A Very European Story
Linked with Gaither Stewart – USA.
Published on the peoples voice.org, by Gaither Stewart, Feb 25, 2009.
Symbols and objects held sacred by a whole people form a more powerful protective barrier than the highest of walls. Even the Great Wall of China was more a scarecrow than a real barrier to Mongol invaders. In that figurative sense I have imagined here the Russian icon as a historical defense of Russia against circling invaders, against mercenary armies and menacing space shields.
(Rome) Even though Russian icons have little meaning in the USA, religious icons lie at the roots of pictorial art in Slavic East Europe. For the seven hundred years from the 11th century until the time of Peter the Great, the icon practically was the only indigenous pictorial art of the vast territories of the Eastern Slavs, which later, in fact, coincided with the former USSR. Though a mysterious object, the icon, that is, the sacred image, or the sacred representation that the museum visitor easily passes up for more conventional art, is nonetheless both pure art … and at the same time sacred art.
Like all culture the icon can also become a defensive arm …
Besides being divided internally between east and west, (the) Ukraine is crushed between pressures from its eastern and western borders. Since the end of the USSR the major pressure from the West has been a question of USA meddling. As did Nazi Germany, the USA has taken advantage of the east-west division of the Ukraine, wooing West Ukraine at the expense of its eastern soul and Russia.
In reality, the European Union desires association with Ukraine. The EU Parliament favors “full respect for the democratic choice of the Ukrainian people” and opposes pressures to change the political and economic status of Ukraine. This rings friendly and cooperative—to western-oriented Ukrainians. To Russia and eastward-looking Ukrainians any interference at all by the West in Ukraine rings threatening.
The reality is that the tide in Ukraine has now turned eastwards. The impulse toward the West of the last fifteen years has stopped. Though Ukraine must have good relations with both East and West, in any economic contest between Russia on one hand and Europe-USA on the other, Moscow in a fair battle will always win. For Russia, a Ukraine in the camp of the USA would be like Canada suddenly taking control of New England, or Mexico taking over Texas.
The question of where the West ends and Russia begins is not unimportant. Russia is again a global actor. Much of the empire is gone but Russia’s aspirations remain. Today Russia is showing its muscles in a game of hazards and risks. Alongside India and China, Russia has assumed a protagonist role, which the America of Bush and now Obama do not seem to comprehend, no more than they are even aware of this icon story and of Russia’s world outlook.
Geography and history, the flow of time and peoples over many centuries, war and peace, economics, religion, philosophy, and culture – including those enigmatic but eloquent icons – combine to make the Russia-Ukraine borderland a special European story. Most certainly Europeans of both East and West would agree not an accessible space for American imperialist intervention.
Since the collapse of the USSR we have seen that a weak Russia is a danger for world balance of power. A strong Russia worries Washington, less so Europe. A strong Russia to counter uncontrollable American unilateralism appeals to much of the world. Cold War at low risk is better than hot war anywhere. The disappearance of the USSR paved the way for “pre-emptive war America”, its hands free to strike where it likes. America is never friendlier with Russia than when it is divided, poor, its economy in shambles, its empire dismantled. Washington cannot control China or India. Nor in the end can it contain Russia. (full very long text).
(Gaither Stewart, Senior Editor and European Correspondent for Cyrano’s Journal Online, is a novelist and journalist based in Italy. His stories, essays and dispatches are read widely throughout the Internet on many leading venues.
About Asheville, his recent novel: Gaither Stewart’s rootless protagonist, Govar Killian, returns to the town of his youth in search of a connection with his past. Intermingled with the current city’s scrubbed facade, Killian’s compulsive meanderings in Asheville offer him tantalizing glimpses of the streets he once knew. In each woman he pursues, memories of his lost love, Jeannette, beckon. This Asheville, unlike Thomas Wolfe’s, is willing to welcome her long lost son, or perhaps, as Tsalagi shaman and Merrimon Avenue garage mechanic Patrick Barefoot informs Killian, “You can’t get away from anything … We carry our places in us forever.” – Read first Chapter).
More articles from Gaither Stewart on my blogs:
Just East of Eden: Iran, images and reflections (first on online journal);
Beat the dead horse or Putin’s revenge (first on online journal);
The seduction of indifference, again and again and again (first on online journal);
Political Market For Midget Europe In The Giant Asia (first on online journal);
War And Pain: Nothing New Under The Sun (first on Countercurrents.org);
WHO LOVES COMMUNISM? (first on Countercurrents.org);
Marx was right, Secrecy relies on human stupidity (first on online journal);