Skip to comments.Ukraine, Ethnic Division, Decentralization, and Secession
Posted on 03/02/2014 5:43:04 AM PST by Kaslin
Ukraine is in the news and thats not a good thing.
Im not a foreign policy expert, to be sure, but it cant be a positive sign when nations with nuclear weapons start squabbling with each other. And thats whats happening now that Russia is supposedly occupying Crimea and perhaps other parts of Ukraine and Western powers are complaining.
Im going to add my two cents to this issue, but Im going to approach it from an unusual angle.
Look at this linguistic map of Ukraine. The red parts of the country show where Russian is the primary language and most people presumably are ethnically Russian.
Now look at these maps (from here, here, here, and here) showing various election results in the country.
Like I said, Im not overly literate on foreign policy, but isnt it obvious that the Ukrainians and the Russians have fundamentally different preferences?
No wonder theres conflict.
But is there a solution? And one that doesnt involve Putin annexing either de facto or de jure the southern and eastern portions of the nation?
It seems there are two options.
1. Secession - The first possibility is to let the two parts of Ukraine have an amicable (or at least non-violent) divorce. Thats what happened to the former Soviet Union. Its what happened with Czechoslovakia became Slovakia and the Czech Republic. And its what happened (albeit with lots of violence) when Yugoslavia broke up.
For what its worth, Ive already suggested that Belgium should split into two nations because of linguistic and cultural differences. So why not the same in Ukraine?
Heck, Walter Williams has argued that the same thing should happen in America, with the pro-liberty parts of the nation seceding from the statist regions.
2. Decentralization - The second possibility is for Ukraine to copy the Swiss model of radical decentralization. In Switzerland, even though there are French cantons, German cantons, and an Italian canton, the various regions of the country dont squabble with each other because the central government is relatively powerless.
This approach obviously is more attractive than secession for folks who think that existing national borders should be sacrosanct.
And since this post is motivated by the turmoil in Ukraine, its worth pointing out that this also seems to be a logical way of defusing tensions across regions.
I confess I have a policy reason for supporting weaker national governments. Simply stated, theres very strong evidence that decentralization means more tax competition, and when governments are forced to compete for jobs and investment, the economy is less likely to be burdened with high tax rates and excessive redistribution.
Indeed, we also have very strong evidence that the western world became prosperous precisely because the proliferation of small nations and principalities restrained the natural tendencies of governments to oppress and restrain economic activity.
And since Ukraine (notwithstanding its flat tax) has a very statist economic system ranking only 126th in the Economic Freedom of the World index, maybe a bit of internal competition would trigger some much-needed liberalization.
P.S. If youre intrigued by the secession idea promoted by Walter Williams, youll definitely enjoy this bit of humor about a national divorce in the United States.
P.P.S. If you think decentralization and federalism is a better option than secession, the good news is that more and more Americans have unfavorable views of Washington.
P.P.P.S. The tiny nation of Liechtenstein is comprised of seven villages and they have an explicit right to secede if they become unhappy with the central government in Vaduz. And even the statist political crowd in the United Kingdom is considering a bit of federalism.
sounds good to me. It is pragmatic rationality
Good chance of seccession. It’s unlikely that the Ukranian Army wants to have a civil war while the option is so easy and practical.
A federal solution to Ukraine would keep every one happy. Who runs Kiev won’t matter so much because Kiev won’t dictate every last jot and tittle of local policy.
The Ukrainian-speaking West can keep its language and join Europe. The Russian-speaking East would be free to speak Russian and remain in Moscow’s orbit.
And no one would have to fight for the control of the national steering wheel. For Ukrainians the big plus is no enraged Russian Bear to offend.
Federalism is the Goldilocks solution to Ukraine’s conundrum.
Ethnic division....Imagine that.
It will much worse when it happens here. We have very large segment of the population that believes in fairy tales and as a result will be totally stunned when it does.
All of this should be up to the Ukrainians to decide, not Putin.
There are large chunks of the US where Spanish is the predominant language and which were once part of the sovereign nation of Mexico.
Should we allow those areas to return to Mexico?
I had not heard about Walter Williams’ proposal for dividing the USA, but it sounds promising.
Am I missing something here?
There is absolutely no need for the traditional, freedom-loving America to “secede” from a nation they have established and which became the greatest nation on earth in so many ways. It is the statist people who are seceding de facto by rejecting the American way of life and the American rule of law. Secession has been in process since at least 2008 and it is up to us, the people of the US of A, to determine whether we will tolerate it formally. To effect their secession, I strongly suggest that the debt that has fueled their secessionist actions be a major part of the divorce—let em have the portion to which they are responsible (nearly all of it). They will need a new constitution, ours is in need of nothing but normal maintenance. They will need dramatic reshaping of their legal structure to include a system of ruling class people. They will need a new economic structure more akin to that of Argentina’s. And on.
We, the US of A, are fine. Should we allow the statists to formalize their secession?
Apples and oranges...We purchased those areas.
Do you have any clue why the russians settled in the Eastern part of Ukraine?
How about having the russians go back to russia and let Ukrainians have their land?
It'll be interesting how people would like it when that happens in America. It's already happening with religion here.
Listening to OUR news. “Russia is playing chess, Obama is playing marbles”.
Let's hope Putin doesn't get any hare-brained ideas about backing cessionist movements in the U.S.A.
So now immigrants occupying lands of which they were citizens, whose language differs from the original language of the country to which their ancestors immigrated have a right to carve off portions of that nation and unite with their ancestors’ country of origin. Mexico?
Too bad the United States didn't follow that model. It would be wonderful if our Constitution enumerated specific federal powers and specifically reserved all other powers to the sates and to the people.
Then again, they dynamics are a bit different - Mexico isn't ready to militarily take it all.
Oops. “sates” = “states”.
Some problems with the rose-colored solution:
1) During the Soviet period, Russia settled large nubers of ethnic Russian in Ukraine, to “Russify” the country. Space was available, since the Russians murdered, starved, and forcibly deported millions of Ukrainians, then Russia’s “Non-Aggression Pact” allies slaughtered millions more. Russian settlement dominated the areas with natural or strategic resources the USSR wanted to exploit. So let’s reward long term aggression by giving Russia chunks of Ukraine now. Nice precedent.
2) Even if the Russified regions vote pro-Russki now, there are millions of ethnic Ukrainians still living in those areas. Many have relatives in the western side, and long memories. Like the partition of India, this will have ugly immediate and long term consequences.
3) Putin wants to control the whole of Ukraine. This scheme would give him 100% control of east, and defacto control of the weakened west. FDR thought he would gain Stalin’s trust by giving him whatever he wanted, even at the extreme expense of the peoples involved. Worked out well.
4) This is all a result of US weakness and disengagement, and it previews the sort of “justice” the we can expect in a post Pax-Americana world. Not all of that is Obama’s doing, but he has surely accelerated American decline, and done nothing to fill the gap.