Grass isn’t greener–yet! Margaret Steinfels

The inevitable story appears and it isn't pretty. It's hard to change countries. So the citizens of Crimea report in the NY Times. New laws, new bureaucrats, new plans. The locals are finding that Russian officials may not be as efficient as the ones they booted out after the referendum on March 18. And many more of them seem to be applying for passports. Which direction will they be going? Perhaps the high point of schadenfreude are the methodone users who voted for union with Russia but find their heroin alternative is illegal under Russian law and in short supply. Their rations have been halved and are likely to dry up.

Has Putin bitten off more than he can chew? Billions promised. A bridge to come. Will he be forced to annex Eastern Ukraine to relieve the delivery of everything problem? Should we expect a citizen uprising? So many things to think about!  Steinfels

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29 Responses to Grass isn’t greener–yet! Margaret Steinfels

  1. nick b says:

    I learned a new word today of Japanese origin: “modoki”. It translates as: similar, but different. There was a modoki article about South Ossetia in the NYT back in March. Here’s a quote from it:
    “Aleksei V. Malashenko, an analyst at the Carnegie Moscow Center, said Russian officials “will be shocked” with the challenges they face when trying to manage Crimea — reviving its economy, distributing money and influence among its ethnic groups, and trying to control the corruption that accompanies all big Russian projects. And, judging from precedent, the public’s euphoria will fade, he said.
    “I think that in Russia, the majority of the society forgot about Ossetia, and if it weren’t for the Olympics, the majority of the society would also forget about Abkhazia,” Mr. Malashenko said. “Of course, Crimea is not Ossetia. But anyway, the popularity of Crimeans, and the Crimean tragedy, will be forgotten in a year.”

  2. Governance especially good governance in short supply worldwide.

  3. Fred says:

    “Should we expect a citizen uprising?”
    Why again is government of by and for Ukrainian’s America’s problem?

  4. 505th PIR says:

    Expectations and reality. Surely there will be a gulf between the two, but this is minutia. Since the Crimea “joined” Russia the character of the reporting in the MSM has reflected the absence of hard power in the West. The expected demonization and villification of Putin has occurred for sure. 2)A big pattern of “Putin has made a mistake” and “Russia bit off more than it can chew” and “things are already going bad for Russia” has emerged, particularly in the past two weeks. That is the narrative right now in the absence of other, more effective alternatives. Face saving counts now when one takes the podium later down the line. Meanwhile, like a sponge absorbing moisture, the Eastern Ukraine is becoming more and more infiltrated/positioned for the next round and could “flip” almost overnight. The barely visible Russian deployments and bridgeheads are being hardened round the clock. The “East” is a tougher nut to crack with every second run off the clock. Crimea is a done deal. The very best the Kiev group can do is to avoid fumbling its way into a bloody and futile occupation of the East. I remember an exchange (paraphrasing here) from the US Civil war between an Northern Soldier and a poor, non slave holding Southern Soldier whereby the former asked the latter something to the extent of “why are you fighting us as you have no dog in this fight” to which he received the reply, “because you are down here”. Fast forward to recent video of the “anti-terrorist operation” and the sentiments are the same.
    Lastly and on a different note, the word “terrorist”. Completely over-used by everyone and anyone globally. “You differ from our persepective, you are a terrorist.” A lasting gift from the open ended term “War On Terror”. In the same dictionary as “Enemy of the People” etc. Open ended enough to justify all kinds of devilry.

  5. JohnH says:

    Interesting contrast with Times reporting on Libya, where residents are reported “undaunted” amidst the chaos in the aftermath of regime change.
    “Libyans complain that their leaders have squandered the revolution, engaging in power struggles and enriching themselves while doing little to improve the lives of citizens. Carjackings and kidnappings are so frequent that some people even lament the bygone security of Colonel Qaddafi’s dictatorship and call for a new strong hand to control the many militias and criminals at large.
    Yet the enthusiasm for the revolution that rid the country of the ”tyrant,” as many refer to him, is still emphatic and widespread. The crowds in Tripoli, the capital, appeared undaunted even when a small car bomb exploded just yards from Martyrs’ Square. The front seats of the car were damaged, but no one was wounded.” (Carlota Gall, 2/18/2014)
    Are Libyans really more upbeat than Crimeans, or is that just how the Times chooses to view it?

