Picture this: top aides of Russian President Vladimir Putin, along with Chinese and Iranian leaders Xi Xiping and Hassan Rouhani, are dispatched from their respective countries to join with anti-austerity protesters in New York, London, Paris or Brussels. These foreign dignitaries then go on to make public statements endorsing the violent occupation of government buildings on Washington’s Capitol Hill and the other Western capitals.
The Russian, Chinese and Iranian officials also lend their support to demands of more radical voices within the protesters calling for the overthrow of the incumbent governments, and these same officials say nothing, therefore condone it, when statues of revered statesmen such as Abraham Lincoln or Winston Churchill are toppled and smashed to pieces with sledgehammers.
Such a picture could only be a figment of the imagination because in the real world any such foreign involvement in the internal affairs of Western states would spark a diplomatic and media explosion of condemnation. International laws and treaties would be immediately and resoundingly invoked; subversion would be declared and vilified; and even acts of war would be demanded in retribution for such “outrageous foreign-backed sedition”.
And all the while, we can be sure, the Western media would amplify without question the grievances of their governments, and cast the role of foreign politicians as unwarranted, malicious interference in national sovereignty.
Yet all these infringements – and more – are taking place in the Ukraine where there has been a procession of Western politicians, government statements and media coverage in recent weeks arrogantly presuming the abnormal to be normal and arrogating the power to lecture an elected government on how to conduct its internal sovereign affairs…
This week we saw the EU foreign affairs chief Lady Catherine Ashton and the US deputy secretary of state, Victoria Nuland, fly into the Ukrainian capital, Kiev, to insinuate themselves as arbiters between President Viktor Yanukovych’s government and the protesters encamped on the streets and in civic buildings.
These two figures are but the latest in a long line of Western officials who have taken it upon themselves to pronounce on the decision by the Kiev government at the end of last month to suspend a trade deal with the European Union.
US deputy president Joe Biden, French foreign minister Laurent Fabius, German foreign minister Guido Westerwelle, and EU chief Herman Van Romquy are but a few of the other senior Western voices who are undermining the authority of the Ukrainian government by calling on Kiev to rethink its EU decision and to accommodate the demands of protesters. The Ukrainian authorities stand accused of denying a “European dream” to these protesters, a dream which moreover is a futile fantasy given the record levels of poverty across the EU.
The government of Viktor Yanukovych was democratically elected in 2010. It faces the next national election in 2015. Until then it has the legal authority to decide on all its policies, big and small, foreign and domestic. It seems preposterous to feel obliged to spell out this sovereign reality, a reality that is underpinned by centuries of international norms and laws. But this obligation to defend a cornerstone of sovereignty is a reflection of how the tsunami of Western political and media interference towards the Ukraine has managed to warp the agenda, and succeed, to an extent, in making the abnormal appear normal. A government defends its legal authority to make a foreign policy decision and subsequently to restore order on the streets of its capital, and somehow Western hysteria makes this into a virtual crime against humanity.
It does not matter that there are large crowds in Kiev for the past three weeks opposing the government’s decision to postpone, or even at a future date to spurn, the EU pact. Protester numbers in Kiev centered on the Maidan (Independence Square) are estimated at 300,000, and so far the repeated calls by organizers, such as Vitaly Klitscho’s UDAR party or Arseniy Yatsenyuk’s Fatherland party, for “a million-man march” have not materialized. It is therefore questionable what democratic mandate these protesters have in a country of 46 million population where there have been few reported demonstrations outside of the capital. Certainly, in the industrial East of the Ukraine, support for the protesters in Kiev remains minimal.
The Ukraine government is obliged to take such dissenting views into consideration and perhaps even allow them to influence eventual decisions. But it is surely putting the cart before the horse to expect it to relinquish its elected authority and allow government decision-making to be taken over by street protesters; especially when there is solid evidence that many of these protesters are serving a foreign agenda of sowing instability and regime change.
So, what right do the pro-EU demonstrators have to cripple the capital city, and the normal administrative running of the entire country? Legally, these protests are on very thin ice, especially in light of the Ukraine parliament rejecting a Vote of No Confidence in the government on 3 December.
