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Judge Napolitano has penned an interesting essay on the Ukraine situation:

Enter Vladimir Putin. He is the popularly elected president of Russia who has designs on reconstituting the old Soviet Union. Putin is also an ex-KGB agent; he is a torturer, a murderer, a tyrant and a monster. He often has lamented the demise of the former Soviet Union.

All true.  Let's not forget that Bush and Obama have both tortured (by the definition commonly used), both have murdered (including knowingly shooting un-involved civilians with follow-up shots after alleged terrorists were hit) and more.  Putin hardly has a monopoly on this sort of behavior.  As for being a tyrant turning the IRS on political opponents was part and parcel of Nixon's impeachment.  

Of course Nixon was a Republican....

Ukraine was a part of that union until the evil empire dissolved in 1991. It was the most economically productive part of that union. Today it enjoys a mostly free market and is highly entrepreneurial, though partly a welfare state. Roughly two-thirds of Ukraine identifies with Europe and one-third with Russia.

True as well, but let us not forget what faction wants which outcome.  The two-thirds are primarily the welfare state element.  Our good Judge conveniently omits that from his dissertation, and one has to wonder why given that the data is available in pictorial form.

Putin’s invasion is profoundly unlawful, as it constitutes the introduction of military troops into a sovereign territory without governmental invitation or consent, and the absence of identifying insignia puts this invasion outside the protections of the Geneva Conventions and the rules of war. Hence the Russian troops are legally fair game for Ukrainian troops and civilian militias.

True that as well, particularly that being outside of the rules of war means that being summarily shot-on-sight is within the correct means of response for either Ukrainian troops or, for that matter, ordinary civilians.  But, as the Judge notes...

As well, don’t expect the Russians to leave. Most residents of Crimea are Russian speaking and actually welcome their invaders (again, you cannot make this up). 

Are you an invader if you're invited, insignia or no?  Hmmmmm.  That might decrease the number of people who want to shoot (legally permitted under the rules of war) materially.... in fact, it might reduce that number to zero.  Perhaps that's why there hasn't been any shooting -- other than a group of snipers in the original uprising, and there's plenty of open questions as to exactly who those people were.

Then of course there's the backdrop.  As the Judge notes we've got quite a history here, and so does Ukraine.  I specifically note that they were "invited" to give up their nukes.  They did so, and, well, how's that working out for their government now?  I suspect they'd really like to have a few of those 5,000 they used to possess back as it would provide quite the deterrent value for them, eh?

There might be some people in Iran paying attention to that little chain of events too, I suspect....

Along side this, of course, the Judge also notes our little "adventures" in both Iraq and Egypt where we openly fomented revolution and our President called for "regime change" as a public matter.  What many seem to forget is that both had governments that we had almost single-handedly installed years previous.  Did we have the right to do that in the first place -- or to foment the later actions?

Neither of those little adventures have worked out so well for us, and they certainly put the United States in a rather awkward position trying to lecture the Russians about intervention in other lands.

There's another problem too that's not being discussed much -- what actually set off this little mess.

Were we involved and did we agitate for it?  Probably.  There seems to be at least some reasonably-solid evidence for that.  But I suspect that much of the problem in Ukraine was really about corruption, "Robin-Hood" style theft and similar outrageous acts by their government.  You have seen the ridiculous palatial spread that Yanukovich had all to himself, yes?  How'd that happen, might I ask?  

And no, that doesn't tend to support Pootie's point of view in this matter, does it?

But take a close look at the industrious people in some parts of the country and those who are welfare basket cases in others.  Look at the distribution of same.  Now contemplate why one should pay for the other and whether one was being effectively forced to do so.  At what point does stealing for both the "elites" and the leaches reach the point where a group of producing people coalesce and say "No!"

More to the point are they not fully within their rights to do exactly that?

Is that the underlying problem?

Maybe.  It certainly can't be dismissed quite as easily as claiming that "western" interests were responsible, can it?  Take those two last points together and you have quite the mess, and most of it looks rather home-grown to me.

Let's ask this inconvenient question: How do you incite a people to revolution if they like their government?

Now look at our history right here in the US.  Have we ever done something like that here at home?

Why yes we did.

What did you learn about the Civil War in school?  Did it include the fact that slavery was already on its way out economically due to mechanization (specifically, the invention of the mechanical tractor and its attachments) and within a decade or so would have disappeared all on its own purely for economic reasons?  Did your education include the fact that there were tariff and impost changes passed in the years leading up to the Civil War, championed by the north's Representatives and Senators, that effectively forced the agricultural southern states to grossly subsidize the northern ones?

