Posts Tagged ‘Ukraine’

Remember Ukraine?

by William Skink

I decided to take a quick stroll down memory lane by rereading the shallow assessment of how The American Left has Failed on Ukraine. Written by the Polish Wolf nearly a year ago, it’s clear, at least to me, that his arguments have not aged well. Because there isn’t really that much substance to it, there isn’t much worth quoting. PW simply makes two claims, without evidence, that supposedly prove this alleged leftist failure, and those are:

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 had, and to my knowledge has failed to note that the president of Ukraine never signed into law that act).

2. The government is not dominated by neo-fascists, at least, not yet. Svoboda and Pravy 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 the radical right gaining power, and the only party acting to make that more likely, is Russia. Both Svoboda and Pravy 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.

A few weeks after PW wrote this, the tragedy in Odessa occurred. Since then, things have only gotten worse.

After that April post, PW stopped writing about Ukraine at ID. It was an issue he obviously felt strongly about, so I’m not sure why the sudden stop. It’s an issue I feel strongly about as well, seeing as how this civil war is a brutal, bloody trap set for Russia by the west, and has the potential to spark a global conflagration between two countries with lots of nukes on hand.

I did keep writing, and whoa boy did it make some people upset. I’ve been called lots of things, but the visceral reaction by James Conner to our speculation about the circumstances of MH17 being shot down was one of the best denouncements I’ve had the pleasure of receiving:

…their arguments verge on hysteria. They don’t trust the mainstream media, such as the New York Times, the Washington Post, or the Guardian. They seem to see a conspiracy behind every sunflower. They hate the United States and its government with a black bile that corrodes their judgment.

Like PW, James Conner is not writing about the current status of the MH17 investigation, an issue that he must feel passionately about to make such a public, and personal, display of breaking ties with this corrosive, bile-soaked blog.

But Robert Parry, at Consortium news, is definitely still interested in what happened to MH17 and he doesn’t believe the laughable assertion that our intelligence agency has added ZERO updates to the report since it was released 5 days after the MH17 was shot out of the sky, killing everyone on board:

Despite the high stakes involved in the confrontation between nuclear-armed Russia and the United States over Ukraine, the U.S. intelligence community has not updated its assessment on a critical turning point of the crisis – the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 – since five days after the crash last July 17, according to the office of the Director of National Intelligence.

On Thursday, when I inquired about arranging a possible briefing on where that U.S. intelligence assessment stands, DNI spokesperson Kathleen Butler sent me the same report that was distributed by the DNI on July 22, 2014, which relied heavily on claims being made about the incident on social media.

So, I sent a follow-up e-mail to Butler saying: “are you telling me that U.S. intelligence has not refined its assessment of what happened to MH-17 since July 22, 2014?”

Her response: “Yes. The assessment is the same.”

I then wrote back: “I don’t mean to be difficult but that’s just not credible. U.S. intelligence has surely refined its assessment of this important event since July 22.”

When she didn’t respond, I sent her some more detailed questions describing leaks that I had received about what some U.S. intelligence analysts have since concluded, as well as what the German intelligence agency, the BND, reported to a parliamentary committee last October, according to Der Spiegel.

While there are differences in those analyses about who fired the missile, there appears to be agreement that the Russian government did not supply the ethnic Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine with a sophisticated Buk anti-aircraft missile system that the original DNI report identified as the likely weapon used to destroy the commercial airliner killing all 298 people onboard.

Butler replied to my last e-mail late Friday, saying “As you can imagine, I can’t get into details, but can share that the assessment has IC [Intelligence Community] consensus” – apparently still referring to the July 22 report.

I’m glad there are people like Robert Parry continuing to track events in Ukraine. Ukraine might not be getting mainstream headline attention right now, but spring is coming, and with spring comes war. I suspect the recent flurry of Putin is ill/dead speculation is prepping the American psyche for Russian regime change.

It seems plausible, at least to me, that our entire political class is insane. Of course I’m just an anonymous blogger in Montana, so what the hell do I know, right?

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by lizard

Before the Charlie Hebdo attack, the French made two big mistakes. First, the French parliament voted to recognize Palestine as a state:

French lawmakers on Tuesday urged their government to recognize Palestine, a symbolic move that will not immediately affect France’s diplomatic stance but demonstrates growing European impatience with a stalled peace process.

