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Unfinished Business in Europe
Commentary

To make his case, [Bush] has a powerful historical experience to draw upon: the end of the Cold War. Regime change in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union fundamentally enhanced American national security. If Iraq possessed Russia's nuclear arsenal today, the United States would be in grave danger. Two decades ago we feared this same arsenal in the hands of the Kremlin. Today we do not. The reason we do not is that the regime in Russia has become more democratic and market-oriented and therefore also more Western- oriented.

Second, democratization on the periphery of Europe has stalled. A dictator who praises Stalin and Hitler runs Belarus. President Vladimir Putin has weakened democratic institutions and grossly violated the human rights of his own citizens in Chechnya in his attempt to build "managed democracy" in Russia. In Ukraine, President Leonid Kuchma aspires to create the same level of state control over the democratic process as Putin has achieved in Russia to ensure a smooth -- that is, Kuchma-friendly -- transition of power when his term ends in 2004. In contrast to Russia, Ukraine has a vibrant democratic opposition, whose leader, Viktor Yushchenko, is likely to win a free and fair presidential election. This vote in 2004 will be free and fair, however, only if the West is watching. Only in Moldova has authoritarian creep been avoided, but that's because of the weakness of the state, hardly a condition conducive to long-term democratic consolidation.

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