Tim Nunan is a scholar of international and global history. His work focuses on the history of Russia and Eurasia–Central Asia, Iran, and Afghanistan–in an international context. He is the Academy Scholar at the Harvard Academy for International and Area Studies and author of Humanitarian Invasion: Global Development in Cold War Afghanistan.
Ramones, “Teenage Lobotomy,” Anthology, 1999.
Jello Biafra and Mojo Nixon & the Toadliquors, “Love Me, I’m a Liberal,” Prairie Home Invasion, 1994.
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By Sean — 4 years ago
By William Risch
Last night, Ukraine’s president, Petro Poroshenko, told his nation that they were at war. The Ukrainian government, after attempting peace talks for several days, was ending its unilateral ceasefire with pro-Russian forces in the Donbass region, which it has been fighting for over two months. “They have publicly declared their unwillingness to support the peace plan as a whole and particularly the ceasefire,” he said. “Militants violated the truce for more than a hundred times.” Thus Ukrainian forces, including the army, National Guard, Ministry of Interior forces, and paramilitary battalions have officially renewed the Anti-Terrorist Operation (ATO).
This time, the ATO promises to be an all-out war. Since the ceasefire took effect June 20, both Ukrainian and rebel forces have reinforced their positions. More tanks, rockets, personnel, and supplies from across the Russian border have reached pro-Russian forces. The Ukrainian online news source Inforesist reported June 30 that separatist Igor Girkin (a.k.a. Strelkov), after complaining for weeks about a lack of support from Russia, had assembled a force capable of seizing Izium, the headquarters of Ukraine’s ATO: 5,000 armed men in Sloviansk and dozens of armored equipment, tanks, and multiple rocket launchers. Fresh reinforcements have arrived in nearby Krasnyi Liman and Kramatorsk. Inforesist stressed that Strelkov not only could take Izium, but also advance toward major industrial city of Kharkiv, due to the Ministry of Internal Affairs forces lacking heavy armament.
Facing forces like Strelkov’s, Ukraine’s ATO will cost many lives. It will make worse a refugee crisis that has already led to at least 27,200 internally displaced persons from eastern Ukraine as of June 27, according to a recent United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) report. The hundreds of military and civilians killed could reach the thousands if air strikes and artillery assaults become even deadlier.
Despite the nightmarish scenario, all-out war looks inevitable. There is not even one hint that the forces of the Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) or the Luhansk People’s Republic (LNR) even took President Poroshenko’s ceasefire seriously. During it, their forces killed a total of 27 Ukrainian security forces personnel and wounded 69. DNR and LNR leaders have suggested plans for creating a larger entity, New Russia (Novorossiia), which would incorporate other regions of eastern and southern Ukraine. On June 26, one of their key supporters – Oleh Tsarev, one of their representatives in peace talks with the Ukrainian government – announced competitions for designing national symbols for Novorossiia and a history textbook for the start of the new school year.
In the face of war, neither the United States nor the European Union can afford to let Ukraine lose the Donbass. The Budapest Memorandum of 1994, which led to Ukraine giving up its stockpiles of Soviet nuclear weapons, guaranteed that the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and the United States of America would refrain from using force “against the territorial integrity or political independence of Ukraine, and that none of their weapons will ever be used against Ukraine except in self-defence or otherwise in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations.” Over the past few weeks, Russia’s lending separatists advanced weaponry and armed volunteers from across the border has seriously threatened Ukraine’s territorial integrity. What looked like a local conflict lacking popular support at the beginning of June has turned into a full-scale invasion at the beginning of July. This invasion and Russia’s illegal seizure of Crimea have made a total mockery of the Budapest Memorandum.
Supporting Ukraine’s war for the Donbass does not mean sacrificing the blood and treasure of U.S. or E.U. member forces. Western countries could send military advisors to train a more effective army (one badly undermined by corruption over the past quarter century). They could send ammunition. They could help finance the construction of a more secure border between Russia and Ukraine. Most importantly, they could support more vigorous economic sanctions against Russia. The West either must do what it can to support Ukraine’s military effort, or it may have to admit that international borders need to be redrawn and that international guarantees like the Budapest Memorandum are mere scraps of paper.
