Towards A Good Samaritan World

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

RUSSIAN CYNICISM BACKFIRES

Western journalists like to see Ukraine's orange revolution as a democracy issue; Russians, as an East vs. West issue. It's both. But a desire for moral, clean government is certainly part of it. My guess is there are a lot of Ukrainian swing voters who wouldn't mind staying in their historic home in Russia's sphere of influence if Putin wouldn't be so evil about how he tries to keep them in. If Russia will resort to murder, who is safe? The EU may be a growth-strangling, increasingly repressive bureaucracy; the European populace may be fraught with racism, in demographic decline (so are Russia and Ukraine, of course) and with troubling tendencies to censorship; France has shown a nasty ungenerous streak towards new entrants; Europeans themselves are increasingly hostile towards the United Europe project; but at least Brussels doesn't poison its political opponents, as far as we know.

Russians can be kind and generous personally. But they are too cynical about public affairs. Why aren't they upset that Yuschenko was probably poisoned, that the elections seem to have been stolen, or that Yanukovych had a criminal record? Russians think this is normal. They thought the US invaded Iraq for oil. They think "promoting democracy" is just a mask for the will-to-power. It's not. America is an idealistic country. Recognizing that is essential to understanding America.

If there is any justice, and if the Russians have any sense, the orange revolution will be the beginning of the end for Putin. Russians have got to understand that cynicism (which Putin, the old KGB man, symbolizes) is a false worldview and will ruin them. They must purge themselves of it. Europe and America are idealistic powers. Ideals are an essential foreign policy tool, as is democratic practice at home, with its legitimizing aura and its force of attraction. In a competitive world, Russians can't afford to do without them. "Who lost Ukraine?" Let the catcalls begin.

1 Comments:

  • Hi Lancelot,
    You are very idealistic and your post reveal the great danger: if the world will be govered by idealists like you then it will be very dangerous. We have a good example of idealist in power G.W.Bush. He uses the stupid USA Christian ideals as the only one (purely totalitarian) alternative of future (forgeting about Muslims, Budhist, Pagans with they own ideals etc like they never exists). He uses it like: "an essential foreign policy tool, as is democratic practice at home, with its legitimizing aura "
    Result: Iraq disaster. He cannot understand that Arabs don't need USA ideals, the USA methods don't work, just because it's anothe culture. So, Russians may be cynical but they are realists. With realist you can talk and bargain, with idealist you cannot!
    That's a trouble.

    Russian Pagan.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:46 AM  

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