Sunday, January 02, 2005

The Ukrainian Phenomenon critical fact is clear: Democratization is at last transforming the former Soviet system. What is distinctive about the Ukrainian phenomenon, like the Georgian one, is that democracy has become the genuine aspiration of once Soviet-dominated societies that were not just satellite states but an integral part of the Soviet Union. This process can't be stopped in Georgia or the Ukraine. It will inevitably spread to Russia itself.


If the Ukrainians want to join Europe, that is their right. If they join Europe, it increases the probability that, one day, Russia will join Europe. And that is a good thing. On the other hand, if Russia succeeds in preventing the Ukraine from joining Europe, Russia again becomes an empire that rules by coercion. It cannot be a democracy. Inevitably, it will be a threat then to its neighbors.


There is a cooling, certainly, but I don't think a new Cold War. The Cold War was waged between superpowers armed with nuclear weapons. Russia is no longer a superpower. Presidents Bush and Putin will certainly try to maintain correct relations, but there are the strains you mentioned. If Russia persists with its neo-imperialist policies, it will isolate itself not only from the U.S., but from the rest of the world. It will lose even the tenuous standing it has had recently as a country at least considering the democratic option. Already, Freedom House has downgraded Russia from its list of "free nations" to a "non-free nation."


Above all, the West should support democracy. So, when President Bush meets President Putin in February, it is imperative that he also show support for democracy by meeting Viktor Yushchenko (if he is in fact elected president of Ukraine on Dec. 26).

Remarks by Zbigniew Brzezinski, in a recent interview.

Hat tip: Marius

No comments: