“But the past is just the same – and War’s a bloody game…/Have you forgotten yet?.../Look down, and swear by the slain of the War that you’ll never forget.” They did not heed Siegfried Sassoon’s words from “aftermath.” They did not look down and swear, and hence they forgot, willingly, criminally easily. That is why the people, whose will is enshrined in the ordinary citizen’s call that “all the politicians in power during the last ten years must go,” do not form part of their careful calculations.
In 1853, it was religion that was used as a political tool to wage an anachronistic crusade that concealed the real intentions of the global superpowers of the time. In 2014, it is democracy, that 20th century panacea, in the foreground of a tactless battle between two superpowers in their twilight years still desperate to remain relevant and keep independent nations from getting on with their own affairs.
The former saw the Western alliance use any means necessary, including indulging corrupt regimes and encouraging corruption, to prevent the emergence of a Russian super-state in the Crimean War that claimed at least as many lives as the American Civil War.
The death toll will hopefully remain incomparable in the case of the latter, but it does little to mask the fact that a country that has had an artificial independence for 23 years is having a promising chance of real independence being thwarted by the self-serving agendas of those masquerading as saviours.
That foreign policy and world politics dictated by self-indulgent, self-congratulatory realpolitik cannot be altruistic is a fact that seems to be known by all, but acknowledged by few when discussing global events.
For instance, the US cannot simultaneously stand for democracy and endorse a government that, by the definitions expounded by itself, is the product of a coup. This, however, is precisely what it is doing in its self-appointed role of the adulterated knight in a comparatively unadulterated armour.
Without arguing the merits and the necessity of said coup – and there are reasons aplenty for the people to have risen up, though very little, if any, of what they represent is being served at present – it cannot, unfortunately, be called anything else. The right-wing groups that threaten to pick up where the previous regimes left off, thus subverting the people’s demands, are also those that have for long been, and continue to be, particular favourites of the US.
It ought to worry the world that there is evidence to suggest that the sniper murders were carried out under the directives of these extremist groups after an accord had been reached that could have paved the way to peace and prosperity.
The US that pretends to care so much woke up to Ukraine’s potential as a buffer between Europe and Russia only after the Orange Revolution put it on its radar, and the oil disputes with Russia affirmed it. Prior to that, it was indifferent to the country, save for viewing it as a newly open marketplace for obsolete products.
Russia’s display of machismo cannot be excused either. Ukraine has been treated as the abused, subservient spouse while the bully continued its dalliances with multiple mistresses. The kernel of truth in Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov’s statement about the crisis being “created artificially for purely geopolitical reasons” owes to his knowledge of Russia’s culpability.
Ukraine has a reputation for being a country where money obtains university places, jobs, licences, planning decisions, and judicial verdicts. It is also, infamously, the world leader in political “accidents,” with powerful politicians regularly taking leave of their senses to shoot themselves and swerve off roads to drive into heavy vehicles. The political class is known by its people to be amongst the most self-seeking in the world, driven by nepotism, cronyism, and a boundless supply of money that benefits from the corrupt and illegal machinery it feeds.
Examples come in the shape of the oligarch Akhmetov, Yanukovych’s kingmaker, securing 31% of all state tenders in January – second only to the former president’s son, Oleksandr, who procured 50% – and the hope of honesty embodied by the Orange Revolution being dashed by its leader, Viktor Yushchenko, enriching members of his family.
The protesters in Maidan Nezalezhnosti of a country of overly tolerant people had unanimously said that they had, finally, had enough. That voice is now at risk of being drowned out by pious realpolitik. Ukraine is every single country in the world that is not a superpower: A mere pawn.