Friday, March 14, 2003

Those who do not know history ...: The Importance of Keeping Centripetal Forces in Check?

New York Times Section A; Page 8; Column 4; Foreign Desk (Aug. 2, 1991):

Following are excerpts from President [George H.] Bush's speech today to the Ukrainian Parliament:

In Ukraine, in Russia, in Armenia and the Baltics, the spirit of liberty thrives. But freedom cannot survive if we let despots flourish or permit seemingly minor restrictions multiply until they form chains, until they form shackles...

And yet freedom is not the same as independence. Americans will not support those who seek freedom in order to replace a far-off tyranny with a local despotism. They will not aid those who promote a suicidal nationalism based upon ethnic hatred.



UKRAINE, "the breadbasket of Europe" is a land famous for its fertile black earth and its golden wheat. Yet, only forty years ago seven million Ukrainians starved to death although no natural catastrophe had visited the land. Forty years ago the people starved while the Soviet Union exported butter and grain. While Moscow banqueted, Ukraine hungered.

Stark, cold, statistics, the accounts of thousands of Ukrainian survivors and German; English and American eyewitnesses, as well as confessions of Moscow's agents and the admission of Stalin himself: All these have slowly seeped out of the Iron Curtain and have been piled into a tremendous mountain of facts. The whole story, pieced together like a jig-saw puzzle, ends with the biggest puzzle of all: Why did Moscow decide to starve to death seven million Ukrainians?


William Safire, "Victory in the Baltics," New York Times Section A; Page 37; Column 1; Editorial Desk (Late edition, Nov. 21, 2002):

In those days, the breakup of the powerful Soviet Union was not so inevitable. But because of their unique diplomatic status, the Baltic States -- Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania -- were seen by U.S. hard-liners as the path to the end of the hollowed-out Soviet empire.

The elder President Bush was blind to this opportunity. On the contrary, on a visit to Kiev he urged Ukrainians to stay with Moscow. (He was furious when his talk was labeled the "Chicken Kiev" speech in this space, and has not spoken to me since.)


With freedom comes opportunity: In no-longer-occupied Latvia today, the average age of ministers is 38, and the president, foreign minister and speaker of Parliament are all women.

So is the crusading editor of Diena, Latvia's most influential newspaper. Those were hard but exciting times, says Sarmite Elerte in Riga, remembering the heady days of rising resistance to tyranny. Now we are a happily boring Western country..)


So what say you all: should the Kurds in Iraq be trusted to exercise the autonomy - not independence, for this they have forsworn -, can and should the Kurds in northern Iraq be trusted to exercise responsibly the autonomy within Iraq that they already have and that they want to preserve? Or must the United States betray the Kurds - again -, this time for the purpose of persuading the Turks to collaborate with the coalition of the willing in the armed struggle against Saddam Hussein? Do we face a tragic choice? Or is this - the [possible] breaking of Kurdish eggs - just another example of countless instances of the callousness of the powerful toward powerless ethnic and national groups? (I wonder: if the Russians continue to offer resistance to American suasion in the Security Council, will the State Department be moved, now, to complain, loudly, about Russian atrocities in Chechnya?)

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