Noru Tsalic

Watcha gonna do – when they come for you?

So what’s happening in Ukraine? The Ukrainian people have toppled a regime they perceived as corrupt and working against the interests of the country. Any way one looks at it, this is an internal Ukrainian issue. In no way did Ukraine attack or even posed the slightest threat to Russia. In no way did the anti-regime revolt threaten the security of Russians living in Ukraine; not one of them was attacked for being Russian. Yet, despite the lack of even a pretence of provocation, Russia sent its troops into Ukraine, seizing a good chunk of its territory. So far, nothing new. Indeed, Russia acted in a similar fashion in Georgia in 2008. Admittedly, the invasion of Ukraine is even more shameless; but that’s to be expected, given that Russia paid no penalty whatsoever for its Georgian ‘intervention’.

More interesting is the way in which the West (i.e. USA and the European Union) has reacted. US President Obama rather pathetically waved a finger at Putin, saying that “there will be costs” to pay. In diplomatic parlance, that’s an admission of total impotence; it really means ‘Hey, we both know I ain’t gonna do sh__ about it; but you spoiled my weekend and I don’t quite like that – make sure you do this on a weekday next time’. Putin did not even bother to wave a finger back; if he did, it would have been the middle one.

Russian troops in Ukraine.  Note the absence of identification symbols on the uniforms.
Russian troops in Ukraine. Note the absence of identification symbols on the uniforms.

The European Union’s reaction can only be characterised as rather intensive… head-scratching. Not that the EU is confronted with any dilemma; after all, the ‘Union’ has absolutely no intention of coming to the rescue of an unprovokedly attacked fellow European country. Not even one that was attacked as a result of attempting to join the EU.

In fact, no EU ‘leader’ even dreams about extending military aid to Ukraine; if EU were to search for its balls, it would find what’s left of them held firmly in the grip of Russia. That’s because the latter controls the flow of natural gas into Europe. And, given that idiotic policies have resulted in Europe’s dependence on natural gas, Russia is currently able to shut down the continent’s industry in little more than a couple of weeks.

But even if they wanted, there is very little that the European ‘leaders’could do. For the past hundred years of so, Europe’s military strategy has been, to put it in simple but poetic terms, “don’t worry, be happy: America will save our butts”. It worked: were it not for USA, the tricolour flag on top of Palais de l’Élysée would very likely be marred by either a black swastika or a red hammer-and-sickle. European governments have long ago abdicated from the most basic duty of any state: that of providing security to its citizens. Understandably perhaps, Germany shies away from anything that might remind people of its militaristic past. France’s military capabilities are best evidenced by the fact that its top elite unit is… the Foreign Legion; ‘best evidenced’ – unless, that is, one considers track record to be ‘evidence’, in which case no additional evidence would be needed. As for the UK, experts rate its military capabilities somewhere between “limited” and “hollow”. True, once upon a time the British Navy went to war over some islands thousands of miles away – and won. But that British Navy had aircraft carriers; and the country had a Prime Minister with balls that, although virtual, were bigger than anything you’d find in the trousers of the public school boys currently leading Britain. Were the Falklands to be taken these days, Prime Minister Cameron’s reaction would no doubt be to immediately summon the Argentine ambassador and tell him… that ‘there will be costs to pay’.

So no, Europe is not only unwilling, but also fundamentally unable. This time, however, its problem is that ‘America’ is also unable to save its butt. No, it’s not the usual case of American isolationism; rather, it’s a case of contagion: the European ailment has crossed the Atlantic, producing a US administration too ‘liberal’ to fight for democracy and too ‘democratic’ to defend liberal values. An administration that wants to ‘lead from behind’. If Europe relies on America, the latter has even more foolishly placed its hopes on the ‘international community’ – whatever that is.

But hey, we live in a democracy. If politicians are stupid and impotent, surely our valiant free press will unmask them and goad them into doing the right thing! Won’t it?

