Airy rhetoric acts as a political opiate, lifting the spirits of the listener (and sometimes the speaker) that something is being done, but it then swept away as attention is drawn elsewhere, not to return until the pot again boils over - on someone else's watch. Inattention to the Middle East is now vacuuming funds away from critical areas that will soon come back to dog us in different ways.
While the Ukraine's Orange Revolution filled our screens as it toppled a corrupt government, we proclaimed it "proof that democracy was on the march and promised $60 million to help secure it in Kiev. But Republican congressional allies balked and slashed it this week to $33.7 million":
The funding reductions come at a time when such programs have enjoyed successes in Georgia and Ukraine, where U.S.-trained activists helped push out unpopular governments. To help consolidate the gains, Bush attached $60 million for Ukraine to his supplemental appropriation bill funding the war in Iraq, with money earmarked to promote judicial independence, youth participation in politics, legal protections for press freedom and preparations for parliamentary elections. But even as Bush plans to host new Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko, the House cut the funding request nearly in half.
While the second Bush43 inaugural address seeks to "support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture," the resources have shifted to Muslim states. The Ukraine is not the only loser. Monies for the Freedom Support Act (for Russia and 11 other former Soviet republics), the Support for East European Democracy Act (Serbia), Asia Foundation, and Eurasia Foundation (a U.S.-European-Russian democracy program) were slashed. Groups focusing on training in conduction of fair elections "devote about half of their budgets to Iraq and the Middle East." Increases in USAID democracy and governance programs are "devoted to Iraq and Afghanistan." RFE/RL spending was flat while VOA's bump went to "expanding programs in Persian, Dari, Urdu and Pashtu aimed at non-Arabic Muslim listeners."
I often remark that if al Qaeda and Muslim fundamentalists succeed in whole or in part, it will be due to the monies that it causes the US and the West to redirect away from domestic and international private investment and non-Muslim diplomatic initiatives.
The Ukraine is one of those investment locations that I would not lightly omit, the pressures of Islamic religious and political fundamentalism notwithstanding. It boggles the mind to consider what I predict to be continuous efforts, overt and covert, on the part of the Russian Federation to recover this critical member of the Russian "near abroad," a state so historically essential to Russian defense, commerce, and technology that it transcends any other member of the departed satellite states at the breakup of the USSR. The winning of an election, remarkable as it was, is not enough to sustain it in the face of Russian action.
Ukraine's status as an economically viable state is not guaranteed. Remember that it is part of Kotkin's Trashcanistan and so is prone to flattened investment climate, possibly collapse; purchase of government jobs; corruption among public authorities, during privatization, and in the provision of education, healthcare and social services; harassment of small entrepreneurs; diminished living standards; population flight; and the rising poles of Fascism and fundamentalism.
The focus of part 2 is how the Ukraine can legally, as a state, and illegally, as embedded criminal groups, support itself as Russia completes its separation, and what will be the impact of its revenue opportunities on the US, and thus ultimately US diplomatic relations with the Ukraine.
Funding Scarce for Export of Democracy
By Peter Baker
March 18, 2005
Yushchenko Sworn In as Ukraine President
By Peter Finn
January 23, 2005
Trashcanistan: A Tour through the Wreckage of the Soviet Empire
The New Republic
April 15, 2002