playing chess in ukraine

realism is a brilliant theory. it is a model, not reality. but it provides a basis for the understanding of global conflicts at a level of simplicity that until today proves to be attractive. in the poles between attractiveness and effectiveness, however, realism fails once the main actors of its theory, the state, falls apart. who do we account for as an actor within ukraine today? the interim government? does that still include crimea? what about the self-declared independent east? and does the south have no right whatsoever to declare independence?

there is no right or wrong answer to these questions. there is only a political one. either way, yes or no, every opinion on the subject has political consequences to bear. at that, the answering of the fate in ukraine is as little a game of realism anymore as it was in syria. it is not about the country’s integrity unless the one promoting the value derives a gain from it. the same is true for the right of self-determination of nations. values go out of the window when politics come into play. as much as, in a world of human rights and so called, self-declared global values, we fail to admit it, values do not trump interests, rhetoric does not trump intentions.

the state, in theory as well as in practice, is defined by a monopoly of power. in the ideal case it implies both coercive and morally legitimized force. but when the later never existed and the further breaks apart, on what grounds does the international community claim the right to force these people to live together in one territory they did not chose? i thought it is not 1878 anymore.

so while we willingly follow the tone of the media, blaming bad russia for not playing along our rules, we allow our states to hide behind the self-proclaimed morality of being the only ones who have ukraines best interest in mind while forgetting that they too are just another part of this big game of interests and personal gains. welcome to the 21st century, where war is fought on the battlegrounds of other nation’s territories, with the big and powerful declaring a moral obligation to decide upon other people’s fates while even that is just rhetoric that is only upheld as long as its potential outcome serves the personal gain.

there is no realism that can help predict the outcome of the ukrainian crisis, because there is no ukraine player left. instead, ukraine is now the playing board. divided into black and white squares, the ones fighting for unity, the others for separatism. but that metaphor is limping, i understand. after all, a chess board is stiff and stable, while ukraine is made of people. people who have their own interests, their own desires, their own will. and wherever they group together they start fighting for their goal, because they now have the chance. it is as such a magical playing board that is not passive and decided solely by the outside players, but instead constantly reshapes itself by its own will and forces, leaving the players on the field forced to constantly reposition. a pain in the ass, from a players perspective. but, now stick to your often declared values and tell me, who are we to deny the ukrainian people a voice in the matter? you say we are to listen to them? morally, i agree, but values are trumped by interests. and we are the players. so instead of asking the playing board about its wishes, we play upon its constantly reshuffling back, trying to win the game at hand instead of solving the problem on the ground. do you deny it? tell me then, when was the last time you heard something about syria?

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4 Responses to playing chess in ukraine

  1. Th says:

    You said ‘values do not trump interests’ – the liberal Neocons in the USA use the term ‘values’ as a justification for the policy under Bush 43, to expand their sphere of interest over Iraq, Afgh. and even Lybia. So I would conclude, that values and interests are siblings.

    • while i do not deny that sometimes values can be an interest, i would not go as far as aligning the two in the same side. again, the distinction between rhetoric and underlying intention is crucial. at that it is of course more of a scientific guessing game trying to find prove for an underlying feeling that iraq was not attacked to free the iraqi people of a dictator the united states worked with so cooperatively for years and left in power for many years after that. as you said it your self, values were used as justifications. the real reasons we might never know or can only guess from actions.

  2. Thorsten says:

    You are defenetly right, when you speculate about the constitutional status of the Ukr. For now, we have to deal with the Ukr. as an actor, because of the will and the intentions of the other actors.

    • but then again it is exactly according to the will and intentions of other actors what defines the player ukraine. and can you argue that there is ‘an’ actor if the definition of the same is part of the game?

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