  6. kao_hsien_chih says:

    I think the NYT piecw is rather pathetic.
    No one in Crimea, I think, had expectations that Russia is anything approaching even a booming economy. However, most of them, esp ethnic Russians, do have legitimate reason for fearing oppression from Kiev, which recent events seem to have very much validated. Doubtful too many of them would rather be back under Ukrainian administration now.
    If NYT has to stoop to heroin addicts to find enough dirt on Russian Crimea, it smacks of much desperation.

  7. Charles I says:

    what, not a peep about fascists or democracy?

  8. ISL says:

    Not just heroin addicts, but sellers raising prices to see what the market will bear!!! Unheard of!
    Journalism focused on reporting rather than propaganda would look at the dominant component of the Crimean economy, which I would argue is the vast Russian military infrastructure. Its like doing a report on Lompoc in California and neglecting Vandenberg Airforce Base and its economic importance. I suspect that now that Russian soldiers and other military contractors will pump more money into the Crimean economy.

  9. georgeg says:

    We have been stooping to glorifying “Pussy Riot” as a representative Russian group. Their recent parade on the mainstream media is an affront to anyone’s intelligence. Was very sorry to see Charlie Rose fall for their nonsense…..

  10. FB Ali says:

    I would not put much credence on the NYT (or other MSM) when it comes to reporting on this or other ‘cold war’ topics.

  11. Valissa says:

    The NY Times has very little credibility left when it comes to issues of money and power, and especially about Russia. Skepticism is the best approach given the Gray Lady’s propensity for propaganda in these areas.
    Of course transitioning bureaucracies is going to be difficult… duh. But let’s not forget that pensions and gov’t & military wages in the Crimea have all gone up (or will be as soon as this paperwork is sorted out) due to being part of Russia, whose standard of living is significantly better than the Ukraine, though not as high as Europe. I think a big part of the appeal to vote to join Russia for many was simple economics (though Russian patriotism no doubt motivated some). Of course this is rarely mentioned in MSM articles.
    Also for economic reasons, I think Russia doesn’t want to absorb the eastern Ukraine as it did Crimea. I’m guessing this has something to do with the US basically encouraging the destabilization in eastern Ukraine rather than working with the EU and Russia to stabilize and deescalate the situation. Team US would be happy to see the Russians bogged down in the Ukraine financially as well as just generally making them look bad. Lots of ego games going on here among the elites while the little people suffer the consequences.
    On the lighter side, Fred on Everything had a few things to say about Crimea last month…
    Pickle Boy Steps Up

  12. Matthew says:

    KHC: Agreed.
    This is one of those chock-a-block stories that actually says nothing. The East Germans complain about Germany after reunification. How do you think the Iraqis feel about the New Iraq?
    When the Winter Olympics started, I remember thinking: every cycle we get the same useless stories–(1) the host city is unprepared; (2) the facilities won’t be ready; and (3) the event cost too much. Every time!

  13. Matthew says:

    JohnH: Like Tom Friedman’s local cab driver–who always thinks like Tom Friedman–it’s convenient that the Times finds an upbeat Libyan. Probably sitting on the bar stool next to said reporter.

  14. Charles I says:

    I just listened to Russia’s Amb. to Canada, Dean of the Diplo Corps Georgiy Mamedov on CBC Radio One patiently explaining how they saw February as a coup while we saw it as a revolution. Musing that revolutions are messy, he recalled arriving back in Moscow during their Revolution to find tanks streaming down the streets and gunfire coming from the Whitehouse, while fervent support for the hardly normal legal transition spouted from all quarters of the West.

  15. 505th PIR! I have adopted the definition of a terrorist as “one that intentionally uses violence against innocents” and clearly that is not the situation in East Ukraine.

