To make sense of the Ukrainian violent political turmoil, one has to understand events, and “elections,” outside the U.S.A. Few Americans can stay focused for long when countries with too many u’s and k’s in their name quarrel. We just change the channel to ESPN.
So here’s my attempt to sum it up.
Ronald Reagan’s steadfast stand for liberty and against repressive, Soviet-style regimes has, over decades, led to a yearning for freedom. Aided by the flow of information from the Internet and the example of free-market capitalism's ability to raise the standard of living for all who are willing to give up socialism's false promises, more countries are pushing for free-market democracy.
Ukrainians were double-crossed after their Putin-puppet leader promised to sign a European Union trade agreement and then did not. The citizens called Bolshevik on him, and all hell broke loose.
The rebels demanded that their country turn away from the repressive, Putin-type thugocracy and toward a more Western-style capitalism. Independence Square in the capital Kiev erupted with tens of thousands of pro-democracy protesters; many were killed by Yanukovych's goons. They were able to free political rival Yulia Tymoshenko, jailed under trumped-up tax charges, and run their bully President Viktor (“Mr. Chicken Kiev”) Yanukovych out of the country.
Yanukovych is now in exile, spending more time with his stolen money. He called protestors “bandits” and “hooligans.” These labels are applied to opponents if lesser charges of “shenanigans” or “tomfoolery” aren’t justified.
Protestors then took over the Ukranian president’s compound. He had lived an opulent life on his estate with a private zoo, rare goats, tacky restaurant ships and a golf course. Imagine how much he would have had if he weren’t a “share-the-wealth” Communist. The amusement factor at what a rich Ukrainian leader spends money on is rivaled only by a rapper or a redneck who won the lottery.
The Protestors’ timing was good. With the eyes of the world on him at "his" Olympics and CNN cameras rolling, the preening Putin was hard-pressed to start slaughtering Ukrainians. He has become the bouncer in that part of the world. Any leader willing to buy his overpriced natural gas and kick back money to him can count on Putin beating up anyone who mouths off.
Without a strong economy to steal from, Putin’s hand is weakened. He might have overspent military money on his own pet peeve, gay rights. You cannot spend military money on gay-dar and expect to have money left for invasions.
Secretary of State John Kerry has been no help. He is off selling his global warming, snake oil shakedown and probably being briefed on Justin Bieber arrests and kept up to date on Kardashian-stan.
Obama has been meek on the matter. Maybe he admires solid totalitarianism. Or maybe when race, gay marriage, labor unions, raising taxes or dishing out entitlements are not involved, Obama has little interest.
Here’s how you know the order of importance to Obama: 1. He sics Eric Holder on you. 2. Sics NBC, CBS, CNN, ABC news on you 3. Runs attack ads in Iowa against you. 4. Sends military. 5. Drone attacks. 6. Sends John Kerry. 7. Sends Dennis Rodman. 8. Sends Joe Biden.
You cannot lead when no one respects you. Obama has issued spineless statements holding the Ukrainian government “primarily responsible” for restoring peace. And, so he could take both sides, he said, “We expect peaceful protesters to remain peaceful.” It was so cowardly that it was the first official U.S. government statement issued in French.
Putin smells a timid Obama and sees an opportunity to rebuild Russian power. He will play rough. This is not over.
We could be more resolute in support of those who battle for principles of freedom in line with ours had we not squandered some of Reagan’s gravitas by occupying Iraq and Afghanistan. It’s important to note that through strength, Reagan won the cold war by never going to war.
In the U.S. we have the lingering ills of the Patriot Act and increased police and surveillance machinations via the NSA and Homeland Security. Fox reporters are snooped on, Tea Party groups are targeted by the IRS, and now the FCC wants to spy in newsrooms.
If demands for more individual freedom continue to gain traction in ex-Soviet bloc countries, then maybe we will start demanding it again here in the U.S.
Ron Hart, a libertarian syndicated op-ed humorist, award-winning author and TV/radio commentator, can be reached at Ron@RonaldHart.com or visit www.RonaldHart.com