What Not to Do About Russia and Ukraine


Just had an email that included several European political cartoons depicting President Obama as helpless and clueless about what to do about Putin and the situation in Ukraine.

I certainly don’t know what to do either. I do recall something called the Crimean War that happened a decade or so before our Civil War, War Between the States, War of Northern Aggression, whatever. Russia was defeated in that one by Britain, France, and Turkey, but the war did give us Lord Tennyson’s “Charge of the Light Brigade,” the expression “Valley of Death,” and a button-up sweater named after the Light Brigade’s Commander, Lord Cardigan. (I made that last part up.)

However I do submit the following actions that should not be considered for the current crisis:

First, a blockade as used in the Cuban missile crisis of 1962; it’s neither practical nor feasible. Russia doesn’t have enough coastline (which is quite possibly almost the entire reason Putin is doing what he is doing in the first place) and we’d look silly putting a bunch of ships in the Black Sea and having another bunch stuck in the ice over by Vladivostok, where Sara Palin can see them from her window.

Second, sending in Seal Team Six to relocate the Russians who currently live in Ukraine to various points of light in Russia.

(Don’t forget or become confused; this is a list of actions that should not, I repeat should not, be considered.)

And finally, declaring war, which would without a doubt be the dumbest thing ever what with the existence of all those nuclear weapons and all. Although if war could be declared without actually shooting or bombing anyone, kind of like duking it out on our iPads, I might reconsider.

In any event, this horrifying situation in Ukraine reminds me of sitting around years ago with some very smart friends trying to define justice and deciding it was easy to recognize injustice when we saw it, and possibly nod in agreement about certain things that we thought constituted just results, but we couldn’t come up with an acceptable definition of justice itself. Which translates into I don’t think what’s going on in Ukraine is justice, but I don’t know what justice would look and feel like either.

I do know that when I visited Kiev, Ukraine in 1966 along with 25 or so other high school Russian language teachers, a study trip funded by the National Science Foundation, the Ukrainians I met never missed a chance to complain about Russia, having to learn and use Russian, the street signs that had to show both Ukrainian and Russian, and the subservience of Ukraine to Russia in general.

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