Specifically there was a tariff aimed directly at foreign manufactured goods in Europe that were made from southern agricultural products, effectively boosting the price of everything the southern states imported by 50%!  The northern states didn't import those things at all and thus didn't care.  South Carolina responded by passing a state law declaring that tariff null and void -- President Jackson, with Congress clucking away, responded to that law by sending warships into Charleston harbor.  That was 30 years prior to the Civil War so perhaps I should forgive you if you nodded off in that part of your education on US History.

These situations are never as simple as they seem, are they?

Of course here, now and today we appear to be creating a whole class of people (cough-Pelosi-cough-Boehner-cough-Reid-cough-Obama-cough!) ourselves that believe stealing from one person to give to another is just fine, and, if some of it gets siphoned off for themselves or their "friends and family" that's all to the good too.  Yes, it's far less extreme than what we've seen over in the Ukraine, but isn't that really just a matter of degree rather than the offense itself?  Oh, and just out of curiosity, what does our Congressional approval rating look like again?

Speaking of such degrees, the alleged Crimean Parliament that "voted" to "affiliate" with Russia..... that wouldn't be the same Parliament that was stormed by troops in black masks with no insignia, yes? Gee, is that vote rather akin to those held in fabulously free nations like North Korea?

So yeah, if you ask me, Putin is a jackass and Crimea looks an invasion.  But in a land of 545 jackasses in Washington DC, never mind what we have seen thus far with Yanukovich, exactly how hypocritical are we willing to be when we have steadfastly done exactly what we're complaining about for decades, never mind our own internal Robin Hood games right here at home that continue to this day.

It would be fabulous if we had the moral high ground here, as if we did we could easily make a clean argument and stand tall.

But we don't -- and that's our fault.

Finally, there's this to consider:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. 

Did we have the right to lay forth those words and then enforce them 235 years ago?  Our so-called "Constitutional Lawyer cum President" seems to think not if his little speech yesterday is any indication.  But if not then he's illegitimate as a President as unless our exercise of that right was and remains valid we have no right to be an independent nation and thus he has no right to be a President.

If so then please explain why any subset of the Ukrainian people do not likewise have the very same right that forms the basis of Obama's claim on the Presidency -- assuming, of course, that they really are asserting that right on their own, independently.

I'll be waiting for your explanation; this ought to be fun to watch.

After all, we did declare that right to be unalienable.  And that, my friends means you can't sign it away in a treaty or Constitution nor can it be taken from you.  It can be respected or disrespected (and of course there may be severe consequences if you try to assert it in the face of disrespect) but an unalienable right remains yours irrespective of the passage of time or pretty pieces of paper, whether agreed to voluntarily or not.

Did we mean what we said or were those mere words?

How, in short, can we defend our Constitution and the means by which it came about, along with the legitimacy of our own government while at the same time claiming that others do not have similar or even identical rights to form or reform their government by the very process we used?

Now there's something to think about.

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I have refrained from commenting on the Ukraine situation for a while now because it's really far more complex internally than it first appears, and it serves nobody's interest to render commentary that's half-baked.

But now, it appears, it's time.

First, let's not bury the lede and get to the bottom line: Once again we have a demonstration that government exists only with the consent of the governed, and when that falls the government either modifies its position or it is replaced.

The only question that remains at that point is how it is replaced.  One would hope that happens peacefully.  Sadly, that is unfortunately too often not the case.

Ukraine is a major energy pipeline route both for itself and into eastern Europe for natural gas originating in Russia.  There have been many spats over threats to turn off the gas, particularly into Ukraine, over payment and pricing disputes over the years.  While most in the West have ignored this you can be certain that a freezing Ukranian in the middle of winter isn't going to ignore that sort of thing at all.  That's one contributing factor here, but hardly the whole story.  It's complicated by the fact that natural gas, unlike oil, cannot be easily shipped by other than pipeline and as such supplies and prices are inherently a regional thing.

Obama, for his part, is rattling his saber, but that's immaterial and I'm sure the Ukranians know that.  The United States not only has no skin in this game it has no means of exerting influence of materiality.  This is really about a government that lost the confidence of its people, who in turn demanded that the government change -- now.

Note carefully that until Friday Parliament supported Yanukovych.  Then the President fled Kiev for an Eastern city, and last night his plane was denied departure clearance, presumably intending to leave the country.  Yanukovych has since disappeared and it's not hard to figure out why.  

Parliament, in a full 180-degree about face, has changed its mind and both voted to remove him and set new elections for May.  Simply put the members of Parliament recognized (correctly-so) that they were about to lose consent of the governed and be held personally accountable by the people -- who were not going to stand down.

