As the Ukrainian crisis unfolds and as the West (or some of it, anyway) sensibly declares that it supports the pro-Western parties and politicians, other voices are beginning to be heard.
One of the first of the mark is the Serb nationalist Srdja Trifkovic, writing in Chronicles. According to him this is all the fault of the ultra-nationalist Viktor Yushschenko, the western government and agencies who are intent on building a new world order (shum mishtake shurely – either it is the nationalists or the new world order builders who are the problem) and the George Soros sponsored NGOs.
As it happens, I have already heard comments of that kind expressed to me privately, some by people who have just come back from Ukraine. According to some of them, only the Soros-sponsored oppositionists carried out electoral fraud. To which one might say: what’s the matter with Kuchma? Lost his touch?
Let us set aside the whole problem of George Soros, who excites passions but who is not quite as powerful as either he or his friends (if he has any) or his enemies think. Witness the fact that he managed to lose many millions trying to unseat President Bush and succeeded merely in proving that you cannot buy democracy.
Let us also accept that what is happening in Ukraine is a largely internal battle for the direction in which that country might go in the future rather than a simple fight of democracy against authoritarianism.
What interested me in Mr Trifkovic’s article is the following comment:
“The myth is virulently Russophobic. It implicitly recognizes the reality of Ukraine's divisions but asserts that those Ukrainians who want to maintain strong links with Russia are either stupid or manipulated. This view has nothing to do with the well-being or democratic will of 50 million Ukrainians. It is strictly geopolitical, in that it sees Moscow as a foe and its enemies (Chechen Jihadists included) as friends.”A fairly simplistic view of the world from a man who pretends to be more sophisticated than the commentators of the American Enterprise Institute (not that their analysis was particularly useful). The Chechens are not all Jihadists and Russia has been singularly unhelpful in the West’s own fight against terrorists, demanding that her behaviour in Chechnya be accepted with equanimity and even praise while refusing even to stop the sale of arms to difficult states.
Mr Trifkovic has written equally “sophisticated” articles about events in the Balkans according to which the wicked West supported all the evil opponents of Serbia. He did not mention that the people of Serbia did not exactly benefit from Milosevic's rule or his foreign adventures.
What interested me particularly was the word Russophobic. In fact, it is President Putin and his rather large ambitions that are viewed with some suspicion in the West (though not, I may add, by the EU, which is still anxious to be very nice to him). It is also President Putin’s henchmen, the siloviki, former and present members of the security forces who are gradually taking over political and economic life in Russia, that are regarded in an unfriendly way. The people of Russia do not come into it. Indeed, the people of Russia are losing the freedom they acquired when the Soviet Union collapsed. Surely, true Russophobia is supporting Putin and his policies.
So why Russophobia? We shall hear more of it as our euromasters manoeuvre for position, worrying about outcome in Ukraine and reluctant to seem to be too tough with the ever more dictatorial Putin.
This is a deliberate confusion between the politics and the people. Have we not heard it before in other circumstances? What is a person who does not like the EU and its politics? Why, a europhobe, of course. Somebody who hates Europe rather than just a slyly imposed and generally unsatisfactory political structure.
What is a person who does not like certain politicians who are trying to overcome the liberal democracy of Europe’s nation states? Silly. A xenophobe, of course. None of us are allowed genuine political arguments. We are merely full of phobias.