Despite our endless blather about democracy, we Americans seem to be able to put our devotion to democratic principles on the shelf, when they get in the way of our New World Order.
In 2012, in the presidential election in Egypt, Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood won in a landslide. President Obama hailed the outcome.
One year later, the Egyptian army ousted and arrested Morsi and gunned down a thousand members of his brotherhood. The coup was countenanced by John Kerry who explained that the Egyptian army was “restoring democracy.”
Comes now the turn of Ukraine.
In 2010, Viktor Yanukovych, in what neutral observers called a free and fair election, was chosen president. His term ends in 2015.
Yet since November, protesters have occupied Maidan Square in Kiev, battling police, and howling for Yanukovych’s resignation. The United States appears now to be collaborating with Europe in bringing about the neutering or overthrow of that democratically elected government.
Military coups, a la Cairo, and mob uprisings, at la Kiev — are these now legitimate weapons in the arsenal of democracy.
What did Yanukovych do to deserve ouster by the street? He chose Russia over Europe.
In the competition between Vladimir Putin and the European Union over whose economic association to join, Yanukovych was betrothed to the EU. But after an offer of $15 billion from Putin, and a cut in fuel prices to his country, Yanukovych jilted the EU and ran off with Russia.
Yanukovych felt he could not turn down Putin’s offer.
Western Ukraine, which favors the EU, was enraged. So out came the protesters to bring down the president. And into Kiev flew John McCain to declare our solidarity with the demonstrators.
Kerry has now joined McCain in meddling in this matter that is none of America’s business, declaring in Munich that, “Nowhere is the fight for a democratic European future more important than today in Ukraine.”
We “stand with the people of Ukraine,” said Kerry.
But which people? The Ukrainians who elected Yanukovych and still support him or the crowds in Maidan Square that want him out and will not vacate their fortified encampments until he goes?
Kerry is putting us on the side of mobs that want to bring down the president, force elections, and take power. Yet, Americans would never sit still should similar elements, with similar objectives, occupy our capital.
Reportedly, we are now colluding with the Europeans to cobble together an aid package, should Yanukovych surrender, cut the knot with Russia, and sign on with the EU.
But if Putin’s offer of $15 billion was a bribe, what else is this?
While he rules a divided nation, Yanukovych has hardly been a tyrant. As the crowds grew violent, he dismissed his government, offered the prime ministry to a leader of the opposition, repealed the laws lately passed to crack down on demonstrations, and took sick for four days.
But the street crowds, sensing he is breaking and smelling victory, are pressing ahead. There have now been several deaths among the protesters and police.
Putin is incensed, but inhibited by the need to keep a friendly face for the Sochi Olympics. Yet he makes a valid point.
How would Europeans have reacted if, in the bailout crisis, he, Putin, had flown to Athens and goaded rioters demanding that Greece default and pull out of the eurozone?
How would the EU react if Putin were to hail the United Kingdom Independence Party, which wants out of the EU, or the Scottish National Party, which wants to secede from Great Britain?
Ukraine was briefly independent at the end of World War I, and has been again since the breakup of the Soviet Union. Still the religious, ethnic, cultural and historic ties between Russia and Ukraine are centuries deep.
Eight million Ukrainians are ethnic Russians. In east Ukraine and the Crimea, the majority speak Russian and cherish these ties. Western Ukraine looks to Europe. Indeed, parts belonged to the Habsburg Empire.
Pushed too far and pressed too hard, Ukraine could disintegrate.
Security police who have questioned jailed rioters seem to believe we Americans are behind what is going on. And given the National Endowment for Democracy’s clandestine role in the color-coded revolutions of a decade ago in Central and Eastern Europe, that suspicion is not unwarranted.
Nor is Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov entirely wrong when he says, “a choice is being imposed” on Ukraine, and European politicians are fomenting protests and riots “by people who seize and hold government buildings, attack the police and use racist and anti-Semitic and Nazi slogans.”
If, as a result of street mobs paralyzing a capital, a democratically elected Ukrainian government falls, we could not only have an enraged and revanchist Russia on our hands, but a second Cold War.
And we will have set a precedent that could come to haunt Europe, as the rising and proliferating parties of the populist right, that wish to bring down the European Union, learn by our example.