• Kipling’s “Gods of the Copybook Headings” – unfortunately, some works of English literature don’t translate well into Ukrainian and most Western leaders have no recollection of – or regard for – recent history. Among Rudyard Kipling’s works was a poem paying respect to “copybook headings”. Copybook headings were proverbs and adages printed at the top of 19th century British notebook pages, which students were required to repetitiously copy down to the bottom of the page in hopes of instilling both virtue and discipline. Kipling’s 40 lines and 512 words were a favorite of Margaret Thatcher and a reminder that freedom isn’t free, society needs a moral compass, and that history’s mistakes are repeated. You can read the whole poem here (courtesy of the Kipling Society) but as Ukraine signed the “cease fire” agreement last week under terms largely dictated by Putin, there was an eerie sense of deja vu as the words of Kipling’s poem sprung back to life once again:
“As it will be in the future, it was at the birth of Man
There are only four things certain since Social Progress began.
That the Dog returns to his Vomit and the Sow returns to her Mire,
And the burnt Fool’s bandaged finger goes wabbling back to the Fire;”
MIXED• Kyiv Mayor Vitaliy Klitchko – being mayor is often a dead end job and the realities of governing the capital are weighing down the World Heavyweight Champ. In an effort to save gas for the winter, Kyivites have been without hot water since July and must wait until the end of this month before it is resumed. As a result, Klitchko is in hot water politically as there was no real media campaign to explain why Kyivites should sacrifice and not other cities. Of course, Luhansk has been without any water (hot or cold) for a month and the “ice bucket challenge’ has made cold showers fashionable worldwide so Klitchko gets graded on a curve for the inconvenience. Klitchko did earn some goodwill though by removing the last of the tent city and barricades from the Maidan to finally reopen the downtown city streets to traffic. Only Nixon could go to China and Klitchko was probably the only politician who could dismantle the Maidan. On the national political scene, Klitchko and UDAR have seen their rating somewhat decline and now are likely to run jointly with Poroshenko’s party in a bloc instead of separately. The danger for Klitchko is the same danger that every junior coalition partner faces: getting none of the credit when things go right and all of the blame when things go wrong. Nonetheless, Team Klitchko is running a marathon and not a sprint and thus is likely to see their persistence pay off in prominent cabinet roles when the new government is formed in November. • Byut Triumvirate – Just as the original triumvirate of Octavius, Mark Antony and Lepidus united to defeat Brutus and the Senators who assassinated Caesar, the Byut triumvirate of Tymoshenko, Turchynov and Yatsenyuk united to defeat Yanukovych. However once the enemy was defeated the Roman triumvirate turned upon each other and the Byut triumvirate is faring no differently. Octavius persevered to eventually become the sole emperor and defeat the once mighty Mark Antony (who largely destroyed himself due to his own vices of women and wine). Lepidus quietly governed North Africa and disappeared from history. At the moment, it appears Yatsenyuk is playing the role of Octavius to Tymoshenko’s Antony (whose vices are vanity and lust for power), while Turchynov’s moment in the sun as Acting President and Speaker, seem to be fading and leading to a similar fate as Lepidus. Time will tell but it’s safe to say that the Byut triumvirate has ended.
Who is Down?• The Cease Fire – much like National Review once described second marriages, that is, “the triumph of hope over experience”, President Poroshenko has agreed to a new cease fire. Poroshenko is no doubt sincere in his desire for peace, but the shelling of Mariupol by Russian forces last night throws an #icebucketchallenge of cold water on any real hopes of the cease fire holding. Ukraine had hoped that the cease fire will give them time to rearm and they were buoyed by the NATO Summit after the announcement of the possible sale of precision guided missiles and even dual purpose armored vehicles from Italy. Unfortunately Russia is not waiting for the bureaucratic hurdles to be cleared and is pressing their advantage in Mariupol, the former Greek colony which once again in its history, is defending itself from the eastern hordes. Kipling’s words still ring true today…
“When the Cambrian measures were forming, They promised perpetual peace.
They swore, if we gave them our weapons, that the wars of the tribes would cease.
But when we disarmed They sold us and delivered us bound to our foe,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: “Stick to the Devil you know.”
