Escalation Over Ukraine Continues

by lizard

I agree with George Ochenski. Washington has gone insane over the Ukraine:

It’s very difficult to discern what possible interest the United States could have in the current situation in Crimea and Ukraine. Yet, President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry are waving sabers and directly threatening Russia over what they call its incursion into a sovereign state.

In the meantime, members of Congress are coming up with some seriously inane ideas they think might have some effect on Russia without considering the effects they will undoubtedly produce on our own lands, waters and citizens.

Let’s start with the over-the-top reaction of the Obama administration, which pledged a billion dollars to Ukraine without even bothering to ask Congress or the American people what we thought.

A billion dollars is a thousand million. What will that thousand million dollars be used for in Ukraine that’s more important than spending it here at home for our long and growing list of domestic needs? It’ll go to pay off some of the natural gas debt Ukraine has racked up to Russian energy company Gazprom.

But hey, why stop there? Obama has also ordered economic sanctions against Russia and, in a Cold War redux, positioned a destroyer in the Black Sea off the coast of Crimea, sent F-15s to Lithuania and a dozen F-16s to Poland along with 300 troops. It’s safe to say many of our citizens are shocked by this leap to wartime actions – without a shred of consultation with Congress – by the same president who won the Nobel Peace Prize.

So our tax money is in for a cool billion, and the World Bank recently announced a “loan” of 3 billion dollars:

The World Bank on Monday said it plans to provide Ukraine up to $3 billion in 2014 to support the country’s new government in the midst of its current crisis, though only part of the money would be new.

The bank, a Washington-based lender that focuses on ending poverty, already has several projects in Ukraine. About $2 billion in the funds will be disbursed this year as part of ongoing projects.

And another pot of cash, up to $1 billion, would go directly to the government if it implements economic reforms to get its finances in order.

So this nice, new government will get a billion dollars “directly” IF it “implements economic reforms”. I like how this short CNBC piece describes the World Bank’s focus as “ending poverty”. Because it’s the exact opposite—it’s Orwellian doublespeak for imposing neoliberal austerity.

Speaking of the new government, I’m sure that neo-Nazi fascist meme is just Russian propaganda, right? Wrong:

Some have noted that, for the first time since 1945, neo-fascists hold cabinet posts in a European country. They include the Ukrainian interim defense minister, Ihor Tenyukh (a naval commander who has studied at the Pentagon and favors NATO membership); deputy prime minster for economic affairs Oleksandr Sych (chief Svoboda ideologist who as a member of parliament co-authored a bill banning abortion, who’s said that women have the right to avoid pregnancy by “leading an orderly life”); minister of agriculture Ihor Svaika (an agro-oligarch); and minister of ecology Andriy Moknyk (who has served as Svoboda’s envoy to Italy’s neo-fascist Forzo Nuovo. Group).

Other appointments worth noting include the National Security Council chief, Andry Parubiy (co-founder of Svoboda, leader of the U.S.-backed “Orange Revolution” in 2004, and “security commandant” during the Maidan protests directing attacks by the paramilitary organization “Right Sector”); and Deputy NSC chief, Dmytro Yarosh (founder of the “Right Sector”). The Prosecuter-general, Oleh Makhnitsky and Minister of Education Serhiy Kvit are also members of the Svoboda Party.

Imagine a National Security Council controlled by people whom (it now appears) hired snipers to fire on the Maidan crowd, with the intention of blaming this on Yanukovich’s security forces.) This is not business as usual. This is a leap into darkness.

That Oleksandr Sych dude sounds like he’s cut from the same cloth of crusading anti-abortion social conservatives here at home, like the ones in Texas who have decimated access to clinics for women.

The Ochenski piece mentioned Obama’s saber rattling. In Crimea, there is a referendum that may go down on Sunday, which is escalating the situation:

Ukraine’s parliament has warned Crimea’s regional assembly it will be dissolved unless it cancels a referendum over joining Russia.

Kyiv said Crimea had until Wednesday to call it off.

Meanwhile the Crimean Parliament stated on Tuesday it would declare itself an independent state if people vote in favour of joining Russia. It would then officially ask to become part of the Russian federation. In a secret sitting, MPs voted 78 to 3 in favour of a declaration of independence from Ukraine. The declaration cites Kosovo’s separation from Serbia as a legal precedent.

