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Devolution and the Right to Self-Determination

The Catalonian Debate

The King has Decreed! It’s official…

the Catalonian independence referendum and devolution is illegal and undemocratic“. (See video of the King’s speech with English sub-titles in local Finnish press)

Video Thumbnail Source IS, accessed  2017.10.06

But is it?

Please remember to vote in the poll at the end of this article 😉

The Spanish Government believe/claim the democratic vote on the issue is for all Spain as it affects everyone as part of a greater community that has ownership (sovereignty) rights, not just rights of possession on all the Spanish lands, including the Catalonian region. The broader Spanish community has fought, died and worked hard for many years to rid themselves and dictators and unify the country. Anyone who thinks they can or would willing let that all be thrown away are being extremely foolish. Also it seems unfair and selfish to them that the richest state within Spain should want to desert the ship they have sailed in because they don’t want to share. I.e. Fair Weather friends!. It smacks of Trump’ism – winners and losers and a state run by the ‘I am Alright Jackoffs!’

This is true except that the principle involved is in contradiction to the ‘Right of Self-Determination – as upheld by the UN.The problem is in where the boundaries are drawn – often as arbitrary (political) these days as they are culture and region based. The boundaries affect the outcome of the vote considerably, hence several attempts in the UK over recent decades to redraw the borders and map of the municipalities in order to influence the vote results – usually dramatically, by changing the demographic geo-structures to create the biggest minority of constituents in each voting area in their own favour.

No region is isolated, they all interact and have other overlapping regions. Change the preferred key reference points (boundaries) of a voting region and the result is totally different. The choice of key or dominant region to which others are subservient is always an arbitrarily political one, driven more often than not by the perceived pecuniary advantages pertaining to a politically militant few, e.g. Scotland and the issue of North Sea Oil. They all think they can do it now because of the security seemingly provided by the greater EU safety net that helps avoid isolation and the previous disadvantages of separation. In principle this process is the same as already happened within families and broader communities due to the creation of the welfare state.

A loose association of disassociated delinquent juveniles is no more beneficial for the Eu than it is with our sub-communities and social structures. It is however necessarily part of our right of self-determination. I ask you this however, how old / self-sustainable do kids have to be before they can just divorce their parents and leave home? Where do we draw the line?

Another question…
How many people are needed in order to declare an independent state?

Are there any rules about location, or geographical proximity / grouping? Should the Finnish government let the gypsies declare an independent state in any location their predominate? And what about the Laplanders? In UK, Indians moved into and took over a local town on mass, driving out all the original native residents. Should they be allowed to declare an independent state?

Woking used to be a middle class satellite town to Greater London. Last I heard from a friend of mine and former resident of the area, was that he had to leave because his child was the only native English (white) child in the entire school which, had not just social consequences, but also for personal identity, learning standards, religious education programmes etc. Indian immigrants, as thrifty, hard working and decent people as they are, tend to move into a house for four or five and live there with upto 15 people according to some reports. This has serious social and economic consequences for the value of local housing. Then their are large groups of Muslims in UK who make little attempt to integrate, merely build a Mosque in the centre of a town, buy up all the houses around it and turn it into a mini citadel! Not just hearsay, but first hand reports from an Englishman that was born and raised in such a town and then fell compelled to move out, eventually ending up in Finland.

The Papal enclave in Italy and several other city states (e.g. Monaco, Montenegro) in Europe are not much more than that. The use of force by the Spanish authorities is however a lamentable mistake that will never solve anything and, is already proving somewhat counter-productive. To solve the problem, feelings and concerns must first be recognised and acknowledged before rational discussion and negotiation can take place. The Catalonians should also be reminded that stable borders and relations with EU neighbours are a pre-requisite for EU membership that they will have to reapply for, as is a sufficiently well developed economic situation, social and political infrastructures, separate from the Spanish systems to which they are currently inter-twined – just as UK is to EU, hence the Brexit talks fiasco.  Integration as evolved over decades, a neural network of social and political bindings that cannot simply be picked open and undone overnight. As I was recently remined, Spain, like all the countries, have a right of veto on any new entrants to the EU. Even if Catalonians separatists get what they want, the rest of Spain will still need help to which, the Catalonians will still contribute via EU regional aid and development programmes.

