Cold War Proxy Conflicts Worsening

by lizard

The Organization for Security and Co-Operation in Europe had this to say about Ukraine’s 2010 presidential elections:

The first round of Ukraine’s presidential election was of high quality and showed significant progress over previous elections, meeting most OSCE and Council of Europe commitments, concluded the international election observation mission in a statement published today.

The observers noted that the election demonstrated respect for civil and political rights, and offered voters a genuine choice between candidates representing diverse political views. Candidates were able to campaign freely, and the campaign period was generally calm and orderly.

That means this evidence of US plotting is directed at a democratically elected president.

The situation in Ukraine is evolving quickly. I suggest listening to Stephen Cohen, professor emeritus of Russian studies and politics at New York University and Princeton University on Democracy Now. Moon of Alabama also continues to provide some interesting context to what’s going down in this post.

Cold War proxy conflicts in Ukraine and Syria could get way out of control once the Sochi games end. Venezuela is also heating up.

Obama must not like Democracy very much. I hope his support of anti-semetic fascists and jihadists doesn’t give the Tea Party any bright ideas, like it’s ok to violently occupy government buildings and kill police.


  1. Maybe if America wasn’t so concerned about playing good cop bad cop we could clean up our own country. I’d love to see some rich fat cats in power over here have to abandon their villas, wouldn’t you?

    Maybe some of those bums that contaminated that river down in West Virginia, or these schmucks that do the same over in Eastern Montana.

    Can’t say I’m sorry Putin got a wee slap in the face today. Well, he’ll have many other poor Eastern European countries clamoring to him in a few years as the poor just get poorer over there and even Molotov cocktail juice gets a little pricey.

    I’ve met quite a few Ukrainians and they were all good people. I’d say the same about all the Russian people I’ve met, although some can get a little pushy when drunk. The people that rule them, however, are dicks.

  2. From their coverage of 2012 & 2013 parliamentary elections in Ukraine –

    “There were credible reports of intimidation, vote buying, and instances of abuse of administrative resources…… A number of journalists were beaten or detained during their coverage of the protests, and the offices of three opposition media outlets were searched and computer equipment seized”

    “The media environment is characterized by a virtual absence of editorial autonomy on television
    and limited political pluralism. ”

    “The tabulation of results was assessed negatively in 77 of the 161 DECs observed.”

    And of course major opposition leaders were imprisoned immediately after 2010, after trials roundly criticized by the OSCE and others.

    You can read the reports yourself; both are more recent than the 2010 presidential election and both detail the election of the actual government, not merely the president. http://www.osce.org/odihr/elections/ukraine

    Moreover, providing covert aid to protest groups in Ukraine pales in comparison to openly bribing their government, shutting off the border (which thousands of Ukrainians depend on for their livelihood), or cutting off natural gas supplies in the winter.

    Again, lizard, you don’t know a damn thing about Ukraine. Even Ukrainians nationals who speak Russian and live near the Russian border do not universally desire closer relations with Russia – many of them, however, know that Russia has the capacity to sabotage their economy if pro-Russian politicians aren’t elected.

    • lizard19

      no, I don’t know much about Ukraine. maybe the protestors are right to engage in open warfare against their government. I guess that’s where OWS failed. they should have started more shit on fire and killed police, because we have corruption and bullshit elections here as well.

      would you support that kind of violence on in the US capitol, Wolf?

      • Nope. And I don’t support it in Ukraine, either. But how many protesters have been killed, compared to police? And the first casualties are well documented, and they are certainly not police. If OWS had ended with dozens of deaths, I can’t say I’d support reprisals against police, but I could certainly understand them. What’s more important is that your ‘evidence’ of US involvement is really just evidence that the US was involved in the negotiations. And given their apparent distaste for Klitshko, it looks like they didn’t get their way.

        • lizard19

          when you say casualties are “well documented” it would help if you provided a link.

          as for your downplaying of the leaked plotting against an elected president, if it was a “negotiation” then who was representing Ukraine? because it comes off as foreign officials choosing who to install once the elected president is illegally booted from office.

          • Big Swede

            Maybe this was the Kulaks getting revenge?

            By the way did you see the presidents castle?

            http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2014-02-22/look-what-was-found-yanukovychs-compound

            Definitely a 1%er.

          • http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/02/20/us-ukraine-idUSBREA1G0OU20140220

            The number is higher or lower depending on who you ask, but dozens is undisputed, and there is video of several of them being shot.

