Thursday, December 02, 2004

Ukraine Developments Are a Positive Sign

December 2, 2004 - Street Insight
  • As in the 2000 U.S. election, the Supreme Court, not tanks and armies, is deciding the legitimacy of the election.
  • Peaceful demonstrations and protests are actually a sign of a democracy.

I see why Americans (and Europeans) are unhappy about Putin's involvement, but it's a game everyone plays. I would like to politely disagree with Jeff Matthews and politely agree with Geoff Johnson on the political situation in Ukraine. Though I am sometimes mistaken for an expert on Russia, I am not one. I have been out of touch with Russia for too long to stay current on all political and economical developments, and to be honest, the U.S.A. is so much more fun to follow. I proudly declare myself a "Capitalistic Pig." I look at the world from the American prism as an American citizen. That being said, I have to admit that my expertise on Russia lies in an understanding of how Russian (in this case, Ukranian, who are very similar to Russians) people think, since I lived there for a considerable portion of my life. I believe the developments we are observing in Ukraine -- so far -- speak very highly of Ukraine. Ukraine had a very close, highly contested election, the outcome of which is disputed. There is nothing unique or unusual about this. The United States, a highly developed, democratic nation, had its own decidedly contested election where the candidate who lost the popular vote became the president. I am not mocking the American election system -- not at all; however, I am sure the U.S. election in 2000 looked very odd and awkward to foreign observers. I believe the more important issue at hand is how the conflict in Ukraine is resolved. And so far, Ukraine has shown that it follows the rule of law. Similar to the 2000 U.S. election, the Supreme Court, and not tanks and armies in the street, is deciding the legitimacy of the election. And believe me, this in itself is a great development for Russia and Ukraine. Furthermore, peaceful demonstrations and protests are actually a sign of a democracy. But demonstrations are not unique to Ukraine. I remember several years ago not-so-peaceful demonstrations in Seattle protesting the United Nations. Could demonstrations in Ukraine get violent? I would not rule it out, but if they do, it will be because the demonstrators are drunk, not because the government brings out a military presence. Finally, we come to Putin's role in this election. Putin has being accused of trying to influence the election in Ukraine. I believe this is true. However, Putin is trying to do what he thinks is best for Russia the same way George Bush is doing what it thinks is best for the United States when he is trying to influence elections in Afghanistan and Iraq. I understand why Americans (and Europeans) are not crazy about Mr. Putin's involvement in the Ukranian election, but this is the game that everybody plays -- I guess this is our turn to be upset.

Disclosure: Long small traces of Russian DNA, and high American cholesterol


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