While most developing countries recognize Palestine as a state, most Western European countries do not, supporting the Israeli and U.S. position that an independent Palestinian state should emerge from negotiations with Israel.

European countries have grown frustrated with Israel, which since the collapse of the latest U.S.-sponsored talks in April has pressed on with building settlements in territory the Palestinians want for their state.

The motion received the backing of 339 lawmakers with 151 against.

The second mistake was calling for an end to the sanctions against Russia, which are negatively impacting the French economy:

French President Francois Hollande says he wants Western sanctions on Russia to be lifted if progress is made in talks on the Ukraine conflict this month.

He did not specify which sanctions – imposed by the EU, US and Canada – could be lifted. The sanctions began after Russia annexed Crimea in March.

Mr Hollande said Russian President Vladimir Putin “doesn’t want to annex eastern Ukraine – he told me that”.

Germany’s vice-chancellor has warned against further sanctions on Russia.

Sigmar Gabriel – a centre-left politician like Mr Hollande – said the sanctions were aimed at making Russia negotiate to resolve the Ukraine conflict. But some “forces” in Europe and the US wanted sanctions to cripple Russia, which would “risk a conflagration”.

“We want to help get the Ukraine conflict resolved, but not to push Russia onto its knees,” he told Bild am Sonntag newspaper.

Now France has had its Boston moment with the attack on Charlie Hebdo. Pepe Escobar asks, cui bono? From the link:

Cui bono, then, with killing Charlie? Only those whose agenda is to demonize Islam. Not even a bunch of brainwashed fanatics would pull off the Charlie carnage to show people who accuse them of being barbarians that they are, in fact, barbarians. French intel at least has concluded that this is no underwear bomber stunt. This is a pro job. That happens to take place just a few days after France recognizes Palestinian statehood. And just a few days after General Hollande demanded the lifting of sanctions against the Russian “threat”.

The Masters of the Universe who pull the real levers of the Empire of Chaos are freaking out with the systemic chaos in the racket they so far had the illusion of controlling. Make no mistake – the Empire of Chaos will do what it can to exploit the post-Charlie environment – be it blowback or false flag.

The Obama administration is already mobilizing the UN Security Council. The FBI is “helping” with the French investigation. And as an Italian analyst memorably put it, jihadis don’t attack a vulture hedge fund; they attack a satirical rag. This is not religion; this is hardcore geopolitics. Reminds me of David Bowie: “This is not rock’n roll. This is suicide.”

But let’s talk about what’s really important, NFL football. Let’s hope Steve Daines can effectively intervene in the dispute between DirectTV and CBS, so Montanans can watch the Broncos lose.

We can go back to hating and killing Muslims (while our government funds, arms and trains jihadists) on Monday.

by lizard

You know the house of cards is about to collapse when it takes Henry Kissinger to acknowledge what us lowly bloggers have been writing about for months and months.

Steve W. gets the h/t for bringing my attention to a Salon piece by Patrick Smith titled New York Times propagandists exposed: Finally, the truth about Ukraine and Putin emerges. While I agree with the author that gloating is unseemly, the amount of crap heaped on those of us who have pointed to the evidence of what is now being officially acknowledged makes a brief indulgence understandable.

Those who bought in to the demonize Putin campaign were duped.

The MSM acknowledgment that NATO provoked the Ukraine crisis is twofold: Henry Kissinger, interviewed by Der Spiegel; Katrina vanden Huevel, an op-ed at the Washington Post.

If you want to hear their take, go to the link. I’ve already covered it here.

I will quote the part where Smith acknowledges the critical importance of those few who persevered in reporting what was actually happening in Ukraine:

I can anticipate with ease a thoughtful reader or two writing in the comment thread, “But we knew all this already. What’s the point?” We have known all this since the beginning, indeed, thanks to perspicacious writers such as Robert Parry and Steve Weissman. Parry, like your columnist, is a refugee from the mainstream who could take no more; Weissman, whose credentials go back to the Free Speech Movement, seems fed up with the whole nine and exiled himself to France.

Something I have wanted to say for months is now right: Thank you, colleagues. Keep on keeping on.