Yep, Kosovo is a good precedent to cite. That’s the problem with America’s blatant hypocrisy. Our actions on the international stage have precedent-setting consequences down the road.

This situation will only get worse. I don’t see how Obama has any room to deescalate rising tensions. The propaganda here at home is just too good to counter with a few speeches. Unfortunately I don’t think Obama has any incentive to step back. The President can’t look weak with midterms coming and control of the Senate in jeopardy.

So let’s escalate a confrontation with a nuclear-armed Russia.

Ochenski has it right, Washington has gone insane.

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  1. Big Swede

    Classic George.

    I’m always blown away when libs become concerned about giving away billions unwisely. Cry me a river.

    But suspiciously you left out the real “meat” of his column.

    ” First, the known environmental impacts from fracking are increasing, causing state and local governments to pass new fracking bans because they fear the contamination of precious groundwater with a host of toxic fracking chemicals. Why anyone would want to poison our water so we can send natural gas to Europe is apparently a question our brilliant leaders in Congress don’t wish to answer.

    Not only will we be increasing known negative effects from domestic fracking, we’ll be depleting our finite supplies of natural gas to aid our direct economic competitors. In the meantime, tens of millions of our own citizens continue to reel from the effects of the Great Recession.

    Plus, it’s far cheaper to transport gas in pipelines than to liquefy it and send it across oceans in ships. So no matter how many environmental regulations we discard along the way, it is basically impossible to undercut the price for Russian gas in Europe.”

    So we can add to George’s resume chemical engineering, global economics and transportational logistics.

    Along with fear mongering rabid environmentalism.

    • lizard19

      I’m not one of these “libs” who haunt your fever-dreams, Swede, but thanks for quoting more of Ochenski’s column. any Republican who even floats the idea of liquifying natural gas to ship to Europe to strengthen their allegedly soft stand against Russia is totally unhinged from reality.

      • Big Swede

        Here’s some reality. We’re building shipping yards and we’re all ready shipping it. We’re building the tankers. And most importantly Europe wants us to sail yesterday.

        How ’bout this solution? Here’s your low polluting Natural Gas Europe, but we got this letter (wink, wink) says that this in no ways intrudes on Russia’s monopoly or is a statement concerning the Bear’s act of aggression.

        After all what’s most important to you guys is the symbolism, not the substance.

        • JC

          What do you consider “aggression”, Swede? Desiring to put nukes on the doorstep of Russia? Ot trying to defend your borders against hostile acts? HOw is what Russia is doing in Ukraine significantly different that our acts against Cuba and Russia during the Cuban missile crisis?

          And symbols? You’re the one referring to the “Bear.” HOw much more symbolic can you get than that?

          And selling energy to europe to replace the potential loss of Russian energy sales? Did you notice that little tidbit in the news yesterday about India? It’s going to quit purchasing from Iran. Guess where it can make up the dif? Yep, energy suppllies once sold to Europe. Russia has plenty of markets for its energy if we try to “isolate” them.

          You know, I never really thought you were such a neocon. I really thought your libertarianism was much stronger than this Or is it that whatever helps push Keystone XL over the finish line, and pushes max production out of the Bakken is ok with you?

          Sorry, I realize that there were 10 question marks in the above comment. Feel free to ignore nine, and answer the easiest one with a video.

          • Big Swede

            I’ll answer below. Still searching for a video.

        • evdebs

          What’s important to you is the rhetoric and ideology, not the actuality.

          Natural gas is cheap, when shipped by pipeline. It’s hugely more expensive to turn it into LNG and then to transport it, for which only markets with no sufficient pipeline source (i.e. Japan), can find it economic.

          LNG is not a practical substitute to piped gas.

          Alaska closed an LNG plant, just a few years ago.

  2. 1 billion here, 3 billion there, doesn’t even begin to staunch the bleeding. The most conservative estimates of 35 billion would only start to stabilize the situation with many more billions needed to actually jump start their economy. (think Greece with less tourism)

    But that is just one particularly volatile basket case economy amongst so, so many. Welcome to 21st century global capitalism- need work? Try one of the Gulf States or North Dakota.

  3. JC

    And now Ukrainian MPs want their own nukes because we won’t militarily confront Russia over this:

    ————-
    KIEV, Ukraine — Ukraine may have to arm itself with nuclear weapons if the United States and other world powers refuse to enforce a security pact that obligates them to reverse the Moscow-backed takeover of Crimea, a member of the Ukraine parliament told USA TODAY.

