1. Daize

    Hudson is just repeating Russian government talking points. I like RealNews very much, but at least with regard to the Ukraine story their coverage has been very close to simply reiterating for an English speaking audience the Russian propaganda campaign. Same is true of the Moon of Alabama website.
    Yes the IMF plan is bad for Ukraine (just like any IMF plan has been in any country), yes there are very minor fascist elements in Ukraine (no more then any other European country). But, this was not a fascist putsch and it is far from being the European resource/land grab that Hudson and the Russians would have us believe. These are just elements which will be used for a justification of a future invasion or for the current Russian agitators now working in Ukraine to destabalize the country.

    1. Charles LeSeau

      So where do you get your news about this stuff? What is a source we should trust?

      This has to have been one of the most confusing stories I’ve ever seen unfold – a real Rashomon tale. Every single thing I read about it is so hotly contested, often by Ukrainians and Russians (or people claiming to be).

      1. Daize

        I understand your confusion. You have to keep in mind that Russia is good at the propaganda game, and so is the west. What is actually happening is quite a bit more difficult to discern and requires a deeper understanding of Russian/Ukraine history.

        I have at times found more realistic commentary on the web. Ian Welsh hasn’t been comepletely off on some of his commentary, and this article is decent:

        1. vlade

          This is probably the best article on Ukraine I saw. Both Russia and West is trying to paint it black and white, fitting it to their agenda as needed, when the reality is very very grey. The real problem I have is that lots of people see West propaganda painting it black and white (and can see it so), and therefore automatically assume that the Russian message is the right one (or that something close to the Russian message). The fact that one side distorts the truth doesn’t mean that the other side is telling it – especially when the other side is a very dangerous one with a history of imperialism as strong as anyone else (but probably less known to the western readers/listeners)

          1. Synopticist

            “the real problem I have is that lots of people see West propaganda painting it black and white (and can see it so), and therefore automatically assume that the Russian message is the right…”

            This is true, but I would never have imagined that people would be so keen to lap up Russian propaganda rather than western. We’re not just talking the usual rejectionist left and the Paulite right here, after all. If you read comments BLT on mainstream sites you find possibly a majority taking the pro-Russian view. I read a long comment thread on the UK’s daily telegraph on Ukraine (not something I would normally recommend BTW), and it was more like 90%.

            People have figured out what happened in the Ukraine now, I reckon. We know this was a gigantic cluster-f@ck on the part of the west, and it’s mostly our fault, not Russia’s.
            There’s blowback from Syria and Libya as well. It doen”st need a NC reader lever of media comprehension to see that the MSM has been covering the events in those places with absurd bias, so folks are just less willing to think as their told when it comes to Ukraine. Once bitten, twice shy. it makes russian propaganda seem more balanced.

            1. Ed S.

              My speculation that people would be so keen to lap up Russian propaganda rather than western is that people in the West no longer believe anything that the government(s) say — and that whatever the government(s) do say is the opposite of the truth.

            2. NotTimothyGeithner

              I don’t think it’s propaganda as much as deep distrust of western governments. Putin might be an aggressor, but John McCain and John Kerry bipartisanship reminds me of George Carlin’s warning.

              I don’t think anyone cares what the Russian argument is when our leaders spend so much time thieving and killing and taking time to applaud Dubya’s newest career, art makin’ dude.

          1. Devamitta

            A book on the Russian revolution 1917-1924? Not sure what that has to do what is going on now. In fact, I do not think it has anything to do with what is occuring presently. Anything more timely than that?

            1. Linden

              It has everything to do with now. As someone who’s studied Russian history, it’s easy to see that the same issues repeat again and again, over centuries. Just because Americans immediately forget history doesn’t mean everyone else does.

          2. JTFaraday

            That looks interesting, (and my library has it!). I’m currently reading Bloodlands in my spare time.

        2. Bob

          You mention how good the Russians are at propaganda but you seem to not mention how much better the West is to cover up all the damage is does to countries like Ukraine. The west has history of a pretence of peace but all it wants is the countries wealth to be sold off to western interest. I can see so many similarities to what the UN, Nato, USA & the EU did in former country of Yugoslavia created a front for humantarian aid so they could invade. Now all the major resources previously owned by government interest are now owned by western interest. So to say the Russians are good at propaganda might be right but the Western powers that invades countries like Iraq under lies what would you cal that?

    2. lolcar

      Michael Hudson’s message on the economic subjugation of countries like Latvia, Greece, Ireland etc. at Europe’s periphery has been absolutely consistent for at least 5 or 6 years. Hudson is merely extending that analysis to the Ukraine. To argue that this is somehow equivalent to Russian propaganda is pretty ridiculous. Which is not to say that the Russians won’t be be trying to spread the message as far as possible – just in this case it’s no more than the truth.

      1. rkka

        “Michael Hudson’s message on the economic subjugation of countries like Latvia, Greece, Ireland etc. at Europe’s periphery has been absolutely consistent for at least 5 or 6 years. ”

        And he’s spot on. The real apologists&propagandists are those who ignore the demographic death spirals the US Central&Eastern European client states are in.

      2. George

        True, but his idea that the IMF money will be used to pay debt to Russia is certainly nonsense. The IMF is controlled by Western banks.

