Tuesday September 02, 2014

Worries of war in Europe


View from the Cheap Seats is kind of an extension of the newsroom. Whenever our three regular reporters, Calvin Daniels, Thom Barker and Randy Brenzen are in the building together, it is frequently a site of heated debate. This week: Are you worried about war breaking out in Europe?

Inauspicious anniversary

The current situation in Ukraine has to be concerning.

That concern is broader than that of what is happening to Ukraine itself too.

Certainly in Ukraine the situation is one of turmoil, and it is setting citizens against one another.

There are people in the Crimean area of Ukraine who clearly desire to be back within the folds of Russia, and there are those just as supportive of a Ukraine as it is.

Such a rift within a country, or a region of a country is not so unusual. There is a debate about breaking away from Canada again taking place in Quebec here in Canada.

But Russian president Vladimir Putin sending troops into another country escalates this situation far beyond a debate of citizens.

The move is one that politically might have been anticipated. Putin has been rather vocal in suggesting the break up of the former USSR was not good for the world, and it is clear he’s using the desire of many Crimeans to test the waters of his expansionist leanings.

NATO military force leaders have been on the record as suggesting a need to show a response to Russian troop build ups along the Ukraine borders.

As expected the United States and NATO are not impressed by the Russian move and sanctions are being formulated.

Those sanctions are going to have ripple effects.

Economic forecasters are already suggesting the Chinese economy will slow. Since China has been the primary economic engine keeping the world economy from stalling the last few years, that might suggest an economic downturn worldwide.

A stalling economy would be a disaster in many European countries where economic collapse appears close already.

There are huge protests in Spain over unemployment, especially among the young. In a country which has a fascist past, it is not a stretch to see the situation there deteriorate quickly.

The situation in Portugal, Italy and Greece is not much different.

That several members of the European Union are staggering has those in countries where the economies are better, Germany in particular, beginning to backlash against a system they see as draining in their resources.

It all combines to make Europe in general, and Eastern Europe in particular, once again a volatile region of our world.

Considering the last two world wars were ignited in Eastern Europe, it is a situation that makes me hope that in the 100th anniversary year of the start of the First World War those in power are wise enough to learn from the past in order to settle things down before the world topples once more into complete madness.

-Calvin Daniels

New world order

Armed human conflict is, perhaps, inevitable. In recent decades, we have learned to accept it will probably be endemic to parts of the Middle East, Africa and Asia for some time to come.

It seems almost unfathomable, though, that war could return to Europe.

Of course, that is what they thought after World War I. The “war to end all wars,” they called it.

Yet here we are. The bear is flexing and the West appears, as it did in the face of Nazi hegemony, unable or unwilling to take the necessary action to stem Russia’s expansionist aspirations.

What is most disturbing is the possibility that it is not the willingness that is lacking.

There was some expectation among western powers that the rest of the so-called BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) nations would be onside with isolating Russia. After all, this is a really loose affiliation of disparate countries with not much in common except that they are all emerging economies.

Also disturbing, although not surprising, is that although the UN Generally Assembly did pass a resolution condemning the Crimean referendum, 69 countries either voted against it or abstained.

The long and the short of it is that there is a great deal of the world that does not share western values. In my lifetime, I have experienced two versions of world order, the homeostasis of the Cold War and the western dominance of the post-Cold War era.

Increasingly, it seems, anti-western sentiments are shifting the balance, so the short answer is, yes, I am worried about war breaking out in Europe. There is a new world order afoot, one in which the interdependency of economies demands caution and compromise, which rarely comes without a fight.

-Thom Barker

Rootin' Putin

Vladimir Putin is well on his way to starting World War Three with his recent invasion or “invasion” (if you’re Russian) of Crimea.

But let’s be honest here, he’s just speeding up the process of something that will happen in the future anyhow.

I mean, if Putin didn’t initiate Step One for World War Three it would’ve been someone crazier who did it.

Someone sneakier.

Someone a little more ‘North Korean-ee’ than Putin who is just itching to blow something, or someone, up (it’ll most likely be himself when it does happen).

And while I joke about it I’m not saying what Putin has done is right. He’s “bang out of order”. That being said, he has initiated Phase One of his World Domination plan in the nicest way possible.

He didn’t persecute a certain Religion or single out anyone in particular.

He simply took what he thought was his.

And he did so without brutally murdering hundreds of thousands of people (yet).

Am I worried about a huge war starting in Europe that could, and would, affect North America?

You’re darn right I am. But at least we know who is making moves right now. It’s not done secretly. Putin has done everyone a favour by willingly publicizing everything he has been doing.

So when war does break out Rootin’ Putin should be fairly easy to stop (if everyone involves themselves right off the bat, right, USA?).

After all, his ego is his biggest tell. He needs the publicity.

-Randy Brenzen



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