    The United States, Great Britain and Russia agreed in a pact “to assure Ukraine’s territorial integrity” in return for Ukraine giving up a nuclear arsenal it inherited from the Soviet Union after declaring independence in 1991, said Pavlo Rizanenko, a member of the Ukrainian parliament.

    “We gave up nuclear weapons because of this agreement,” said Rizanenko, a member of the Udar Party headed by Vitali Klitschko, a candidate for president. “Now there’s a strong sentiment in Ukraine that we made a big mistake…

    “Everyone had this sentiment that for good or bad the United States would be the world police” and make sure that international order is maintained, Rizanenko said of the Budapest pact.

    “Now that function is being abandoned by President Obama and because of that Russia invaded Crimea,” he said.

    “In the future, no matter how the situation is resolved in Crimea, we need a much stronger Ukraine,” he said. “If you have nuclear weapons people don’t invade you.”
    ————-

    Interesting that a Ukrainian MP would use an interview with USAToday to voice their threats… the propaganda war has hit full tilt.

  4. Adam

    It would be sick enough if our tax money was in for a “cool billion.” It’s worse than that. The Federal Government borrowers somewhere around 40 cents of every $1 it spends, so that means Obama is actually putting about $400 million of that cool billion on the credit card for future generations to deal with! It’s criminal.

  5. Russia is a far poorer country than the US, and yet did not hesitate to float a 15 billion dollar loan when it appeared it would help their strategic goals. Americans wail about a billion dollars to secure an alliance with a 176 billion dollar economy. And then people wonder why Putin has the more effective foreign policy.

    Now stop reading, I’m about to get really condescending here, or maybe I’ll just state some facts. It’s hard to tell the two apart.

    ” I like how this short CNBC piece describes the World Bank’s focus as “ending poverty”. Because it’s the exact opposite—it’s Orwellian doublespeak for imposing neoliberal austerity.”

    The top six countries receiving World Bank loans since its inception have experienced substantially higher than average HDI growth for the past 34 years (most HDI numbers start at 1980).

    That took me a solid 20 minutes to find and compute – I didn’t just pull it off a website that supports my point of view. Why would I go through that much trouble? Because I was, in fact, curious, in the actual sense of the word.

    • JC

      Maybe we should get the World Bank to drop some money in the U.S. and restructure our economy. Neolibs like you would love that–impose a bit more austerity. The U.N. has our HDI dropping from 9th in 2010 to 19th in 2030.

      Condescending? Or fact?

      • HDI is an index, not a ranking. Is our HDI expected to fall? It certainly will if we don’t step up our healthcare game. And I generally disagree with neoliberal policy. I used to be firmly anti-World Bank, anti-IMF, and I can’t say I went into this conversation with good feelings towards them. But I did go into this conversation with a very negative opinion of the ability of you two to find actual facts past your general rage towards a poorly defined power structure. So I found them, not on someone’s blog or an official Word Bank document, but at a UN database, and calculated them myself to be sure.

        • JC

          The U.N. ranks them:

          “The list of countries, ranked by their anticipated Human Development Index (HDI) in 2010–2030, was published in 2010 by the Human Development Report Office of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), as part of its Human Development Research Paper Series.”

          Just facts. Not condescension.

          Now that you’ve disclosed the nations you were analyzing, it begs the question: Does a positive HDI ranking mean our country should use that as a metric on which to base our foreign policy?

          I hardly think so. Nor do I think that because the World Bank invested in some countries that may have had some positive development, can we assume a World Bank investment in Ukraine will return similar results. Nor can we assume that WB loans were the reason those countries showed improved results. There’s that causality thing. Did you run any factor analysis or linear regression models to see if there’s any real correlation?

          And looking at your list below, if Egypt was doing so well as a result of it’s WB loans, why did we have regime change there/ And how are its citizens doing now? Inquiring minds and all…

          • ““The list of countries, ranked by their anticipated Human Development Index (HDI) ”

            That’s a list, based on an index. Similarly, I could make a list of countries based on their population, but that wouldn’t make a country’s ranking on the list relevant to the actual state of their population. I can’t even try to condescend to you because you are so convinced you are right in the most trivial of things that you cite sources that prove you are wrong.

