Margaret O'Brien Steinfels
Margaret O'Brien Steinfels, a former editor of Commonweal, writes frequently in these pages and blogs at dotCommonweal.
By this author
The sniper shootings in Kiev's Maiden Square led to charges that President Yanukovich had ordered the killings. Putin dened the charges on behalf of Yanukovich. Now a YouTube Video has the Foreign Minister of Estonia telling Catherine Ashton of the EU that the snipers shot both the police and the opposition. What to conclude? The medical doctor who was the source of the FM's story denies it; she attended the wounded and does not know who shot them. The YouTube video has gone viral.
For those of you following events here are some more (and other) comments/views, etc.
Francophones: Le Monde "The Ukraine Crisis in Five Minutes," a short history ending in the current crisis. My French is fading, but I could make it out.
In the Ukraine-Russia stand-off, the word “fascist” is increasingly used to describe the opposing force. Russians are calling the Kiev forces “fascists”(and anti-Semites). While some in Eastern Ukraine have characterized the Russian “tourists” infiltrating their cities as “fascists.” It is a derogatory word invoking the history of Hitler’s invasion of Eastern Europe as well as the Soviet Union’s control of Eastern Europe down to 1990-91. The word may carry emotional clout in the struggle that’s now going on, but does it throw any light on the character of those forces.
Philosophers, historians, linguists, newspaper readers, liberals, fascists, and communists, what do you say?
Here is Wiki’s summary (which it declares in need of further work):
You might say it also regurgitates. All of us following events in Ukraine (including Crimea) and surroundings now know far more about its georgraphy, history, languages, etc., than we did a week ago. We may not know all that much about how matters have come to this pass, but it has a certain familiarity.
The U.S. media is big on the events of recent days and, in some cases, the perfidy of Vladmir Putin. But nothing's simple, including Ukraine. This post by former U.S. Ambassador to Russia, (19887-1991) Jack Matlock steps back from the fray, offering a cool assessment of what is going on. Here is his take on Obama's "you will pay a price."
"Obama’s 'warning' to Putin was ill-advised. Whatever slim hope that Moscow might avoid overt military intervention in Ukraine disappeared when Obama in effect threw down a gauntlet and challenged him. This was not just a mistake of political judgment—it was a failure to understand human psychology—unless, of course, he actually wanted a Russian intervention, which is hard for me to believe." Matlock's whole post is here.
In the same vein, news that SOS John Kerry will go to Kiev seems ill-advised. A drawback to big shows of support by the U.S. is that it encourages people to do provactive things (case in point, the Syrian Opposition when Obama said Assad must go), and then we pull back.
Here is Professor Stephen F. Cohen, another Russian expert, on U.S. media coverage.
Professor Charles King of Georgetown: "The Crimean affair is a grand experiment in Mr.
Events over several decades in Central and Eastern Europe and the Balkans remind us that upheavals in the present looking to the future also summon the past. Ukraine is a case in point.
Last night at 1:30 AM (that is, early this morning) a New York City garbage truck pulled up to our building. The last several snow storms have left garbage uncollected and buried not only under a mountain of snow but behind the cars encased in snow.
Roger Angell, long a staple at the New Yorker, appears in the anniversary issue under the title "This Old Man." Lightly noting the drawbacks of aging, he celebrates his happy existence:
have arrived in the U.S. and become wildly popular. They were on Colbert the other night. He was apparently trying to catechize them (didn't seem to be having much luck). U.S. Ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power, wants to join their group, though they haven't been invited to the WH--yet.
As Secretary of State John Kerry prepares to present the U.S. framework for two-states in Israel and the Occupied Territories, the rhetoric is heating up. And so is the politics. There is a rich trove of news and opinions this week-end some of it focused on the impact of BDS on Israel and on the Israeli government's reaction; some of it focused on U.S.-Israeli Relations.
In the State of the Union, President Obama said he would veto any effort to increase sanctions on Iran. Previous White House threats seemed a bit oblique, now his direct threat has pulled some Democratics back from the brink of voting for the "Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act" introduced by Senators Mendez (D.) and Kirk (R.). Rand Paul, one of the few Republicans to stand back from supporting the bill, now opposes it. All to the good.
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