In late summer 2016, the U.S. presidential election was at its height, and Republican candidate Donald J. Trump was swaying from scandal - for bragging about sexually assaulting women, for his treatment of the family of a slain U.S. soldier, the Khans, and for encouraging Russia to hack into his rival Hillary Clinton’s emails. Not many thought he had a good chance of winning the presidency.
He was down in the polls, he seemed to be stumbling from gaffe to gaffe, (Politico published an article in September 2016 listing 37 of them), and a slew of senior figures in the Republican Party, from former presidents to former and current Republican elected officials, were announcing their opposition to his election as president.
But Timothy Snyder, best-selling author and professor of history Yale University, recalled in an interview with German newspaper Der Tagesspiegel on June 28 that a Ukrainian journalist, who had covered a Trump campaign visit to Ohio, wrote to him days later with the simple, and correct prediction: “He will win.”
The Ukrainian journalist was right because Ukrainians had experienced “fake news” and post-fact populism for years, Synder said.
“Americans and Europeans still believe that history is being made in the West and moving eastwards, but it has been the other way around for 10 years,” he told Der Tagesspiegel. “The kleptocracy, the manipulation of the media and the cyber war came from the east to the west.”
Snyder, who wins the Order of Yaroslav the Wise this week, was spot on. Ukraine has been a testing ground and an objective for competing powers for centuries, and has seen all of their tricks.
Speaking in the Bundestag, the German parliament, on June 20 on Germany’s historical responsibility towards Ukraine, Snyder made the point that Adolf Hitler’s Operation Barbarossa foresaw the German occupation of only 10 percent of Soviet Russia. In contrast, 100 percent of Soviet Ukraine was to be occupied, and the country was the key prize of the Third Reich’s eastward colonial expansion. Ukraine’s land has also been coveted by the Kremlin for centuries (there can be no Russian Empire without Ukraine) and Josef Stalin used Ukraine as a proving ground for his genocidal social engineering, the Holodomor, in which he starved to death millions of Ukranians.
The ills afflicting Ukraine and the West have a common source -- the Kremlin.
For the health of our societies and democracies, we will have to not only develop resistance, but defeat the enemy.
Order of Yaroslav The Wise