            Do you know what would have been faster than waiting for me to ‘disclose’ which countries I ‘used’? Just search for a fact – “top six countries receiving WB loans”.

            And yes, I do believe that HDI is right now the most important metric for basing our foreign policy around, because it represents kids actually learning to read, babies actually not dying, people actually living longer and more prosperous lives. Our foreign policy needs to be about defending our interests, but to the extent that it can be altruistic, HDI is the best measure to pursue.

            You are correct – I didn’t prove causality. But if the function of the World Bank is to impoverish developing nations, as lizard claimed without evidence, wouldn’t one expect that the nations it deals most extensively with would be more impoverished than others? And don’t you think it’s funny that lizard can make a fantastic claim like that and no one doubts him but me, but if I want to claim that perhaps the World Bank is not intended to spread poverty to the developing wold, I’m asked to run a linear regression model?

            As to Egypt – regime change doesn’t always reflect economic realities. If you’re curious (because apparently curiosity means asking other people to do research if they disagree with you), Egypt’s rate of growth had slowed substantially in recent years. A period of slowing after rapid growth feels the same as losing ground, and if you’re looking for an economic answer to why there was regime change in Egypt, that’s probably it.

            • JC

              “Our foreign policy needs to be about defending our interests, but to the extent that it can be altruistic…”

              Altruistic? You really are a moral relativist. Ends justify the means, don’t they, because we’re better people than the Russians. And what exactly do you think our administration’s “interest” in Ukraine is?

              Our people have learned to look the other way when we trample other countries’ human rights, democratic processes, and constitutional provisions all in the name of “interest”: American exceptionalism and projecting our hegemony to Russia’s borders.

              I’d just call that the logical outgrowth of Reaganism… whom of course is Obama’s (and apparently your) hero.

              *

              “The mainstream U.S. news media has so fully bought into the U.S. government’s narrative on Ukraine that almost no one sees the layers of hypocrisy, an achievement in ‘group think’ that dates back to Ronald Reagan’s war against ‘moral equivalence,'”

            • “Altruistic? You really are a moral relativist. Ends justify the means, don’t they, because we’re better people than the Russians. And what exactly do you think our administration’s “interest” in Ukraine is?”

              I don’t get where you’re going with this, but I’ll play along. Yes, every country looks out for its own citizens first, and so every country ought to try to maximize its HDI. Where possible, we ought also try to increase the human development of other countries. We can do that easily in Ukraine.

              “Our people have learned to look the other way when we trample other countries’ human rights, democratic processes, and constitutional provisions”

              Pretty sure Yanukovych already trampled Ukraine’s democratic processes; did you read the reports lizard cited for the years he was in power?

              “projecting our hegemony to Russia’s borders.”

              To – not across. Russia has no more right to dictate our relationship with Ukraine than we have to dictate theirs with Cuba.

              By the way, our ‘hegemony’, if defined by NATO, is already there. Do you have any maps at your house? Estonia and Latvia border Russia already. What has been the result of their joining NATO? A world war? Nope. Stability and sovereignty. What has been the result of Ukraine and Georgia not joining NATO? Persistent use of economics and military force to violate their sovereignty. Granted, I don’t think Ukraine needs to join NATO – membership in the EU would have a similar effect.

        • JC

          And I tried to post this comment to your blog on Crimea today, and as usual, I’m still censored there:

          *

          [quoting PW's blog post:]
          “Those who claim or imply otherwise, including those who would do so by rather creepily taking screenshots of my Facebook page, are misrepresenting what I’ve said quite clearly.”

          If you’d have the guts to call me a ‘faux “anti-imperialist” liberal’ to my face instead of behind a cloak of “privacy” on your facebook account, maybe we could have a respectful debate.

          • Because I was definitely referring to you, not anyone else, or a generic group of people (as in fact I was). If I were attacking you directly, you’d know it, because I’d give your ‘name’ and link to your blog. If you let us know who you were, we could have a reasonable debate anywhere you’d like. I’ll even friend you on Facebook and you’re free to comment there – you may have noticed there are some rather intelligent conversations on my page from time to time. As it is, I’m preferring to believe that you’re just a little creepy and mostly just don’t understand social media etiquette. Either way, you crossed a line, and I’m puzzled as to why. However much I disagreed with you, I almost always made an effort to be respectful to you and to lizard. When I crossed the line and was legitimate an ass to lizard, I admitted it and edited it. I’ve never called you a tool, or wished for you to be tortured, or said that your career was meaningless, and yet I get that from you and lizard and Mark all the time. I understand you’re angry at a lot of things, and you associate me with those things, I guess, but going through the trouble of finding someone’s Facebook and misrepresenting their views? I don’t get it. Since I wasn’t calling you out by name, why was what I said on my Facebook page so important to you? .

