Revolutionary Pawns of the Great Game

by lizard

Seymour Hersch has a very important article out, titled Whose Sarin, but you won’t find it in the New Yorker or the Washington Post. Instead it’s tucked away in the London Review of Books.

The reason I think it’s important is because it validates the sources that were skeptical about the Sarin attack in Syria last August, and it exposes the deceit that came from Obama as he made his case for another Middle East war:

Barack Obama did not tell the whole story this autumn when he tried to make the case that Bashar al-Assad was responsible for the chemical weapons attack near Damascus on 21 August. In some instances, he omitted important intelligence, and in others he presented assumptions as facts. Most significant, he failed to acknowledge something known to the US intelligence community: that the Syrian army is not the only party in the country’s civil war with access to sarin, the nerve agent that a UN study concluded – without assessing responsibility – had been used in the rocket attack. In the months before the attack, the American intelligence agencies produced a series of highly classified reports, culminating in a formal Operations Order – a planning document that precedes a ground invasion – citing evidence that the al-Nusra Front, a jihadi group affiliated with al-Qaida, had mastered the mechanics of creating sarin and was capable of manufacturing it in quantity. When the attack occurred al-Nusra should have been a suspect, but the administration cherry-picked intelligence to justify a strike against Assad.

In his nationally televised speech about Syria on 10 September, Obama laid the blame for the nerve gas attack on the rebel-held suburb of Eastern Ghouta firmly on Assad’s government, and made it clear he was prepared to back up his earlier public warnings that any use of chemical weapons would cross a ‘red line’: ‘Assad’s government gassed to death over a thousand people,’ he said. ‘We know the Assad regime was responsible … And that is why, after careful deliberation, I determined that it is in the national security interests of the United States to respond to the Assad regime’s use of chemical weapons through a targeted military strike.’ Obama was going to war to back up a public threat, but he was doing so without knowing for sure who did what in the early morning of 21 August.

Ultimately that war didn’t happen (though the very real refugee crisis continues to happen without much concern from the Obama administration) but it should be noted that, while on the brink of launching military strikes against the Assad regime, Obama was willing to face the American people and lie to us in order to justify a war that Saudi Arabia and Israel desperately wanted the US to start.

I doubt many Americans will read the Hersch article, so the deceit won’t be widely known or remembered the next time Obama tries to rally the American people for a military attack, and that’s too bad. Democrats especially should pay attention, because it’s their desire to be global humanitarians that has been cynically exploited by the Obama administration to topple unfriendly regimes, like Gaddafi in Libya.

Skepticism should always be deployed when it comes to how internal opposition is organized and funded across the globe. I read an article last week that exposes how a globally renowned activist collaborated with Stratfor. The activist’s name is Srdja Popovic, a Serb who has globe-trotted for revolution. Here is how the article describes Stratfor’s perception of Popovic’s value:

Stratfor saw Popovic’s main value not only as a source for intelligence on global revolutionary and activist movements, but also as someone who, if needed, could help overthrow leaders of countries hostile to U.S. geopolitical and financial interests. So useful was Popovic to Stratfor that the firm gave him a free subscription, dubbed “legit sources we use all the time as a company” by Papic.

In a June 2011 email, Papic referred to Popovic as a “great friend” of his and described him as a “Serb activist who travels the world fomenting revolution.”

“They…basically go around the world trying to topple dictators and autocratic governments (ones that U.S. does not like ,” Papic says in one email. Replying to a follow up to that email, he states, “They just go and set up shop in a country and try to bring the government down. When used properly, more powerful than an aircraft carrier battle group.”

Known sometimes as Colour Revolutions, this strategy is once again on display in Kiev, Ukraine, where protesters recently toppled a statue of Stalin. Here’s the New York Times’ take:

Public protests thundered into a full-throttle civil uprising in Ukraine on Sunday, as hundreds of thousands of protesters answered President Viktor F. Yanukovich’s dismissiveness with their biggest rally so far, demanding that he and his government resign.

