Should I have an opinion on Catalan Independence?

Well

“Catalonia will move on Monday to declare independence from Spain, a regional government source said, as the European Union nation nears a rupture that threatens the foundations of its young democracy and has unnerved financial markets.

Pro-independence parties that control the regional parliament have asked for a debate and vote on Monday on declaring independence, the source said. A declaration should follow this vote, although it is unclear when Catalan President Carles Puigdemont earlier told the BBC that his government would ask the region’s parliament to declare independence after tallying votes from last weekend’s referendum, which Madrid says was illegal.”

There is a lot to unpack there, and this all seems like surprisingly major news considering it’s barely been covered in the US media, especially considering the amount of media attention the Scottish Independence Referendum received.  In fact I doubt I would have heard anything about it if I hadn’t been following Julian Assange’s twitter feed.

The Catalonia region of Spain wanted a referendum on independence, the Spanish courts determined it wouldn’t be legal, and Catalonia went ahead and had one anyway.  Independence won and now they’re pushing to go ahead and declare independence by next week.

Wow.

In some ways, the referendum resembles Crimea’s referendum, which was illegal, since the Russians occupied Crimea and ran it, but it won anyway (or maybe because). But there is no big power to help this along in Spain; obviously the EU doesn’t count.  But the EU seems to be part of the problem.  Maybe it’s just me, but it seems that one of the supreme ironies of the European Union, and its goal of creating a United States of Europe, is that it’s existence is probably encouraging European independence movements.  There are multiple European independence movements that are ongoing and the idea that all of these subsidies and trade issues that are the concern of sovereign nations will be taken care of by the EU probably strengthens them.

As a rule, the EU opposes all of these independence movements among their members.  Catalonia fully expects to waltz right into EU membership, in the same way that Scotland intended to jump from leaning on welfare from London to welfare from Brussels. But the fact that the EU is there, willing to handle all of those pesky governmental problems for its member states makes it an attractive excuse/reason on any national independence movement.

But for right now, the EU is supporting Spain, and if Spain is serious about sticking with the court’s decision that the referendum is illegal, then what?  Are we looking at Spanish Civil War II: This Time it’s Regional?  And even worse, if shooting starts, what if Spain invokes Article 5 of the NATO Charter?  Is the US really going to get involved in a military conflict there? That is a real nightmare scenario.

…although, as far as military occupation duties go, Barcelona beats virtually everywhere else our military has been for the past few decades, if you have to fight a war, at least do it in a temperate climate with beautiful local girls.

As a general rule, I think the world would be a better place if each little language group and ethnicity could have their own nation. If I could wave a magic wand and make every national group its own nation, I would do it.  But not every group is going to make it as an independent nation.  It’s possible Catalonia could, but I never thought that about Scotland, even though every fiber of my being wanted to undue the results of the Battle of Culloden, I reluctantly concluded that Scotland, with the North Sea oil drying up, just couldn’t make it on its own, other than as the Venezuela of Europe.

Apparently the Scots agreed since they voted independence down.  And I feel the same way about Catalonia now.  My heart is with the independence movement, but my head is with a unified Spain.  That’s not unconditional however.  Liberals in the US view any call to “Blood and Soil” as straight out of Nazi-ville, but that’s what’s ultimately pushing Catalan secession, and all of the other independence movements both in Europe and worldwide.  Most people in the world have a sense of both place and identity, and although the West tries to pretend it’s an atavistic impulse, as outdated as the appendix, it’s still there, either just below the surface or bursting to the top.  If separation must come, best to do it peaceably.

 

Advertisements

Putin Makes Obama Look Weak…Again

The Olympics had barely wrapped up and the wild dogs released back into Sochi when the Ukraine began a fracturing internal crisis that lead to Vladimir Putin seizing the Crimea back from Ukrainian control,  in a de facto, if not de jure annexation.

English: Vladimir Putin and Gerhard Schroeder

English: Vladimir Putin and Gerhard Schroeder (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The American response?  Obama and Putin spoke on the phone and Obama expressed “grave concern.”  Take that Putin!

It’s pretty clear that Putin has taken the measure of Obama, found him wanting as a serious leader, and has decided he can ignore him in most matters.  After the Putin checkmate in Syria, I’m sure he feels he has free range to act in what he perceives are his interests worldwide.  But let’s not give Putin too much credit here, the US foreign policy juggernaut he faces are Obama and that blowhard John Kerry; a pair that would find themselves outfoxed at a high school model UN.

The US does have alternatives in dealing with Putin; it’s not a choice between craven surrender or total war.  Putin does want things, and has gotten things already that he hasn’t deserved.  Maybe some of those things should be taken from him.

One is membership in the G-8.  The G-7 was a group of the largest economies on that planet.  And Russia wanted in to showcase that it too, was a big power.  Maybe Russia should be kicked out.  It’s something that would make Putin furious and take from him something he really wanted.

Another is to withdraw from the New START treaty.  That’s the current treaty governing the reduction of US and Russian nuclear forces.  Of course the problem with this is that START is something that Obama probably wanted more than Putin does.  But because Obama wants it so much, it would send a message on how serious Obama is on Russia’s intervention.  Of course, for that very reason, START would never be on the table.  Obama just isn’t that serious.

Wow, I just wrote something profound!  But that’s the problem, and one of the reasons among many that Putin feels free to walk over the international community and particularly President Obama.

Because Obama just isn’t that serious.

Enhanced by Zemanta