I wrote this last night, then hesitated a bit to post to it with the thought that maybe I was being too one-sided in my frustration. But today my frustration is stronger; and it just got a boost by my reading of this from Roman Kupchinsky at RFE.
So, yesterday's thoughts:
I am back in Riga for a while, so the aftershock of today's bombshell from Ukraine just hit me. Here are my initial thoughts:
To begin with, I do not buy the myth that is kind-of circulating in blogland of Yushchenko's nobiltiy in this case, as though he has nobly been acting as father to all these quarelling, bad children. He, too, did not start things off so well: Did he not create the post that Poroshenko occupied? Did he not create too many redundancies between posts of his presidential administration and the prime minister's government? Is he not thusly responsible himself in some ways for the bickering, and also by not being forceful enough earlier? Did he do anything to reign-in Mr Poroshenko as he overstepped his legitimate sphere of authority (read Kuzio here for suggestions on how Poroshenko has done so)? Yushchenko is taking decisive action far too late to be acting in any saintly way (and that he acted lately is the reason why he has had to act so severely by dismissing the whole lot of them), and for us to be thinking about him in any saintly way. And why fire the whole government and appoint in its place a former Kuchma-era politico when recent accusations of corruption were aimed primarily at members of Yushchenko's own presidential administration (read Kuzio and Kupchinsky again)? And other reasons why Poroshenko smells bad: He defended Zvarych. Oh, but wait, so did Yushchenko. But so did Tymoshenko, too (right now, I am thinking that she was actually playing along with the team on this issue. . but .maybe I am thinking so foolishly, maybe blindly). Hm. Anyway, Poroshenko also took off to negotiate on his own in Moscow, like his buddy Lytvyn did. Hm. And why isn't Gongadze solved? Does it maybe have anything to do with Poroshenko once having had pledged to remain loyal to Kuchma's administration?
Some have suggested that this is all just a coldly calculated election ploy. Some have commented that while Tymoshenko is more popular than Yushchenko, her popularity is supposed to increase now that she can fashion herself as a victim, and this will bode well for the reform government in the spring elections. But what kind of reforms are we talking about, once and for all? Reforms of a neoliberal, laissez-faire, American-styled capitalism kind, or of a more more populist, and to my mind balanced, kind? This is the chore issue. There were two ideologies of reform in the orange government; on the one side were mostly people in Yushchenko's administration, the market guys. Then there was Tymoshenko's populism. Poroshenko is closer to Yushchenko. So I don't at all buy the story that this really was calculated to help strengthen Tymoshenko's position. It is about consolidating a single ideology of reform. And guess whose is probably out of the picture now? My confidence in Yushchenko is the most severely shaken with this. Read Kuzio here for more (same article as other 2xs) .
And one more thing. Yushchenko says he wants them both to come back and work with him, both Tymoshenko and Poroshenko: yeah right! It is clear, at least to my mind, that this is mostly about marginalizing not the person but what she represents: populist-based reform. He is telling Tymoshenko, I think, that we will continue to work together if you give up your populist fantasies (I don't think they are fantasies, but I think that Yushchenko and Poroshenko think that they are) and get on with pure neoliberal reform. I will have to write a more detailed thought on this. But my initial reaction is that this is about ending the bickering by consolidating a government of people who all agree with Yushchenko's, and Poroshenko's, more neoliberal, market-liberalization reform orientation.
It was necessary for Yushchenko to finally take a side on this matter. There are two theories of reform, and both sides were getting in each other's way. Yushchenko now can not pretend to be a populist. He is, once and for all to my mind, purely a free market ideologue, or a market liberal, or just plain liberal in the classic sense of the word.
To my mind, what Ukraine needs right now is not radical capitalism but a more balanced one; it needs Keynesian theories and State assistance of the New Deal type that the Reaganites and Thatcherites and Milton Friedmanites and Thomas Friedmanites and the whole lot of US neocons and the worldwide class of neoliberals detest.