Scapegoating the Left for the Failure of Neoliberalism

by lizard

It’s impressive watching the contortions of Democrat interventionists regarding Ukraine. At Daily Kos, this post asserts the US “Did Not Spend $5 Billion to Destabilize Yanukovich”. There is literally nothing of substance, so I won’t quote any of it.

I will quote from the latest scapegoating of the left from PW, titled The American Left has Failed on Ukraine, which starts with this:

The American Left has absolutely and utterly failed to reach correct conclusions or make correct decisions in Ukraine. The result is that John McCain, who never met an ‘enemy of my enemy’ he couldn’t get behind, no matter how horrific, looks almost (almost) sane by comparison. Where a few weeks or months ago there could be legitimate debates, smart money was never on the side of the contrarian Left, and events have shown this to be true in at least two major ways.

I guess the smart money PW is referring to is that totally non-de-stabilizing 5 billion the conspiracy theorists speculate about. Because that cash was all just for good democracy building stuff, right? Let’s give PW a chance to provide some substance to his claim lefty contrarianism has failed to reach correct conclusions regarding the crisis in Ukraine:

1. The government currently in Ukraine is not a threat to Russians living in Ukraine. Quite the opposite – Russians in Eastern Ukraine and Crimea are actively undermining the government of Ukraine (No, the status of Russian as an official regional language, by the way, has not changed. Russia Today reported that it has, and to my knowledge has failed to note that the president of Ukraine never signed into law that act).

On what authority are we to accept such a sweeping claim that “The government currently in Ukraine is not a threat to Russians...”? In my previous post, the link to Andre Vltchek’s piece reports on legitimate fear from people in Eastern Ukraine. Maybe PW can tell us if anyone with thoughts not aligned with the current government should be considered a separatist “actively undermining the government of Ukraine” and, once labeled, what should be done with them?

Instead of acknowledging legitimate fears sweeping Ukraine on all sides, PW launches a weak spin on the fascist element now in positions of power, post-coup:

2. The government is not dominated by neo-fascists, at least, not yet. Svoboda and Pravdiy Sektor are both still extreme minority parties, and the armed right wing is under heavy police pressure by the Ukrainian government. Indeed, the only party that has anything to gain from Pravdiy Sektor’s gaining power, and the only party acting to make that more likely, is Russia. Both Svoboda and Pravdiy Sektor have loudly opposed admission to the EU or the involvement of the IMF in Ukraine (interestingly, the exact same position toward Ukraine advocated by our local ‘progressive’ blogs), making it seem highly unlikely that they will continue to have Euro-American backing. Hard core nationalism in a multi-ethnic state like Ukraine can only lead to instability, the exact outcome Russia desires, and it can only be strengthened by the constant threat (and fact) of Russian intervention.

I love how #2 starts off with an attempt to minimize the presence of the neo-fascist element (a tacit acknowledgement of their presence) while simultaneously implying this fascist threat may become more dangerous if…what? If the instability “Russia desires” develops?

Just to be clear, I have not specifically claimed that the post-coup government in Ukraine is “dominated” by neo-fascists, but it’s a fact right-sector elements grabbed top cabinet positions in the vacuum, post-coup:

The ultra-right Svoboda Party has scored six major cabinet ministries in the government of Arseniy Yatsenyuk approved by the Ukrainian parliament on Thursday. Svoboda is an ultra-right, anti-Semitic, Russophobic party with its base of support in the Western Ukraine.

The most important post was claimed by a co-founder of Svoboda, Andriy Parubiy. He was named Secretary of the Security and National Defense Committee, which supervises the defense ministry and the armed forces.

What else does PW have to say?

The Left continues to breezily describe Yanukovych as the ‘democratic’ leader of Ukraine, ignoring the fact that since his election, Ukraine has markedly regressed in terms of fair and transparent elections. History is full of ‘democratic’ leaders who ended democracy once it was done serving their purposes. Some even act as though the Crimean referendum, which was conducted under military occupation without any outside observers and didn’t even present the status quo as an option on the ballot, has some kind of validity. Perhaps the biggest failing of Leftist analysis, though, is the consistent belief that somehow this is related to NATO’s eastward expansion, or that a reasonable solution can include preventing Ukraine from ever joining NATO. If one knows the history, this is absolute hogwash. Note that Russian intervention in neighboring countries has been a constant fact since the Napoleonic wars – and NATO membership has shown to be the strongest preventive measure of that outcome. Georgia has been invaded; Turkey has not. Ukraine has been invaded; Estonia, almost incalculably weaker, has not.

First, let me say PW is correct. It is quite breezy to remind interventionists that nations who at least go through the trouble of staging elections should have their respective processes respected. Of course that’s before I learned that Ukraine “has markedly regressed in terms of fair and transparent elections” I’m starting to think maybe that 5 billion wasn’t so well spent after all. Maybe we could get an accurate accounting of exactly where that money went?  I’m also concerned that maybe American democracy has also markedly regressed.  Does that mean violence against the US state is justified?  Think of that justification coming from sovereign citizens.