• OSCE – (Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe) – is a well intentioned organization. However, the road to Hell is paved in good intentions…More specifically though, the OSCE is a multinational organization that mostly acts as a “full employment” organization for European bureaucrats to simultaneously ensure the ineffectiveness of any project that they become involved in. Bureaucratic inertia is one matter, but recently the OSCE in Ukraine has excelled at not only being ineffective but also being downright incompetent. When the Secretary General of the OSCE, Lamberto Zannier told the BBC, “if there are Russian military units apart from those we saw, and apart from those taken prisoner by the Ukrainians (inside Ukraine) – it is rather difficult to prove”. This statement contrasts satellite images released by NATO that unmistakably verify the presence of Russian military inside Ukraine. If the OSCE cannot come to simple conclusions based on undeniable evidence, then perhaps they should change their name to the “Organization for Sitting in Cafes in Europe” which seems to be a more apt description in the first place.
“Then the Gods of the Market tumbled, and their smooth-tongued wizards withdrew
And the hearts of the meanest were humbled and began to believe it was true
That All is not Gold that Glitters, and Two and Two make Four
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings limped up to explain it once more.”
Since independence in 1991, many Ukrainians have searched for and advocated a “Third Way”, “a third force” and/or a unique approach to development of the country. Like Ponce De Leon searched in vain for the “Fountain of Youth”, they too searched in vain for a separate path between Russia and NATO, a middle ground between free markets and communism, and a way to wink at Western values to cover copious corruption. If Euromaidan and the Russian invasion have taught us anything over the last year, it’s that there is no “Third Way”. The non-aligned status of Ukraine invited the Russian invasion and the holdover of communist laws and practices have caused corruption to flourish despite rhetoric to the contrary. The reality now, as it always has been is that there are concrete ways to prosperity and peace – as well as clear paths to war and poverty. Every country toys with doing things their own way, until faced with the hard reality that it simply doesn’t work. Hopefully that realization will give government leaders the will to make the needed changes to put Ukraine on an independent and prosperous path. As for the “Third Way”, it lies somewhere between El Dorado and Shangri-La, flush with unicorns, leprechauns with pots of god and honest taxi drivers. Let’s hope Ukrainians will finally abandon their quest to find it for once and for all…• Yuliya Tymoshenko and Byut – Yulia Tymoshenko’s release from prison was supposed to follow a different script. However, instead of being anointed President of Ukraine by the people on the Maidan, she proceeded to get spanked in the presidential election. Now she has lost her longtime right hand, Oleksandr Turchynov and situational ally Arseniy Yatsenyuk. Her rating is in single digits and approximately where it was 12 years ago when her bloc first won seats in parliament with a surprising 7%. While she still maintains some talented individuals on her team (Sobolev, Tarasyuk, Shevchenko, etc), her political future at the moment seems to be following the path of eight track players, rotary dial phones and typewriters. It’s not that those items no longer work, it’s just that now there are better technological advances… • Euromaidan Leaders – winning revolutions and governing countries are two completely different skill sets. Rare is the politician who manages to do both as George Washington’s aren’t born every day. Now that the euphoria of Euromaidan has worn off, the last month has seen several resignations of post-Euromaidan government leaders including: Tetyana Chornovil as the Head of the Anti-Corruption Bureau, Andriy Parubiy as National Security Chief, and Pavlo Sheremeta as Economics Minister. Others like the Minister of Youth, Family & Sport Dmitry Bulatov, have been linked to financial scandals that Ukrainians became accustomed to under the Yanukovych regime but couldn’t imagine would happen under the Euromaidan government. While everyone appreciates their roles in the success of Euromaidan and acknowledges that they are true patriots, the reality is Ukraine cannot be fixed by one swooping decree or silver bullet. Changes in European government posts are common but it’s discouraging to see Euromaidan leaders quitting after less than six months on the job. The first Orange Revolution government for example, lasted nine months before there were shakeups. The present crisis is a cancer on the country that will not be cured in days and weeks but only through years of difficult chemotherapy and follow up exams. Some of these Euromaidan leaders will reappear in the next parliament and future government posts to act in a different role to help the country. Nonetheless, every resignation of a revolutionary leader – especially during wartime – discourages the Ukrainian public and helps pave the road to “Novorossiya”.