Srdja Trifkovic interviewed by Mike Church on SiriusXM Patrot Radio:
Mike: I have been enjoying your writing for years at Chronicles, including your ruminations about our modern demonization of monarchy and how you’re trying to figure out: How did this greatest and oldest form of government get to the station in life where it’s regarded as something that is the equivalent of Satan himself? I know that’s not our subject today, but I just wanted to let you know that I’ve been reading it with great interest. Keep writing about it because I find it fascinating.
Trifkovic: Well, some of the most stable democracies in the world are monarchies, such as Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Spain, Denmark, Sweden, and Norway. If you have a head of state, it’s far better to have someone with established credentials that transcend the volatile barometer of daily politics. Of course, the optimum form would be an absolute monarchy with a benevolent Christian ruler, but we’re a little bit beyond that, I’m afraid.
Mike: Yes, that is something that perhaps we can revive. Let’s talk about the Ukraine for just a moment. Your latest post at Chronicles is under the headline “Ukraine Bosnified, Putin Hitlerized.” Do you look at this as Putin being Hitlerized as a case of mistaken identity?
Trifkovic: Absolutely. If we want to look for a parallel with Hitler – and frankly, I’m sick and tired of this reductio ad Hitlerum – we seem to be keen on finding the Hitler du jour whenever there’s a crisis. Whether it’s Slobodan Milosevic, or Saddam Hussein, or Muammar Gaddafi, or Bashar al-Assad, the “Hitler” parallel is invoked. In the case of Ukraine, we actually have a fairly decent parallel with the boys from western Ukraine who have been the spearhead of violence in Kiev over the past three months, the Svoboda Party and various associated groups, who openly parade the black and red flag of the SS division Galizien from 70 years ago, and who are quite unabashedly keen on reviving the tradition of the Ukrainian collaboration from World War II.
It’s funny that, when you have supposedly similar emanations of extreme right-wing nationalism and racism in Western Europe, they’re demonized by the European Union – whether it’s the Vlaams Belang in Belgium, the BNP in England, or Marine Le Pen and the Front National in France. Far worse fellows in Kiev, the jackbooted, helmeted “peaceful protestors,” are embraced with open arms. In December we had the inimitable Senator John McCain share the platform with Oleh Tyahnybok, the leader of the Svoboda Party. It’s entirely a matter of situational morality. Just as we have “our” jihadists and “bad” jihadists – just look at Syria – so it seems to be the case with “our” fascists in Ukraine and the “bad” fascists when they raise their heads within the European Union.
Mike: So Putin – I jokingly refer to him as Vlad the Impaler – is being made out to be the baddest of all bad guys in the history of bad guys, but he seems to at least have a firmer grasp on the history of these events than anyone in our country does, don’t you think?
Trifkovic: Absolutely. Some of his policies that are very vocally criticized in the Western world, for instance concerning the legislation on homosexuality, is certainly something that would resonate with many American conservatives. He is not persecuting the gays, far from that; but he has introduced legislation that bans propagation of gay lifestyle to minors. American parents, who are faced with what amounts to the mandated equalization of homosexual lifestyle with heterosexual one, would probably find it highly desirable. Likewise, in the Western world, which is reverting to some kind of post-Christian Godlessness, to insist on the Christian rooting of one’s identity – as Putin does – and giving the Russian Orthodox Church a special place in society, would also resonate with those of us who remember that the founding fathers found in the scriptures their inspiration to such an extent that, in the Bill of Rights, religious freedom comes before the freedom of speech.
The attempt to legislate human rights in accordance with the postmodern criteria of the State is the problem. That means that if the State, with its highly-volatile principles of what constitutes human rights, steps in, then you have federal judges overturning the will of the majority of citizens in the most conservative states in the union. What we are witnessing is the denial of human rights for the silent majority of those who subscribe to a traditional moral code and traditional lifestyles, in favor of highly voluntaristic, postmodern concepts that have nothing to do with the human rights traditionally understood.
Mike: You’re an observer at the Crimean referendum. I am, of course, joking when I ask this: did the United Nations send you?
