Democracy on the march
A wonderful article on Opinion Journal by Claudia Rosett discusses the march of democracy throughout the world in the last decades as exemplified by the recent Orange Revolution in Ukraine. She quotes Oleg Rybachuk, Yushchenko's Chief of Staff, who talked about the recent past and the plans for the future of Ukraine's democracy movement as well as the deeper meaning that this has for Ukrainians and their sense of self-respect:
"Fluent in English, and sporting the same kind of bright orange scarf that has become Mr. Yushchenko's trademark, Mr. Rybachuk had a great deal to say about his party's plans. He stressed such gritty basics as monetary stability, unhooking Ukraine from Big Brother in Moscow, and joining the European Union. He described the inspiration Ukraine's democratic opposition has drawn from Poland--once a Soviet vassal state, now a member of the EU.
"All these matters are important, and if Mr. Yushchenko becomes president, there will no doubt be plenty of devil in the details. But what came through most clearly in Mr. Rybachuk's conversation, the point to which he returned again and again, was his pride that the people of Ukraine have stood up for their freedom. Not so long ago, there were few believers that this could happen. Ukraine achieved independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, only to be written off in short order as a basket case. The country has been run for the past 10 years by a former Soviet party boss, President Leonid Kuchma; sunk in corruption and lamed by generations of subservience to Moscow. When Mr. Yushchenko set out upon his campaign for the presidency, says Mr. Rybachuk, there were people "laughing in my face, saying we are idiotic, or romantic, or naive."
"As it turned out, the voters of Ukraine thought otherwise, and when Mr. Kuchma tried to steal the election, they spoke up. With their flags and vigils and calls for fellowship from the democratic nations of the world, they have been insisting on their right to choose freely and fairly who will govern their country. "This is real independence day," Mr. Rybachuk told me, "because we have kids who will never be slaves again."
"In such statements is a world of promise for the people of nations where the moment of democratic truth has not yet arrived. Ukraine is telegraphing around the globe a reminder that freedom brings with it the great gift of dignity. That is precisely why it is so stirring to watch such revolutions. They speak to the best part of the human spirit, because we are witnessing people, often against big odds and at great risk, recovering their self-respect."
As I've said in these pages before, President Bush's visionary policy of promoting freedom and democracy in the 21st Century as a means of ensuring enduring peace and prosperity for the future of the world is nothing short of historic. It will be looked back on by future generations with the same respect and awe with which we regard the bold policies of both Ronald Reagan and Sir Winston Churchill.
Read the entire article at: http://www.opinionjournal.com/forms/printThis.html?id=110006028