Category Archives: Russia's East

Crimea and the Moment

I certainly think many people are doing the right thing to act early in trying to define the limits of Russian authority over Ukraine as being something that cannot be total. Little is ever gained by mere capitulation or hoping problems will go away.  Many commentators  make some good points about the Syrian crisis and by analogy and inference about other places in the world where Russia can play a role different than almost any other country. I commented on a post by prominent Labor party figure Clive Lord Soley as regards some of those comments he shaped and passed on in The Lords of the Blog. Russia is a striking alternative to the West both because of its view of itself as an alternative to Europe and the USA and also as a society which nonetheless has a history of Christianity, a large white population, huge shared literary and artistic conventions  with the West. There are also not only ties to nearby regimes but the recent memory of leading world Communism with only China coming anywhere close to being a competitor.

I am inclined to want very much to help Western Ukraine to a secure future and see their sense of the need to act. But I would not try to dislodge Russia from the Crimea. I am perhaps more of this view than many in Europe given the relatively recent past Britain joined the Turks in fighting the Crimean War against Russia as I recall. That surely shapes one’s point of view. The Germans followed a man committed to building a new order on a destroyed Russian state more recently still. Hitler mapped that out in Mein Kampf. Whether Napoleon, Hitler or the Turks Crimea is a key to beating down Russia. The time may come when I will wish we had beaten down Russia starting with the Crimea but that is not how I feel just now. Russia plays a key role in geopolitics. No ready substitutes are available and Russia is one of several great super societies.

If the US enter armed conflict with Russia I will mostly try to support my country and remember Russia’s many iniquities while behind the scenes perhaps expressing some other points of view. However, I do not think seizing the Crimea is the right reason to be drawn into conflict with Russia I do not even think it seems all that assertive to everyone. Most people feel the need to defend Ukrainian self determination, in some way — I do as well, and perhaps more than most. Many informed people feel the need to try to support the cultural rights and decent aspirations of Western Ukrainians in the next generation– I do probably pass the average person in desire to do that as well. But if Russia really and truly has no right to hold the Crimea in a friendly position then the world is unrecognizably bizarre.

I am aware that much of human history and current geopolitics seems different from different points of view. But to say Russia must commit suicide is to declare the end of this era in a very real way. In my personal life I have not hidden in the shadows but I do believe there is so much that needs resolving and doing besides war. This blog of mine is full of other priorities which I support and uphold. My life is full of distractions. I suffer from threats to life in my own health and have a friend in the hospital with a cerebral hemorrhage and the grandfather of two of my nieces and one nephew has just died of heart disease today.  My own schedule and the tourist economy of the region are  disrupted by unseasonable ice storms.

Bleak in Acadiana

Bleak in Acadiana

 

trees wrapped in ice in the afternoon in March near Acadiana's coast

trees wrapped in ice in the afternoon in March near Acadiana’s coast

I want to support those who would broker a better deal for Western Ukraine above all. However I also have a full set of distractions to keep me from Russia’s periphery. That is the nature of spheres of influence.

Our ritual foods of Mardi Gras are on my mind more than Borscht

Our ritual foods of Mardi Gras are on my mind more than Borscht

The world has many problems and Crimea is more important to Russia than it is to anyone else except possibly Ukraine. Really losing Crimea mean Russia must fight a major war sooner than later. We may squeeze them out peacefully and humiliate them and in the end it may lead to a post Russian civilization but somewhere before they check out they will fight a big war. A Russian dominated Crimea is essential to peace. I do not believe in peace at any cost. I do not think Russia and the US are pals. I do not believe I am a coward. But Russia has to control or be the largest and accepted foreign influence in Crimea for their to be peace, of that there is no doubt in my mind. So as I sit here trying to manage many other concerns and even to survive myself in the less than perfect health I enjoy I hope for peace in the Crimea.

Of course I live in intolerable situations and perhaps Russia can as well. But it would be intolerable for them to lose Crimea. What will they do if they concede this loss?

It is Mardi Gras. Tomorrow Lent begins and today is the day to celebrate the end of Carnival season

We have no way of knowing whether or not when asked about Russian troops in Ukraine Putin told Western diplomats “Crimea river”, Cry me a river” or none of the above. The Germans took the Crimea from Russia, so did the joint forces of the British, Turkish and French. Could the US do so? Certainly it is possible. with the support of the European Union and others but there is no doubt that those campaigns were fought over a very long time and at a high level of intensity. It is also arguable whether other powers had really achieved a peaceful status in which Russia was not in the end the dominant world power in the Crimea. I hope there will be a good resolution here.

