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Friday, September 12, 2008

Palin: “Ukraine, Definitely, Yes.”

Liberals: Orange Revolution

Not that I’m a big fan of Republicans (or Democrats, for that matter), but I do like this one. Watch the most "uncut" version of Sarah Palin's ABC News interview, as it relates to Ukraine, with the full transcript below.

GIBSON: What insight into Russian actions, particularly in the last couple of weeks, does the proximity of the state give you?

PALIN: They're our next door neighbors and you can actually see Russia from land here in Alaska, from an island in Alaska.

GIBSON: What insight does that give you into what they're doing in Georgia?

PALIN: Well, I'm giving you that perspective of how small our world is and how important it is that we work with our allies to keep good relation with all of these countries, especially Russia. We will not repeat a Cold War. We must have good relationship with our allies, pressuring, also, helping us to remind Russia that it's in their benefit, also, a mutually beneficial relationship for us all to be getting along.

Sarah Palin on Russia:

We cannot repeat the Cold War. We are thankful that, under Reagan, we won the Cold War, without a shot fired, also. We've learned lessons from that in our relationship with Russia, previously the Soviet Union.

We will not repeat a Cold War. We must have good relationship with our allies, pressuring, also, helping us to remind Russia that it's in their benefit, also, a mutually beneficial relationship for us all to be getting along.

GIBSON: Would you favor putting Georgia and Ukraine in NATO?

PALIN: Ukraine, definitely, yes. Yes, and Georgia.

GIBSON: Because Putin has said he would not tolerate NATO incursion into the Caucasus.

PALIN: Well, you know, the Rose Revolution, the Orange Revolution, those actions have showed us that those democratic nations, I believe, deserve to be in NATO.

Putin thinks otherwise. Obviously, he thinks otherwise, but...

GIBSON: And under the NATO treaty, wouldn't we then have to go to war if Russia went into Georgia?

PALIN: Perhaps so. I mean, that is the agreement when you are a NATO ally, is if another country is attacked, you're going to be expected to be called upon and help.

But NATO, I think, should include Ukraine, definitely, at this point and I think that we need to -- especially with new leadership coming in on January 20, being sworn on, on either ticket, we have got to make sure that we strengthen our allies, our ties with each one of those NATO members.

We have got to make sure that that is the group that can be counted upon to defend one another in a very dangerous world today.

GIBSON: And you think it would be worth it to the United States, Georgia is worth it to the United States to go to war if Russia were to invade.

PALIN: What I think is that smaller democratic countries that are invaded by a larger power is something for us to be vigilant against. We have got to be cognizant of what the consequences are if a larger power is able to take over smaller democratic countries.

And we have got to be vigilant. We have got to show the support, in this case, for Georgia. The support that we can show is economic sanctions perhaps against Russia, if this is what it leads to.

It doesn't have to lead to war and it doesn't have to lead, as I said, to a Cold War, but economic sanctions, diplomatic pressure, again, counting on our allies to help us do that in this mission of keeping our eye on Russia and Putin and some of his desire to control and to control much more than smaller democratic countries.

His mission, if it is to control energy supplies, also, coming from and through Russia, that's a dangerous position for our world to be in, if we were to allow that to happen.

As a Ukrainian living next door to Russia, that’s the U.S. foreign policy I prefer, given the key role that the Clinton administration played in stripping my country of its nuclear deterrent.

Of course, I do know about the Christian fundamentalism of U.S. conservatives, just as I know about the Russophile pacifism of U.S. liberals. Both worldviews spell disaster. Now, isn't it funny how most YouTube videos omit the part where Palin emphasizes the need not to repeat the Cold War and mentions the Orange Revolution?

Could it be that Bush’s cowboy interventionism has slapped some childish isolationism into U.S. liberals, making democratic movements like the Orange Revolution an inconvenient truth? Oh, I forgot. It was all a “neocon CIA plot!”

With my country stuck between an expansionist Russia and a split West, I want a U.S. President who is neither too hard nor too soft on Russia.

As of today, most Ukrainians, and Russified Ukrainians especially, know little about NATO other than what they learned in Soviet history textbooks. Naturally, they do not want Ukraine to join NATO. Ironically, they do want Ukraine to join the EU.

