Ukraine needs to choose democracy, not East or West
Regarding the Nov. 26 article "The East-West stakes over Ukraine": Although the European Union has condemned the results of the recent Ukrainian election, little has been said about the cynical background behind this criticism.
Ukraine, after a difficult transition from communism, has been making significant strides to establishing a sustainable economy. Prime Minister Yanukovich has restricted foreign investors from acquiring Ukrainian land or industry at bargain-basement prices. Significantly, Yanukovich has also restricted ownership from Russia. Far from being a Russian puppet, he has engineered a measured policy of reaching out to both the East and the West, while preserving Ukraine's future. Most important, he has embraced an internal policy of ethnic pluralism, as evidenced by his support from ethnic Tatars, while his "pro-Western" opponent Yushchenko has espoused an intolerant nationalism.
As a Ukrainian-American, it gives me great concern that we are being told that Ukraine needs to choose sides between East and West. It doesn't.
This article presented a fair description of the tug of war over Ukraine going on between the old Soviet imperialist mentality in Russia and the West.
Ukrainians do not want to return to Russian rule, despite what the Russians want us to believe! The question is, why does Russia want Ukraine under its control? During the Soviet days, the Russified eastern part of Ukraine supplied a significant percentage of Soviet military equipment, including missiles and tanks. No wonder Russia wants Ukraine; Russia is a fallen empire that needs to rebuild its military.
This leads me to the question of why the European Union and the United States would punish Ukraine. Economic sanctions, exclusion, and any form of punishment will drive Ukraine to Russia. Just look at the divide-and-conquer tactics that Russia has exerted over the course of history.
What the Russian imperialists have failed to realize is that Ukraine is now a free and independent country. Freedom has allowed the world media into Ukraine. The world can now see what the Russians are doing.
The Nov. 24 article "Ukraine democracy tested" noted that Ukrainians protesting in Kiev were waving placards declaring "Today or Never." From the years I spent in Ukraine with the Peace Corps and the Fulbright program, I'd say that captures the essence of the moment: This is Ukraine's chance to stand up for democracy, just as hundreds of thousands of Czechs and Slovaks rallied to oust an authoritarian regime 15 years ago.
And the Ukrainians need our help: If Americans, Europeans and those who value democracy throughout the world will raise their voices, it could make a difference.
Steven Boyd Saum Oakland, Calif.
Regarding the Nov. 24 article "Terrorists turn up the dial in global PR war": The RAND group shouldn't be surprised that Al Qaeda and others can use the Internet to communicate. In fact, they should realize that this war will ultimately be all about communication. Radical fundamentalist Islam is an idea, not a country or an army. An idea must be defeated by communication, not with bombs. The US should start more aggressively airing, dissecting, and debating the fundamentalists' radical ideas, defeating them with logic and reason. It's time for "think tanks" to start thinking.
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