International

Response to the lemon suckers

In the Guardian Timothy Garton Ash provides a splendid response to those in western Europe who prefer to smear or snipe at the Ukrainian democrats rather than support them:

For 25 years, I have heard these same old arguments against supporting the democratic oppositions in eastern Europe. Those oppositions, we are told, threaten European “stability”. Behind or beside them are nasty nationalists and/or the CIA. We must respect the legitimate security interests of Moscow (an argument originally used to justify the continued existence of the Berlin Wall). A ghastly Pandora’s box will be opened by ……. (fill this space with: Poland’s Solidarnosc, Charter 77, the Leipzig demonstrators – sorry, mob – in 1989, anti-Milosevic students in Belgrade, Georgian rose revolutionaries, or now Ukrainians).

Oh yes, and tu quoque: someone else is just as bad, so a plague on both their houses. “Vladimir Putin,” writes Simon Jenkins, “obliterated his opponents in Russia’s last presidential election without a peep from the west.” Well, exactly. But what follows from that is that we should have criticised Putin’s election-rigging more strongly, not that we shouldn’t criticise election-rigging in Ukraine.

Behind all these contorted reservations, we hear an inner voice which says, in effect, “Why won’t all these bloody, semi-barbarian, east Europeans leave us alone, to go on living happily ever after in our right, tight, little west European (or merely British) paradise?” And, quite often, “Why are those bloody Americans stirring them up to disturb us?” For this is not a simple left-right divide. It’s a divide between, on the one side, central and east Europeans inside the EU, together with Americans of left and right, and, on the other, west Europeans of both left and right. Not all west Europeans, to be sure. In fact, the EU has spoken out remarkably clearly on the election fraud, through its Dutch presidency and Spanish foreign minister. But many west Europeans.

He goes on to ask six questions for those reluctant to support the people in orange. Well worth reading in full.

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