The Catalonian situation, despite the generally accepted legitimacy of its cultural identity case, needs to be seen in greater perspective. Certainly, from a more far off perspective it seems like old European regional tribalism – and look where that got us all – endless wars including two world-wide wars. There are also considerable parallels with the Brexit referendum, which inspired this latest devolution activity / push, in that most voting has been on base sentiments and feelings rather than cool logic and rational thinking, much less actual comprehension of the overall facts and issues involved.

‘As it is below, so it is above’

The break-down and rebuilding of social and power structures is an essential pre-requisite for building a better, and stronger Europe. This has parallels in any learning and development process. For example I have experienced this more concretely whilst teaching hobbies such as martial arts in which, student development reaches a plateau at certain stages. My job was to break-down if not dessemble and tear apart their technique and what they thought they had established in order for them to rebuild it with a more sound and refined structure that will allow them to launch into the next phase of learning and development. ‘As it is below, so it is above‘ – social movements are but a larger scale aggregation of the smaller sub-social and individual processes, and ultimately nature itself. We have already entered a period of social chaos and break-down predicted by the Kondratieff cycles, a natural and empirically predictable natural cycle of social movement if not development. You can find out more about these from my earlier blog article on EU ‘brains’ warn about end of free capital markets by 2030.

The timing of the event however, is not so fortuitous for the EU and will cause much disarray at a time when we need more unity to weather the storm winds of change around the world. We already have 27+ states of various sizes, power and international expertise / worldly competence that are hard enough to hold together for the greater common good. If all our modern states start breaking up into a further multitude of tiny, bickering old-world regions and tribes lead by small-time politicians with little or no competence for the job – even by comparison to the current EU leaderships – this problem will be multiplied many times over, weakening the EU to the point of inoperability and totally vulnerable to the whims of other world powers who would be only to happy to exploit it to their own advantage.

The EU needs to be united and cooperate at least on the practical and functional levels of government administration in order to gain economies of scale that we need to survive in the modern globalised economy and political conditions. The historical process has so far been a piecemeal unification of smaller regions into modern countries as we currently know them that has helped to eventually stabilise borders, jurisdiction and many of the problems and violence of the old world – but nothing is perfect and the job is not yet complete, if ever it will be. A fully integrated and unified Federal European Union is a logical next step to some regional country groupings (e.g. UK & Ireland, Nordic union, the Netherlands – all passport free regions before the EU)  that some prominant groups in the EU are pushing for and have been seeking for a long time since. The U.S.  and Germany are federal states that permit a certain amount of autonomy and independence to constituent states to manage their own affairs, so, perhaps not such a bad thing.

Federalization however, would mean the creation of a European superstate that would diminish the position and influence of regions such as Catalonia even more that it is within the nations state of Spain. This is the hidden socialist agenda in Europe that many British (older generation mostly) have had a strong aversion to and resulted in the Brexit vote, one of the most ill-informed referendum votes in democratic history (except perhaps for recent U.S.A. elections ;). Democracy is necessary, but it does not always work it should, or as we would like it to, in large measure because of inadequate means to apply it as it is due to poor definitions/ parameters, elective criteria and administrative processes. In time, technology may allow us to achieve a nationhood and government administration based on membership rather than location, which, although already noted in discussion within academic circles, is not yet a practical viability.

In principle we believe, in pragmatism we trust

So consider this, constitutional and social contracts aside, the right of self-determination has no definitions or criteria as yet, and certainly is not an issue of scale. It is a principle only. And in principle the lowest common denominator is each and every single individual human being on this earth or anywhere else. Does this mean that I, and English man, living in Helsinki, Finland, can hold a vote with my self and declare my home and grounds an independent state that I might call ‘New Fingland’!?

Has a nice ring to it though, does it not? 😉




EU ‘brains’ warn about end of free capital markets by 2030

News from EurActiv!?

“Europe faces daunting years ahead, according to a report by the European Strategy and Policy Analysis System (ESPAS), which looks at major global developments until 2030”.

