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Ukraine…Crimea….Akron, Ohio? Why Does It Matter?
Scott Malensek
March 20, 2014
Ukraine...Crimea....Akron, Ohio? Why Does It Matter?
Scott Malensek

Okay, since I'm one of those politico/newshound nutjobs who wastes too much time reading about history and the latest whatzit on the web...I've been asked, "What's up with Crimea? Who cares? Why does it matter?"

As most people are not geopolitical nerdos the preference to any and all international conflicts usually falls to a conspiracy theory, political spin from the party de jour, a half-truth from The Daily Show or SNL, or some bumper sticker.

Reality is a lot more complex.

[SPOILER ALERT: the real reason(s) mean reading all of this and much more....not just making a decision based on a joke from Jon Stewart or some BS from Conservative talking heads]

Contrary to popular belief, wars do not happen like an elementary school playground fight. This is important, so I'll say it again:

Contrary to popular belief, wars do not happen like an elementary school playground fight.

Even the most bs little wars in history (for example the Venezuelan war that was fought over a soccer game) actually have their roots in a lot bigger things. Yes, wars have been fought over women, but that's only why one person might launch it...the people who support it have other reasons, and so too do the people who fight. Much as everyone's been told...wars do not start because FDR wanted oil or Bush wanted to make his daddy happy or LBJ needed military-industrial complex money for his campaign. Those are factors-parts of the reasons for a war-not THE REASON. As soon as someone tells you, "The real reason for the blah-blah-blah war was____."..soon as you see "-real reason-" you know they're full of crap. There's never just one 'reason'.


Why do they SAY it matters?

As usual the conspiracy theorists are all around saying it's because of natural gas lines in Ukraine or wheat prices in Russia vs those in Ukraine. Those actually are factors. Some will say it's the Russian fleet base (like our Norfolk) that's in Crimea. That's also a factor. Some say it's the age old Peter-the-Great Russian Czar thinking that makes Putin desire a warm water commercial port like the one in the Black Sea. That's a factor. Some might say it's because the new revolution in Ukraine immediately passed laws that banned the speaking of the Russian language there as well as other anti-Russian laws which would actually persecute the hundreds of thousands of Russians who live in Crimea and the Ukraine. This is very true. Perhaps Putin is just a tough guy. Well, yeah...he hunts bears and flies Mig fighter planes for fun; ie, he IS a tough guy (it does happen). Some say Obama is a wuss who avoids confrontation at any and all costs, and he is-his own campaign teams called him No-Drama-Obama. Maybe it's because Obama's demonstrated that he's not gonna really do anything in response to tough guy actions other than half-ass-actions that no tough guy would back down to....and let's face it, that's true. Is it because the American people are war weary (As if more than 2% of the nation ever fought in Iraq and Afghanistan)? Weary of the TV coverage and political debates to be sure, but...there's no car bombs going off in Toledo).

But why does this matter then? (listed in terms of immediacy in my opinion, by the way)

Past Precedents prove it's an important thing to oppose.

Future geopolitics of nuclear proliferation really make it matter.

Present economic threats are the biggest, most immediate threat.

Past Precedents
As I said, what happens in the Crimea doesn't really do anything directly to the people in Akron, Ohio or most of the nation-at least not anymore than say if ummmm, a tough guy had a massive army, huge/devastating firepower and decided to invade Czechoslovakia (which, I know, doesn't exist anymore. Humor me). That actually happened almost 100years ago, and it set the stage for World War II; set the stage for a war that did call people from Akron and around the nation to war.

Hitler had a massive army and the 1939 equivalent of nuclear weapons (an air force capable of destroying cities-albeit in a few hours or days, but it was almost 100yrs ago.). He claimed that German people living in the hill areas of his neighboring "miscellaneous European country" were being oppressed (like Putin re the Ukraine and Crimea). As he threatened to invade and protect the Germans in that other country, the great world powers came together, threatened him w economic sanctions and even war, but...they settled for a piece of paper where he agreed not to invade any more countries if they'd just let him have "tiny European country XYZ." They did, and they bragged that it was "peace in our time." And then (this is important) the tough guy blew off the leaders of nations who demonstrated weakness, recognized the post-WWI-anti-war sentiment of the people on the planet, and the tough guy just went on and on and on until finally they had no choice but to fight; fight from a position of extreme weakness at that.

