The One Thing That's Certain Is That the People of Ukraine Want to Govern Themselves

That’s all our revolution was about, too. We’ve lost sight of that, and largely abandoned the concept over here.

You may have noticed that the shebeen has been quiet on the subject of what’s been happening in what we used to call the “Eastern Bloc.” Frankly, I’m inclined to leave the analysis to people far more qualified than I am to discuss it. Most of what I know about the modern relationship between Ukraine and Russia I learned from Timothy Snyder’s masterful Bloodlands, a book that I repeatedly had to put down while reading it. I also picked up quite a bit at the hearings into Impeachment I, when the former president* tried to get the government of Ukraine to join him in ratfcking the 2020 presidential election. Among other things, I learned that referring to it as “the Ukraine” was incorrect, at least according to Ukrainians, who, let’s face it, have the only votes that matter on the subject.

What I do know is this: the people in Ukraine want to govern themselves. Sometimes, they don’t do it to our satisfaction but, clearly, they want the responsibility for themselves. Twice since 2004 they’ve risen up against the Russian government’s attempts to install its preferred leadership and in support of Ukrainian self-determination. In 2004, the people launched the Orange Revolution against a Russian-backed candidate. Ten years later, the Euromaidan uprising drove out the same puppet, who had mounted a comeback over the previous decade with help from Moscow. This prompted Russia to grab the Crimea and to make constant low-intensity war elsewhere in Ukraine. What I do know is the people of Ukraine want to govern themselves.


Back in 2004, while the Orange Revolution was underway, when my son was fencing in college, he knew a talented Ukrainian fencer from another school. One day, while I was at one of his meets, I asked him where this other fellow was. My son told me the Ukrainian had gone home—to vote, in a re-run election that the Orange Revolution had forced. I remember being quite moved by that.

The people of Ukraine want to govern themselves. That’s all I’m really certain about. That’s all our revolution was about, too. We’ve lost sight of that, and largely abandoned the concept over here. No wonder our response to this most American principle is so muddled elsewhere.

FromEsquire US

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About The Author
Charles P. Pierce
Charles P. Pierce, lead for Esquire Politics US, has been a working journalist since 1976. He is the author of four books, most recently 'Idiot America.' He lives near Boston with his wife but no longer his three children.
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