Old News I say! The shift from right-wing capitalism to meet communism somewhere in the middle was discussed already decades ago, and at least 40 years ago in a conversation I had with my mother as a youngster. Every time there is a depression and jobs are lost, they are not replaced due to the mission creep of new technology. Jobs if any come in new sectors or via entrepreneurship, but always in ever fewer numbers. This also requires people to retrain, something which is not always possible (resources / availability / opportunity – competitive feasibility) or within their capability. Retraining and changing careers a couple of times during our life times is a necessity for many glibly talked about by academics and others, but much stifled still by the scourge of Agism that in the modern world ranks up there equally alongside sexism and racism. For most of us, retraining and career change is limited to certain types of jobs / professions for which the experience and professionalism of older employees is still valued, otherwise the only chance is to find a small ‘nichè’ (crack) in otherwise saturated markets and become an entrepreneur.

Beautiful Minds

As beautiful as our minds are, they are not without their faults and weaknesses. Not everyone can or is able to be an entrepreneur, the entry hurdles to markets are constantly getting higher and regulations such as tax laws actively discourage if not prevent people from going out and creating their own work. We can’t all be rocket scientists. Neither can we all just up-sticks and drift around the world in search of jobs. This would also mean the death of all communities and social structures as we know them that sustain us spiritually and emotionally if not physically. Sooner or later we all need to put down roots, if only for the sake of our children and their upbringing. Stability and routine is critical to their sense of security and place in the world – a fact long since established and well-known, in the education community at least, if not to most experience parents.

Despite the calls for less regulation and government participation in the economy, it will sooner or later have to be the exact opposite shift in order to maintain a social balance. Think carefully before you write-off the poor, for the moment you walk out of your fancy apartments and fortified enclosures / estates, you will have to walk by the vagrants and homeless and through the same shit as everyone else, so just how rich would you be really? Think too about the future problems you are creating for your children, as the poor with nothing to lose start to resort to less savoury means to survive. The poor are rarely as lazy and stupid as the ‘I’m all-right ‘Jack-Offs’ would like to believe, and I know of no unemployed person who likes the situation they are in. Their aspirations are falling by the way side as their life passes them by with little to look forward to. Private charity does much good, but simply does not cut it in the face of challenges of the modern world, never did and certainly won’t in the future. If you don’t believe, just go walk around India. The movie ‘A Beautiful Mind‘ (2001), though made for entertainment purposes, was based on a true story that broached some fallacies of American style corporate capitalism most eloquently – Go See It!


Together We Stand, Divided We Fall

Capitalism will probably always have its place because, it is not so much a system as an expression of human nature. This contrasts starkly to old style communist systems which, were forcibly superimposed by a group dictatorship rather than any natural or true communist structure. It does however have to be moderated within a social framework for the greater good. Afterall, it is only by collaboration (family, clans, tribes etc.)  that we, one of the weaker mammals on earth, have become the dominant species. We have got enough on our plate competing with nature in order to survive, let alone have a good life. Resources keep running out even if we do not pollute them with our waste and bad management, so we need to find a better balance that will allow us to use them more wisely, in a sustainable fashion.

As for the EU and US, China and India have enough high-tech educated people in their cities alone to completely swamp us. The Chinese have their own traditional  way of dealing with us Western barbarians, which usually involves allowing the West in to get the factories and technologies, then throwing us back out again. China has always been slower to (manage) change than Russia (revolutions) despite their parallel developments, but only time will tell if ‘this time is different’.  This sais nothing of the many European’s fears of the ‘muslimification’ of Europe, a threat and prediction long since made by Islamists, the flames of which are now being fanned by the recent Syrian exodus, regardless of its cause and the genuine plight of its people who vicarious others are taking advantage of for their personal interests. Despite the EU motto ‘United in Diversity‘, Europe already has an identity crisis in flux amongst its own kin, and further flood tides merely exacerbate the problem whilst, we as a union of people’s are still insecure and unstable in a time of social and economic transition. The EU policy of integration and accommodation of diverse groups and cultures contrasts with the U.S.A.’s policy of assimilation, yet both, particularly in the U.K. and U.S.A. (the most multi-culturally diverse countries) are experiencing problems of racial and ethnic segregation, including ghettos and mini citidels. Can you imagine what it would be like if whole countries could move like people do, as is in effect currently happening with the Syrians?

