Surprisingly, Ukraine is not totally engulfed in flames right now.
The media is all riled up about the “New Cold War” and the internet is buzzing with its usual conglomerate of seasoned political analysts, who are comparing Putin to Hitler and saying that this is the beginning of World War III.
Not quite, internet.
Before we get into the bizarre world of post-soviet politics, I ought to preface this post by saying that, as usual, I’m not really a partisan on these issues.
I don’t like Yanukovich and I don’t like Tymoshenko.
I don’t like Putin and I don’t like Obama.
However, in order to understand what is currently taking place in Ukraine, we must look at the situation with both eyes.
Everyone in the media right now (with very few exceptions) only wants to look at things with a one-eye-open framework. And it’s this framework in which these events are analyzed.
And this is why the internet thinks Putin is Hitler.
Let’s talk about reality.
1. The protesters are not who you think they are.
This seems to be a common thread among the liberals today: if there are people in the streets, then we have to support them. But this is probably the worst political principle one can possibly hold.
Not all protests are created equal.
And they were protesting against the democratically-elected president, Viktor Yanukovich.
However, the demonstrations were soon co-opted by the political opposition leaders and groups. And that’s when everything went downhill.
These groups were diverse, but the main threads were pro-European “liberals” and Ukrainian fascists.
How did such different people come together? Yanukovich must have been really bad!
Not exactly, dear reader. You see, the “liberals” and the fascists knew that they had to use each other in order to gain any political power. This isn’t to say that there weren’t genuine people involved in the protests, because there certainly were.
But unfortunately, these aren’t the people who have grabbed power.
You see, now that there has been a transition of power in Ukraine (folks will argue over whether it was a revolution or a coup), the “liberals” and the fascists are sharing power.
By the way, when I say “fascist” – that’s exactly what I mean. People like Oleh Tyahnibok and his Svoboda Party are literal, actual, genuine Neo-Nazis. And these people now have legitimate government positions in Ukraine.
But they’re not the only insanely right-wing part of Euromaidan.
And this is how we know Putin isn’t Hitler, because the Svoboda Party loves Hitler.
2. The transfer of power in Ukraine was not democratic.
Remember a couple weeks ago when Ukraine had a different president?
In all the hustle and bustle, no one seemed to notice how he was removed from that post. Yanukovich was removed by the parliament in a vote that was preceded by a transfer back to the 2004 constitution and succeeded by a vote against Russian speakers in Ukraine (although Turchinov is now saying that he won’t enforce the law).
Importantly, this was not a classic “impeachment”. The parliament simply passed a bill that said that Yanukovich was no longer the president.
There were no national elections. There was no referendum. The Ukrainian parliament just decided that Yanukovich wasn’t president anymore.
And this vote against Yanukovich was by no means representative of huge swaths of the Ukrainian people who wanted to see him finish out his term.
There are 45 million Ukrainian citizens, why did a couple million protesters determine who’s in power? Is that democracy?
And then they immediately voted to release Yulia Tymoshenko from prison.
Which might mean a few different things. Either she was wrongly imprisoned and rightly released. Or she was rightly imprisoned and wrongly released.
Or, as those who know Ukraine will tell you, there is no objective “right” or “wrong” in the political process. It’s about money and power.
Thus, we know this isn’t a revolution, because the classical political class will remain in power (with a few more fascists thrown in the mix).
Just as in 2004, the fundamental structures of the oppressive, corrupt Ukrainian government have not changed. Now they’ll simply be corrupt with European and American money, rather than with Russian money.
And this isn’t about democracy, because democracy, of course, was never part of the equation.
3. Crimea is not Czechoslovakia.
Nor is it Sudetenland or Kuwait. Putin is not Khrushchev, Hitler, or Saddam. We need to stop framing things in the 20th century. Geopolitics has shifted, it’s about time that the discussion follows suit.
