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‘Canada out of touch on Ukraine’, by Scott Taylor

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Esprit de Corps

ON TARGET: Canada out of touch on Ukraine

Scott Taylor
Published April 27, 2014 – 4:43pm
Last Updated April 28, 2014 – 9:59am

A Russian soldier patrols near an army vehicle in a field near the Ukrainian border at Novoshakhtinsk, in Russia’s Rostov region, on Monday. (THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)

As the political drama continues to unfold around the crisis in Ukraine, Canada remains among the most strident voices stirring up the tension.

Wiser heads would argue that without any skin in the game, Canadian politicians can beat their war drums with wild abandon, knowing there will be little in the way of domestic consequences regardless of what develops.

For western European countries, the situation is an entirely different kettle of fish. At present, the European Union relies on Russian imports for approximately 40 per cent of current demand. Any full-scale embargo against Russia would trigger a retaliatory stoppage of oil and natural gas exports that would immediately cripple the manufacturing sector in Germany and France.

While there is no doubt that such actions would bite deeply into the profit margin of Russia’s Gazprom oil and gas company, I believe the impact of lengthy queues at gas pumps and stalled economies across Europe would generate more political fallout in the short term.

Then, of course, there is the question of this crisis developing into an actual shooting war between Russia and the NATO alliance. God forbid that this ever comes to pass, but it is easier to see why those living on the potential battlefield seem far more eager to find a peaceful solution than Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird.

Harper and Baird have made it quite clear that they fully support the interim Ukrainian government in Kyiv, and they have both likened Vladimir Putin’s annexation of Crimea to that of Adolf Hitler’s invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1938.

On March 6, Harper and Baird also took the bizarre measure of expelling nine Russian military officers (who were in Canada on language training) with just 24 hours notice.

Closer to my home, literally, on April 7, Harper and Baird declared Lt.- Col. Yury Bezler, assistant military attache at the Russian Embassy, to be persona non grata. Bezler was not given an explanation for his expulsion, but he was given two weeks to pack up his young family and leave the country.

In the interest of full disclosure, just 36 hours before he was expelled, Bezler and his lovely wife Valentina were dinner guests at my home. At a subsequent farewell party on the eve of his departure, Bezler showed a wisdom beyond his 35 years of age when he stated, “A time of crisis is when dialogue is imperative; it is not a time to be cutting ties.”

Last week, it was Jason Kenney, Canada’s immigration minister, who decided to throw his weight into the fray and join Harper and Baird in their bear-baiting of Russia. In announcing that Canada will send 500 observers to monitor next month’s residential elections in Ukraine, tough guy Kenney said, “I hope that Moscow notices.”

The message Kenney believes he is conveying is that Canada will stand behind “free and fair” elections in Ukraine and that will, of course, frighten the freedom-hating Kremlin.

Adding to the standard propaganda line that Canada is supporting freedom and democracy, Kenney stated: “The government in Moscow continues with the laughable notion that Viktor Yanukovych is the president of Ukraine.”

While it is true that Yanukovych was ousted following violent protests in Kyiv and a subsequent act of the Ukrainian parliament, he is in fact the last elected president.

Yanukovych defeated his rival, Yulia Tymoshenko, in 2010 following two rounds of voting that were monitored by international observers, including 66 Canadians. The advance polls had predicted a victory by Yanukovych despite a drop in popularity in his eastern Ukraine support base.

His eventual success was attributed to more people voting against Tymoshenko rather than voting for Yanukovych. In the five presidential elections held since Ukraine’s independence in 1991, the deep division within the country has seen voters vacillate between pro-western and pro-Russian leaders, always with narrow margins of victory.

Contrary to frightening Putin and the Kremlin with his legion of election observers, Kenney could be in for a shock come election day. Some 8.3 million Ukrainian citizens are not just pro-Russian, they are ethnic Russians, and many of those living in eastern and southern Ukraine see resource-rich Russia as a more solid solution for Ukraine’s collapsed economy than a precarious and reluctant European Union.

Baird declared early on in this crisis that Canada was not a referee but a player in this game. That may be so, but it is clear that Harper, Baird and Kenney don’t have a clue as to the rules of this game, let alone what is at stake.

http://thechronicleherald.ca/opinion/1203584-on-target-canada-out-of-touch-on-ukraine?utm_source=website

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Written by Mika

28. aprila 2014. at 09:24

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Washington DRIVES The World To WAR CIA INTERVENTION in Eastern Ukraine

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http://www.4thmedia.org/2014/04/15/washington-drives-the-world-to-war-cia-intervention-in-eastern-ukraine/

Washington DRIVES The World To WAR CIA INTERVENTION in Eastern Ukraine

The CIA director was sent to Kiev to launch a military suppression of the Russian separatists in the eastern and southern portions of Ukraine, former Russian territories for the most part that were foolishly attached to the Ukraine in the early years of Soviet rule.

