Deadline Now: U.S. Representative Marcy Kaptur
Friday, April 18, 2014 at 8:30 p.m.
Marcy Kaptur (D-OH 9th District) is the co-chair of the Congressional Ukrainian Caucus. The United States Congresswoman joins host Jack Lessenberry this week to discuss the latest situations in Ukraine.
Here are Jack Lessenberry's Final Thoughts for this edition of "Deadline Now:"
Years ago, when the Soviet Union still dominated all of Eastern Europe, I made several trips as a reporter to those countries.
One day in the spring of 1985, a Polish student in Warsaw told me that nations go through different historical periods. "Right now, Poland is having a bad five hundred years," he said sarcastically.
He could have said the same about Ukraine, and perhaps even more so. Ukraine has a vast legacy of suffering, dating back to the days of Czarist oppression, when Congresswoman Kaptur's grandparents fled the country and ended up in Toledo.
They had a good sense of timing. Ukraine was badly torn by the First World War, and the Russian Revolutions that followed.
Ukraine – or the Ukraine, as we were taught to call it then – ended up as one of the republics of the Soviet Union, and it was anything but autonomous. A Ukrainian independence movement was brutally suppressed in the 1920s. Not long afterwards, Stalin starved to death as many as ten million people during the Holodomor, the intentional Ukrainian holocaust. Next, the entire country was devastated – and millions more died, during the Second World War.
When it was over, years of harsh Soviet oppression followed. In 1986, Ukraine suffered the nuclear catastrophe at Chernobyl.
But less than seven years after my conversation with that Polish student, the Soviet Union had vanished, and Ukraine was, for the first time in modern history, a free and independent state.
But it's fair to say that Ukraine hasn't fulfilled the dreams many had back in the glorious days of 1991. The nation has struggled with poverty, unemployment and technological backwardness. Ukraine has elected leaders who were terribly corrupt.
Now, Ukraine – and what we used to call the New World Order – are being newly threatened by a resurgent Russia, whose leader at times seems to be acting like a new imperialist power.
It would be easy to say that these are countries far away of whose affairs we really know nothing, and that don't concern us.
However, that would be entirely wrong. We are one world today, now more than ever, and we ignore that at our peril. That isn't to say we should be thinking about getting involved in a new war, or Cold War. But we need to know how to help the world avoid one.