In fact, let’s be serious, most Crimeans would rather be aligned with Russia than Ukraine anyway. So then the question becomes something much more interesting: if we’re committed to democracy, are we going to support Crimea if it votes in a referendum for independence or even to be transferred to Russia?
Notably, Russia has “invaded” without a fatal shot being fired. And people are even going out to take selfies with their favorite soldiers.
Do I support Russia occupying Crimea? Not really.
I’d rather see a referendum so the Crimeans themselves can decide. Besides, certainly a portion of Crimeans have no interest in being part of Russia again.
I would’ve also liked to see an election in Ukraine before Yanukovich was removed. But that’s unrealistic.
Not because it couldn’t happen, it wouldn’t have been that hard to organize elections, but because that would require an actual commitment to democracy.
Whereas, these people only have a commitment to power and control.
4. This is not a “New Cold War”.
Stop calling it that. I don’t care if things appear to mirror the Cold War in some respects. The world has changed.
There are not two opposing superpowers, but rather dispersed, distinct, and separate loci of power.
Seriously, it’s been 23 years since the dismantling of the Soviet Union and yet somehow political analysts can’t seem to understand that Putin has moved past his time in the KGB.
On this side, the U.S. and the E.U. are allies, yes, but Europe isn’t working for America like it used to.
Europe and the United States find themselves in agreement on this issue, but there’s a reason that Victoria Nuland, the U.S. State Department’s representative in Europe, got caught saying, “Fuck the E.U.”
America wants our puppets installed, not Europe’s (specifically Angela Merkel’s) puppets.
The Cold War is over and your ideas are out-dated.
But this conflict does represent an interesting clash between some spheres of influence. And as with every conflict, there’s going to be a winner in Ukraine. The question that hasn’t yet been answered is:
Who will win?
5. The missing word is “empire” – and I’m not talking about Russia.
Did you notice that immediately after Yanukovich was thrown out, Ukraine asked the International Monetary Fund for $15 billion? And as this is being written, NATO is meeting to weigh its options with regards to Ukraine.
It was just a few years ago that Ukraine attempted to join NATO until Russia made it clear that such maneuvering wouldn’t be acceptable.
Ultimately, who controls the IMF and NATO?
I think we all know the answer.
In the past 10 years, the U.S. has funneled over $5 billion into Ukraine in order to support anti-Russia movements (including the fascists).The U.S. is attempting to draw Ukraine into its sphere of influence and, more importantly, away from Russia.
It’s just an added bonus if the population goes along with the program.
Once again, this isn’t about democracy. It was never about democracy.
This is about empire.
So while people sit around and accuse Putin of being a hypocrite for constantly appealing to the U.S. to go to the Security Council before bombing indiscriminate targets, they seem to be forgetting the fact that their beloved leaders are just as hypocritical.
After all, isn’t it weird that Obama is funding Neo-Nazis in Ukraine?
What’s the important lesson here?
The important lesson is that despite the words of the respected political analyst and renowned global diplomat Jared Leto, we should actually be careful before we jump on the bandwagon of the alleged “dreamers” in Ukraine and Venezuela.
Especially with regards to places like Ukraine and Venezuela.
Yulia Tymoshenko is only made to look like a pro-democracy activist, because she’s got Euros tied into her super-folksy-Star-Wars hairdo.
And the demonstrations were made to look like they were exclusively about democracy, because that’s how the United States manufactured this crisis.
I’ll repeat that: the United States manufactured this crisis. It doesn’t hold full responsibility, but you’ve got to give credit where credit is due.
If democracy was important, then why isn’t the U.S. calling for a Crimean referendum? After all, the U.S. even knew that Putin invading Crimea was probable.
While you focus all of your energy on what Putin is doing, you’re missing what Obama is doing.
But I have one final question! What about all these pro-Russia protests happening?
I’m so happy you asked!
Where’s the consistency here?
It’s cool if you don’t care about democracy – just admit it.