Tightening the U.S. Grip on Western Europe: Washington’s Iron Curtain in Ukraine
NATO leaders are currently acting out a deliberate charade in Europe, designed to reconstruct an Iron Curtain between Russia and the West.
With astonishing unanimity, NATO leaders feign surprise at events they planned months in advance. Events that they deliberately triggered are being misrepresented as sudden, astonishing, unjustified “Russian aggression”. The United States and the European Union undertook an aggressive provocation in Ukraine that they knew would force Russia to react defensively, one way or another.
They could not be sure exactly how Russian president Vladimir Putin would react when he saw that the United States was manipulating political conflict in Ukraine to install a pro-Western government intent on joining NATO. This was not a mere matter of a “sphere of influence” in Russia’s “near abroad”, but a matter of life and death to the Russian Navy, as well as a grave national security threat on Russia’s border.
A trap was thereby set for Putin. He was damned if he did, and damned if he didn’t. He could underreact, and betray Russia’s basic national interests, allowing NATO to advance its hostile forces to an ideal attack position.
Or he could overreact, by sending Russian forces to invade Ukraine. The West was ready for this, prepared to scream that Putin was “the new Hitler”, poised to overrun poor, helpless Europe, which could only be saved (again) by the generous Americans.
In reality, the Russian defensive move was a very reasonable middle course. Thanks to the fact that the overwhelming majority of Crimeans felt Russian, having been Russian citizens until Khrushchev frivolously bestowed the territory on Ukraine in 1954, a peaceful democratic solution was found. Crimeans voted for their return to Russia in a referendum which was perfectly legal according to international law, although in violation of the Ukrainian constitution, which was by then in tatters having just been violated by the overthrow of the country’s duly elected president, Victor Yanukovych, facilitated by violent militias. The change of status of Crimea was achieved without bloodshed, by the ballot box.
Nevertheless, the cries of indignation from the West were every bit as hysterically hostile as if Putin had overreacted and subjected Ukraine to a U.S.-style bombing campaign, or invaded the country outright – which they may have expected him to do.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry led the chorus of self-righteous indignation, accusing Russia of the sort of thing his own government is in the habit of doing. “You just don’t invade another country on phony pretext in order to assert your interests. This is an act of aggression that is completely trumped up in terms of its pretext”, Kerry pontificated. “It’s really 19th century behavior in the 21st century”. Instead of laughing at this hypocrisy, U.S. media, politicians and punditry zealously took up the theme of Putin’s unacceptable expansionist aggression. The Europeans followed with a weak, obedient echo.
It Was All Planned at Yalta
In September 2013, one of Ukraine’s richest oligarchs, Viktor Pinchuk, paid for an elite strategic conference on Ukraine’s future that was held in the same Palace in Yalta, Crimea, where Roosevelt, Stalin and Churchill met to decide the future of Europe in 1945. The Economist, one of the elite media reporting on what it called a “display of fierce diplomacy”, stated that: “The future of Ukraine, a country of 48m people, and of Europe was being decided in real time.” The participants included Bill and Hillary Clinton, former CIA head General David Petraeus, former U.S. Treasury secretary Lawrence Summers, former World Bank head Robert Zoellick, Swedish foreign minister Carl Bildt, Shimon Peres, Tony Blair, Gerhard Schröder, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Mario Monti, Lithuanian president Dalia Grybauskaite, and Poland’s influential foreign minister Radek Sikorski. Both President Viktor Yanukovych, deposed five months later, and his recently elected successor Petro Poroshenko were present. Former U.S. energy secretary Bill Richardson was there to talk about the shale-gas revolution which the United States hopes to use to weaken Russia by substituting fracking for Russia’s natural gas reserves. The center of discussion was the “Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement” (DCFTA) between Ukraine and the European Union, and the prospect of Ukraine’s integration with the West. The general tone was euphoria over the prospect of breaking Ukraine’s ties with Russia in favor of the West.
Conspiracy against Russia? Not at all. Unlike Bilderberg, the proceedings were not secret. Facing a dozen or so American VIPs and a large sampling of the European political elite was a Putin adviser named Sergei Glazyev, who made Russia’s position perfectly clear.
Glazyev injected a note of political and economic realism into the conference. Forbes reported at the time on the “stark difference” between the Russian and Western views “not over the advisability of Ukraine’s integration with the EU but over its likely impact.” In contrast to Western euphoria, the Russian view was based on “very specific and foolsjohnstonepointed economic criticisms” about the Trade Agreement’s impact on Ukraine’s economy, noting that Ukraine was running an enormous foreign accounts deficit, funded with foreign borrowing, and that the resulting substantial increase in Western imports ccould only swell the deficit. Ukraine “will either default on its debts or require a sizable bailout”.
The Forbes reporter concluded that “the Russian position is far closer to the truth than the happy talk coming from Brussels and Kiev.”
As for the political impact, Glazyev pointed out that the Russian-speaking minority in Eastern Ukraine might move to split the country in protest against cutting ties with Russia, and that Russia would be legally entitled to support them, according to The Times of London.
In short, while planning to incorporate Ukraine into the Western sphere, Western leaders were perfectly aware that this move would entail serious problems with Russian-speaking Ukrainians, and with Russia itself. Rather than seeking to work out a compromise, Western leaders decided to forge ahead and to blame Russia for whatever would go wrong. What went wrong first was that Yanukovych got cold feet faced with the economic collapse implied by the Trade Agreement with the European Union. He postponed signing, hoping for a better deal. Since none of this was explained clearly to the Ukrainian public, outraged protests ensued, which were rapidly exploited by the United States… against Russia.
Ukraine as Bridge…Or Achilles Heel
Ukraine, a term meaning borderland, is a country without clearly fixed historical borders that has been stretched too far to the East and too far to the West. The Soviet Union was responsible for this, but the Soviet Union no longer exists, and the result is a country without a unified identity and which emerges as a problem for itself and for its neighbors.
It was extended too far East, incorporating territory that might as well have been Russian, as part of a general policy to distinguish the USSR from the Tsarist empire, enlarging Ukraine at the expense of its Russian component and demonstrating that the Soviet Union was really a union among equal socialist republics. So long as the whole Soviet Union was run by the Communist leadership, these borders didn’t matter too much.
It was extended too far West at the end of World War II. The victorious Soviet Union extended Ukraine’s border to include Western regions, dominated by the city variously named Lviv, Lwow, Lemberg or Lvov, depending on whether it belonged to Lithuania, Poland, the Habsburg Empire or the USSR, a region which was a hotbed of anti-Russian sentiments. This was no doubt conceived as a defensive move, to neutralize hostile elements, but it created the fundamentally divided nation that today constitutes the perfect troubled waters for hostile fishing.
The Forbes report cited above pointed out that: “For most of the past five years, Ukraine was basically playing a double game, telling the EU that it was interested in signing the DCFTA while telling the Russians that it was interested in joining the customs union.” Either Yanukovych could not make up his mind, or was trying to squeeze the best deal out of both sides, or was seeking the highest bidder. In any case, he was never “Moscow’s man”, and his downfall owes a lot no doubt to his own role in playing both ends against the middle. His was a dangerous game of pitting greater powers against each other.
It is safe to say that what was needed was something that so far seems totally lacking in Ukraine: a leadership that recognizes the divided nature of the country and works diplomatically to find a solution that satisfies both the local populations and their historic ties with the Catholic West and with Russia. In short, Ukraine could be a bridge between East and West – and this, incidentally, has been precisely the Russian position. The Russian position has not been to split Ukraine, much less to conquer it, but to facilitate the country’s role as bridge. This would involve a degree of federalism, of local government, which so far is entirely lacking in the country, with local governors selected not by election but by the central government in Kiev. A federal Ukraine could both develop relations with the EU and maintain its vital (and profitable) economic relations with Russia.
But this arrangement calls for Western readiness to cooperate with Russia. The United States has plainly vetoed this possibility, preferring to exploit the crisis to brand Russia “the enemy”.
Plan A and Plan B
U.S. policy, already evident at the September 2013 Yalta meeting, was carried out on the ground by Victoria Nuland, former advisor to Dick Cheney, deputy ambassador to NATO, spokeswoman for Hillary Clinton, wife of neocon theorist Robert Kagan. Her leading role in the Ukraine events proves that the neo-con influence in the State Department, established under Bush II, was retained by Obama, whose only visible contribution to foreign policy change has been the presence of a man of African descent in the presidency, calculated to impress the world with U.S. multicultural virtue. Like most other recent presidents, Obama is there as a temporary salesman for policies made and executed by others.
As Victoria Nuland boasted in Washington, since the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, the United States has spent five billion dollars to gain political influence in Ukraine (this is called “promoting democracy”). This investment is not “for oil”, or for any immediate economic advantage. The primary motives are geopolitical, because Ukraine is Russia’s Achilles’ heel, the territory with the greatest potential for causing trouble to Russia.
What called public attention to Victoria Nuland’s role in the Ukrainian crisis was her use of a naughty word, when she told the U.S. ambassador, “Fuck the EU”. But the fuss over her bad language veiled her bad intentions. The issue was who should take power away from the elected president Viktor Yanukovych. German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s party been promoting former boxer Vitaly Klitschko as its candidate. Nuland’s rude rebuff signified that the United States, not Germany or the EU, was to choose the next leader, and that was not Klitschko but “Yats”. And indeed it was Yats, Arseniy Yatsenyuk , a second-string US-sponsored technocrat known for his enthusiasm for IMF austerity policies and NATO membership, who got the job. This put a U.S. sponsored government, enforced in the streets by fascist militia with little electoral clout but plenty of armed meanness, in a position to manage the May 25 elections, from which the Russophone East was largely excluded.
Plan A for the Victoria Nuland putsch was probably to install, rapidly, a government in Kiev that would join NATO, thus formally setting the stage for the United States to take possession of Russia’s indispensable Black Sea naval base at Sebastopol in Crimea. Reincorporating Crimea into Russia was Putin’s necessary defensive move to prevent this.
