Archive for April 19th, 2014

by lizard

In Ukraine, the new government that came to power through a western-backed coup is trying to exert its power from Kiev through lethal violence:

As negotiations over the crisis in Ukraine begin in Geneva, tension is rising in the Ukrainian east after security forces killed three pro-Russian protesters, wounded 13 and took 63 captive in the city of Mariupol. Ukrainian officials said the pro-Russian separatists had attempted to storm a military base. The killings came just after the unraveling of a Ukrainian operation to retake government buildings from pro-Russian separatists. Earlier today, Russian President Vladimir Putin accused the authorities in Kiev of plunging the country into an “abyss” and refused to rule out sending forces into Ukraine.

That report comes from Stephen Cohen, one of the few journalists trying to counter the US propaganda surrounding these escalating events. Here is how Cohen described the lead up to this crisis on Democracy Now a few days ago:

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, Stephen Cohen, it was just a few weeks ago when we had you on, as the crisis was beginning to unfold in Ukraine, and a lot of what you said then turned out to be true, which was that you feared that there would be a split in Ukraine itself between the east and west. And obviously Crimea was just developing then. But it seems that all of the emphasis in the coverage here is as if the crisis started with Russian aggression, not with the earlier period of what was NATO and Europe’s involvement in Ukraine before the deposing of the elected president.

STEPHEN COHEN: Well, I think you’ve emphasized the absolute flaw in at least the American—because I don’t follow the European press that closely—the American media and political narrative. As a historian, I would say that this conflict began 300 years ago, but we can’t do that. As a contemporary observer, it certainly began in November 2013 when the European Union issued an ultimatum, really, to the then-president, elected president, of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych, that “Sign an agreement with us, but you can’t have one with Russia, too.” In my mind, that precipitated this crisis, because why give a country that has been profoundly divided for centuries, and certainly in recent decades, an ultimatum—an elected president: “Choose, and divide your country further”? So when we say today Putin initiated this chaos, this danger of war, this confrontation, the answer is, no, that narrative is wrong from the beginning. It was triggered by the European Union’s unwise ultimatum.

Now flash forward to just one month ago, about the time I was with you before. Remember that the European foreign ministers—three of them, I think—went to Kiev and negotiated with Yanukovych, who was still the president, an agreement. Now, the Russians were present at the negotiation, but they didn’t sign it. But they signed off on it. They said, “OK.” What did that agreement call for? Yanukovych would remain president until December—not May, when elections are now scheduled, but December of this year. Then there would be a presidential election. He could run in them, or not. Meanwhile, there would be a kind of government of national accord trying to pull the government together. And, importantly, Russia would chip in, in trying to save the Ukrainian economy. But there would also be parliamentary elections. That made a lot of sense. And it lasted six hours.

The next day, the street, which was now a mob—let’s—it was no longer peaceful protesters as it had been in November. It now becomes something else, controlled by very ultra-nationalist forces; overthrew Yanukovych, who fled to Russia; burned up the agreement. So who initiated the next stage of the crisis? It wasn’t Russia. They wanted that agreement of February, a month ago, to hold. And they’re still saying, “Why don’t we go back to it?” You can’t go back to it, though there is a report this morning that Yanukovych, who is in exile in Russia, may fly to eastern Ukraine today or tomorrow, which will be a whole new dimension.

But the point of it is, is that Putin didn’t want—and this is reality, this is not pro-Putin or pro-Washington, this is just a fact—Putin did not want this crisis. He didn’t initiate it. But with Putin, once you get something like that, you get Mr. Pushback. And that’s what you’re now seeing. And the reality is, as even the Americans admit, he holds all the good options. We have none. That’s not good policymaking, is it?

In the constant attempt to justify western interests, you can count on the Polish Wolf. When I quoted an excerpt from Cohen’s Democracy Now interview from the quote above, this was part of PW’s response:

As to the EU ultimatum, I don’t think people understand how the EU works. It is a trade and customs union. If Ukraine signs a trade and customs deal with the EU, and with Russia, the EU is inadvertently in a trade relationship with Russia that it’s membership doesn’t want to be in. And anyway starting a discussion of who started the crisis in 2013 is foolish indeed – you have to look as well at Russia’s willingness to wreck havoc with Ukraine’s economy, via border and gas controls, just to destabilize Yushchenko and Tymoshenko, and you’ll see why the EU proposed what they did.

No one is arguing that Russia is some benign trade partner with Ukraine. Both Russia and the EU offered their respective deals, and the elected president of Ukraine chose Russia’s deal over the EU. And because of that choice, the 5 billion dollar investment to “build democracy” Victoria Nuland cited was ratcheted up into a full blown overthrow of the Ukrainian government.

Instead of talking about a sensible off-ramp to a military confrontation with Russia over Ukraine, we have nutjobs like James Jeffrey in a Washington Post op-ed saying the US should send troops to quell the crisis:

The best way to send Putin a tough message and possibly deflect a Russian campaign against more vulnerable NATO states is to back up our commitment to the sanctity of NATO territory with ground troops, the only military deployment that can make such commitments unequivocal. To its credit, the administration has dispatched fighter aircraft to Poland and the Baltic states to reinforce NATO fighter patrols and exercises. But these deployments, as with ships temporarily in the Black Sea, have inherent weaknesses as political signals. They cannot hold terrain — the ultimate arbiter of any military calculus — and can be easily withdrawn if trouble brews. Troops, even limited in number, send a much more powerful message. More difficult to rapidly withdraw once deployed, they can make the point that the United States is serious about defending NATO’s eastern borders.

This is insanity, and further proof of the delusional propaganda being deployed to establish the psychological foundation for a military confrontation with Russia.

America has lost its shit. Who is going to fight WWIII for the .01%? Our military does not currently project strength, despite the fact this country accounts for over 40% of what the entire world spends on “defense”.  US troops are exhausted, over-extended, and literally killing themselves at record rates.

The US, with its post-9/11 crusade to police the world, has inched geopolitics back to a point of tension where we have to think about Mutually Assured Destruction. Non-proliferation can’t happen when countries that give up their weapons of mass destruction get regime-changed, like Iraq and Libya.

No first use is an interesting concept that will unfortunately never gain traction in our current political environment:

No first use (NFU) refers to a pledge or a policy by a nuclear power not to use nuclear weapons as a means of warfare unless first attacked by an adversary using nuclear weapons. Earlier, the concept had also been applied to chemical and biological warfare.

As of October 2008, China has publicly declared its commitment to no first use of nuclear weapons.

As of 2010, India has signaled a shift from no first use to no first use against non-nuclear weapon states.

NATO has repeatedly rejected calls for adopting NFU policy, arguing that preemptive nuclear strike is a key option. In 1993, Russia dropped a pledge given by the former Soviet Union not to use nuclear weapons first. In 2000, a Russian military doctrine stated that Russia reserves the right to use nuclear weapons “in response to a large-scale conventional aggression”.

De-escalation doesn’t seem possible now, not when the information war is blazing hot and US troops are beginning to be strategically deployed.

Benevolent voice of benign empire? Purity of purpose? Nope, that brand of delusional thinking couldn’t be farther from the truth.

America is out of control.

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