William Risch is a contributing journalist at the Ukraine Crisis Media Center in Kyiv, Ukraine, and Associate Professor of History at Georgia College. He is author of The Ukrainian West: Culture and the Fate of Empire in Soviet Lviv (Harvard University Press, 2011).Post Views: 214
By Sean — 5 years ago
My article, “The Shattered Self of Komsomol Civil War Memoirs,” has come out in the Fall 2012 issues of the Slavic Review. You can download it here. Here are the opening paragraphs:
Komsomol literature in the 1920s repeatedly evoked the memory of the civil war as a means to inspire young communists to sacrifice themselves for the construction of socialism. In the words of Alfred Kurella, “The heroic times of the civil war presently take on a great role in satisfying youth’s romantic proclivities.” The war, he explained, bound the Komsomol around a “single principle,” for it recalled a time when all “surrendered to one great purpose” and “individual identity was significant only as part of a large family. Everybody conformed to the principle that bestowed life or death.” Like other European nations, which used memories of World War I in the construction of national unity, the Komsomol recalled the civil war in order to unite youth around a common heroic memory. The civil war functioned as a “meaningful and sacred event,” providing “ever-present saints and martyrs, places of worship and a heritage to emulate.”
The desire to codify the civil war as a foundational event began with the creation of the Komsomol’s historical commission in December 1920: Istmol, or the Commission for the Study of the History of the Russian Youth Movement. Throughout the 1920s, Istmol collected documents and organized evenings of reminiscence and exhibitions to commemorate the participation in the civil war by members of the Komsomol. Istmol also solicited civil war veterans to write memoirs that would bring revolutionary heroism to life, adding color and depth to the official documents. Their publications varied in content and style, and recollections were often published with very few revisions. The result was a heterogeneous body of literature lacking a dominant narrative for civil war memory. The recollections constituted the main literary form of civil war commemoration since the obituaries, tributes to fallen Komsomol leaders, and articles highlighting the enthusiasm of and service provided by members of the Komsomol that were published during the war.
Komsomol civil war memoirs display an ambivalence toward the civil war. This contrasts with our broader understanding of the war’s memory as a heroic period in which communists sacrificed themselves wholeheartedly for the revolution. Alongside a narrative that framed the war as a “heroic epoch,” veterans voiced confusion, personal loss, hardship, physical suffering, and fear in the face of death. It is precisely because of these elements that Komsomol civil war narratives can be seen as part of the important phenomenon of war remembrance at the turn of the century. These narratives, like many of their European counterparts, are ultimately personal stories that attempt to come to terms with the personal transformations that war brought upon young soldiers and to render the strangeness of these experiences understandable to both the readers and the soldiers themselves.Post Views: 229
By Sean — 4 years ago
While the battle between Kyiv and separatists intensifies, the Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) is helping stack the bodies via revolutionary justice.
The DNR may be adopting Russian laws, but one practice it’s exercising not found in the Russia codex is the death penalty. Several Russian news outlets reported that an order given by Igor Stelkov, the commander of the DNR’s militias, sentenced two men to death by shooting for “marauding, armed robbery, abduction, abandoning their military position, and hiding their crimes.” The two weren’t just regular grunts but commanders: Dmitri Slavlov, the commander of the Bulgar company, and Nikolai Lukyanov, the commander of Luka company.
Life News published a copy of Stelkov’s order.
Alexandr Mozhaev, a commander of a checkpoint neighboring Kramatorsk, told Kommersant that the men “broke into houses, robbed the families, and abused people. . . Such instances aren’t unique, but before someone just stopped a car, took the passengers jewelry and stole their money. Now, a decision was made to take harsh measures against these people so as to teach others a lesson.”
More evidence that things are spiraling out of control in eastern Ukraine.
Acts like this have to scare Putin. This is perhaps why Moscow is backing off its support for the DNR and has mostly been mute on the continued violence against separatists. All we get are repeated empty statements calling for an end to Kyiv’s “anti-terrorist” operation. Perhaps Moscow is now realizing that the separatists have gone off the reservation and are taking their revolution too seriously.
This is what Aleksandr Baunov argues in a recent article in Slon. With Poroshenko’s election, Kyiv is no longer a revolutionary threat. He’s calling for order and for the Maidan to be dismantled. This makes the president elect someone Moscow can work with. But the Donetsk People’s Republic? It might be becoming a liability. Baunov writes:
“The main danger for Putin now is the Donbass because it remains revolutionary. And therefore Putin will not increasingly meddle in it and will back off and stand aside. Although traffic in Kyiv still winds between the leftovers of barricades, the Maidan is not there, but in Lugansk and Donetsk, and that means you have to be on guard.”
. . .
“And Putin will become estranged from the Donetsk Republic. In all of his appearances at the Petersburg Forum there wasn’t a word about fascists, Banderovtsy or junta. There wasn’t even anything about Novorossiia or a unified Russian people. In the news, the Balkan floods, the train accident, the Nigerian abductions, and European and Ukrainian elections have all the more attenuated the topic of the junta and Right Sector. Even the chief ideologist [Dmitry Kiselev] has calmed down.”
I wonder if we can expect Putin to speed up his extrication from eastern Ukraine now that the DNR is decreeing revolutionary justice.Post Views: 188