Sunday, November 28, 2004

The Blue State-Yellow State Divide
You think America is divided? These are the election results from Ukraine -- the blue represents Putin's puppet, Yanukovych, who allegedly had the election results fixed in his favor. There are oodles of ethnic Russians located in Eastern Ukraine, which looks to its neighbor for economic and cultural succor. Kiev, the capital, is located in the yellow slab of Ukraine, which went overwhelmingly for Yuschenko, the opposition leader, who has also promised to pull troops out of Iraq. I don't know if you can see the percentages for both candidates in this map, but if not, check it out at DailyKos. Only Yuschenko came even remotely close to winning an Oblast (state) in his opponent's territory.

This is a recipe for civil war if I've ever seen one. There are rumors bouncing around "the internets" that Russian troops have been seen in Kiev and elsewhere. The parliament has declared the results of the election invalid, and more ominously, Eastern governors have stated that if Yuschenko is installed, they will hold referenda on secession. Here in Philadelphia, Christine and I saw some members of the local Ukrainian population demonstrating at Independence Hall, holding Ukrainian flags and signs which read "Putin: Hands off Ukraine!" and performing some kind of national dance.

The Bush Administration, shockingly, has come out on the right side of this dispute. There seems to be a fairly clear international consensus that something is rotten with the results of the vote, and the fairest thing would be simply to hold a new election. Apparently even the Russians have consented to such an outcome.

And even though I'm certain that Yuschenko was the real winner, and that his election would be a victory for the forces of democracy, probably the worst thing that could happen would be for him to be declared the winner without a new vote. It would almost certainly trigger a series of calamaties that could result in violence and secession. And no matter how divided the country, secession is almost never a good idea. Breaking up a divided state usually just creates an international problem out of a domestic one (see India-Pakistan, 1947). Furthermore, no matter how "pure" each territory is supposed to be, there will be millions trapped in the "wrong" state, fearing persecution, and such situations tend to lead to further bloodshed. And violence is just about the last thing anyone wants.

I hope.


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