  16. VietnamVet says:

    My old unit, the 173rd Airborne Brigade is being deployed to Poland and the Baltic States. This is almost the 49th anniversary of their arrival in Vietnam, the first US Army unit shipped there. No doubt to serve as a tripwire on Russia’s border. But, being what they are, it will be impossible to stop them from looking for bad guys.
    We have a government creating its own visions rather than dealing with reality. The sanctions; NATO membership for Western Ukraine and 173rd Airborne on its border are all existential threats to Russia. By not agreeing to a neutral Ukraine the Obama Administration’s goal is regime change in Russia. This is radical and risks a nuclear war.
    David Brooks had a hysterical fit of rage against Vladimir Putin on last Friday’s NewsHour. It can only because the Western Multi-National’s rule of the world is being rejected, and Brazil, Russia, India and China (The BRICs) are re-sovereignizing the international system.
    I have this heavy sense of deja vu, all over again, except this time, it will be an unnecessary war fought by and for plutocrats that ends up destroying our world.

  17. Anna-Marina says:

    The Ukrainian situation has all signs of naked aggression in development:
    At some point the warmongering class is going to have a sword turned back on it. The approaching horrors can only be stopped by democracy, and democracy is badly weakened in the US.
    The super-rich and powerful have a distorted perspective on the world and, by smothering the homeostatic abilities of human society, the ruling class prepares a global demise that will be as devastating for the obnoxious super-rich “deciders” as for every other living thing on the planet.

  18. turcopolier says:

    The story may be inevitable but that does not make it true. the falsehoods now propagated on all sides including ours in the name of “information operations” are abominable. A good example is the business of chemical weapons material in Syria. The UN reports Syria having handed over 80% of the material listed by Syria and that the UN were unable to find more than that after having inspected in all th eparts of the country that it could reach. That does not prevent the French president from accusing the SAG of having used chemical weapons once again on the basis of stories in Israeli newspapers without any proof whatever of culpability.

  19. confusedponderer says:

    Some utilitarian concerns:
    IMO there is a substantial risk that policymakers when they ‘stay on message’ at some point start to believe their own BS. I doubt that Kerry’s R2Pers are the sort of clearheaded, hardened cynics that are able to keep their fiction and reality apart. I think thy are by and large idealistic, making them suspectible to fall for their own IOs.
    That said I can’t help but wonder to which extent the falshoods propagated in those information operations warp actually decisionmaking towards the delusional. That is exacerbated by such IOs necessarily involving secrecy and classification.
    This must result in policies that are adresing virtual realities. Given the occasional dysfunction on display in US foreign policy over the last years, I suspect that is the case.
    Intelligence that contradicts such a given policy narrative is a threat to policy, and there will inevitably be pressure for intelligence to conform.
    That is IMO a risk in any bureacracy, be it in government or the private sector. It is probably greater the larger the bureaucracy.
    Constitutional concerns:
    These IOs simultaneously constitute secretive disinformation campaigns directed at the own populations and ultimately parliamentarians, something in the US supposedly illegal. That is a serious constitutional problem.
    In such a climate, any reality based assessment of policy and any rational discourse over olicy must wither. It makes a mockery of oversight by parliament.
    The result is endemic policy dysfunction – witness contemporary US policy towards first Iraq, and under Obama towards Iran, Syria and Russia.

  20. Fred says:

    “At some point the warmongering class is going to have a sword turned back on it. The approaching horrors can only be stopped by democracy,…”
    Democracy did not stop the invasion of Iraq, and far more ‘westerners’ were in the streets demanding thier elected representatives do just that – stop the wamongering class. I don’t know of any elected official who voted for the infamous “Authorization for the Use of Military Force” who lost an election. Meanwhile not a single member of the warmongering class has been killed in action; or by terrorist act. The leading democratic candidate for President voted for the war, the negative impact has been zero.

