MOSCOW -- In general, a medieval spirit reigns, with its internecine wars and in which the only great strategy, if one exists at all, is to indulge the passion for blood. This desire to repay the enemy a hundredfold -- even if he is yesterday's neighbor or friend -- is often mixed with religious fanaticism or blind nationalism.
Does Putin want Europe and the United States to feel threatened by a possibility of a larger war with Russia -- in order to push them into continuing talks with him? If the talks fail, Putin might want the West to believe Russia will have no choice but to expand militarily. Or does Putin really care about the negotiations, not the war? By pushing the rebels to take more territory in eastern Ukraine, the Kremlin is trying to create new facts on the ground that Putin can use as leverage in the impending talks.
VLADIVOSTOK, Russia -- Under the American global system, the principal actors are "monitors" -- various civil society groups and organizations, whose mission is to hold governments accountable. These watchdogs can even initiate the overthrow of democratically elected leaders deemed to have abused their power. They are often supported -- financially and politically -- by the U.S. and allied governments. This is also the case with global "democratic" movements, most of which are actually "pro-systemic" in the sense that their activities are fully compatible with the interests of American world empire. Truly anti-systemic voices, such as ecofeminism, Zapatismo, pan-Islamism and Marxism, "have been marginalized, contained, or worse."
The overwhelming majority of eastern Ukrainians currently trapped in brutal winter conditions between separatist thugs and the Ukrainian army aren't Ku Klux Klan members, or fat cat bigots who delight in oppressing their ethnic Ukrainian neighbors. They are coal miners and steelworkers and children and pensioners. They are people who've watched their lives be shelled into oblivion by both Kiev's army and paramilitary brigades and Putin's warlords, and who are now isolated in what Amnesty and the UN describe as an unfolding humanitarian crisis. Painting them as a bunch of backward anti-Western hicks is neither progressive, nor tolerant, nor liberal, nor accurate.
Real convergence does not happen only between East and West, but first and foremost inside each country. And it resides in the social contract between the state and its citizens. But Ukrainians must also have no illusion that this is a project lasting at least a generation. For a generation, from independence to the EU presidency, is exactly the time it took Latvia.
In the life of any country a situation can arise that requires a clear choice between positive change or stagnation and decline. At such times, only the collective will of the people can generate sufficient will to begin the process of change. And yes, sometimes the awakening of national consciousness begins with struggling over a mountain of dirty and snowy slush on the side of the road.
The impetus for NATO enlargement did not come from a triumphalist Washington. On the contrary, the U.S. initially resisted even the breakup of the Soviet Union. Since 1990, 12 European states have asked to join NATO. They all chose for themselves to belong to this cooperative military alliance. NATO membership was a key part of "locking in" their turbulent democratic reforms.