But the Nuland gambit was in fact a win-win ploy. If Russia failed to defend itself, it risked losing its entire southern fleet – a total national disaster. On the other hand, if Russia reacted, as was most likely, the US thereby won a political victory that was perhaps its main objective. Putin’s totally defensive move is portrayed by the Western mainstream media, echoing political leaders, as unprovoked “Russian expansionism”, which the propaganda machine compares to Hitler grabbing Czechoslovakia and Poland.
Thus a blatant Western provocation, using Ukrainian political confusion against a fundamentally defensive Russia, has astonishingly succeeded in producing a total change in the artificial Zeitgeist produced by Western mass media. Suddenly, we are told that the “freedom-loving West” is faced with the threat of “aggressive Russian expansionism”. Some forty years ago, Soviet leaders gave away the store under the illusion that peaceful renunciation on their part could lead to a friendly partnership with the West, and especially with the United States. But those in the United States who never wanted to end the Cold War are having their revenge. Never mind “communism”; if, instead of advocating the dictatorship of the proletariat, Russia’s current leader is simply old-fashioned in certain ways, Western media can fabricate a monster out of that. The United States needs an enemy to save the world from.
The Protection Racket Returns
But first of all, the United States needs Russia as an enemy in order to “save Europe”, which is another way to say, in order to continue to dominate Europe. Washington policy-makers seemed to be worried that Obama’s swing to Asia and neglect of Europe might weaken U.S. control of its NATO allies. The May 25 European Parliament elections revealed a large measure of disaffection with the European Union. This disaffection, notably in France, is linked to a growing realization that the EU, far from being a potential alternative to the United States, is in reality a mechanism that locks European countries into U.S.-defined globalization, economic decline and U.S. foreign policy, wars and all.
Ukraine is not the only entity that has been overextended. So has the EU. With 28 members of diverse language, culture, history and mentality, the EU is unable to agree on any foreign policy other than the one Washington imposes. The extension of the EU to former Eastern European satellites has totally broken whatever deep consensus might have been possible among the countries of the original Economic Community: France, Germany, Italy and the Benelux states. Poland and the Baltic States see EU membership as useful, but their hearts are in America – where many of their most influential leaders have been educated and trained. Washington is able to exploit the anti-communist, anti-Russian and even pro-Nazi nostalgia of northeastern Europe to raise the false cry of “the Russians are coming!” in order to obstruct the growing economic partnership between the old EU, notably Germany, and Russia.
Russia is no threat. But to vociferous Russophobes in the Baltic States, Western Ukraine and Poland, the very existence of Russia is a threat. Encouraged by the United States and NATO, this endemic hostility is the political basis for the new “iron curtain” meant to achieve the aim spelled out in 1997 by Zbigniew Brzezinski in The Grand Chessboard: keeping the Eurasian continent divided in order to perpetuate U.S. world hegemony. The old Cold War served that purpose, cementing U.S. military presence and political influence in Western Europe. A new Cold War can prevent U.S. influence from being diluted by good relations between Western Europe and Russia.
Obama has come to Europe ostentatiously promising to “protect” Europe by basing more troops in regions as close as possible to Russia, while at the same time ordering Russia to withdraw its own troops, on its own territory, still farther away from troubled Ukraine. This appears designed to humiliate Putin and deprive him of political support at home, at a time when protests are rising in Eastern Ukraine against the Russian leader for abandoning them to killers sent from Kiev.
To tighten the U.S. grip on Europe, the United States is using the artificial crisis to demand that its indebted allies spend more on “defense”, notably by purchasing U.S. weapons systems. Although the U.S. is still far from being able to meet Europe’s energy needs from the new U.S. fracking boom, this prospect is being hailed as a substitute for Russia’s natural gas sales – stigmatized as a “way of exercising political pressure”, something of which hypothetic U.S. energy sales are presumed to be innocent. Pressure is being brought against Bulgaria and even Serbia to block construction of the South Stream pipeline that would bring Russian gas into the Balkans and southern Europe.
From D-Day to Dooms Day
Today, June 6, the seventieth anniversary of the D-Day landing is being played in Normandy as a gigantic celebration of American domination, with Obama heading an all-star cast of European leaders. The last of the aged surviving soldiers and aviators present are like the ghosts of a more innocent age when the United States was only at the start of its new career as world master. They were real, but the rest is a charade. French television is awash with the tears of young villagers in Normandy who have been taught that the United States is some sort of Guardian Angel, which sent its boys to die on the shores of Normandy out of pure love for France. This idealized image of the past is implicitly projected on the future. In seventy years, the Cold War, a dominant propaganda narrative and above all Hollywood have convinced the French, and most of the West, that D-Day was the turning point that won World War II and saved Europe from Nazi Germany.
Vladimir Putin came to the celebration, and has been elaborately shunned by Obama, self-appointed arbiter of Virtue. The Russians are paying tribute to the D-Day operation which liberated France from Nazi occupation, but they – and historians – know what most of the West has forgotten: that the Wehrmacht was decisively defeated not by the Normandy landing, but by the Red Army. If the vast bulk of German forces had not been pinned down fighting a losing war on the Eastern front, nobody would celebrate D-Day as it is being celebrated today.
Putin is widely credited as being “the best chess player”, who won the first round of the Ukrainian crisis. He has no doubt done the best he could, faced with the crisis foisted on him. But the U.S. has whole ranks of pawns which Putin does not have. And this is not only a chess game, but chess combined with poker combined with Russian roulette. The United States is ready to take risks that the more prudent Russian leaders prefer to avoid… as long as possible.
Perhaps the most extraordinary aspect of the current charade is the servility of the “old” Europeans. Apparently abandoning all Europe’s accumulated wisdom, drawn from its wars and tragedies, and even oblivious to their own best interests, today’s European leaders seem ready to follow their American protectors to another D-Day … D for Doom.
Can the presence of a peace-seeking Russian leader in Normandy make a difference? All it would take would be for mass media to tell the truth, and for Europe to produce reasonably wise and courageous leaders, for the whole fake war machine to lose its luster, and for truth to begin to dawn. A peaceful Europe is still possible, but for how long?
Seans Russia Blog
“This is Not My War” – A Voice From Slavyansk
self-defense squad member In Slavyansk
Translation and introduction by William Risch.
A friend of the Facebook group, Euromaidan News in English, sent this report from Sloviansk, Ukraine, the scene of fierce fighting between pro-Ukrainian and pro-separatist forces. As with this person’s previous report, posted in May, I have withheld the names of the author and translator. I have changed transliterations of place names from Russian to Ukrainian.
“This is Not My War”
We had to get out of Sloviansk. It’s too dangerous. We were spending the nights in the basement of our apartment building, it was too damp. It’s just terrible. War is war, what can I say? We fled the city to save our lives. As for our possessions—we left them behind and what will be will be. At least our family is together. When people flee Sloviansk, their apartments are occupied by the so-called separatists/“home guard,” and then probably the National Guard will come in, and…who knows what will happen. Now both sides—the separatists and the National Guard—are just grabbing men, giving them guns, and telling them, “Go, fight!” Who are they supposed to shoot—their own people? The home guard (separatists) are our people, and the National Guardsmen are our people. It’s a civil war, and it is awful.
The Ukrainian National Guard isn’t “storming” Sloviansk, they are bombing it—from airplanes, helicopters. They say they are targeting checkpoints and the like, but in actuality they are bombing the entire city. The terrorists take shelter, and the ones who suffer in the bombings are the elderly, women, and children. There have been a rash of premature births.
The Ukrainian National Guard is firing on the city with high caliber cannons, as well as from helicopters. A shell landed in a 9-story apartment building in the city last week. Four people died and many were injured, and every single window in the building was shattered. Lots of buildings in the city have been damaged like this from the bombings. For example, another 14-story residential building was damaged. Shells hit the 7th, 11th and 12th floors. A shell also fell on the roof of the central polyclinic, but didn’t explode. Shells landed in the pedagogical university and the dormitory, causing deaths and injuries. A janitor was killed and one student had her arm ripped off from shrapnel. Shells also landed in the children’s hospital but thank God no one was injured. It seems like they are just bombing indiscriminately.
Yesterday Krasnyi Liman was bombed. A guy I know had a shell land right in his living room, and his apartment was obliterated. In a residential apartment building. Krasnyi Liman has a really important railway station—the hospital at the railway station was bombed and a machinist was killed, a bunch of bystanders, the head doctor, and others. The National Guard tried to blame the separatists for it, but there have never been any separatist-terrorists in Krasnyi Liman—they are all in Sloviansk. I know a guy who works at the hospital—he said the Guard came into the hospital, searched for patients who had battle wounds, and shot them. Without any arrests, investigations, or anything. The National Guard did that. In Sviatohirsk there are cannons—those kind that can fire 15-20 kilometers—positioned on top of a hill pointing in the direction of Krasnyi Liman. They’ve been firing on Krasnyi Liman, and everybody there is living in basements, just like everyone in Sloviansk has been. Why did they do this to Krasnyi Liman? It’s a tourist town of 50,000 people where no terrorists have been stationed.
If they can do this to Krasnyi Liman, God only knows what they will do to Sloviansk. They aren’t storming the city. Battles are carried out on the outskirts of the city. Otherwise, it is bombing, bombing, bombing. I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes. The government announced that the “active phase” of anti-terrorist operations was starting, and then they just started bombing. They haven’t stormed the city yet. Maybe a peaceful solution will be found. But think about it—if the military enters the city, and captures it, a lot of innocent civilians are going to be killed in the process. Snipers have been killing civilians already. A little girl was shot. There are a lot of guys from Pravyi Sektor in the National Guard. They caught one sniper and asked him why he was shooting at children in the city. He answered, “You all only have five days left anyway.” People have decided they have nothing more to lose, so their attitude to the war is changing accordingly. Like the father of that little girl who was shot by a sniper—if earlier this wasn’t his war, now he has something to fight for. He won’t fight for the Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR)—who is that? What is that? Dear DNR, what are your programs, what are your political views? These are just some armed guys who took power, there is no loyalty to them among the populace. And the other side is throwing bombs at us.