            • JC

              All I hear is a bunch of CYA. Man up and take responsibility for your words. You know the discussion you and I had the day before your FB post is what you were referring to.

              Here’s what I said a couple days before your FB post:

              “And what is America’s “policy” towards Ukraine? I’d offer that there are two: the public one that John Kerry and Chuck Hegel espouse (Russia bad, America and EU and IMF good — and you support), and the other that the CIA is conducting in its destabilizing coup-inducing maneuvers over the last decade or so (including the Orange “Revolution”) that seeks to continue fighting the cold war within Ukraine.”

              and your response:

              “Now, lets look at what you assert – that the CIA is ‘still fighting the cold war in Ukraine’. Now this may very well be true, but it takes two to fight a Cold War and we know for a fact that Russia is doing the same thing, only a bit more overtly….”

              then your Facebook comment:

              “Please, friends — before you believe any faux “anti-imperialist” liberal telling you that the situation in Ukraine is the result of the CIA resurrecting the Cold War and subverting Ukrainian democracy, do some research…”

              If that wasn’t fodder for your FB slap at me, then i apologize. But if not me, then to whom were you referring to as “faux ‘anti-imperialist’ liberals”?

            • JC

              “If you let us know who you were, we could have a reasonable debate anywhere you’d like.”

              Why would you demand something of me that you aren’t willing to do here? You have no right to demand that I not post and comment on my own blog anonymously.

              Put your real name on your comments here at 4&20, and I might consider doing the same at ID, if I were un-banned by Don, and could, that is.

              • My name is Matthew Downhour. Go ahead and un-blurr my face on your post if you’d like.

    • lizard19

      maybe you could have spent an additional minute to write the actual names of those countries and provide a link. is that too much to ask?

      • Egypt, Nigeria, Kenya, Tanzania, Morocco, Ethiopia.

        http://data.un.org/DocumentData.aspx?q=HDI&id=327

      • Careful on the Nigeria data; I’m only using two of the three indicators because there was no education indicator in Nigeria for 1980.

  6. Ukraine: Will the Nazis and Jews Make Nice?
    By Steve Weissman, Reader Supported News
    11 March 14

    Hating Jews is nothing new in Ukraine. As far back as 1648-49, Cossacks and their allies in the Chmielnicki Massacres killed more than 100,000 Jews and destroyed some 300 Jewish communities. In 1920, as American, British, and French troops were intervening against the Soviet Revolution, Ukrainians waged a massive pogrom that killed some 60,000 Jews. Whether the country’s leader at the time, General Simon Petlura, quietly encouraged the attacks remains a matter of historical dispute. During World War II, Stepan Bandera and other home-grown quislings helped the Nazis slaughter hundreds of thousands of Russians, Poles, Czechs, Armenians, Gypsies, anti-Fascist Ukrainians, and Jews, including the thousands killed at a ravine near Kiev called Babi Yar.

    As a young Jew growing up in America, I regularly heard from my Eastern European elders that the Ukrainians were even nastier than the Nazis. Youngsters in Ukraine grow up with a different slant – that Stepan Bandera, Simon Petlura, and Bogdan Chmielnicki were national heroes who led independence struggles against Polish kings and aristocrats and the horrific, starvation-wracked rule of the Stalinist Soviet Union. No surprise, then, that Jew-baiting – and worse – now haunts the new Ukrainian government that Washington and the European Union helped bring to power. How could it be otherwise?

    That said, a word of caution. Given how mixed and muddled recent events have been, don’t fall into the trap of dismissing the coup in Kiev as a neo-Nazi or “Brown Revolution.” It is so much more than that.

    Blame the confusion in part on the Russians, who are only now calling attention to Ukraine’s well-known anti-Semitism. They remained silent when their man Viktor Yanukovych still clung to power and his riot police were told to blame the opposition protests on Jews.

