When we began this venture two years ago, our goal was to promote human freedom in those areas devastated by Russian communism. We felt that by advancing free markets, promoting the restoration of civil society, and encouraging closer ties with the European Union (and by extension, the rest of the West), the habits that give rise to human freedom would become a commonplace. We felt that Ukraine was readiest to take that last step of the former Soviet Republics not yet part of the EU; we believed, moreover, that the European Union, flawed a vessel as it is, would be the best place for a post-Soviet dream of democracy and human liberty to take root.
One week after the events in Ukraine accelerated out of control, we no longer have complete confidence in this. Where the EU could have had a unified Ukraine for the pricetag of $15 billion a few short months ago, today it appears likely to purchase a shattered and endangered nation for a pricetag the floor of which is $35 billion, the ceiling of which is not yet quantifiable. A great deal of scorn is being heaped on the United States for this, but ultimately, Ukraine’s current predicament is a function of the complete incompetence of the European Union over the last many months, an incompetence that shows no signs of abating soon.
Yet after much thought, despite our initial decision to close down this project, we have instead decided to renew our efforts. There are still stories to be told, dangers to be faced, and opportunities to be had. While all eyes are on Ukraine as we write this, there are other glimmers of hope in the former Soviet Union: Azerbaijan, Moldova, even (decreasingly) Georgia, all have a chance to break loose to the West. (Ukraine’s fate is uncertain for now.) Where that light is faltering — Armenia, Belarus, almost every country ending in -stan — we cannot give up the fight so easily. In time, their autocrats and kleptocrats will die and enter the realm of legend, and when they do, we must and will be there to cheer on their weary and resigned peoples.
Some personnel changes are forthcoming in the near future as old friends take leaves or leave us behind, and new ones join us. But today is a grim day, a day where the sun is hidden by the clouds; but we know another day is coming, as so we push on, determined to see that next sunrise and the light that we believe will come with it.
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