Don't Follow Leaders

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If you're one of those people who spent the entire Orange Revolution trying to remember which guy was Viktor Yushchenko and which one was Viktor Yanukovych, that isn't going to get any easier. The former foes have formed a partnership, with Yanukovych (he was the Old Guard) becoming prime minister while Yushchenko (he was the rebel) stays on as president. Among the alliance's aims: to avoid a bigger split between the country's west and east, and to keep the country's bid to join NATO on track.

Veterans of the Orange Revolution express their disgust:

Some, including Yushchenko's former ally Yulia Tymoshenko, who heads the second largest party in parliament, say they will boycott the Rada [Ukraine's parliament] and call their supporters into the streets to protest.

"We are putting up our tents in the streets again, and we are going to take this to the people," says Yevgeny Zolotaryov, reached by phone. He's the leader of Pora, a small party allied with Ms. Tymoshenko. "This is farewell to Yushchenko, who failed to be a leader to the nation and, frankly, betrayed his voters. It is the end of the Orange Revolution."

Given the way Yushchenko has governed, I can't say I'm shocked. But I'm glad to see the tents going up again. Here's hoping they can recover the momentum of '04.

As I wrote two years ago, when the Viktors were still deadly enemies,

the very experience of overthrowing a government this way–of building independent institutions, diffusing power through civil society, and learning first-hand that it's possible to say no to authority–unleashes something that's hard for any politician to control. Those tent cities aren't merely a demand for freedom. They're acts of freedom themselves: of men and women voluntarily assembled both to defy the old order and to build something new.

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  1. what if you confuse both of them with Victor Kiam?

  2. “If you’re one of those people who spent the entire Orange Revolution trying to remember which guy was Viktor Yushchenko and which one was Viktor Yanukovych, that isn’t going to get any easier.”

    It got a whole bunch easier after the severe poison-induced acne hit Yuschenko.

  3. It’s a shame Victor Borge is no longer with us. He’d turn Ukrainians’ frowns upside-down in a jiffy.

  4. Well, you know what they say: If you can’t poison ’em to death, join ’em.

  5. I cant even keep Yushchenko and Lukashenko straight.

  6. By all means, the Ukraine MUST join NATO! Because if they don’t join NATO, they can’t send troops to Afghanistan.

    Next up: Washington will weary of their fiasco in Iraq and try to put that off on NATO. And then Plan Colombia will become a NATO operation. The disastrous invasion of North Korea? NATO. Iran? NATO.

    NATO once had the important role of deterring the Soviet Union from doing anything stupid. In the post-Soviet world, they have a new mission: to run along behind the Americans and clean up after they’ve done something monumentally stupid. Come and join, quickly, quickly…they’re running out of troops.

  7. More importantly — watch your parking meters!

  8. James,

    Just an FYI, in the two significant conflicts that NATO has beein involved in in the last decade – Yugoslavia and Afghanistan – the organization and its members were involved in the planning and execution from the very beginning. Our NATO allies (or “Old Europe” to the drooling idiots) invoked their collective security responsibilities on our behalf two months before we, cooperatively, invaded Afghanistan.

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