Real Politics, the Politics of Reality and Me

It is an interesting time for politics for those who have time and energy to keep up their interest in politics. This may include me sometimes more than others. What could be more compelling than watching the news and expatiating on is implications? Well quite a few things in point of fact. For me just now my father’s cancer has me well distracted from the problems with Obamacare, same sex marriage, the Afghanistan situation, the low rates of labor force participation in the United States, the ongoing BP leak situation, the nightmare of water management in the country, the escalating tensions with Russia (related to Ukraine, Snowden, Syria, the EU, East Asia and other matters), the North Korean missile tests, the downsizing of the U. S. Army and the vast unrest joined to isolated misanthropy which is gripping our country. Yes it is a good time for political speculation but it is not the only thing worth thinking about. In fact it is true that most Americans have little connection to many of these political issues.

My father has received results of a biopsy from an area where he had a previous cancer that there is cancer, that cancer has recurred or that it is present. I am sure Mom will post some news eventually. This afternoon he will meet with an oncologist and Mom will be with him.My father has had at least two full-fledged cancer surgeries and some treatments for each. My grandfather Chief Justice Frank W. Summers, his father died of cancer as did one of his two brothers and the other might well have done so had he not succumbed to other maladies of the same organs in which some have said cancer was starting. Many of our relatives and some of his siblings have had cancer.

My father has been blessed in the years since his first cancer to see his mission company and legacy grow and he is still deeply devoted to following the progress of both. He and my mother have celebrated their fiftieth wedding anniversary. His mother was born in a hospital and he was close to his grandfather who was a physician. I have often heard him express gratitude for the medical and allied treatments and care he has received. For him there is no doubt that his work and family life have been extended by the efforts of his professional care community.

I hope that all will remember him in thoughts and prayers and if you see him or my mother will offer such sympathy and encouragement as you can find to offer. I went with my father to New Orleans several times when he was first sick with prostate cancer and since then my direct involvement has diminished over time. My father has also recently been diagnosed with a different health condition which may complicate all of this. He and Mom may choose to disclose more about all this at different times but those who know me know of his health struggles to some degree and it would not be right for me not mention it and pretend this is in any way my life. Nor is it a secret that he has struggled for a good number of years in the cancer arena with remissions etc. I am attaching a post I put on my blog when he went for the biopsy. The picture doesn’t frame well on FB but is better at the other site.

https://franksummers3ba.com/2014/02/21/the-future-of-this-blog/

But although I am not holding a placard nor able to do what I might think fitting the problems with Obamacare but I am aware of the crises people are experiencing. All of the social, constitutional and political issues raised by  same sex marriage and the trigger happy federal courts in this country  are on my mind  — at leas most of the issues are on my mind. I am well aware of all the many blows to morale which are accumulating so that the next 9/11 attack would have vastly more impact on the USA. I am aware of all the obstacles to readiness and  recruiting in a crisis which are accumulating. It is in that context that I view the sense of surrender that can frame the evolving  Afghanistan situation. I am deeply aware of the dangerously the low rates of labor force participation in the United States, the fact that minimum wage and Obamacare and social policy and migration patterns all feed this crisis. I am well aware of ten different trends I regard as potential threats revealed by or evident in the evolution of the ongoing BP leak situation.  The BP mess has me also more aware of the nightmare of water management in the country with issues form Eastern flooding to Western droughts, industrial abuses and the horror of the Bayou Corne/ Assumption Parish Sink Hole and Texas Brine.

http://www.assumptionla.com/bayoucorne

I am well aware of the world we live in every day of our lives. I am aware of the North Korean missile tests,and the vast resources connected to that small part of the force they represent. It is a serious concern not in itself but as a symbol rallying many other forces. It concerns me.  So does the sense of strain I detect in many of our institutions and the vast unrest joined to isolated misanthropy which is gripping our country. Sure there are always bad times but they are also always threatening. Once must overcome them to survive.

But all of these real political concerns are not the most important factors we face. I hope to devote a whole post soon to the escalating tensions of the USA with Russia (related to Ukraine, Snowden, Syria, the EU, East Asia and other matters), .It is a reality that we can really mess this up. It is not a joke. There are in fact ten wrong answers for every passable one. Yes it is a good time for political speculation but it is not the only thing worth thinking about. Nor is all speculation created equal. My solutions seem radical to many but they are moderate in my view. We must chart a sound course and do so very soon or there will be bad and serious consequences.  In fact it is true that most Americans have little connection to many of these political issues. But America has the resources to handle its crises — but not the luxury of a huge margin for error.

Again there will be more later. . . I hope.

