The Logic of Secession–The Ukraine

A conservative on FB has made the plausible argument that Putin is not entitled to the Tsar's patrimony, to which I responded:
Fair enough, but how would we respond to the argument that, if Putin is not entitled to the Tsar's patrimony, then the government of the USA today is scarcely entitled to the purchases and conquests that added the Louisiana Purchase territories or the Southwest to American territory. We could show our good faith by returning Alaska to the Russians.
When the example of Lincoln was introduced, to an an ironic touch, I responded:
The cases of South Carolina and Ukraine are quite different, since the one seceded from Britain before joining a confederal union, while the latter is a border-region without a national history, much less a state. I would not presume to read Putin's mind, but it is a natural desire for Russians to reestablish control over those parts of the Ukraine that are culturally Russian and once belonged to them.
A comparison might be drawn with the Krajina region of Croatia, again, a frontier region of an artificial entity (Yugoslavia), given by a federal government to appease a strong minority group and dampen the sense of unity in the dominant group, whether Serbian or Russian. What interest the US might have in propping up the Bidens' friends in Kiev, I'll leave to Hunter Biden to declare.
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Thomas Fleming

Thomas Fleming is president of the Fleming Foundation. He is the author of six books, including The Morality of Everyday Life and The Politics of Human Nature, as well as many articles and columns for newspapers, magazines,and learned journals. He holds a Ph.D. in Classics from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and a B.A. in Greek from the College of Charleston. He served as editor of Chronicles: a Magazine of American Culture from 1984 to 2015 and president of The Rockford Institute from 1997-2014. In a previous life he taught classics at several colleges and served as a school headmaster in South Carolina

7 Responses

  1. Allen Wilson says:

    This is spot on. The FB poster was obviously drawing false parallels.

    While I do think Ukraine should remain independent, “should” and “what’s best right now” are not the same thing. If Putin could seize the entirety of Ukraine without it starting a war, something along the lines of a much bigger version of the Russian intervention in Georgia, the Ukrainian people might actually be better off in the long run than they are now under Western puppet rule, being bled dry and pillaged economically by western oligarchs.

    The idea of the Tsar’s patrimony is interesting. One could make the case that once the Tsardom was overthrown, countries like Finland and Poland were released of all obligation and had the right to declare independence. The case with Ukraine, the other hand, somehow seems more complicated. For one thing, it has a history more closely tied with Russia from the start, although of course independence in 1918 would have been far better than Bolshevik subjugation.

    With regard to Finland, I’m reminded of Marshall Mannerheim, who always kept a picture of the Tsar in his coat pocket, apparently as long s he lived. That’s rather touching.

  2. Michael Strenk says:

    “…it is a natural desire for Russians to reestablish control over those parts of the Ukraine that are culturally Russian and once belonged to them.”

    Especially when ethnic Russians and other Russian speakers are being killed and otherwise persecuted by the Ukrainians, but not only the Russians. I hear that the native Bulgarian population of about 200,000 has been denied the right to educate their children in their own language and are under pressure to assimilate (to what?) and my own people, Carpatho-Rusyns, have long had problems with the Ukies. Would that Trans-Carpathia could be reunited with Slovakia or even Hungary would be preferable at this moment in history.

    Taking all of Ukraine would be counter-productive for Russia. What ever would they do with all of the Nazi’s, not just the native ones, but all of those who have gone there to be naughty for Hitler? What about all of the Chechens and other Muslim fanatics? The Russians could handle them eventually, but it would drain them unnecessarily. Better to fence them in and let them rot. They’ll all turn on one another in the end. God help the majority of ordinary decent Christian people. These could always emigrate. Russia needs population, especially in the east.

    I don’t know anything about the history of Finland, Mr. Wilson, but Poland was an historic nation long before it was annexed by Russia, Austria, and Germany, mainly due to a collapse in Polish aristocratic unity of purpose. Ukraine was always a part of some other entity. Its people are unique the way people from Somerset and Manchester are unique in England. They could be a separate nation if they could decide on being something rather than not being something else.

  3. theAlabamian says:

    Yes, it’s funny how people believe we have such a moral obligation to wage war over there, ot that our own imperialistic ways isn’t the problem. I was talking to a Yankee from somewhere up north whose family had been in Gulfport, MS a long time due to the imperial U.S. military, and he was of the belief that we needed all of these overseas wars, bases, etc., to keep the war from our own soil. People view the American government as a benevolent imperial power just as Lincoln is viewed as a benevolent dictator.

  4. Dom says:

    It’s hard to believe anybody can still use the “fight them over there rather than over here” argument with a straight face.

  5. Allen Wilson says:

    Of course you are right, Mr Strenk, and I didn’t mean to imply that Putin actually could take all Ukraine without it becoming a quagmire. Poland and Finland had histories separate from Russia going back centuries, but as you have said, that is not the case with Ukraine.

    My sense is that the Ukrainian military do not have much gusto for a war with Russia. I suspect Putin may well pull this off if he stops at the western borders of the breakaway republics, and the Ukrainian government could have a major reshuffling as a result of this or a collapse. Mere sanctions against Russia will not do any good and will expose western weakness once again, just like with the Afghanistan debacle.

  6. Christian Kopff says:

    Dr. Fleming’s last sentence calls to mind the American insight: An “honest politician” is one who, when you have paid for him, stays bought. The question is less, can allies count on the US, than can foreign lands count on the American politicians they have paid for. They sure lost a bundle on Hillary. Will Joe redeem the honor of his colleagues?

  7. Dot says:

    I hear that 7000 US military are being sent to Ukraine. For what? For “… propping up Bidens’ friends in Kiev”? Ukraine doesn’t even belong to NATO of which we are a member. I think that Biden wants to fight Putin for his and his son’s personal interest and is willing to send 7000 of our military to do this. He will have blood on his hands.