Washington’s plan to grab Ukraine overlooked that the Russian and Russian-speaking parts of Ukraine were not likely to go along with their insertion into the EU and NATO while submitting to the persecution of Russian speaking peoples. Washington has lost Crimea, from which Washington intended to eject Russia from its Black Sea naval base. Instead of admitting that its plan for grabbing Ukraine has gone amiss, Washington is unable to admit a mistake and, therefore, is pushing the crisis to more dangerous levels.

If Ukraine dissolves into secession with the former Russian territories reverting to Russia, Washington will be embarrassed that the result of its coup in Kiev was to restore the Russian provinces of Ukraine to Russia. To avoid this embarrassment, Washington is pushing the crisis toward war.

The CIA director instructed Washington’s hand-picked stooge government in Kiev to apply to the United Nations for help in repelling “terrorists” who with alleged Russian help are allegedly attacking Ukraine. In Washington’s vocabulary, self-determination is a sign of Russian interference. As the UN is essentially a Washington-financed organization, Washington will get what it wants.

The Russian government has already made it completely clear some weeks ago that the use of violence against protesters in eastern and southern Ukraine would compel the Russian government to send in the Russian army to protect Russians, just as Russia had to do in South Ossetia when Washington instructed its Georgian puppet ruler to attack Russian peacekeeping troops and Russian residents of South Ossetia.

Washington knows that the Russian government cannot stand aside while one of Washington’s puppet states attacks Russians. Yet, Washington is pushing the crisis to war.

The danger for Russia is that the Russian government will rely on diplomacy, international organizations, international cooperation, and on the common sense and self-interest of German politicians and politicians in other of Washington’s European puppet states.

For Russia this could be a fatal mistake. There is no good will in Washington, only mendacity. Russian delay provides Washington with time to build up forces on Russia’s borders and in the Black Sea and to demonize Russia with propaganda and whip up the US population into a war frenzy. The latter is already occurring.

Kerry has made it clear to Lavrov that Washington is not listening to Russia. As Washington pays well, Washington’s European puppets are also not listening to Russia. Money is more important to European politicians than humanity’s survival.

In my opinion, Washington does not want the Ukraine matters settled in a diplomatic and reasonable way. It might be the case that Russia’s best move is immediately to occupy the Russian territories of Ukraine and re-absorb the territories into Russia from whence they came. This should be done before the US and its NATO puppets are prepared for war.

It is more difficult for Washington to start a war when the objects of the war have already been lost. Russia will be demonized with endless propaganda from Washington whether or not Russia re-absorbs its traditional territories. If Russia allows these territories to be suppressed by Washington, the prestige and authority of the Russian government will collapse. Perhaps that is what Washington is counting on.

If Putin’s government stands aside while Russian Ukraine is suppressed, Putin’s prestige will plummet, and Washington will finish off the Russian government by putting into action its many hundreds of Washington-financed NGOs that the Russian government has so foolishly tolerated. Russia is riven with Washington’s Fifth columns.

In my opinion, the Russian and Chinese governments have made serious strategic mistakes by remaining within the US dollar-based international payments system. The BRICS and any others with a brain should instantly desert the dollar system, which is a mechanism for US imperialism. The countries of the BRICS should immediately create their own separate payments system and their own exclusive communications/Internet system.

Russia and China have stupidly made these strategic mistakes, because reeling from communist failures and oppressions, they naively assumed that Washington was pure, that Washington was committed to its propagandistic self-description as the upholder of law, justice, mercy,and human rights.

In fact, Washington, the “exceptional, indispensable country,” is committed to its hegemony over the world. Russia, China, and Iran are in the way of Washington’s hegemony and are targeted for attack.

The attack on Russia is mounting.

Dr. Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy and associate editor of the Wall Street Journal. He was columnist for Business Week, Scripps Howard News Service, and Creators Syndicate. He has had many university appointments. His internet columns have attracted a worldwide following. Roberts’ latest books are The Failure of Laissez Faire Capitalism and The Failure of Laissez Faire Capitalism and Economic Dissolution of the West and How America Was Lost.

http://www.paulcraigroberts.org/2014/04/14/washington-drives-world-war-paul-craig-roberts/

Written by Mika

24. aprila 2014. at 16:03

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Jews Ordered To Register In Pro-Russian East Ukraine

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This is an infowar more than anything else….

Fools, liars, propagandists, and the echo chamber. “USA Today” is up to much mischief. Its headline “Jews ordered to register in east Ukraine” is merely a false flag op. No other comment necessary. So, everyone cool his or her heels.

Second, “USA Today” headline is patently false: “First deaths in Ukraine; Putin admits Crimea invaded.” Putin admitted no such thing.

Written by Mika

17. aprila 2014. at 16:20

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Obama’s Circle of Bad Advice

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Obama’s Circle of Bad Advice

Posted By Philip Giraldi On April 10, 2014 @ 12:05 am In | 19 Comments

Washington’s unwillingness to use diplomacy to resolve international conflicts has proven remarkably consistent over the past 13 years. Even chalking it up to ineptitude would let the Bush and Obama administrations off the hook for what are apparently more systemic failures. I am referring to an inability to think outside the box, coupled with a kind of policymaking cronyism that automatically limits any ability to craft a careful and proportionate response to developing situations. Ukraine is the latest example of American failure to see what is plainly visible, but one can go through an entire catalog of misconceived policies starting with Bosnia and continuing through Georgia and the interventions in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya, all of which have turned out poorly. If the current pattern is repeated, catastrophe awaits as involvement in Ukraine deepens and the drive to somehow confront Iran gains momentum in Congress and the media.