Worrying About American Safety at the Olympics

I am concerned this morning about the safety of American athletes in Russia. The Olympics is a great symbolic gathering for sport and international dialog. I feel that there is risk of it becoming a venue for assault on Americans at the last part of these games. It seems the games are poorly attended despite great expense by Russia in providing them. There are two reasons fro this which Russians are likely to be aware of in every hour. One is Islamic terrorism and militancy and the other is the US led denunciation of their domestic policies about sex.

Today is a special day for symbols of a happy kind. Happy Valentine’s Day! I cheer and salute the love, romance, betrothals, special friendships and marriage in the world. I want that to stand alone and so I have made it my thought in a status update below. However, It is also the case that on this Valentine’s Day besides sexy gifts, flowers and for a few the memory of a Bishop and martyr who helped poor girls find dowries to be able to marry — the world is spinning around. We have our customs related to these things and we have a lot of problems of our own with sex in America. Right now there is a lawsuit in my hometown by a student expelled for sexual misconduct. He is suing the school and alleging racial discrimination and the whole thing is a microcosm of all the the tensions and many of the absurdities of our society. Even I can find fault with myself here as I once wrote along list of complaints about schools in which I listed condoms at schools as one sign of too loose of a view of sex for adolescents. I never have opposed kids receiving information about condoms nor having access to them but simply putting them out like a kind of textbook when kids ought to be encouraged to wait. But in the absurdity of our society (others are absurd in other ways) it is easy to say the young man who impregnated two girls (allegedly) should never have been allowed anywhere without condoms. He should also have been expelled from the school earlier but that does not deal with the school’s faults in all of this. The truth is thousands of American instances of sexual dysfunction occur every day. In the Olympic charter and elsewhere it is pretty clear that this is not the venue for attacking the domestic policy of host countries.

So the question emerges whether some part of the security framework in Russia will allow Islamists to penetrate the ring of steel to kill Americans? I think it is not impossible. I think Obama has not made American security and success here his top priority. The next question is what is the threat?

The threat is that in Pakistan we see sophisticated drilling with large numbers of suicide bombers with fake ID cards and models for planning, In Afghanistan experienced fighters have been released from prison, in Iraq masses of suicide bombers are being trained in a way which strains their trainers capacities. That is all the current applicable risk. The conditions are that Islamic secessionist forces in Dagestan and Chechnya are eager to provide a conduit of support and avenue of attack for Islamist assailants against the Olympics. The overall climate is that European and Russian intelligence are more resentful and less eager to cooperate with America than usual. I am not sure President Obama is on our side and does not want to provoke an incident with Russia but whatever he wants this may still happen in a really horrible way. I will breathe easier after the closing ceremonies end peacefully than I ever have for any other Olympics. This is not a small risk.

Positioning America for the Future We Face

I have listed, described and written about making very significant changes in America. That is what this series of posts is mostly all about.  There is no realistic reason in the world write all these things but some things are worth doing which are not realistic. We have to look around the world and see how America will fit into the future as it ties into the present. How will we find the world no matter what we do? In addition, in the context of my rather extensive and complex model of change and revolution described here how would America interact with the world after having undergone this transformation?

Anyone who really proposes revolutionary change must propose some things which would not be possible without some kind of revolution. If such a proponent does not then he is really some kind of a looter. The risk of revolution is not worth taking unless the results one needs to achieve are more substantial than can be gotten from ordinary political maneuvering.  I am exhorting America to recommit to a survivable future and one that could lead to what I would consider good places.  The chances of my living to see our society and the world get anything that I would consider a passing grade is almost negligible. However, there is a chance of moving from an almost completely dysfunctional student to one making low D grades and headed towards a B average after some tutoring. That would be a very good result.

I do not think there have been very many societies in history more intrinsically difficult to set on a sustainable path than the United States. On the other hand, besides sustainability there is another measure of a society’s success and viability. That measure is decency and the quality of progress or “progressiveness”.  I think that America is fairly near the top on that second measure of a society’s greatness. There have been many that were more decent and progressive but most of them were small and unambitious. We are one of the most generally decent and progressive  great societies in history. I say that being well aware of many horrors and inhumanities in our past and present.

We have to deal with recent geopolitical changes, with the limits of our own society and culture and also with the enduring and endless problems of  both the Earth and the human condition. That is in a sense a struggle that can never be entirely successful. However, it is true that it makes a great deal of difference whether or not one struggles. The mess we will end up with if we struggle well is much better than the mess we will be in if we struggle poorly or not at all.

