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Okay, deep breaths everyone. We may have made it. We made it to day whatever of the Crimean crisis, and we're all still here. Nobody died.

Well, lots of people died. They died of things like heart disease, and cancer, and car accidents and the after-effects of pollution and tobacco and a diet that consisted of eighty-five percent high fructose corn syrup. They were beaten to death in the backend of Nigeria or the Central African Republic, they died of malaria or starvation throughout the third world, they were crushed in the rubble of bombed buildings in Syria. Sometimes they were executed by the state. In Mexico they may be executed by those who have become the state. In North Korea they may be executed by accident.

And nothing went wrong in the Ukraine over the last day. Well, nothing that hadn't gone wrong already. Which is basically everything, so no loss there. And of course things went wrong everywhere else, the pension system is collapsing, unemployment is startlingly high, education is deficient, people are turning depraved or desperate or disillusioned, or whatever 'd-' word we're worried about today.

So the Ukraine may have very well hit the forgetfulness point, the point at which people start talking to each other, and the problems slowly fade into obscurity. Not that they become any less important, but we forget about them, because it's hard to get excited about someone pointing at a distant hill and saying "that tree used to be mine, before they built the wall". We even get bored of buildings getting blown up if they're someplace like Syria. All the building's look alike, for God's sake. How are we supposed to get excited about watching another one crumble into ruin?

We were aware of all those problems, of course. We even remember being excited about them at some time, when new, sensational reports came out. Then time passed, the memories faded, and they became, not less important (we will continue to insist, if reminded of the existence of those problems, that they are important), but less immediate. I mean, the world ended for some people, but it didn't end to us, and so eventually we moved on to something more immediate, more now.

So reporters will show video of Russian soldiers and Ukrainian soldiers and firebrand protesters, but sooner or later they will start to get bored. Bored of soldiers marching in lines instead of shooting each other. Bored of people protesting in favor of the government, where the most the riot police do is provide directions to the protest headquarters. Bored of landscape shots of the beautiful Crimea, marred by trenches that look more like someone was going to erect a fence than start a war. And they'll move on, and so, after a fashion, will we.

Behind the scenes, diplomacy, economics, and the tools of statecraft will continue to grind on, slowly wearing down the sharp edges of the clashing forces into a stalemate by sheer weight of bureaucracy, until the status quo becomes familiar and comfortable. That, we vaguely understand, is how problems are solved in this day and age. And the Ukraine is not just a problem, it is a difficult problem, and difficult problems require long solutions. We understand that, we just don't have the patience, the same way we drifted away from those other problems previously. So, by the time the situation in Crimea stabilizes we will be worried about the Brazilian Civil War, or the Rabbit Plague, or the Martian Invasion, or implications of promiscuity in a public figure, and will have forgotten all about it.

And we will sometimes think about the Ukraine, and we will talk to other people and we will discuss it and shake our heads and understand, really understand, that it is a dangerous and very important situation, except that wrapped in the so many layers of diplomatic gauze, so dusty from being so static, it is hard to make out the shape of the danger anymore. And we will agree that it is best to be handled with words, and nod to ourselves, and experience sometimes, just for a moment mind you, the regret that it did not boil over and, for a moment, become something exciting, worth holding our attention longer. And then we will look furtively over our shoulders and worry that others have heard our unworthy thoughts, until we are distracted by the next thing.



Sigh. I don't even know what I was trying to say, but I said it, and the world is probably poorer for the experience. It doesn't deserve me being grumpy at it tonight. I'll try and make it a better world ... tomorrow. I just hope it doesn't curse me in turn by making the Ukraine interesting again.
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November 2016

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