From Julian Hayda, on John McCain

From Julian Hayda, on John McCain August 25, 2018

John McCain in a circle – by Elishatbrown, 2 Nov 2015 (CC BY-SA 4.0 [https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/deed.en]), via Wikimedia Commons
These are the only words that I will share about John McCain, from my brother Julian Hayda, shared with his permission. Without asking him to write them, I waited for him to come through, as we have had many conversations about this topic, and he did so, masterfully:

It’s really interesting to see how many people are calling John McCain a “true friend of Ukraine.”

I was there when he showed up on the Maidan unannounced. From the moment he showed up on the stage, the organic, grassroots nature of the revolution was compromised.

Ukraine’s adversaries still point to that moment as proof that the revolution expressed a U.S. foreign policy interest (or even staged by U.S. intelligence as an anti-Russian regional power move), rather than the genuine will of the Ukrainian people for dignity, human rights, and sovereignty.

So I see two visions—one where McCain’s “friendship” put U.S. power before the agency of Ukrainian citizens (and Ukrainian-Americans having no problem co-opting the democratic process of Ukrainian citizens) by so publicly deflecting from the actual demands of Ukrainian protesters, and the other, where defending U.S. power means actively diminishing the power of Russia (which, lets be honest, Putin is doing a fine job on his own) and therefore swooping in and “helping” Ukrainians transform their frustration with corruption into an anti-Russian caricature.

In both of these versions of of McCain’s supposed friendship, the sovereignty of Ukraine rests solely on the fragile support of the U.S. in Cold War-esque bipolar power politics. It’s as if Ukraine can’t just be free on its own.


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  • Ancalagon

    Without US support these “revolutions” would be squashed, for better or for worse. Fortunately, Syrian President Assad managed to defeat McCain’s US-armed terrorists, a.k.a. “moderate rebels.”

    Really, its doubtful if these things would happen at all or in any significant way without US meddling.

  • Andrew Sorokowski

    The wording is a bit opaque, but regardless of what “visions” one sees, the reality is that Putin’s government will use any “fact” available — or that can be concocted — to “prove” its thesis that Ukrainian independence is an American plot — just as Russia claimed that, in 1918, it was an Austrian plot, and in the 1940s, a Nazi plot. So McCain’s visit did not change that, and in its absence, other “facts” would have served (e.g., the millions of dollars in NGO funding). Russia needs this narrative because it cannot brook the notion that Ukrainians actually want to be independent (i.e., that they have agency). With regard to John McCain, I think it is more appropriate to express appreciation for his support; that it was sincere, I cannot prove, but in terms of honor and courage he was head and shoulders above most other politicians.