Archive for January 4th, 2014


Ukrainian opposition – Is it about quality leadership or quality followers?

January 4, 2014

Recently I seem to have written about the matter of framing – or reframing – issues and questions quite frequently.  Perhaps due to the fact that there seems to be no direction and no leadership from anybody over anything relating to Ukraine either internally or from “the West”.

Yesterday’s entry is but one (badly written) example, where I suggested an alternative route based upon declared Ukrainian domestic policy, to have the effect of sanctions without the diplomatically and politically prickly issue of actually imposing sanctions.  Indeed framed as assistance in the cause.

The golden rule to framing is to be first to frame the issue robustly to suit your position.

The subsequent rule, when reacting, is to reframe an uncomfortable issue swiftly, equally as robustly, and with a good deal of velocity (and noise) where appropriate, in an effort to decimate or significantly weaken any previous framing.

Possibly the most recent and obvious example of this is Syria.  The situation has turned from “Assad must go”, to “Assad must stay”.  The issue been politically and diplomatically moved on in the media eye from horrendous crimes against humanity, to that of chemical weapons removal – despite hideous acts having remained constant.   And stay Assad now must, for only he knows where all the chemical weapons are, and only he still controls access to them.  In dealing with him over this issue, all previous statements withdrawing recognition of his legitimacy are lost or severely weakened.

Thus an issue not only reframed, but reframed around only a small part of what was a much larger picture.  Deft and capable work by those who sought to reframe the issue – poor and weak work by those who originally framed it.  Either way an on-going disaster for the Syrian people.

And so, having written so much over the quality – or not – of the opposition leadership and its attraction – or not – to the Ukrainian constituency, I realise that I have only looked at this matter through one lens – a leadership lens.

It is perhaps worthy of some time to reframe this issue too when looking at leadership.

Perhaps it is not the quality of leadership that will ultimately prove the decisive factor for the current opposition if they return to power, but that of the quality of the followers.

By followers I am not referring to the voting constituency in this instance.  I am referring to the political and bureaucratic class.  The back room/boiler room staff.  The state institutions.

Only one of the three opposition leaders will become president and lead the nation.  Are the other two prepared to follow, even if given the positions of Prime Minister and Speaker?  Of their followers, are they prepared to follow somebody who is not of their party once power changes hands?  Of the president’s own party, how many are prepared to play by his rules once in power?

In short, no matter how good or bad the next opposition president may be – whenever that comes to pass – perhaps the most critical question is does he have a quality following that will adhere to any lofty goals that may be set – and in turn they will replicate those goals to set a collective example to the constituency that elected them, and beyond, to those that didn’t?

Batkivshchyna is still full of the same snakes it had when last in power.  UDAR may be a new party with a politically clean leader, but its ranks are filled with old school political snakes too.  Svoboda is not short of hissing serpents either.  When push comes to shove, they are all ideologically different and none are trusting of each other.

It will take an adept Indian snake charmer to lead and control such a snake pit of (initially at least) friendly reptiles – before considering the actions of any unfriendly opposition forces.

Do any of the opposition leaders currently posses this ability?  The answer is “no”.

The question therefore may be one not so much of stellar leadership ability, but very much one of the quality of the followers for the next opposition president.


When given power once more, will the opposition feed upon itself, just as it did last time?

An ominous Ouroboros-esque cyclical take on the opposition question?  Time will tell, but the abilities of any new president are very likely to be outweighed by the quality of the followers.

%d bloggers like this: