That isn’t to say that the government might not eventually fall, but in the bigger picture the problem is that Ukrainian independence depends on the EU and the US. Under Obama, the US has become irrelevant and the EU has never been good for anything except terrorizing its own people with senseless bureaucracy.
The problem isn’t just limited to the Ukraine. It’s the same problem in Venezuela or Egypt. If you have a democratic system and a totalitarian movement or outside force seeking to take over, it just has to win one election for everything to go to hell.
On Obama’s second term, that’s something that we can all relate to. (If you’re a liberal, just go back to Bush’s second term. Okay.)
Russia is still the dominant player and if one of its puppets falls, it waits and moves in another one. That’s why Russia isn’t too worried about Syria, just as it wasn’t too worried about Iraq. Post-Saddam, it just cozied up to the new Shiite mafia. If Assad falls, it’ll figure out a way to work with the Muslim Brotherhood.
Putin is a brutal thug, but he’s the only one still playing great power games. And we used to be able to play great power games too.
Bush didn’t always get it right, but here’s what the CIA did in the Ukraine last time around.
“Eastern Ukraine is heavily ethnic Russian. The main industry is coal. The miners are rough, tough, and hate Yushchenko for wanting to take Ukraine away from Russia and toward the West,” writes Wheeler. “It was arranged for more than a thousand of them to be taken from Donetsk, the capital of the coal-mining region, by bus and train to Kiev, where, armed with clubs and blunt tools, they would physically beat up the Orange Revolutionaries. Such mass violence was not only to disperse the demonstrators but serve as an excuse for the government to declare martial law, suspending the Ukrainian Parliament (the Rada) and elections indefinitely.”
Now comes the secret weapon: vodka.
“When the miners got on their buses and trains, they found to their joy case after case of vodka – just for them. When they arrived in Kiev, trucks awaited them filled with more cases of vodka – all free provided by ‘friends’ of the Donetsk coal miners. Completely soused, they never made it to Independence Square. Too hammered blind to cause any violence at all, they had a merry time, passed out and were shipped back to Donetsk.”
Available only to subscribers of To the Point, Wheeler’s column goes on to explain who provided the liquor: teams of Porter Goss’ CIA working with their counterparts in British MI6 intelligence.
It’s a small touch, but it’s also a safe bet that the people running things now would never go for it. Let alone anything stronger. And that’s why Putin isn’t too worried. Even if he loses one round, he knows that sooner or later, he’ll be back, because he’s playing against the weak, not the strong.