Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

March 24, 2014

CONFER: Russia on the right side of Crimea issue

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Lockport Union-Sun & Journal

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — I don’t like Russia. Never have. Probably never will. 

When Niagara University hosted the World Juniors in 2010-2011, I was mortified by how many Americans were wearing Russian pride and passionately cheering on the Reds. I couldn’t help but wonder, “Don’t they know our history with Russia? Don’t they know what Russia still is?”

They seemed to buy into the myth that the Cold War ended and were oblivious to the fact that Russia was not the kinder, gentler country portrayed in the press, that it features a murderous KGB agent as its head, a court system that finds most defendants guilty, a controlled economy that makes our country’s income gap and crony capitalism look pedestrian, and a network of spies still working to this day (think back to the 10-person ring busted in the United States in 2010).

Fast forward three years. Now it seems fashionable to hate the Russians again. Their friends — which are what our elected officials and press seemed to become over the past two presidencies – have turned on them.

As an outcome of the Ukraine shake-up — more specifically the Crimeans’ desire to join Russia — the Obama Administration has placed sanctions upon Russia, neoconservatives are calling for more dramatic actions, and the press now paints Russia as deeply evil, just weeks after opining at length about how the Sochi Olympics had showed a good and just Russia.

Despite my long-held feelings for Russia, I have to disagree with the vitriol and diplomacy being thrown their way. Russia should be left alone. They are on the right side of this issue.

The United States and United Nations constantly tout the importance of democratic principles when it comes to governance and they love it when mass numbers of people make their voices heard to bring about change. Consider the silly fawning over the Arab Spring. That sense of revolt, the call for self-governance (or at least a new government), and the majority’s hunger for a new tomorrow really excited the Western world.

It’s obvious that in the Middle East, or almost anywhere else in the world for that matter, the desires of the majority hold special meaning for Westerners. So, how do we as a society accept the Arab Spring, much of which was based in violence and death, yet when a peaceful people go to the ballot boxes and 96 percent of them choose to be annexed by Moscow, we find that to be wrong? 

It’s likely that Western power brokers would prefer that the European Union gain as much control as it can. The Crimean dissent was an affront to that goal.

The Ukraine, with or without Crimea, is entering into a trade agreement with the EU, which is one of the stepping stones for ultimate inclusion into the EU.

Pick your poison: Is it better to be with Russia or the Europeans?

World leaders are enamored with the EU sociopolitical model, even though it is as broken and liberty-killing as any Russian federation. The EU is not just some multinational trade pact; it is a system of government that exerts a uniform rule over all of its participants, stripping them of their national sovereignty, subjecting them to common kangaroo courts, and making all engaged nations responsible for the fiscal and financial foibles of others (such as the bailouts of Greece and Spain). The world wants to drive more people into that system and others like it, pushing global uniformity upon everyone, wiping away the competition for people and prosperity that makes individual nations – and individual people – unique.

When it comes to the Crimean issue, our foreign policy is hypocritical. And, it’s wrong, just like most all of our interventionist policies (Iraq and Afghanistan, anyone?).

It’s time we dropped our baseless indignation over the Crimeans and Russians and took the advice of George Washington:

“The great rule of conduct for us, in regard to foreign nations, is … to have with them as little political connection as possible. ... Europe has a set of primary interests, which to us have none; or a very remote relation. Hence she must be engaged in frequent controversies, the causes of which are essentially foreign to our concerns. Hence, therefore, it must be unwise in us to implicate ourselves, by artificial ties, in the ordinary vicissitudes of her politics, or the ordinary combinations and collisions of her friendships or enmities.”

Bob Confer is a Gasport resident and vice president of Confer Plastics Inc. in North Tonawanda. Email him at bobconfer@juno.com.