Kevin Gutzman – Crimea Part I
EDITOR’S NOTE: This piece was originally Published on: Mar 18, 2014
Mandeville, LA – Exclusive Transcript – “So the vote has transpired. Crimeans, by all accounts, have overwhelmingly voted to join the Russian Federation. Of course, our first reaction to this, from the president, is: I’m not recognizing the vote because Crimea and Putin have violated the Ukrainian constitution, which I don’t know if they have or not. I just think that’s kind of funny. He doesn’t seem to have any problem violating the U.S. Constitution with impunity 24/7/365, so why should anyone else have to enforce their own constitution.” Check out today’s transcript for the rest…
Begin Mike Church Show Transcript
Mike: So the vote has transpired. Crimeans, by all accounts, have overwhelmingly voted to join the Russian Federation. Of course, our first reaction to this, from the president, is: I’m not recognizing the vote because Crimea and Putin have violated the Ukrainian constitution, which I don’t know if they have or not.
I just think that’s kind of funny. He doesn’t seem to have any problem violating the U.S. Constitution with impunity 24/7/365, so why should anyone else have to enforce their own constitution. I know you have a lot to say on this. I’ve set the table for you. What do you think?
Kevin Gutzman: I do think that is kind of a joke. In fact, every time I hear him say it, I think this is really transparent hypocrisy. The other thing is, you hear a lot of people saying: Well, what’s going on here violates international law, as if there had been some basis of international law for President Obama’s decision to launch the Air Force against Muammar Gaddafi. You may recall that we took down the Libyan government not too many moons ago. There was absolutely no basis for that in international law. Currently the United States government is financing and helping to equip Al-Qaeda-linked rebels in Syria. There’s no basis for that in international law. In fact, every time I say there’s no basis for that in international law, what I mean is that’s a violation of international law.
I think the current situation in Ukraine results from American foreign policy perfectly predictably, and, in fact, I’ve predicted it on your show. That is, the United States apparently has decided that it’s going to continue to confront Russia at every point and push against Russia’s interests at every point. Even when we get to the point of trying to extend the European Union and NATO into what historically has been Russia. People may not realize this because, well, nowadays we call it Ukraine. Historically what’s now the territory of the State of Ukraine was the center of Russia. Russia was settled in the Ninth Century by people from Scandinavia who historians called Varangians. The first capital of that state was at Kiev. Eventually the same ruling dynasty moved to Moscow and the state was the same. The idea that there’s been a distinct Ukrainian society, distinct from Russia, this is a very modern development. It certainly doesn’t go back to the Ninth Century. It really is a product of 19th Century Ukrainian nationalists. I think that anybody who knew anything about Russia, Russia’s history, Russia’s geopolitical imperatives would have been able to predict, as I did, that if there came a time when the United States was trying to deprive Russia of control of its only warm-water port in Crimea, the Russians would have to resist that. It’s not as if some Russian leader with a friendly face can decide: Oh, well, Crimea, who needs it?
I think this is clearly irresponsible. What the United States has brought about here was totally unnecessary and results from a kind of inertial tendency to want to be in confrontation with Russia, even though Russia is not the Soviet Union. In fact, I’ve heard, in the last two or three weeks, people on television, political commentators, it may be even during the Olympics, people were referring to Communists and the Soviets. Really? It’s distressing to me. I think that the United States government should be trying to form a partnership with the Russians instead of confronting them at every opportunity, as we’ve decided to do.
Mike: What is it that you would think is the motivation here? You used the term inertia twice. I’ll just concentrate on inertia. By inertia, you mean the behemoth that is the ship of State in Mordor on the Potomac, as I call it, DC, just can’t turn the damn ship. It just can’t stop what it’s been doing and it can’t conceive of doing anything else because this is what we did back in the ‘80s and ‘90s (or that’s what we think we did back in the ‘80s and ‘90s) so we have to keep doing that, regardless of whether or not there’s no Soviet Union there any longer, certainly not in the manner in which or under the same organization. So is it just an inability? Remember, after 9/11 they said: 9/11 was brought about by a lack of imagination. Is it that no one can imagine a foreign policy that does not have us at the center of the world, calling all the shots and bullying people about?
Gutzman: I think there’s a tendency to equate Russia with the Soviet Union, to think of Russian leaders as communists, to think of Russia’s interests as inherently contrary to our own, to want to undermine Russia’s station in the world at every opportunity, and essentially to play the game as if the Russians needed to be taken down a peg at every point. My point is, this is not necessary. It wasn’t necessary to try to extend NATO to Ukraine, to try to extend the European Union to Ukraine, to try to deprive the Russians of what is their most significant military base, which is their naval base in Crimea. It’s asinine. There was no reason to bring this about. Again, it was not only a predictable outcome, I predicted it.
Now I don’t know how to back out of this. It’s a terrible situation, but I think that instead of making all this noise, what the U.S. government ought to do is just stop it. Between 1954 and 1968, the old Soviet Union rolled into Eastern European countries with the military and put down domestic demands for republican government. That’s not what’s going on here. What’s going on here is that the Russians jiggered a referendum of a region that is mainly Russian-populated and those people voted for independent status, that is most of them want to be part of Russia, which, of course, historically was their situation.
You’ve heard people say: This is not a legitimate outcome. Really? Suppose we had a referendum in, I don’t know, Tennessee and people there voted for independence. What do you think the U.S. government’s response would be? Well, I can tell you what it has been. The other thing is, people have said: We don’t have a valid measurement of Crimea occupants’ sentiments because the Russian army has sent units into Crimea.
This is true, but on the other hand, in Virginia in 1777, we don’t have a valid measurement of people’s sentiments either. People who were not patriots were being suppressed, violently opposed. That was true in all 13 colonies. People were expelled. People’s property was taken. People were beaten up in the streets. People knew you weren’t to express non-patriotic sentiments. One could make the same kind of argument against the United States.
What is my point? My point is: Stop it already. There’s no reason why this continues. There has been talk about direct military confrontation with the Russians. Really? They have 3500 intercontinental ballistic missiles. They can melt New York in a second. The whole idea that we’re even thinking about doing this, over what, over a very remote naval base on a sea that is almost entirely landlocked and has really no interest of the United States? To me, again, it’s asinine. I think the
United States should just grant that Crimeans in general, probably the majority of them since 60 percent of people who live there are Russians, probably the majority of them want to be associated with Russia. Leave it at that. There’s no reason to continue this. It’s dangerous. It’s wasteful. It’s pointless. It’s not going to have a good outcome. If you think it’s been fun having a war in Afghanistan, just imagine a war with the Russians.
Mike: And you have Senator McCain saying: I’m not talking about boots on the ground, but military involvement is the next step. In what manner? What are you talking about?
Gutzman: The next step in what?
Gutzman: People ought to think about an endgame. Do you know how long the Russians were fighting with the Muslims in that region of the world? It was generations. It took generations before finally the Russians gained control of that area. Of course, it wasn’t at the seat for Western civilization when the Russians gained control of that area from the Muslims. That’s another thing. People ought to think about Russia as being part of our civilization instead of constantly painting them as the enemy.
End Mike Church Show Transcript