surrendered peacefully they would be arrested and the hostages would go free. Secondly, I would blame the police for a disproportionate and negligent response.


To be honest, I was just looking for an example to illustrate, not drawing a one-to-one analogy with the Ukrainian situation. My point was simply that we blame the people with agency in the situation, the people who have control over what and why they shoot. In the above case, the people with agency are not the hostages, and not even the negotiators (unless they shoot the hostages themselves).

And I don't think drawing the one-to-one analogy quite works. The rebels aren't menacing the local populace from which they came, and aren't threatening the Ukrainian 'army' with executing civilians unless the current Ukrainian 'government' meets their demands. They're quite honestly behaving like your standard-issue guerrilla force, up to and including the questionable tactics and summary decisions regarding the press and international observers.

Shikanosuke wrote:I think the situation you described in which the police are shooting purely at the hostages is somewhat in dispute, and it likely is a problem because you've noted the 'army' isn't exactly all of one mind or unit?


Well, again, according to the UN reports there have been over 2100 civilian deaths from army actions in Novorossiya, and a little over 400 militant deaths. There are three broad explanations (with any mixture of the three between them): the Ukrainian 'army' have been training at the Imperial Academy of Marksmanship; the Ukrainian 'army' are having a difficult time telling civilians from militants (a likely possibility in an area where, as noted, the fighters blend in with the population and most of the people speak with similar accents); or they are targeting civilians deliberately.

Shikanosuke wrote:Slightly, yes. Don't get me wrong, some of their grievances were legitimate. And they should have been able to peacefully protest and expect not to be brutalized by a security force supposedly there to protect them. However, when they began their violent protest they took on some of the blame to what would come next. They knew they were playing with fire. That said, the security forces in said situation share the majority of the blame. They have a duty to execute and only so much leniency should be given.


I can sympathise with the SBU in part, not really knowing which way to jump. The ones who sided with the new Ukrainian coup ended up escalating the situation; others of them defected to join the protesters. After all, do you think that protesters could have taken those buildings without outside help? Even the ones who responded with violence are, I think, excusable in a situation like that. (I'm thinking a situation like the Boston Massacre.)

And that's been a big danger with the army ever since - there have been a lot of desertions and a lot of defections to the Novorussian cause. Honestly, yeah, even though the SBU were likely responsible for the protests turning violent in the first place, I think the civilian 'government' could have resolved the crisis with negotiation over the language issues, instead of making things worse by throwing ultimatums down and sending in the troops.

Shikanosuke wrote:That is quite fair. I suppose I'm still drawing it. I'm sorry for the salvos of sarcasm on my part. I know you're very passionate about Russian-related things. I don't know if my above paragraphs helped elucidate at all where I thought the line should be drawn. If not let me know and we can hash it out.


You've done a good job of that, actually. And again, I'm sorry to both you and James - I've come off as overly accusatory, and I really ought to know way, way better than that by now.

I'm still not entirely sure about your distinction between 'breakaway' revolutions and coups; after all, the American revolution was not aimed at regime change in Westminster. But you did say that that distinction might not turn out to be important. I guess the question then would be (and I think you already have answered this mostly) - if the Novorussians can force a settlement with the Ukrainian government similar to the Nagorno-Karabakh settlement in Azerbaijan, would you accept the new status quo as a legitimate one? Would it matter which side got to 'take credit', in other words?

Shikanosuke wrote:That is fine. I am curious though what you think they do signify and what kind of blame (if any) we should therefore assign. What do you think Putin's long-term plan is, or do you think he has one?


Well, I don't claim to be a mind-reader. Quite honestly, I don't know what Putin's thinking is.

But from his actions to this point, I think his primary long-term goal is to keep Russia internally stable and to prevent any further expansions of NATO into Eastern Europe and Central Asia. His having taken Crimea and thus joined Sevastopol territorially to the rest of Russia was therefore understandable from a realist, if not from a moralistic perspective.

