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Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2004 at 12:55 PM
Bush's cronies would know election fraud, wouldn't they? However, unlike John Kerry, in Ukraine the anti-Bush forces haven't rolled over and played dead - they're defending their country from a hostile takeover.
Does this sound familiar: Republicans calling for activists to overwhelm the vote count and overturn the results? At a press conference the morning after the election, US Senator Richard Lugar (R-Indiana), Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chair, with long-standing ties to the CIA, and Bush's official envoy for the Ukrainian elections, called on Ukrainians to take action against their government regarding the election results.(1)
Why? Quitely possibly the most important election this year might not have been in the United States, the European Union, nor even Venezuela, but in Ukraine this past Sunday, 21 November 2004. The outcome of this election will have a direct impact on the global balance of power between the United States, the European Union, and the Russian Federation for many years to come.
After a decade of "shock therapy" at the hands of US and European advisers designed to cripple the economies of the former Soviet republics, the ascendance of Vladimir Putin as Russia's president has caused a sea-change turn around, with the reestablishment of governmental authority over the oligarchs and their mafia, economic growth after the most catastrophic depression in the world, and the reemergence of Russia as a strategic power. Those former Soviet republics with heads of state that came from the old political-industrial mangerial class, such as Belarus, Ukraine, Armenia, Azerbaijan, and most of Central Asia, are gravitating back toward a reviving Russia after following devasting International Monetary Fund dictates while stranded on their own during the Yeltsin era.
Following the successful coup in Georgia in 2003 orchestrated by the US via George Soros's "Open Society Institute," every one of the ex-Soviet leaders who had been working with the Western powers realized that they could be next, and hence rapidly turned back toward rebuilding ties with Russia to protect themselves and their countries from Western takeover.
One of the top goals of the US and European governments in the region is to stop this trend by keeping apart the largest of these republics, Ukraine, severely damaging attempts at rebuilding economic, political, and military ties. Keeping apart the Ukraine, known as the "breadbasket" of the former Soviet Union with nearly 50 million people, would be akin to trying to rebuild the United States without the industrial heartland of the Midwest.
Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma, a former missile industry manager, began by continuing his predecessor's pro-Western approach, appointing American-approved choices for prime ministers who privatized most industries at firesale prices and caused average incomes to fall to levels even below the average in Africa, largely because there was no alternative during the "Washington Consensus" of the 1990s: the US and Europe together dictated economic austerity and political obedience to the rest of the world. This is what Bush has undermined and Kerry wanted to bring back, which is why Putin publicly stated that a Bush victory would be better for Russia. Obviously, four more years of Bush spells doom for many in Haiti, Iraq, and within the US (the foreign policy implications of Bush for the rest of the world will be the subject of a future column).
When Russia's turn around under Putin started to become clear in 2001 and Ukraine's disaster became too deep to continue along the previous path, President Kuchma dismissed the architect of these policies, Prime Minister Viktor Yushenko, and appointed Viktor Yanukovich in his place. Yanukovich, hailing from the industrial belt of eastern Ukraine, recognized that Ukraine's economy was still deeply tied with Russia's and set out to revitalize its industries. Fueled by Russian investment and the restoration of favorable oil and gas pricing by Russia, Ukraine's economy finally began to turn around again, with actual wage and pension increases for the first time since the end of the Soviet Union.
With Kuchma's term coming to a close, the 2004 presidential election became a showdown between the former and current prime ministers, Yushenko and Yanukovich, with the US and the EU backing the former and Russia backing the latter. Heavy external interference, similar to what occurred in Venezuela during the recent recall election, brought in similar groups: National Endowment for Democracy, International Republican Institute, National Democratic Institute, Konrad Adenauer Foundation ("Christian Democrat") and Friedrich Ebert Foundation ("Socialist") of Germany, European Peoples Party (the conservative Christian Democrats), all to mobilize Catholic Ukrainian cultural "nationalists" and the youth for Yushenko against Yanukovich, Ukrainian economic nationalists, and Russia. George Soros's Open Society Institute literally flew in experienced saboteurs (Otpor and Kmara) from his successful post-election coups against Yugoslavia and Georgia to lay the same groundwork in Ukraine.
During the first round of elections on 31 October 2004, Yanukovich and Yushenko each received 39% of the vote, both sides claimed victory in the runoffs on Sunday, 21 November 2004, and both sides claimed the other side engaged in fraud. Most likely, both did: while as Prime Minister Yanukovich could count on his supporters in government to try to do everything in their power to maximize their number of votes, Yushenko had the full logistical support of European intelligence agencies and political operatives to inflate their totals as well, such as having individuals vote multiple times using false passports and identity documents.(2) The US and EU funded several polls that claimed implausibly massive leads for Yushenko, just as they did for the Venezuelan recall, and are now attempting to use these as part of their claim that Yushenko should have won.
So if both sides engaged in fraud, who should be the legitimate president? This question strikes at the heart of a very deep ideological issue that most progressives in Western nations have yet to reconcile: do elections legitimate governments? Put another way, is it legitimate for a nation attempting to prevent or liberate itself from Western domination to use non-electoral means to come to or keep power? And the flip side of the coin: does the fact that, despite massive fraud, Bush appears to have received a majority of the popular vote within the United States legitimate his government?
For many, whether considering a liberation movement in Africa, Southeast Asia, or Latin America, if they do not engage in what the Western corporate media call "free and fair elections" then these movements must be condemned. This would imply that the Viet Minh should not have fought against the US army but should have participated in the "elections" of South Vietnam and pushed for "reforms" that would have made those fraudulent elections more "free and fair." Should the Iraqis do the same?
This is a self-serving argument from armchair activists and agents of imperialism, used as a tool by the US and Europe to attack these countries and to prevent solidarity with them. If a government is forced to hold open elections, as Nicaragua and Yugoslavia did, Western countries impose massive external interference, funding, and sabotage to force them out. That is why some independent governments not under Western control, such as Vietnam, Cuba, Sudan, or Syria, organize their governments without Western-style elections. Others, such as Haiti, Zimbabwe, Belarus, and the Central Asian republics, have held elections that the US and European governments and their human rights agents relentlessly attack as "undemocratic" because the outcomes were governments that pursued a large degree of autonomy from Western control.
And it is no coincidence that the only international entity Bush officially invited to observe the US elections, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), gave Bush's election the seal of approval while leveling severe charges against Yanukovich but not Yushenko.
Does that mean elections should be ignored? No. Does that mean that elections should not be free from fraud? No. Elections can represent the will of an informed and empowered electorate. But anyone who believes that an election modeled after what we currently have in the United States would be "free and fair," where corporate money and media reign supreme, alternative choices are shut out through "winner take all" ballots, and partisan officials have unchecked control over the voting process, is either blind or lying. Clearly, for a leading Republican official from a state neighboring Ohio's widespread fraud to virtually call for a coup against another government over voter fraud is truly Orwellian. And the corporate media's one-sided portrayal of election irregularities halfway around the world while engaging in a complete blackout of election fraud at home demonstrates their propaganda bias.
Challenge the dogma - think independently.
(1) Source of Senator Lugar's statements - Interfax News Agency:
(2) Lawsuits documenting election fraud:
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