Saturday, November 30, 2013

Now That's Dissent

You thought dissent against our government's foreign policy is intense here? It's Queensberry Rules here, for Pete's sake.

The Ukrainian government turned away from Europe, but a lot of Ukrainians are not happy, to say the least:

After a week of protesting in the freezing cold, student Irina Bondar has completely lost her voice, but not her determination. “I am ready for any eventuality, even death. These are not empty words – I’ve clashed with riot police many times,” she whispers, her face betraying the pain. Ironically, she is responsible for dispensing hot tea to a few thousand young protesters who are trying to force Ukraine’s President Viktor Yanukovych to sign a trade agreement with Brussels, which would pave the way for Ukraine’s eventual accession to the EU.

On Sunday, at least 100,000 supporters of the agreement filled two central squares in Kiev, evoking a déjà vu of the Orange Revolution—a massive upheaval triggered by rigged elections—that kicked off around the same time nine years ago. There were clashes, with tear gas sprayed by both the riot police and radical protesters who repeatedly attempted to break into government buildings. The protest continued day and night throughout the week, with at least a few thousand people, mostly students, permanently occupying a patch of the city main square under the kitschy Independence column. Political speeches alternated with live music and DJ sets. Periodically, the entire crowd would start jumping wildly to the chant: “Who’s not jumping is a Russian.”

So maybe we didn't lose Ukraine for good.

Indeed, the EU is still seeking a way to pull Ukraine out of Moscow's orbit:

European Union leaders sought Thursday to revive a stalled agreement with Ukraine after the former Soviet republic shocked the 28-country bloc last week by opting for closer ties with Russia in a geopolitical tug-of-war.

However, German Chancellor Angela Merkel held out few hopes that a deal will be cobbled together during a two-day EU summit with eastern partners that opened Thursday evening.

"I have no hope that it will succeed this time, but the door is open," Merkel said as she entered the summit meeting. "We will make very clear that the EU is ready to take in Ukraine as an associated member."

In a Ukraine divided this deeply on their direction--east and autocracy or west and democracy--it is good to not walk away and let Putin put Ukraine on the path to Belarus status and beyond.

Ukrainians who wish to defend their independence by moving west should draw hope that even getting smashed up in a war against Russia isn't the end of the line:

Five years after it fought a war with Russia, Georgia is preparing to defy its former Soviet masters again by initialing an accord on strengthening ties with Europe.

Seriously, you want to get out while you can. The Russian embrace is a bear hug that crushes the spirit.

And stop whining so much about people expressing unhappiness with President Obama's foreign policy. I know dissent is no longer the highest form of Patriotism, as it was in the Bush era, but we should be able to agree that is isn't evil--and is small potatoes compared to Ukraine.

UPDATE: There's a lot of anger at their pro-Russian leader:

About 1,000 protesters blocked off the Ukrainian government's main headquarters on Monday and surrounding streets, preventing employees getting to work, in further protests at Kiev's policy U-turn away from integration with Europe. ...

Protesters focused their attention on the government building after an opposition-led rally of about 350,000 people in the capital on Sunday, marred by violent clashes between police and protesters.

Luckily for Ukrainians, Russia may be able to spend less than a week pounding on a small Georgia, but their military is not large enough to occupy Ukraine.

Ukraine can still control their own destiny if they don't sell it off to Putin.