Friday, May 9, 2014

Responding to: '6 Mistakes the West Makes in Ukraine'

(HT: AK).  I'm loath to respond to this nonsense but since this article carries some academic cache I feel I must (sigh). So here goes....

So-called Myth #1: "Ukrainians are one people, united in their support of change."  Most countries are diverse -- ethnically, ideologically, geographically, linguistically and so on.  Ukraine is not unique in that respect; in fact Ukraine is more homogeneous than many states. The U.S. is terribly divided politically, as any Red-Blue electoral map will demonstrate.  And so what?  But not all countries have a foreign power -- Russia -- willfully destabilizing them by force of arms and agents.  France doesn't play Catalans against Spaniards, for example, for its own purposes.  

Ukrainians are united in their disgust with state corruption, and leaders who promise one thing -- like joining the EU -- and then do another.

So-called Myth #2: "Supporting the Euromaidan’s ouster of president Yanukovych." The Feb. 21 agreement was not signed or endorsed by Russia!!!  Can I underline that fact enough times?  And the next day ex-president Yanukovych fled Kyiv, in a mysterious peripatetic route, ending in his own exile in Russia.  Nobody forced Yanukovych to leave Ukraine. Maybe the imminent discovery by the interim government of some $70 billion missing from Ukraine's treasury had something to do with Yanukovych's decision to flee?....

So-called Myth #3: "Failing to stand behind the February 21 agreement." Follow the link provided in this article, then judge for yourself whether these conditions were not met. The Constitution of 2004 was restored. Presidential elections were scheduled -- for May 25. Investigations into acts of violence, mainly by Yanukovych's governments, are ongoing.  And so on. The 6th condition -- that all violence should end -- has not been upheld by Russia, which has imported arms, mercenaries and special forces troops into Ukraine to foment violent unrest.  So Russia has no grounds to complain. Russia is the main violator of the February 21 agreement, which it did not sign.

So-called Myth #4: "Ignoring the rise of the Radical Right." Where is the evidence that a so-called "neo-fascist" or "radical right" is running rampant in Ukraine? Foreign journalists and observers are everywhere in Ukraine now. Why haven't we heard about any of these cases?  Because they don't exist.  It's Putin's propaganda. Indeed, rumors and disinformation are running rampant, especially in the East.

So-called Myth #5: "Labeling protesters in the East and South 'pro-Russian' and 'separatists.'" What do you call people who call for either unification with Russia or a separate "Donbas Republic?"  Certainly not "pro-Ukrainian" or "pro-unity." Yes, the truth is that most Ukrainians, even in Donbas, want Ukraine to remain intact. Only a few hundred malcontents and thugs, armed and coordinated by Russia, are causing all the trouble we read about in the news. And what a few babushkas say at separatist-held checkpoints and monuments to Lenin... this is political theater, not political reality. 

The few hundred malcontents in the East are indeed supported by Russia, hence it is entirely apt to call them "pro-Russians." If Russia were not in the equation, none of this would be happening. It's that simple.  

So-called Myth #6: "Blaming Russia for Ukraine’s problems." Blaming Russia for Ukraine's problems!?  Nobody is doing that.  Ukrainians spent three months in the ice and snow because they knew their own problems: endemic corruption, bad governance, economic stagnation, etc.  But what is happening now in Donbas is instigated by Russia.  It's the "Crimean scenario" being repeated quite crudely and openly.

Myth #7, "What Ought To Be Done Instead." Let's paraphrase this myth as, letting Russia dictate internal politics of Ukraine by non-democratic means.  I mean, how can a government of "national unity" be established outside of democratic norms -- elections -- scheduled on May 25??  Should goons with guns be given a seat at the table with elected officials and European diplomats?  This is madness.  No country would tolerate this, certainly not Putin's Russia.

Furthermore, "decentralization" may indeed happen -- incidentally, this is part of the program of the "far-right" party Svoboda -- but such a decision must be made within a democratic framework -- not as a precondition to ending violence or holding elections!  No country worth its salt negotiates with terrorists.

And certainly not  the kind of "federalization" that Russia has in mind -- where regions are nearly autonomous and have their own foreign policy. This would be in fact a confederation.  And I can't think of a single confederation of states that has governed well or lasted very long. Two experiments with confederacy in the United States were a disaster, under the Articles of Confederation and the Confederate States of America.  If the U.S. couldn't make it work, no one can. And probably Russia understands this: Putin wants Ukraine to be weak, disjointed and ultimately a failed state.

By Nicolai N. Petro
May 8, 2014 | The National Interest

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