            As to the negotiations, the leak the Russia thoughtfully provided revealed the US stance on the negotiations that took place between the official opposition and the government of Ukraine. These were widely regarded as selling out the protest, as they were facilitated and signed under pressure from the EU. They immediately become obsolete when it became clear that the opposition leaders who signed them were not actually in command of the crowd.

            • JC

              “the leak the Russia thoughtfully provided”

              Ever the purveyor of govt. propaganda, aren’t you PW? Even if true, what difference does it make who made it public?

              You engage in the most artful form of diversion here: “look over here” in order to deflect from the importance of what is really going on. Which is that our government orchestrated the coup in Ukraine, and the destabilizing effect it has, which could lead to civil war or neo-nazis/fascists taking power.

              Then again, maybe that is the desired effect: to have a fascist that we control rule Ukraine.

            • I love it, JC. You don’t mind if what I’m saying is true, it disagrees with your message, goddamnit! The fact that Russia leaked the video is indeed unimportant. But if the US government had leaked it, you’d be all over that.

              And I also love that you caution everyone not to talk about events in Ukraine, but you do exactly what Mark Ames is warning against- ““new media” counter-consensus is warping and misrepresenting reality in Ukraine”. It’s remarkably well said – the people understand their power, but have trouble using it beyond throwing out the government. You are making this about US politics – you oppose US policy, and so you see the events of Ukraine through that lens. This unrest is about the Ukrainian people attempting, as they have a habit of doing, to remove an inept leader. They don’t need US help to do so – which is the point I wanted to make about the video, and the point Ames is making – they merely lack a structure to take the place of the most recent oligarch they remove. There is a preferred US outcome here, but the US does not have control over the crowds, and that video would indicate that the US (which wanted a clear transfer of power to reliable opposition leaders who signed the peace agreement) is not getting its way precisely because the Ukrainian people understand their power.

              • JC

                I’ll reply below where there’s more room to talk. Oh, and if your blog overlord wasn’t so worried that I might say something offensive, we could be having these discussions at ID.

              • Have you ever been to Russia? In the 21st century?

    • JC

      So, are you pleased that our meddling in Ukrainian affairs has set the stage for the fascists and Right Sector to destabilize eastern europe once again?

      WWIII anybody?

  3. Big Swede

    Glad to see the 5 word sentence on Venezuela.

    But WTF, this revolt thing seems to be contagious.

    http://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2014/02/23/license-plates-guns-news-federal-government-column/5759933/

  4. JC

    Here’s another good read from PandoDaily on the dumbing-down of the Ukrainian situation (like PW is doing over at ID). I have no commenting privileges there, so I’ll just keep going at it here:

    “Everything you know about Ukraine is wrong
    — BY MARK AMES

    Nearly everyone here in the US tries to frame and reify Ukraine’s dynamic to fit America-centric spats. As such, Ukraine’s problems are little more than a propaganda proxy war where our own political fights are transferred to Ukraine’s and Russia’s context, warping the truth to score domestic spat points. That’s nothing new, of course, but it’s still jarring to watch how the “new media” counter-consensus is warping and misrepresenting reality in Ukraine about as crudely as the neocons and neoliberals used to warp and Americanize the political realities there back when I first started my Moscow newspaper, The eXile.

    [4 good points everybody should read]

    The point is this: Ukraine is not Venezuela. This is not a profoundly political or class fight, as it is in Venezuela. Yanukovych represents one faction of oligarchs; the opposition, unwittingly or otherwise, ultimately fronts for other factions. Many of those oligarchs have close business ties with Russia, but assets and bank accounts—and mansions—in Europe. Both forces are happy to work with the neoliberal global institutions.

    In Ukraine, there is no populist left politics, even though the country’s deepest problem is inequality and oligarchy. Memories of the Soviet Union play a big role in turning people off to populist-left politics there, for understandable reasons.

    But the Ukrainians do have a sense of people power that is rare in the world, and it goes back to the first major protests in 2000, through the success of the Orange Revolution. The masses understand their power-in-numbers to overthrow bad governments, but they haven’t forged a populist politics to change their situation and redistribute power by redistributing wealth.

    So they wind up switching from one oligarchical faction to another, forming broad popular coalitions that can be easily co-opted by the most politically organized minority factions within—neoliberals, neofascists, or Kremlin tools. All of whom eventually produce more of the same shitty life that leads to the next revolution.”

    • Craig Moore

      JC, to understand the situation starts with understanding the people. In the East, they speak Russian and are culturally Russian.
      In the West, they speak Ukrainian. The country is not a homogenous whole with a single identity and historic uniting culture. Wouldn’t surprise me at all to learn Russian tanks have rolled into the Crimea and intend to stay there to protect the Russian speaking people.

