Auferre trucidare rapere falsis nominibus imperium, atque ubi solitudinem faciunt, pacem appellant.
“Robbing, slaughtering, pillaging they misname sovereign authority, and where they make an empty waste they call it peace.” Tacitus puts this accurate if one-sided summation of Roman imperial strategy into the mouth of Calgacus, a Caledonian chieftain, urging the Celtic warriors to resist Roman expansion. Tacitus was no isolationist, but Roman political intellectuals were far more candid than our latter-day imperialists. Our patriots lack the courage that such candor requires, and they prefer to describe the expansion of the American empire as a defense of democracy, human rights, and territorial integrity.
Tacitus’ epigram is an apt description of the effective policy of all empires, whether Roman, British, Austro-Hungarian, Soviet, or American, which can only grow at the expense of the peoples foolish enough to resist amalgamation. The subjugation and elimination of smaller ethnicities and identities is in the nature of empire, and it makes no difference if the empire goes by some euphemistic name such as “the Spartans and their allies” or the “Warsaw Pact nations” or, more recently, “the international community,” which would be more accurately described as “the United States and her satellites.” The fact that some of the more powerful satellites may occasionally make a display of their vestigial independence is only to be expected, but, on most important matters of war and peace, the allies either follow the American line enthusiastically or, at most, respectfully decline to participate.
Many honest observers have been puzzled by what seem to them contradictions and even hypocrisy in the policies of the international community, which, on the one hand, celebrated the breakup not only of the Soviet Union but of Russia (including the Ukraine) as she had existed for 350 years, and assisted in the secessions of Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia, and Kosovo, but, on the other hand, absolutely condemned the attempts of Serbs in Croatia and Bosnia to secede from the seceded states. The same governments and institutions that demanded the independence of the Ukraine now are adamant in defending the “territorial integrity” of the failed state known as Ukraine.
There is in fact no confusion in the motivation of the international community. In every case the goals are manifest: the extension and strengthening of a system of international order, as represented by NATO, the United Nations, and the European Union, in which the United States plays a preeminent role, at the expense of historic loyalties and rooted attachments to religious and cultural traditions.
In his Brussels speech of March 26, President Obama set forth his justification for current U.S. policy on Ukraine. Ringing the changes on democracy, human dignity, and the progress of civilization that has repudiated the belief “that bigger nations can bully smaller ones to get their way,” the president of the world’s only remaining superpower proceeded to explain away the U.S. invasion of Iraq and to describe the Tunisian revolution as a spontaneous uprising in which the CIA and State Department played no part. Apparently Mrs. Clinton did not keep the President in the loop.
The President outdid himself on Kosovo: The United States intervened only “after the people of Kosovo were systematically brutalized for years” and recognized the independence of the region only after a referendum had been conducted “not outside the boundaries of international law.” Of the systematic murder of Christians and destruction of Christian churches that have been conducted under protection of NATO or of the solemn promise that Kosovo would remain part of Serbia, not a word.
In the current crisis, American imperialists make much of the principle of territorial integrity, citing it over and over as a universally accepted precept of international law, when it is really only a speculative theory that is trotted out whenever a great power finds it convenient. In 1975 the United States was among 35 states that signed the nonbinding Helsinki Accords, affirming territorial integrity, but the U.S. government recognized Ukraine’s independence in 1991.
Obviously, territorial integrity cannot be an unqualified or a universal principle that can drive other sacred cows—democracy, women’s rights, etc., etc.—out of the rhetorical pasture. It is hard to know, however, if the people who make these arguments really believe in what they are saying. In the Washington Post, Ilya Somin offers three reasons why Crimean secession is not “moral.” The first is that “many political theorists argue that secession from an existing state can only be justified if it is necessary to address serious injustices or human rights violations.” In other words, morality depends on a sampling of one’s favorite theorists. Imagine trying to apply such a principle to a murder trial or a medical crisis.
His second argument is that “the territorial integrity of states is a basic principle of modern international law.” But the great powers make up these principles of “international law” from day to day as they go along, without ever intending to abide by them. When strong states are taken to task for violations—as was the United States, when she mined harbors in Nicaragua—the answer given to the international community is a curt “Mind your own business.”
The third argument is that “Crimean secession for the purpose of joining Russia is likely to result in human rights violations.” Who is to say which “rights” justify such secession, much less in which instances they can be correctly asserted? Suppose that a revolution, fueled by a foreign power, were to overthrow a traditional Christian monarchy and replace it with a secular democracy in which all religions were tolerated. Suppose further that in one distinctive province, support for the old king and the old religion approached 90 percent. Of course, the international community would never put up with a secession movement that aimed at restoring a stable Christian political order, but that is not because of any universal principle, unless anti-Christianism can be said to be a principle.
The New World Order envisioned by internationalists transcends all conventional boundaries of language, culture, and religion; consequently, any patriotic attachment that cannot be instrumentalized by the internationalists is viewed as an obstacle to global peace. That was the burden of Obama’s speech in Brussels. The destruction of historic European and Christian identities is, therefore, high on the list of priorities. The denatured and de-Christianized European Union, the European model for the New World Order, refuses even to consider Christianity as part of the cultural and moral legacy of Europe. The European Union, naturally, has a strong affection for such monstrous hybrid states as Belgium, Yugoslavia, Bosnia, and Ukraine, where religious and cultural divisions rule out any ethnic or religious resurgence.
