March 6, 2014

Russia, Ukraine, and Crimea: the ex-wife analogy

From the NYT:
Steeped in Bloody History, and Seeing a Chance to Rewrite It 

SEVASTOPOL, Ukraine — Drawing on his experiences as a young artillery officer in imperial Russia’s military during the 1853-56 Crimean War, Leo Tolstoy described in “Sevastopol Sketches” how a wounded Russian soldier whose leg had been amputated above the knee coped with agonizing pain. 
“The chief thing, your honor, is not to think,” Tolstoy’s amputee remarked, “If you don’t think, it is nothing much. It mostly all comes from thinking.” 
It is advice, however, that virtually nobody in Crimea,particularly not here in Sevastopol, shows any sign of heeding. With nearly every other street named after a Russian general or a gruesome battle, its lovely seafront promenade dominated by a “monument to sunken ships” and its central square named after the imperial admiral who commanded Russian forces against French, British and Turkish troops in the 19th century, Sevastopol constantly feeds thoughts of war and its agonies. 
Bombarded with reminders of the Crimean War, which involved a yearlong siege of the city, and World War II, when the city doggedly resisted Nazi forces until finally falling in July 1942, Sevastopol has never stopped thinking about wartime losses — and has never been able to cope with the amputation carried out in 1954 by the Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev. 
Wielding a pen instead of a knife, Khrushchev ordered Sevastopol and the rest of the Crimea transferred to the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic. At the time, the operation caused little pain, as both Russia and Ukraine belonged to the Soviet Union, which chloroformed ethnic, linguistic and cultural divisions with repression. 
When Ukraine became a separate independent nation at the end of 1991, however, Sevastopol — the home of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet since the 18th century — began howling, culminating in the Crimean Parliament’s decision on Thursday to hold a referendum on March 16 on whether to break away from Ukraine and become formally part of Russia once again. 

Here's an analogy for the way Russians see Crimea, especially Sevastopol. Say your family has owned a beautiful vacation property on the beach for generations where many of your family's memories were written. Years ago your new bride so charmed your grandmother that grandma rewrote her will to leave it to her personally. That seemed like a sweet, meaningless gesture because you were hitched for life, right?

But years after grandma died, the company you'd started went under and your wife left you. Since you got divorced, your ex-wife has been letting you use the beach house about as often as you can get away, so it hasn't really been an issue. And your mutual children will inherit it, right? And, now that you are back on your feet financially, you figured it was only a matter of time until you won her back.

But you just heard your ex-wife wants to marry your arch-rival in business, the man who ruined your company, especially with all the underhanded things he did after you agreed to sell an interest to him. He's incredibly pushy and entitled, so you can just picture him never letting you use the beach house, and then leaving it to all his kids from his first wife, or maybe they'll have some kids of their own. Whatever he's scheming it's got you hot under the collar.

So, you break into the summer house on the beach and now you are in there. You figure your ex-wife and her new husband aren't brave enough to throw you out physically, and if they try to take you to court, you can always publicize all the bad things her new husband has done over the years to get so rich.

Sounds like a plan, right? (Okay, admittedly, you've been drinking kind of heavily since you heard the news about your ex-wife, but, like the song advises, you've sent for lawyers, guns, and money, so what could possibly go wrong?)


Anonymous said...

"...the man who ruined your company."

Lots of East Indians, Kenyans, Lesothans, etc. are convinced that their parents and grandparents chased out the British on their own. Defeated them in some way. Steve's sentiment is just as delusional.

Anonymous said...

"“Before I went into the Ivy League everyone had a preconceived notion of the Princeton offense, a bunch of white guys passing the ball around and chucking up a lot of 3s,” said forward Justin Sears, a sophomore who leads Yale with 16.3 points a game. “The game is changing.”

AnotherDad said...

The Crimea is Russian.

Putin seized the opportunity provided by yet more feckless pompous meddling by our "global cosmopolitan" masters ... to grab it back for Russia. Good for him.

And honestly, no big loss for Ukraine if its goal is to be a "nation".

Anonymous said...

The ex-wife analogy is BRILLIANT.

Modern Abraham said...

I think chances are fair that sometime after 2016, Sam Power gets boob implants, then she and Obama elope after divorcing their respective spouses.

What I mean is that of all Obama's underlings, perhaps she is closest to him in terms of core idealism. The question is, is Obama wisely just going through the motions here (making noises early on even though he couldn't give a fig about Ukraine so that Putin stops well short of any true red-line), or does he really want to move the hands of the Doomsday Clock 1 minute closer to midnight for the sake of World War G?

I have no doubt Samantha Power is a tru-believin' nutjob, and so the analogy is more like eldercare from grown children. Liberal trans-Atlantic elites are sincerely convinced of their own boundless goodness, but would you give over total control of your life to an adult child even if you knew they loved you and had only the purest intentions?

"Dad, I think you should give me the car keys and let me drive you from now on."
"But I'm only 57!"

"Dad, I think we need to start watching what you eat. Let me buy all your groceries from now on."
"But the doctor says my cholesterol is fine!"

Even if you were convinced the EU was entirely harmless and well-meaning, would you as a national leader let it tighten the ring around your country till its room for independent national existence consisted of deciding which contestants to send to the Eurovision Song contest? Putin is the elderly adult. The EU is the grown child.

SWPL's have spent decades now documenting the alienation and sickness at the heart of suburban nuclear family life. Yet they have no problem believing masses of entirely alien peoples can live entirely happy, frictionless existences together.

Anonymous said...

