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Updated: 05/08/2014 10:24:04PM

Should Ukraine follow in the Lincoln principle?

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Many Americans believe that when the Ukranian government was confronted with the secession of Crimea, it should have reacted the same way that our President Lincoln did when our Southern states seceded. Lincoln ordered the Union army to invade the South. He believed that the voters of the South chose their own government was not valid – that the national borders took precedence. That decision led to the bloodiest war ever on this continent.

Homes and families were ruined and hundreds of thousands of soldiers died.

The situation in Eastern Europe is similar in principle, but the conditions are hugely different. Let’s imagine that the Ukranian government threw its entire military power into Crimea to crush the area that wanted to independent or part of Russia. The government decided that the rights of its Russian speaking area must not interfere with a national boundary, whether that boundary was logical or a mistake. Would America and other powers accept this because Lincoln did this?

Whether any amount of negotiating would have prevented our Civil War, or will prevent a war over Crimea we can’t know. We do know that civil wars historically have ended only when one side utterly crushes the other. The Spanish Civil War almost a century after ours is another example of this.

Will the decisions of nations satisfy everyone? Of course not, but any deal will be better than the death and destruction that would result from a Lincoln precedent. And people on both side of the Ukranian border can keep their homes and lives.



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