Europe has always had a small number of muslims in its midst, but is predominantly Christian by faith, from which many of our cultural values are derived. There are those who still think the Christianity owns Europe, but some of their beliefs, attitudes and activities have of late also been exposed as clearly out of touch and at odds with modern western society and more pragmatic approaches to the demands of everyday life. Turkish, Kurdish and other muslims have migrated to Europe, settled, prospered and integrated well without too much problem, and all credit to them for that. Others unfortunately have not been so adaptable, bringing with them elements of their culture and religion that are not relevant, suitable or acceptable here, with little sensitivity towards the local host culture. This cultural baggage, combined with large scale migration from many parts of the world, many of the evolving racial tensions are not even between the locals and the immigrants any more, but between various immigrant racial groups themselves. But then, neither does social and economic exclusion promote integration, and assimilation, quite the contrary it leads to segregation and facilitates radicalism, especially of the young with still inexperienced and impressionable minds.

The real problem of late, has not been so much who is migrating, but the sheer volume of it in such a short space of time and the timing of it, raising difficult questions about how we classify different kinds of immigration (legal, illegal or criminal) and hence how should we manage our borders. This concern and its associated natural human reactions have by no means been limited to muslims,  but directed at various ethnic groups from India, Bangladesh and even Eastern Europe, whomever seemed to be the latest and greatest. Before them in the UK, were the Jews and then the Jamaicans. In Finland it was the Gypsies (Romanis / Mustalaiset), now it is the Somali and other African ethnics. In Germany it was the Turks and in France the Tunisians and others. Italy and Greece in particular are feeling swamped by the flood and storm tides, especially when they have been given such inadequate support by other far richer and powerful nations nestling within the EU and Schengen zone borders. Load sharing has been a major issue amongst the Schengen states, as has the rigid operation of the Schengen agreement and inflexible application of International Human Rights laws regardless of the abnormal conditions and situation or how it affects the security and rights of the local indigenous people.  Charity starts at home, especially during war time, but their problem is our problem. Short-term measures may contain the immediate threat, but it is only with long-term strategies that we can win the war.

And all this at a time of economic recession when we can’t even look after all our own people properly. Unconstrained and poorly managed globalisation policies (They just opened the flood gates for us to sink or swim to the benefit of the few large corporations and already rich individuals in order to bypass our social protection and security regulations) along with other seemingly systemic  ‘economic frauds‘ has meant that the southern EU states are not the only ones teetering on the brink of the abyss, Finland and other smaller states are also in difficulties. Even the larger states have long since been having troubles, particularly with the demographic time-bomb of old age and pensions we cannot afford because the schemes were installed incorrectly over-night for political reasons and because of lack of understanding and foresight.

The concerns and tensions about immigration and unemployment stand in sharp contradiction of the need for new, young blood that the politicians have declared. The EU may have started as an economic initiative, but it is inextricable from the political and cultural values on which it is built, just as the success of our business economies are. Sadly many of our own indigenous people don’t seem to know or have a clear understanding of what those are, because it has never been properly taught in schools as part of a coherent and comprehensive ‘Life Skills’ programme. So, how can we expect refugees and other immigrants without similar levels of education and exposure to the wider world to know and understand them? Change in, or forsaking of those values because of mass migration and immigration or just plain old greed for money & power, will merely drag us back down into the quagmire that so many economic and political refugees from the third world are trying to escape from. These values bind us as a community and are our moral and social compass, but we must also sail by the wind and adapt our tack to current conditions, that includes meeting new arrivals half-way, if they have first made an effort to adapt and integrate. This expectation and requirement is in principle no different to any other social group in ordinary every day life for, ‘As it is below, so it is above‘.