Heydrich : Hitler : Holocaust ::
Khruschev : Stalin : Ukrainian Genocide. It just now struck me that maybe Khruschev's Crimean gesture was a subconscious attempt to alleviate some of his responsibility (maybe even guilt) for his role in the Ukraine's tragedy. This helps explain the obvious irrationality of the act that at least nominally ceded control of one of Russia's major military resources to a non-Russian Soviet "Republic".

AnotherDad said...

BTW, Steve's analogy is on point.

And i learned--the hard way, bitterly--that you don't do what the Grandma did. (In my case, helping my brother+wife buy a house ... which effectively now has half gone to the feckless, entitled parasite that is his now ex-wife--one of those people who's never done an honest day's work in her life, but has lived well suckling from all the "programs" and "grants" titties of the public fisc--rather than wholly for my brother's and following that my niece's financial security.)

I'll make sure i don't make the same mistake with my kids spouses.

Moral of the story:
It doesn't take Nikta Krushchev to screw this stuff up. Don't assume any marriage is going to last.

Steve Sailer said...

It's kind of like how Paul McCartney felt during the years when Yoko Ono got all the royalties for "Yesterday."

Kibernetika said...

It comes down to this:

Why does the USA media so despise Russia?

Why is there no "democracy" until the first American bombs fall? :(

And I'm an American, believe it or not. What the hell are we doing?

Vladimir Vladimirovi4 Maiakovskii said...

A Cloud In Trousers - part I
You think malaria makes me delirious?

It happened.
In Odessa it happened.

"I'll come at four," Maria promised.


Then the evening
turned its back on the windows
and plunged into grim night,

At my decrepit back
the candelabras guffawed and whinnied.

You would not recognise me now:
a bulging bulk of sinews,
and writhing,
What can such a clod desire?
Though a clod, many things!

The self does not care
whether one is cast of bronze
or the heart has an iron lining.
At night the self only desires
to steep its clangour in softness,
in woman.

And thus,
I stood hunched by the window,
and my brow melted the glass.
What will it be: love or no-love?
And what kind of love:
big or minute?
How could a body like this have a big love?
It should be teeny-weeny,
humble, little love;
a love that shies at the hooting of cars,
that adores the bells of horse-trams.

Again and again
nuzzling against the rain,
my face pressed against its pitted face,
I wait,
splashed by the city's thundering surf.

Then midnight, amok with a knife,
caught up,
cut him down
out with him!

The stroke of twelve fell
like a head from a block.

On the windowpanes, grey raindrops
howled together,
piling on a grimace
as though the gargoyles
of Notre Dame were howling.

Damn you!
Isn't that enough?
Screams will soon claw my mouth apart.

Then I heard,
a nerve leap
like a sick man from his bed.
barely moving,
at first,
it soon scampered about,
Now, with a couple more,
it darted about in a desperate dance.

The plaster on the ground floor crashed.

big nerves,
tiny nerves,
many nerves!
galloped madly
till soon
their legs gave way.

But night oozed and oozed through the room
and the eye, weighed down, could not slither out of
the slime.

The doors suddenly banged ta-ra-bang,
as though the hotel's teeth

You swept in abruptly
like "take it or leave it!"
Mauling your suede gloves,
you declared:
"D' you know,
I'm getting married."

All right, marry then.
So what,
I can take it.
As you see, I'm calm!
Like the pulse
of a corpse.

Do you remember
how you used to talk?
"Jack London,
But I saw one thing only:
you, a Gioconda,
had to be stolen!

And you were stolen.

Anonymous said...

reacting to stories in the NYT.

Man, that's as beta as it gets.

I previously donated money to Steve; now I'm close to no longer reading this blog.

5371 said...

I wonder if the misrulers of Kiev have yet got the message that flirting with the EU and NATO can diminish your substance? Perhaps they need more than one lesson.

Anonymous said...

@ Vladimir Vladimirovi4 Maiakovskii

So weird. Why would you post this terrible translation? Why here? Why anywhere, actually? Sure, Mayakovsky is pretty much impossible to translate properly but surely no translation is better than a very bad one?

Harry Baldwin said...

I previously donated money to Steve; now I'm close to no longer reading this blog.

Let us know what you finally decide. I'm sure we're all desperately interested.

Anonymous said...

On the ruins of our superpower
There is a major paradox of history:
Sevastopol - the city of Russian glory -
Is... outside Russian territory.

Big Bill said...

"I previously donated money to Steve; now I'm close to no longer reading this blog."

Interesting. It has just the opposite effect on me. I stopped reading David Horowitz' website in 2002 when he switched his focus from America to invading Afghanistan in the very beginning of the GWOT.

That was some five or six wars ago.

Peter the Shark said...

Why the complicated analogy? It's very simple - Russia conquered Crimea in the 19th century, it was then colonized by Russians, it is part of Russia. That's it.

Here's an analogy for the way Russians see Crimea - the same way Americans see California. That's about it.

A bigger problem for the future is that a lot of Russians feel the same way about Odessa - and like Crimea Odessa was never traditionally part of historical Ukraine - it was Ottoman territory conquered by the Russians, the city was founded and built by Russians, and Odessa has played a central role in Russian popular culture for centuries. Unlike Crimea, though, Odessa is now home to a significant Ukrainian population.

Anonymous said...

"Why does the USA media so despise Russia?"

The oligarchs who own the US media tell them to.

Badden said...

This gets difficult with the Zevon addendum. The waitress is with the Russians, and you're the Russians. Is the waitress anyone? Someone who is also with the Russians and therefore no point of conflict? Does the whole waitress clause in the song just cancel out applied to this context then?

Is the waitress Dugin?