Monday, October 18, 2021

Amazing Diplomacy of George Bush I

I was thinking the other day about how amazing it was that the world made it through the breakup of the Soviet Union so easily. You have to give a ton of credit to two men, both without a great reputation today. George Bush I and Boris Yeltsin. Look at the map below and here are some facts that are amazing.

Countries 2, 3 and 4 are the Baltic Countries (not to be confused with Balkan) of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. The had a fight for recognition since WWII even though they had only be nation states in this form, since 1917. Not only did these three become independent immediately, Russia let them go. They were then "supported" by Finland and Sweden and joined NATO for protection and ultimately the European Union. They are now poster childs for a great transition. Particularly as they joined NATO, and Russia gave acquiesce.

Countries 6 (Ukraine) and 11 (Kazakhstan) actually gave up nuclear missiles and arms - that they had under their control - back to Russia. (Which screwed Ukraine during the last war, but was a major win for all involved.

Aside from (8) Georgia and (9) Armenia, nearly all descending into strong man rule, often the ex-Soviet governors. And their independence from Russia was not guaranteed. It was a strength (seen at the time as a weakness) that Yeltsin didn't reintegrate them by force. 

Since then Russian President Putin has made some minor moves to reclaim Russia territory, specifically the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine. Not particularly a surprise since it was a gift from Russia to Ukraine sometime after WWII. And it has invaded some parts of Georgia to teach them a lesson.

But overall (and compared to Yugoslavia) the break-up went about as well as possible.

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