Since the collapse of the Warsaw Pact, joining NATO has become a prerequisite — the prerequisite — for joining the EU. No Eastern European country has become an EU member without first becoming a NATO member.

I believe that Ukraine’s nonalignment puts us in the danger zone. I want Ukraine to join NATO and, ultimately, the EU while remaining a good neighbor of Russia, not a good banana republic of Russia.

Therefore, either Ukraine will join NATO, or the Kremlin will be tempted to repeat the Georgian scenario in eastern Ukraine. It’s as simple as that, Uncle Sam.

In the first case, you’ll get a 45-million country with a defense industry unmatched by any other fresh NATO member country. In the second case, you’ll get a conflict rivaling the war in Yugoslavia, plus millions of refugees and a major spike in your defense budget.

You decide.



Michelle said...

I have been pretty amazed and impressed with the fact that McCain and Palin both have spoken on the topic of Georiga and Ukraine in a coherent, intelligent manner. Meaning, that whether you agree or not with them 100%, at least they have a solid opinion and viewpoint regarding this part of the world. Obama is mostly humming and hawing around about foreign relations.

I can't presume what is best for Ukraine as a foreigner, whether NATO is the way or not, but I do hope that Ukraine as well as all former Soviet republics will remain sovereign countries and be respected by Russia as well as the world.

My viewpoint on Republicans is that there is a lot of hype in the US media about what they are supposed to be like and believe. Not all Republicans are card carrying gun slingers or fundamentalist Christians who demand the world to bow to their viewpoint. Not all Democrats are socialists either. Our media likes to create stereotypes.

Taras said...

You said it best, Michelle! Stereotypes set the tone in politics.

As for me, I felt really bad about the liberal media’s contextomy regarding Palin’s statement on Ukraine.

Michelle said...

Taras, EVERYONE feels bad about the liberal media. Even the liberals probably feel bad! :) If McCain wins I think the media will have a collective nervous breakdown! LOL!

Vitaliy said...

Good post, I like the "here what everyone else missed" angle.

Pēteris Cedriņš said...

But Palin is a card carrying gun slinger and fundamentalist Christian, Michelle, and proud of it!

Furthermore, she has no foreign policy experience at all, and a rather apparent lack of interest in the outside world (except in that one can see Russia from an island in her state, la la). I thought the interview was horribly embarrassing -- she had obviously been intensively coached and kept returning to her talking points no matter what was being said. I doubt very much if she knew what the Orange Revolution was until recently -- and for that matter, looking at the current political situation... what it now is; what is it?

I, too, strongly support NATO and EU membership for Ukraine -- if and when it's ready. But there are other issues here that overshadow the simplistic, bellicose bluster of McCain/Palin. A NATO so diluted it becomes hollow -- i.e., loses a believable Article V commitment -- would be worse than no NATO expansion at all. John McCain still speaks as though America has unlimited power. The reality is that the US is already badly overextended -- and the situation will likely stay that way, or get worse, if he is elected.

Taras said...

Good to see you again, Pēteris!

And good point about Article 5! With so many NATO members refusing to “fight for Ukraine,” the question is: Would they fight for Latvia?

As a Ukrainian, I tend to be somewhat neutral on US domestic policy. After all, it’s the business of the American people. But when it comes to US foreign policy, it becomes my business, too. So I’m screening US presidential hopefuls, trying to calculate who would be Ukraine’s best friend.

My story? Let me put it this way: Uncle Sam took my dad’s gun away during the “end of history” euphoria of the ‘90s. He promised to keep me safe from harm. Now that the “end of history” has not arrived, I don’t feel safe. I want that gun back. I have a hostile neighbor, Uncle Vlad, and I don’t want him in my house.

As of today, McCain and Palin, hold a solid lead in making statements supporting Ukraine. By comparison, Reagan may not have been the #1 well-rounded US president, but he certainly came down in history as the best friend of the oppressed Soviet/Eastern Bloc peoples. He stood behind the fall of the Berlin Wall, which ultimately led to the accession of much of Eastern Europe into NATO and the EU.

The fact that the Orange Revolution was hijacked by cronyists and egomaniacs doesn’t make it a dirty word for me. I want my voice to be heard.