Regarding the Ukraine, I think Putin is still angling again for the pliant buffer state. If he's ever going to achieve that, he would have to be an idiot of the most immense proportions to authorise an all-out invasion (by active troops) of the Ukraine as it stands. That, more than anything else, would turn the Ukrainian people against Russia forever; and that's largely why I've called shenanigans on the NATO photos. Strategically they don't square with any kind of long game Putin might be playing at, and the timing (as mentioned in the article I linked) is suspicious.
Some more blood, Chekov. The needle won't hurt, Chekov. Take off your shirt, Chekov. Roll over, Chekov. Breathe deeply, Chekov. Blood sample, Chekov! Marrow sample, Chekov! Skin sample, Chekov! If I live long enough... I'm going to run out of samples.
User avatar
WeiWenDi
Hedgehog Emperor
 
Posts: 3823
Joined: Mon Jan 28, 2008 12:09 am
Location: L'Étoile du Nord

Re: Obama vs. Putin - Ukraine a Modern Day Guan Du?

Unread postby bodidley » Sun Oct 19, 2014 8:33 pm

James wrote:
bodidley wrote:Nor would the United States military suffer any sort of casualties such as this.* A great deal has changed since World War II and the United States' spending on war toys has been and continues to be truly staggering relative to the rest of the world.


James, I'm intimately familiar with the equipment, budget, and culture of the United States military, I was a soldier for more than five years and I've been a student of military history and military science for 20 years. Your perceptions are based around the political debate over spending. More than 70% of the Army's budget, for example, goes directly to personnel. The massive research budget on conventional and experimental arms has also failed to produce a single breakthrough weapons system in more than 20 years.

We actually spend very little on new hardware. Pilots frequently fly aircraft older than they are. When I was a paratrooper both the model of aircraft I jumped from, and the model of parachute I used were from the the 1950s. Our fleet of tanks has shrank, and there are few soldiers with any training for tank-on-tank combat at all. The Air Force is not capable of gaining air-dominance over Russia either. And like I said before, we only have 70,000 infantry in our armed forces. The United States used to have structural and doctrinal advantages over Russia, but those have largely disappeared since the Russian military reorganized in 2009. While our active duty forces are roughly similar sizes, the U.S. have a very large navy and Russia has a much larger reserve force, in addition to a conscription law and a much larger pool of fighting-age civilians with past military experience. The United States does not stand a chance in a full-scale conventional conflict with Russia, which is why military action should not even be considered an option. I stand by my opinion that the casualties produced in such a conflict could fundamentally change the political landscape. We have a culture that idealizes democracy as the perfect system, but if we look at the actually history of democracy in the world, it's a very fragile system and prone to factionalism.
"We can't mortgage our childrens' future on a mountain of debt," - Barack Obama
bodidley
Scholar of Shen Zhou
 
Posts: 1017
Joined: Fri Apr 08, 2005 2:33 am
Location: I'm an everywhere man

Re: Obama vs. Putin - Ukraine a Modern Day Guan Du?

Unread postby WeiWenDi » Sat Dec 20, 2014 10:18 am

Investigative journalist Anatoly Sharij interviews a former Ukrainian soldier, who claims that a.) BUK 312 was under the control of the Ukrainian Army at the time MH 17 went down (and he had been a member of the operating unit); and b.) that BUK 312 did not shoot down MH 17. Also, since the story went public, according to OpEdNews contributor Michael Collins, the Ukrainian government has retracted the 'damning' picture of BUK 312, and Anatoly Sharij has been forced by the Ukrainian authorities to flee the country.

This is being reported by some alt news outlets basically as Ukraine confessing to having shot down the plane itself. It is true that the Ukrainian government has been caught in a lie here. A fairly big lie at that. And its subsequent behaviour, throwing its own press releases down the memory hole and going after journalists, is incredibly suspicious. That the Ukrainian government is responsible for shooting down MH 17 might turn out to be the reason why, but we should probably still reserve judgement there.

Still, to quote Alice in Wonderland: curiouser and curiouser. Here's still hoping for a real, impartial investigation, however remote that hope might be right now.
Some more blood, Chekov. The needle won't hurt, Chekov. Take off your shirt, Chekov. Roll over, Chekov. Breathe deeply, Chekov. Blood sample, Chekov! Marrow sample, Chekov! Skin sample, Chekov! If I live long enough... I'm going to run out of samples.
User avatar
WeiWenDi
Hedgehog Emperor
 
Posts: 3823
Joined: Mon Jan 28, 2008 12:09 am
Location: L'Étoile du Nord

Re: Obama vs. Putin - Ukraine a Modern Day Guan Du?

Unread postby James » Mon Dec 22, 2014 8:09 pm

I'm going to hazard a reply to this, coming across it now months later.