Russian settlers welcoming the invasion. The sign gloats: 'Russia will not forsake us! Crimea was and will be Russian!'
Russian settlers welcoming the invasion. The sign gloats:
‘Russia will not forsake us! Crimea was and will be Russian!’

Actually, if the leadership’s performance is, frankly speaking, pathetic – that of the press is totally disgusting. There’s no other way to describe it. If what’s happening in Ukraine would be happening inGaza, the BBC, Sky and Channel 4 would be reporting from there every 15 minutes. Thousands of journalists would be sent over – to reinforce the hundreds already in place; and they would furiously interview each other, in lieu of news, umpteen times a day. If this were Israel vs. Gaza, rather than Russia vs. Ukraine, there would be no doubt as to who’s the ‘strong’ and who’s the ‘weak’, who’s the ‘good’ and who’s the ‘evil’, who’s the ‘victim’ and who’s the ‘criminal’. But see, Jews are not involved in Ukraine – except potentially as victims of both sides; so, frankly, none of the superbly balanced and extremely accurate news outlets mentioned above (LOL!) are terribly interested. They’ve still to figure out who the good guys are and who the bad guys. Maybe the Ukrainians deserve to be invaded? Perhaps Russia has a God-given right to invade its immediate neighbours when they refuse to do its bidding? Our wise journalists are elegantly sitting on the proverbial fence: we’ll figure out who’s in the right when we know who wins. Meanwhile, the BBC is in the process of deciding whether to use the term ‘ethnic Russians’ or ‘Russian-speaking Ukrainians’ to describe the descendants of Russian settlers who moved into Ukraine under Czarist and Soviet occupation. Jews, of course, are ‘illegal settlers’ in Jerusalem – that is, for BBC, established fact. But Russians in Ukraine are… well, ‘Russians in Ukraine’. Even when it is in their name that the renewed occupation is enforced. (Hmmm, remember Sudeten Germans? Who says history does not repeat itself??)

Our ‘knowledgeable’ journalists speak about ‘Crimea’. Look at the map: Putin’s troops and their local collaborators have already occupied areas far beyond Crimea. If at all feasible, Putin will want to install a pro-Russian puppet regime in all of Ukraine; at a minimum, he will occupy the entire East and South of the country, perhaps as far as Odessa. These settler-populated areas will ‘declare independence from Ukraine’ under the ‘protection’ of Russian troops, just like the former Georgian regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Leaving the rump of Ukraine diminished, impoverished and quite likely landlocked – until such time as its inhabitants finally understood who’s the boss in that neighbourhood.

And who’s next? If you live in Moldova, or Latvia, or Estonia, or Lithuania – be worried. Sure, the Baltic countries are not ‘remote Ukraine’, they are European Union members. So what? Will the EU go to war when Russia invades Latvia ‘to defend ethnic Russians’? Because there are Russian settlers in that country, you know; and they weren’t treated all that nicely when Latvia regained its independence… The European Union has yet to move a finger to defend the territorial integrity of EU member Cyprus, 40% of whose territory is – according to the European Union, not according to humble me! – under Turkish occupation. So ask yourself: watcha gonna do when they come for you?

Now, my questions are: what’s the point in living in a democracy, if it’s unwilling and unable to even defend itself – let alone others – against shameless dictators? What’s the point in flaunting our freedoms and rights – if they can be taken away from us, if we can be forced to meekly surrender them to some neighbourhood tyrant? What’s the point in having a free press, if – rather than defending freedom – it serves as fig leaf for oppression and persecution? If it is only ‘free’ to plunge itself into the cesspit of moral relativism?

How can we ever hope to persuade others that what we have is valuable – then we can’t be bothered to fight for it??

About the Author
Noru served in the IDF as a regular soldier and reservist. Currently a management consultant, in his spare time he engages in pro-Israel advocacy, especially in interfaith environments. He presented in front of Church of England and Quaker audiences and provides support to Methodist Friends of Israel. Noru is the Editor-in-Chief of 'Politically-incorrect Politics' ( Translated into Polish, his articles are also published by the Polish portal 'Listy z naszego sadu.'