Until the first salvo had been fired in the ongoing war on the plains of Ukraine, I must confess that my primary attitude towards the whole affair was a barely-stifled yawn. Unhinged Russian bellicosity mixed with terrible bluffing from Western leaders gave the entire affair the air of a schoolyard fight that was more words than punches:
“You better stay out of the way of Russia’s strategic interests or else, punk!”
“We’re gonna slap so many sanctions on you that you’re gonna regret it!”
Behind Putin’s bravado and Biden’s impotence, the Great Powers square-off was almost comical. Now, of course, no one is laughing. At least, the young men being blown to bits with rocket artillery or riddled with holes by machine guns won’t be laughing. Is what they’re fighting over worth it? Most certainly not. But of the two players, the Russians are the ones with the actual reason to be involved.
The roots of the Ukraine conflict are well-known by now. After suffering a color revolution which installed pro-Western elements in the Ukrainian government, Russia has stoked separatism by Russian ethnics in the eastern regions of the country. While keeping Ukraine out of an anti-Russian alliance is the ultimate goal, the proximate goal is neutralizing the country in this capacity. The current war follows on the heels of Russia’s annexation of the Crimean peninsula and its recognization of the Donbass and Luhansk regions as independent republics (obviously Russia-aligned).
The Power of Ethnicity vs. Nationality
When I look at the conflict, I can only see echoes of the same problem in American history. American history isn’t taught well in schools, so most of us forget the part where a bunch of WASP American settlers emigrated into Texas, which at the time was a province of the Mexican Republic. Within a few decades, the outsiders had enough staying power to form a breakaway republic. A few decades after that, after the annexation of Texas, a U.S. incursion into disputed land between the two countries sparked the Mexican-American War, otherwise known as the most naked land-grab in the history of the North American continent.
Am I sitting here and condemning Texans for, in essence, sparking a disastrous war that almost certainly led to the permanent impoverishment of our southern neighbor? No, not really. That was over a century and a half years ago, and things are always clearer in hindsight. It does illustrate one thing though.
Drawing lines on a map is a stupid way to figure out where one country ends and another begins. Having men die for lines on a map is the most wasteful use of human life that I can think of. Just as Texas ceased to be Mexican when the American culture of the settlers became the dominant one in the region, the Donbass and Luhansk regions ceased to be part of Ukraine when the pro-Russian dominant cultural elements of these respective provinces decided to throw their lot in with the Motherland instead of their political kin. In essence, lines on a map do not dictate loyalty, and loyalty dictates sovereignty. Dying for an imaginary line may seem lame, and it is, but no one can insult a man for dying for his village or his people.
In actual practice, the loyalty system that determines sovereignty need not be ethnic. However, that’s what we’re dealing with in this example, and in most of the thorny Eastern European conflicts, but it could just as well be propositional or fall on some other cultural or ideological line. Plenty of Germans and Irish fought for the U.S. of A. in the Mexican-American War, but when the Texas Republic first proclaimed independence, Irish and German settlers largely sided with the Catholic Mexicans rather than the fellow Europeans of the Protestant persuasion. The Protestant/Catholic or Communist/Non-Communist divide is a common factor of split loyalty in such scenarios. Anything that can radically alter the loyalties of people-groups might be said to constitute an ethnos.
Learn to Separate Ethnos from the State
If, however, the world establishment was really willing to end all war, they might try introducing a radical solution. Right now, borders and separatist groups are at tension. Separatists are bad when they go against the globalists’ perceived interest (as in the Donbass), but they are good when we do it (the myriad of CIA-backed Syrian partisan groups or the rump state of Kurdistan for example). Why not allow the separatist groups to, ya know, separate? What is the point of keeping people tied to a capital hundreds of miles away because at some point someone drew a line on the other side of their village?
What is the point, indeed?
This essay was originally published at the Hidebound Press, which is the publishing arm of the Hidebound Convivium YouTube channel, and has been republished with the permission of the site's owner.
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