Part of the problem is psychological. The United States has not experienced war on its own soil in any serious way since 1865, nor have many congressmen or journalists actually served in the military. For them war is an abstraction, something that is inflicted on other people but not on the United States. Unfortunately, that assessment of American invulnerability is increasingly fragile. Russia is one of the few world powers that can actually hit back at the U.S. with nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles, a threat that should not be considered outside the realm of possibility should Moscow be pushed into a corner.

Meanwhile the likely failure to reach an agreement with Iran over its nuclear program will only encourage Tehran to build a weapon, which will in turn likely lead to a profusion of nuclear states in response, including unstable regimes like Saudi Arabia and Egypt. As the number of nuclear weapons in the hands of governments with internal security problems increases, so too does the risk that a stray weapon or weapons will wind up in the hands of genuine terrorists, whose own numbers are also increasing as U.S. policy creates blowback in a number of countries through its poorly thought-out interventions. It is not unthinkable that the devil’s brew of more weapons and more enemies could eventually lead to Condoleezza Rice’s fantasy vision of a mushroom cloud over Washington.

President Barack Obama’s foreign policy has been characterized by stops and starts, perhaps not surprising coming from an intelligent man who nevertheless lacked any real understanding of what goes on in the world outside of academia and the Chicago wards. He has been forced to rely on reliably Democratic cronies and frequently self-styled experts to guide him, an understandable if not particularly successful approach that creates little in the way of healthy internal debate. A recent New York Times op-ed [1] by Michael A. McFaul, until recently Obama’s Ambassador to the Russian Federation, very clearly illustrates the problem.

It is undeniable that McFaul knows a lot [2] about Russia. He is a former professor of political science at Stanford and a fellow at the Hoover Institute. He was a Rhodes Scholar and holds degrees from both Stanford and Oxford in Russian and Slavic studies. He speaks the language and has lived there. After serving on the National Security Council as Special Adviser to the President, he was named Ambassador to the Russian Federation, serving in that post from January 2012 until February of this year.

Appointment to Moscow generally goes to a career diplomat given the complexities of the relationship and the possibility that the wrong choice could have serious consequences. Obama opted to go [3] with someone he was comfortable with instead of State Department professional John Beyrle, who was generally regarded at Foggy Bottom as the best choice for the post, having already served as both Deputy Chief of Mission, the number two position in the embassy, and as acting ambassador. McFaul, unlike Beyrle, is an unrepentant democracy activist. He even wrote a book called Advancing Democracy Abroad: Why We Should and How We Can. When he was appointed ambassador he noted [4] that “the United States can speak out on democracy and Georgia while still seeking cooperation with Moscow in other areas,” setting the stage for confrontation with the Russian government.

McFaul believes that the Cold War never ended satisfactorily because Russia did not become an institutional clone of the United States, a thesis elaborated in his book Russia’s Unfinished Revolution. In his writing McFaul is particularly hard on Vladimir Putin, whom he describes as a reactionary figure seeking to recreate the Soviet Empire, ignoring the fact that the Russian president is very popular [5] among his countrymen if not among some American academics. McFaul describes [3] other scholars who see the Russian leader more favorably than he as “Putin apologists,” while indicting Putin’s government as “Russia’s new autocratic regime.” McFaul’s writings make clear that he believes that U.S.-style democracy, capitalism, and press freedom are universal rights, and that the United States should impose those standards on Russia as a condition of it joining what McFaul refers to as the “international order.”

From the start of his tenure in Moscow, McFaul was sending the Russian government a message. During his first week he met with [6] opposition politicians and groups, even before presenting his credentials at the Foreign Ministry. He was ambassador in October 2012 when the Russian government began to clamp down on foreign government agencies and nongovernment organizations that were active in “democracy promotion” in Russia, noting that many of the groups were little more than pressure groups directed against the freely elected regime in power. In his op-ed McFaul protests against Russian attempts “To continue to spook Russians about American encirclement and internal meddling…” when that is what precisely has been taking place since 1991.

McFaul is a kindred spirit with Obama’s other favorite foreign policy advisers, Susan Rice and Samantha Power. All of them believe that the United States has some civilizing mission to bestow on the rest of the world, and it is all tied up with convincing countries to become democratic. In reality it is little more than a lazy formulation asserting a unique right for America to remake the world in an image of itself, while blatantly ignoring international law and the world opinion.

McFaul’s op-ed is illuminating in that it rests on a number of assumptions derived from the democracy promotion imperative that are at a minimum questionable. He accepts that the United States has license to involve itself in the internal politics of other countries even when their governments object. He also assumes that spreading democracy by whatever means necessary must be a major priority for any American government.

