Monday, October 02, 2006

Transnistria wants Russia to annex it; lesson for home?

Ethnicity matters. Just ask Moldovan President Vladimir Voronin. Transnistria (often referred to by it's Moldovan acronym 'PMR') declared independence in 1990 but it hasn't been recognized as an independent nation internationally, and Moldova still claims it. The long, narrow strip of land whose shape is reminiscient of Chile's is wedged between Moldova to the west and the Ukraine to the east, and is ethnically split between Moldovans, Russians, and Ukranians, with a total population slightly more than half a million. Although it doesn't actually border Russia, a referendum earlier this month shows that Transnistria's government and its people want to move back under the auspices of the old Bear:
"Transnistria's integration into Russia will proceed in several phases, and it may take 5 to 7 years," said the breakaway Moldovan region's foreign minister, Valery Litskai, to Russia's Interfax news agency earlier this month. "Russian society is now ready to expand beyond the ... borders it has been forced into," he added. "The expansion process has begun."
The fairness of the vote is in question, as the result so overwhelmingly favored independence with the eventual aim of reunification with Russia:
An exit poll released by a Trans-Dniester political party at mid-day said that 96 percent of voters were supporting eventual union with Russia. It gave no margin of error for the polling, which was conducted in face-to-face interviews. Voters came early to cast their ballots as loudspeakers throughout the center of the main city, Tiraspol, blared Soviet-era music and reminders to vote.
Western agencies refused to monitor the referendum (needlessly antagonizing irrendentist elements in the old Soviet world), but it seems plausible that reunification would be desired. Moldova and Transnistria clashed in the early nineties, claiming 1,500 lives, and it was the Mother Country that stepped in to end the fighting (and retains a small troop contingent in the region). Russia's per capita wealth, buoyed in the last several years due to skyrocketing oil and natural gas prices, would open Transnistria up to better services and give it a little more economic clout. Moldova's PPP, at $1,800, makes it poorer than much of northern Africa. Russia, by contrast, enjoys a monetary standard of living six times as great, at $11,100. And a fifth 0f Transnistria's population are already Russian citizens.

The eastern half of the Ukraine is another candidate for eventual reunification with Russia, and Belarus underwent quasi-reunification in 1997. The Weekly Standard excerpt above argues that the referendum is a nefarious thing. Maybe from the perspective of 'benevolent hegemony' advocates, but I fail to see how the US is in any way threatened. Russia is a dying nation, that along with Japan is seeing its population decrease in absolute terms (with a total fertility rate of only 1.28--2.1 is generally considered to be the replenishment threshold). Over 80% of its export economy is based on extracting and bringing natural resources to market. The Islamic incursion into Russia's southwest gives it a stake in the same terror war we are putatively fighting. Russia and the US should, if anything, be natural allies. Russia's nuclear stockpile makes it a strong check against potential Chinese expansionism, and the growth of Chinese settlers in Siberia will probably strain relations between the two countries in the future.

There is a lesson for us here, applicable to the American Southwest. The Aztlan movement, with a goal of reuniting the border states with Mexico, could conceivably see a similar referendum taken up in California in the future. Mexican politicians openly call for Mexicans residing in the US to vote in the interests of the country of Mexico. One-fifth of all people born in Mexico live in the US today, mostly in the Southwest. New Mexico has (likely) recently become the first state with a larger Hispanic population than non-Hispanic white population. The stunningly prodigious immigrant protests earlier this year, where half a million goldens waved Mexican flags in opposition to the enforcement bill out of the House, reveal not an immigration wave, but a settlement wave.

It's difficult to talk about these things without inevitably being called all sorts of nasty names, but we accept the omerta on free speech at our own peril. Texas, after being progressively settled by Americans from the east, declared its independence from Mexico in 1836 and beat back Santa Anna to retain it. Immediately, Sam Houston petitioned for annexation by the US. A decade later, under President Polk, the Lone Star Republic finally had its wish granted and became the Lone Star State. Now we see the process in reversal and are mercifully enacting legislation to stop it.

Ethnic divisions threaten to pull Hawaii away from the Union, the Kurds in Turkey's southeast away from Istanbul, Chechnya away from Russia, Quebec from Canada, Iraq completely apart, and on and on. Ethnicity matters. People get along better with those are like themselves. How many dating services have you stumbled upon that employ the slogan "opposites attract"? It's all about compatibility. The relationship between individuals is a microcosm of the relationship within and between nations.



Anonymous said...

Traditionally those people in areas like Transnistria, Moldov, etc... were referred to as little Russians." And not, in my opinion, in a perjorative sense. All of them are ethnically related to varying degrees and many times througout history, Russia has looked out for them. I don't understand the Weekly Standard sometimes. They always seem to want to pick a fight with Russia, kind of like our stupid gov't seems to many times. If those people want to reuinte with their Russian brothers and sisters, then more power to them. I really don't see how it is anybody's business but their own.
Russia should be, if not an ally or a friend, at least a nation that America should have no ill will toward. They face some of the problmes we face. And instead of buying our oil from loony muslims, why not buy it from Russia? I would rather my money go the the Russians than to the Saudis or Venezuela. God only knows what they will use the cash for.

savage said...

Agreed. Russia is no longer a threat to America. It isn't conceivable that they would allow one of their nukes to make it into the hands of crazed Muslims not only b/c of the threat it'd pose directly to Russia via the Muslims, but also b/c if nukes are traced to any government, that government risks total annihilation. For the US, Russian influence over the Caucus and north Asia is better than either Chinese or Middle Eastern influence.