Tuesday, December 14, 2004

The Ukraine, Democracy, and the Left

The events of the last few weeks in the Ukraine have been inspirational for those who fight for the cause of freedom and democracy. On December 3, Ukraine's supreme court overturned an election that most observers agreed was a fraud. In an unwelcome reminder of the Cold War, the pro-Yushchenko forces in Kiev and the western Ukraine, most of Europe, and the US are in a tug-of-war with eastern Ukraine and Vladimir Putin's Russia (Putin's increasingly disturbing grip on Russia is a subject we'll take up soon). The pro-democracy demonstrators took to the streets in scenes reminiscent of the fall of the Berlin Wall and Tiananmen Square pre-crackdown. Add in an opposition leader who survived an assassination attempt by poisoning, and you have a stirring story for the ages.

Naturally, the Radical Left is taking the side of the democratic opponents. There is no 'progressive' cause so precious that it can't be abandoned for a chance to criticize American foreign policy. Radical Left (the blog) gets all misty-eyed over the old Soviet Union days when things were so much better before the filthy capitalists came along. To quote:

Since the dissolution of the Soviet Union, average monthly income in Ukraine has dropped to $30. In the cities, it is barely more than $60, and in Kiev, approximately $100. Spending power plummeted by 40 per cent between 1989 and 1999. Social and welfare structures and facilities�strongly linked to the factories in Soviet times�have been devastated. Life expectancy has sunk to 73 years for women and 62 years for men�after Russia, the lowest rates in Europe. In the meantime, the rate of new AIDS victims is one of the highest in the world. Four million inhabitants have left Ukraine over the past few years, and deaths of miners are exceeded only by China. .

Given these problems, you would think a little dose of foreign capital would be welcome, but in the eyes of the Marxist left, capital = exploitation. They simply cannot believe it's possible to do good for others while doing good for the U.S., too. Meanwhile, Gary Leupp has got it all figured out:

U.S. policy is very clear. Washington wants to gain control over the flow of oil from the Caspian Sea, especially Turkmenistan, and to do so, vies at every step with Russia. Backing regime change in Georgia earlier this year, it has increased its leverage in that former Soviet republic. It woes the former Soviet republics to join its NATO military bloc, which with the end of the Cold War would seem to have little raison d'�tre except to contain friendly capitalist Russia. While Eastern European allies once buffered the USSR from NATO, the alliance now borders Russia in the Baltics (Estonia and Latvia), and Washington would like to expand it to include Belarus, Ukraine, Georgia and Azerbaijan, encircling Russia's western flank. Meanwhile it stations U.S. troops and acquires military bases in the former Soviet republics in Central Asia, pursuant to the unpredictably expanding "War on Terrorism." A compliant Ukraine abetting its objectives would be a major prize for the Bush administration.

So the U.S. is plotting to get former Soviet Bloc countries to join NATO! How dastardly...better that we leave them to dangle or to form alliances with our enemies. Meanwhile, Russia is friendly and capitalist, which is good in their case, but would be bad in the case of the Ukraine. Confused yet? Don't be. The simple 'progressive' answer to any foreign policy problem is: pick whichever side would be the most harmful to the United States and run with it.

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