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Sunday, May 19
The Indiana Daily Student

opinion

?What Ukraine is really about

Ukraine is the epitome of Western misunderstanding.

I know I have written a couple times before on Ukraine, as many others have, but I feel it needs ?revisiting.

I think this for two ?reasons.

The first is simply because the situation isn’t getting better. It may even be getting worse if you’re pessimistic. The second reason is that there still seems to be mass confusion as to why things aren’t getting better.

I am, of course, not an expert. But as someone who has been to Russia and who did not have the privilege or did have the privilege, depending on how you look at it, of not growing up in the West (though I am American by birth) I feel I can at least deliver a thoughtful critique.

I can assuredly say I believe this conflict is not about Putin’s ambition or aggression, mis-stepping by the Western European community or the corruption of the Ukrainian civil society and it certainly isn’t about a group of rebels — it is about the way in which the East and the West view the world.

The West has placed itself in the center.

When you place yourself in the center — the center of what we can call history or development — you are asking for trouble. The West, and particularly the United States, has a long tradition of ?conflating our progress.

What do I mean?

I mean the West has agreed that the “end-all be-all” goal of civilization is democracy, unabated capitalism and an assortment of privileges, some valuable and others not, that we label collectively as liberty or freedom.

But this has been our path — not the path of much of the world, and undoubtedly not the path of Russia.

This error in our thinking, not that what we value is wrong but that others value it as well, makes us believe that we can find common ground with Russia’s Putin. That at the end of the day we all want the same things. But we don’t want, nor do we see, the same things.

We see the potential for Ukraine to be a strong democracy in the region, built on Western capitalism and dressed in a flurry of new freedoms for its populace, but Russia sees the loss of an ideological ally — the loss of a perspective they ardently support and is essential to their way of life.

I am not in support of much of what Russia does, nor do I admire Putin.

And I wholeheartedly believe in what the West represents, but I also believe something else. I believe this is an opinion, a singular ?perspective.

I believe in the right of the rest of world to make their own choices — for them to decide their own progress. I am not talking about relativism here but rather true ?freedom. 

I do not know the solution to the Ukrainian problem. I do not even know if there is one.

But I do know that we have no hope of finding it if we fail to understand who and what we are dealing with.

The world has a great deal in common, but I would argue not near as much as we think.

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