      • Big Swede

        Even it the far eastern parts it’s only 50% Russian speaking.

        http://www.theospark.net/2014/02/the-two-ukrainesfrom-rico.html

        Scroll down for the map.

        • Craig Moore

          You mean every other word? That’s amazing!

      • JC

        Craig, I understand the basic demographics of Ukraine, and have studied its history and politics, and continue to do so, as it is a tinderbox. I also have a good friend who emigrated from Kiev shortly after Chenobyl — his dad was a “liquidator” or expendable person doing cleanup. I’ve learned a lot about Ukraine from him first hand, and also have his views on current events.

        The problem with Americans understanding Ukraine is that 1) the media doesn’t understand it, so we get regurgitated pablum masquerading as news; 2) American ideology and political/economic goals will never allow the media to give us a clear understanding of Ukraine, and 3) many people pretend to know more about Ukraine than they do, and tend to dumb-down the topic and be condescending in their discussion of it (like PW at ID).

        So the best advice for anybody who wants to understand what’s going on in Ukraine needs to read widely, talk to as many people as possible, and then weigh what they learn ad know against the onslaught of disinformation coming from the two hegemonies vying for power.

        • JC –

          1. That Mark Ames bit is very accurate. I’ve tried to avoid that by focusing only on what Ukraine ought to do to change its situation – and backing up that opinion with facts and statistics.

          2. There is certainly a struggle between different power structures. The negotiated peace lizard was so fond of was between oligarchical factions (with a boxer thrown in for good measure). The people on the street roundly rejected it.

          3. The people in Ukraine understand the failings of their leaders, though they haven’t managed to produce any better ones. I haven’t talked to anyone who thinks that Tymoshenko should get another shot at the presidency (I’ve actually been surprised that of the Ukrainians I’ve spoken to, from both the East and West of the country, all have agreed that Yanukovych had to go but none believed that Tymoshenko should replace him). That’s another way this is unlike Venezuela – bad leaders like Lopez or Chavez don’t get a free pass, nor does leading a successful protest movement guarantee the people’s continued loyalty. Yushchenko, Klitshko, and Tymoshenko have all learned that. Ukraine needs a ‘leader’ now who can guide the country for a spell and then step aside – those with career political aspirations are untrustworthy.

          4. Yeah, I’m a little condescending when people don’t take your advice and thus talk about Ukrainian issues they know nothing of. I wrote my post about the one thing on which I am sure (and about which there is ample evidence) – Ukraine needs to decrease its dependence on Russia, and cooperation with the EU is the best way to do that. Lizard and Mark like to charge in and change the subject to their area of ‘expertise’ – speculation about nefarious US deeds. I’m not qualified to speculate on that, but neither is anyone else here, so I remain, as Mark put it, agnostic, because the details of Us intervention are irrelevant in the fact of overt Russian influence. But I can tell you that I’ve seen first hand the way that Russia keeps Ukraine under its thumb, and I’ve seen on the other hand how the EU has vastly improved the lives of people in its most impoverished regions in the span of a generation. That’s what I wrote about, and no one can bring up any argument against it, so they instead try to use Ukraine to shift the focus back to the US and its policy.

      • “protect” is the wrong word here, Craig, but unfortunately it seems as though you are correct. Most people have started to grasp the linguistic differences in Ukraine. What they don’t realize is that they are a result of decades of ethnic cleansing after the Russian revolution, which led to the deportation of Poles, Germans, and Tartars (who had formerly been the main inhabitants of Crimea), the decimation and dislocation West of the Ukrainian population, and their replacement by ethnic Russians. I’m not saying we can undo it now, but a little history adds perspective.

  5. JC

    PW,

    If you weren’t so busy building strawmen to burn (“you caution everyone not to talk about events in Ukraine”) one might be able to have a decent debate with you. But I said no such thing.

    And “You are making this about US politics”. No, I am not. I am making this about the association between American and Ukrainian and Russian plutocrats that just want to keep bleeding the Ukrainian people in their own self interest, and about American hegemony. American politicians are too dumb to have a clue what is going on in Ukraine: to wit John McCain’s recent meeting with Right Sector’s Tyahnybok.

    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.

    “Yeah, I’m a little condescending”

    Uh huh, and you’re also a propagandizing tool.

    • “propagandizing tool.”

      That’s language designed for a civil debate!

      Sorry, I thought that by pointing out how little Americans know about Ukraine, and emphasizing that they learn more, you were suggesting that those with little knowledge try to learn something before presenting their opinions as truth. No such luck.