    Blame the confusion as well on the US and EU, who downplay the role played by Ukraine’s ultra-right and their own role in promoting the coup with at least some of the $5 billion dollars that the State Department’s Victoria Nuland boasted that the US had spent to promote democracy in Ukraine since its independence in 1991.

    Add the still uncounted sums from Canada, Europe – much of it through Technical Aid to the Commonwealth of Independent States (TACIS) – and nominally private groups like Internews, Freedom House, the German Marshall Fund, the Omidyar Network, and George Soros’s Open Society Institute and its Ukrainian NGO, the International Renaissance Foundation. We’re talking serious money here, more than enough to make a revolution, whether orange, brown, or multi-colored.

    Call their efforts “promoting democracy,” “building civil society organizations (CSOs),” “foreign meddling,” or just plain “regime change,” their goals have remained remarkably consistent. The funders want to bring to power a Ukrainian government willing to join NATO, which would extend the Cold War alliance right to Russia’s border and its Black Sea Fleet at Sebastopol. This is a direct provocation to Moscow, as I argued in “How to Defuse the Ukraine Crisis.”

    Equally important, the funders want a Ukrainian government willing and able to follow financial and economic demands from Washington, Brussels, the World Trade Organization, and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). As Robert Freeman and others argue, many of these demands revolve around oil, natural gas, and pipelines, which is no doubt true.

    But, even apart from geo-strategic and historic issues, to reduce a complex conflict like Ukraine to little more than a resource war misses what the Americans and Europeans are demanding of the new interim prime minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, or “Yats,” as Nuland called him in her famously leaked telephone call to Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt. An economist and former business partner of the truly corrupt, if unfairly prosecuted, multi-millionaire ex-prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko, Yats is expected to impose a massive austerity program on Ukraine. This will seriously hurt ordinary Ukrainians while enhancing the position of the billionaire oligarchs, who used their political connections to steal what the formerly socialist state once owned.

    How do the foreign funders pursue these objectives? They fund exceptionally brave but reasonably compliant journalists, extremely compliant polling organizations and election monitors, pro-Western think tanks and political parties, and other non-governmental organizations (NGOs). They ally themselves with the oligarchs while exposing the corruption and double-dealing of political opponents. They build support in the military, police, and security services. They train activists in nonviolent direct action. And, when necessary, they support a violent coup against a highly corrupt, but legitimately elected government.

    Evidence for this can be found on the US foreign aid database and websites for, among others, Washington’s government-run National Endowment for Democracy and the heavily government-funded Freedom House. For all the happy talk about transparency, all are notoriously difficult to decipher. But one compelling bit of proof hides in plain sight.

    In April 2013, an ownership fight threatened Ukraine’s TVi, which had been fairly independent and committed to investigative journalism. Fearing a loss of their editorial freedom, 31 journalists resigned and looked to create an Internet television channel called Hromadske.TV, which they translate as “Public TV.” Even online, this would be an expensive project, with a threshold budget of $300,000 per year, according to the organizers. They quickly found their funding, which they subsequently announced. George Soros’s International Renaissance Fund provided a grant. The US Embassy in Kiev provided the money to purchase the needed equipment. The Embassy of the Netherlands provided funds to get the online Hromadske.TV running.

    The timing was crucial. The journalists hoped to be up and running in September, but everything took longer than expected. Yanukovych then stepped away from his proposed deal with the EU on November 20, and Hromadske.TV rushed into operation. The next day, one of the project’s leaders – Mustafa Nayem, a Muslim born in Kabul – posted a notice on Facebook calling students and other young people to assemble in Independence Square to protest Yanukovych’s decision. That was the beginning of the Euromaidan protests that ultimately brought the government down.

    Should we blame the journalists for taking money where they could find it? It’s not an easy call. They wanted coverage for their protest, which they could not expect to get from the oligarchy-owned and generally pro-Yanukovych TV stations. Hromadske.TV provided that coverage, which a huge audience watched. But let’s not be naïve. By taking the money, the journalists became part of a CIA-style “destabilization campaign” that went far beyond their control.

    This became clear all too quickly. As Max Blumenthal and other respected journalists tell it, neo-Nazis and ultra-nationalists took leadership on the streets. They proudly paraded Nazi and white power symbols, along with Seig heil salutes, Confederate flags, and pledges to defend their country’s ethnic purity. According to one pro-Western Ukrainian source, Mustafa and the others “argued long and hard” for the ultra-right Svoboda and other opposition parties to remove their flags and stop trying to “hijack the protests.” But it was too late. No one was listening.

