Thursday, February 20, 2014

Telling it like it is

From The Economist Blog today (Democracy in America):
"Viktor Yanukovich is a democratically elected president who has used his powers to eliminate liberal-rights safeguards and jail political opponents on dubious charges. He has reinforced his political position by building cronyistic relationships with powerful business figures. In this system the state creates economic rents and awards them to favoured business interests, who in turn buttress the state's political power, all while maintaining the trappings of democracy.

"In other words, Ukraine looks a lot like Russia or Egypt; more significantly, it looks like other states that are in the early stages of similar threats to liberal democracy, such as Turkey and Hungary. The enemy of liberal democracy today is more often kleptocracy, or "illiberal democracy" (as tiger-mom Amy Chua put it in her book "World on Fire"), than ideological totalitarianism.

"The threat is less obvious than in the days of single-party states and military dictators. But it ends up in the same place: economic stagnation, a corrupt elite of businessmen and politicians, censored media, and riot police shooting demonstrators."
We need to spend a little more time understanding the socio-economic preconditions for a liberal, non-corrupt parliamentary democracy and a little less time (you know who you are!) in smug posturing and denouncing people on vacuous moral grounds for doing things which are sadly but obviously in their best and vital interests.

As the post elsewhere notes:
"But no matter how widespread the fighting becomes, the only country that could conceivably intervene militarily is Russia. (Mr Putin's top Ukraine adviser, Sergei Glazyev, has openly hinted Russia may do so.) That leaves America and the EU with one option: economic sanctions. But economic sanctions will never deter a regime from killing protesters when it correctly understands that it is fighting for its life."
Even a cursory look at the social dynamics in the Ukraine, let alone its geopolitical position, suggests that the chances of a western-oriented liberal-democratic movement taking power and remodelling that country are on a par with similar chances in Syria.

Replace al-Qaeda militias with tooled-up far-right soccer hooligans for a somewhat-better fit.