Also to be noted in this vein is Stephen Cohen, the distinguished Princeton Russianist, whose essay in the Nation last February gave superb and still useful perspective, a must-read if you propose to take Ukraine seriously and get beyond the propaganda. (Vanden Heuvel rightly noted him, too, wrongly omitting that she and Cohen are spouses. A report to the Ethics Police has been filed anonymously.)

These people’s reporting and analyses require no imprimatur from the mainstream press. Who could care? This is not the point. The points as I read them are two.

One, there is no shred of doubt in my mind that the work of the above-mentioned and a few others like them has been instrumental in forcing the truth of the Ukraine crisis to the surface. Miss this not. In a polity wherein the policy cliques have zero accountability to any constituency — unbelievable simply to type that phrase — getting accurate accounts and responsibly explanatory copy out — and then reading it, equally — is essential. Future historians will join me in expressing gratitude.

Two, we have indirect admissions of failure. It is highly significant that Foreign Affairs and the Washington Post, both bastions of the orthodoxy, are now willing to publish what amount to capitulations. It would be naive to think this does not reflect a turning of opinion among prominent members of the policy cliques.

I had thought for months as the crisis dragged on, this degree of disinformation cannot possibly hold. From the Nuland tape onward, too much of the underwear was visible as the trousers fell down, so to say. And now we have State and the media clerks with their pants bunched up at their ankles.

The lingering effect of the propaganda probably won’t dissipate anytime soon, but this shift is significant, for the reasons stated above. Interesting how some anonymous Montana blogger can credibly claim that a small virtual audience got more accurate information here than at the New York Times.

What’s next, accurately reporting the real dynamics of the petrol price war and pipeline politics?

November 30th marked the 15th anniversary of the direct actions that shutdown the WTO meetings in Seattle. It’s encouraging to see direct action once again blooming on multiple fronts. Last night it was the shutdown of city streets and highways over another non-indictment of a dead black man. Before that black Friday protests at Walmarts. Dreamers have brought effective pressure for immigration reform and port workers have stopped Israeli cargo at the docks.

To repeat a phrase from the quotation, the disinformation cannot possibly hold.

And it’s not.

by lizard

The Polish Wolf has broken months of silence to produce a pile of pro-western drivel bashing the BRICS development bank and doing a little NATO cheerleading:

While the international attention is focused on Ukraine and Gaza, something of arguably larger consequence occurred recently: the ‘BRICS’ (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) launched a development bank to compete with the World Bank. This is indeed exciting – while the post-Breton Woods era has produced some impressive economic gains, especially after end of the Cold War, the World Bank is far from living up to its potential, and could surely use some competition. But as far as an antidote the that mythical demon of ‘neo-liberalism’, the New Development Bank doesn’t have a very good chance.

The recent crisis in Ukraine has caused some contrarian-leaning liberals to embrace Russia as a counterweight to American ‘neo-liberalism’; China has long been viewed in the same way. But even a cursory glance at the numbers indicate that this is far from the case. The weighted (by nominal GDP) average Gini coefficient (a method for comparing economic inequality in countries internationally) of the BRICS countries is a whopping 46.2 – by comparison, the US comes in at 36.7, and Mexico, the least equal of the OECD nations, is at 47. In terms of workers’ rights, the environment, or corruption of Democracy, the other prime accusations hurled at ‘neo-liberal’ institutions, the BRICS nations again fail to distinguish themselves as substantially better than the OECD or leading World Bank states.

The lesson? Those who see the US as the cause and center of globally exploitative economic system ought to look twice before assuming that America’s nominal ‘rivals’ represent a better, or even substantially different, system. While there are some truly ground-breaking programs for fighting poverty coming out of Brazil, and some successes as well in the ever-challenging realm achieving democratic governance in a highly multi-ethnic states in India and South Africa, by and large those countries competing economically with the “Washington Consensus” are running parallel to it, using largely the same methods (indeed, with a greater emphasis on state power and centralization), not innovating in some kinder, gentler system. A rival organization to the current global economic norms will not lead to a global system more responsive to inequality and the needs of the poor unless it helps motivate the World Bank/IMF system to reform itself.

First, the crisis in Ukraine is cited without any context as to who instigated the coup and subsequent slaughter and why. Preserving the petrodollar and pivoting to Eurasia isn’t something PW wants to talk about because it exposes why contrarians like myself hope the multi-polar reality represented by Russia will halt the psychotic “Washington Consensus” from sparking WWIII.

