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Emet m'Tsiyon

Monday, March 17, 2014

Crimea? Why Doesn't Obama Blame Bush for Kossovo?

What does Crimea have to do with Kossovo? In both cases, you have a territory with a certain amount of official autonomy within a larger state. Kossovo was part of Serbia with an autonomous status officially. And Serbia was a part --a republic-- of Yugoslavia.  The Crimea was an autonomous republic, officially, within Russia until 1954. In that year, a year after Stalin's death, the new boss of the USSR, Nikita Khrushchov, administratively transferred the Crimea from Russia to Ukraine. Why did he do it? I can't be sure. He was part Ukrainian and maybe wanted to flatter his conationals or make up for the cruelties under his own rule over Ukraine in the 1930s. In any event, it didn't much matter in Soviet days since all the big decisions were made in Moscow.

So historically the Crimea was never Ukrainian. In ancient times it is said to have been inhabited by Scythians and Sarmatians, people of whom little is now known. There were Greek colonies there in classical times and it became part of the Roman empire along with Greece and later, in the Middle Ages, it formed part of the East Roman [Byzantine] Empire, although as Byzantium grew weaker, Genoa set up colonies there along with Byzantine-ruled areas, after a time of Khazar rule. In the 1200s it was conquered by Genghis Khan's Mongol Golden Horde and Tartars have been there ever since.

The peninsula was mainly inhabited by Tartars, eventually converted to Islam, and under loose Ottoman suzerainty. The Tartars raided the Slavic zones of northern Ukraine, southeastern Poland, Belarus and southern Russia for slaves, They seem to have been the major source of slaves for the  empire. It was after Russia had stopped the slave raids after annexing the Crimea in 1783 that the Ottoman Empire turned to Black Africa as its major source of slaves.

In fact all of southern Ukraine of today was Tartar territory conquered by Russia starting with 1774 and the Treaty of Kutchuk Kainardji. The conquest of Crimea crowned this Russian effort. The Turkish historian Kamal Karpat notes that  most of the Tartars migrated to the lands of the Ottoman Empire so as not to live under infidel rule. The Russian tsars undertook to give special inducements to get their subjects to come settle in the depopulated formerly Tartar territory. Even Jews were given inducements to settle there, such as exemption from restrictions on Jews elsewhere in the Russian Empire. Settlers, including Jews, were given land.

Hence, the southern Ukraine of today was not Ukrainian originally. But the clown Yatseniuk, new leader of the Ukraine, says that the Ukraine will never surrender. He was referring to the Crimea, never Ukrainian until 1954. And he almost sounds like he is saying that the Ukraine will fight for the Crimea until the last drop of blood. And Yatseniuk and his followers want to fight over what was never Ukrainian until a Soviet ruler made an arbitrary decision in 1954. It seems that Soviet Communist decisions are more important than self-determination of the current population now in the Crimea.

The Western powers, especially the EU and USA, are mightily outraged. International law is being violated by Russia and its planned annexation of the Ukrainian real estate called the Crimea. The pro-Russian referendum is another violation of international law. To be sure, the referendum was hardly fair. Voters could not vote to stay with the Ukraine. The choices on the vote were limited, much like the choices on many public opinion polls that are designed to elicit the desired answer, whatever public opinion may really be. On the other hand, TV reports on Israel and France24 TV showed that the majority wanted reunification with Russia. In the Crimea the West exalts the principle of  "international law" and rejects self-determination.

In Kossovo, on the other hand, where Kossovo was part of Serbia, the West rejected international law in favor of self-determination for the Kossovo Albanians who had, by the way, performed ethnic cleansing on the Serbs in that territory with seeming international approval. And this was after centuries of Kossovo Albanian oppression and exploitation of Serbs in Kossovo since nearly all Kossovo Albanians were Muslims in the Muslim Ottoman Empire.

Let's say politely that the West has flexible standards, not double standards, God forbid. Just flexible ones. And it seems that interests overcome principles.

Prez George Bush II, the one whom Obama likes to blame for all domestic and international problems, pushed Kossovo independence and its breaking away from Serbia. Russia opposed this on the grounds of international law. Now the situation is reversed. Putin and other Russian officials warned at the time that supporting Kossovo independence against Serbia could lead to other actions elsewhere that the West might not like. But Bush and Condoleezza Rice went ahead with promoting the independence of a government of traders in human body parts. It's obvious that the subsequent Georgian and Crimean crises are Russian reactions to Western actions in Kossovo, promoted by Bush and Condi. But Obama has nothing to say in criticism of Bush's Kossovo policy. That he apparently approves of although, as Putin said, that policy opened a Pandora's box.

In view of the above, how can anyone both sane and well-informed believe that US mediation can lead to Israel-Arab peace?


Also on Kossovo see here & here & here.

On Crimea and Ukraine see an interview with Charles E King  here.
Leftist writer also acknowledges presences of Nazi-sympathizers in Ukrainian Maidan movement [here]

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