Sunday, November 28, 2004

Who Said Condi's Area of Expertise Was Irrelevant

Today's NYT asks the question:


So has a Ukrainian political standoff escalated to a Russian-American confrontation out of the cold war, "captive nations" and all?

Mr. Putin does appear to be insisting that the lines defining Moscow's sphere influence in eastern Europe - which have been retreating steadily over the last 15 years - will hold firm at Ukraine's western border.

Pointing to the horrors of the past, Western leaders believe that democracy itself best guarantees their own security, and Russia's. Mr. Putin appears to think that democracy is good, but that control - within Russia and over Russia's closest neighbors - is better.

So while there are no Russian tanks massed at the border and no danger of nuclear bombers flying, as there were in the cold war crises in Poland, East Germany, Budapest and Prague, there is a profound east-west gulf nonetheless. It is simply that the character of this divide is entirely new. In Mr. Putin's view, the outcome of the vote in Ukraine was "perfectly clear" - 49.46 percent for Prime Minister Viktor F. Yanukovich, President Leonid D. Kuchma's handpicked successor, and 46.61 percent for the opposition candidate, Viktor A. Yushchenko. Mr. Kuchma certified the results despite warnings from Europe and the United States that to do so would be a mistake. Mediation attempts, led by Javier Solana of the European Union, began in Kiev on Friday, with Mr. Kuchma and the two candidates agreeing to keep talking as thousands from each camp squared off in the streets.


And, here it is, just on cue, the return of the Cold War! Hmmm, who told Mr. Putin that our armed forces were already over-extended in Iraq?