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Isn’t it tiresome when people set up their terms to fit their belief? Like healthcare; who believes, when faced with a heart attack, cancer, stoke, broken leg, flu or 100s of conditions that “healthcare is not much good” unless “there are jobs or a thriving economy to paid for [it].”
Really? Universal education, literacy has no worth without work? if I don’t have a job, I should get sick and die?
Tell that to the 1000s of Angolans and Namibians saved by Cuban doctors; the Cuban soldiers who fought the incursions of South African troops.
But note: the job is a canard–it ignores how Cuba organized against the boycott/embargo to survive–a bigger influence than communism on the economy, and an ever present military threat as the US invaded Panama, Haiti, Grenada; was involved in the assassination of Allende in Chile, and supported the junta in El Salvador.
For the last 10 years, World Bank data shows Cuba’s per capita GDP steadily increasing and it now ranks in the middle of the world’s nations.
The political economy in Cuba uses fees the state acquires from contracts and sugar cane to fund basic services–and pay for education and health care, including training. The model of the US taxing individuals is only one of many models of political economy. Others are successful and growing; see Brazil and China, both which use government revenues from free market transactions (Brazil, oil) to pay for citizen services and infrastructure.
No one except the US as a matter of policy abandons the poor.
By agreement or aggression, troops in someone else’s country is a big deal, especially if there is no war or violence. Russia’s troops occupy a part of the country can be safely maintained with a smaller force; they face no opposition; they have surrounded bases. The provisional government never signaled any plans for attacking citizens or pro-Russian protesters, as witnessed by the lack of aggression toward the troops.
Finger pointing and claims of protection should not substitute for diplomacy and discussions of issues and concerns. Pointing fingers to criticize the West and the US, Russia has not made its intent or concerns clear. Finger pointing deflects from real talk; it inserts the past into the present and undoes a lesson every country should have learned. The act of war by Bush is not one to follow, especially as the reasons of general alarm were not sufficient to cross sovereign borders.
Were diplomatic efforts made before troops were sent in? What is Russia’s position regarding the self-deposed President? Is Russia acting unilaterally? Removing identifying patches gives their presence the quality of thugs.
Surprisingly, Putin who is eager to offer security for Crimea, seems unwilling to allow even non-violent, anti-war protests at home, involving senior citizens with handmade signs. Are they a national threat? Their arrest weakens his case for protecting others rights. It makes him a dictator whose empathy ends with those who disagree.
An old Russian hand, Talbott Strode, an Asst. Secretary of State under Clinton, now President of Brookings Institute, weighed in on a panel hosted by Brookings. He rightly pointed out Russia, while having more billionaires in its parliament than other countries, has one of the worst economies in the world; it has a small retail sector, virtually no technology sector or consumer durables; it is still smoke stacks and mainly energy; its economy an image of the 1930s, undated slightly.
Economic sanctions will have almost no effect. Its chief import is energy, and its client states will still buy its oil and gas. It’s major export partner is the Netherlands! Followed by the Ukraine. Then China for both import and exports.
China will no doubt ignore the sanctions and take advantage of the trade opportunities. And how much impact can the West have when the Dutch are its largest partners?
Putin is an old-school believer of the cold war world view who didn’t attempt to modernize the economy and understands the steps and strategy for violating borders and invading countries he sees as vital clients.
The only question now is how he chooses to play it out. Will he seize the whole country, become an occupying force, or establish a separate nation?
Whatever options he chooses, there is little the West and the US can do. In fact, no matter what assurances were given by the Ukraine reformers, Putin was coming. He would have generated his own pretext; he commands the troops.
Ukraine is Russia’s briar patch. What appears to be thorny, uncomfortable, and wrong works out to become a place of advantage and furthers Russia’s policy with little loss.
Not citizenship or security but economics and influence is the driving force behind Putin’s decision to move Russian troops into Crimea as a staging area, establishing social controls and challenging Ukraine’s military, with an eye on Ukraine’s oil and gas pipelines as the prize. By proxy (which led to the crisis) or by force (which Russia justifies by the crisis!), along with Russia’s pre-crisis offer of $15 billion in aid shows the seriousness of Russia’s intent to bring Ukraine into its sphere of influence, and no doubt pushing for changes in pipeline fees.
Actually, Russia’s biggest exporting partner is the Netherlands. Russia’s major export is crude and refined petroleum which makes up more than 50% of its total export value. With limited retail, tech, and manufacturing sectors, and a non-robust domestic economy, Russia is not likely to be hurt by Western sanctions. It will take time for Europe to find new oil supplies.
Meanwhile, Russia will push for a settlement favorable to its objectives. Even with its violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty, it appears to have more options than the West. One guess is it will push for new elections using the deposed president as a regent.
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I told Jesus it would be all right
If He changed my name.
James Baldwin debates William Buckley and Speaks at the University of California, Berkeley.