Yushchenko seems to have won, big big bigtime, in the Ukraine. Big turnout–around 78%–and big margin, about 15 points. It’s a dramatic and important moment, and the winning forces of the “orange revolution” are right to talk about democratic revolution. Here is yet another case where the forces of repression seemed to have all the advantages, including the reconstituted KGB and the full, cynical, support of a nasty Russian tyrant. Yet freedom won.
For those of us who have long preached the power of democratic revolution, it’s a happy day, and I hope that our leaders draw the appropriate lessons:
–The mild support we gave to the democratic forces in the Ukraine proved far more powerful than most of the experts expected. The revolutionaries required a bit of guidance in the methods of non-violent resistance, a bit of communications gear, and many words of encouragement. They did the rest. The same can and should be done elsewhere in the world (Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia, China, North Korea…)
–Our democratic values are shared by the overwhelming majority of the people in the world, and are rejected, sometimes violently, by tyrants and their followers. We need to stick to our principles, which means that we cannot blindly and compulsively support all the policies of individual anti-democratic leaders just because they help us. That kind of support always gets us in trouble (as in the Middle East, where we are justly criticized for our many decades of support for corrupt tyrants). Sometimes we will have to make some compromises, but when we do, we must still support democratic forces–openly, unapologetically;
–You can’t always see the revolutionary forces inside oppressive countries, but, given a chance, they will emerge more often than not. We are the most successful revolutionary society in history, we have to stand with our people, everywhere;
–When we have alliances with “friendly tyrants” (Musharaff, Putin, Mubarak, Deng, the Saudis et. al.), we must encourage them to get on the right side of history, and share power. This is the only honest way to manage such alliances, because it is only a matter of time before the American people turn against our tyrannical allies, and we will then abandon them, usually in the worst circumstances. Thus, for example, it is fine to condemn and fight against Chechen terror, but it is wrong to remain silent in the face of Russian massacres in Chechnya. Freedom is the best weapon against the terrorists, everywhere, because free societies are much less likely to support them;
The “age of the second democratic revolution,” which began with the death of Franco and continued through the fall of the Soviet Empire, is still very much with us. The cynical and exhausted leaders of France, Germany, and post-Aznar Spain don’t believe in it, but they are increasingly irrelevant to world affairs.
A great day for freedom. If we do not flag, we’ll have many more in the near future.