McFaul does not even argue that democracies are less inclined to go to war, which has sometimes been falsely asserted, but instead appears to believe that democracy is a good thing intrinsically. His assumption is, of course, very much dependent on what he means by democracy. Since he is promoting the American brand, it is quite easy to note how U.S.’s democracy is essentially dysfunctional on many major issues like providing accessible health care and balancing the budget. It is also riven by corruption of various kinds from top to bottom. It is hardly a model for the rest of the world and McFaul even admits that its current incarnation does not “inspire,” but he nevertheless argues that it must be imposed on the willing and unwilling alike.

Being an ideologue like McFaul, Rice, Power, and, presumably, Obama makes one choose not to see or recognize certain realities. McFaul writes that “We did not seek this confrontation [with Russia over Ukraine].” He then elaborates, “A revisionist autocratic leader instigated this new confrontation. We did not.” Really? Then the actions undertaken by successive U.S. presidents to deliberately advance NATO into Eastern Europe in spite of pledges not to do so did not occur? Or the $5 billion worth of “investing” or meddling [7] by Ms. Nuland and company in Ukraine, most recently to remove an elected government and replace it with something more to Washington’s taste did not take place? Or the introduction of new missile systems into Eastern Europe was not a provocation? Or the encouragement of the rape of the Russian economy by American and European “entrepreneurs” aided by domestic oligarchs after the fall of the Soviet Union in a rush to create a capitalist economy is a fantasy? I could go on, but it think the point is made that Russia had and has very good reasons to fear an aggressive and frequently out of control United States.

McFaul writes about “Russia’s invasion of Georgia in 2008…,” undoubtedly a bit of a stretch [8] unless one has been spending too much time with John McCain, and he decries Moscow’s propaganda deriding “American imperialism, immoral practices and alleged plans to overthrow the Putin government.” Surely the suggestion of overthrow is too strong as Washington has no such capability, but the United States has made clear its intention to reform Russia by maneuvering [9] “around the Kremlin.” Most governments would demur at being subverted by paid minions of a foreign state, and is attributing imperialism and immorality to Washington really inaccurate?

McFaul indicts Putin because he wishes “…confrontation with the West, no longer feels constrained by international laws and norms, and is unafraid to wield Russian power to revise the international order.” But surely if one plays with the context a bit, those charges are much better applied to Washington than to Moscow. After calling for considerable international pressure on Russia to punish it, McFaul concludes that democracy will triumph in Russia because “democracies have consolidated at a remarkable pace, while autocracies continue to fall.”

If that is true, and there is inevitability to the transition, it is likely something we all can welcome. And if it will happen anyway, it is certainly not worth restarting the Cold War to hasten the process.

Philip Giraldi, a former CIA officer, is executive director of the Council for the National Interest.

http://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/obamas-circle-of-bad-advice/?print=1

Written by Mika

12. aprila 2014. at 12:36

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NATO trains terrorists who destabilize situation in Ukraine – analyst

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NATO trains terrorists who destabilize situation in Ukraine – analyst

Photo: RIA Novosti

Contractors from private security companies are supposed to do what NATO cannot do openly, they train terrorists who destabilize situation in Ukraine, Michel Chossudovsky, Director of the Centre for Research on Globalization told RIA Novosti Tuesday.

"Those organizations (private security companies) will do what NATO cannot do openly. They can train people to be terrorists," Chossudovsky said, adding that in Syria private contractors were training al-Qaeda.

"We are talking about the continuation of US policy of military intervention in Ukraine and a preparatory stage for a massacre in southeastern Ukraine," Igor Korotchenko, editor-in-chief of the National Defense monthly Russian-language magazine said, adding that the deployment of mercenaries from a private company Greystone Ltd. may be financed by Ukrainian oligarchs and organized in coordination with the US State Department.

Michel Chossudovsky told RIA Novosti that mercenaries are normally hired by governments, but options are numerous as they operate covertly and do not identify themselves.

"Private contractors could be hired by NATO, or by Ukrainian government or by an intermediary. Anyone can hire Greystone, they operate covertly, they don’t identify themselves, and make money," Chossudovsky said.

"Considering that Ukraine’s security services show their obvious incompetence, foreign mercenaries are supposed to suppress the protests in the southeastern part of the country," Korotchenko said.

Michel Chossudovsky expects Graystone to recruit Ukrainians for the operation and reminded that the company recruits different nationalities, who are trained by professional military personnel.

"Within the Ukrainian National Guard there are western military advisors, they have senior military people. They are supposed to train protective services, but in fact they train terrorists," Chossudovsky said.

"NATO and the US won’t acknowledge the presence of these special forces. What is happening is an influx of special forces in Ukraine which are there with the purpose to sustain the current government, but also to sustain the state of destabilization," Chossudovsky said stressing that mercenaries would infiltrate with grassroots movements to trigger violence across Ukraine.

Canadian expert also said that NATO advisors are already present in Ukraine and have been brought by Kiev authorities.