      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. I can also tell you, having been in Ukraine (both Kiev and close to the Russian border), the Orange Revolution enjoyed broad (though I wouldn’t claim universal and can’t prove majority) popular support – which is why in the election afterwards, Yushchenko won in an election that international observers agreed was fairer than the one legally invalidated by the Ukrainian Supreme Court.

      Actually, lets stay on this point for a second. You argue that the CIA is behind the Orange Revolution – again, it’s the CIA, I certainly can’t prove or assume they weren’t involved. But while American interests were certainly active, there is little doubt that the re-vote was more fair and transparent than the initial vote, and Yushchenko won handily. Yanukovych similarly won a fair election in 2010 – after overt and obvious Russian efforts to de-stabilize the country’s economy. I was in Poland when the Gazprom situation erupted and I was in Kiev visiting friends when Russia used tighter border restrictions to strangle the East Ukrainian economy and make it clear who had better win the 2010 election.

      Then, the next election, when Yanukovych was in charge, (mind you, whatever the turmoil Yushchenko/Tymoshenko got embroiled in, their government managed to pull off a fair election in 2010), the voting irregularities returned. So, if you want to believe that Yankovych is good for Ukrainian democracy and sovereignty, that’s your prerogative, but the facts suggest a different story.

      Now, lets assume you are right and that the US is deeply involved in trying to bring Ukraine into the EU. I am granting you this assumption because neither of us has any particular knowledge on the matter. Lets even assume that this is all with the ultimate goal of bringing Ukraine into NATO! So I’m granting every unknown to your side of the argument. Let’s see what that might mean for Ukraine in terms of sovereignty, democracy, and economics.

      In terms of sovereignty – it really depends on your definition. It certainly doesn’t make for a more sovereign and independent Ukrainian political sphere, but it does balance it out with the massive and overwhelming Russian influence on Ukrainian governance. I think it’s quite analogous to Russian, Cuban, and (more recently) Chinese influence in Latin America – shady and not really respectful of sovereignty, but at the same time in practice a mere counterbalance to the larger imperial power.

      For democracy, it’s quite clear that Yanukovych doesn’t value or desire democratic governance. For all their faults, his opponents have until now respected democratic governance – the Orange revolution called not for the president to resign, but for new, fair elections. And more importantly, democratic elections are a prerequisite for EU membership, which is probably why the elections in 2010 were so relatively clean. New elections should be held ASAP, and held to the highest possible standards. On the other hand, Russia has shown no interest in the democratic practices of its allies – witness Kazakhstan and Belarus.

      And economically, it’s also apparent that the EU is not the blood sucking vampire its made out to be. While Southern Europe is suffering now, that’s largely the result of their massive economic transformation from pre-industrial to industrial nations in a matter of a few decades. And the eastern EU, particularly Poland B (the economic region of Poland that most closely resembled Ukraine in the 1990’s) is booming. There is no reason Ukraine should be so far behind, not only in GDP but also in human development.

      Conclusion? When you look at the facts and past ideology, even the most malicious likely scenario the US is no more imposing on Ukraine’s sovereignty than Russia is, and with goals and likely outcomes that are both more democratic and more prosperous than the alternative.

      And yes, I do wish we could have this conversation at ID. I don’t really know the story there, and it’s no secret that I favor a somewhat looser editorial policy than Don. But, he writes with his real name and holds a position that is under constant public scrutiny. Given how fast and thick the personal insults fly here, I can see why he keeps ID more like it is and less like 4&20, though both systems have their advantages.

      • JC

        Far too much to reply to here, without doing a line item refutation of much of what you write. Suffice it to say that if you don’t believe that the U.S. has been involved in the destabilization of Ukraine, then you are selectively reading about it. Go read Mark Ames newest piece about who funded some of the groups working to overthrow Yanukovich, and support Orange’s Yuschenko and Rybachuk (not to mention an interesting subtext about the buyout of investigative journalists in this country.

        My take? We destabilize, then when it all goes horribly wrong and Russia moves to protect its interests, it all becomes about Russia and Putin being interlopers, and the classic cold war lineup takes front and center. Who gets lost in the shuffle? Ukranians who value their independence more than an alliance with either Russia or the EU/US.

        And you don’t think the CIA is playing in Ukraine? In what universe do we have to “verify” that? Here, go to the googlizer, where there’s over a million hits on “cia in ukraine orange revolution”

        http://www.google.com/#q=cia+in+ukraine+orange+revolution

        We can pick up the discussion after the pending Crimean secession ignites civil war…

        • I’m not asking for a line-by-line refutation; I’m asking for you to focus on provable points we disagree on. Instead, you choose to focus on CIA involvement, the one point that is a) non-provable and b) not a point of contention between us. This isn’t the sign of a strong argument.