It's not just Hitler who did this. Japan did it. The Soviets did it (seizing Eastern Europe for example). It's happened all over Africa and SE Asia for decades. Basically, unchecked aggression goes unchecked until it's checked. Not too complicated. Tough guys do tough things, and people who want to avoid conflict do so until they are forced to deal w it from a weakened position.

Crazy as it seems to us, Putin's allies are actually the full blown wackos in North Korea, Iran, and Syria (among others). North Korea has nukes and other WMD, and if the leaders there see that the rest of the world will not oppose them, it makes it more viable for them to invade South Korea. It's a mutual-assured-destruction scenario for them, but...tough guys do tough things. Iran probably has enough material to make a few nuclear bombs (according to the UN), and even Saddam was able to make a bomb back in 1992 (he just didn't have the material back then...and, it did look like a refrigerator, so no points for aesthetics.). The only thing keeping Iran from making hundreds or thousands of nuclear bombs (and either selling them for crazier people to use or using the bombs themselves) is the "credible threat of force." Israel will bomb the crap out of Iran if it has to,'d be a very bad situation for the tiny country; they need help. If the rest of the nation tells Iran (or shows Iran by not opposing the invasion of Crimea) that no one's gonna stop em or even offer a credible threat of substantial cost...then Iran can just fire up the nuclear bomb factories and make whatever demands they want on anyone. Why? Because that's a crazy-suicidal government over there, and when they make threats, they mean it.

Yeah, I know, everyone's like, "OMG! He's cranked out 1100 words and still not said why Ukraine and Crimea matter to me?"

That's not true.

I showed you why it matters in terms of what's happened in the past when similar actions were ignored and global wars resulted.

I showed you why it's gonna matter in the future (not that Iranians are ever gonna waste an expensive nuke on Akron, Ohio, but...take out a single railyard in the middle of the USA, and millions of people-including those in Akron-run the risk of starvation ' stores only have 4 days worth of food. After that, it's your pantry, and then you better have a garden or farm nearby.

Now. Why does it matter now?

Money. It's always money, right?

Well, in this case I'm not talking about some rich guy trying to get more or crap like that. I'm talking about your money, and my money which are actually...partly owned by the Russians, Chinese, and other nations. They don't specifically own our money, but they own hundreds of billions of US treasury bonds, and the treasury sells them those bonds so it can put out more money into the global economy-specifically OUR broken economy. See, Pres Obama can't get tough with the Russians even if he wanted to do so. If the Russians get too ticked off, they can just sell of some of their US bonds, and ding our economy. If their allies in the United Nations (ie the Chinese) get ticked off...they can do the same. If they sell off enough bonds (and by enough, I mean...just a few hundred billion out of a thousands of billions) your money loses its value. A jug of milk can go up in price to $5, $10, $100gallon. This is called Hyperinflation. It's happened all over the globe all throughout history. It's even happened here in the USA a few times. It's not some crazy Martian invasion kinda thing. It does happen. Anyone remember how it used to cost thousands of pesos to get a taco in Mexico? That means in Akron, Ohio if the Russians and Chinese get ticked off and sell off their bonds and tank the US economy (like they threatened to do in 2008 btw), then odds are you could lose your job, your life savings (if you still have one) would be gone in a month or less just trying to pay your bills, and then the zombie apocalypse style scenarios start to get more realistic.

Is This Gonna Happen!?
Is This Gonna Happen!? Nah. Barack doesn't have the nature for conflict, the world knows it, history shows it, and the tough guys already know we're really powerless. That sounds apathetic-almost unreal, but watch FOX, MSNBC, ABC, etc....NO ONE-not far left or far right, NO ONE in the world has a single idea where they can say, "If President Obama does _____, then Putin will have his troops hop in their tanks and immediately retreat." Putin's that tough, we're that weak. No options take those into account and work.

Crimea Is Lost
Crimea is lost because of the cost-not in blood, but in Treasury bonds and because an American public is war weary from 23years of war in Iraq, 18yrs of war with Al Queda, and 13 years of war in Afghanistan. It's just been too hard to watch and debate. We prefer bowing to "peace in our time", and HOPE that the tough guys will change.

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