The Lowest Common Denomination

These values and social contracts that our forefathers fought so long and hard for with their blood, sweat and tears will not be passed onto our children unless we continue the work they started. Wars are a threat to us all. Dictators and other fascists are a direct threat democracy and freedom, but so to are organised crime and the anarchy of crime in general an indirect challenge to democracy and the freedoms we hold so dear. It is constant and continuous battle against the relatively minority of humans who repeatedly abuse the majority for their own selfish, short-term interests. This ongoing battle includes putting the churches and organised religion back in their place, be it Christianity, Islam, Judaism (the Kabbalah) or any other such organisations. All are antiquated and long since past their sell by date. They were born of conditions in eras long ago that are no longer relevant in the modern context. This does not mean that they are all bad, just that we need to learn from them what is good, and leave out what is no longer irrelevant or just downright wrong. The Bible, Koran, Kabbalah and other such religious books were written by people at different times in history and more often than not do not relate literal truths or history, rather metaphors for meditative practices and experiences or other lessons of life and political messages. It is the personal interpretations of these meditative experiences and (miss)interpretation of various religious / spiritual writings that the doctrines and dogma of specific churches and religions have developed from. To follow them blindly in a world of  modern information technology is not a matter of ‘faith’, it is just plain foolish, and frequently tantamount to brain washing given the way / processes by which the doctrines are systematically spread and embedded in society. To add injury to insult, this ‘recruitment process’ is consistently targeted by all the established religions at children, the most vulnerable and impressionable members of our society. This includes using their parents to further embed the indoctrination process in communities through both familial as well as other social bonds, including in schools and even play-schools. The general targeting of children in this way is just – downright immoral! Teaching ethics is one thing, but religion is a fundamentally adult pursuit. It is a family and individual matter that should stay within the home and which has no business in schools, much less play-schools.  If all religions are not equally taught in school, including atheism, then none of them some be taught or practised in school.  One purpose of school is to teach and promote a united community with a common set of values and ethics bound up in a social contract, laws and regulations that apply to all or no one at all. This can only be done by basing the teaching and practices in schools on the lowest common denominators, i.e the one’s that are common to all.

Religion is not just an intellectual exercise based the study of scholarly works, but spiritual practices that are beyond most adults let alone suitable for, or within the capabilities of young children. Early psychologists got some of the first ideas by dabbling in meta-physics and the occult arts, but none actually practised it, let alone to its full conclusion. Unless you have practised and experienced real meditation you know and understand nothing about spiritualism or, by that yard stick, religion. Neither can you succeed in doing it unless you consistently concentrate on it with an unprejudiced and open mind, without fear, nagging doubts or other reservations.   Accordingly it is my personal belief that religion or other spiritual practice should remain a personal pursuit that to be effective, everyone needs to practice in the privacy of their own homes. It is not to be flaunted and flouted in the face of ‘the non-believers‘ to taunt them and create further social divisions, much less persecute  terrorise or kill them.  Terrorism and general propagation of a religion in this manner is merely an attempt to paper over the cracks in their own ‘faith’ and a demonstration of how weak minded and fearful they actually are. This is not ‘in the spirit’ of the original teachings on which modern religions were first founded. Their beginnings were modest, humble and above all ‘altruistic’, no more than local (personality) cults trying to teach and educate people about what they had learned in the priesthoods, the centres of learning or universities of their time.

Religion and especially the proper practice of it through active meditation is an immersive and intensely personal experience and matter intended to help you grow and develop spiritually and as a human being in general, something the organised religions and churches have completely failed to teach their ‘flocks’, intentionally or otherwise. It is the process, experience and practice of the meditative exercises that matters, all part of a journey, not the specific outcome let alone one person or groups interpretation of it. Unfortunately people still base their beliefs on hear-say and speculation rather than solid personal practice and experience, a problem much encouraged and contributed to by the religions and the Churches themselves. Many of their own  ‘theist’ advocates and representatives still hold out that the stories are literally true, thereby demonstrating their own very poor understanding of the faith they are preaching. Atheists are no exception to this, particularly many modern scientists who seem to have formed a new technological priesthood of their own, slamming the beliefs of others based on ‘logical’ arguments about ancient writings, without ever having done the research and gained some experience of the true practices themselves. For example, the comparison of so-called Five element theory with the periodic table as I saw one science present do on TV is just downright ignorant if not outright stupid for a so-called ‘man of science’ trained in the scientific method. The denial of Darwinian theory and other scientific theories and principles by theists, is equally stupid. Contrary to popular atheist belief, much of modern science actually supports much of the religious beliefs. As science advances, the belief and hope is that these two will continue to converge and start to meet somewhere in the middle, just as must happen with economic and social systems in general.