"We have reports that there were mercenaries in Eastern Ukraine in early March. Some of these mercenaries are used for sophisticated sniper operations which characterize Euro Maidan," Chossudovsky said, adding that the similar operations have been seen in other countries.

Greystone Ltd. is a private company registered in Barbados that "provides the skilled professionals and program management services necessary to deliver rotary wing, protective security and training solutions."

It used to be a subsidiary of Blackwater private security services provider, and now operates as a separate entity but still has links to it.

The Russian Foreign Ministry has earlier voiced concerns over the buildup of Ukrainian forces in the southeastern part of the country involving some 150 American mercenaries from a private company Greystone Ltd., dressed in the uniform of the Ukrainian special task police unit Sokol. Moscow called this move violation of Ukraine’s legislation.
Read more: http://voiceofrussia.com/news/2014_04_09/NATO-trains-terrorists-who-destabilize-situation-in-Ukraine-analyst-4940/

http://voiceofrussia.com/news/2014_04_09/NATO-trains-terrorists-who-destabilize-situation-in-Ukraine-analyst-4940/

Written by Mika

9. aprila 2014. at 16:02

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Indoctrinating a new generation

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Indoctrinating a new generation

Is there anyone out there who still believes that Barack Obama, when he’s speaking about American foreign policy, is capable of being anything like an honest man? In a March 26 talk in Belgium to “European youth”, the president fed his audience one falsehood, half-truth, blatant omission, or hypocrisy after another. If George W. Bush had made some of these statements, Obama supporters would not hesitate to shake their head, roll their eyes, or smirk. Here’s a sample:

“In defending its actions, Russian leaders have further claimed Kosovo as a precedent – an example they say of the West interfering in the affairs of a smaller country, just as they’re doing now. But NATO only intervened after the people of Kosovo were systematically brutalized and killed for years.”

Most people who follow such things are convinced that the 1999 US/NATO bombing of the Serbian province of Kosovo took place only after the Serbian-forced deportation of ethnic Albanians from Kosovo was well underway; which is to say that the bombing was launched to stop this “ethnic cleansing”. In actuality, the systematic deportations of large numbers of people did not begin until a few days after the bombing began, and was clearly a reaction to it, born of Serbia’s extreme anger and powerlessness over the bombing. This is easily verified by looking at a daily newspaper for the few days before the bombing began the night of March 23/24, 1999, and the few days following. Or simply look at the New York Times of March 26, page 1, which reads:

… with the NATO bombing already begun, a deepening sense of fear took hold in Pristina [the main city of Kosovo] that the Serbs would now vent their rage against ethnic Albanian civilians in retaliation. [emphasis added]

On March 27, we find the first reference to a “forced march” or anything of that nature.

But the propaganda version is already set in marble.

“And Kosovo only left Serbia after a referendum was organized, not outside the boundaries of international law, but in careful cooperation with the United Nations and with Kosovo’s neighbors. None of that even came close to happening in Crimea.”

None of that even came close to happening in Kosovo either. The story is false. The referendum the president speaks of never happened. Did the mainstream media pick up on this or on the previous example? If any reader comes across such I’d appreciate being informed.

Crimea, by the way, did have a referendum. A real one.

“Workers and engineers gave life to the Marshall Plan … As the Iron Curtain fell here in Europe, the iron fist of apartheid was unclenched, and Nelson Mandela emerged upright, proud, from prison to lead a multiracial democracy. Latin American nations rejected dictatorship and built new democracies … “

The president might have mentioned that the main beneficiary of the Marshall Plan was US corporations , that the United States played an indispensable role in Mandela being caught and imprisoned, and that virtually all the Latin American dictatorships owed their very existence to Washington. Instead, the European youth were fed the same party line that their parents were fed, as were all Americans.

“Yes, we believe in democracy – with elections that are free and fair.”

In this talk, the main purpose of which was to lambaste the Russians for their actions concerning Ukraine, there was no mention that the government overthrown in that country with the clear support of the United States had been democratically elected.

“Moreover, Russia has pointed to America’s decision to go into Iraq as an example of Western hypocrisy. … But even in Iraq, America sought to work within the international system. We did not claim or annex Iraq’s territory. We did not grab its resources for our own gain. Instead, we ended our war and left Iraq to its people and a fully sovereign Iraqi state that could make decisions about its own future.”

The US did not get UN Security Council approval for its invasion, the only approval that could legitimize the action. It occupied Iraq from one end of the country to the other for 8 years, forcing the government to privatize the oil industry and accept multinational – largely U.S.-based, oil companies’ – ownership. This endeavor was less than successful because of the violence unleashed by the invasion. The US military finally was forced to leave because the Iraqi government refused to give immunity to American soldiers for their many crimes.

