Cool Video: Crimean War and Some Thoughts about the Present

This Cool Video by War Scholar is a short (4 1/2 minute) overview of the Crimean War that took place in the mid-19th century.   Two general points seem to be made.  First, the war is a transitional war in that old tactics were used, such as column troop formations, but new technologies were deployed, such as the French iron-clad ships.  The US Civil War a few years later is arguably the first modern war, exploiting new technologies and tactics.  Victory required not simply that the enemy changed, but that the very basis of its civilization (way of life) had to be destroyed.

Second, the video highlights the strategic importance of Crimea, which is so relevant currently.  Did Europe think that Russia would simply renounce its ambitions because there was a revolt and a democratic coup? Its classic:  Europe went to a gun fight only wielding a knife.  They poked the bear just as much as Japan did Asian giant by nationalizing disputed islands.  Both seemed to have done so without gaming out the next steps:  how Russia (or China) would likely respond and then their next steps.  Russia who has used force in Georgia and intimidation tactics in Georgia and Ukraine, was never simply going to accept a fait accompli over the historic shift of Ukraine (and Crimea) to the Europe.

The video is meant here to compliment the Short History of Ukraine and Crimea by my colleague Dr.Win Thin that was posted before the weekend.   It is meant to help familiarize us with the larger historic and strategic issues. 

As an expression of the principle that the "grass is always greener", we can imagine that in the coming months the people in the West and East will wish that things had not changed.  The people in the West will find that in order to receive international financial assistance, it will have to change its behavior.  In particular, given the budgetary significance, cutting the energy subsidies will likely be demanded.  The people in the West will grow weary of being occupied and the freedoms (including a closer proximation of the rule of law)  they experienced previously.  

It seems that Europe overreached and in some ways it had to.  It could not offer a "Finland" solution that would have neutralized Ukraine in a very real way.   The overreach was in economics not politics.     Europe was negotiating with the Ukraine over path that would have increased the economic integration.  To a strong nationalist like Putin, it was but another step toward the EU, increasing the risk of eventually, a membership application plan (MAP) for NATO.  

Although many astute observers have ridiculed the initial response by the US and Europe, they have yet to suggest a more compelling alternative response.  Should the West try to push Russia out of Crimea?  None one is making a convincing case for this.  

This is not to say there won't be any response.    This will expedite the process by which Georgia can join NATO (MAP), for which the US has long advocated.  Moldova is constitutionally bound to stay neutral and cannot join NATO, but has in the past participated in joint exercises.  In recent years, the government has stressed its neutrality.  Russia's actions are likely to increase America's influence nearly every place but Crimea's 10k square miles, where the Russian presence and interest had long dominated.   

Cool Video: Crimean War and Some Thoughts about the Present Cool Video:  Crimean War and Some Thoughts about the Present Reviewed by Marc Chandler on March 01, 2014 Rating: 5
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