    Svoboda (Freedom), which proclaims itself an ideological descendant of Stepan Bandera, largely took control. Oleh Tyahnybok, its leader, is widely known for urging his party to fight “the Moscow-Jewish mafia ruling Ukraine.” Tyahnybok’s deputy called the Ukrainian-born American actress Mila Kunis a “zhidofvka,” which is best translated “dirty Jewess” or “Jewish whore,” while party leaders regularly attack the “Zhids” (Yids), which is generally considered pejorative. Tyahnybok, who is now part of the new government, denies being an anti-Semitic or anything other than “pro-Ukrainian.”

    Working with Svoboda were skinheads and other militants from the Right Sector (Pravy Sektor), who promised to fight “against degeneration and totalitarian liberalism, for traditional national morality and family values.” As Blumental tells it, they hope to lead their army of aimless, disillusioned young men on “a great European Reconquest.”

    But, in the strangest twist of all, the Israeli daily Haaretz reported that one of the platoons under overall command of Svoboda militants was led by a Ukrainian Jewish businessman who had served in a reconnaissance unit in the Israeli Defense Forces. Known only as “Delta,” he “headed a force of 40 men and women – including several fellow IDF veterans – in violent clashes with government forces.”

    “I don’t belong [to Svoboda] but I take orders from their team,” he explained. “They know I’m Israeli, Jewish and an ex-IDF soldier. They call me ‘brother.’”

    Delta claims that he never saw any expression of ant-Semitism during the protests, but still feels an outsider. “If I were Ukrainian, I would have been a hero,” he says. “But for me it’s better not to reveal my name if I want to keep living here in peace and quiet.”

    Many observers clearly saw the expressions of anti-Semitism that Delta claims he did not. Haaretz reported the firebombing of a synagogue and other attacks, while Rabbi Moshe Reuven Azman urged his congregation to leave Kiev – and even Ukraine if they could – to avoid being attacked. Other Jews, including a spokesman for the American Israel Political Affairs Committee (AIPAC), laugh off any Fascist threat by insisting that Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk is Jewish.

    The Daily Stormer and other defenders of “the White European Race” broadcast the claim all over the Internet, citing a competing politician who accused him of being an “impudent little Jew … serving the thieves who are in power in Ukraine and is using criminal money to plough ahead towards Ukraine’s presidency.” As for Yats himself, just last year he explained his rejection of gay marriage as part of his personal beliefs as a Greek Catholic, part of Pope Francis’s flock.

    What difference whether Yats is Jewish? Having suffered Hitler’s war and Holocaust, Europeans should have moved beyond their ethnic, racial, and religious chauvinism. But that’s not likely soon in Ukraine, and especially not if bitter austerity incites popular anger.

    A veteran of the Berkeley Free Speech Movement and the New Left monthly Ramparts, Steve Weissman lived for many years in London, working as a magazine writer and television producer. He now lives and works in France, where he is researching a new book, “Big Money and the Corporate State: How Global Banks, Corporations, and Speculators Rule and How to Nonviolently Break Their Hold.”

  7. lizard19

    PW, I’m going to address a portion of one of your comments down here.

    …if the function of the World Bank is to impoverish developing nations, as lizard claimed without evidence, wouldn’t one expect that the nations it deals most extensively with would be more impoverished than others? And don’t you think it’s funny that lizard can make a fantastic claim like that and no one doubts him but me, but if I want to claim that perhaps the World Bank is not intended to spread poverty to the developing wold, I’m asked to run a linear regression model?

    this is totally my bad. I too often assume astute readers of this blog understand how loans from institutions like the World Bank and IMF create debt that lenders use to coerce structural adjustments aimed at austerity and privatization.

    instead creating debt, there is a parallel movement to forgive debt:

    Figures released by the World Bank have revealed that lending to low income country governments is booming, increasing by 30 per cent in just one year. Almost half of the loans have come from just two institutions, the World Bank and IMF. Campaigners have raised concerns that these loans from the World Bank and IMF, which are officially counted as ‘aid’, could be contributing to the creation of new debt crises in developing countries.

