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Lessons from Belarus

Oct 19, 2020

As the people in Belarus continue to pour out into the streets to protest for the results of the election to be honored they are putting their lives in danger as the tension ratchets up.

President Lukashenko is fighting to retain control of the government which has afforded him autonomy with regard to the finances, the security systems, and the economic levers that constrain all parameters of life.  For him to acknowledge his challenger Svetlana Tikhanovskaya had won the majority of votes would mean that all of the corrupt operational controls would be exposed to both the domestic and international media. And quite possibly place him at risk for prosecution. 

Lukashenko's desperation is on display as he dispatches the military.  Soldiers have imprisoned housewives, young men & women, and even grandmothers.  Every Belarusian is considered a threat to the the man who is often referred to as "Europe's last dictator".

The support of Putin is multifaceted and not without risk.  But Belarus is on the border of Russia.  Belarus shares borders with both Poland and Ukraine.  And Lukashenko remains of value to Putin as a bulwark against further incursion from the west. Lastly, pipelines to the west run directly through Belarus which guarantees revenues to Russia at a time when the price of oil is a 1/3 of what it was just a decade prior. 

The power apparatus is decidedly against the Belarusian people.  All the levers of power are turned against their demands. And yet, they fight for their democratic rights. They fight for their will to be reflected in their elected officials.  And they fight for the future of their country.  The grandmothers who have bravely stood between armed soldiers and protestors have claimed their grandchildren as their reason. 

But for the world to see, what is on display is the courage of a people who are fighting for democratic principles.  It is a fight that should encourage the west at a time when apathy for democracy threatens to tear nations apart. 

Democracy is far from an easy means of governing. To bring about a coordination between the will of the people and the federal machinery, with the military and the judiciary, is a system that will always be on the precipice of failure.  Any success in a democracy requires constant maintenance, which involves the Fourth Estate, to ensure that the tendency for corruption is exposed. The tensions between the organs of government and the media result in a constant review which leads to an unsettling political climate. When taken to the extreme, unsettling becomes unstable.  However, when under the leadership of good men and women who seek to uphold the center, democracy is able to provide both governance and freedom for a nation. 

Even so, democracy will always be an imperfect endeavor to support the will, rights, and dignity of the people. And yet, the Belarusian's give witness to the world that fighting for their rights is as important to them in 2020 as it was to the Revolutionaries in 1775-1783 who fought to extract their lives from  British rule. 

As one of the world's great leaders stated during a time when nations were reconstructing the physical and political structures that were bombarded during the Second Great War,

‘Many forms of Government have been tried, and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed it has been said that democracy is the worst form of Government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.…’

Winston S Churchill, 11 November 1947

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