At the height of the unrest on Sunday night, a seething crowd toppled and smashed a statue of Lenin, the most prominent monument to the Communist leader in Kiev. The act was heavy with symbolism, underscoring the protesters’ rage at Russia over its role in the events that first prompted the protests: Mr. Yanukovich’s abrupt refusal to sign sweeping political and free-trade agreements with the European Union.

After an electrifying assembly in Independence Square in the center of Kiev, the main focus of the protests, the huge crowd surged across the capital, erecting barriers to block the streets around the presidential headquarters and pitching huge tents in strategic intersections. They were not challenged by the police, who have largely disengaged since their bloody crackdown on a group of protesters on Nov. 30 sharply increased outrage at the government.

International concern over the unrest in Ukraine appeared to deepen on Sunday, as the United Nations secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, telephoned Mr. Yanukovich and Western leaders continued to call on him to respond to the demonstrators’ demands. The European Union has been eager to draw Ukraine, a nation of 46 million, into closer alliance with the West, while Russia has sought to safeguard its major economic and political interests in its close neighbor. Making the crisis more acute, Ukraine is teetering on the verge of bankruptcy and is desperate for financial assistance from abroad.

I’m sure a closer relationship with the EU will work out well for your average Ukranian. Free trade has done such great things for American workers, for example, it’s no wonder there are thousands of people in the streets clamoring to get cozy with an economic system that has helped countries like Spain and Greece succeed.

What is really sad about these manipulated revolutions is that the people in these countries end up risking their lives to further the agendas of western elites who will exploit any success for their own interests. Essentially the pawns of revolution must choose between which rapist will ravage their domestic space, which doesn’t make it much of a choice at all.

  1. JC

    Paul Craig Roberts has interesting take on the Ukranian uprisings:

    “It is a good bet that the Ukrainian protests are a CIA organized event, using the Washington and EU funded NGOs and manipulating the hatred of Ukrainian nationalists for Russia. The protests are directed against Russia. If Ukraine can be realigned and brought into the fold of Washington’s Empire, Russia is further diminished as a world power.”

    Same old same old…

  2. This may help illuminate the significance of what’s happening in South America. Political change alone is not enough. Transformation must somehow also successfully defeat neoliberal economic and financial systems. Even Mandela was unable to leverage both.

    Kudos to those who recognize the scope of the problem, and fight to become free of Central Banks, IMF, World Bank, WTO and the various other structures designed to grab commonwealth, especially water and land, and enslave people. Occupy had one thing right: Wall Street banks and “hedge funds” rule and should never be ignored.

  3. lizard, you’d be a much better commentator on international affairs if you stuck to writing about countries you know a blessed thing about. How much time have you spent in Ukraine and Eastern Europe?

    At the end of the Cold War, Romania, Poland, Hungary, Bulgaria, and the Baltic states formed stronger economic bonds with the European Economic Community and then the EU. They are all now members, though they have (wisely) steered clear of the Euro. Compare any of these countries to Ukraine and Belarus, the two countries that have stayed close to Russia and failed to form relationships with Western Europe. Poland, which is culturally and linguistically similar to Ukraine, and Lithuania, which was also a part of the Soviet Union, both have double Ukraine’s per capita GDP (PPP). Looking at the basic human development (or actually talking to people in those countries), the situation is even clearer.

    I know you’re a crusading anti-establishment type, and I appreciate much of what you have to say about topics you understand, but this is not one of them, and merely equating ‘free trade’ with ‘bad policy’ does not qualify analysis

    • lizard19

      I’m not claiming to be an expert on Ukraine, PW, but when it comes to geopolitics, I think I have a less naive understanding than you do about what’s going down.

      weren’t you all gung ho about “intervening” in Libya? how is that working out for Libyans?

      • Libya is no longer in an open war and is instead in a very low level conflict. That seems to be the primary effect of our intervention in Libya on Libyans, which seems to be little different than the likely effect had Gaddafi been left to finish the war his way, assuming he had the capacity to. The geopolitical effect for the US, however, is far better than had we left Gaddafi be.

