September 7, 2014

Anti-Russian Ukrainians resent complexity

First up is the Orwellian warning by Chrystia Freeland, Canadian MP and long-time armchair anti-Russia agitator on behalf of Ukraine, against nuanced or neutral (let alone objective) language in describing the rebellion in Donetsk and Luhansk and particularly Russia’s involvement (Sept. 5, New York Times). Instead, she praises the popular success of the Twitter hashtag ”#RussiaInvadedUkraine” as perfectly conveying the truth of the matter. Needless to say, she does not mention the EU’s and USA’s, as well as her own, role in overthrowing a democratically elected government because it was not favoring “The West” enough — or likely even more simply because it was ready to renew the lease on Russia’s Black Sea naval base in Sevastopol, Crimea. The swift (and peaceful) action by Putin to secure Crimea in response to the coup must have been what sent Nato’s Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen round the bend, much as Putin’s protection of Edward Snowden and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s deft thwarting of American bombing of Syria left Obama seething — Putin is a devil because he sees through these hypocritical machinations of “The West”, especially those of the U.S. military empire.

What could be more Orwellian than reducing this complex situation to the nonsensical “#RussiaInvadedUkraine”?

Then today’s local newspaper featured an article about local Ukrainians (no Russians!), including Victoria Somoff, assistant professor of Russian at Dartmouth College, who grew up in Donetsk:
Somoff said she is used to sorting out problems rationally, but the conflict has put that approach to the test.

“It’s becoming this full-scale anger. It almost scares me because I’m not a confrontational person,” she said. “I feel it’s so unjust and unfair for Russia to take over my town and my country.”

Somoff said national tensions have led to sharp disagreements between her and colleagues, many of whom live in Russia, where local support for Russia’s action runs high. ...

That point was underscored to Somoff on Wednesday, when a conversation with a professor in Russia turned sour. “We were supposed to talk about scholarly matters, a completely unrelated topic,” she said. But the international conflict looms so large that it’s almost impossible to ignore, she said, and soon the discussion became heated.

While her colleague wasn’t defending Russia, he said some blame also was due to the Ukrainian government for its poor treatment of Russian-speaking Ukrainian citizens.

But Somoff said she can no longer afford to see the picture in shades of gray.

“I am a scholar. I see complexity,” she said. “But there is a point where the boundaries are drawn and arguments for complexity play to Putin. I am kind of losing any ability to be objective here.”
Acknowledgement of complexity plays to Putin, so Somoff must deny that complexity and join Rasmussen and Obama in seething rage against Putin for denying them their “win” (and for making them act like simpletons?). They would rather start World War III than admit their own contributions to fomenting and perpetuating the crisis, simply because it did not go as they planned.

It is, after all, “The West” that has left a trail of death, chaos, and destruction throughout Africa and southwest Asia, and sought to add Ukraine to that list.