Firstly, I want to make clear that in saying the blogosphere was “fooled” â€“ or, more exactly, that large parts of the blogosphere were so â€“ on Ukraine, I do not mean to suggest that Kuchma, Yanukovich, and “the blue” (apparently Yanukovich supporters have a color too) are the “good guys” and Yushchenko, Timoshenko, and “the orange”, the “bad guys”. I do not think it is appropriate or useful or, frankly, particularly adult to analyze politics in terms of “good guys” and “bad guys”. When the NYTimes declares Viktor Yushchenko a “liberal” or Claudia Rosett of the Wall Street Journal pronounces him the “democratic candidate”, or when Nicholas Kristof pronounces presumed Yanukovich sponsor Vladimir Putin a “fascist” (while expressing a charming and rather revealing preference for “fascism” over communism no less!) or when CNN describes Yanukovich himself as a “nationalist”, all that the deployment of such terms serves to accomplish is to demarcate the “goodies” from the “baddies” â€“ while having the unfortunate side-effect of simultaneously emptying otherwise perfectly useful categories of political philosophy of their specific content. ~John Rosenthal
It is debatable whether words such as fascist any longer really are useful categories of political alignment, just as it is questionable whether Freedom House’s recent declaration that Russia is “unfree” has any meaning beyond the conventional one that the Heritage Foundation despises Vladimir Putin. This is because journalists and politicians have had a bad habit of invoking these labels to provide narratives for the stories they cover, and ordinary people tend to align their views with the politicians and journalists with whom they sympathise. I must confess that I am guilty in this regard, going perhaps a bit overboard at times in defense of Putin and Yanukovych, but only because of the shocking unanimity of the media and policy establishment about what has been happening in the Ukraine. The reason why I regard Yushchenko’s attempt to bully the Ukraine into submission with so much hostility is not just because his movement is very clearly subsidised by outside forces, including the U.S. Government, which infringes on Ukrainian sovereignty and independence in ways that would be profoundly distressing were it to happen to a western European or pro-American state. It is also because the established media have gone to such lengths to cover for Yushchenko, from his past criminality down to the circulation of the false reports of his poisoning.
So we can be fairly sure that whatever Yanukovych is guilty of one cannot accuse him of so overtly working with people so very foreign to his own country. It is quite one thing for a candidate to appear with politicians from Russia, as Yanukovych has done, and quite another to be the official darling of countries with no cultural and political ties to the Ukraine worth mentioning. John Kerry was ridiculed, appropriately enough, for invoking the support he received from foreign leaders–it is precisely Yushchenko’s alien supporters that are supposed to make him preferable! It is a matter of contention, and a matter for Ukrainians to sort out, just how Russian the Ukraine is or ought to be–the presumption of the backers of Yushchenko in the West is that the Ukraine should not be in any way Russian (and neither should Russia, if at all possible). That this Russophobia itself reproduces the same stale, dangerous ideas that Russia and the Orthodox world are not integral parts of a united Christian West only highlights the perils of buying into the official celebration of the Orange. What worries me about these latter-day Orangemen is that they represent precisely those interests in the West that have no concern for that Christian West or Western unity, but rather they thrive on discord within the West to advance American hegemony and Eurocracy to the detriment of all involved.
It is undoubtedly not very sophisticated to reduce conflicts to the good and the bad (which is not to say that there are not greater villains), but it is apparently necessary for the semi-literate public raised on idiotic movies and uninspired writing. For the generations raised on Russophobia and anti-Soviet propaganda, the reflexive response of imagining Vladimir Putin as a latter-day Stalinesque dictator is a comforting, familiar one. The idea that authoritarianism can be democratic, and vice versa, seems to befuddle the casual observer and the thoroughly schooled student of politics. Those who have learned history either as one great march of progress (Whig) or a constant battle of the surrounded, few, good nations against the hordes beyond (Whig + neocon) cannot think of political conflicts in terms other than the limited dichotomies presented by the coverage of the Ukrainian election debacle.
Above all, it seems inconceivable to the average talk-radio host or “conservative” columnist that Russia’s loss is no longer our gain, but a gain for forces of disorder and upheaval. (That this is one more proof that these folks wouldn’t know conservatism if it landed on them is clear enough.) It is as if they would have desired Restoration France and Russia to go to war in 1815 to fight for the spoils and allowed revolutionary movements to foment everywhere, rather than uniting to suppress them as they, in fact, did. Since most so-called “conservatives” are little better these days than reincarnated Jacobins with a Christian veneer, they probably would find the example offensive, as they seem excited to be the main political force on earth preaching global revolution.
Encircling and weakening Russia, detaching friendly states from her and pushing her ever further into a suspicious, defensive mode is a certain way to reactive old rivalries in Europe and Asia that can only serve to weaken Russia and overextend the United States. For the perennial foes of Islamism, such as these so-called “conservatives” claim to be, they might do well to take a lesson from what the senseless, destructive war between Byzantium and Persia accomplished: it so weakened both that the one was seriously wounded and the other conquered when the tide of Islam came. Our situation is probably not as grave as all that, but the stupidity of alienating one of our greatest potential allies is very clear.