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Ukraine’s Unintended Consequences

NAIROBI – Now that Russia has occupied the Crimea Peninsula, the blame game has begun. US President Barack Obama has allowed yet another “red line” to be crossed, critics say. And everywhere there is loose talk of a “new Cold War” and the “price” to be paid by the Russian aggressors. But, in this fraught environment, we would do well to recall two historical precedents.

Twenty-five years ago, this month, Hungarian Prime Minister Miklos Nemeth traveled to Moscow to seek Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev’s blessing for a radical experiment. Nemeth, barely 40, had been appointed by the ruling Hungarian Socialist Workers’ Party only four months earlier. He was seen as a naïve young technocrat, charged with reforming the ailing Hungarian economy. He was expected to fail. Then he and his “reforms” could be blamed for the country’s troubles.