Not really to foster ongoing debate, but maybe to draw it to some closure.

WeiWenDi wrote:It is wrong and it is intellectually dishonest of you to say this. You of all people ought to know better than to engage in this kind of lazy ethical subjectivism. If it was really the case that 'what worked for one person... was not right for another', and that the pros and cons could not be measured against each other, there would be no basis for making any sort of public policy at all, or indeed even engaging in this debate. This struck me on first read as an attempt to avoid any substantive debate altogether.

Your instinct that it may have been 'an attempt to avoid any substantive debate' is not entirely wrong. We have had numerous substantive discussions on Ukraine and Russia and by this point I was probably aiming to avoid going too deep down 'the rabbit hole' because by my estimation it was taking us in a destructive direction. What Shik observed later is the case—this is a subject which you quickly became extremely upset over (if only simply because it means so much to you; at least that's my impression). And I should have stuck with those initial instincts as later I demonstrated, rather nicely in my estimation, that I can make those destructive contributions myself (referencing our discussion elsewhere).

My larger point was simply that the Ukrainians do have their own strong interests in seeing which way the government turns. Both pro-Russia and pro-West (or whatever we want to label that) come with benefits and consequences and those benefits and consequences impact people of Ukraine in different, truly profound ways. I really dislike arguments which try to shove them out of the picture and paint them as patsies of Russia/the West/Neo-Nazies/whatever. And similarly, to remove any legitimate role and interests of Ukrainians from Euromaidan.

WeiWenDi wrote:IA lot of the 'information' Wikipedia cites is, at this point, speculation. I happen to agree that a fair investigation will be needed, and that we should await the results before pronouncing judgement. I made no judgement, and indeed acknowledged that the pro-Russian militias might indeed turn out to be guilty. But if you really don't find the Ukrainian government's unsourced statements and actions at least somewhat suspicious, or see the potential conflicts of interest in a Dutch investigation, I submit to you that, for all your attempts to appear even-handed, you're projecting your own bias onto me.

That was kind of my issue back when we had this discussion. I viewed information from both Ukraine and Russia with a great deal of skepticism. Indeed, today I view information presented by that person in the article you just shared with skepticism. I just haven't been able to build a story I can personally believe in because the solid basic in verifiable fact is missing from what has been shared. Which may well mean that associated governments and parties—Ukraine, Russia, Western governments, whatever—have been successful in kicking up dust and suppressing details.

I have my personal suspicions, sure, but when they're just suspicions it's hard to have a substantive discussion with someone. And all the more so when that person wants a hardline position to debate.

WeiWenDi wrote:They don't.

Oh, maybe some individuals do care. But the networks as a whole care about two things: profit, and keeping their privileges with various parts of the Washington establishment. And I guarantee you that the American political class doesn't give a rat's hindquarters about those 300 people.

I don't know if you still believe this, but you're wrong. President Obama is still a human, and I would be astonished if he were somehow separated from any care for those 300 lives. If anything personal impression shared of the man has been far from that of a drone politician (something I frequently have to remind myself when I'm upset over choices he's made). Same applies to plenty of politicians who make US law. Same for many of those newscasters—especially the people building the news according to a structure dictated from above. Sure, there are no doubt people involved who *don't* care, and in the level of media and politics more people of that sort than in the general population, but it feels wrong to summarize them as a whole based on the very real shortcomings of their respective systems.

WeiWenDi wrote:Who's misrepresenting who, here? I have been urging against leaping to conclusions about MH17 all along, and when and because I did so, you accused me then of spreading Russian propaganda. And now you're trying to throw that same argument back in my face, as though I haven't been using that exact argument all along! It doesn't matter whether you do it on FB or here; do you have any idea how condescending, sanctimonious, and just downright disrespectful that sounds?

That's not really how I remember it. I do know the result you suggest was never my intention.

WeiWenDi wrote:Because they are part of the context in which Russia is making these decisions, maybe? Well, if you're just bent on blaming Russia regardless of the circumstances, I guess you don't need to care.

My position is simply that those circumstances, on either side of the coin, would never have justified the deliberate physical intervention in Ukraine. I would hold the same position if the US had been the aggressor. Or another European country.

WeiWenDi wrote:Again, to recap, you're fine with accepting nuanced arguments when it comes to evaluating American justifications for perpetrating death and destruction on Iraq.