Here is a brief summary of what Barack Obama is attempting to present as America’s moral superiority to the Russians:

The modern, educated, advanced nation of Iraq was reduced to a quasi failed state … the Americans, beginning in 1991, bombed for 12 years, with one dubious excuse or another; then invaded, then occupied, overthrew the government, tortured without inhibition, killed wantonly … the people of that unhappy land lost everything – their homes, their schools, their electricity, their clean water, their environment, their neighborhoods, their mosques, their archaeology, their jobs, their careers, their professionals, their state-run enterprises, their physical health, their mental health, their health care, their welfare state, their women’s rights, their religious tolerance, their safety, their security, their children, their parents, their past, their present, their future, their lives … More than half the population either dead, wounded, traumatized, in prison, internally displaced, or in foreign exile … The air, soil, water, blood, and genes drenched with depleted uranium … the most awful birth defects … unexploded cluster bombs lying in wait for children to pick them up … a river of blood running alongside the Euphrates and Tigris … through a country that may never be put back together again. … “It is a common refrain among war-weary Iraqis that things were better before the U.S.-led invasion in 2003,” reported the Washington Post. (May 5, 2007)

How can all these mistakes, such arrogance, hypocrisy and absurdity find their way into a single international speech by the president of the United States? Is the White House budget not sufficient to hire a decent fact checker? Someone with an intellect and a social conscience? Or does the desire to score propaganda points trump everything else? Is this another symptom of the Banana-Republicization of America?

Long live the Cold War

In 1933 US President Franklin D. Roosevelt recognized the Soviet Union after some 15 years of severed relations following the Bolshevik Revolution. On a day in December of that year, a train was passing through Poland carrying the first American diplomats dispatched to Moscow. Amongst their number was a 29 year-old Foreign Service Officer, later to become famous as a diplomat and scholar, George Kennan. Though he was already deemed a government expert on Russia, the train provided Kennan’s first actual exposure to the Soviet Union. As he listened to his group’s escort, Russian Foreign Minister Maxim Litvinov, reminisce about growing up in a village the train was passing close by, and his dreams of becoming a librarian, the Princeton-educated Kennan was astonished: “We suddenly realized, or at least I did, that these people we were dealing with were human beings like ourselves, that they had been born somewhere, that they had their childhood ambitions as we had. It seemed for a brief moment we could break through and embrace these people.”

It hasn’t happened yet.

One would think that the absence in Russia of communism, of socialism, of the basic threat or challenge to the capitalist system, would be sufficient to write finis to the 70-year Cold War mentality. But the United States is virtually as hostile to 21st-century Russia as it was to 20th-century Soviet Union, surrounding Moscow with military bases, missile sites, and NATO members. Why should that be? Ideology is no longer a factor. But power remains one, specifically America’s perpetual lust for world hegemony. Russia is the only nation that (a) is a military powerhouse, and (b) doesn’t believe that the United States has a god-given-American-exceptionalism right to rule the world, and says so. By these criteria, China might qualify as a poor second. But there are no others.

Washington pretends that it doesn’t understand why Moscow should be upset by Western military encroachment, but it has no such problem when roles are reversed. Secretary of State John Kerry recently stated that Russian troops poised near eastern Ukraine are “creating a climate of fear and intimidation in Ukraine” and raising questions about Russia’s next moves and its commitment to diplomacy.

NATO – ever in need of finding a raison d’être – has now issued a declaration of [cold] war, which reads in part:

“NATO foreign ministers on Tuesday [April 1, 2014] reaffirmed their commitment to enhance the Alliance’s collective defence, agreed to further support Ukraine and to suspend NATO’s practical cooperation with Russia. ‘NATO’s greatest responsibility is to protect and defend our territory and our people. And make no mistake, this is what we will do,’ NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said. … Ministers directed Allied military authorities to develop additional measures to strengthen collective defence and deterrence against any threat of aggression against the Alliance, Mr. Fogh Rasmussen said. ‘We will make sure we have updated military plans, enhanced exercises and appropriate deployments,’ he said. NATO has already reinforced its presence on the eastern border of the Alliance, including surveillance patrols over Poland and Romania and increased numbers of fighter aircraft allocated to the NATO air policing mission in the Baltic States. … NATO Foreign Ministers also agreed to suspend all of NATO’s practical cooperation with Russia.”

Does anyone recall what NATO said in 2003 when the United States bombed and invaded Iraq with “shock and awe”, compared to the Russians now not firing a single known shot at anyone? And neither Russia nor Ukraine is even a member of NATO. Does NATO have a word to say about the right-wing coup in Ukraine, openly supported by the United States, overthrowing the elected government? Did the hypocrisy get any worse during the Cold War? Imagine that NATO had not been created in 1949. Imagine that it has never existed. What reason could one give today for its creation? Other than to provide a multi-national cover for Washington’s interventions.

One of the main differences between now and the Cold War period is that Americans at home are (not yet) persecuted or prosecuted for supporting Russia or things Russian.

But don’t worry, folks, there won’t be a big US-Russian war. For the same reason there wasn’t one during the Cold War. The United States doesn’t pick on any country which can defend itself.

