Thursday, February 20, 2014

(IIII) Updtated Delayed Posting of the Public Diplomacy Press and Blog Review, Given the Ukraine Crisis -Update

Dear Readers,

Your compiler of the PDPBR has been immersed in the news from Ukraine in the past few tragic days in that  now-for-existing country, hence his inability to produce the PDPBR in a timely fashion.

Personal note: I had the privilege of serving as a U.S. diplomat in Kyiv, 93-95, and helping to open an "America House" there (subsequently closed for lack for USG funding; no info on, so far as I can tell, on "America House Kyiv"), on the internet; please correct me if I'm wrong.

I think that much "policy" (after 93-95) for that tormented European space, granted in the privileged position of a U.S. diplomat -- is well-intentioned, but somewhat naive and parochial.

I especially remember my visits to Odessa, a cosmopolitan city (despite its superficial Soviet political puritanism) when I observed that it really was (as  I perhaps superficially understood it to be) intended to be, by the German princess Catherine the Great, a model of 1ate-18th  support of (granted tragially implemended , Stalin-styke,' "enlightened"" aggrandizement).t

The remarkable oh-so-I'm not Soviet Black Sea city of  Odessa, in its irony and subtlety (which I experienced when I was there -- and please don't ask me about its corruption) still remains a "European"  (Eurocentric city  -- ok, despite what you may think of Catherine or a "non-Russia" German princess who, true to "European 'norms',  arguably murdered her husband, Peter III.

There have been for years enormous social/political/ethnic fault-lines in "Ukrainian" society that go beyond explanatory (and granted all-important) categories such as the need for democracy (American-Euro style) and human rights as defined by well-off countries (which Ukraine is not).

Such categories are much favored by some USA journalists whose non-linguistic/cultural exposure to the outside world is limited, or who kept all excited find that toilet papers should be flushed down the toilet, as they reported from Sohi.

But as an anyone who lived in the USSR/Russia (or at least, not in the-outside-from the capitals (Moscow /St. P)  knows, you don't flush toilet paper down the toilet. Your put your shit-sheet in a  receptable, so as not to screw up (as some American ecologists would say, destroy "the environment"
 to go  down the .

As much as I admire the people who live in Ukraine, that important part of the world -- a link between East and West -- I have strong doubts, based on, granted, my limited in-the field-experience (again 93-95), about the viability of a "democratic" Ukrainian nation-state, as originally (and contradictorialy) geographically configured by the USSR (let's face it, that's what it was) and controlled by the current regimes that failed to provide the opportunity for its suffering and hard-working population to be prosperous and global citizens in our 21st century.

"Ukraine" is an all-too-neglected part of Europe (except in times of crisis) whose population is admirable for not only the artistic geniuses it produced (think Shevchenko and Gogol' -- and don't forget Jack Palance!) -- but also for the tough, resilient, ability of persons living there in great hardship, undefined (especially in the realm of unifying national ideas) space to, bluntly put, survive.

Put simply,i\n all-American terms ("I could have been a contender"): The admirable people of Ukraine, can take a harder punch than many people on our planet, including the USA.. I base this on my granted limited Foreign Service experience.

No I won't suggest Sylveser Stalone aew ubs as "Amreican hero to blog,, Mr. Masochist my excellence, should be model of  "national narrative" of persons living in the "Ukrainian" space to survive.  That' s for persons in to decide,

I witnessed that memorable but troubling ability to survive -- despite the unpardonable anti-Semitism among its not-influential right-wing groups there (not to speak of WWII) -- in Kiev in the early 90s when evangelists from the USA tried to display, not far from the Maidan, the strength of their beliefs. (I recall this, I hope adequately, from my failing memory.).

"Punch me in the stomach if you don't believe me and Jesus," said the American evangelist.

The all-male totally macho, Ukrainian (with whom I actually somewhat sympathized), smiling --  I doubted whether he worked for the Russian secret police -- punched the evangelist so far,  so deep in his stomach that he -- the all-American Evangelist -- was on the floor in minutes, struggling.

No, the Evangelist did not utter, "Jesus ... Jesus ... please help me." He knew his opponent was had \won,

No wonder World Vitali Klitschko -- I am mentioning him  --- is popular in Ukraine. Or, don't mess with Jack Palance.

Well, OK ... is it not a miracle for surviving Ukrainians (given horrendous Ukrainian human losses  in recent history) to having lived through the horrors of 20th-century totalitarianism -- which we non-Ukrainian Americans, thanks to our "soft"democracy, experienced from a safe distance, if we were aware about such horrors at all.

See also, en passant, an 2005 piece, suggesting Ukraine as a state/nation it is a very fragile geographic expression, even if  it were temporarily kept together under the most well-meaning "American/Euro" "democratic" principles.

May I suggest that policy-makers from all countries/interested parties concerned about the current Ukrainian crisis take this above comment -- by no means original -- about the fragility of the Ukrainian nation-state in mind, as they deal with a very complicated foreign-affairs problem of major importance to the world.

For the sake, at the very least, of the admirable, long-suffering people living today's Ukrainian space.

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