But you're not fine with accepting nuanced arguments when it comes to evaluating Russian justifications for not perpetrating death and destruction on Crimea.

This was a misunderstanding. I don't feel differently on the subject of Iraq...

WeiWenDi wrote:Which just goes to show you haven't been paying attention to what we've been doing all along. The destabilisation in Ukraine is our fault, not Putin's. As a matter of objective historical fact. Mearsheimer's version, being realist, is largely the correct version. This government is precisely the result of our interference, and I personally don't feel under any obligation to accept it as legitimate - nor, obviously, does Russia.

The United States—elements of the West—and Russia: there's blame to go around for all in terms of destabilizing Ukraine. It begins surely enough with economic meddling and current financial infusion from the United States and physical destabilization from Russia (Ukraine and ongoing) all plays a role. Heck, there's blame enough to go around in that a scenario was born in the first place where Ukraine faced significant pros and cons in picking a side.

WeiWenDi wrote:Great. Good that you know how to make unsupported claims from news sources you don't follow, as well as government mouthpieces which have every reason to lie. That's a skill I never learned how to master.

But the thick Russian accents, oh, damn. There's a dead giveaway somebody's up to no good right there. Every time. So says Hollywood; it must be true! [...]

Just going to chalk much of this exchange up to the hostility that existed in discussion at that time. I was referencing a far greater pool of information than 'he had a Russian accent' and not sure what I could really contribute in a discussion after someone dismissed the entirety of Western media including NPR and BBC from discussion.

WeiWenDi wrote:So I don't know who you think you're disagreeing with. Personally, I have no doubt that Russian equipment and people are crossing the border to fight in Ukraine. Probably a significant number of those have family and friends on the other side, who are being attacked by the army. But I haven't seen any proof of Putin's direct involvement from anything more reputable than a celebrity-chasing tabloid. Certainly a politically-significant contingent of Russians want Putin to be more involved, not less.

Not sure it's even healthy to reply here, but Putin would have a say in military equipment crossing the border. I think we covered this ground as much as we should in previous discussion, though.
Kongming’s Archives – Romance of the Three Kingdoms Novel, History and Games
“ They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”
  — Ben Franklin
User avatar
James
Sausaged Fish
Sausaged Fish
 
Posts: 17943
Joined: Fri Jun 14, 2002 3:21 pm
Location: Happy Valley, UT

Re: Obama vs. Putin - Ukraine a Modern Day Guan Du?

Unread postby WeiWenDi » Wed Dec 24, 2014 4:14 pm

James wrote:What Shik observed later is the case—this is a subject which you quickly became extremely upset over (if only simply because it means so much to you; at least that's my impression).


My sincere apologies for the acrimony of my tone earlier. But yes, I do take this subject seriously and have very strong feelings about it. For several reasons, which I hope I have been fairly open about.

a.) I'm an Orthodox Christian, and I was both introduced to the faith and inducted into it by Russians of the Moscow Patriarchate. I care deeply about what happens to my church and what happens to my brothers and sisters in the Ukraine.

b.) I've been following Ukrainian politics since 2009, when I was in Kazakhstan. I was every bit as worried then as now about the rise of the ultra-nationalist right there, just as I'm more generally worried about it in the rest of Eastern Europe. These countries have not had their Willy Brandt moments; the former Nazi collaborators have not been adequately confronted with the magnitude of their crimes, nor have they repented. This puts the far right in these countries in a very different position than they occupy in the rest of Europe, and it strikes me as incredibly dangerous.

c.) I have grad school classmates with close friends and family in the contested region. Basically their attitudes are the same ones that are recounted here in this Los Angeles Times article. They find themselves passport-bearers of a nation which has no care whether they live or die, as long as the government in Kiev controls the territory they live on.

James wrote:I really dislike arguments which try to shove them out of the picture and paint them as patsies of Russia/the West/Neo-Nazies/whatever. And similarly, to remove any legitimate role and interests of Ukrainians from Euromaidan.


Did you extend the same consideration to the people living in the contested regions in the east? Or don't they count? Again, it seems, we're back to this territory. The views of pro-Westerners (Euromaidan) are sacrosanct in your view, and their motivations not open to debate; the views of pro-Russians are notably excluded altogether.

I don't disagree that Western Ukrainians had, or thought they had, good reasons to want to join the EU and NATO. But I also don't believe either course was ultimately good for the country, as subsequent events seem to have borne out.