Now that Obama’s pivot project has been decimated by Eastern Ukrainians resolve to defend their cities and towns from the murderous coup regime in Kiev, the US has even fewer cards to play. Nuland’s Nazi pals and Porky the chocolate billionaire utterly failed and now must negotiate with Russia with tail tucked between legs.

The lesson? Poking the bear has consequences.

The resolve will now be to keep pushing for NATO expansion, which is insane. Here’s Hagel describing the need to get Georgia under the NATO umbrella:

U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel says “Russia’s blatant aggression in Ukraine” has made the United States and Georgia determined to build stronger military ties.

Speaking on September 7 in Tbilisi after talks with Georgian Defense Minister Irakli Alasania, Hagel called NATO’s September 4-5 summit in Wales “an important milestone in Georgia’s efforts to join” the alliance.

He said the United States would help Georgia fulfill its goal of joining NATO, stressing that “deepening ties between NATO and Georgia are especially important given the dangerous and irresponsible actions” of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

In addition to luring Georgia into the NATO fold, the big news out of the NATO summit was the announced intention to create a Rapid Response Force:

As Ukrainian leaders warned on Monday of “a great war” with Russia, NATO leaders meeting in Wales this week were expected to endorse their most concrete response yet to increased Russian military intervention in Ukraine: establishing a rapid-reaction force capable of deploying quickly to Eastern Europe, officials of the alliance said.

The new force of some 4,000 troops, capable of moving on 48 hours’ notice, will be supported with logistics and equipment pre-positioned in Eastern European countries closer to Russia, with an upgraded schedule of military exercises and deployments that are intended to make NATO’s commitment of collective defense more credible and enhance its deterrence.

Pair this with the Russia Aggression Prevention Act and what we have are the conditions for the new Cold War to go hot.

In the comments of PW’s idiotic post, he describes his love of NATO thusly:

NATO’s value is its predictability. Mutual defense is a powerful and much needed idea; it sends a clear signal to both NATO members and those who threaten them that the most powerful military in the world is watching and assessing any potential infringement. The salutary effects are two-fold: on the one hand, it has kept NATO members safe from encroachment, ending Russia’s periodic incursions into Central Europe as well as keeping peace (to an extent) between Greece and Turkey. On the other hand, it has left member countries relatively secure, to the extent that they haven’t needed to build up dangerous arsenals or maintain enormous armies. Turkey’s continuing status as a non-nuclear power (and likely Italy’s, as well) is likely a result of the conventional security it enjoys as part of NATO. If Ukraine and Georgia become full members of NATO, we can expect threats to their sovereignty AND belligerent actions arising from those feelings of threat to decrease. Russia may be frustrated, but the actual potential for conflict will be greatly lessened.

Before the Libya intervention this statement might not seem so ridiculous, but after watching NATO exploit a no-fly zone to empower militias to overthrow Gaddafi, sane people can see the craziness of continued NATO expansion.

Also, the lesson of Libya for despotic regimes like North Korea is simple: NEVER GIVE UP THE DETERRENCE OF WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION. From the link:

Of all the lessons to draw from the ignoble end to Muammar Qaddafi’s brutal regime in Libya, the one about nuclear weapons proliferation is probably not the first tutorial that comes to mind.

But you can believe it is not lost on countries that feel vulnerable, including Iran. And for the sake of global security, the international community must consider what it’s like to be in their shoes.

The lesson is elementary. Eight years ago, Libya agreed to dismantle its infant nuclear program. More than five months ago, NATO began enforcing a no-fly zone in support of Libyan rebels. Would NATO have launched a bombing campaign against Libya if the unpredictable Mr. Qaddafi had possessed nuclear weapons?

Qaddafi’s forceful downfall will make acquiring nuclear weapons all the more justifiable to states that feel threatened by outsiders. In turn, that will erode the vision of nonproliferation that held such promise in the post-cold-war era.

PW sees Ukraine joining NATO as a good thing. Stephen Cohen sees it as a sure path to war with Russia. Here is Cohen discussing the situation on Democracy Now. It’s a must watch.

Western apologists like The Polish Wolf should be shouted down as ignorant warmongers. They are dangerously deluded about the true nature of US hegemony.




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