The people of Ukraine suffered tremendously under communism and deserve their freedom. It’s heartening to see them turn out for free and fair elections. But we should be under no illusions about how or whether American interests will be served by the victory of one side or the other in those elections. The fact is that the candidate dubbed “pro-Western” wants to pull Ukraine’s troops out of Iraq, while the alleged “pro-Russian” candidate wants to keep them there.
An “Embassy row” column by James Morrison in the Washington Times captured the contradictions, noting that Eduard Prutnik, a chief adviser to the Ukrainian prime minister Viktor Yanukovych, had visited Washington and noted that billionaire George Soros, who poured millions of dollars into efforts to defeat President Bush, is also spending millions on the campaign against Yanukovych.
The other candidate, Yushchenko, who wants Ukraine’s troops out of Iraq, is supposed to be pro-Western and pro-American. A blogger by the name of Daniel Brett says that Yushchenko is pro-European Union and “closer to the Old Europe Rumsfeld detests?. To understand Yushchenko, you have to understand the politics of the EU. The visionary values that drive the EU and its enlargement–the desire to create a new, assertive super-power independent of U.S. influence–are being forged by those Rumsfeld views with contempt. And Yushchenko shares this vision.”
The American Enterprise Institute on December 10 sponsored a symposium on the events in Ukraine titled, “Ukraine’s Choice: Europe or Russia?” That may be a more accurate characterization of what’s at stake. Notice that it wasn’t framed in terms of Europe, Russia or America. Political analyst J.R. Nyquist, in a column on the crisis in Ukraine, contends there’s not a whole lot of difference between Yanukovych and Yushchenko on the major geopolitical issues.
A Ukrainian American with contacts in Ukraine disputes that, telling us that “the geopolitical element looms large” and that Russian President Vladimir Putin is supporting Yanukovych for the purpose of “recreating a new ‘Evil Empire,’ one with the KGB at the helm.” He said that C.J. Chivers of the New York Times has obscured this point, thereby “aiding and abetting a foreign power, by parroting this disinformation? It’s happened in the past–just look at Duranty.” That’s a reference to the Times reporter who won a Pulitzer Prize even though he constantly lied on behalf of the Soviet regime of Joseph Stalin. The Times has refused to return his tainted Prize.
Our Ukrainian American contact does concede that the involvement of George Soros “is a very bad sign” but that most people over there “recognize the dangers” associated with him. He added, “Soros has done more harm to Ukraine than good–people on the street over there will tell you that. Earlier in the year, protestors in Ukraine covered him in mayonnaise.” Some reported that Soros was splashed with glue, not mayonnaise. But there is no dispute that the protesters yelled, “You’ll get nothing here!” That’s what the voters here said on November 2nd.