“When you drop a pebble into a pond, ripples spread out, changing all the water in the pool. The ripples hit the shore and rebound, bumping into one another, breaking each other apart. In some small way, the pond is never the same again.”
After WW2 the European continent locked it’s borders. The horror of the fascist Nazi military was the manifest of what Europeans have always feared and still feel today. That fear is the feeling of ethnic superiority and nationalism.
The First Ripple
Vladimir Putin was quoted as saying that the fall of the Soviet Union was “the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century.”
I assume what Putin meant was that all they had worked to achieve was now over. They had attempted to do what Nazi Germany tried to do...to single handedly dominate Eurasia and control the mass production machine of the Eurasian Heartland. The Nazis and then later the Soviets wanted to prove Halford Mackinder’s “Heartland Theory” was accurate. So after WW2 the west fought the Cold War to ensure that didn’t happen.
As I reanalyze what Putin said I now see that the fall of the Soviet Union did one more thing. It unlocked the borders of the European continent that were previously set following WW2.
Suddenly people began to wonder what it takes to be a nation. What defines a nation in Europe?
- Is it a collective of common people with a like mindset?
- Is it an area that has ethnic majority?
- Is it an area that speaks the same language?
Then the Yugoslav wars happened. Ethnic majority was determined to be the deciding factor for statehood and Yugoslavia would break apart.
The West was riding high on the success of the Cold War. It seemed apparent that they were purposely ignoring Russian interests when they backed the separation of Kosovo. Putin would never forget this. You could make the argument that Russia’s renewed rivalry with the west occurred right there.
Putin used that justification as a precedent. He would invade Georgia over the breakaway region of Ossetia, and he used the threat of ethnic Russian minorities in several periphery countries. After all, the UN gave their stamp of approval on Kosovo….they’d be hypocrites not to support Russia in South Ossetia, Transinistria, Ukraine, etc. With Kosovo, the west unknowingly gave Russia a lever to pull in their former Soviet sphere of influence.
You see the reverberations of this today in Ukraine. Putin will continue to support Russian backed separatists in Eastern Ukraine until they gain some level of autonomy. From there he can claim the right of self determination and amalgamate whatever he wishes.
On September 18th Scotland will vote on whether to stay in the United Kingdom or to become a separate independent state.
Again, we see an ethnic majority claiming their right to self determination. I know that the United Kingdom will handle this appropriately. They won’t respond violently and they’ll be good neighbors to the Scots. However, the precedent will have been set for self determination in Western Europe. The previously locked borders after WW2 will be suddenly up for debate.
What now happens in Catalonia, Northern Italy, Moldova, Romania, Hungary, parts of the Balkans, the Caucasus, Belgium, Azerbaijan….all of these regions have similar ethnic disputes….all of them.
Looking past Europe we can see the Middle East evolving as well. Will this precedent be used in the ongoing ISIS/Syria/Iraq war? What’s to stop the Caliphate from forming if their citizens have self determined their right to exist as a state?
The Precedent Is The Key
Forget the ramifications to the Scottish economy, the British economy, what to do with the British bases in Scotland, rights to oil in the North Sea…..etc. Scottish independence creates a precedent that will be felt all over the world. How will the world react?