This story comes to mind because similar compositions
can be found now — in Ukraine of all places — concerning the upcoming
election of the American president in November. Here it is:
“Electing Mitt Romney as president will … ensure the
independence of developing democracies like Ukraine and Georgia.”
It is part of the narrative that appeared recently on the
Kyiv Post website, authored by Republicans Abroad for Ukraine. (“Rearm, restore and reinstate, but end reset,” Aug. 29, Brian Mefford) Outrageously
blatant or not, its intent can only be explained as a pitch to
Ukrainian-American voters. It is laughable in Ukraine.
It can be seen as a distress signal to help ramp up
the turnout of U.S. ethnic voters of East European descent — traditionally
pro-Republican since the Cold War days — in a campaign that doesn’t look
promising for the Republicans.
Flippant talk of U.S. guarantees of Ukraine’s
independence can be irresponsible if not reckless, in which case it reflects
poorly on its originating source.
The same article blames U.S. President Barack Obama’s
“reset” policy and accuses Obama of
“giving the Russians free hand to assert their grip on Ukraine, the
Baltics and the Caucasuses, as well as abandoning missile defense for Poland
and the Czech Republic that in return they would help America with the war on
In reality, what really looked like giving the
Russians a “free hand” was not Obama’s “reset” – which essentially meant toning
down the confrontational rhetoric between the two nations — but the agreement
between Russia and the George W. Bush administration, negotiated in 2008 and announced
at NATO meeting in Istanbul by General David Petraeus on Jan. 20, 2009, to open
a land supply route through Russia to Afghanistan for U.S. military.
As for “abandoning missile defense for Poland and the
Czech Republic,” there never was or meant to be any such defense, except in the
realm of posturing staged by the Bush and Cheney administration and resented by
Russians as high-stakes political intimidation.
The entire concept of anti-ballistic missile defense
was never shown to be feasible, and is technically flawed since the days of
Ronald Reagan’s “Star Wars” initiative. It was a diplomatic triumph at the time
and a technological fairytale, with billons subsequently spent in payments to
contractors to build missile silos filled with dreams, as in The New York Times
What advantage did Russia gain from supposedly having
a free hand in her near abroad?
According to the same source, “Russia started first by
tightening the screws on Ukraine by exorbitant energy prices.” Anything else followed? Nothing that is
Actually, Ukraine has been paying for Russian gas
mostly below and sometimes at market prices — depending on the politics of
mutual engagement. Russia cannot be expected to discount the price unless it
gets something in return. That’s how the world turns.
Russia has no need to tighten the screws. Ukraine is
being torn apart by its own mafia. Ukraine’s main problem is the lack of
backbone. No one elected Viktor Yanukovych as president and brought the Party
of Regions to power but the Ukrainian citizens themselves.
It is not the fault of the Obama administration or
anyone else that “Ukraine’s pro-European course was quickly thwarted and NATO
aspirations dashed indefinitely.”
Ukraine’s NATO bid was “indefinitely” turned down at
the alliance’s meeting in Bucharest in the spring 2008, and buried in December the
same year, while George W. Bush was president.
This is not to say that the Bush administration was
indifferent to Ukraine. Recall the de-marche of Collin Powell, the U.S. secretary
of state, in support of the 2004 Orange Revolution. President Viktor Yushchenko
initially received an enthusiastic welcome in Washington, only to lose ground
because of his own shortcomings and because of the divide between the
pro-Western and pro-Russian parts of Ukraine that undermined any chance of workable
integration within NATO.
The Obama administration, no doubt, understands the
Republicans Abroad for Ukraine should consider taking
a refresher course in the art of political gas, rather than resorting to
transparently misleading sloganeering, such as: “While the Obama-Biden
administration fiddles, Kyiv figuratively burns.”
Can anything be more pathetic? The answer is yes, and it comes from the same
Republicans Abroad. The story goes that a legislator in Ukraine’s parliament
says that his reason for being unable to resist the pressure from Yanukovych to
switch to the Regions Party was that Obama is unable to resist pressure from
Russian President Vladimir Putin.
In other word, it is not bribery and spinelessness,
rampant among Ukraine’s politicians, that explains the mess in Kyiv. The
problem is Barack Obama.
is a retired Ukrainian-American living in North Caldwell, New Jersey.