We are worried that they will impose the draft. It would be okay if the National Guard was reliable. But there are a lot of new recruits who joined up just recently after there was a big amnesty of 26,000 prison inmates—a bunch of those former inmates have joined the Guard. Including those who were imprisoned for hard crimes—they’ve been given guns and enlisted in the Guard. We are worried there will be more looting in the city—there’s already looting and it might get worse.
It is really a shame that our own military is doing this. Of course they don’t want to admit it, and they blame the separatists. The separatists say it is the National Guard, and the National Guard says it is the separatists. How do you know what’s true? But as for those bombings I described, I saw them with my own eyes, across the street. I could see who was bombing, and it was the National Guard. Sloviansk is surrounded by 15,000 national troops. Things have reached the boiling point. I see that both sides are lying. Both sides are lying about the number of casualties. The morgue in Sloviansk is overflowing. They are burying bodies in swamps, wrapping them up and throwing them in the lake—it’s awful.
Sloviansk is now without running water. The waterlines were damaged in the bombing. Where we are staying now, in a nearby town, the water was also cut off. We’re getting water from another house’s well. I guess we’ll bathe in the river, at least its summertime. And there is no food left in the stores. There’s been no bread for a long time, and now the stores are out of almost everything else. There are no shipments in, because the Donetsk Region has been completely cut off and isolated from the Kharkiv Region and all others.
Right now Sloviansk is totally closed—you can’t get in or out. Those who stayed there are stuck now. It is the same in nearby towns—you are stuck wherever you are now. People can’t get in or out of Donetsk, either. (By the way, the other day the burned bodies of two Arab university students were found in Donetsk—we don’t know who did that or why.) They say the Ukrainian borders are closed now, too—women and children can cross the border but men are turned back. Maybe it’s because they are getting ready to impose the draft, I don’t know. Who are we supposed to fight? Who? This is not my war. I’m for a united Ukraine. My children were born in Ukraine. Sure, I was born in the USSR, but my children were born here, in Ukraine. Everything I have is here, in Ukraine.
The kids are suffering, of course. There were no graduation ceremonies or parties this year, nothing like that. Final exams were suspended.
There are some programs helping evacuees, and helping people evacuate from Sloviansk—the International Renaissance Foundation, for example. A few weeks ago, when the first attempts to evacuate people were made, women and children boarded the busses to evacuate, and they were attacked by gunfire. People have become cannon fodder. It doesn’t benefit the home guard for people to evacuate. And the only ones who can evacuate are those who have money. The trains from Sloviansk aren’t running. Because of the war the prices have risen 1.5 times. The banks are working, but only informally—if you know somebody you can call them up and get service through the back door of the bank. We’ll see how long we can afford to rent this little house we are staying in now. People’s pensions and salaries have been frozen, and all social payments. We got our April paychecks but nothing after that. We’re just living on what we had put away.
I thought I would go back to the city—I wanted to relocate my family here and go back. But the checkpoints were under fire; the outer ring is controlled by the National Guard, and the inner ring is controlled by the “terrorists-separatists-home guard,” however you want to call them. The National Guard let me through fine, but the separatists started shooting warning shots in the air and turned me back. I’m a local! It is really too dangerous to travel anywhere.
It’s hard to get to sleep at night, not knowing what the next day holds in store. I never could have imagined these horrors could happen here.
The Kremlin Stooge
Good Judgment Comes From Experience. Experience Comes From Bad Judgment.
Posted on June 11, 2014
“Nowadays most people die of a sort of creeping common sense, and discover when it is too late that the only things one never regrets are one’s mistakes.”
Oscar Wilde, from “The Picture of Dorian Gray”
And so begins the liberal application of whitewash to one of the most disgraceful episodes in Ukraine’s history. From shouting know-nothing students high on protest being made to look like a massive multitude of savvy political hipsters to the deliberate and calculated interjection of violence when Yanukovych crumbled and gave the opposition everything it had asked for – because everything was still not enough – to the premeditated and grisly murder of peaceful protesters in the Odessa Trade Union Building to the pummeling of eastern-Ukrainian towns in a punitive operation because the townspeople dared to speak up for themselves, to strafing attacks on helpless civilians that left dead innocents sprawled in the careless choreography of broken limbs and smashed bodies.
Common sense is indeed coming, creeping on unobtrusive pads and hoping to restore normality with a dash of amnesia. The sad and simple fact of the matter is that Ukraine’s leadership committed war crimes, knowingly and deliberately, and was encouraged to commit them and to go on committing them by the governments of the United States and Canada and the European Union, who provided them with cover, rationalized away their actions as simple acts of law enforcement to which any government is entitled, and pretended that Ukraine’s leadership had a perfect right to behave as it did.
Now all the actors are realizing that there can be no solutions to Ukraine’s terrible troubles without involving Russia. Something quite a few people tried to tell them at the outset, when taking good advice would have cost nothing. There is a name for people who must learn everything the hard way, but I am too tired to say it again.
The ghoulish Roman orgy of destruction and slaughter rationalized as Kiev’s “anti-terrorist operation” is drawing to a close, of pure necessity, without having achieved any of its goals. Collateral damage numbers in the hundreds of lives lost and the millions upon millions in property damage to eastern Ukrainian cities who had the temerity to speak up for themselves and say that their concerns and hopes were not fairly represented by their government, and that they no longer wished to labour under its governance. Most of them never wanted separation, or to be a part of Russia, but to live in a Ukraine that respected them and their opinions. A federalized union of regions, as Russia originally proposed, would have suited them very well. But the coup government was proud, and pride and bad decisions go together like nerds and hornrim glasses.
Something the coup government – and its successor, Poroshenko, himself an avid cheerleader for the “anti-terrorist operation” – never got around to explaining was who was being terrorized by the terrorists, considering they never left their cities. Instead, they prepared themselves for the coming of the reaper, while the smug fucks in Lviv cheered the armoured columns on. Not for them to be shot while standing on their own balcony, to gasp out their last breath in a bullet-riddled car opened up like a sardine can by eager, gawky draftees backed by latter-day Nazis under the Right Sektor banner. Not for them to die with the smell of their own burning hair in their nostrils, like the terrified protesters in the basement of Odessa’s Trade Union Building, a horror so great that the west can still not bring itself to admit the real death toll. No, life went on pretty much as it always had for Kiev and the west of Ukraine, but for the thrill of patriotism in their breasts born from the knowledge that the new government, which served their interests to the exclusion of others, was on the job. Geroyim slava.
The talk now has a distinctly “Aw shucks: hope there ain’t no hard feelins” feel to it. Ukraine sees understanding with Moscow, we hear, on parts of a peace plan proposed by Petro Poroshenko, if you can read that without laughing so hard that you spill coffee all over yourself. Yes, Peaceful PoroChocco the “Great Pragmatist”, who as recently as May 30th vowed to punish “rebels” who were responsible for shooting down a military helicopter which was part of the anti-terrorist operation come to kill as many of them as it could. “These criminal acts by the enemies of the Ukrainian people will not go unpunished”, he elaborated for his many western fans, who were probably reminded of Ayad Allawi, the U.S. appointed temporary Prime Minister of Iraq. “No talks with terrorists“, vowed Ukraine’s “burly” new leader (that’s a new word for “corpulent from a lifetime of ease and rich food”, in case you didn’t recognize it), who supposedly compelled the “overwhelming rallying” of his people behind him and who confidently promised to roll up the terrorists “in a matter of hours” with his “robust campaign”.
Take note, those keeping score – wild-ass prediction number one, which obviously came to nothing. Now some would have us believe that PoroChocco is “putting out the olive branch of peace“. Listen: is that the flutter of doves I hear?
What that is is a steaming heap of bullshit. While the west is scuffing the dirt with its toe and pretending like it was all just a bad dream – “We have a responsibility to stand with our partners in a difficult time,” Mr. Dudley of BP told an audience at the St. Petersburg forum – PoroChocco is talking tough to Time Magazine and conveying the message that the only reason he’s willing to sit at the table with Russia and do deals is because no western country is prepared to guarantee Ukraine’s security. There’s a dual message there, both implicit: one, the west tried to crush Russia and failed. Two, PoroChocco’s vaunted “pragmatism” might extend to putting Ukraine back in Russia’s orbit if the west doesn’t step up.
The purpose of that New York Times piece is not to show how brave these companies are for doing the duck-and-weave around government-imposed sanctions, but to signal to Russia that American business wants to mend the rift and go back to making money. But it cannot be business as usual again. It can’t. Because the west cannot be trusted. Economic war is the new policy tool of the 21st century, and western governments are keen to employ it. Russia must never be vulnerable to the west attempting to pull the rug out from under it again. If western companies want to do business in Russia – and they plainly do – it should be under conditions such as those now imposed on Visa and Mastercard: they have to post a large bond in advance with a non-western bank, which would be liable to confiscation if the company defaulted on its agreements for the purpose of obeying its government’s call for punitive sanctions. Because make no mistake: the sole reason for this fence-mending exercise is because the effort to tip over the Russian economy was a failure. Granted, it wasn’t much of an effort, and although it cost a little money, the Russian economy has weathered much worse storms and could again. However, if it had been a success, and the economy had collapsed and Russia had asked for terms – those companies now gobbling about their responsibility to their partners in difficult times would walk over the heads of their partners’ children to take over ownership. And Russians would be labourers in their own land for foreign owners. This episode has been a valuable lesson; it can’t be business as usual.
To say nothing of the war crimes committed by Ukraine’s government, eagerly aided and abetted by the west even as their media gave it cover by minimizing what it was doing and pooh-poohing those who suggested Kiev was carrying out a punitive pogrom against the eastern towns, some of which have been flattened to rubble and others in which not a building is left standing undamaged. Indiscriminate attack, which makes use of weapons that are unguided and whose effects cannot be controlled, and “treats an area with similar concentrations of military and civilian objectives as a single military objective.” Denial of Humanitarian Assistance, in the cutting off of water, food and electricity supplies. Persecution of an identifiable group on religious, political or racial grounds, forcible transfer of population, murder and imprisonment. The use of mercenaries as a means of impeding the exercise of the right of peoples to self-determination. All supported by an abundance of evidence, if anyone cared to document it.
