USA-Besuch von Selenskij: Dominosteine, gute "Hurensöhne" und strategisches Schweigen

4 Sep. 2021 20:26 clock

by Tarik Cyril Amar

The Ukrainian President’s trip to Washington drove the West’s “Russia observers” to typewriters and into the comment columns in droves. Among them is Michael McFaul, a former US ambassador to Moscow who has since become a prolific, if unreliable, commentator.

In his latest comment in the Washington Post McFaul made it clear that he sees Vladimir Zelensky’s meeting with President Joe Biden as a loud starting shot and appeals to the US government and the public to support Ukraine. But as usual in the works of the Stanford professor, Kiev is actually just an excuse, actually reduced to a mere pretext.

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In reality, McFaul has a much bigger ax to grind, namely with Russia (and so the round is complete, also with Belarus and China). In a Cold War revival, the former – and somewhat unfortunate and diplomatic missteps – diplomat wants us to believe in three essential things: dominoes, good “sons of bitches” and strategic silence.

When it comes to dominoes, McFaul is commendably explicit. Either Washington will give Ukraine the support it wants and the country will succeed, or nasty autocrats from Moscow to Beijing will be “encouraged”. If Kiev falls, Western civilization will also fall. However, this leads to a bad illogical conclusion, as some people in Kabul have just found out, but it doesn’t matter.

But one wonders what exactly he means. Perhaps “encouraged” would be a better term for the current sentiment in the Taliban? After all, not only have they completely defeated the US, which must boost morale, but Washington left them with an excellent arsenal of weapons, experts and officers who, if the Taliban don’t assassinate them, are perfect candidates to be forced into their service .

But none of that matters to McFaul. Rather, let’s worry that Russia, China, and the West’s latest horror, Belarus – a medium-sized European country that, let’s face it, is a threat only to itself – could be “encouraged”.

This is, it must be clearly emphasized, a classic of the illogic of the Cold War, which puts a state in a certain strategic forward position (or rather, fantasizes) on which an entire global or at least regional result should depend. It is well known that it has worked wonders for those who initially “benefited” from this attitude of non-thinking, from Laos to Vietnam, to name just two. And – what irony! – The domino theory caused immense suffering, but was completely pointless in itself. Because – and this has been proven even if McFaul didn’t notice it or doesn’t want to remember – it never worked. Vietnam “fell” and yet the West won the Cold War and the Soviets are gone.

Ukraine: President Zelensky has other media critical of the government bannedUkraine: President Zelensky has other media critical of the government banned

But for McFaul, more than 30 years after its end, the Cold War is not a real story. It is a Hollywood myth of good guys who stand up for “freedom” in the middle of Germany. And if you don’t see a story, you can’t learn anything from it, of course.

From his point of view, Zelensky could struggle with problems, admits McFaul. But if he’s a “son of a bitch”, at least he’s “our son of a bitch”. The US shouldn’t look too closely at corruption in Ukraine, he recommends. In his consistent focus on a small part of the world, the political scientist not only seems to have no historical memory, but also not to be able to build associations across continents. Otherwise it might have occurred to him that corruption played a major role in the great defeat in Kabul and has become the worst US debacle since the Cold War. A great idea to deliberately downplay this! That corruption ended so well last time it’s hard to remember because it happened – a few days ago.

It gets even better. If corruption is no longer mentioned so often in polite neo-cold-war societies, McFaul is ready to offer a replacement: let’s talk more about democracy instead! That sounds appealing, even if it always sounds a bit strange when democracy is brought up by someone who belongs to the upper intelligentsia of the US oligarchy.

The greater curiosity of McFaul’s idea of ​​democracy is that it includes classic content from what we now call the “Game Guide of Authoritarianism”. McFaul praises Zelensky for banning media related to the political opposition. He also seems happy that Kiev is hitting the main elected opposition leader, Viktor Medvedchuk, who supports rapprochement with Russia, not with political but with pseudo-legal means. For the democracy expert from Stanford, such behavior is laudable “energetic”.

Ukraine: Opposition leader Viktor Medvedchuk placed under house arrestUkraine: Opposition leader Viktor Medvedchuk placed under house arrest

His approach is not only confusing but also dishonest. McFaul simply hides the fact that Zelensky has now closed another top media company with the help of an opaque, security-driven procedure in the National Security Council of Ukraine, strana.ua – fortunately with very limited success. Contrary to McFaul, even the OSCE has noticed that something is wrong in Ukraine.

But no wonder that the former ambassador is particularly sloppy on this very subject. Because this case is so monstrous that even the most ardent “democracy” expert who mourns the Cold War would have difficulty bending over to the point where he could openly defend it. So let’s use Cold War trick number three: strategic silence. When things are beyond your control and your favorite “son of a bitch” behavior becomes so embarrassing that it’s hard to justify, then you just pretend nothing happened.

If McFaul were genuinely interested in democracy in Ukraine, and not just in mobilizing and using this land on the great old strategic chessboard – a chessboard that amateur geopoliticians of his kind have always loved – he would have his comment columns used to exhort Zelensky to curb his authoritarian tendencies. But instead, this “friend” of Kiev is only promoting the worst tendencies in what the US seems to regard as Ukraine’s miracle worker.

And of course McFaul encourages everyone in the USA who believe that the level of control and synchronization of the corporate media in their own country is not yet high enough. If you promote authoritarianism abroad, it can ultimately backfire in your own backyard.

RT DE strives for a wide range of opinions. Guest contributions and opinion articles do not have to reflect the editorial team’s point of view.

Translation from English.

Date Cyril Amar Historian at Koç University in Istanbul, deals with Russia, Ukraine and Eastern Europe, the history of World War II, the cultural Cold War and the politics of remembrance. He tweeted @tarikcyrilamar.

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