by Frank Schnittger
Thu Aug 7th, 2014 at 12:59:00 PM EST
Usually when I write a diary it is because I want to present a thesis and make an argument; one I have not seen expressed elsewhere, but one which I think has at least some evidence pointing in its favour. My hope is that commentators here will either debunk the thesis or present further supporting facts/arguments.
Thus in Time for Europe to get real I presented the argument that if the EU has a problem with Russian actions in Ukraine, the appropriate response is not sanctions, but a strategic plan to reduce European energy dependence on Russian gas.
In An Irish perspective on Scottish Independence, I expressed surprise at the lack of debate on the case for and against Scottish indepence both here and elsewhere outside the UK, and tried to fill some of that gap by providing a perspective based on the Irish historical experience of independence.
And in Merkel, Putin & Obama: The changing balance of power I tried to present a thesis that the USA has engaged in imperial over-reach and has alienated many potential allies in the process, so much so that Merkel and Putin may even be driven to reach an historic rapprochement in an effort to restore some sanity and balance to world affairs.
I am very grateful to the many commentators here and elsewhere who have added to our collective knowledge of these topics, but also a bit non-plussed that two of the last three diary discussion threads have been largely taken over by a discussion of the causes of the MH17 tragedy, especially after Colman had already published a front page story on that subject.
Ultimately, an authoritative and widely accepted finding of who was responsible for the disaster could have a bearing on future EU/Ukraine/Russian relations, at least in the short term. But the larger problem of ensuring EU/Ukraine/Russian relationships develop more positively in the future remains much the same regardless of who was ultimately responsible.
If it turns out to have been East Ukrainian insurgents with or without direct Russian support, it surely weakens their legitimacy and case to have an autonomous homeland of their own within or apart from the Russian Federation. If it turns out to have been a "false flag" Ukrainian Government operation, it undermines their legitimacy and points to a need to form some kind of Government of National unity excluding extreme nationalist elements.
If, as I think most likely, it turns out to have been an error by one side or the other, it underlines the need for all sides to de-escalate the rhetoric, the fighting, and the arms race and come to some kind of negotiated settlement. At some point the adults have to re-enter the room.
So what would a Russia/Ukraine/EU rapprochement look like? What sort of constitutional structure would benefit Ukrainians the most? Would the Russian tendency towards authoritarian rule and suppression of civil liberties infect the wider European body politic and reinforce authoritarian trends already evident there?
Would counterbalancing a submissive relationship towards the USA with closer ties to Russia make little difference to the conduct of world affairs in other hot spots such as in the Middle east? Would an EU/Russia rapprochement be a positive or negative development in terms of economic development, sustainable energy and climate change, and human rights in Europe and around the world?
Is an EU Russia rapprochement even desirable if it leads to much more strained relationships with the USA? How would such a rapprochement effect the internal political dynamics of EU member states? Would it hasten the exit of the UK? Who are the main winners and losers of such a rapprochement - the Oligarchs or European peoples as a whole? Would US politics become more or less polarized if there were a dawning realization all round that the New American Century actually marks a period of US imperial over-reach and decline?
Hopefully we can discuss something other than whodunnit for a while.