Notes

  1. William Blum, America’s Deadliest Export – Democracy: The Truth About US Foreign Policy and Everything Else, p.22-5
  2. Walter Isaacson & Evan Thomas, The Wise Men (1986), p.158
  3. Washington Post, March 31, 2014
  4. NATO takes measures to reinforce collective defence, agrees on support for Ukraine”, NATO website, April 1, 2014

http://williamblum.org/aer/read/127

Written by Mika

7. aprila 2014. at 16:00

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Russia and the United States Negotiate the Future of Ukraine

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http://www.stratfor.com/weekly/russia-and-united-states-negotiate-future-ukraine

Russia and the United States Negotiate the Future of Ukraine

By George Friedman

During the Cold War, U.S. secretaries of state and Soviet foreign ministers routinely negotiated the outcome of crises and the fate of countries. It has been a long time since such talks have occurred, but last week a feeling of deja vu overcame me. Americans and Russians negotiated over everyone’s head to find a way to defuse the crisis in Ukraine and, in the course of that, shape its fate.

During the talks, U.S. President Barack Obama made it clear that Washington has no intention of expanding NATO into either Ukraine or Georgia. The Russians have stated that they have no intention of any further military operations in Ukraine. Conversations between Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry have been extensive and ongoing. For different reasons, neither side wants the crisis to continue, and each has a different read on the situation.

The Russian Perspective

The Russians are convinced that the uprising in Kiev was fomented by Western intelligence services supporting nongovernmental organizations and that without this, the demonstrations would have died out and the government would have survived. This is not a new narrative on the Russians’ part. They also claimed that the Orange Revolution had the same roots. The West denies this. What is important is that the Russians believe this. That means that they believe that Western intelligence has the ability to destabilize Ukraine and potentially other countries in the Russian sphere of influence, or even Russia itself. This makes the Russians wary of U.S. power.

The Russians also are not convinced that they have to do anything. Apart from their theory on Western intelligence, they know that the Ukrainians are fractious and that mounting an uprising is very different than governing. The Russians have raised the price of natural gas by 80 percent for Ukraine, and the International Monetary Fund’s bailout of Ukrainian sovereign debt carries with it substantial social and economic pain. As this pain sets in this summer, and the romantic recollection of the uprising fades, the Russians expect a backlash against the West and also will use their own influence, overt and covert, to shape the Ukrainian government. Seizing eastern Ukraine would cut against this strategy. The Russians want the pro-Russian regions voting in Ukrainian elections, sending a strong opposition to Kiev. Slicing off all or part of eastern Ukraine would be irrational.

Other options for the Russians are not inviting. There has been talk of action in Moldova from Transdniestria. But while it is possible for Russian forces there to act in Moldova, supplies for the region run through Ukraine. In the event of a conflict, the Russians must assume that the Ukrainians would deny access. The Russians could possibly force their way in, but then a measured action in Moldova would result in an invasion of Ukraine — and put the Russians back where they started.

Action in the Baltics is possible; the Kremlin could encourage Russian minorities to go into the streets. But the Baltics are in NATO, and the response would be unpredictable. The Russians want to hold their sphere of influence in Ukraine without breaking commercial and political ties with Europe, particularly with Germany. Russian troops moving into the Baltics would challenge Russia’s relationship with Europe.

Negotiations to relieve the crisis make sense for the Russians because of the risks involved in potential actions and because they think they can recover their influence in Ukraine after the economic crunch hits and they begin doling out cash to ease the pain.

The U.S. Perspective

The United States sees the Russians as having two levers. Militarily, the Russians are stronger than the Americans in their region. The United States had no practical military options in Crimea, just as they had none in Georgia in 2008. The United States would take months to build up forces in the event of a major conflict in Eurasia. Preparation for Desert Storm took six months, and the invasion of Iraq in 2003 took similar preparation. With such a time frame the Russians would have achieved their aims and the only option the Americans would have would be an impossible one: mounting an invasion of Russian-held territory. The Americans do not want the Russians to exercise military options, because it would reveal the U.S. inability to mount a timely response. It would also reveal weaknesses in NATO.

The Americans also do not want to test the Germans since they don’t know which way Berlin will move. In a sense, the Germans began the crisis by confronting the Ukrainians’ refusal to proceed with an EU process and by supporting one of the leaders of the uprising both before and after the protests. But since then, the Germans have fallen increasingly quiet and the person they supported, Vitali Klitschko, has dropped out of the race for the Ukrainian presidency. The Germans have pulled back.

The Germans do not want a little Cold War to break out. Constant conflict to their east would exacerbate the European Union’s instability and could force Germany into more assertive actions that it really does not want to undertake. Berlin is very busy trying to stabilize the European Union and hold together Southern and Central Europe in the face of massive economic dislocation and the emergence of an increasingly visible radical right. It does not need a duel with Russia. The Germans also receive a third of their energy from Russia. This is of mutual benefit, but the Germans are not certain that Russia will see the mutual benefits during a crisis. It is a risk the Germans cannot afford to take.

If Germany is cautious, however the passions in the region flow, the Central Europeans must be cautious as well. Poland cannot simply disregard Germany, for example. The United States might create bilateral relations in the region, as I suggested would happen in due course, but for the moment, the Americans are not ready to act at all, let alone in a region where two powers — Russia and Germany — might oppose American action.

