American democracy and the Ukraine

Daniel Lazare

A portrait of Nazi collaborator Stepan Bandera hanging over the entrance to Kiev city hall. A portrait of Nazi collaborator Stepan Bandera hanging over the entrance to Kiev city hall.

George Orwell observed not long after World War II that people once believed that totalitarian states enjoyed an unbeatable edge over liberal democracies.  Germany was strong and powerful under a single ruler whereas Britain was torn by dissent and debate.  Hence, the mighty Nazi war machine should have triumphed over the weak and divided Allies.  But it didn’t.  Divisive as it might be, debate turned out to have certain advantages.  After all, Orwell observed:

The immediate cause of the German defeat was the unheard-of folly of attacking the USSR while Britain was still undefeated and America was manifestly getting ready to fight.  Mistakes of this magnitude can only be made, or at any rate they are most likely to be made, in countries where public opinion has no power.  So long as the common man…

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