Life, and the world as we know it, is what we make of it

What we need to decipher and filter out from the chaff is what is common to all the religions and atheists, and  what is different and therefore most likely a personal interpretation and/or corruption. To do this we must use the lowest common denominator of humanity that is by definition common to us all, which is ‘Humanism’, or ‘humanitarianism’ if you prefer. These are merely lessons of life that allow us to  coexist in peace, ‘live long and prosper‘ as Spock (Star Trek) used to say. We are all born of God and therefore the children of God according to the Christian teachings, and therefore God resides in all of us. The more pragmatic interpretation of this is that God is energy of which all things are derived and made and therefore our nature, which is to my understanding the true meaning of the original teachings and ancient wisdoms anyway. This energetic evolution includes our societies as a high-level manifestation and reflection of those underlying energies and cycles of nature. Popular verses also say that ‘God helps those that helps themselves, though I am quite sure this was not intended to include stealing, murder and terrorism. Most people have however heard of the ‘Butterfly Effect‘ and without doubt we have conscious minds and free will with which to determine how we respond to the forces of nature, like blind sheep or a shepherd.  In respect to ‘Satan’ it says that, ‘one is born to each and every generation‘. This does not mean some evil devil called Satan running rampant around the earth trying to hurt or subjugate us. The word Satan comes from an early Arabic (defunct) language or version of Aramaic in which, it is written ‘Sah’tan’, which basically means ‘EGO‘! No wonder then that some devout muslims, rightly or wrongly, regard America as the ‘Great Sah’tan‘ when they look at the economic system – a very limited (tunnel vision) view and perspective though it may be, not to mention the inverse form of ‘egoism‘ that is in play for their part. To each and every generation was a euphemism of ‘each and every single one of us’. Can you overcome yours?


Kondratieff Cycles and Long Waves of Educational Reform

In conclusion, having outlined some of the historical evidence leading upto these predicted social and economic transitions and the context  in which  are taking place, we come back to the central focus of the article in question about the potential death of capitalism by the year 2030. It is clear that the current situation is not a new phenomenon, but it has been growing and accumulating. What is particularly interesting about these predictions is the timing estimates and their correlation to the Kondratieff Cycles and Long Waves of Educational Reform. These relate to cycles of innovation and reform in respect to economic depressions and swings, but it would be reasonable to presume that the same underlying social forces at work will also affect economic and social systems in general.

Hasan Simsek (unknown) explains it succinctly this way:

“Kondratieff cycles refer to a “law of motion” in the capitalist mode of production: Since the establishment of the industrial capitalism in the late 18th century, capitalism has moved through long waves of up swings followed by long waves of down-swings, each complete cycle comprising about 50 to 60 years intervals”.

The next reform swing is predicted in the late 2030’s to early 2040’s. I believe this correlation is no coincidence, for in such an inter-connected world, nothing happens in isolation. Many aspects of our societies are in already in the turmoil of transition and the pressure cooker is starting to bubble over. Sooner or later, evolving step by step, one by one or in one great’ social epiphany’ these overlapping and interdependent aspects of our societies must converge and, sooner or later a new social order or mix will start to emerge by design or default.

For more information, check out this essay by Hasan Simsek of the Middle East technical University:

As it is below, so it is above!

Make of it what you will.

Pride goeth before a fall – A Bridge too far!

Pride goeth before a fall – So get off your high horse E.U.S.A.!

The following is a direct quotation of a recent post in Facebook. Please excuse the Double Dutch language, but you can try to ‘Google It!’ 😉

“Venäjältä perätään nyt selityksiä monella suulla ja monesta suunnasta.”

Mitä sitten? – Kellään ei ole hauista tehdä asialle mitään. Ensin Europpalaiset uhoaa ja sanoo että “tullaan vastaamaan sotilaallisesti” ja kun näin käy että jotain tartteis tehdä, niin yht’ äkkiä onkin monta vaatimassa “selitystä”. Veikkaan että Mr. Putin nauraa kippurassa…

Venäjän syyllistävää todistusaineistoa Itä-Ukrainasta vyöryy armotonta tahtia

Todistusaineisto Venäjän sotilaallisista toimista Itä-Ukrainassa alkaa saada…


The postee is rightfully despairing at the situation and lack of ability to act directly or decisively, despite the EU’s early comments as reported by this postee.

However, as far as I understand it …

Actually they (Bush) said there would be no troops on the ground or going to war over it.

Lots of huff and puff after having pushed an injured (wounded pride etc.) animal back into a corner whilst ignoring its warning growls. Sanctions always cut both ways and take time, in the mean time indirect and clandestine support for the Ukraine has no doubt been rapid. The statistics and evidence declared at the UN Security Council this week clearly showed this, with not only capture of soldiers, but satellite pictures and surveillance data all clearly available to the Ukraine despite their own lack of capacity for such operations. No one is likely to go to war over it, other than the Ukrainians themselves, so the first one to dare put boots on the ground had already won. That initiative was always Russia’s prerogative, the west is not left only with indirect war by proxy options and sanctions with China playing both sides off against each other as usual. The Russians were already doing that, testing out the waters and the result was clear, the West would not intervene directly. When two such forces have doomsday powers, the moment their boots touched the ground, it was a fate accompli unless the Ukrainians themselves can drive them out.  As the British SAS moto puts it “Who DAres, Wins!”