Washington, like Moscow, has limited options. Even assuming the Russian claim about U.S. influence via nongovernmental organizations is true, they have played that card and it will be difficult to play again as austerity takes hold. Therefore, the latest events are logical. The Russians have turned to the Americans to discuss easing the crisis, asking for the creation of a federation in Ukraine, and there have been suggestions of monitors being deployed as well.

The Significance of the Negotiations

What is most interesting in this is that with the next act being played out, the Russians and Americans have reached out to each other. The Russians have talked to the Europeans, of course, but as discussions reach the stage of defining the future and options, Lavrov calls Kerry and Kerry answers the phone.

This tells us something important on how the world works. I have laid out the weakness of both countries, but even in the face of this weakness, the Russians know that they cannot extract themselves from the crisis without American cooperation, and the United States understands that it will need to deal with the Russians and cannot simply impose an outcome as it sometimes did in the region in the 1990s.

Part of this might be habits learned in the Cold War. But it is more than that. If the Russians want to reach a solution to the Ukrainian problem that protects their national interests without forcing them beyond a level of risk they consider acceptable, the only country they can talk to is the United States. There is no single figure in Europe who speaks for the European states on a matter of this importance. The British speak for the British, the French for the French, the Germans for the Germans and the Poles for the Poles. In negotiating with the Europeans, you must first allow the Europeans to negotiate among themselves. After negotiations, individual countries — or perhaps the European Union — might, for example, send monitors. But Europe is an abstraction when it comes to power politics.

The Russians called the Americans because they understood that whatever the weakness of the United States at this moment and in this place, the potential power of the United States is substantially greater than theirs. On a matter of such significance to the Russians, failing to deal with the United States would be dangerous, and dealing with them first would be the best path to solving the problem.

A U.S.-Russian agreement on defusing the crisis likely would bring the Germans and the rest into the deal. Germany wants a solution that does not disrupt relations with Russia and does not strain relations with Central Europe. The Germans need good relations with the Central Europeans in the context of the European Union. The Americans want good relations, but have little dependence on Central Europe at the moment. Thus, the Americans potentially can give more than the Europeans, even if the Europeans could have organized themselves to negotiate.

Finally, the United States has global interests that the Russians can affect. Iran is the most obvious one. Thus, the Russians can link issues in Ukraine to issues in Iran to extract a better deal with the United States. A negotiation with the United States has a minimal economic component and maximum political and military components. There are places where the United States wants Russian help on these sorts of issues. They can deal.

Divergent U.S. Concerns

Most important, the United States is not clear on what it wants from the Russians. In part it wants to create a constitutional democracy in Ukraine. The Russians actually do not object to that so long as Ukraine does not join NATO or the European Union, but the Russians are also aware that building a constitutional democracy in Ukraine is a vast and possibly futile undertaking. They know that the government is built on dangerously shifting economic and social sands. There are parts of the U.S. government that are concerned with Russia emerging as a regional hegemon, and there are parts of the U.S. government still obsessed with the Middle East that see the Russians as challengers in the region, while others see them as potential partners.

As sometimes happens in the United States, there is complex ideological and institutional diversity. The State Department and Defense Department rarely see anything the same way, and different offices of each have competing views, and then there is Congress. That makes the United States in some ways as difficult to deal with as the Europeans. But it also opens opportunities for manipulation in the course of the negotiation.

Still, in cases of the highest national significance, whatever the diversity in views, in the end the president or some other dominant figure can speak authoritatively. In this case it appears to be Kerry who, buffeted by the divergent views on human rights and power politics, can still speak for the only power that can enter into an agreement and create the coalition in Europe and in Kiev to accept the agreement.

Russia suffered a massive reversal after former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich fell. It acted not so much to reverse the defeat as to shape perceptions of its power. Moscow’s power is real but insufficient to directly reverse events by occupying Kiev. It will need to use Ukraine’s economic weakness, political fragmentation and time to try to reassert its position. In order to do this, it needs a negotiated solution that it hopes will be superseded by events. To have that solution, Moscow needs a significant negotiating partner. The United States is the only one available. And for all its complexity and oddities, if it can be persuaded to act, it alone can provide the stable platform that Russia now needs.

The United States is not ready to concede that it has entered a period during which competition with Russia will be a defining element in its foreign policy. Its internal logic is not focused on Russia, nor are internal bureaucratic interests aligned. There is an argument to be made that it is not in the U.S. interest to end the Ukrainian crisis, that allowing Russia to go deeper into the Ukrainian morass will sap its strength and abort the emerging competition before it really starts. But the United States operates by its own process, and it is not yet ready to think in terms of weakening Russia, and given the United States’ relative isolation, postponement is not a bad idea.

Therefore, the negotiations show promise. But more important, the Russians have shown us the way the world still works. When something must get done, the number to call is still in the United States.

Written by Mika

2. aprila 2014. at 23:10

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