By Miklos K. Radvanyi
Historically, the fate of what has been called only since the last decade of the 20th century the sovereign state of Ukraine has been depended mostly on the whims of the major European powers. Moreover, if one would like to separate the myths from the facts, Ukraine has never occupied a fixed geographical area or has been a political, economic, and cultural entity with well-defined national uniqueness. Thus, when independence was declared on August 24, 1991, the new state of Ukraine has lacked and is still devoid of a mature national identity.
On the other hand, in the ubiquitous euphoria of the relatively peaceful break up of the Soviet Union in the West, irrational optimism, coupled with blinding emotions, prevented well-meaning politicians, self-appointed experts, and the general public to weigh with due seriousness the enormous challenges that this newly minted state will and must face. In the intervening three decades, and before Ukraine could have attained a sufficient degree of national character, successive governments have brought it dangerously close to becoming an irredeemably failed state.
Meanwhile, after almost three years of relentless pursuit of the mirage of President Trump’s impeachment, the Democrats in the House of Representatives have latched theirs and their party’s political future onto the so-called “Ukrainian quid pro quo.” Claiming that in the ominous telephone call President Trump blackmailed Ukrainian President Zelensky by withholding almost half a billion dollars earmarked for military assistance in exchange for compromising information on Joe’s and Hunter Biden’s Ukrainian activities, and thus explicitly solicited the latter’s support for his reelection, the President committed an impeachable offense under Article II, section 4 of the constitution. To add additional legal insult to a clearly political injury, the Democrats stated that they reserve the right to charge President Trump with more crimes of their liking.
While almost all of the Democrats and many like minded citizens consider this development in Washington, D.C. a potential victory for the rule of law, such assessment misses the mark. The same politicians who accuse President Trump of endangering national security, remain strangely nonchalant about the precarious domestic and international conditions of Ukraine, the future of the United States’ interests in the European theatre, and the global dimensions of three decades of erroneous policies toward one of the largest European countries situated strategically between Russia and the rest of the continent.
To start with, Ukraine is in extremely deep political, financial, economic, social, and cultural crises. Therefore, President Zelensky intends simultaneously to make peace with Russia, to carry out wholesale reforms of the economy, to fight corruption, to petition international financial organizations and donors for bailouts, and to bring his country closer to NATO and the European Union.
For the United States of America, the desirable outcome would be successes for President Zelensky personally and his administration generally on all those fronts. Here, it is important to note that prior to 2016, during President Obama’s eight years, the near consensual view among Ukrainian experts was that support for Ukraine’s superficial stability was paramount. For this reason, President Obama and his administration did nothing to move successive administrations in Kyiv to abandon the ultra nationalist policies against ethnic minorities, the arrogant criminal corruption of politicians, and the rapid impoverishment of the society. Yet, President Obama’s passivity created an American political vacuum toward Ukraine that, in turn, invited Vice President Biden to exploit the corruption ridden Ukrainian political and economic systems for his and his family’s unethical and even criminal enrichment. More importantly, because they did not comprehend the depth of the ultra nationalism and the all encompassing nature of the corruption, the Obama administration treated Ukraine like a normal state. Not having a coherent Ukrainian policy, the Obama administration in general and Vice President Biden in particular showed their collective incompetence and institutional delusion of Ukraine.
Now that the Democrats use and abuse Ukraine as a domestic political football, what happens next is an open question. Will the Trump administration be able to fashion a coherent Ukrainian policy amidst the relentless negative campaign of the opposition? Likewise, will Russia exploit the self-generated American paralysis to deepen Ukraine’s misery? Will the decisively defeated ultra nationalist Poroshenko minority provoke a civil war to nullify the results of the spring elections? As a result, will Ukraine again be dominated by the old criminal enterprise rejected recently so decisively by the voters?
For the United States of America and especially for the Trump administration, the objective ought to be clear: President Trump must state firmly that the United States of America will not compromise its fundamental values. The Ukrainian question for him is not a fight over power against the Democrats but a matter of importance about democracy and prosperity. Ultra nationalism and unwarranted cultural fanaticism will not be tolerated. Equally, the endemic corruption must be eliminated decisively and moral purity shall be reestablished. For, if corruption and immorality will continue, Ukraine will disappear as an independent nation. Finally, in direct opposition to President Obama, President Trump must emphasize to President Zelensky that he is not interested in whether he is loved or hated in Ukraine. On his part, he will act with honor toward Ukraine. In turn, President Zelensky and Ukraine can count on President Trump’s assistance if they respect the new Realpolitik of the United States of America.