If America makes the changes I am suggesting then it will be going down a path which will certainly be lonely at first and may not ever become much less lonely. First of all, many human societies (and most at many times) are fundamentally self-destructive and insane. America will become a society on the path of sanity.  Secondly, America will become even more committed to a moral sensibility. Thirdly, within the context  of sane and avowedly moral societies it will be a modern heir to the traditions of Western civilization in a North American context. Added to all of that, it will remain a great power. We will have to move forward with our own sense of what is real and right. Add to all of that the fact that we have our own dark side which I and others who might become key players would believe we have to deal with and you would surely have a country which nobody can find to be very much like any other country nor any less than a profoundly forward step for this country.

The science of calculating risk is very old and has been approached by many very clever and some very wise people from countless angles over a very long time. Nonetheless it is a vast distance from being perfectly systematized.  Only in formal games can we even get close to showing what would have happened if a set of complicated human decisions and actions had been substituted for another set of complicated decisions and actions. America is living in a world where many bad things and many good things will come its way regardless of whether or not the changes I suggest are made. There is a whole set of possibilities in which the changes would be attempted but basically fail. Then there are unforeseen changes which could come from anywhere and rewrite the course of future events. We face a great deal of possible tragedy that is hard to exactly predict.

I have come to writing these posts after a life in which I have done many active and open things  but in which there are many open and active things that I almost never do.  I am committed to writing for a readership with which I have little organized connection.  I respond to comments that sort of come in over the transom. But this is very different from giving speeches in a public square, leading parades, putting pamphlets out or writing newspaper articles. These are all things that I have done in the past. I do very little now compared to what I would ever have believed I would be doing for such a sustained period of time.  But I believe there is much that I must attempt to do before the worst trends become inevitable. What those trends are has been discussed in earlier posts and will be discussed  in later posts more than it is discussed here.

I personally have had over the years a number of contacts and correspondents both in post-Soviet Russia and in the Soviet Union.  On the other hand I have never been there, do not speak the language and have run into a good number of  Russians in the many places that I have visited and I do not believe our relationship with them is good overall. It has gotten much better but we squandered a very big opportunity during the Gorbachev and Yeltsin eras. I think that even had Putin become the player he has become he would have been a different Putin had we acted differently. However, while I think Putin is a ruthless, homicidal, devious puppet master (who must prove he was innocent of the blood of the ninety-eight Polish leaders recently killed in the aircraft crash) I think he is basically a good man. Yes, I am serious and not sarcastic. He is willing to be a monster to save Russia from complete collapse but he has shown real interest in being something besides a Monster. He promotes the Russian Orthodox Church, tolerates other Christians, limits antisemitism and maintains a quasi-atheistic secularist power bloc in politics. That is a real work of  religious tolerance. He has invested himself in preserving parliament. If he faced a strong and dangerous President here who might exercise the positive pressures he might still be a better man and leader. However, earlier he might have turned out better. Russia is still devoted to Putin mostly because he is still devoted to Russia. That is how things are supposed to be. We are likely to be adversaries over the medium term but I do not believe that was inevitable.  

Of course one of the things about the system I have outlined (among many things) which is very notable is that  the system is a complex racially aware system and that will certainly complicate many geopolitical relationships.  However our current color blind system and our past of Jim Crow madness complicated foreign relationships as well. I will specifically say that our relationship with India would be among the most problematic.  Indian (not Aboriginal American Indians) would be presumed to be the types of people who live in the Colored Districts of the States or the Mixed Race Districts of the Territories. However, the Racial Codes of each State would need in some way or another to allow Indian families to file a particular form and have it verified that they are consistently and predominantly made up of a lineage of one or more of the following Indian Bloodlines (one form for all admixtures of the three) Moguls, the Old Northeast Asian Colonies of North Indians and Portuguese. Indian families certified as such would be eligible to vote in the North East Asian Districts of the States. America would pursue distinctions like this regardless of how they were received in home countries of populations. Portuguese found to be Portuguese families from India would eligible to choose Northeast Asian or ordinary status. No country will be quite as unique as India but many will have complex issues. 

Relationships with Britain, France and Spain, Mexico, Holland and Russia will be formalized to include their direct participation with areas they colonized. In the case of France, Britain, Mexico and Spain they should have formal relationships with a Compact each which are recognized by the US and limited by the overall society and yet are really direct to the Compacts. All of this will have a cost. These countries will play to their interests in areas we allow. There will be costs with ties to the constituted, armed and territorial Black community in a society that is formally white supremacist. The costs in money and blood are inevitable. But American institutions which are now not allowed to build our society would be given every help in doing so in the future.

The new era would be very difficult and would invest in the future. But not acting somewhere in ways akin to this plan will have serious costs as well.  I am urging us to take the medicines we need to take now and be a little but hopeful that things won’t go completely wrong. We could hope a little bit that hard work and courage will lead to a good result.