Kiev will try to squirm out from under any charges – if in fact any are ever laid – by claiming these apply only in the law of armed conflict, which is not operative in the case of a law enforcement action by a government against its own people. Ask yourself if that would be the consensus opinion if it had been Russia or Iran doing it. The EU would have turned itself inside-out running for the ECHR, while North America would have tutted and quacked about democratic values and freedom until the judgment trump.
Kiev must not be allowed to get away with it. And the west, which so eagerly backed first the coup government and then the election of one of Ukraine’s biggest oligarchs to the presidency – one who helped to draft, as a businessman, the very EU Association Agreement he is eager to sign as President – must be restricted in its joint business dealings with Russia to the point that the west cannot menace Russia with the sanctions weapon because it would hurt western business too badly. Then the west – and most especially the USA – will have to turn once again to negotiation, dialogue and international regulatory bodies to throw its weight around.
It’s not over yet. But you can see over from here.
_______two of 181 responses:
June 12, 2014 at 7:17 pm
This is slightly off-topic but vaguely related. The events is Mosul seem, at least to me, to have the appearance of a black op to arm the Syrian rebels. The official story just seems too convenient. ISIS stormed a prison thereby freeing hundreds if not thousands of their comrades, the Iraqi army ran away, the jihadists then went on a bank robbing spree more-or-less literally striking gold and then, best of all, armed with the stolen loot, they equipped themselves with military hardware helpfully supplied by the US, ostensibly destined for the Iraqi army. Meanwhile the government forces couldn’t get one plane in the air to bomb the equipment to prevent it falling into jihadi hands. So, what’s the effect of all of this? In the wake of the Syrian elections, we have the US determined to up the ante and arm the rebels with serious munitions and now we have a group that’s a leading player in Syria having all the heavy weaponry and the money it needs to wage war and the US administration hasn’t had to bother getting anything through Congress or any face any other pesky constitutional controls. Lucky eh?
Turning on the TV this morning and there was Jen Psaki bashfully reading out a list of the hardware now in the hands of ISIS – nice that they had it to hand – and there was not a trace of concern in her manner that this equipment – including weapons which, sooner or later, will be used to down a civilian airliner – was in the hands of such dangerous individuals. Similarly, note the reaction or, rather, the lack of it from NATO with Rasmussen simply saying there was no role for NATO in Iraq whereas you might expect him to say ‘hey, we’ve got a big f**king problem here’. Compare the muted response from Washington with the screams of outrage that greeted the Crimean referendum.
(^^^^ I can see that.)
June 12, 2014 at 7:29 pm
Jen Psaki’s back in a new and improved form. She was asked for the State department’s position on the use of phosphorous bombs in Slavyansk. Her reply? “By whom? The Russians?” http://voiceofrussia.com/news/2014_06_1 ... ssia-0755/
Ukrainian FM chants 'Putin - f**ker' at vandalized Russian embassy in Kiev
June 15, 2014
Still from a YouTube video
In an incident that may be a first in diplomatic history, Kiev’s top diplomat publicly ‘effed’ the head of another state. Foreign Minister Andrey Deshchitsa chanted “Putin’s a f**ker” with a cheering crowd that earlier vandalized the Russian embassy.
continued at link: http://rt.com/news/166020-ukraine-minis ... ing-putin/
Psaki defends Ukraine FM over 'Putin f**ker' remark, confuses Iraq and Iran
June 16, 2014
US State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki conducts her daily briefing for reporters on June 16, 2014 at the State Department in Washington. (AFP Photo/Paul J. Richards)
Long-suffering State Dept. spokesperson Jen Psaki endured another torrid press briefing as she was forced to defend some distinctly unsavory remarks by Ukrainian politicians and struggled with the differences between Iraq and Iran, as well as oil and gas.
As usual, AP’s Matt Lee served as Psaki’s chief tormentor, bringing up last week’s protests outside the Russian embassy in Kiev, in which Ukraine’s acting Foreign Minister Andrey Deshchitsa addressed the anti-Russian mob by telling them that “Putin is a f**ker.”
“These are officials you have supported, is this the kind of language you find acceptable?” Lee asked Psaki.
continued at link: http://rt.com/usa/166344-psaki-ukrainian-fm-defense/
Zvezda TV crew freed after harsh interrogation, ransom demands by Ukraine radicals
June 17, 2014
Zvezda TV channel correspondent Evgeny Davydov, left, and sound engineer Nikita Konashenkov who were detained in Dnepropetrovsk are welcomed on their arrival at Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport after the release. (RIA Novosti/Alexey Kudenko)
Reporters from Russia's Zvezda TV channel have been freed from captivity in Ukraine, where Right Sector fighters detained, interrogated, and beat them for ransom. Risking their lives, they didn’t turn off their phones, which was crucial for their release.
continued at link: http://rt.com/news/166356-zvezda-crew-freed-ukraine/
The Silence of American Hawks About Kiev’s Atrocities
The regime has repeatedly carried out artillery and air attacks on city centers, creating a humanitarian catastrophe—which is all but ignored by the US political-media establishment.
Stephen F. Cohen
June 30, 2014
Members of the Ukrainian ultra-nationalist Svoboda Party rally in Kiev (ReutersMaxim Zmeyev)
For weeks, the US-backed regime in Kiev has been committing atrocities against its own citizens in southeastern Ukraine, regions heavily populated by Russian-speaking Ukrainians and ethnic Russians. While victimizing a growing number of innocent people, including children, and degrading America’s reputation, these military assaults on cities, captured on video, are generating pressure in Russia on President Vladimir Putin to “save our compatriots.”
The reaction of the Obama administration—as well as the new cold-war hawks in Congress and in the establishment media—has been twofold: silence interrupted only by occasional statements excusing and thus encouraging more atrocities by Kiev. Very few Americans (notably, the independent scholar Gordon Hahn) have protested this shameful complicity. We may honorably disagree about the causes and resolution of the Ukrainian crisis, the worst US-Russian confrontation in decades, but not about deeds that are rising to the level of war crimes, if they have not already done so.
* * *
In mid-April, the new Kiev government, predominantly western Ukrainian in composition and outlook, declared an “anti-terrorist operation” against a growing political rebellion in the Southeast. At that time, the rebels were mostly mimicking the initial Maidan protests in Kiev in 2013—demonstrating, issuing defiant proclamations, occupying public buildings and erecting defensive barricades—before Maidan turned ragingly violent and, in February, overthrew Ukraine’s corrupt but legitimately elected president, Viktor Yanukovych. (The entire Maidan episode, it will be recalled, had Washington’s enthusiastic political, and perhaps more tangible, support.) Indeed, the precedent for seizing official buildings and demanding the allegiance of local authorities had been set even earlier, in January, in western Ukraine—by pro-Maidan, anti-Yanukovych protesters, some declaring “independence” from his government.
Considering those preceding events, but above all the country’s profound historical divisions, particularly between its western and eastern regions—ethnic, linguistic, religious, cultural, economic and political—the rebellion in the southeast, centered in the industrial Donbass, was not surprising. Nor were its protests against the unconstitutional way (in effect, a coup) the new government had come to power, the southeast’s sudden loss of effective political representation in the capital and the real prospect of official discrimination. But by declaring an “anti-terrorist operation” against the new protesters, Kiev signaled its intention to “destroy” them, not negotiate with them.
On May 2, in this incendiary atmosphere, a horrific event occurred in the southern city of Odessa, awakening memories of Nazi German extermination squads in Ukraine and other Soviet republics during World War II. An organized pro-Kiev mob chased protesters into a building, set it on fire and tried to block the exits. Some forty people, perhaps many more, perished in the flames or were murdered as they fled the inferno. A still unknown number of other victims were seriously injured.
Members of the infamous Right Sector, a far-right paramilitary organization ideologically aligned with the ultranationalist Svoboda party, itself a constituent part of Kiev’s coalition government, led the mob. Both are frequently characterized by knowledgeable observers as “neo-fascist” movements. (Hateful ethnic chants by the mob were audible, and swastika-like symbols were found on the scorched building.) Kiev alleged that the victims had themselves accidentally started the fire, but eyewitnesses, television footage and social media videos told the true story, as they have about subsequent atrocities.
Instead of interpreting the Odessa massacre as an imperative for restraint, Kiev intensified its “anti-terrorist operation.” Since May, the regime has sent a growing number of armored personnel carriers, tanks, artillery, helicopter gunships and warplanes to southeastern cities, among them, Slovyansk (Slavyansk in Russian), Mariupol, Krasnoarmeisk, Kramatorsk, Donetsk and Luhansk (Lugansk in Russian). When its regular military units and local police forces turned out to be less than effective, willing or loyal, Kiev hastily mobilized Right Sector and other radical nationalist militias responsible for much of the violence at Maidan into a National Guard to accompany regular detachments—partly to reinforce them, partly, it seems, to enforce Kiev’s commands. Zealous, barely trained and drawn mostly from central and western regions, Kiev’s new recruits have reportedly escalated the ethnic warfare and killing of innocent civilians. (Episodes described as “massacres” soon also occurred in Mariupol and Kramatorsk.)
Initially, the “anti-terrorist” campaign was limited primarily, though not only, to rebel checkpoints on the outskirts of cities. Since May, however, Kiev has repeatedly carried out artillery and air attacks on city centers that have struck residential buildings, shopping malls, parks, schools, kindergartens and hospitals, particularly in Slovyansk and Luhansk. More and more urban areas, neighboring towns and even villages now look and sound like war zones, with telltale rubble, destroyed and pockmarked buildings, mangled vehicles, the dead and wounded in streets, wailing mourners and crying children. Conflicting information from Kiev, local resistance leaders and Moscow make it impossible to estimate the number of dead and wounded noncombatants—certainly hundreds. The number continues to grow due also to Kiev’s blockade of cities where essential medicines, food, water, fuel and electricity are scarce, and where wages and pensions are often no longer being paid. The result is an emerging humanitarian catastrophe.