James wrote:I viewed information from both Ukraine and Russia with a great deal of skepticism. Indeed, today I view information presented by that person in the article you just shared with skepticism. I just haven't been able to build a story I can personally believe in because the solid basic in verifiable fact is missing from what has been shared.


George Friedman is Hungarian, Stratfor is American. I don't know whether Anatoly Sharij is Ukrainian or Russian, but the fact that he was forced into hiding by the Ukrainian government over an interview with a Ukrainian soldier says something. (If it were a story fabricated whole cloth, I highly doubt that their reaction to it would have been so extreme and Gestapo-esque; instead they would have broken out the spin machine and tried to explain it away.)

James wrote:I don't know if you still believe this, but you're wrong. President Obama is still a human, and I would be astonished if he were somehow separated from any care for those 300 lives. If anything personal impression shared of the man has been far from that of a drone politician (something I frequently have to remind myself when I'm upset over choices he's made).


It wasn't Obama personally I was referring to there, I don't think. There's a tendency to overpersonalise American politics in the person of the President, and even though he's a member of the political class, you may indeed be right that he is one that still retains some humane sensibilities.
Some more blood, Chekov. The needle won't hurt, Chekov. Take off your shirt, Chekov. Roll over, Chekov. Breathe deeply, Chekov. Blood sample, Chekov! Marrow sample, Chekov! Skin sample, Chekov! If I live long enough... I'm going to run out of samples.
User avatar
WeiWenDi
Hedgehog Emperor
 
Posts: 3823
Joined: Mon Jan 28, 2008 12:09 am
Location: L'Étoile du Nord

Re: Obama vs. Putin - Ukraine a Modern Day Guan Du?

Unread postby James » Mon Dec 29, 2014 9:30 pm

WeiWenDi wrote:a.) I'm an Orthodox Christian, and I was both introduced to the faith and inducted into it by Russians of the Moscow Patriarchate. I care deeply about what happens to my church and what happens to my brothers and sisters in the Ukraine.

b.) I've been following Ukrainian politics since 2009, when I was in Kazakhstan. I was every bit as worried then as now about the rise of the ultra-nationalist right there, just as I'm more generally worried about it in the rest of Eastern Europe. These countries have not had their Willy Brandt moments; the former Nazi collaborators have not been adequately confronted with the magnitude of their crimes, nor have they repented. This puts the far right in these countries in a very different position than they occupy in the rest of Europe, and it strikes me as incredibly dangerous.

c.) I have grad school classmates with close friends and family in the contested region. Basically their attitudes are the same ones that are recounted here in this Los Angeles Times article. They find themselves passport-bearers of a nation which has no care whether they live or die, as long as the government in Kiev controls the territory they live on.

I knew you cared, but I don't think you ever really elaborated on the particular reasoning. I never asked, though, because all that really mattered is that you care.

I hope I've been clear enough over previous conversation that my concern has been the role of international neighbors. I recognize and am sympathetic to the concerns of Ukraine citizens, whether pro-West or pro-Russia, or to the extent they are individual concerned and impacted by their leaders, their leaders' corruptions, and their leaders' affiliations.

WeiWenDi wrote:Did you extend the same consideration to the people living in the contested regions in the east? Or don't they count? Again, it seems, we're back to this territory. The views of pro-Westerners (Euromaidan) are sacrosanct in your view, and their motivations not open to debate; the views of pro-Russians are notably excluded altogether.

I don't disagree that Western Ukrainians had, or thought they had, good reasons to want to join the EU and NATO. But I also don't believe either course was ultimately good for the country, as subsequent events seem to have borne out.

Actually, yes, I am sympathetic to the concerns of those largely in the east; really, the significant portion of the population who is now served far less well under the new leadership than they were the old. If my memory serves, which it sometimes doesn't, I thought I had outlined as much in our earlier conversations.

I also find it sad that so many have been pressed into a scenario where pro-West and pro-Russia is so prominent a choice to make in their lives and identify that problem as a product of Western and Russian meddling in their government (although I recognize it would be naïve to believe that such a thing wouldn't take place). Mostly what upsets me is that the situation is becoming worse rather than diffusing. And sure, it matters now whether a person is pro-Russia or wishes to join the EU/NATO because now the consequences are more material to the country. I see that as a necessary product of that international intervention.

