ukraine shows just how dysfunctional is western me

  1. 4,434 Posts.
    I've shortened this article a bit to let readers get to the main points quicker. The full article may be read in
    Today's Age.
    I love the final paragraph.
    The West closes its eyes to the truth in Ukraine
    November 30, 2004

    Did you know enormous rallies have been held in Kiev in support of the Prime Minister, asks John Laughland.
    There was a time when the left was in favour of revolution, while the right stood unambiguously for the authority of the state. Not any more. In the past week, two British newspapers - the anti-Iraq war Independent and the pro-Iraq war Telegraph - excitedly announced a "revolution" in Ukraine, while stateside, the right-wing Washington Times welcomed "the people versus the power".

    Whether it is Albania in 1997, Serbia in 2000, Georgia last November or Ukraine now, the Western media regularly peddle the same fairytale about how youthful demonstrators manage to bring down an authoritarian regime, simply by attending a rock concert in a central square. Two million anti-war demonstrators can stream though the streets of London and be politically ignored, but a few tens of thousands in central Kiev are proclaimed to be "the people", while the Ukrainian police, courts and government institutions are discounted as instruments of oppression.

    The Western imagination is now so gripped by its own mythology of popular revolution that we have become dangerously tolerant of blatant double standards in media reporting. Enormous rallies have been held in Kiev in support of the Prime Minister, Viktor Yanukovich, but they are rarely shown on our TV screens: if their existence is admitted, Yanukovich supporters are denigrated as having been "bussed in". The demonstrations in favour of Viktor Yushchenko have laser lights, plasma screens, sophisticated sound systems, rock concerts, tents to camp in and huge quantities of orange clothing; yet we happily dupe ourselves that they are spontaneous.

    Or again, we are told that a 96 per cent turnout in Donetsk, the home town of Viktor Yanukovich, is proof of electoral fraud. But apparently turnouts of more than 80 per cent in areas that support Viktor Yushchenko are not. Nor are actual scores for Yushchenko of well over 90 per cent in three regions, which Yanukovich achieved in only two. And whereas Yanukovich's final official score was 54 per cent, the Western-backed President of Georgia, Mikhail Saakashvili, officially polled 96.24 per cent of the vote in his country in January. The observers who now denounce the Ukrainian election welcomed that result in Georgia, saying that it "brought the country closer to meeting international standards".

    We have become dangerously tolerant of blatant double standards in media reporting.

    Such dehumanisation of enemies has well-known antecedents - not least in Nazi-occupied Ukraine itself, when pre-emptive war was waged against the Red Plague emanating from Moscow - yet these posters have passed without comment.

    Pora continues to be presented as an innocent band of students having fun in spite of the fact that - like its sister organisations in Serbia and Georgia - Pora is an organisation created and financed by Washington.

    Voters in the United States, Britain and Australia have witnessed their governments lying brazenly about Iraq for more than a year in the run-up to war, and with impunity. This is an enormous dysfunction in our own so-called democratic system. Our tendency to paint political fantasies onto countries such as Ukraine that are tabula rasa for us, and to present the West as a fairy godmother swooping in to save the day, is not only a way to salve a guilty conscience about our own political shortcomings; it also blinds us to the reality of continued brazen Western intervention in the democratic politics of other countries.

    John Laughland is a trustee of and an associate of

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