Why Ukraine Matters
The gradual re-conquest of the old Soviet empire by a former officer of the Soviet Gestapo ought to worry us a lot. If Putin succeeds in making Ukraine a virtual vassal of Moscow, then all the other appendages of that empire – the Baltic States, the Warsaw Pact members, Belorussia, Transcaucasia, and the sprawling Muslim nations that were once part of the Soviet Union – will have begun, willing or not, to gravitate back to Great Russia.
The question is not ideology, as it seemed to be in the Cold War. Hillary actually came close to the truth in her speech on March 5. This is nationalism, augmented by the desire of a strongman, in control of an economically fraught nation, to make his people feel that foreign nations are the problem.
Ideology is not the problem. In fact, ideology was not the problem during the Cold War. No sane person thought so by 1968, when Moscow ended the rule of Czech Communism and the “Prague Spring” by asserting the right of Russia to intervene when other communists nations went astray. The Brezhnev Doctrine, which came out of the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia, represented the nationalistic hegemony of Russia in the whole of Eastern Europe.
What we are seeing in the creation of today's Putin Doctrine is the reassertion of the right of Great Russians to organize Eastern Europe as they think fit. In the decade after the First World War, the Bolshevik Regime in Moscow, which at first had disavowed any imperialist claims, reversed itself, and Lenin, who had proclaimed that “imperialism” was the last stage of capitalism, reabsorbed into the Great Russian Empire most those lands that caused people to call Tsarist Russia the “Prison House of Nations.”
In 1945, the erstwhile ally of Hitler, the Soviet Union, was able to make subject states of the rest of Eastern Europe. Throughout this period of Great Russian empire-building, the Ukraine held decisive importance as by far the largest nation outside Russia in the region, with a population greater than France's and agricultural and industrial power equal to a major power in Europe. When the Soviet Empire dissolved, the critical loss was Ukraine, without which the Russian Federation shrank to a size only half of the old Soviet Union.
Nationalism motivated by strongmen has proven the catalyst for great wars in Europe. Ominously, these wars have come when few saw war on the horizon. The absorption of the Ukraine back into the Empire of Great Russia ruled by Putin is the biggest single annexation of one nation by another since that last time Great Russia consumed Ukrainian independence over ninety years ago. If the Ukraine is truly gone, and Russia is suddenly fifty million greater, then it is hard to see what can stop more and more Great Russian pressure on the remaining and smaller parts of its own empires of tsar and Bolsheviks.
Western Europe is already being slowly poisoned by a sovereign debt crisis that seems certain to sink the government finances of nations like Spain and Italy. These same nations face a slow native birth rate, with the high immigration of Muslims and high birth rates among those Muslims in Western Europe. Add to that a dread of war and a dependence upon energy and trade with Russia, and the survival of those restraints upon Great Russian dreams of new empire that nations like Ukraine, Lithuania, and Poland have represented become even more vital to preserving peace.
The Obama Doctrine, assuming that there is such a thing, seems to be that America should be meek and apologetic throughout the world, except, perhaps, to slight our truest allies like Britain and Israel. America, our president appears to believe, is the author of all mischief in the world, which is a notion so perverse and profoundly silly that only a leftist could believe it.
Until now, the costs of Obama’s deconstruction of American influence in the world have been largely hidden from view. If Ukraine is forced to rejoin its Slavic overlord of Great Russia because our nation now has no power to stop this calamity, then the stakes will have increased dramatically in a world already snarling with serpents in Pyongyang and Tehran.
Ukraine matters. Ukraine as a free and independent nation insured that no world wars could begin in Europe. That check on madness, it seems, is now gone. The peace of Europe now rests with a man who grew to power in the bowels of the KGB, the most monstrous organization in the world. What can we do now? Not much.