EU has resisted bringing Ukraine into the fold for years, not so much because of the political implications with Russia, but because they have been an unruly and crime ridden state (organised crime, drugs and human trafficking etc.) that we did not want. The border with them was and is one of civilisation as much as administration and sovereignty. The whole mess stinks of ignorance if not incompetence on the part of the western allies and is particularly hypocritical after recent history of western interventions abroad.  Putin, like so many other dictators elsewhere has played the western politicians and won hands down, yet again. Though the ends may sometimes justify the means, it always creates a dangerous precedent. Patience is a virtue in both peace and war-time.

Dick Chaney and his acolytes have been living up to his name – ‘Dick!’. “If they did it, there’ll be hell to pay” he was quoted as saying when the Malaysian airlines plane was shot down. They are not the one’s on the front-line likely to get shot at or blown up in an escalating and expanding conflict in which, far more innocent lives would be lost. They represent no one but themselves and would do the world a great favour if they would just shut the F*up!

To Russia, Ukraine still seems like a state in the Union and hence this they perceive as an internal matter and thus civil-war regardless of pieces of paper at the UN and in International Law. Trade practice rules and ‘possession is nine-tenths of the law’ in any country.  Ukraine independence, like many of the others, was initially only tolerated whilst the Russians thought they would remain allied to their security, political and economic block. Others such as Bulgaria and Romania managed to escape Russia’s clutches, but Transnistria (small isthmus / strip of land and ethnic community on border with Moldova) and Ukraine in particular are simply too close to home and harbour a large Russian ethnic group. No one even gives Belarus a second thought! This is not just a conflict of borders, political influence and power, but of civilisations.  It should not have come as a surprise that Russia coveted the Crimea, as it is of strategic military importance and house many such installations.

The Russians have always jealously sought to protect open water access for their few sea ports. One of the first flash points for which, was actually St. Petersburg, the former Leningrad over which both Germany and Russia paid such a high price in the second world war. It is close to the Finnish border, for which reason Russia invaded Finland during the second world war and annexed a large part of Karelia, including the city of Viborg (Viipuri) in order to protect its access to the Baltic sea. I once accompanied a party of Karelian descendants to their childhood village, where they sang Karelian national anthems on the beach of the lake in the centre of the village, much to the confusion and bemusement of the local Russians. When we spoke to a local resident living for the last 50 years on the land once owned and occupied by this bitter bunch of Finns, he had no clue about the true history of the region at all. He, like all the others had been told by the Russian government that this had always been part of Russia. Until recent times only three of the countries around the rim of the Baltic were allied to the EU, i.e. Sweden, Denmark and Germany. Finland was firmly neutral as part of a traditional survival strategy against the great Russian Bear ion its doorstep from which it gained independence only in 1917 if I remember correctly. Since then they have also had a civil war between the whites and reds. Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia were all under Russian control until they broke free and joined the EU and in some cases NATO in recent years.  Russia is now isolated in the Baltic. The Crimea controls another important port and access channel to the Mediterranean sea. Similar issues also lead to the seizing of the Murmansk area initially, to the north of Finland long before. The only open question and possible surprise, was whether or not the Russians would dare to invade the rest of Ukraine.  Ukraine is strategically important militarily and economically, a large and potentially rich state, at least in terms of minerals and resources.