If the protesters have a case for European integration, then let them put it to the population at the next general election in 2015. But that reasonable, democratic alternative is not being explored. Instead, the legitimate functioning of the present government is being thwarted by illegal methods, and with the full encouragement of Western governments and media, as well as covertly through CIA-sponsored think tanks and non-governmental organizations, such the National Endowment for Democracy.
Let’s be clear: the methods of protest in Kiev would not be tolerated in Western capitals for a single minute, let alone three weeks. French riot police have fired baton rounds and tear gas to clear up to 30,000 protesting farmers off French roads in Brittany, barring them from getting anywhere near the capital. American police pepper spray peaceful sit-ins by anti-war students and shut them out of city parks. In London, laws have been enacted in recent years in order to make it illegal for any sort of encampment near Westminster, and all marches must apply for licenses otherwise they are declared illegal and forcibly halted with police truncheons and tazer-guns.
The Ukrainian authorities were legally entitled and morally right to remove protesters from Kiev’s centre this week in order to restore the normal functioning of government buildings. Why should an entire nation be held hostage by people just because this latter group indulges in a “European dream”?
For Western governments and their media to make an outcry over heavy-handed policing is ludicrous both in the distortion of the legal, sovereign situation and also from the point of view of double standards in how these same governments react to protesters in their own countries.
US secretary of state John Kerry weighed in with this asinine nonsense: “The United States expresses its disgust with the decision of Ukrainian authorities to meet the peaceful protest in Kiev’s Maidan Square with riot police, bulldozers, and batons rather than with respect for democratic rights and human dignity… As church bells ring tonight amid the smoke in the streets of Kiev, the United States stands with the people of Ukraine,” he added. “They deserve better.”
This is Kerry’s diplomatic language for fomenting sedition in the Ukraine, without him even knowing what “the people of the Ukraine” really think.
Meanwhile, the EU’s Lady Ashton said she was disturbed by police actions in Kiev, saying: “The authorities didn’t need to act under the cover of night to engage with the society by using police.”
Well, how else does pious Lady Ashton expect Ukrainian police to remove illegal and vandalizing protesters from occupying government buildings? Perhaps, she would prefer for them to be all appointed, unelected, to parliament by political patronage as she was.
The irony of Ashton lecturing to the elected Ukrainian government on matters of foreign policy and policing is that the Lady has never faced an election in her entire political life. She owes her political career to the patronage of the British Labour party under Tony Blair who made her a baroness, a life peer, in 1999. Ashton has since ascended to become an appointed top European bureaucrat whose mission this week was to undermine the elected authorities in Kiev and to pressure them to negotiate with protesters on the streets, thus elevating the latter to the status of sovereign government. How ironic is that?
There are sound economic reasons for why the government of the Ukraine took the autonomous decision it did over the EU, which unlike Moldova and Georgia opted to not join the EU trade pact. Given the parlous state of the Ukrainian economy and the long-standing cultural and industrial links with Russia, not to mention the vital issue of cheap Russian gas supply, it is a matter for much careful deliberation.
Accusations from Western governments that Moscow acted maliciously by using threats and blackmail to scuttle the prospective EU pact is a pejorative rush to judgment that: does not allow the Ukrainian government its sovereign right to make an autonomous decision on a matter of extreme strategic importance to the future development of that country; seems to recklessly dismiss the objective concerns about the impact on the Ukrainian economy from a premature association with the EU, as indicated only a few weeks by German Chancellor Angela Merkel; and, thirdly, the political reaction from the West seems intent on provoking geopolitical tensions that are out of all proportion to the subject in hand, namely closer EU association.
The strong suspicion is that the hullabaloo being whipped by Western governments, media and unelected bureaucrats like Lady Ashton is motivated by an ulterior agenda of undermining Russia and isolating it from its neighbors. The strategic importance and location of the Ukraine makes it a prime assault path on Russia for Western powers, for which the EU issue is but a pretext.
To gauge how provocative the Western interference in the affairs of the Ukraine is, the measure is simple. Just imagine the same level of interference in reverse on Brussels or Washington, and then imagine their reaction. There you are. It doesn’t bear thinking. That would be an impossible European or American dream.