RealClearPolitics has an excellent link to a solid New York Times piece on how Ukraine successfully avoided bloodshed and overturned a corrupt election. Generals within the Ukrainian security service (SBU, the successor to the former KGB) overtly and covertly thwarted the government's attempts to certify a fraudulent election.
Generals in the SBU:
- Distanced themselves from the government, stating that they did not support their position.
- Sent security teams of specialists to protect the Orange revolution leader, Mr. Yushchenko, and give guidance to the protesters.
- Released "illegal" taped conversations of the government's supported party discussing rigging the election when returns were not going their way.
- When the government deployed troops to try to break up the protesters, the SBU sent surveillance teams to monitor the government troops and warn them they would be tried for "illegal" acts against the people, and
- Sent armed security agents to defend the people.
It takes courageous individuals to build a democracy, especially out of the rubble of a former totalitarian state. General Smeshko, head of the SBU, is quoted as saying to heads of Ukrainian security forces, "Today we can save our faces or our epaulets, or we can try to save our country".
The Times article gives a good inside account of people working on the ground to stop a bloody retribution against the people.
Among the protesters' tents, an S.B.U. colonel who had spent the week as a liaison to the demonstration organizers alerted the organizers that troops were on their way.
His next mission was to meet the troops as they drew near, he said, to warn their officers that a crackdown without written orders was illegal. He said he also planned to warn them that the S.B.U. had surveillance units watching Kiev, and all actions would be videotaped for use as evidence later.
The fear, he said, was intense. Some intelligence officers thought of China's crushing of the pro-democracy protesters in 1989 in Beijing. Others thought of the Romanian revolution in 1989 when, after troops fired on demonstrators, the people fought back, eventually capturing and killing President Nicolae Ceausescu and his wife.
Democracy can be fragile. Ukrainians should be proud that the integrity of its citizenry is matched by the humanity and wisdom of those who control the powers of the state.
I hope and pray, for their sake and ours, that the Iraqis show the same focus and strength of character their neighbors to the north have.