“Mandrake, have you ever seen a commie drink a glass of water?” - Gen. Jack D. Ripper in Dr. Strangelove.
Ronald Reagan’s Secretary of State George Shultz appeared on Fox News's "Your World with Neil Cavuto" last week and was asked about the rising security situation. He answered with a long pause: “Ronald Reagan ...” he said, and it just hung there, for a provocative moment before he started up again. It seemed just briefly that Shultz’s worshipful intoning of The Gipper’s name alone would be an "enough said" answer.
And again, here and everywhere, especially on Fox, we would hear the old mantra: Ronald Reagan won the Cold War; it was the war that was no war.
But then this shocker came from former Rep. Ron Ron Paul (R-Texas): “The Ukrainian people should do this.”
We haven’t exactly heard that from the Ukrainians themselves. We have heard that some want to be part of Russia and others want to be part of, as Paul says, “the Europeans and the Americans.” That, actually, would make Ukraine another American cultural colony, a Vermont abroad or a Seattle abroad. But the current zeitgeist which is “the West” is hardly revolutionary. Wanting to be of it is abstract and imitational. Switzerland, for example, has the better idea: to go alone, to be itself.
Since 1991, Russia has ditched the abstraction and found the old soul underneath. Since 1946 Europe has not and now may always be nothing more than a second-rate imitation of America. At the fall of the Soviet Union, one commentator remarked that what the liberated border countries wanted were Michael Jackson and Calvin Klein. Not exactly Jefferson or Sam Houston.
The strength of Russian character is, Leo Tolstoy wrote of Sevastopol in 1854, made up primarily of ”simplicity and obstinacy,” and President Vladimir Putin might be seen as the paragon of that Russia, old Russia, today. And it is that, old Russia, not the Soviet Union, we face if President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry challenge Russia in the Crimean peninsula. It might be that Russia has made the better journey from 1991 while America is still lost in the Cold War abstraction. We still see them darkly in the mirror, but Russia no longer sees us there at all.
Crimea, with its valuable Black Sea port, has changed hands from Bulgars to Greeks to Tartars and Mongols over a thousand years. It has been part of Russia longer than Michigan and Texas have been part of America. Paul’s advice might be worth listening to. We might try not to aggravate the contest between the West and Russia, because that “wouldn’t be good for the Ukrainians,” he says.
Russia, via Alexander Solzhenitsyn and Mikhail Gorbachev, has found a path homeward in a classically Russian struggle of The Soul and Barbed Wire, from Solzhenitsyn’s classic, The Gulag Archipelago. While America, even after the death of over 60,000 innocents in Iraq (according to NSA reports revealed by Edward Snowden) in the last decade is still looking for a fight.
We need our own Solzhenitsyn, and maybe it is Ron Paul.