If Russia supported rebelling in eastern Ukraine to the extent the US did in the west, it would evoke unchecked wrath from the neocons and R2Pers. They have already castigated Russia for saying it would go in to protect Russian citizens in eastern Ukraine. According to William Polk, the US has deployed troops 100 times for the protection of American citizens. We can all hope it won't come to this in eastern Ukraine, but if it does, it is just another instance of Russia, a typical if powerful nation-state, exercising its imperatives to protect itself in a world that desperately needs effective international law. To avoid such a break up of Ukraine, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has pushed for Ukrainian constitutional reform giving eastern regions of autonomy, a demand the Russians have also made. Neither the coup government nor the US have expressed interest to date.
The Free Lunch Crowd
US neocons and R2Pers would be stupid to think their cheerleading for overthrowing Yanukovych could be carried out cost-free. This kind of "Free Lunch" mentality has built up over the years since the collapse of the Soviet Union. "Russia is prostrate," the Free Lunch crowd crows. "So we can do whatever we want to oppose Russian tyranny and expand our benign economic, cultural, and political practices, and Russia won't react! We can shove NATO down its throat, we can upset the balance of power in their neighborhood with ABMs in bordering countries, and by golly, we can humiliate them by turning Ukraine--the whole thing, not just the western part--into an ally that will bend towards our economic, political, and if necessary, our military interests. Ha, we''ll even threaten their naval base in Crimea! Yippee, what a prize we'll have!"
Oops! The Russian Bear responded after the Ukraine coup. "Bad Bear, bad bad Bear!" the Free Lunch crowd bellows. US provocations occurred despite repeated warnings from Russia over the years that they were not going to take it. So the world is now endangered by the US's adventurist, hubristic, reckless insistence over the past decades to take advantage of Russia's weakness following the collapse of the USSR, which now brings us to dangerous conflict in Ukraine, a country with deep historical ties to Russia. This is a terrible example of the Free Lunch mentality, thinking Russia wouldn't respond when the Ukraine "button" was pushed. After all, the argument goes, Russia's economy is largely comprised of energy production, and its dependence on the EU market makes it very difficult for Russia to mount opposition to US/EU designs in Ukraine. "And if Russia does raise a fuss, so what? We're more powerful, and Ukraine and the EU will be potential markets for our energy supplies!" The EU, in the meantime, is treading carefully. A full-fledged cold-war break with Russia, as much as US neocons would welcome it, would make it very difficult for the EU to replace the energy it currently gets from Russia, despite US hopes to supply the EU's energy needs which cannot happen soon enough to avoid severe consequences for the EU.
"Mature" Superpower: an oxymoron?
I can't avoid speculating on what a mature, responsible, and powerful nation-state might have done regarding the February 21 agreement. Assume for the sake of discussion that the coup perpetrators acted autonomously. A powerful, mature, and wise nation-state would have been a party to the February 21 agreement, or if not would immediately accept it after the coup and do what it could to implement it. This would mean withholding recognition from the new illegal coup-installed government and restoring Yanukovych to the less powerful presidency called for in the agreement. It would work closely with Russia, an ally with a greater stake in the outcome, an ally who helped resolve problems in Syria and Iran, who cooperates closely in space (in fact, who is the only country that can ferry US and other astronauts to the space station), an ally that has a young (23 year-old) "two steps forward, at least one and a half back struggling democracy that is faltering as such.
A mature and powerful nation-state would work to do what it could to relax tensions inside Ukraine, perhaps keeping the country intact. Instead, we have a spiteful, mean-spirited superpower that believes religiously in its "Exceptionalism," refuses to relax tensions with a small country off its shores because it pays obeisance to Florida's Cuban "mafia", protects the known terrorists who brought down Cuba's civilian airliner out of the sky, preaches against intervention but is so quick to invade other countries and most often shoots itself in the foot in the process but never learns better, preaches human rights but tortures its captives, pretends beyond belief that it is an "honest broker" but always stands up for the side that continuously steals land and oppresses those it occupies because of its obeisance to the Israel-right-or-wrong "mafia," never misses an opportunity to look down its nose and lecture other countries about their bad behavior, lost a war to Vietnam but mended relations only grudgingly two decades after the loss, tolerated and even supported the Cambodian perpetrators of genocide because they were against Vietnam, has a nasty right wing that stooped to smearing Russia's great writers as supposed examples of what's wrong with Russia today, etc., etc., etc.
The Root of the Problem
Friends, we are dealing here with the hubris of the US national security apparatus and its cheerleaders, the paranoids and provocateurs in it, the believers in limited nuclear war, the overweening self righteousness of R2Pers, the confluence of commercial and geostrategic interests, and the gross, abject, and irresponsible failure of the mainstream media to provide objective information on what's happening.
The US national security apparatus is one of the main components of what Bill Moyers called "The Secret Government" in his book of the same title. Eisenhower vainly warned against the excessive power of the military-industrial complex, but the juggernaut plows on. Obama (partly through his own mistakes) was "mousetrapped" into approving a 30,000 increase of troops in Afghanistan, and likewise came close to stepping into Syria's civil war except for strong opposition from the British parliament, the US Congress, and most importantly from the American public. For now, he's resisting the more reckless demands of the neocons to confront Russia and re-start the Cold War they miss so badly, but plenty of damage has already been done.
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