Another effect is clear. Kiev’s “anti-terrorist” tactics have created a reign of terror in the targeted cities. Panicked by shells and mortars exploding on the ground, menacing helicopters and planes flying above and fear of what may come next, families are seeking sanctuary in basements and other darkened shelters. Even The New York Times, which like the mainstream American media generally has deleted the atrocities from its coverage, described survivors in Slovyansk “as if living in the Middle Ages.” Meanwhile, an ever-growing number of refugees, disproportionately women and traumatized children, have been fleeing across the border into Russia. In late June, the UN estimated that as many as 110,000 Ukrainians had already fled to Russia and about half that many to other Ukrainian sanctuaries.
It is true, of course, that anti-Kiev rebels in these regions are increasingly well-armed (though lacking the government’s arsenal of heavy and airborne weapons), organized and aggressive, no doubt with some Russian assistance, whether officially sanctioned or not. But calling themselves “self-defense” fighters is not wrong. They did not begin the combat; their land is being invaded and assaulted by a government whose political legitimacy is arguably no greater than their own, two of their large regions having voted overwhelmingly for autonomy referenda; and, unlike actual terrorists, they have not committed acts of war outside their own communities. The French adage suggested by an American observer seems applicable: “This animal is very dangerous. If attacked, it defends itself.”
* * *
Among the crucial questions rarely discussed in the US political-media establishment: What is the role of the “neo-fascist” factor in Kiev’s “anti-terrorist” ideology and military operations? Putin’s position, at least until recently—that the entire Ukrainian government is a “neo-fascist junta”—is incorrect. Many members of the ruling coalition and its parliamentary majority are aspiring European-style democrats or moderate nationalists. This may also be true of Ukraine’s newly elected president, the oligarch Petro Poroshenko. Equally untrue, however, are claims by Kiev’s American apologists, including even some academics and liberal intellectuals, that Ukraine’s neo-fascists—or perhaps quasi-fascists—are merely agitated nationalists, “garden-variety Euro-populists,” a “distraction” or lack enough popular support to be significant.
Independent Western scholars have documented the fascist origins, contemporary ideology and declarative symbols of Svoboda and its fellow-traveling Right Sector. Both movements glorify Ukraine’s murderous Nazi collaborators in World War II as inspirational ancestors. Both, to quote Svoboda’s leader Oleh Tyahnybok, call for an ethnically pure nation purged of the “Moscow-Jewish mafia” and “other scum,” including homosexuals, feminists and political leftists. And both hailed the Odessa massacre. According to the website of Right Sector leader Dmytro Yarosh, it was “another bright day in our national history.” A Svoboda parliamentary deputy added, “Bravo, Odessa…. Let the Devils burn in hell.” If more evidence is needed, in December 2012, the European Parliament decried Svoboda’s “racist, anti-Semitic and xenophobic views [that] go against the EU’s fundamental values and principles.” In 2013, the World Jewish Congress denounced Svoboda as “neo-Nazi.” Still worse, observers agree that Right Sector is even more extremist.
Nor do electoral results tell the story. Tyahnybok and Yarosh together received less than 2 percent of the June presidential vote, but historians know that in traumatic times, when, to recall Yeats, “the center cannot hold,” small, determined movements can seize the moment, as did Lenin’s Bolsheviks and Hitler’s Nazis. Indeed, Svoboda and Right Sector already command power and influence far exceeding their popular vote. “Moderates” in the US-backed Kiev government, obliged to both movements for their violence-driven ascent to power, and perhaps for their personal safety, rewarded Svoboda and Right Sector with some five to eight (depending on shifting affiliations) top ministry positions, including ones overseeing national security, military, prosecutorial and educational affairs. Still more, according to the research of Pietro Shakarian, a remarkable young graduate student at the University of Michigan, Svoboda was given five governorships, covering about 20 percent of the country. And this does not take into account the role of Right Sector in the “anti-terrorist operation.”
Nor does it consider the political mainstreaming of fascism’s dehumanizing ethos. In December 2012, a Svoboda parliamentary leader anathematized the Ukrainian-born American actress Mila Kunis as “a dirty kike.” Since 2013, pro-Kiev mobs and militias have routinely denigrated ethnic Russians as insects (“Colorado beetles,” whose colors resemble a sacred Russia ornament). More recently, the US-picked prime minister, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, referred to resisters in the Southeast as “subhumans.” His defense minister proposed putting them in “filtration camps,” pending deportation, and raising fears of ethnic cleansing. Yulia Tymoshenko—a former prime minister, titular head of Yatsenyuk’s party and runner-up in the May presidential election—was overheard wishing she could “exterminate them all [Ukrainian Russians] with atomic weapons.” “Sterilization” is among the less apocalyptic official musings on the pursuit of a purified Ukraine.
Confronted with such facts, Kiev’s American apologists have conjured up another rationalization. Any neo-fascists in Ukraine, they assure us, are far less dangerous than Putinism’s “clear aspects of fascism.” The allegation is unworthy of serious analysis: however authoritarian Putin may be, there is nothing authentically fascist in his rulership, policies, state ideology or personal conduct.
Indeed, equating Putin with Hitler, as eminent Americans from Hillary Clinton and Zbigniew Brzezinski to George Will have done, is another example of how our new cold warriors are recklessly damaging US national security in vital areas where Putin’s cooperation is essential. Looking ahead, would-be presidents who make such remarks can hardly expect to be greeted by an open-minded Putin, whose brother died and father was wounded in the Soviet-Nazi war. Moreover, tens of millions of today’s Russians whose family members were killed by actual fascists in that war will regard this defamation of their popular president as sacrilege, as they do the atrocities committed by Kiev.
* * *
And yet, the Obama administration reacts with silence, and worse. Historians will decide what the US government and the “democracy promotion” organizations it funds were doing in Ukraine during the preceding twenty years, but much of Washington’s role in the current crisis has been clear and direct. As the Maidan mass protest against President Yanukovych developed last November-December, Senator John McCain, the high-level State Department policymaker Victoria Nuland and a crew of other US politicians and officials arrived to stand with its leaders, Tyahnybok in the forefront, and declare, “America is with you!” Nuland was then caught on tape plotting with the American ambassador, Geoffrey Pyatt, to oust Yanukovych’s government and replace him with Yatsenyuk, who soon became, and remains, prime minister.
Meanwhile, President Obama personally warned Yanukovych “not to resort to violence,” as did, repeatedly, Secretary of State John Kerry. But when violent street riots deposed Yanukovych—only hours after a European-brokered, White House–backed compromise that would have left him as president of a reconciliation government until new elections this December, possibly averting the subsequent bloodshed—the administration made a fateful decision. It eagerly embraced the outcome. Obama personally legitimized the coup as a “constitutional process” and invited Yatsenyuk to the White House. The United States has been at least tacitly complicit in what followed, from Putin’s hesitant decision in March to annex Crimea and the rebellion in southeastern Ukraine to the ongoing civil war.
How intimately involved US officials have been in Kiev’s “anti-terrorist operation” is not known, but certainly the administration has not been discreet. Before and after the military campaign began in earnest, CIA director John Brennan and Vice President Joseph Biden (twice) visited Kiev, followed, it is reported, by a continuing flow of “senior US defense officials,” military equipment and financial assistance to the bankrupt Kiev government. Despite this crucial support, the White House has not compelled Kiev to investigate either the Odessa massacre or the fateful sniper killings of scores of Maidan protesters and policemen on February 18–20, which precipitated Yanukovych’s ouster. (The snipers were initially said to be Yanukovych’s, but evidence later appeared pointing to opposition extremists, possibly Right Sector. Unlike Washington, the Council of Europe has been pressuring Kiev to investigate both events.)
As atrocities and humanitarian disaster grow in Ukraine, both Obama and Kerry have all but vanished as statesmen. Except for periodic banalities asserting the virtuous intentions of Washington and Kiev and alleging Putin’s responsibility for the violence, they have left specific responses to lesser US officials. Not surprisingly, all have told the same Manichean story, from the White House to Foggy Bottom. The State Department’s neocon missionary Nuland, who spent several days at Maidan, for example, assured a congressional committee that she had no evidence of fascist-like elements playing any role there. Ambassador Pyatt, who earlier voiced the same opinion about the Odessa massacre, was even more dismissive, telling obliging New Republic editors that the entire question was “laughable.”
Still more shameful, no American official at any level appears to have issued a meaningful statement of sympathy for civilian victims of the Kiev government, not even those in Odessa. Instead, the administration has been unswervingly indifferent. When asked if her superiors had “any concerns” about the casualties of Kiev’s military campaign, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki has repeatedly answered “no.” Indeed, at the UN Security Council on May 2, US Ambassador Samantha Power, referring explicitly to the “counterterrorism initiative” and suspending her revered “Responsibility to Protect” doctrine, gave Kiev’s leaders a US license to kill. Lauding their “remarkable, almost unimaginable, restraint,” as Obama himself did after Odessa, she continued, “Their response is reasonable, it is proportional, and frankly it is what any one of our countries would have done.” (Since then, the administration has blocked Moscow’s appeal for a UN humanitarian corridor between southeastern Ukraine and Russia.)
Contrary to the incessant administration and media demonizing of Putin and his “agents” in Ukraine, the “anti-terrorist operation” can be ended only where it began—in Washington and Kiev. Leaving aside how much power the new president actually has in Kiev (or over Right Sector militias in the field), Poroshenko’s “peace plan” and June 21 cease-fire may have seemed such an opportunity, except for its two core conditions: fighters in the southeast first had to “lay down their arms,” and he alone would decide with whom to negotiate peace. The terms seemed more akin to conditions of surrender, and the real reason Poroshenko unilaterally ended the cease-fire on July 1 and intensified Kiev’s assault on eastern cities.
The Obama administration continues to make the situation worse. Despite opposition by several NATO allies and even American corporate heads, the president and his secretary of state, who has spoken throughout this crisis more like a secretary of war than the nation’s top diplomat, have constantly threatened Russia with harsher economic sanctions unless Putin meets one condition or another, most of them improbable. On June 26, Kerry even demanded (“literally”) that the Russian president “in the next few hours…help disarm” resisters in the Southeast, as though they are not motivated by any of Ukraine’s indigenous conflicts but are merely Putin’s private militias.
