The Game of Chicken – over Kiev

Pro-Russian woman waves a Russian flag in support of armed men in military fatigues in Balaklava

Pro-Russian woman waves a Russian flag in support of armed men in military fatigues in Balaklava

This involves whether we allow “them” to kill our kids in wars abroad, this time possibly in the Ukraine and Crimea, while we forego benefits here at home like education, roads, retirement, you know, peacetime benefits.

The United States has been slamming Russia, calling Russian President Vladimir Putin “ruthless,” for protecting the Crimea with Russia’s Black Sea force, and, almost everyone in our government and the media, ignores what prompted this international showdown, namely, what the U.S. was itself doing in the Ukraine with the EU, that prompted President Putin to defend Russia’s interests.

When the Ukraine President, Viktor Yanukovych, balked at signing a trade agreement on political and free trade pacts with the EU, at our insistence, and wanted instead to sign with Russia for a $15 billion dollar bailout for his bankrupt nation, President Yanukovych stunned his prospective EU “partners,” and was ousted from his office in a New York minute and fled for his life to Russia.

He was replaced as quickly by a more pliable new leader, “acting” President, Oleksandr V. Turchynov, so that he could sign the EU agreement we wanted him to sign.

The Russians remember well how the Allies compromised the Russians’ access to the warm waters of the Black Sea in the past.

They have a legitimate claim upon the Russians who live in the adjoining Crimean peninsula.

The Russians have oil pipelines running through the Ukraine to supply oil to Europe and the world by way of tankers that navigate the Black Sea.

In the Crimean war of 1853 through 1856, the Allies included France, Britain, the Ottoman Empire and Sardinia.

The Allies landed on the south west coast of the Crimean Peninsula in 1854, and the Russians retreated.  The Allies pursued.  In the famous charge of the Light Brigade at the Battle of Balaclava, the Light Cavalry under the Earl of Cardigan thought they were chasing a fleeing Russian artillery, but came up against an artillery battery, ready to battle, and the Russian artillery cut down half the 700 cavalry, prompting Alfred Lord Tennyson’s famous poem.

The war weary citizens of Great Britain soon had enough.  Russia agreed not to re-establish an arsenal on the Black Sea that could challenge the Ottoman Empire.

Russia has not forgotten this – even if our nation and the EU pretend it never happened.

Our saber rattling, castigating Russia for having the nerve to go into Crimea, and saying Russia is being undemocratic rings hollow in Russia.

The Russian parliament (the Duma) unanimously authorized Putin’s “stabilization force.”

“All this is being done under the guise of democracy,” said Nikolai I. Ryzhkov, a Duma member.

Nikolai charged that the United States “tore apart Yugoslavia, routed Egypt, Libya, Iraq and so on, and all this under the false guise of peaceful demonstrations.”

“So we must be ready in case they will unleash the dogs on us,” Nikolai said.

Unfortunately, our nation’s past and recent history gives little reassurance.

We muscled our way into Florida, Cuba, Haiti, Puerto Rico, Panama, Hawaii, the Philippines, Guam, the Falklands, Nicaragua, citing the Monroe doctrine on occasion, for self-defense in our hemisphere.

More generally, our world leaders so love to war over any matter that may empower the political class, bring them glory, territory or hegemony, and service the international economic royalty.

What does such self-satisfying conflict do for the rest of us?  We can shed the blood of our young.  We can forego butter budgeting at home to underwrite gun fire abroad.

The nation is as war weary as Great Britain was after the charge of the light Brigade.

A fair snapshot of our government is its insistence it has a “manifest destiny,” a divine right to expand its empire ever since President McKinley, Senator Henry Cabot Lodge and President Theodore Roosevelt urged the nation this was true.

Of course, Russia believes its exercising its own version of our Monroe Doctrine.

We need to find a third way beyond the Scylla and Charybdis of all-out war as opposed to anxious irregular periods of uncertain peace.

For as long as our nation’s myopic lenses see the rest of the world as a morsel to devour, we shall not consider to preserve this world by comity or compromise.