Putin Has Already Won, Using a Page from Lincoln
Suddenly Sovereignty Matters, or Does It?
I have paid scant attention to Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, because all the arguments and all the coverage shadows history all too well. I had argued about war and isolationism with Libertarians for many years. The World is still Hobbisian: might makes right or at least keeps the peace for the sake of trading. Also, saying "truth is the first casualty of war” is just too cliched.
Putin is trying to reconstruct the Russian Empire under a confederacy of autonomous (or supposedly autonomous) regions. Comparisons are made. Adolph Hitler took the Sudetenland, tearing up the idiotically impossible Versailles Treaty and claimed to do so for the German minority. Putin claims the same for the Russians in two Ukraine provinces as he did with Crimea.
Ukraine is a broken state like Yugoslavia, and Czechoslovakia (as well as Syria and Libya). Putin is following in part what the Clinton Administration did in propping up Kosovo in the broken-up region of Yugoslavia. Again, the Moslem minority of Yugoslavia supposedly needed their own Republic to defend their rights while a Christian minority came under attack. In each case, sovereignty is what really matters but a small state can be invaded by a larger state and any state must respect individual rights. Perhaps Eastern Europe should have created a Canton system like Switzerland has and respected individual rights of all minorities.
Most Americans read a brief and biased history of the United States but nothing else. Other countries read their own history and read the United States history to learn lessons from the US experience. Our Constitution is strong but not necessarily unique. What makes the United States unique is the Bill of Rights which defends individual rights. But the US history of war, occupation and expansion intrigue far more. Putin knows US history all too well. His incursions into local regions replicate what President Lincoln did in trying to reconstruct the Union of the United States. Lincoln invaded the southern Confederate states and set up reconstruction governments. Putin, as did Hitler, follows a similar plan.
Suddenly, sovereignty matters to many Americans but the very symbols of sovereignty, those Confederate monuments including Robert E. Lee, have been torn down. When US General Lee gave his resignation from the US military to Lincoln, he did so to defend his home state of Virginia, a state which would later have a broken off region which Lincoln accepted as West Virginia. When the war became too bloody, Confederate General Lee brought America’s most deadliest war to an end, by surrendering. Fortunately, the United States has a Bill of Rights and expanded it to more people. Sovereignty, individual freedom and peace: Lee knew these values but do we? Virginia Patriot Lee gives us lot to think about. ( On the matter of individual rights, dare I ask about Edward Snowden being in Russia or Julian Assange still being in jail?)
Sovereignty, home rule, and independence is what brought freedom for Ireland, Israel, and the Baltic countries of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. In the far east, yearnings for a free Tibet stir. Concerns for the Muslims of the Chinese province of Xinjiang are growing. The protections of home rule of Hong Kong and Taiwan are of great concern. A dictator in North Korea has designs on their southern neighbor.
If sovereignty matters, the United States would drop 25,000 troops in Ukraine on the Russian border and keep on firing. Do not state why and do not set terms. Keep the pressure on Russia until it relents. Putin grows wealthy off of fossil fuels and the only way to defund his ambitions is to make more fossil fuels to drive prices down and push him out of the market. Biden has done the exact opposite. If sovereignty matters, on the home front, all the restrictions on the American oil industry should be dropped and all those in favor of such restrictions should be put in jail as traitors to the Pax Americana. Organizations worried about “climate change” should be defunded.
But the era of Pax Americana may have passed already. Afghanistan is lost, as is Crimea and now Ukraine crumbles. With such passings, China will rise and take what they claim is theirs and the United States is not in much of a position to do anything about it, particulary if Putin takes all of Ukraine. Refugees will come to America from Afghanistan and Ukraine and suddenly, our collective consciousness will be activated to understand just how unique the United States is and matters and why it must put boots on the ground, when no other power can do so with credibility.