The Nudnik File

Nudnik - n. U.S. colloq. Esp. in Jewish usage: a pestering, nagging, or irritating person

Friday, December 03, 2004


              Democracy
In the last week or so amazing things have been happening in the Ukraine. I didn't write about it simply because I don't know very much about the specifics. What makes these demonstrations so significant is their proximity to Russia, and the possible influence it could have on future elections there. Both John Podhoretz and Charles Krauthammer make similar arguments regarding these events. Podhoretz believes that this demand for true democratic election is a result of The Law of Unintended Consequences.
A strong argument can be made that America's conduct over the past three years in fighting the War on Terror against Islamic extremists has borne surprising fruit in the glorious and thrilling display of liberty in the streets of Kiev.

Millions of Ukrainians are creating an entirely new kind of democratic revolution: They've simply refused to let their election be stolen by a government run by a kleptocratic mafia, and they've taken to the streets of the capital. As their peaceful, high-spirited, optimistic and profoundly moving protest has grown over the past weeks, it has taken an amazing turn.
By pushing for democracy in the Islamic world the US has, in effect, given support for it everywhere.

Krauthammer, on the other hand, exposes the hypocrisy of the Europeans (and their US supporters) in lauding and supporting democracy in Ukraine, while denying its possibility in other places.
Thus Zbigniew Brzezinski, a fierce opponent of the Bush administration's democracy project in Iraq, writes passionately about the importance of democracy in Ukraine and how, by example, it might have a domino effect, spreading democracy to neighboring Russia. Yet when George Bush and Tony Blair make a similar argument about the salutary effect of establishing a democracy in the Middle East -- and we might indeed have the first truly free election in the Middle East within two months if we persevere -- "realist" critics dismiss it as terminally naive.

If you had said 20 years ago that Ukraine would today be on the threshold of joining a democratic Europe, you, too, would have been called a hopeless utopian. Yes, Iraq has no democratic tradition and deep ethnic divisions. But Ukrainian democracy is all of 13 years old, much of it dominated by a corrupt, authoritarian regime with close ties to an even more corrupt and authoritarian Russia. And with a civilizational split right down the middle, Ukraine has profound, and potentially catastrophic, divisions.

So let us all join hands in praise of the young people braving the cold in the streets of Kiev. But then tell me why there is such silence about the Iraqis, young and old, braving bullets and bombs, organizing electorate lists and negotiating coalitions even as we speak. Where is it written: Only in Ukraine?
|| Nudnik 12:30 PM
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