        My point is, you’re not geopolitically less naive, you are just instinctively anti-American. And so you believe that Viktor Yanukovych is looking out for the best interests of his country. I have a hard time imaging a more naive viewpoint than that.

        • lizard19

          I criticize what I know, which is how America and its western allies use soft power to destabilize nations not aligned with their economic interests.

          anyway, you are putting words in my mouth, I have never said Yanukovych is looking out for the best interests of his country. maybe you could write a post about why aligning with the EU is preferable to an alignment with Russia.

          • JC

            This would be a good point to remind people of the Non-Aligned Movement.

            Of course, doing so might render a naive tag upon me, silly idealist I am, but I digress…

            A more useful question for PW might be to reflect upon what Ukraine’s relationship with NATO means, particularly in the tension between being aligned east or west, or being non-aligned.

            FWIW, Gorbachev insisted that NATO not expand east into Warsaw Pact countries as a part of his assent to allow German reunification.

            Wonder how Putin feels about NATO once it absorbed Germany? Ever hear of the Eurasian Union? The CSTO as its answer to NATO? Here, I’ll let the neocons at Heritage fill you all in, they’ve got the down-low.

            • lizard19

              you make a really good point bringing up the political implications of NATO, but I am concerned that maybe you’re a commie sympathizer ;)

            • On NATO – 1. It’s not clear that the Ukrainian people have any interest in closer alignment with NATO, and as it is there security concerned, I think NATO should respect that; 2. Why bring up an agreement Gorbachev agreed to while heading a country that doesn’t exist any more? and 3. Military alignment is not necessary here as long as Ukraine isn’t planning on pulling a Shaakashvili , but economic ties to Western Europe are essential if Ukraine is to maintain its economic sovereignty.

        • I try not to write too much about foreign policy on ID, because it’s not my blog and foreign policy is not the focus of it or most of its readers. But I can tell you why interaction with the EU is superior to alignment with Russia, if you’re curious: It’s for all the same reasons that people typically criticize free trade.

          Economics: The EU offers far better conditions for a growing economy than Russia. Thousands of Ukrainians are already illegally working in Europe (you can find signs advertising temporary work written in Ukrainian all over Western Europe). Closer work with the EU could put them closer to on par with the Poles who have become some of the most successful immigrants in many EU countries, especially Britain. More generally, the structures of the EU have proven well-suited to the development of post-communist countries; there’s really no way Poland, Lithuania, or Hungary would look like they do now without the assistance provided by the EU (indeed, one could argue that EU structures were key in transforming post-fascist countries too, and that they only miss-stepped in included them in the Euro zone). Moreover, the Russian economic model has produced some of the greatest wealth disparities and worst human development conditions per GDP found anywhere on earth; the EU economic model is truly middle-class centered and progressive.

          Political sovereignty: The population of Ukraine is a little over a third that of Russia, and it’s economy and military much weaker. It can’t help but be steamrolled by closer ties with Russia. On the other hand, it is over half the size of the most populous EU nation, Germany, and nearly on par with France, Italy, and the UK. It would be a force to be reckoned with in the EU; aligned with Russia and Belarus, it would be one of several decidedly junior partners. In the EU, nations have a veto on most actions, including economic ones. Russia, on the other hand, has continually used economics (gas imports, workers who cross borders) to pressure Ukraine, and greater dependence on Russia will only make these pressures stronger.

          Cultural independence: The EU has no dominant language or culture, and moreover makes efforts to fund and preserve the cultural heritage of its members. Ukrainian speakers would find themselves a no smaller minority than speakers of Portuguese, Danish, Hungarian or Czech. Russia, on the other hand, continues its historical cultural domination of Ukraine; Ukrainian and Belarussian speakers are far outnumbered by Russian speakers, and as Ukrainian language and culture are profoundly connected to opposition to alignment with Russia, they will find it harder to find funding and support in alignment with Russia.