          I’ll allow the assumption of CIA intervention. In that case, the CIA intervened to get a re-vote of an almost universally condemned election. The re-vote was considered far fairer and more transparent than the original, and put Yushchenko in charge. That’s not destabilizing – that’s restoring democratic governance (that alone may be the best evidence the CIA wasn’t involved). Russia subsequently moved in to to destabilize the fairly elected government. After 2010, the CIA did not intervene – the West recognized a fair election, even with an outcome we disagreed with, and didn’t attempt to block Yanukovych. But the very next elections, with Yanukovych and his party in charge, were marred by the same irregularities.

          So, even if we assume CIA involvement where it seems likely, their initial intervention was in support of democratic governance, whereas Russia’s every intervention has been in opposition to it.

          • JC

            Go read some Vitrenko, then come back here and tell me that what you have to say is smarter than her. But I’ll tell you what, I much prefer the inside analysis of the leader of The Progressive Socialist Party of Ukraine, than that of an imperialist sympathizer.

            • …That if Ukraine was presently run by neo-Nazis, they would have done something by now to react to the fact that their country is being occupied by Russia? That if Russian speakers were losing their civil rights, they sure are a lot of them in positions of power right now? That if what she’s saying is true, Ukraine will never be able to join the EU, thus thoroughly sabotaging “the west’s geopolitical interests’? That she’s now citing the Ukrainian constitution and condemning this as an illegal revolution, when five years ago she was expounding on the meaninglessness of the constitution and calling for a revolution of her own? That she herself has repeatedly run for president and finished well behind the mainstream candidates, indicating that she clearly does not have the support of the Ukrainian people? That she’s calling for a return to an economic and political system that left Ukraine far behind the rest of Europe? That she argues for Ukrainian sovereignty but then demands UN and European intervention?

    • I for one don’t give a lick what happens in Ukraine and most Americans feel the same way.

      Can’t wait for Ukraine to start speculating in our affairs, and which party would be better to prop up over the other. We’d like that, wouldn’t we?

      • JC

        That’s kind of like saying you wouldn’t have cared about the Weimer parties failing to contain Hitler.[/godwin]

        Ukrainians don’t have to “speculate” about our affairs. Our politics have actively bled over into their own. Did you miss John McCain’s recent meeting with the fascists in Kiev?

        American hegemony is maintained and furthered by the need to keep Americans uninvolved in events they deem unimportant to their own security. Thanks for the reminder…

        • I don’t care. Those people aren’t stupid so stop acting like they are. When you think for people you’re treating them like they’re stupid.

          Those people know damn well what’s best for them and not a single person here knows anything about that country.

          When were you in Russia? Do you know anyone from Crimea?

          Get off your moral high horses. If the US doesn’t give a damn about those refugee children dying in the freezing deserts of Jordan and Syria, then why should we care about these people? I see no reason whatsoever.

          • JC

            I never said those people are stupid, nor am I thinking for them. Note above in a comment to PW, I posted a link to a statement from a prominent Ukrainian politician who has something to say that I think is important.

            I personally haven’t been to Russia. Does that mean I can’t learn something and have an opinion? But I did work for an outfit that for years conducted a technology transfer program with Russians, and I worked side-by-side with 6 or 8 of them at a time (and we identified at least one as KGB). And my coworkers did spend much time in Russia training them. And Ukrainians? Yes, I have a good friend who emigrated from Kiev and has spent considerable time in Crimea.

            BUt what does any of that matter? I’m an American, and my taxes go towards supporting American imperialism. My dad dropped bombs on fascists in Italy, and my partner’s father spent time in a Russian concentration camp during WWII. We talk alot about how our experiences have shaped our beliefs. I grew up in the shadow of the Cold War with nuclear missile silos not far away, and scrambling jets shaking my high school on an hourly basis. She grew up in Germany, leaving before the Berlin Wall fell.

            When you’ve grown up surrounded by the “duck, duck and cover” mentality, actions by our country that may lead to igniting WWIII tend to concern me. Sorry you don’t think that’s important.

            What’s that they say about history? Oh, yeah:

            “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it” — Santanya

  1. 1 CIA’s ‘NED’ Succeeds in Ukraine Where Democracy “Failed” | 4&20 blackbirds

    […] Intelligent Discontent’s Polish Wolf after our dustup in the comments of Lizard’s post “Cold War Proxy Conflicts Worsening”. I blurred out his name and photo so as to maintain his […]




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