Yesterday, I spoke with a friend of mine who had recently returned from Ukraine. He runs a tech firm in Silicon Valley and had traveled to Kiev, the Ukrainian capital, to meet with programmers about a new smartphone app. He noted that many young Ukrainians have become internet entrepreneurs in recent years.
But my friend also shared his fears that the progress in Ukraine could be coming to an end.
He watched from the frontlines as Obama’s foreign policy disaster train moved from Syria into Ukraine. And he said that, unfortunately, Obama’s inaction and vacillation are once again empowering the thugs of the world.
You see, a great conflict is unfolding worldwide, and we don’t know at this point what ideas will triumph. Watching the Ukrainian revolution’s success is thrilling, but it may be nothing more than a flash of light in the expanding darkness – unless the triumphant rebels receive immediate aid.
A History of Violence
For centuries, Ukraine has been ground zero of an ongoing struggle between despotic rulers and people yearning to be free.
The territory we know as Ukraine has been conquered, partitioned, and ruled by Poles, Ottomans, Hungarians, Austrians, Germans, and Russians for the last thousand years. Since the middle ages, the Ukrainian people have experienced self-government for only a few short periods.
And these periods of freedom have inevitably been followed by dark nights of repression, including the darkest under Joseph Stalin’s Soviet rule.
Following the Bolshevik Revolution, farms in Ukraine were nationalized and then converted into collectives. The Ukrainian farmers who resisted were labeled “kulaks” by the Soviet authorities. Tens of thousands were executed, and over 100,000 complete families were deported to Siberia.
Not surprisingly, the socialist collectives were a complete disaster. Agricultural productivity in the area collapsed, and starvation ensued. In the end, millions perished in what’s now considered a planned genocide by Stalin. The famine was completely avoidable and not caused by drought or pestilence.
In time, a complete Russification program led to the devastation of the cultural elite in Ukraine. When the 1930s were over, four out of five Ukrainian intellectuals, writers, artists, and clergy were either executed or imprisoned.
President Obama Gives the Cold Shoulder
Today’s conflict is an echo of those earlier conflicts, and Putin’s attempts to dominate Ukraine awoke deep and frightening memories in the Ukrainian people.
That led to the recent revolution, the product of a youthful and exuberant population that enjoyed amazing economic advancement in the wake of the Soviet empire’s disintegration. The Ukrainian people weren’t ready to give up the gains they’d made since earning their independence.
At this point, it’s impossible to know what’ll happen in the weeks ahead. Perhaps Russian tanks will invade, and Putin will oversee a forced occupation of Ukraine. No matter what, though, the Ukrainian people want freedom. They want to continue building a more prosperous future, just like the surrounding territories of the former Soviet empire.
The problem is Obama’s failed policies. He has turned a blind eye to the freedom seekers in Ukraine, despite America’s history of providing aid and material support to freedom-seeking people. Under our current president, it seems all of that is changing.
This about-face comes at an unfortunate time, as the revolution in Ukraine is likely just the beginning of spreading unrest in Europe. If oligarchs continue oppressing citizens who yearn to be free, then the future in Europe may be a violent one. We can only hope that it doesn’t come to that.