In fact, from the onset of the crisis, the administration’s actual goal has been unclear, and not only to Moscow. Is it a negotiated compromise, which would have to include a Ukraine with a significantly federalized or decentralized state free to maintain longstanding economic relations with Russia and banned from NATO membership? Is it to bring the entire country exclusively into the West, including into NATO? Is it a vendetta against Putin for all the things he purportedly has and has not done over the years? (Some behavior of Obama and Kerry, seemingly intended to demean and humiliate Putin, suggest an element of this.) Or is it to provoke Russia into a war with the United States and NATO in Ukraine?
Inadvertent or not, the latter outcome remains all too possible. After Russia annexed—or “reunified” with—Crimea in March, Putin, not Kiev or Washington, has demonstrated “remarkable restraint.” But events are making it increasingly difficult for him to do so. Almost daily, Russian state media, particularly television, have featured vivid accounts of Kiev’s military assaults on Ukraine’s eastern cities. The result has been, both in elite and public opinion, widespread indignation and mounting perplexity, even anger, over Putin’s failure to intervene militarily.
We may discount the following indictment by an influential ideologist of Russia’s own ultra-nationalists, who have close ties with Ukraine’s “self-defense” commanders: “Putin betrays not just the People’s Republic of Donetsk and the People’s Republic of Lugansk but himself, Russia and all of us.” Do not, however, underestimate the significance of an article in the mainstream pro-Kremlin newspaper Izvestia, which asks, while charging the leadership with “ignoring the cries for help,” “Is Russia abandoning the Donbass?” If so, the author warns, the result will be “Russia’s worst nightmare” and relegate it to “the position of a vanquished country.”
Just as significant are similar exhortations by Gennady Zyuganov, leader of Russia’s Communist Party, the second-largest in the country and in parliament. The party also has substantial influence in the military-security elite and even in the Kremlin. Thus, one of Putin’s own aides has publicly urged him to send fighter planes to impose a “no-fly zone”—an American-led UN action in Qaddafi’s Libya that has not been forgotten or forgiven by the Kremlin—and destroy Kiev’s approaching aircraft and land forces. If that happens, US and NATO forces, now being built up in Eastern Europe, might well also intervene, creating a Cuban missile crisis–like confrontation. As a former Russian foreign minister admired in the West reminds us, there are “hawks on both sides.”
Little of this is even noted in the United States. In a democratic political system, the establishment media are expected to pierce the official fog of war. In the Ukrainian crisis, however, mainstream American newspapers and television have been almost as slanted and elliptical as White House and State Department statements, obscuring the atrocities, if reporting them at all, and generally relying on information from Washington and Kiev. Most Americans are thereby unknowingly being shamed by the Obama administration’s role. Those who do know but remain silent—in government, think tanks, universities and media—share its complicity.
Stephen F. Cohen
June 30, 2014
Tuesday, July 01, 2014
People on the move
July 4, 2014 at 10:22 am
Pavel Gubarev on 4 July makes a strong and very emotional video appeal to the Banderite enemy:
Павел Губарев - обращение 4 Июля.
Published on Jul 4, 2014
PARTIAL TRANSLATION OF SELECTED HIGHPOINTS:
:”I am addressing you subhumans, fascists and Banderites, murderers and butchers. You beasts, who are conducting open genocide against the Russian people…. using heavy artillery and aerial bombings… killing women, children, the elderly…. attempting to wipe off the face of the earth entire villages and towns… using casette bombs [image of guy holding up cassette bomb], chemical weapons against the peaceful population…
Every one of you creatures will receive the punishment you deserve, for what you have done… the murder of children…(…) [images of people fleeing burning home]….[images of people fleeing, ,and more destruction]
Thanks to your bombs, people have been literally torn into pieces… Yesterday a little girl was killed, only 5 years old… [image of men trying to bring hoses to put out fires]…[images of fire and smoke] [image of refugees cowering in cellars] — this is now 2 minutes in..
“We see the systematic annihilation precisely of the peaceful population, based on their territorial and ethnic composition… This is genocide. We see the resurrection of fascism in the heart of Europe. [image of fascist thugs] [image of Azov battalion insignia with glaring black swastika in the middle] Europeans pretend not to notice what is going on, and we do not count on their integrity one bit. We don’t pay attention to their claims that they support human rights…. (etc.)
[3 minutes in now] Leaders of Europe and USA are bloody hypocrites. No… we count only on our own forces. We are defending our own land, our own language, our culture, and our history.
Our heroes – are Suvorov and Zhukov. NOT Bandera and Shukhevich. Our history is the history of magnificent accomplishments and great victories. [image of an older soldier poking inside a blown-up tank] …
“In our veins flows the blood of our ancestors who were able to defeat each and every enemy on the field of battle, and defend their land. Now it is OUR turn to prove that we are worthy of our ancestors, who defeated the fascist vermin during Great Fatherland War.
[at 4 minutes now] “…and once again these fascist cockroaches are coming at us [camera back on Gubarev] , but we know how to deal with them, these Ukrainian fascists, who have swarmed onto our soil, to kill Russian people. We will deal with them in the same way as did our grandfathers.
We will destroy and burn their tanks and armour, their aviation, and their artillery. As we do on a daily basis. We are destroying these punitive brigades of Banderites, which the Kiev junta uses like cannon fodder. They chase you like sheep into the battle. Sometimes we even have the impression that in Kiev they are trying to get rid of inconvenient nationalists, by hurling you at us
[at 5 minutes now] They did their business on the Maidan, replacing one clique of oligarchs with another. (….)
“So I want to say to you Banderites: You are even stupider and dumber.than your predecessors. Your ideology, your followers… you always used others as tools to achieve your political goals. For example, the West. [repeats that they are being used like sheep, as cannon fodder].
“My advice to you: Return to your homes, to your own cities. Overthrow the usurpers and oligarchs. Start to build the kind of society that you have dreamed about. You have everything you need to do that. The only thing you don’t have is a brain. [up to 6 minutes now]
Here in Donbass, we already overthrow our own oligarchs. And now we are building a true democracy here. The kind you can only moo about on your Maidan. The type of revolution that you, Banderites, are pathologically incapable of pulling off. You are, and have always been, just tools in the hands of others, for their own goals….
“In conclusion, stop poking your noses onto our land, our Novorossiya, our motherland.
Bandeites: stop believing those politicians in Kiev. They are betraying you for their own crass purposes. They are tossing you like meat onto our weapons and our positions….
[the rest of Pavel's speech is just an uninteresting rant about SBU agents and provocateurs...]
July 4, 2014 at 12:10 pm
Was away for three days and it seems that the situation in eastern Ukraine is still the same. junta forces are gaining and the seps are losing ground. Three high commanders of the seps jumped to junta side. More civilians dying and fleeing to Russia. More infra destroyed. The Western MSM being completely silent about the genocide and ethnic cleansing of Russians in eastern Ukraine. And Russia still doing absolutely nothing to stop the genocide and ethnic cleansing.
conniption » Wed Jul 02, 2014 9:28 pm wrote:
People on the move
Truth Crushed to Earth: Why Ukraine crisis won't be solved by Kiev's atrocities
By Daniel Patrick Welch
As has become a staple in the schizophrenia on my newsfeed, two posts come up in diametric opposition. Surprise, surprise in the Bizarro World of the western media echo chamber being confronted in any way by forces outside the Bubble. One is a Times fluff piece claiming the Ukie army has "found its footing" against the rebels, a creepy fascist-fellating homily about how brainwashing kids into killing their brothers and sisters is somehow a good thing. The other is from a Russian language post on Pravda.ru, explaining that the Kiev junta is finally forced to admit publicly to mass desertions from its army.
Flag of the Donetsk People's Republic
(image by DNR)
In any rational view, the NYT perspective should be seen as the hollow, meaningless, triumphalist and bombastic bullshit one has come to expect from the Paper of Record. The Gray Lady is the most effete and 'philosophical' (read: full of sh*t) of the Big Three. And let's recap the breakdown of these loudmouth Dogs of Empire: WaPo is for those who think they run the world; WSJ is for those who actually *do* run the world; and NYT is for those who think they *should* run the world
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/07/world ... .html?_r=2
http://www.pravda.ru/news/world/formeru ... 72-kiev-0/
So it's completely understandable that they would fall into the trap of hyperventilating misinterpretation that followed Strelkov's masterly decision to break out of Slavyansk and fight a better fight. [For more specifics on how badly mischaracterized this brilliant move is see here [ http://vineyardsaker.blogspot.co.nz/ ] I'm not downplaying the political significance, but it is obviously being overplayed here while the real story is on page 3 (or, in an obscure Russian language publication). The junta is hardly in good shape. The fascists have to admit (po-russki, at least), that soldiers are defecting en masse. Nothing drains morale like getting blasted off a hill. Behind the headlines, an Azov Batallion lost 238 of 320 soldiers overnight. It's a stupid war for a stupid cause, and it is doomed to eventual failure, though perhaps not today. Why people turn against it is largely immaterial. Do I really give a sh*t whether Americans actually grew a conscience and thought slaughtering millions of innocent people in Southeast Asia was wrong? Well, yes I do, I guess.. but my point is that my opinion on the matter is irrelevant. It was the body bags that turned people against the war.
Fascist repression and genocidal bombing are, sadly, not new--and certainly not new weapons in the arsenal of US imperial hegemony. And the forces that have trained, paid for and committed the wholesale slaughter of children, the raping of nuns and unmitigated marauding from Central and South America to Africa to Southeast Asia to the Middle East are certainly unlikely to change their spots simply because they find themselves to be 'among white people.' In fact, absent the communist bogey man, the western hatred toward Russia is revealed for what it is--yet another outburst of unleashed White Supremacy against the Other, in this case the Dirty Slavs that were Hitler's nemesis. And lest you succumb to the argument that supremacy is controlled by skin tone, I need only remind of my own ancestors, the palest people on earth, vilified as the ni***rs of Europe for centuries and subjugated as England's first colony, destined to be her last.