    Foreign loans to low income countries totalled $11.8 billion in 2012, up from $5.8 billion in 2007, and $9.2 billion in 2011. Over the last five years, 45 per cent of loans to low income countries have come from the World Bank and IMF. Many low income countries have previously had substantial debt relief following global campaigning for the cancellation or repudiation of unjust and unsustainable debts.

    The rise in lending is due to an increase in aid money being used for loans through institutions such as the World Bank, loans from new lenders such as China, and the availability of cheap money in the western world due to quantitative easing and low interest rates.

    Sarah-Jayne Clifton, Director of Jubilee Debt Campaign said:

    “Many low income countries have benefited from debt cancellation in the last decade, but the current boom in lending could be creating new unsustainable debts. The unregulated global financial system is still encouraging a boom-bust cycle of lending and crisis, which is exacerbated by the large amounts of ‘aid’ money which is actually given as loans.”

    • No no, lizard, I fully understand that that’s what you think the World Bank does. But if that’s true, and austerity and privatization are impoverishing the recipients of World Bank loans, then one would expect the countries receiving those loans to be impoverished. I myself believed that would be the case for some time. That’s why I checked the stats.

      Also, your argument contains an inherent contradiction – you can oppose loans to impoverished countries, or you can oppose austerity, but not both – cut off the loans, and immediately spending has to balance with taxation, a level of austerity few countries can reasonably attain right now.

      • lizard19

        have you read Naomi Klein’s Shock Doctrine? if you haven’t, you should. or you could just mock her for making “fantastic claims”.

        • evdebs

          I’ll second that book recommendation!

  8. lizard19

    debt gives lenders like the World Bank control. this article shows what that control can lead to. you’ll need to read the whole article for better context, but this is the part I would draw your attention toward:

    Beyond financing CAMIF, since 1992 the World Bank and IDB have promoted changes in Honduran laws that facilitate stealing indigenous land while boldly disregarding international law. One case that clearly illustrates the disregard for the law by the development banks is the World Bank supported land titling program PATH. PATH was formally challenged by the federation of Garifuna afro-indigenous communities, OFRANEH. While the World Bank’s Inspection Panel found the project did violate Bank policies, and clearly violates international law regarding indigenous land rights, the U.S. Treasury Department disagreed with the Inspection Panel ruling,[1] and the World Bank continued to fund the PATH program with only minor modifications.

    • I’m not in the business of defending every action the World Bank takes. And I’ve read part of the shock doctrine, I believe – is there a section on Bolivian water rights? My point is that if these flaws were systemic and intentional, one would expect them to have some statistically noticeable effect on the quality of life in the countries who have taken the largest loans from the World Bank. World Bank policies to seem to have been less effective in Latin America – my guess is that their policies are in fact inappropriate given the continent’s very high GINI coefficients. But leaders, even those who profess hatred of the neo-liberal system, continue to ask for loans (think Kirchner). Why? Because they know that restrictive loans still lead to a better living standard, and thus more votes, than no loans at all.

      • lizard19

        loans create debt and debt becomes leverage to coerce structural adjustment, or austerity. that’s not a flaw, it’s a feature.

        of course there is economic development happening, and money going into poor countries has clearly led to some improvements in the measures you’re so fond of citing.

        but where you see altruism, I see control. and where you say every country looks out for its own citizens first I say it’s a geopolitical chess game played by global elites and “citizens” are expendable.

      • Okay lizard, but if you admit that the loans ultimately are creating development that improves the lives of citizens, what you’re really saying is that leaders who rail against the world bank because it decreases their policy options are putting control above the lives of their people. That’s correct, right? I’m not looking for altruistic intentions here – if the results of one system are better health and education, and the results of the other are worse health and education, which do you go with?

        • lizard19

          I would go with the system that allows free markets to blossom, the system that negotiates good-faith, transparent deals like the TPP. we should go with Wall Street and London and Bono and USAID because the west has shown such success that its neoliberal model must be imposed across the globe. to deprive them of our solutions to their poor woes would be immoral.

          I can’t imagine why anyone would have a problem with that.

        • ….I mean, that system has created the most prosperity that humanity has every experienced, brought more people out of poverty than escaped that condition in all the rest of history. The alternative that people like Putin and Chavez are putting forward is neither preferable (as its fundamental weaknesses become clear) nor scalable (as in both cases it depends on the exploitation of finite resources). And I say that as one who is on the record endorsing Chavismo when it looked viable.




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