Press Conference, U.S. Cobgressional Delegation in Kyiv, Ukraine, March 15, 2014
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The diverse opinions and narratives about Ukraine by foreign observers is fascinating. Of course, I am one myself, and my views are formed by a lifetime of living and reading and thinking about politics and the possibility of creating a Utopia, or better yet, Peace. What is happening in Ukraine, and what happened in Yugoslavia, and Israel, and many other countries, is disheartening.
Strangers get together around a table, covered in maps. Each one takes up a different-colored pencil and starts drawing lines. The lines have no relationship to the geography of the land, or the histories of the people living there. Rather, they are constructs of imagined values and potentials for good or ill.
Afterwords, there is a big party. They all shake hands, and each gets the chunk of the map surrounded by his colored lines. Of course, these are important men - and yes 99% of them are men, just as 99% are white Europeans. The other one percent are token representatives of their sex, gender, or race or ethnic group. Their presence is needed only to give a pretense of congeniality and fairness to the proceedings. The important men return to the centers of power, whether the UN Security Council, NATO, or the E.U., and redraw the new maps using Magic Markers and indelible ink. That makes their decisions sacred and irrevocable.
Like the Jumblies, floating in the sieve, all the Important men who drew the map sing out "Oh, How Wise We Are... Peace in 'our' time is here!" Of course, they put little effort into creating a new society to reflect the realities forced upon the citizens. The people must make do as best they can. With no alternative in the near future, they hunker down, continue raising their families, doing their jobs, and hoping for a better life. And some create one. They learn a new language, or two. They create families with the new neighbors. Life goes on, as it always has for those of us who do not belong to the Power Group.
But men with Power are never satisfied. There is always something more, or new, or better, they want. So they send in spies and subversives to talk against the 'foreigners', the old-timers were forced to accept. They make promises and bribe the dissatisfied and under-class, to stir up anxieties, and class hatreds, and fears of the 'other'. Dissension and strife are always easier to create than peace and harmony. That is true in spades if there were divisions and fractures in the 'New Society', that were easier to ignore than confront.
Out come the guns and the knives. The Men of Power rattle sabers and bring on the tanks. Planes hover overhead. World War is threatened. Sanctions are imposed - on individuals, in the case of the Crimean Referendum. The countries created with the colored pencils were not created with permanent markers after all - They fall apart like a house of cards. Brother strikes brother. Civil war breaks out. And, often the new countries, drawn so capriciously, revert to their old loyalties.
Observers like me condemn one side or another, but we are not the injured parties. We are nothing more than dilettantes getting our jollies watching others die on U-Tube. If we had any brains or guts, we would pick up our cudgels and march on Washington or London or Berlin, and try to beat some sense in those Men of Power who laugh at the Peons and Serfs who die for the frivolous luxuries of the Powerful.
As these idiots who rule us ignore the important things like climate change, hunger, poverty, corruption, and every other disaster hovering on the near horizon, we encourage their illusions. Truth is, it is easier to change the channel, turn your back, pop another beer, than it is to accept responsibility for any of this.
And, responsible we are, if only because we elect the S.O.B.s who are destroying our world - and deny we have any other choices.