Hybrid states are of vital importance for the internationalists, because by their very nature they tend to repress sentiments of ethnic or religious solidarity. There are, however, occasions when independence movements enjoy the favor of the internationalists, so long as secession will serve to dissolve ethnic unity or undermine traditional attachments. Montenegro and Kosova were used, albeit in quite different ways, to solve the “problem” of Serbian patriotism, which was gaining new life during the dissolution of Yugoslavia. The Montenegrin majority, which shares language, customs, religion, and history with other Serbs, had to be liberated from Serbia, partly to punish Serbia for attempting to preserve her independence and partly because Montenegro’s secessionist political leadership—firmly secular and internationalist as it is—was eager to accept a servile incorporation into the European community and the New World Order.
Internationalists have more than one reason for favoring the repression of traditional religions. Most obviously, secular modernism has its own rival cults of personal fulfillment, sexual liberation, and that radical environmentalism which is really a form of antihuman nature-worship. Since the Renaissance, the prophets of liberalism and modernism have tended to view Christianity, particularly in its most traditional forms, as the enemy, and the great philosophers the internationalists look back to—Hobbes and Locke, Voltaire and Rousseau—were either indifferent to Christianity or openly hostile. For these anti-Christian cults to succeed on a global scale, the old religion, with its rival claim to global rule, must be swept aside.
But there is another, more immediate reason for opposing all traditional religions. Since religion, particularly in the Balkans, often stands in for other forms of ethnic identity, it is viewed as a force favoring ethnic and patriotic traditions. So long as those traditions are capable of inspiring particularistic loyalties, they are condemned as bigoted and divisive, but when they are held by non-Christian minorities, the internationalists can play the card of religious freedom, albeit sometimes with disastrous results.
When the Arab Spring, nurtured and coddled by the U.S. State Department, empowered Islamic fundamentalists in Egypt—as was inevitable—there was consternation among the internationalists. They could hardly afford to admit they had made a mistake, and they were still less likely to endorse the military coup that drove the Muslim Brotherhood from power. Tacit acquiescence in the restoration of order has proved to be the only solution possible.
After the attacks of September 11, 2001, it was no longer so easy for the anti-Christian political leaders in the United States and Europe to ignore the growing danger of militant Islam. Nonetheless, while internationalists now frequently deplore Islamic fundamentalism in Africa and the Middle East, the focus of attack in Europe is not on Muslim terrorists but on Christianity, particularly on the Orthodox and Catholic churches. The Catholics, as part of a powerful international organization with wealth and influence on several continents, are in a better position to defend their interests, but the Orthodox begin with two strikes against them: As European Christians, they are the familiar enemy representing the old civilization that modern European states are bent on destroying, but as Eastern Europeans they can be demonized as alien, bizarre, and bigoted. It was inevitable that the anti-Christian international community would shrink in revulsion from the aspirations of Orthodox Serbs in Bosnia, Montenegro, and Kosovo.
If clearheaded men and women are willing to disembarrass their minds of all the humanitarian clichés devised by internationalists to conceal their empire-building projects, they will soon understand that there is only one reality in international relations, and that is power. If the state exercises a monopoly on the use of force, as they believe, then only a global state will be able to control the violent lust for power that is inherent in all political relations. World peace requires global sovereignty as well as a global religion, as Dante long ago argued, though from an opposite point of view and with an intention far removed from today’s globalists.
For the globalists, any resistance to their projects amounts to treason, and the traitors—whether Slobodan Milosevic or Vladimir Putin—are stand-ins for Hitler, while the leaders of the Free West are gallant defenders of democracy and human rights; Yanukovych was a corrupt monster, and his pro-European successors are paragons of honest government. No need to go on, because we knew what they would say before the Russians crossed the border.
Both contending parties in Ukraine were and are corrupt, and no remotely competent or honest observer disputes that. Putin, though he is not fool enough to dream of reconstituting the Soviet Union, may well be rebuilding a Russian empire. In Putin and the Rise of Russia, Michael Stürmer, who visited the Russian strongman, reports that Putin’s office is dominated by four oversized portraits of the three czars who built the empire—Peter the Great, Catherine the Great, Nicholas I—and one of Alexander II, the would-be reformer who was assassinated.
Putin is probably not, at least at this point, plotting to seize Estonia, much less Poland—though what if he were? Eastern European political leaders have been engaging in overtly anti-Russian rhetoric, and a wise strongman would wish to neutralize or even suppress any threat on the border. This is a case of Realpolitik, not of some Lex Luthor or Doctor Doom lusting for global domination.
The United States and her satellites, for their part, have practical strategic motives for strengthening their position in the region, but the Russians see—and quite rightly—such moves as part of a long-term strategy to surround and emasculate Russia even further than has already happened. If I were a Pole, I would be quite nervous about this conflict, not only from fear of Putin but also from a fear that the conflict might well be fought on Polish ground. Putin would be wise to seize not only the rest of Ukraine but the Baltic states as well. This alarm has been raised, sometimes hysterically, by Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski. A far better strategy for the Polish foreign minister—and the neoconservative National Review’s former foreign correspondent—to pursue would be a partition of Ukraine between Poland and Russia. It has been done before.
There is no moral principle at stake in this contest between Mr. Putin and his Western antagonists, and no moral basis for resolving conflicts between the supposed right of secession and the supposedly universal principle of territorial integrity. The only question on the table these days is, to paraphrase an earlier Russian strongman, How many divisions does the international community have—and are they willing to use them? All the rest is Sunday-school atheism.