The media, in this case the neocon media, will always bend an event to its own purposes. The way events like the Ukrainian uprisings are reported in the media are always much less complicated than the facts on the ground. When this editorial appeared in The Wall Street Journal, I asked Chris Preble, Cato Institute Senior Vice President for Defense and Foreign Policy Studies, for comments. There’s no one better to explain than Chris, and he was kind enough to share his thoughts with me on the WSJ editorial and the situation in Ukraine.
Not terribly surprising that the WSJ thinks Obama has it wrong, that the US must lead, etc. I’m not convinced that the US has much influence here, even had we tried to wield it three or four months ago.
This from the WSJ that is a tad misleading:
Despite a truce late Wednesday, that transition will be much harder now that Mr. Yanukovych’s enforcers have cracked down on the opposition protesters in Kiev and at least 25 people have been killed. The violence will deepen the polarization between the government forces that are allied with Mr. Putin and the Ukrainians who want closer ties to the democracies and prosperity of Western Europe.
The implication here is that there are heroic Ukrainians who love freedom and Europe and the West, on one side, and craven Ukrainian officials who are really just Putin puppets on the other side.
The reality is a lot more complicated. Much as we might wish it otherwise, some, probably many, Ukrainians, especially those living in the eastern part (and speak Russian, and were once part of Russia), lean Russian. Yanukovych appeals to this group, but enrages the western-leaning Ukrainians. Hence the recent protests, but also the general chaos of Ukrainian politics since the breakup of the Soviet Union.
Thus, attempting to pull Ukraine into the Western orbit, as the WSJ would have us do, may actually succeed in tearing the place apart. I’m not saying that it’s a bad idea, per se, but I think the implementation is likely to be a lot messier than this editorial implies.