Like the supernatural firebird of ancient civilizations, Barack Hussein Obama, an obscure state senator from Illinois, burst into the troubled firmament of American politics in 2004 with the message of national rebirth and renewal. In practice, however, having been elected in the same year a United States Senator, he distinguished himself as a lazy and intellectually nondescript legislator.
Meanwhile, the long-running two wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the looming decline in the United States’ fiscal and economic situation and the perceived passivity of the Bush administration in 2007 and 2008, galvanized the opposition against the alleged mismanagement of the nation’s domestic and international affairs by the Republican Party. The majority of Americans wanted change. The echoing of these sentiments, coupled with the promise of an easy redemption for the entire nation from a deepening crisis, unexpectedly propelled then Senator Obama to the presidency in November 2008. Continue reading
History is the never-ending quest of men for the attainment of determinative powers. In a democracy, however, the powers of elected officials are limited; presidents, congressmen, local office holders are only temporary representatives of the sovereign people. The main challenge of democracies, therefore, is the tension between the all too human temptation of politicians to think that they are masters of the present as well as the future and the peoples’ desire to guard and maintain their sovereignty. Continue reading
by Dr. Miklos K. Radvanyi
The People’s Republic of China appears to be a normal nation-state on the surface. Yet, alarmingly close to this tranquil surface, society is in a volcanic turmoil. Total political control by the party, the state and local authorities is becoming increasingly unacceptable. Opinion surveys regularly conducted by universities and the printed media have found that almost 50 percent of the Chinese are unhappy with their living conditions. While giant state-owned and state-controlled enterprises in industries that the party and the military considers “strategic” prosper, private and joint public-private entities are steadily subjected to official meddling and harassment. Continue reading
Regardless of their shades, dictatorships universally worship might. For this fundamental reason, the precarious existence of every revolutionary regime rests on two essential criteria – veneration of those who command power and faith in their ability to perpetuate the status quo. Having attained absolute power by force in 1949, the Communist Party of China had governed the most populous nation on earth by the myth of the infallibility of either a single individual or a seemingly homogeneous leadership. For almost three decades, the centralization of political, economic, social and cultural powers by an inexperienced, incompetent and self-appointed minority had resulted not only in political destruction and economic ruin, but also in pervasive corruption and immorality. Continue reading
From its genesis until its overthrow on February 12, 1912, imperial China was driven throughout its history by a permanent tension between the despotic state’s boundless hostility toward society and the violent anti-state sentiments of society. The result of this uncompromising and—at times— merciless antagonism between the omnipotent state and the ruthlessly oppressed society was a political culture in which absolute power alternated between the terribly powerful bureaucracy and the frightfully brutalized people. Continue reading
More often than men would like it, history has the annoying habit of repeating itself. Thus, already in 1985, the Sudanese people had a disappointing experience with the “Arab Spring” of their own making. Back then they overthrew Jafaar al-Numeiri’s military dictatorship that during its decade and a half reign brought Sudan to the brink of political chaos and economic ruin. Finally, after a hiatus of four turbulent years, the people’s revolution was hijacked by an alliance of the military headed by Omar Hassan al-Bashir and the fundamentalist Islamists led by Hassan Abdullah al-Turaki. Subsequently, Sudan became a thoroughly Islamist state sponsoring al-Qaeda and other hard- core terrorist organizations. This development, in turn, led to the separation of the Christian south from the Muslim north. Now, both countries are paralyzed by even more severe political anarchy and economic bankruptcy. Continue reading
On January 20, 2013, the United States of America will either have Barack Hussein Obama for four more years or will have a new president, the Republican Willard Mitt Romney, with a new House of Representatives and a new Senate. Be that as it may, the continuation of the Obama presidency, or alternatively the transfer of power to the new Romney administration, will be accompanied by many challenges, presenting the old, or the new president with a difficult agenda. Continue reading
Whoever strives to attain absolute powers is condemned to eternal insecurity. The rulers of Egypt were and are no exceptions. For this reason, the country’s current national misery lies both in its present and its past. For millennia, successive empires reduced the people to abject slavery. The 19th and 20th centuries respectively, saw monarchs and military strongmen ruling as despots over an increasingly divided people desiring either more Westernization or re-Islamization. The long rule of Muhammed Ali’s dynasty corrected none of the fundamental evils of the Ottoman Empire. The cruelty and hypocrisy of Gamal Abdel Nasser’s military dictatorship, the oscillation of Anwar Sadat between the Soviet Union and the United States, and between secularism and the Muslim Brotherhood, and the cynical corruption of the Mubarak era, all contributed to the gradual moral debasement of the Egyptian people. Continue reading