[image: Ready For Sea, 2013, JA Van Devender]
Matthew 24:6 (NKJV)
6 And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.
A profound sadness came over me this morning when I read the morning news and saw there heralded that Russia has demanded the surrender of the Ukrainian forces, at least in Crimea and, I am certain, with bold intent towards those divisions where mostly Russian lineage citizens reside. As Yogi Berra famously remarked . "It's like deja vu all over again." The first thought that crossed my mind was ... "and so it begins!"
The Russian bear does not easily abide cramped quarters and the fall of the Soviet Union and its resulting chaotic restructuring into the present distribution of former Soviet states was badly handled by the West in virtually every administration. I don't have any insight into how we might have done things differently other than remarking that the period of the Wiemar Republic had some similar characteristics... with the Allies presenting a somewhat contemptuous attitude toward the fallen state and essentially writing them off as they went through economic and political turmoil. The post Soviet era in Russia has been particularly ugly in many respects and it is only to be expected that a strongman politician would have an appeal to a people who want a return to respect and a degree of order.
There is no question that Russia would never have allowed the Crimea to be lost to her controlling presence. The roots to that piece of real estate go back for centuries and much blood has been spilled over it. But there is something more akin to the Anschluss (see HERE) than is readily dismissed as simple doom and gloom prophecy. Patterns are often more important than specific instances. There is no question, in my mind, that Russia is announcing to the world "We're back" and that they are prepared and intent upon assuming ascendancy in world affairs.
The US still possesses the greatest military power on earth and, incredibly enough, the most economic power, but both of these are obviously on the ebb. Politically we appear to rank somewhere in the second or third tier when it comes to the ability to actually influence world events so as to protect our own interests and those of our increasingly nervous allies. Russia can lay claim to hegemony in the Near East and faces serious competition only from China. Money follows influence and I have little doubt that Russian economic power will assert itself more strongly once the inevitable (and historically bloody) purges are undertaken. The various war-lords of the Russian mafia seem to me to be the only real internal hedge to political power and historically, rising rulers have sought to consolidate and extend their power by taking such divisions head on. Russian chess masters are masters of over-whelming attacks and that same mentality extends throughout their view of struggle.
Nazi Germany, in order to pursue its ultimate plans had to secure relations with its most immediate geographic threat. The non-aggression pact they signed with Russia freed them to undertake the conquest of Poland and they did so with a sense of impunity. All that is lacking in the current political landscape is for Russia, with their repudiation of Stalinist communism, and resurgent China with their de facto repudiation of Maoist communism, to find common ground, carve out mutual spheres of interest, agree to not interfere as the other pursues their objectives, and NATO would be essentially emasculated economically, politically and militarily.
I can't read such news as this apart from the strongest sense of fore-boding. Wishing people would be nice, and that we should all "just get along", is not grounds for a viable strategy which seeks to actually influence world events. It is not a question of choosing between the goal of "being loved" or "being feared." The true choices are between "being feared" and "being despised." I see nothing in the Western Powers today which should cause Putin to worry very much about anything he might decide to do. Apart from a return to Stalin's epic and ill disguised mass exterminations, he can generally pursue an adventurist foreign policy with relative security. Europe, dependent as it is on foreign energy, will not do much of anything other than squawk a bit. The US is incapable of decisive action. He doesn't have much to lose and there is much that can be gained.
This is not the end game... nor is it the opening... but it is that place in the chess game where the strategy becomes plain... and boldness of movement reveals confidence in the expected outcome.
Today we should all hang our head in sympathy, if nothing else, for the Ukraine. It is a noble land with a noble history and it would be a shame to see it once again shackled in grey obscurity to a burly thug with bloody intent.