It needs to be said that the actual nazis never had much compunction against killing civilians, as the massacres in Odessa, Mariupol and elsewhere already show. As for the notion that conscripts are getting successfully groomed to kill their own people, I can disagree with some of my comrades with whom I regularly talk about these issues without resorting to the kind of unnecessary ad hominem characterizations of romanticism and fifth columnism that seems to have become rampant on social media given the fog of war (the Fogosphere). I think it's a bit of (unspoken) wishful thinking on the part of the sociopaths at the NYT. A fascification may be partly responsible... but in large part I think this is a simple artifact of the war phase, which I mentioned back in a column in early May. I feared then that the increasingly armed character of the resistance would make it impossible for the continuation of the scenes we have witnessed of civilians stopping tanks with their hands and columns of troops turning around. I was wrong--it continued like this for much longer, much to my astonishment. After all, an enemy in uniform who is shooting at you is far simpler to shoot at--once the lines have been drawn, much less brainwashing is necessary than to run over crowds with a tank. The air war in southeast asia was perhaps the ultimate triumph of this hands-off fascism of slaughtering an innocent enemy you can't see.
Instead, we see a beleaguered junta clinging to a fantasy of 'victory' at having finally taken a small town after months of siege with overwhelming 'superiority,' while letting the entire besieged army with all of its equipment escape unscathed. Wackjob nazis are shooting at each other in its capital, making it completely unsafe for ordinary people. Mass defections and mass casualties continue unabated, and its shrill cries and ridiculous goals are getting more insane by the day: "We will retake Crimea!" "We will rejoin Europe!" "We'll launch pre-emptive nuclear strikes!" Good luck with all *that!*
It would be crazy not to be downhearted, and the Russian long game--even if it is successful--is incredibly sad, perhaps even cynical, for hundreds of thousands of people across Novorossiya. The junta is imploding, they have no hope of taking--let alone holding--Donetsk, and their cynical use of cannon fodder will make them even more hated. Meanwhile, even the July heat can't chase away the looming shadow of a coming gasless winter; Merkel is in China looking for her own piece of the same Eurasian pie that Putin just snagged, hugely pissing off her American patrons; and the French are howling about the unfairness of the dollar system. At the risk of sounding glib: (Long) Game. (Long) Set. (Long) Match.
(c) 2014 Daniel Patrick Welch. Reprint permission granted with credit and link to http://danielpwelch.com. Political analyst, writer, linguist and activist Daniel Patrick Welch lives and writes in Salem, Massachusetts, with his wife. Together they run The Greenhouse School (http://www.greenhouseschool.org). Translations of articles are available in up to 30 languages. Links to the website are appreciated at danielpwelch.com. Welch has also appeared in numerous television and radio interviews, and can be available for comment and analysis as his day job permits.
Weekend Edition July 11-13, 2014
The Return of George Orwell and Big Brother’s War
by JOHN PILGER
The other night, I saw George Orwells’s 1984 performed on the London stage. Although crying out for a contemporary interpretation, Orwell’s warning about the future was presented as a period piece: remote, unthreatening, almost reassuring. It was as if Edward Snowden had revealed nothing, Big Brother was not now a digital eavesdropper and Orwell himself had never said, “To be corrupted by totalitarianism, one does not have to live in a totalitarian country.”
Acclaimed by critics, the skilful production was a measure of our cultural and political times. When the lights came up, people were already on their way out. They seemed unmoved, or perhaps other distractions beckoned. “What a mindfuck,” said the young woman, lighting up her phone.
As advanced societies are de-politicised, the changes are both subtle and spectacular. In everyday discourse, political language is turned on its head, as Orwell prophesised in 1984. “Democracy” is now a rhetorical device. Peace is “perpetual war”. “Global” is imperial. The once hopeful concept of “reform” now means regression, even destruction. “Austerity” is the imposition of extreme capitalism on the poor and the gift of socialism for the rich: an ingenious system under which the majority service the debts of the few.
In the arts, hostility to political truth-telling is an article of bourgeois faith. “Picasso’s red period,” says an Observer headline, “and why politics don’t make good art.” Consider this in a newspaper that promoted the bloodbath in Iraq as a liberal crusade. Picasso’s lifelong opposition to fascism is a footnote, just as Orwell’s radicalism has faded from the prize that appropriated his name.
A few years ago, Terry Eagleton, then professor of English literature at Manchester University, reckoned that “for the first time in two centuries, there is no eminent British poet, playwright or novelist prepared to question the foundations of the western way of life”. No Shelley speaks for the poor, no Blake for utopian dreams, no Byron damns the corruption of the ruling class, no Thomas Carlyle and John Ruskin reveal the moral disaster of capitalism. William Morris, Oscar Wilde, HG Wells, George Bernard Shaw have no equivalents today. Harold Pinter was the last to raise his voice. Among the insistent voices of consumer- feminism, none echoes Virginia Woolf, who described “the arts of dominating other people … of ruling, of killing, of acquiring land and capital”.
At the National Theatre, a new play, Great Britain, satirises the phone hacking scandal that has seen journalists tried and convicted, including a former editor of Rupert Murdoch’s News of the World. Described as a “farce with fangs [that] puts the whole incestuous [media] culture in the dock and subjects it to merciless ridicule”, the play’s targets are the “blessedly funny” characters in Britain’s tabloid press. That is well and good, and so familiar. What of the non-tabloid media that regards itself as reputable and credible, yet serves a parallel role as an arm of state and corporate power, as in the promotion of illegal war?
The Leveson inquiry into phone hacking glimpsed this unmentionable. Tony Blair was giving evidence, complaining to His Lordship about the tabloids’ harassment of his wife, when he was interrupted by a voice from the public gallery. David Lawley-Wakelin, a film-maker, demanded Blair’s arrest and prosecution for war crimes. There was a long pause: the shock of truth. Lord Leveson leapt to his feet and ordered the truth-teller thrown out and apologised to the war criminal. Lawley-Wakelin was prosecuted; Blair went free.
Blair’s enduring accomplices are more respectable than the phone hackers. When the BBC arts presenter, Kirsty Wark, interviewed him on the tenth anniversary of his invasion of Iraq, she gifted him a moment he could only dream of; she allowed him to agonise over his “difficult” decision on Iraq rather than call him to account for his epic crime. This evoked the procession of BBC journalists who in 2003 declared that Blair could feel “vindicated”, and the subsequent, “seminal” BBC series, The Blair Years, for which David Aaronovitch was chosen as the writer, presenter and interviewer. A Murdoch retainer who campaigned for military attacks on Iraq, Libya and Syria, Aaronovitch fawned expertly.
Since the invasion of Iraq – the exemplar of an act of unprovoked aggression the Nuremberg prosecutor Robert Jackson called “the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole” — Blair and his mouthpiece and principal accomplice, Alastair Campbell, have been afforded generous space in the Guardian to rehabilitate their reputations. Described as a Labour Party “star”, Campbell has sought the sympathy of readers for his depression and displayed his interests, though not his current assignment as advisor, with Blair, to the Egyptian military tyranny.
As Iraq is dismembered as a consequence of the Blair/Bush invasion, a Guardian headline declares: “Toppling Saddam was right, but we pulled out too soon”. This ran across a prominent article on 13 June by a former Blair functionary, John McTernan, who also served Iraq’s CIA installed dictator Iyad Allawi. In calling for a repeat invasion of a country his former master helped destroy , he made no reference to the deaths of at least 700,000 people, the flight of four million refugees and sectarian turmoil in a nation once proud of its communal tolerance.
“Blair embodies corruption and war,” wrote the radical Guardian columnist Seumas Milne in a spirited piece on 3 July. This is known in the trade as “balance”. The following day, the paper published a full-page advertisement for an American Stealth bomber. On a menacing image of the bomber were the words: “The F-35. GREAT For Britain”. This other embodiment of “corruption and war” will cost British taxpayers £1.3 billion, its F-model predecessors having slaughtered people across the developing world.
In a village in Afghanistan, inhabited by the poorest of the poor, I filmed Orifa, kneeling at the graves of her husband, Gul Ahmed, a carpet weaver, seven other members of her family, including six children, and two children who were killed in the adjacent house. A “precision” 500-pound bomb fell directly on their small mud, stone and straw house, leaving a crater 50 feet wide. Lockheed Martin, the plane’s manufacturer’s, had pride of place in the Guardian’s advertisement.
The former US secretary of state and aspiring president of the United States, Hillary Clinton, was recently on the BBC’s Women’s Hour, the quintessence of media respectability. The presenter, Jenni Murray, presented Clinton as a beacon of female achievement. She did not remind her listeners about Clinton’s profanity that Afghanistan was invaded to “liberate” women like Orifa. She asked Clinton nothing about her administration’s terror campaign using drones to kill women, men and children. There was no mention of Clinton’s idle threat, while campaigning to be the first female president, to “eliminate” Iran, and nothing about her support for illegal mass surveillance and the pursuit of whistle-blowers.
Murray did ask one finger-to-the-lips question. Had Clinton forgiven Monica Lewinsky for having an affair with husband? “Forgiveness is a choice,” said Clinton, “for me, it was absolutely the right choice.” This recalled the 1990s and the years consumed by the Lewinsky “scandal”. President Bill Clinton was then invading Haiti, and bombing the Balkans, Africa and Iraq. He was also destroying the lives of Iraqi children; Unicef reported the deaths of half a million Iraqi infants under the age of five as a result of an embargo led by the US and Britain.
The children were media unpeople, just as Hillary Clinton’s victims in the invasions she supported and promoted – Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Somalia — are media unpeople. Murray made no reference to them. A photograph of her and her distinguished guest, beaming, appears on the BBC website.
In politics as in journalism and the arts, it seems that dissent once tolerated in the “mainstream” has regressed to a dissidence: a metaphoric underground. When I began a career in Britain’s Fleet Street in the 1960s, it was acceptable to critique western power as a rapacious force. Read James Cameron’s celebrated reports of the explosion of the Hydrogen bomb at Bikini Atoll, the barbaric war in Korea and the American bombing of North Vietnam. Today’s grand illusion is of an information age when, in truth, we live in a media age in which incessant corporate propaganda is insidious, contagious, effective and liberal.
