Viewing from a distance, through the lens of news coverage, the situation in Crimea, I’m struck by the danger of escalation and how easily a destabilizing bad precedent can become established.
The unilateral action Putin has taken in annexing Crimea, ostensibly in solidarity with its majority Russian-speaking population, leaves plenty of room for other nations to follow. Imagine China waltzing into Taiwan, emboldened by the relative paucity of any ‘diplomatic’, non-military response?
Of course, any armed confrontation between nuclear powers would be cataclysmic and must be avoided at all costs, but roots of this present crisis must be traced back to the Arab Spring and specifically the Syrian Civil War. Here, Putin learnt that Western threats and wishes could be ignored and Russia could act as a regional power, able to prop-up compliant dictators and flout those with more scruples through covert action to bolster the incumbent regime.
Interestingly, all of this unrest flows partly from the destabilizing impact of the global downturn from 2008, which has heightened the misery of individuals underneath the heel of totalitarian government. There’s a parallel with the famous Wall Street Crash and subsequent worldwide belt-tightening (c. 1929 onward), which also resulted in increasingly bellicose and aggressive nationalist wars. From the Italian Mussolini’s takeover of what was then called Abyssinia in northern Africa to the Japanese juggernaut grabbing Manchuria, Hitler learned that there was little appetite for any efforts to stop such territorial aggrandizement. The UN’s precursor, the League of Nations, proved completely ineffectual in guaranteeing national sovereignty, and the main powers were too committed to isolationism, appeasement… any solution that did not involve another appallingly costly war.
Tragically, only the force of arms could stop Adolf Hitler’s Armageddon. I hope and pray that Putin’s plans – whatever exactly those are – prove less blood-drenched. May the God of all grace protect and shield us, enabling us to care for one another, just as He loves us.