PW’s fundamental disagreement with critics like me centers on the expansion of NATO. His argument focuses on how the protection racket of NATO expansionism has, so far, worked for member nations, thanks to article 5. I think that’s a dangerously short-sighted measure of success.

I guess the failure of the left is so bad, PW considers John McCain almost sane. That’s something, and emphasizes what actually most concerns me.

How strong does Obama think he needs to look for midterms?

PW ends his lesson on the failure of the left with this:

I realize that calling for further expansion of NATO means I’m at odds with most Leftist foreign policy practitioners in the US, but for me, personal experience, the testimony of my friends and acquaintances, the demographic and statistical evidence, and the historical record all indicate that on this point, the Left has gotten it wrong.

I hope I am wrong.

  1. steve kelly

    By blaming, labeling or accusing the victim, others can see the victim as different from the blamer. The blamer so wants everyone to know: “this would never happen to me.”

    Victim blaming is designed to marginalize the survivor. Blame shifting allows the abuser to perpetrate abuse while avoiding accountability for their inappropriate actions.

    The self-appointed “superior left” is weak, gutless, guilty as hell, and in denal.

    Scapegoating is an essential element of political triangulation. Thank you Mr. and Mrs. Clinton and all your “new way” friends who took my country down a road from which there seems to be no return.

    Now, can we continue to dismantle the U.S. Constitution, The New Deal, and go on about our business of dominating every corner of the Earth by every means necessary? Damn liberals.

  2. JC

    Thanks for this Liz. I’ve been far too busy to pen a cogent reply to PW. My basic take on his piece is that he is pissed that the left doesn’t look at the world his way to come around to his neocon/neolib perspective.

    But I can’t help myself but put out at least one barb. When he says:

    “Russians in Eastern Ukraine and Crimea are actively undermining the government of Ukraine”

    I see a person who either: 1) doesn’t see ethnic Russians in Ukraine as Ukrainians; or 2) believes that the Ukrainian government is correct to suppress ethnic dissent.

    PW’s line of logic will inevitably lead to ethnic cleansing in Ukraine. I’m betting he will cheer when the fascists from Kiev strike out to suppress the “Russian” terrorists in the east and south.

    All in the name of freedom and democracy.

    But he has created strawmen leftists upon whom to place the blame when the slaughter and ethnic cleansing commences, and Russia intervenes to protect ethnic russian Ukrainians.

    • lizard19

      it’s the type of thinking that PW and Pat Williams exhibit which results in the continued erosion of US credibility. at this point, I’m not sure there is anything left to erode. it’s maddening.

    • Do you people actually believe the nonsense that you are spewing? I understand that the prism with which you view the entire world has been colored by an anti-Americanism that is so extreme that you’re defending Vladimir Putin, but I have to ask if this is just a hoax.

      How much of Ukraine do you think Russia is entitled to protect?

      Putin’s rationale for seizing Crimea (and surely more of Ukraine) is precisely the same argument Hitler used to justify his annexation of the Sudetenland:

      “I am asking neither that Germany be allowed to oppress three and a half million Frenchmen, nor am I asking that three and a half million Englishmen be placed at our mercy. Rather I am simply demanding that the oppression of three and a half million Germans in Czechoslovakia cease and that the inalienable right to self-determination take its place.”

      I’d love to have read your defense of that in 1938.

      • lizard19

        spending 5 billion dollars to support “protestors” occupying buildings by force then overthrowing the government opened up a very dangerous space that Putin is exploiting in a manner that was both predictable and avoidable.

        in mid-March there was a chance that federalizing Ukraine’s constitution to give more autonomy to local regions was possible. now it depends on how much further the situation in eastern Ukraine escalates.

        oh, and thank you for the Hitler comparison. I can see you are ready for Hillary in 2016.

        • Given that JC accused PW of endorsing the logic of ethnic cleansing, I think your umbrage is a bit misplaced. I actually think the quote is astonishingly similar in its rationale. In what way is the situation different?

          • lizard19

            I don’t care in what way the situation is similar or different, and you don’t care to actually engage in a dialogue here.

            I’m confused, why even bother commenting, Don? you block me on Twitter, remove the link to this site from your blogroll, make a fuss about excessive citation of your fellow blogger’s content, and then you come a-trollin’. I’m sorry you feel compelled to respond to the nonsense we spew over here. you could always choose not to, like you said you were going to do awhile back.

            • Does it trouble you that you are incapable of responding to criticism of your posts? I’d suggest your unwillingness to see the parallels between Hitler in ’38 and Putin in ’12 says a lot less about my “trolling” than it does about the quality of your argument.

  3. steve kelly


    Again, thanks for a rousing discussion about an important issue. Those who trash you and anyone who may doubt U.S. media accounts of what’s happening in Ukraine are victims of some pretty impressive and unrelenting propaganda. I am trying to remain focused on the power behind the propaganda, often with great difficulty.

    I find Stephen Cohen a thoughtful critic of U.S. “relations” with Russia.

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