Get PJ Media on your Apple

Spengler

Ukraine: The Second Time As Farce

July 27th, 2014 - 9:11 am

Any number of distinguished commentators–e.g. the National Interest’s Graham Allison–have taken the occasion of the anniversary of the First World War to warn that the crisis in eastern Ukraine might have catastrophic consequences comparable to 1914. That is silly. World War I did not occur because the European powers miscalculated, but because they each believed rationally that their interests were best served by fighting.  I addressed this in a light-hearted take on the event that destroyed Western Civilization, “Musil and Meta-Musil,” at Asia Times Online (referring to the great novelist Robert Musil and the laxative). I summarized the motives of the warring powers as follows:

  • With a stagnant population, France could not hope to win back the provinces of Alsace and Lorraine it had lost to Germany in 1870 – or to win any future war-unless it fought soon. From parity in the middle of the 19th century, the German population had become half again as large as France’s by 1914.
  • Germany could not concentrate its army on a crushing blow against France if it waited for Russia to build out its internal railway network.
  • Austria could not keep its fractious ethnicities within the empire if it did not castigate Serbia. It could not grant equal rights to Serbs without provoking the Hungarians, who held a privileged position in the empire, so it could only suppress them.
  • Russia could not maintain control over the industrialized western part of its empire – Poland, Ukraine, the Baltic States and Finland – if Austria humiliated its Serbian ally, and Russia depended on these provinces for the bulk of its tax revenues.
  • England could not maintain the balance of power in Europe if Germany crushed France.

Our universities tend to transform engaged, concerned and intelligent students into functional idiots by reducing all conflicts to the level of a schoolyard spat. Existential issues separated the powers of 1914. In 2014, there is nothing to fight over in Ukraine and no way to fight over it. That is because Russia already has what it wants, namely Crimea, and there is nothing that the West can to do take it away. It was moronic for the West to suggest that Russia would lose Crimea in a pro-Western coup in Ukraine; there was no way to get it. The West should have exacted a high price for Russia keeping Ukraine (missiles in Poland and Czech); instead it tried to punish Russia after the fact. Russia has responded by destabilization Ukraine; that is what I predicted Putin would do, and exactly what I would do if I were playing his side of the board.

It is all farcical. There is no way to have a war over Ukraine, no matter how hard we or the Russians tried.

Comments are closed.

All Comments   (8)
All Comments   (8)
Sort: Newest Oldest Top Rated
But apart from the Crimea, wasn't Ukraine central to Putin's plan for a customs union to aggrandise Russia? Now he seems to have put that out of reach for a generation, for it seems impossible that there could now be a stable pro-Russian government in Kiev. And why wasn't the ground prepared for the annexation of Crimea? If he had arranged a "spontaneous" referendum etc. at an earlier date, it would have seemed much more inevitable. Perhaps I am missing something, but Putin seems as short-sighted and inept as Western leaders, although more effective in his opportunism.

My appreciation, by the way, for the writing of David Goldman. His are the only columns in the whole of the global press that I have looked forward eagerly to reading for the last decade or so, first in Asia Times and now here.
13 weeks ago
13 weeks ago Link To Comment
Coming out of today's "zero tolerance" schoolyards, many students either don't know about schoolyard spats, or they expect an adult to make everyone stand in the corner. In the latter case, they usually expect the "international community" to act as the adult.

These people are now at the State Department, playing with twitter.
13 weeks ago
13 weeks ago Link To Comment
for once I agree with you

it's a shame that the West endorses the slaughtering of the russian ethnics in Ukraine, when they prompted a war on Gaddafi, and kept on warning of a war on Assad, that weren't worst than the Kiev fashists
13 weeks ago
13 weeks ago Link To Comment
What is not a farce is the erasure of the US southern border, massive importation of permanent underclasses, and mass amnesties. This is a deadly serious game with very very serious long term consequences not just for the USA but also for Israel. Why? Because the USA as it is --is currently a vital friend for Israel. The America that Obama imagines will be a vital enemy of Israel. Obama intends to remake the USA by means of erasure of the US southern border, massive importation of permanent underclasses, and mass amnesties which will tip the voting balance in at least Texas or Florida and thereby give the democrats a permanent lock on the White House and the vast administrative bureaucracy to which democrats are shifting power.

We in effect have Hamas in the White House currently.

Anyone who even half wishes to show any loyalty to Israel or the USA or really western civilization--needs to make sure that every republican politician raises the threat level of impeachment now on Obama. Make sure that Plouffe understands that if Obama goes through with any of his plans, he will be out of office by this time next year. That his plans are an existential threat to his tenure and the all democrat office holders.



13 weeks ago
13 weeks ago Link To Comment
Our problem is NOT massive immigration. That is nonsense. Our problem is that Americans of European origin breed like Europeans, except for the evangelicals, who appear to be losing their next generation. The higher fertility rate of Hispanics already resident in the US will assure a fast-growing proportion of Hispanics no matter what happens to immigration.
13 weeks ago
13 weeks ago Link To Comment
Our problem is NOT massive immigration. That is nonsense.
...............
This is really just grievously wrong on so many levels its hard to know where to begin. To start its just a crying shame that you don't read Victor Davis Hanson at all. He's right here on PJ Media. He lives this stuff out in California.
13 weeks ago
13 weeks ago Link To Comment
Anyone? And how many are there "anyones"? You are dreaming (and so do I).
13 weeks ago
13 weeks ago Link To Comment
There's the rub. Too many guys thinking globally and acting locally or wearing whatever their denomination's equivalent of a Tefillin--& thinking God will do right by them thereby. Doesn't work that way. Neither fool on the hill or beauty cuts it now.
13 weeks ago
13 weeks ago Link To Comment
View All