Friday, February 21, 2014

Time managemment may lie at heart of resolution to Ukraine struggles, not to mention political "ego"

If Ukraine is, indeed, divided in its identity, the west being formerly a part of Poland and the east being attached to Russia historically, then it's current struggles for an identity, being pulled in two directions simultaneously, is, while unique, comparable to that of other countries, whose identity his two historic poles.
Canada, for example, continues to struggle with the tension between French and English, both cultures however, contributing significantly, yet very differently, to our still evolving national identity.
It is the manner in which this struggle is now being played out that is so troublesome. Protestors who seek the overthrow of their president, Yanukovich, are, according to many reports not likely to achieve their goal, and even if they did, the two polarities of the country would still be there.
As one observer put it, there is an important international aspect to this struggle as well as an important domestic aspect. On the international front, Putin, determined to secure his own legacy, envisions an Asiatic-empire that includes the Ukraine, while the west seeks to see democratic reforms, the rule of law and the individual expression of the people, along with increased trade. Those forces too are unlikely to go away.
On the domestic front, people of course want jobs, a good education, decent and accessible health care and freedom from oppression by the state.
One of the few variables on which both of these themes will play out is that of time. And while Russia, being a dictatorship, can and does move quickly and nimbly, to write cheques in the billions, (even those requiring a change in the investment fund from which they are taken, because the Ukraine would not otherwise qualify). On the other hand, the European Union, being a collection of states, albeit with some more developed democratic institutions, moves much more slowly. Trade agreements that remain unsigned, emerge from the back rooms of the EU rarely and after much negotiation, and are not proferred easily or quickly.
Immediacy, on the other hand, is the order of the day, if the killings are to be stopped. And according to most reports, live ammunition is now being used by both sides in the dispute.
While Kiev burns, Putin preens himself in Sochi, on the international stage, taking time occasionally to place a phone call to Yanukovich to offer "assistance" in the form of Russian advisors, to find a way out of the current debacle. If that assistance can and will be compared to the assistance Putin is offering to Assad in Syria, who is also facing demands from protestors for his overthrow, then the world needs to be prepared for another proxy civil war, with the west supporting the protestors in the Ukraine and Russia supporting, once again, their puppet dictator, Yanukovich.
It would seem to this very "outside" observer, that the US was duped into an agreement over the disposal and removal of Assad's chemical weapons in Syria, and the duping was accomplished by Putin and Lavrov, with the complicity of an over-eager and overly idealistic Kerry and the Obama administration which did not want to put the US into another conflict in the Middle East, following more than a decade of war-weariness on both Iraq and Afghanistan.
Will the "west" including both the EU and the US, be duped again by another scheme of "instant gratification" over the current struggles in Kiev, in order to garner positive global headlines, while at the same time selling out on the Ukrainian people?
Time, the length of time for an immediate response, as compared with a much more deliberate and thoughtful and long-lasting response many be one of the issues that stymies those at the "table" who could make a difference in the short-term. However, in the long term, states, just like people, have to learn to take a much longer view of the process of achieving their national interests.
And, while Putin plays a "flush" poker hand, given his triumph in Sochi, and to a lesser extent in Syria, and Iran (given his support of the Iranian regime that seeks to develop nuclear power), the US struggles to find a different voice from that of the military, in its search to re-invent itself on the international stage.
And Kiev, while providing another chapter in this development, requires a cessation to the violence, as well as a stabilizing of the Ukraine's economy, and the establishment of more democratic institutions. The first goal is immediate and needs a very different diplomatic approach from that required to achieve the second and third goals. And both the people of the US and its current government are very hungry for some evidence that "she" has not lost her political and diplomatic clout, especially in the face of the recent "trickery" from Putin and Assad on chemical weapons.
And in the public, we tend to have a very short memory, along with busy lives, that keeps some of the stories that once were headlines, out of the front of our minds, although they continue to burn holes in the lives of millions of refugees and in the budgets of countries like Turkey and Jordan that have taken in hundreds of thousands.
Let's not have to witness a similar debacle, with similar rhetoric, in the resolution to the Ukraine's civil unrest, and let's find negotiated terms under which the long-term resolution of the people's demands can and will be met, so that resorting to live bullets and whatever follows, does not become a pattern disclosing our inability, unwillingness and incapacity to resolve serious diplomatic tensions, that have admittedly national and international implications, as does each case.

No comments:

Post a Comment