What we are seeing in Ukraine today, unfortunately, is nothing new.
This is what happened after all successful rebellions. Their most radical participants are never satisfied with the result. They always suspect that the more moderate parts of society are betraying national interests. They are never able to assess realistically the potential of their own country and its role in the system of international relations. They are always ready to kill their own in order to frighten the outsiders.
Eamon de Valera incited the Irish Republicans into a war for a united Ireland. Thousands of Irish people would die in this bloody civil war. Northern Ireland would remain under British control. Eventually, Eamon de Valera would reconsider his radical views and become a new leader of Ireland. However, his supporters and opponents, who had died on the battlefields where Irish fought Irish, would never have a chance to find that out.
Menachem Begin tried to storm the Israeli Knesset building to prevent the new state from receiving reparations from the Federal Republic of Germany. Israel literally had nowhere to get the money, but Begin believed that the money could not be taken from Germans. The square in front of the Knesset turned into a battlefield. Begin’s supporters — and there were thousands of them — attacked the police, and several deputies were injured. The army was called in to protect the parliament. Israel then, unlike Ireland, avoided civil war. After 25 years, Begin became prime minister and negotiated peace with Egypt — a country that several years earlier had threatened to destroy the Jewish state. The die-hard radical returned the Sinai Peninsula to Egypt.
Things are always easier for the radical politicians than for their supporters. For the politician, radicalism is a career. For his supporters, it is a faith. And each supporter that is killed becomes a stepping stone to power for the radical politician. But what is most important is to make sure that the ambitions and populism of some and the naïve faith of others do not bring about the irreparable — death, war, and the collapse of the state.