Now, Palin may not have spoken for all Americans, but she certainly spoke for me. She spoke about the need to avoid the Cold War. She spoke about the “one for all, all for one” collective security principle.

Actions speak louder than words, though. Therefore, regardless of who wins the US presidential race, if Ukraine gets the cold shoulder from NATO, I will become a huge supporter of renuklearization.

At a time when India and Pakistan were building their modest nuclear arsenals, Ukraine was giving away the world’s third-largest nuclear arsenal. Today, India and Pakistan have reached a state of deterrence. I want the same state of deterrence between Ukraine and Russia.

I want Russia to respect Ukraine’s territorial integrity just as much as Latvians want Article 5 to work.

Pēteris Cedriņš said...

Taras, I’m screening US presidential hopefuls, trying to calculate who would be our best friend. Would NATO fight for Latvia (or, as I believe Palin's great admirer Pat Buchanan once put it -- die for Daugavpils?) ...I have my doubts.

Latvia has been a very strong supporter of Ukraine's Euro-Atlantic integration, and so am I personally. The trouble is that one can't grab you by the scruff of the neck and drag you into NATO against narodnaya volya, and you know that as well as I do. Even in Latvia, as dysfunctional a Euro-Atlantic comrade as they come, NATO membership had the support of more than two-thirds of the population.

You wrote: "As of today, most Ukrainians, and Russified Ukrainians especially, know little about NATO other than what they learned in Soviet history textbooks. Naturally, they do not want Ukraine to join NATO. Ironically, they do want Ukraine to join the EU." I'm not sure how ironical the latter desire is. It was quite common here among Russophones, sovoks, and the less educated -- it was, in fact, the standard line -- EU da, NATO nyet. It usually came in the guise of that sort of "pacifism" in which we would all live in between, happily or unhappily, forever after.

Even the current administration administration, which shall go down in history as a remarkably shabby cowboy I think, realizes that it cannot go it alone in this -- see this article, for instance.

By all means, remain aloof from US domestic policy. But even if you take only foreign policy, McCain does seem like he will provide episode 3 to the Dubya follies, basically. I, too, enjoy the Republican rhetoric in defense of free little democratic peoples. I enjoy their concrete actions even more. But on a grander scale, the US has squandered a considerable portion of its moral authority in the last several years, and that matters -- and it matters quite concretely to us. To paraphrase an old Merrill Lynch ad -- when John McCain says "in the 21st century, nations don’t invade other nations," people laugh.

No matter what the effort, the US is not going to construct a viable, gigantic Potemkin village of "freedom-loving peoples" between Europe and Russia. It doesn't have the strength to do that, and Russia knows this. Building a real Europe of which we are an integral part is another matter -- and getting your house in order seems to be an obvious prerequisite. I'm not saying the door will be open when you do -- I place about as much faith in France and Germany as you do, I suspect. I certainly support what is turning out to be our very own "special relationship" with the US, and I back NATO expansion to take in Georgia and Ukraine -- but the vast majority of Georgians support NATO accession. Ukrainians do not.

Hold off on the nukes, Taras! You're not at war, and though I hate to descend to clichés -- your greatest enemies are still yourselves. If you did spend the billions to get your nukes back -- how do you know where they'd be aimed? I don't intend to belittle the Orange Revolution at all -- Latvians have a tremendous talent for all sorts of revolutions, too. Being against something or tearing something down is a lot easier than building something, unfortunately.

Higinio said...

As a Spaniard living next door to Ukraine, that’s the U.S. foreign policy I prefer, too.

Nice post!

Taras said...


I have my doubts about Article 5, too. But the very fact that Latvia already belongs in NATO makes Russian adventure less likely.

Luckily, Latvia had spent less time on the Soviet animal farm and, once free, had managed to rewrite the social contract and limit Russian influence.

Compared to Ukraine, Latvia emerged with a bigger support group in the West and a smaller baggage of Soviet past. This helped you get to where you are.

The US never officially recognized the annexation of the Baltics by the Soviet Union. Not so with Ukraine, despite our brief independence in 1918-1920. In fact, the US established diplomatic relations with the USSR during the Holodomor.

