Letters to the Editor
Anders Aslund, in his article appearing in last week's issue, "What the United States Should do in Ukraine," simplifies the matter of Ukraine with misguided assertions. His "two clear cut choices between democracy and dictatorship, as well as between Western and Eastern geopolitical orientation" are particularly flawed.
He says nothing about the possibility of having a Ukrainian government exist that's somewhere between democracy and dictatorship. In the democracy department, Russia is ahead of Ukraine. Therefore, Russia plays a constructive role in this sphere.
As for geostrategic positioning, Mr. Aslund overlooks the fact that Russia has sought to become a part of the West and that, contrary to the spin of many in the American foreign policy establishment, it's some backward-thinking, non-Russian elements (notably in the U.S.) who seek to keep Russia separate.
Ukraine has three influential views comprised of some favoring reunification with Russia, others opposed to that and those who are not sure or take a neutral approach.
It's extremely shortsighted for an analyst like Mr. Aslund to overlook the very strong historical, cultural and economic ties that bind much of Ukraine with Russia.
Mr. Aslund noted Ukraine's recent economic growth. However, he overlooks the even more impressive Russian economic growth that directly influences the Ukrainian economy. Namely, the number of Russian-owned businesses in Ukraine, Kiev's dependence on significantly discounted Russian energy and the number of Ukrainian citizens working in Russia while maintaining residency in Ukraine.
The West would be much better off breaking away from its anti-Russian, "divide-and-conquer" enthusiasts who seek to pressure Russia through encouraging unfriendly ties between Moscow and its near abroad.
Malverne Park, New York
In his letter responding to my recent article "Gunboat Democracy," William E. Jackson Jr. writes that my "analogies" are weak since I failed to come to grips with the fact that Latin America is not the Middle East. Contrary to what Jackson alleges, I never even intimated that past success in Grenada and Panama will ensure a similar outcome in Iraq. I wish it did. My point, rather, was that the commonly held view (especially among some of the fiercest critics of U.S. motives in Iraq) that the United States has never promoted democracy through force is factually incorrect. I think Mr. Jackson would agree that any worthwhile evaluation of U.S. objectives in Iraq must first rest on a sound empirical understanding of past American interventions.
Davidson, North Carolina