Should the USA give aid to Ukraine? – Thoughts on the Crisis.

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“Unidentified” gunmen have surrounded a Ukrainian military base on the Crimean peninsula, preventing any Ukrainian troops from coming or going. The unidentified gunmen are most certainly Russian troops, or at least pro-Russian Ukrainians armed by the Russian military. The situation is unbelievably tense. A single burst of gunfire could lead to Ukraine’s first full-scale war since World War II.

As Fox News reports:

Hundreds of unidentified gunmen surrounded a Ukrainian infantry base in its Crimea region Sunday, blocking soldiers from entering or leaving it as tensions are rising between the country’s interim leaders and Russia.

The convoy surrounding the base in Privolnoye included at least 13 troop vehicles each containing 30 soldiers and four armored vehicles with mounted machine guns. The vehicles have Russian license plates.

The Ukrainian soldiers — with clips in their weapons — responded by positioning a tank at the base’s gate leaving the two sides in a tense standoff.

We are ready to protect the grounds and our military equipment,” Valery Boiko, a representative of the base commander, told Reuters. “We hope for a compromise to be reached, a decision, and as the commander has said, there will be no war.”

In Kiev, Ukraine’s new prime minister urged Russian President Vladimir Putin to pull back his military, warning that “we are on the brink of disaster.”

“In case of any attempt to enter the military base, we will use all means, up to lethal force,” he added

“There was no reason for the Russian Federation to invade Ukraine,” Yatsenyuk said after a closed session of his new parliament in Kiev.

No reason for Russia to invade Ukraine? Of course they have a reason. Russia is the world’s largest banana republic. All of their major natural gas-exporting pipelines run through Ukraine. If anything happened to those pipelines, the Russian economy could grind to a halt.

Here is the bottom line for Ukraine: Their government is bankrupt and utterly corrupt to its core. They are in sorry shape. Ukraine really is a “little Russia” in the sense that its government has been dominated by Soviet-era bureaucrats and oligarchs since gaining independence in the early 90’s.

As long as the current establishment persists in Ukraine (which includes the mainstream opposition), they have little hope of seeing better times. Expecting the newly appointed anti-Russian government to lead Ukraine onward and upward into the light is a mistake. It’s like expecting conditions in America to miraculously improve because Democrats get voted out in favor of Republicans, and vice versa. It’s not the bickering political parties, but the establishment paradigm itself that needs to change. As long as the ball stays in the court of mainstream Ukrainian politics up to this point, they’re not going anywhere.

This is no secret to the Ukrainian population, and the world; Transparency International has consistently ranked the Ukrainian government as one of the most corrupt in Europe. There are currently no big-name political figures in Ukraine worthy of trust. Not even Yulia Tymoshenko, the braided darling of the opposition, is trustworthy (There are reasons her nickname is “Gas Queen”). Add all this up, and it paints a pretty bleak future for the existing Ukrainian government.

The European Union is not necessarily interested in taking the obscenely corrupt Ukrainian government into its fold, not to mention the dysfunctional Ukrainian economy. The EU already has too many of those. There’s no realistic way that the Ukrainian economy could be transformed quickly and effectively. Besides, transformed how? Into an economy deemed suitable by Eurocrats, meaning a corrupt banking system and massively overleveraged and spendthrift government? I’m not optimistic that more European influence on Ukraine would necessarily be a benevolent thing.

I doubt that Ukraine could win full membership into the EU, anyway. There would be too much opposition. In fact, I dare say that widespread polls would probably reflect most EU nation’s citizens opposing admittance of Ukraine into their club. Admitting Bulgaria and Romania in 2013 was controversial enough; I do not think Ukraine’s admittance would be tolerated.

The European Union is interested in Ukraine for one major reason: Shale Gas Fields. Geological surveys suggest that Ukraine sits on a large number of shale gas fields. These have yet to be developed due to pressure and string-pulling from the Russian government. The Russian government-owned gas company Gazprom currently boasts a near-monopoly on the European gas market. If the EU were to gain control over Ukrainian affairs and develop the gas fields, it could spell disaster for Russian gas exports, which are one of the only major exports in the Russian economy.

Maybe I have not made this clear yet, so I will do it now: The United States of America should stay out of this situation. The U.S. federal government should not provide any troops to Ukraine. They should not provide any funds to Ukraine. The U.S. government should not partake in sabre-rattling with the Russian government over Ukraine. All in all, the United States should have practically nothing to do with what is happening in Ukraine.

There are a number of good philosophical reasons for the United States to not become entangled in the Ukraine-Russia-EU love triangle. It’s not our business, and anyone in the United States who does not want to be involved should not be forced to become involved (which is what happens when politicians give money and military muscle to foreign powers).

John McCain has said that we should give tremendous monetary aid to the Ukrainian; I do not want any of my tax dollars lining the pockets of some corrupt Ukrainian bureaucrat. This is exactly what happened when U.S. NGOs secretly funneled money to opposition parties during Ukraine’s 2004 “Orange Revolution”. The money was frittered away by corrupt Ukrainian officials. Why should we expect any different behavior this time? Even beyond the fact that giving tax money to Ukraine is immoral and wrong, I wouldn’t trust the money to be used wisely anyway.

I sympathize with Ukrainians who long for peace, stability, and freedom from corruption and coercive dominance. Any Ukrainians working to attain these things has my sympathy. If they want to flee the conflict, they are welcome to move to the USA. Otherwise, I pray that all parties involved can resolve their issues with as little violence and destruction as possible.

To achieve genuine prosperity, Ukraine needs way more than a turn away from Russia to the EU. The Ukrainian government needs to implement the reforms I have described here. The likelihood of this happening is practically nil, but I can dream, can’t I?

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