When the Baltics regained their independence, Washington asked Moscow to withdraw its troops from their territory. In contrast, when Ukraine regained its independence, Washington used sticks and carrots to force Kyiv into relinquishing its nuclear arsenal.

Superpowers work in mysterious ways. Today, there’s no mystery that one of them may be willing to work its way into Ukraine.

With no NATO umbrella to deploy as a scarecrow, Ukraine will not be able to deter a conventional attack unless it reacquires a nuclear capability. While costly, this idea may gain even wider support than the idea of NATO membership.

Si vis pacem, para pactum.

Gracias, Higinio!

España, Polonia, Ucrania, Libertad!

Saludos desde Kyiv!

Pēteris Cedriņš said...

The US never officially recognized the annexation of the Baltics by the Soviet Union. Not so with Ukraine, despite our brief independence in 1918-1920. In fact, the US established diplomatic relations with the USSR during the Holodomor.

The Stimson doctrine of non-recognition has certainly been very important to the Baltic states. But a couple of points: the US was actually one of the last countries to recognize our 1918 independence -- it did so long after the other great powers did. In 1991, the US was again the slowpoke, restoring diplomatic relations long after other Western countries did despite non-recognition of the annexation. As Condi said at the time, the US had no vital interests here. You will certainly remember Dubya's dad's "chicken Kiev" speech. The US places a premium on "stability," even if that's at the expense of the democracies it professes to support and sometimes really supports.

Clinton was personally involved in getting the Russians to withdraw their troops, and Democrats were at least as supportive of the restoration of independence as Republicans were -- Bubba made the first ever visit of a sitting American President to Latvia, for example.

Obama was a co-sponsor of this Senate resolution, passed unanimously on Tuesday, calling "on the President and Secretary of State to urge the Government of the Russian Federation to acknowledge that the Soviet occupation of Latvia, Estonia, and Lithuania under the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact and for the succeeding 51 years was illegal."

I see no reason to suppose that a Democratic victory in November would mean less support for Ukraine's NATO entry. One of Obama's principal advisers is Zbigniew Brzezinski, hardly a Russophile. It is possible that McCain would make a greater effort to bring Ukraine in without the consent of Ukrainians and despite opposition by other NATO countries, but I don't think that is healthy. NATO is not supposed to be a mere scarecrow. It is a military alliance that depends upon its actually functioning. I wrote this speech for our former President, and I still hold to it: "the strength of the transatlantic alliance lies in its effectiveness and in its real capability to respond to real threats." If we gut that capability, which we have already overstretched, we are pretty much asking for Russia to test the backup for Article V, just as it tested our resolve with regard to our friend Georgia.

I completely agree with you that Russia is a serious danger to Ukraine -- though I'm not sure whether MAP wouldn't actually increase that danger at this point (in my view, you should have been given MAP at Bucharest). There is no scenario under which you'd become a full member swiftly -- and during the accession period, the Kremlin could be sorely tempted to interrupt the process, no?

But, in any case, there are other perils that seem to me to be more pressing and have more to do with you than with any Western betrayal. Forgive me if I'm wrong -- but isn't it now likely that the Party of the Regions and Yulia are going to drag you eastward, which would anyway obviate the sense of this debate?

Taras said...

Great speech, one I very much agree with!

You can be sure I prefer your MAP spice to Condi’s Chicken Kiev! I hope the next US president will feed us no more chickens.

I wish we had someone as committed and Western-oriented as Vike-Freiberga, now that Tymoshenko has broken my heart. (Every breath she takes, every move she makes, every bond she breaks, every step she takes, I’ll be watching her.)

By “scarecrow” I referred to the paper tiger issue regarding Article 5. Of course, to be effective and reliable, NATO needs to heal the Old Europe v. New Europe rift.

Yet leaving Ukraine out of the NATO bootcamp will be bad both for Ukraine and for NATO. In that case, Ukraine will only have one effective option left: renuclearization.

And, yes, whether or not Ukraine gets the MAP, Russia may try to redraw Ukraine’s map. This means NATO will have to spend more on gas, defense, and humanitarian aid.

Pawlina said...

Great post, Taras. Very well articulated and a viewpoint that I believe many diasporan Ukrainians would share... regardless of their views on current US politics.

Taras said...

Thank you, Pawlina! How's your tour going:)?