by Raheem Kassam 20 Feb 2014
A lot of the reporting that has come out of Kiev over the past 72 hours has been both gratuitous and under-informed.
There are some people getting it right though. And in amongst the war-porn -- that is to say all the imagery we are presented with on social media, often without explanation -- there can be found elements of sanity, balance, and even flashes of excellence.
The geopolitical implications of the protests and subsequent backlash in Kiev are often reduced to, "Yeah but they want to be part of the European Union, right?" or, "That Putin sure is a nasty piece of work, eh?".
But the truth is both more complex than many would have you believe, and indeed more simple.
Ok, that makes as much sense as the war porn presented in isolation.
What I mean is, the hyperlocal events are drastically deeper than: 'protesters vs Yanukovich'. There is the internecine fighting between the protestors to be considered, as well as the 'Kiev vs the rest of Ukraine' element, often disregarded in the heat of a tweet, or in the mainstream media's case, when bravely reporting from the front lines.
But when it comes to Putin, the reality is actually rather simple.
The Wall Street Journal's 'Review and Outlook' does justice to Vlad's realist agenda, and rightly exposes U.S. President Barack Obama's pusillanimous contribution to the entire affair. In one germane paragraph the WSJ states:
"[Putin] is willing to play this rough because he sees Western weakness. The EU is hopeless, led by a Germany so comfortable in its pacifism that it won't risk even a diplomatic confrontation. As for the U.S., it's no coincidence that Mr. Putin asserted himself in Ukraine not long after Mr. Obama retreated in humiliating fashion from his "red line" in Syria. As always in history, such timidity invites the aggression it purports to prevent. If this American President won't even bomb Damascus airfields to stop the use of chemical weapons, why would Mr. Putin think Mr. Obama would do anything for eastern Europe?" [Emphasis added]
While it is easy to make the case that America has 'no dog in the fight' in Ukraine -- in fact, even easier than the Syria question -- the truth is far from thus.
The Russian Federation is not the Soviet Union. It is today a right-wing autocracy with expansionist aims (no, not the good kind). The European Union is a socially liberal, quasi-democratic bureaucracy with expansionist aims. Allowing these two powers to play out both the battle of ideas, and the battle for regional influence is a terrifying naive approach.
To affect the world, to benefit from the world and indeed to dominate the world, the U.S mindset must not be limited 'from sea to shining sea'.
And don't worry, it won't be Obama's personal views on offer to the rest of planet Earth. The man can't project a notion further than the teleprompter in front of him.
However bad the situation in today's United States may be... the nation must still be proud of two things:
1) you're not a Russian autocracy;
2) you're not a European bureaucracy.
Somewhere in between these two methods of governance stands the notion of a constitutional republic.
But while Obama continues to be publicly bent over and porked by the likes of Bashar al-Assad - how on Earth can America convince the world that its way of doing things is best?
Answer: It can't. And in the long-run, everyone suffers.