WORLD AFFAIRS.  It was all quite predictable. How could the gangster regime of an avaricious sultan not provoke an uprising by a population tired of being systematically and relentlessly plundered and abused? You don’t have to be an expert on revolutions and rebellions to know that, at some point, all decent people will say to their oppressors: enough is enough.

The only question now is: Is sporadic violence enough for the regime? Disappearances, beatings, and even killings have become more common. Will the regime now go into full occupation mode and employ mass violence against the protestors in Kyiv and elsewhere?

Hired thugs and riot police (in case you’re wondering what the difference between the two is, the latter wear helmets) are being bused into Kyiv. The troops confronting the protesters appear to have developed increasingly itchy fingers, firing rubber bullets and explosive devices into the crowds. Push appears to be coming to shove.

The risks associated with a violent crackdown are extremely high, and the sultan knows that. After all, if there’s one thing Viktor Yanukovych understands, it’s violence. He grew up in a violent environment; he employed violence as a teenage gangster; he was both the object and subject of violence in prison; he uses well-placed punches to keep his minions in line. Indeed, considering his abysmal record as president of Ukraine—which essentially ended when he willfully, consciously, and voluntarily abandoned that position by betraying the people’s trust and opting for occupation—violence may be the only thing the man understands.

If all goes according to plan, the riot police will clean out the Maidans in Kyiv and other cities quickly and efficiently. Heads will be cracked, lives will be lost, but let the stupid liberals in the West worry about that. Putin will shower the sultan with accolades for having resisted Western imperialism. The Regionnaire thugs will congratulate one another on a job well done. As the people return to servitude, the occupation regime will be able to get on with its raison d’être: plunder. All will be well again.

But what if things do not go according to plan? After all, Yanukovych must know that the only person who is perfectly predictable and reliable when it comes to violence is himself. What if the riot police don’t act as quickly and efficiently as he would? What if they clean out some Maidans, but not others? What if all the heads that need to be cracked and all the lives that need to be lost aren’t? And what if the people don’t return to servitude? What if they continue to resist—some openly, some covertly, some peacefully, and some violently?

Yanukovych knows one thing from the gangster world that molded him as a young man: that violence works only when it works completely. He must therefore know that a violent crackdown has to be total and totally successful. Anything short of the complete elimination of a rival gang is unacceptable. Anything short of the complete elimination of the Euro Revolution is equally unacceptable.

Are the militia, internal troops, and riot police as dependable as Yanukovych himself? Will they blink when ordered to initiate a bloodbath? Will they shoot women? Will they stand fast in the face of determined opposition and Molotov cocktails? Will they be able to look their neighbors, their wives, their children, their friends in the eye? That’s the problem with being the coercive handmaidens of a non-foreign occupation regime: you have to both kill people and continue to live among the people you’re killing. There have been reports suggesting that some units have engaged the democrats in negotiations about immunity. If so, Yanukovych must be cursing the fact that there’s only one of him.

No less worrisome is the possibility of continued resistance. Ukraine is a big country and at least two-thirds is populated by people who detest the occupation regime. Imagine that the crackdown in Kyiv succeeds. Is Yanukovych ready for the emergence of small-scale, hit-and-run actions in the provinces? If destroying the physically compact Maidan in Kyiv is a challenge, just imagine how much more difficult it will be to put an end to resistance in hundreds or thousands of cities, towns, and villages? The sultan does have an enormous security apparatus, but will local militia men be willing to kill their friends and neighbors? And what will local Regionnaires do when they and their property become the targets of local resistance movements?

Yanukovych has no good options. If he does nothing, the Euro Revolution continues. If he cracks down, the Euro Resistance continues. Either way, Ukraine becomes ungovernable and his occupation regime becomes even more unstable. A smart politician would negotiate in good faith. A violence-prone sultan will do what comes naturally to him. Yanukovych thinks he’s tightening the noose around the opposition. In actuality, it’s his head that’s in the rope.

One more thing, just in case some European politicians are reading this blog. If you want to forestall a bloodbath or a civil war in a neighboring country, you easily can. The Yanukovych criminals all have their banking accounts and real-estate assets in your countries. Freeze them. Just say no to Regionnaire violence. Unless, of course, it’s easier to say yes to Regionnaire money.

Alexander J. Motyl's blog

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