Other countries such as Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania are of less importance, but should Russia deem it necessary to protect their national security interests, it would be a simple matter to walk in and reoccupy them overnight. They also have a large Russian ethnic population due to Russia’s attempts to Russify the region whilst it occupied them. They are not much-loved by the indigenous peoples, hence socially and economically excluded, which is why many perhaps still support Russia and Putin. Local ethnic population has consistently been one of Russia and Putin’s main political justification points. This is why those states joined NATO as well as the EU in the hope that Russia will not risk precipitating a direct confrontation with NATO who are now obligated in that region. In truth however, NATO could never react fast enough to be of much practical use, which is why they are now planning to place supplies bases in Eastern Europe for Fast Reaction forces in contravention of previous non-military zone agreements with Russia, if not technically in legal terms, in spirit at least.  Finland is still too timid and apprehensive to step out of the shadows or from behind the skirts of the western allies. There is a strong debate going on here, but the strategy has worked so far, so why fix it? If Finland wants to join NATO, this is the time, as the most likely risks and consequences of continuous EU & NATO expansion eastwards is already being realised. Whilst the Ukraine crisis has set a precedent and could act as a stepping stone to incursions into other borderland countries, military adventurism into Finland seems a remote likelihood, being of quite different geographical and historical character and status than the other Baltic rim states. The EU and NATO could not stand idly by, so the annual threats and intimidation of Finland by Russian politicians and military leaders are somewhat empty and hollow words other than any possible economic repercussions. Finland’s level of dependence on trade with Russia is nowhere near what it was in the early 1990’s though.

The division between western and eastern states politically and ethnically (~30% ethnic Russians in the Crimea and some in the Eastern states), led to the separatist movement that the Russians have sought to exploit in a war by proxy. They directly intervened only when the Ukrainian army set about crushing the rebellion to prevent a break-up of Ukraine. This was the only open question in my mind, but I would be surprised if they tried to take the whole of the Ukraine. Whilst no one wants to see the Ukraine break-up into two states or partly subsumed by Russia, if the majority of the people living in the eastern states want to break-away or join Russia fully, that is their prerogative. It is part of the accepted UN Charter of Human Rights to ‘self-determination’. They should not be forced to stay in mainstream Ukraine if they do not want to.

Principles are there to guide us, they should never be train tracks or railroad us into catastrophe. International law is just a piece of paper outlining mutual agreements and commitments, but lacks any independent power to enforce if one signatory no longer finds it convenient. National security has always take precedence of local criminal law, and whilst it would be nice and useful if we could impose some criminal law on countries and their governments, not only is this not practical currently, it would be undesirable. When your very survival is at stake, there is no law, no morales, just survival and the immutable laws of nature. This fact of life applies to individuals as well as states – ‘as it is  above, so it is below’. Situational management and perhaps even our very survival in this world has always depended on pragmatism. Pride, power and prejudice (The 3 P’s) are the main driving factors of this whole charade for all but the Ukrainians themselves, but power at least usually translates into money and other fringe benefits. Though ‘pride goeth before a fall’, that the Ukraine former female president has predicted, describing it as the last throes of a dying regime, a wounded animal backed into a corner is very dangerous indeed, especially ones that have fingers on a nuclear trigger button. Though they may be ‘The last of the USSR Clingons’, they are still young and strong enough to cause problems. They have been getting bolshy again ever since they realised their new-found economic power. Does anyone still remember how the U.S.A. reacted when Communist Russia installed nuclear weapons in Cuba, on the U.S.A.’s doorstep!? How does this differ militarily to the EU and the west gaining  control (by alliance all be it) of yet another border state – only this time it is one that has been cultural and politically integral to Russia and the old soviet empire for as long as anyone can remember.

For those that wonder why we only seem to intervene in other smaller conflicts, this zero sum power balance and the sheer scale of the proposed ventures are precisely why the West cannot intervene in some conflicts no matter how much they might wish to. The smaller conflicts are more manageable bite sized issues that won’t break us militarily or economically. Economics produces and supplies the military power and political ambitions, oil powers the economy. National security depends on every element in this chain of demand and supply and the connections between them. Social change is more problematic and takes even longer than personal change, something no one copes particularly well with. Immigrants into foreign countries can take 3 to 5 generations before they truly begin to adapt and integrate to the local culture even if ‘social inclusion’ is practised. Patience is a virtue and a long-term game plan is essential and pragmatic, as smaller issues and concerns must by necessity play second fiddle to larger more strategic threats.

Tis long overdue for the west to get of their moral high horse, stop preaching and start trying to resolve the problem by understanding the issues from Russia’s perspective, ideally before they precipitate such extreme reactions. Only then can a peaceful and lasting political solution be found. National security, safety and control of important weapons and defence systems, infrastructure, money from the gas pipes and energy security are all major concerns for both sides, even if some countrie’s national security philosophies and stances seem extremely outdated and inappropriate to us.

Food for Thought!

/ Pähkis

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