Since Marie Antoinette, revolutions have relied on mobs in the streets. What's distinctive about Egypt and Ukraine is how technology amplifies and speeds up street protests. Social media networks--accessible to anyone with a digital device--make mobs happen. Social media, I submit, might have created more problems than it solved in either country.
Namely, once a social-media fed mob agreed on "Down with Yanukovych--drive the bastard out!" did it fully understand the endgame for any overthrow it was aching to unleash? I have the impression the EuroMaidan dissidents gathering in the freezing cold of 2013, night after night, were convinced history (or the gods or whatever) was on their side. If their perspective was limited to what came up on their smartphones, why not? They probably saw the Russian Black Sea Fleet operating out of Sevastopol on the Crimean Peninsula as a detail to be worked out later. That myopia invites disaster.
Vladimir Putin has a grip on what's at stake for Russia from the Ukrainian "revolution." NATO forces possibly closing in on its western borders. More worrying, a resurgent Iran, always threatening to join the nuclear club, on its southern flank. You get the idea a Russian military presence in the Black Sea makes geopolitical sense.
Putin sent troops into the Crimea to protect Russian naval operations at Sevastopol--forget the argument about protecting ethnic Russians. The last time Russia was threatened by a resurgence of a theocratic Iran--in the 70s--Russia, in a similar geopolitical calculation, went into nearby Afghanistan (Understand, the "Muslim hordes" on Russia's southern flank have been a nemesis for millennia).
So once the Sochi Olympics were over, Putin went to work on Russia's partner at Sevastopol, acting with confidence, having a strong hand to play.
We can hope cool heads will prevail in the Ukrainian crisis and in the name of regional stability possibly fix the problems flash mobs and social media seemed willing to ignore.
Read Charlie Dickinson's latest novel, Losing Laika, as an ebook in these five downloadable formats:
Also read his
story collection, The Cat
at Light's End, as an ebook in these downloadable
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