Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Further thoughts on the Ukraine

Item: Following an ancient playbook, Putin sends troops into the Crimea “reserving the right to protect ethnic Russians.” So which Ukrainian genius decided that one of the first acts of the new, questionably legal regime in Kiev after the ouster of Yanokovych should be to retract the law making Russian a second official language? Talk about handing Putin an excuse on a platter. Conclusion: the unsavory Ukrainian nationalist elements figuring prominently in the upheaval are not only anti-Semitic and creepy, they are really, really stupid.

Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski, one of the three diplomats who tried to head off the crisis, said Ukrainian MPs were wrong to cancel the law.

The new Ukrainian government should signal very eloquently to the ethnic minorities in Ukraine that they are welcome in Ukraine, that they are going to be part of the new Ukraine, and also Ukraine is a member of the Council of Europe, [with] its laws on protecting minorities.

So much for that wise counsel.

Item: Bush the First told Gorbachev as the Soviet Union was crumbling that the U.S. would not try to take advantage by moving the eastern borders of NATO into the former Warsaw Pact countries, Poland, Czechoslovakia, etc. Lest we forget, the Cold War ended remarkably peacefully after many of us spent our childhoods wondering if the endgame of international rivalry would be nuclear war.

But once there was no USSR, Clinton promptly reneged on this promise, a move even old George “Mr Containment” Kennan thought was a huge error. It’s probably not realistic to expect countries not to push their geopolitical advantages whenever they can, but lying and betrayal do have their long-term costs, as we are seeing.

Item: The neocons [photo above] permanently eager to put on the tough-guy act, preferably including new wars, always default to swagger, and Obama is incapable of confronting them. He defaults to lecturing, which Democrats for some reason think makes them look like statesmen rather than fusty pushovers easily caricatured as Neville Chamberlains in top hats. It would probably take an Eisenhower to rein in the howling wolves given Americans’ cowboy self-image and our long jingoist tradition.

But if Obama from the start of his presidency had made a habit of facing them down over both domestic and foreign policy, rather than appeasing and enabling armchair warriors like Lindsey Graham and whores for the rich like John Boehner, he’d have a chance of turning the rhetoric against them today.

Meanwhile, the Marlboro Man discourses pouring out of Washington are just the thing to exacerbate the situation rather than defuse it. If our leaders are seeking constructive discussions with the interested parties, Putin included, does it make sense to call him “delusional”? Or to compare him to Hitler as Hillary Clinton just did?

Item: It would be useful for understanding where we are now to retrace the events leading up to the departure of Yanukovych. There was a deal brokered by three EU foreign ministers (Poland, Germany, France) that could have maintained the legal order through a power-sharing arrangement between Yanukovych and opposition figures. Could the security forces have been reined in and the country kept intact? Did Russia offer to cooperate as some commentators insist? If so, did the U.S. push for a putsch? Inquiring minds want to know.

Raúl Ilargi Meijer, Automatic Earth:

As the new self-appointed authorities in Kiev dictate terms and push legislation through a rump parliament, the reluctance of western capitals to address the clearly dubious legitimacy of the new regime suggests that the US and EU condone what is effectively a coup d’état with no constitutional validity.

The suspicion that the U.S. wants the situation to deteriorate further is only reinforced by the latest oratorical belch from Hillary, who said Russian movements in the Ukraine are “population transfers” and “what Hitler did back in the 30s.” Great way to stoke resentment among a people who buried 25 million during the last war. That’ll help along diplomatic action. Not to mention that grotesque hubris of the main enablers of Israeli population transfers over the last 50 years.

Item: Speaking of which, how about ditzy John McCain—whose ill-timed visit to Kiev last year helped pump up the Ukraine’s role as an East-West standoff--addressing the AIPAC convention to remind his zionist audience that the Russian ethnic presence in Crimea was a direct result of the removal of Crimean Tatars and the repopulation of their lands with outsiders. This to an audience completely intransigent on the issue of Israel’s right to ethnically cleanse its own unwanted populace and build exclusive settlements for Jews on seized lands. We need a new word for this performance given that ‘hypocrisy’ doesn’t come close.

That supposedly seasoned diplomats are issuing such inflammatory statements gives us every reason to think that they’re less upset by the unrest in Ukraine than delighted with the chance to kickstart a new Cold War. How much easier it will be to justify removing any hint of the sequester from the Pentagon now that domestic programs already have taken huge hits. Just when the military was supposed to be next up for across-the-board cutbacks, we have a big face-off with an historical enemy. Coincidence?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

And now this, reported on Democracy Now (link and text below):

Leaked EU Call: Opposition Behind Sniper Shootings in Kiev

In other news from Ukraine, a leaked phone call has bolstered claims anti-government forces were behind sniper attacks on protesters in Kiev last month. Both sides of Ukraine’s political divide blamed the other when dozens of people were killed by gunfire in the weeks before the ouster of Russian-backed President Viktor Yanukovych. But in an intercepted phone call between Estonia’s foreign minister, Urmas Paet, and European Union policy chief Catherine Ashton, Paet says the sniper fire came from the opposition.
Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Paet: "All the evidence shows that people who were killed by snipers, from both sides, among policemen and then people from the streets, that they were the same snipers killing people from both sides."
EU Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton: "Well, that’s — yeah."
Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Paet: "So that—and then she also showed me some photos. She said that, as medical doctor, she can say that it is the same handwriting, the same type of bullets. And it’s really disturbing that now the new coalition, that they don’t want to investigate what exactly happened, so that there is now stronger and stronger understanding that behind the snipers, it was not Yanukovych, but it was somebody from the new coalition."