          Environmental protection: An economic union with the world’ largest producer of hydrocarbons can hardy breed incentives for green energy. The EU on the other hand does provide assistance with the adoption of green energy and is likely to do so to an even greater extent in the future.

          Finally, as to your naivete – I want you to remember how whole-heartedly credulous you were during the Egyptian overthrow of America’s ally Hosni Mubarak, how firmly you insisted that the tens of thousands of Egyptians on the streets that spring indicated widespread support for the movement, the extent to which you mocked those who feared a takeover by the Muslim brotherhood. And you dismissed any characterization of that movement as de-stabilizing. And you were probably right about most of those things. And yet faced with a similar demonstration not aimed at a US ally, your knee-jerk reaction is skepticism that movement is genuine and criticism for the ‘instability’ being caused. It is quite likely the US is in some way involved in supporting this movement, but that doesn’t mean that the sentiments on display are They represent a real desire for greater ties to the west because they have experienced centuries of oppression by the East.

          • lizard19

            in regards to Egypt, I focused on the hypocrisy of the president claiming to care about democracy while continuing to financially support Mubarak. now Egypt is back under the thumb of authoritarians, which probably pleases many in the west.

            Ukraine isn’t run by a dictator. they have elections. if the people don’t like what is happening with the direction of their country, why not address it with the vote?

            do you support the idea that disagreeing with the direction a country takes should result in an attempt to overthrow the government?

            • “why not address it with the vote?”

              That’s a very different line than the one you’ve taken with the Occupy Movement, WTO-protesters or literally any other movement opposed the US interests. Read up on Ukraine and the intertwined fates of Yulia Tymoshenko and the two Viktors, Yushchenko and Yanukovych,and you’ll get some kind of idea of what constitutes ‘politics’ in Ukraine – certainly no person or party is ‘clean’, and you can see why elections aren’t seen as a viable option for change.

              But the level of corruption in that country goes beyond even that – it’s really unimaginable the portion of all economic (and, I therefore have to assume, political) activity that is underhanded and illegal. And perhaps most importantly, the reason Ukrainians find this one issue so obnoxious is because repeatedly in the last half decade Russia has used its incredible economic clout to push Ukraine into actions it wouldn’t normally take. This is again something you rightfully accuse the US of doing, and yet when Russia is clearly trying to dictate Ukraine’s foreign policy, you argue that it’s really in Ukraine’s best interest to snub the EU:

              “I’m sure a closer relationship with the EU will work out well for your average Ukranian. Free trade has done such great things for American workers, for example, it’s no wonder there are thousands of people in the streets clamoring to get cozy with an economic system that has helped countries like Spain and Greece succeed.”

              While failing to address the myriad of reasons (and pile of evidence) I gave you that such a relationship is almost certainly preferable to the current one with Russia.

          • mike

            Reality is a painful thing, Wolf.

  4. lizard19

    for a very clear example of obscene hypocrisy, Moon of Alabama has a new post up showing that US foreign policy, as articulated by John Kerry, sees a military coup in Egypt that killed around 600 protesters as “restoring democracy” while the unrest in Ukraine is “disgusting”.

  5. mike

    Try pawning me asshole , you will get a12 gauge under your throat if you have the balls to play this game…you are a progwhack pussy so I’m sure sure that won’t happen. Good evening, fuck nuts, try again, let’s get real , you disrespect my freedom I’ll let you have the next bs spout from your craw but try to make me follow your idiocy, fucking funny. Give it a go statist fuck, won;t end well for you,

    • lizard19

      ok mike, you no longer get to comment here. I’m leaving this comment up so folks know why you lost your privilege. you’ve got issues, dude. go express your impotent rage somewhere else.

  1. 1 The Cold War Never Ended | 4&20 blackbirds

    […] this post about revolutionary pawns, I’ve had a back-and-forth with the Polish Wolf about the protests […]

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