In his 1859 essay On Liberty, to which modern liberals pay homage, John Stuart Mill wrote: “Despotism is a legitimate mode of government in dealing with barbarians, provided the end be their improvement, and the means justified by actually effecting that end.” The “barbarians” were large sections of humanity of whom “implicit obedience” was required. “It’s a nice and convenient myth that liberals are peacemakers and conservatives the warmongers,” wrote the historian Hywel Williams in 2001, “but the imperialism of the liberal way may be more dangerous because of its open-ended nature: its conviction that it represents a superior form of life.” He had in mind a speech by Blair in which the then prime minister promised to “reorder the world around us” according to his “moral values”.
Richard Falk, the respected authority on international law and the UN Special Rapporteur on Palestine, once described a “a self-righteous, one-way, legal/moral screen [with] positive images of western values and innocence portrayed as threatened, validating a campaign of unrestricted political violence”. It is “so widely accepted as to be virtually unchallengeable”.
Tenure and patronage reward the guardians. On BBC Radio 4, Razia Iqbal interviewed Toni Morrison, the African-American Nobel Laureate. Morrison wondered why people were “so angry” with Barack Obama, who was “cool” and wished to build a “strong economy and health care”. Morrison was proud to have talked on the phone with her hero, who had read one of her books and invited her to his inauguration.
Neither she nor her interviewer mentioned Obama’s seven wars, including his terror campaign by drone, in which whole families, their rescuers and mourners have been murdered. What seemed to matter was that a “finely spoken” man of colour had risen to the commanding heights of power. In The Wretched of the Earth, Frantz Fanon wrote that the “historic mission” of the colonised was to serve as a “transmission line” to those who ruled and oppressed. In the modern era, the employment of ethnic difference in western power and propaganda systems is now seen as essential. Obama epitomises this, though the cabinet of George W. Bush – his warmongering clique – was the most multiracial in presidential history.
As the Iraqi city of Mosul fell to the jihadists of ISIS, Obama said, “The American people made huge investments and sacrifices in order to give Iraqis the opportunity to chart a better destiny.” How “cool” is that lie? How “finely spoken” was Obama’s speech at the West Point military academy on 28 May. Delivering his “state of the world” address at the graduation ceremony of those who “will take American leadership” across the world, Obama said, “The United States will use military force, unilaterally if necessary, when our core interests demand it. International opinion matters, but America will never ask permission …”
In repudiating international law and the rights of independent nations, the American president claims a divinity based on the might of his “indispensable nation”. It is a familiar message of imperial impunity, though always bracing to hear. Evoking the rise of fascism in the 1930s, Obama said, “I believe in American exceptionalism with every fibre of my being.” Historian Norman Pollack wrote: “For goose-steppers, substitute the seemingly more innocuous militarisation of the total culture. And for the bombastic leader, we have the reformer manqué, blithely at work, planning and executing assassination, smiling all the while.”
In February, the US mounted one of its “colour” coups against the elected government in Ukraine, exploiting genuine protests against corruption in Kiev. Obama’s national security adviser Victoria Nuland personally selected the leader of an “interim government”. She nicknamed him “Yats”. Vice President Joe Biden came to Kiev, as did CIA Director John Brennan. The shock troops of their putsch were Ukrainian fascists.
For the first time since 1945, a neo-Nazi, openly anti-Semitic party controls key areas of state power in a European capital. No Western European leader has condemned this revival of fascism in the borderland through which Hitler’s invading Nazis took millions of Russian lives. They were supported by the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA), responsible for the massacre of Jews and Russians they called “vermin”. The UPA is the historical inspiration of the present-day Svoboda Party and its fellow-travelling Right Sector. Svoboda leader Oleh Tyahnybok has called for a purge of the “Moscow-Jewish mafia” and “other scum”, including gays, feminists and those on the political left.
Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the United States has ringed Russia with military bases, nuclear warplanes and missiles as part of its Nato Enlargement Project. Reneging on a promise made to Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev in 1990 that Nato would not expand “one inch to the east”, Nato has, in effect, militarily occupied eastern Europe. In the former Soviet Caucasus, Nato’s expansion is the biggest military build-up since the Second World War.
A Nato Membership Action Plan is Washington’s gift to the coup-regime in Kiev. In August, “Operation Rapid Trident” will put American and British troops on Ukraine’s Russian border and “Sea Breeze” will send US warships within sight of Russian ports. Imagine the response if these acts of provocation, or intimidation, were carried out on America’s borders.
In reclaiming Crimea — which Nikita Kruschev illegally detached from Russia in 1954 – the Russians defended themselves as they have done for almost a century. More than 90 per cent of the population of Crimea voted to return the territory to Russia. Crimea is the home of the Black Sea Fleet and its loss would mean life or death for the Russian Navy and a prize for Nato. Confounding the war parties in Washington and Kiev, Vladimir Putin withdrew troops from the Ukrainian border and urged ethnic Russians in eastern Ukraine to abandon separatism.
In Orwellian fashion, this has been inverted in the west to the “Russian threat”. Hillary Clinton likened Putin to Hitler. Without irony, right-wing German commentators said as much. In the media, the Ukrainian neo-Nazis are sanitised as “nationalists” or “ultra nationalists”. What they fear is that Putin is skilfully seeking a diplomatic solution, and may succeed. On 27 June, responding to Putin’s latest accommodation – his request to the Russian Parliament to rescind legislation that gave him the power to intervene on behalf of Ukraine’s ethnic Russians – Secretary of State John Kerry issued another of his ultimatums. Russia must “act within the next few hours, literally” to end the revolt in eastern Ukraine. Notwithstanding that Kerry is widely recognised as a buffoon, the serious purpose of these “warnings” is to confer pariah status on Russia and suppress news of the Kiev regime’s war on its own people.
A third of the population of Ukraine are Russian-speaking and bilingual. They have long sought a democratic federation that reflects Ukraine’s ethnic diversity and is both autonomous and independent of Moscow. Most are neither “separatists” nor “rebels” but citizens who want to live securely in their homeland. Separatism is a reaction to the Kiev junta’s attacks on them, causing as many as 110,000 (UN estimate) to flee across the border into Russia. Typically, they are traumatised women and children.
Like Iraq’s embargoed infants, and Afghanistan’s “liberated” women and girls, terrorised by the CIA’s warlords, these ethnic people of Ukraine are media unpeople in the west, their suffering and the atrocities committed against them minimised, or suppressed. No sense of the scale of the regime’s assault is reported in the mainstream western media. This is not unprecedented. Reading again Phillip Knightley’s masterly The First Casualty: the war correspondent as hero, propagandist and mythmaker, I renewed my admiration for the Manchester Guardian’s Morgan Philips Price, the only western reporter to remain in Russia during the 1917 revolution and report the truth of a disastrous invasion by the western allies. Fair-minded and courageous, Philips Price alone disturbed what Knightley calls an anti-Russian “dark silence” in the west.
On 2 May, in Odessa, 41 ethnic Russians were burned alive in the trade union headquarters with police standing by. There is horrifying video evidence. The Right Sector leader Dmytro Yarosh hailed the massacre as “another bright day in our national history”. In the American and British media, this was reported as a “murky tragedy” resulting from “clashes” between “nationalists” (neo-Nazis) and “separatists” (people collecting signatures for a referendum on a federal Ukraine). The New York Times buried it, having dismissed as Russian propaganda warnings about the fascist and anti-Semitic policies of Washington’s new clients. The Wall Street Journal damned the victims – “Deadly Ukraine Fire Likely Sparked by Rebels, Government Says”. Obama congratulated the junta for its “restraint”.
On 28 June, the Guardian devoted most of a page to declarations by the Kiev regime’s “president”, the oligarch Petro Poroshenko. Again, Orwell’s rule of inversion applied. There was no putsch; no war against Ukraine’s minority; the Russians were to blame for everything. “We want to modernise my country,” said Poroshenko. “We want to introduce freedom, democracy and European values. Somebody doesn’t like that. Somebody doesn’t like us for that.”
According to his report, the Guardian’s reporter, Luke Harding, did not challenge these assertions, or mention the Odessa atrocity, the regime’s air and artillery attacks on residential areas, the killing and kidnapping of journalists, the firebombing of an opposition newspaper and his threat to “free Ukraine from dirt and parasites”. The enemy are “rebels”, “militants”, “insurgents”, “terrorists” and stooges of the Kremlin. Summon from history the ghosts of Vietnam, Chile, East Timor, southern Africa, Iraq; note the same tags. Palestine is the lodestone of this unchanging deceit. On 11 July, following the latest Israeli, American equipped slaughter in Gaza – 80 people including six children in one family — an Israeli general writes in the Guardian under the headline, “A necessary show of force”.
In the 1970s, I met Leni Riefenstahl and asked her about her films that glorified the Nazis. Using revolutionary camera and lighting techniques, she produced a documentary form that mesmerised Germans; it was her Triumph of the Will that reputedly cast Hitler’s spell. I asked her about propaganda in societies that imagined themselves superior. She replied that the “messages” in her films were dependent not on “orders from above” but on a “submissive void” in the German population. “Did that include the liberal, educated bourgeoisie?” I asked. “Everyone,” she replied, “and of course the intelligentsia.”
John Pilger is the author of Freedom Next Time. All his documentary films can be viewed free on his websitehttp://www.johnpilger.com/
Malaysian passenger plane shot down over east Ukraine, Kiev says
MOSCOW — Associated Press and Reuters
Published Thursday, Jul. 17 2014, 11:31 AM EDT
Last updated Thursday, Jul. 17 2014, 12:00 PM EDT
A Ukrainian official said a Malaysian passenger plane carrying 295 people was shot down Thursday over a town in the east of the country.
Anton Gerashenko, an adviser to Ukraine’s Interior Minister, said on his Facebook page the plane was flying at an altitude of 33,000 feet when it was hit by a missile fired from a Buk launcher. A similar launcher was seen by Associated Press journalists near the eastern Ukrainian town of Snizhne earlier Thursday.
This does not bode well.
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