  21. Peggy says:

    “The story may be inevitable but that does not make it true.” Agree.
    Or…it is not true yet; it may never become true.
    The story underlines the radical action of populations who choose to change direction, in this case the government. Was this vote democratic? There were boycotters; there were dissenters; and maybe there were voters who felt they had no choice. That doesn’t mean the “majority” didn’t decide to go to Russia. But if the after-life of the choice doesn’t work out, this will be another occasion for trouble. Buyers remorse will inevitably set in. We don’t know what it will lead to.
    The temptation for Putin to move on the southern and eastern portions of Ukraine may become pressing if the “resupply” of Crimea proves daunting.
    The point: we may see the seizure of Crimea by Putin as inevitable and the EU and US bear responsibility for egging him on. But that doesn’t mean it was a good move on his part when he could control Crimea through the leasing arrangement with the Ukrainian government.

  22. nick b says:

    You are spot-on. The only pol who even came close to losing office was Joe Lieberman in CT. He lost to Ned Lamont in the Democratic primary, who ran largely as an antiwar candidate. Lamont’s victory, while symbolic, ultimately made no difference as Lieberman was re-elected with almost a ten point margin running as an independent in the general election.

  23. YT says:

    “One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter.”

  24. kao_hsien_chih says:

    In an odd way, this dovetails very closely with Richard Sales’ post a few days ago about Deniers of Science.
    Doing science requires a good measure of cynicism and skepticism: you believe only as far as your evidence is good, and even then you should always be on the lookout for bad evidence.
    Most Neocons and R2Pers(and for that matter, many other groups involved in politics) believe because they believe their cause is right, in several different senses, enough to overshadow whatever evidence there might be (or might not be). Substitute a few words, their words might as well be coming from “Creation Science” people.
    The analogue is completed when we realize that many people who should and in fact do know better but don’t have to subscribe to the real science often repeat a seemingly sophisticated version of “creation science” to curry favor with that segment of the population. Many people in positions of responsibility in foreign affairs, whether they are true believers or not, lend credence to them by uttering fanciful R2P propaganda peppered with sophisticated lingo. If the former hangs the biologists out to dry, the latter hangs the intel people out to dry.
    Of course, they will come up with all manner of sophistic runarounds to avoid “minor” paradoxes and inconveniences. If the creationists are fine with “microevolution,” as long as the big story about biblical creation can be retained, the R2Pers are happy enough with “coups for democracy” and “wars for human rights,” I suppose, as long as they can hold on to the big story about democracy being good, whatever that means.

  25. Fred says:

    nick b,
    Yes, are where was Ned Lamont this time out? He certainly had the money to run. Where were all those backers?

  26. kao_hsien_chih says:

    Assuming that the Ukrainian government would have played ball with the Russians.
    The overtly anti-Moscow stance taken by the new Kiev gov’t, which, if I recall correctly, included threats of evicting Russians from Sevastopol, could easily have been seen from Moscow that these were not people whom they could deal with, at least not without teaching them a costly lesson. The justified suspicions of the large majority of the Crimean population of the powers that be in Kiev gave the Russians the means to deliver that lesson relatively easily.
    Will these turn out to Russia’s advantage in the long run? I don’t know if we can quantify that, certainly not now and possibly not even in the future. For Moscow, the alternative would have been to let Kiev off the hook and look weak, or just delay making its move to a later, presumably less advantageous, date when Kiev would, presumably, have made the demands for vacating Sevastopol formal. Even if having to absorb Crimea were to be costly, I don’t see how the Russians will have come out a net loser given the likely alternatives.

  27. nick b says:

    I have no idea. Perhaps after losing the Democratic nomination to Malloy for governor, he had had enough. I think he went on to academia.

  28. Stephanie says:

    Hillary Clinton didn’t lose an election, true, but she was beaten in the primaries and her vote was an important part of that loss. She voted for the AUMF and refused to apologize for it, thus giving the anti-war elements in the Democratic Party, who were stronger then after 8 years of Bush than they are today, a very handy club to beat her with once a viable candidate not named Clinton turned up. Obama’s vote against the war in the state senate was key to his appeal.

  29. Peggy says:

    All: We shall see. Buyers remorse is a strong emotion. But perhaps not in eastern Eastern Europe.

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