WeiWenDi wrote:George Friedman is Hungarian, Stratfor is American. I don't know whether Anatoly Sharij is Ukrainian or Russian, but the fact that he was forced into hiding by the Ukrainian government over an interview with a Ukrainian soldier says something. (If it were a story fabricated whole cloth, I highly doubt that their reaction to it would have been so extreme and Gestapo-esque; instead they would have broken out the spin machine and tried to explain it away.)

I don't disagree here. If anything, the difference lies in how we individually challenge new information based on information we're sympathetic to and information we've accumulated. I think the story is material and its contents need to be weighed against what can or cannot be verified, what is or is not likely to be true, and if anything kept in mind for verification against future information. In this case, it's specific individuals and their word so it leaves open plenty of possibility for truth or fabrication. I would apply the same criteria if the story were reversed. I also recognize that regardless of the direction of either side's leadership, human nature makes it quite possible for individuals or small groups to create circumstances that leadership or groups would not appreciate, and it contributes to the level of skepticism I apply to the word of individuals.

I'm not sure if that really makes sense. I hope it does? All I can do is think critically about what I read and weigh it against everything else I read, while trusting most what I feel I can trust most. For example, what an on-the-ground reporter for NPR might say, or to weigh with additional skepticism what might come from government leaders, government media, etc. For example, I don't expect the current Ukranian leadership or Putin to be honest and would want to see their claims substantiated by additional sources which I feel I can trust more lest they be dismissed as propaganda.

I'll be the first to admit there's a whole lot of room for error in this. But what can you do? Short of going in person and seeing with your own eyes, this is the avenue open to those of us who care about what is happening in other countries and attempt to research and understand those events through published information.

WeiWenDi wrote:It wasn't Obama personally I was referring to there, I don't think. There's a tendency to overpersonalise American politics in the person of the President, and even though he's a member of the political class, you may indeed be right that he is one that still retains some humane sensibilities.

If that was your position, I understand. I'm likely prone to misreading such colloquial references to President Obama as it has become so common in the United States for people to make those references in a misinformed and literal manner.
Kongming’s Archives – Romance of the Three Kingdoms Novel, History and Games
“ They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”
  — Ben Franklin
User avatar
James
Sausaged Fish
Sausaged Fish
 
Posts: 17943
Joined: Fri Jun 14, 2002 3:21 pm
Location: Happy Valley, UT

Re: Obama vs. Putin - Ukraine a Modern Day Guan Du?

Unread postby WeiWenDi » Fri Feb 06, 2015 2:35 pm

Daniel Larison's analysis on why arming Ukraine remains as bad an idea as it ever was is very much worth reading. Both from a humanitarian view and from a realist view, it's a horrific idea.

That likely won't stop Congressional Republicans from voting for it, or Obama from approving it, though. God help us all.
Some more blood, Chekov. The needle won't hurt, Chekov. Take off your shirt, Chekov. Roll over, Chekov. Breathe deeply, Chekov. Blood sample, Chekov! Marrow sample, Chekov! Skin sample, Chekov! If I live long enough... I'm going to run out of samples.
User avatar
WeiWenDi
Hedgehog Emperor
 
Posts: 3823
Joined: Mon Jan 28, 2008 12:09 am
Location: L'Étoile du Nord

Re: Obama vs. Putin - Ukraine a Modern Day Guan Du?

Unread postby Dong Zhou » Sat Feb 14, 2015 6:21 pm

I don't want this to turn into a Putin vs West discussion but something I'm curious about.

A few here in England are starting to talk of Putin eyeing Greece as a sphere of influence if EU messes up. Now leaving aside that is probably paranoia, I'm wondering why Russia would see it as a sphere of influence. If I was war-gaming, Greece is great for poking at the EU and trying to weaken it and so on but if Putin's idea as some claim is the areas Russia has a cultural link to, has history with, does Russia have much of that in Greece? Am I missing something culturally?
“You, are a rebellious son who abandoned his father. You are a cruel brigand who murdered his lord. How can Heaven and Earth put up with you for long? And unless you die soon, how can you face the sight of men?”
User avatar
Dong Zhou
A-Dou
A-Dou
 
Posts: 14797
Joined: Sun Apr 10, 2005 12:32 pm
Location: "Now we must die. May Your Majesty maintain yourself"

PreviousNext

Return to Current Affairs

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests

Copyright © 2002–2008 Kongming’s Archives. All Rights Reserved