Trifkovic: The local government of Crimea has invited me and a number of other foreigners who take an active interest in Ukrainian, Russian and Crimean affairs. Of course, there will be the standard cries of “illegality” from the United States when it comes to the Crimean referendum, even though they didn’t raise any such heckles when Kosovo separated from Serbia, or for that matter when various Soviet republics separated from the Soviet Union in 1991. We are looking at a situation which is legally quite clear. The Ukrainian Parliament acted illegally and unconstitutionally in impeaching Yanukovych.
Yanukovych is a useless and rather corrupt individual. Nevertheless, if we are talking about the “legality” of the proceedings, the way in which the new government in Kiev acted with his impeachment and then with a whole series of pronouncements – including the abolition of the use of the Russian language in the Russian majority areas – is unconstitutional. They have effectively suspended the Ukrainian constitution on February 22nd and 23rd, and therefore they have very little to complain when the Crimean peninsula – which is overwhelmingly Russian, and which was transferred to Ukraine by the stroke of Nikita Khrushchev’s pen exactly 60 years ago, in February 1954 – acts to secede. What is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. The United States established a very tricky precedent by recognizing that self-proclaimed Kosovan independence in 2008. That same precedent is now being applied in Crimea. To cry foul and say that it is an entirely different situation simply doesn’t stand the test of either legality of morality. If the United States proclaimed in 2008 that it is legal and justified for a minority in a state – which constitutes a majority in a province such as Kosovo – to secede, then exactly the same principle applies to Crimea.
Mike: So the way the American public, especially American conservatives who are decentralizers, ought to look at this is that the Crimean people are basically asserting their ancient and constitutional rights as Crimeans, and they’re choosing to secede, and then they will choose, I assume, to join the Russian Federation. They’re not on any compulsion to join the Russian Federation, are they?
Trifkovic: If you look at the reception of the Russian troops in the Crimean peninsula, it is quite obvious that it is exactly the opposite. If there was any element of compulsion, if there was any form of lingering sentiment to stay part of the Ukraine, it simply would not have been possible for a handful of Russian soldiers to take over all of the key infrastructure in Simferopol or Sevastopol. It’s quite obvious that self-organized local militia is composed of people who reflect the will of the people of Crimea, just as we witnessed, let me repeat, with Kosovo, where the Albanians enthusiastically welcomed independence, which was enthusiastically supported and promptly recognized by the United States.
Mike: Talk for a moment, if you will, and I read this in your piece two weeks ago, about how “with the stroke of his drunken pen” Khrushchev made the Crimea part of Ukraine. What was it before and how did that come about?
Trifkovic: The Crimean peninsula became part of the Russian Empire under Empress Catherine the Great in the 1780s. Before that, it belonged to the Ottoman Empire. The whole north coast of the Black Sea was part of the Ottoman Empire, but it was not settled by the Turks. In fact it was Slavic, with a predominant Tatar population in Crimea, the descendants of the Golden Horde, the Mongols who invaded Russia in medieval times. For 200 years, until 1954 to be precise, it had been part of Russia.
Today the trend is being reversed. On current form – with their falling birthrates – the key states of Europe, such as Germany, Italy, France and Britain, will increasingly become old countries with millions of young, unassimilable immigrants who do not share the outlook, the cultural assumptions of the hosts, or the emotional attachment to the country in which they reside. Local identities in Europe are alive and well, but whether they will be able to assert themselves will largely depend on the extent to which the demographic change brought about by Islamic immigration is stemmed.
Mike: A final question: What do you think is Putin’s long-term aim? Is he trying to stave off what you just outlined? My friend Mark Steyn wrote in his book America Alone, about those European birthrates. France and Spain and some of those other countries won’t even be able to sustain their current population levels through 2050 of natural-born French or Spaniards. Is the same true in Russia? And what do you think Putin is up to long-term?
Trifkovic: Russia is also in the same boat. It has a big problem with demography. They have not been able to resolve this yet. At least the Russian leadership is trying to boost birthrates with systematic programs of encouragement, financial and otherwise, which are sadly lacking in Europe. Any attempt to assert the need for reproduction of the old European nations is, oddly enough, equated with “nativism” and “racism.” If the spotted owl is disappearing, or the sperm whale is dying, everybody and his uncle is up in arms. But when traditional European nations are disappearing, it is the cause for yet another round of celebrating diversity and multiculturalism. It is a reflection of a diseased, deeply sick society.
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