As with many nations there are divided desires.  The Eastern part of the country is closely tied to Russia.  The Western areas want closer integration with the EU.  In the end the attempt to force one side to accede to the other's desires led to the people saying "nuts!" and deciding that government was going to leave one way or another in the immediate sense.

What do we take from this nation of 46 million people?  The same thing we should have recognized from the start, and that every government should always keep in mind: Government only exists with the consent of the governed, and when that consent is lost government will change.

The only remaining question at that instant in time is whether the change will be peaceful, and that is under the exclusive control of the existing government apparatus.  It can either choose to bow to the will of the people through peaceful process or it will be excised through less-than-peaceful means.

Ukraine's government decided to employ snipers to try to "put down" the protests in an attempt to deny the demanded change by force of arms.  What they got instead was emboldened protests, despite shooting a fair number of protesters.  Yanukovych correctly surmised that he was going to be held personally to account for each of those sniped protesters, and now we have a Parliament that undoubtedly switched sides largely in an attempt to keep it from being held personally responsible as well.

The former Prime Minster, who had previously been jailed in what certainly looked like a political prosecution at the time, has emerged as having apparent public support and is further evidence that what was desired in Ukraine by the people was not anarchy, as so many propose to be the case -- it was change in the government.

Are the United States and Russia involved in stoking the fire over there?  Probably.  Can I prove it?  No, but I don't need to, and neither does anyone else.  The simple fact of the matter is that both of our nations have a history of interference in places we don't belong, but the Russians at least have the plausible argument of a neighboring nation that could generate a refugee crisis or threaten their energy sales.  Never mind that Russia's view of a "peace deal" means surrendering arms, which no free people should ever do under any circumstance.  Put them down, yes, but surrender them no, for those arms are the only guarantee that whatever got the people mad enough to rise in the first place will not be repeated. In this regard Russia's interference has little excuse other than trying to suppress the people in favor of policies their government likes.

The United States, on the other hand, has no excuse for interference at all.

It would be nice if governments around the world recognized that when consent fails this is the inevitable outcome, and that such conflicts always resolve in the people. Recognition of this fact, incidentally, was explicitly laid forth in The Declaration of Independence.  

Cessation of pushing people beyond the point that they choose to risk death, whether by taxation and privation or simple raw abuse of power, would be nice but history says that governments in general are incapable of accepting this reality.  Governmental blindness in this regard tends to continue right up until the noose is in front of them, at which point those in power scamper in a puerile attempt to avoid having it put around their necks.  Parliament's abrupt reversal is just the latest exhibit in this sad saga of governments writ large through the centuries.

Will both our government in the United States and others around the world learn from this rather than have to repeat it?

I can and will pray for that, but I doubt my prayers will be answered.

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In what portends a tough upcoming summer and perhaps far more violence than we'd like to see, today we got this from the UN Security Council:

Russia and China vetoed a United Nations Security Council resolution that backed an Arab League plan to “facilitate” a political transition in Syria.

Thirteen of the council’s 15 members voted in favor today of a proposal by Western and Arab countries to end the bloodshed in Syria. Russia and China, two of the five permanent council members with veto power, blocked its passage.

Notice the language - "a proposal to end the bloodshed."

Uh huh.  And how did they intend to do that given that the resolution....

The draft that was voted on by the council said there should be no “prejudging the outcome” of the political process and that “nothing in this resolution authorizes” military action, responding to Russian concern that last March’s UN authorization of all necessary measures to protect civilians was used to bring down Muammar Qaddafi’s regime.

Yeah.  So we were just going to ask nicely for the Syrian government to stop slaughtering people?

Folks, the armwaving and nonsense has reached a fever pitch.  Those who intend to and do kill understand exactly one form of coercion when it comes to making them stop -- more and bigger guns.

That's it.  You either credibly threaten to shoot them or you actually shoot them.  Nothing else does a thing other than make noise, because once you've decided you're going to use military force then that's all there is left.

As for Susan Rice and Hillary Clinton's expression of "disgust" let me point out that America has a long history of propping up and installing dictators as well.  Mubarak anyone?  Or how about The Shah?  Russia is not the first and won't be the last to veto a resolution against a nation where they have a military presence (cough-US-cough!) and as such we have scant room to complain here.

Yes, this is a civil war.  Yes, it is likely to continue, even escalate and get out of hand.

Yes, it's our (and Russia's, and China's) fault, but more ours than Russia's, as we (the United States) are the ones that turned the fine folks there into gazillionaires by refusing to develop our own energy resources despite having the ability to do so over the space of 30 years, and thus flooded a part of the world that has been unstable for more than 2,000 years with lots of money -- some of which inevitably found its way into arms.

Disgusted, yes. I'm disgusted. 

But when it comes to hypocrisy nobody does it better than America in this part of the world.

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