        1. Les

          But the IMF is giving out bridge loans and calling them bailouts. Ukraine will be on the hook to sell off its vast farmland at lowball prices per IMF demands. In addiition, the coalition backed by the West seeks to void sales/leases made by Ukraine to Russia and China. It is purely an asset grab by two competing sides while the West also looks to Ukraine to expand NATO and its offensive first-strike missile capability to Russia’s borders.

          1. NotTimothyGeithner

            And the mic needs new customers because I suspect the brics, africa, and all of South america wont be too friendly to new contracts.

    3. notexactlyhuman

      Have you seen some of the things that the unelected Ukrainian government has done? Hastily selling the country to the IMF, imposed harsh austerity, tried to ban Russian language, passed law to confiscate all weapons from non-security personnel, and now it labels dissenters/protesters terrorists. Hmmm. Sounds a might fascist to me. Certainly not democratic.

      1. JGordon

        That’s right; the first clue that you’ve got a totalitarian regime on your hands is when they go in and try to ban people from arming themselves; nothing makes tyrants feel more threatened than a well armed citizenry–thus our Second Amendment personal right to keep and bear arms.

        Also, the new Ukraine “leader” American/IMF puppet coming out and saying that she wanted to kill all the Russians in the Ukraine, with nuclear weapons if need be, lends at least some credibility to the Russian case. So while there are certainly no saints here, at the very least we know who the devils are: the foreign power that recently placed the unelected Neo-Nazis in charge of the Ukraine being prime example number one.

        1. Linden

          Iraq under Saddam Hussein had a well-armed citizenry. So do many other countries in which tyrants flourish.

          1. cwaltz

            Anyone who thinks their .45 is going to protect them against a well placed precision bomb that the US government procured is a moron. The truth is that a .45 can protect you from a criminal but it ain’t going to protect you if the government wants you dead.

      2. Patrick

        In fairness, those protesters have been taking over government buildings. Most governments react aggressively and violently to that sort of behavior.

        But under the circumstances, it seems pretty hypocritical. Considering the current Ukrainian government came to power using the same tactics.

        I’m not sure what to think….

    4. paul whalen

      What a moronic cold war replay ad hominem comment. Why don’t you address the assertions of Hudson et al. in stead of invoking the specter of evil Russia? Your blithe dismissal of the fascist elements of the coup belie an absolute ignorance of Ukrainian history and their cooperation with the Nazis in the extermination of the Ukrainian Jews in WWII. So you want Berdichev writ on the Russian population. Enjoy your agnotology, idiot.

    5. PaulW

      One big difference: what harm does Russian propaganda do to us directly? For that matter, how does anything the Russians, Chinese or Iranians do affect westerners in a negative way? Can the same be said about the West’s MSM or the IMF or our individual governments? They are the forces destroying our way of life. It does not matter if one embraces the Russian narrative or views it skeptically. However those who believe the western media, our politicians and elites are the ones permitting the decline of our standard of living – not to mention abominable crimes in other countries. Personally I know who gave us Serbia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya…etc and also are not reporting on the rape of Greece or Spain and the second great depopulation of Ireland. I am quite comfortable believing the Russian version. Just as I am 100% behind Putin and Russia – or anyone who stands up to our criminals – even if it comes to a shooting war.

      1. Christopher Dale Rogers

        Here, here – anyone who stands up the the criminal cartel known as the neoliberals gets my vote of confidence – basically, they want us all, big and small alike, prostrate and being rogered from behind – Putin will have none of this. And as I keep reminding readers, he carries a very large stick indeed, which the West ignores at its peril!

        1. Cal

          Then you must not listen to NPR?

          “Neocon Propaganda Radio”,
          sponsored by the Pew Charitable Trust, (coal), Burlington Northern Santa Fe, (Monsanto and Cargill crops on the way to China, plus coal) and lets not forget, good old
          G.E., (We bring good things to life [insert musical note here], like Fukushima reactors and hydrogen bombs and zero income taxes paid!)

        2. NotTimothyGeithner

          Personally, I find it amusing the DC cartel is still dispatching John McCain to be our ambassador. Those people can’t let go of the damage done to the empire in recent years.

      2. Henry

        Please do not speak on behalf of the West, or Europeans like me. Frankly, I suspect you don’t know much about Russia (or their standard of living), let alone have the experience of living next to them, trying to maintain your Western values and your democratic (welfare) state under the constant threat of Russian influence. Russian politics and values are not based on democratic values of Rechtstaat / rule of law and, for the most part, they are not what you could call Westerns values, either.

        Just as you, I’m very much opposed to Western neoliberalism and imperialism, but it is completely silly to think Russia could be your St. George in shining armor against such powers. They are very much a conservative (in a very nasty and old European way), right-wing bunch of securocrats and oligarchs fleecing on the natural resources and the people’s wealth. An above all, they pose a real and concrete danger to the freedom and prosperity of its neighboring nations, as well.

        1. PaulW

          To have what we had then to see the most arrogant class of people come along to throw it all away is a crime beyond the Pale. The worst you can say about Russia – which has had no such good fortune in its history – is that normal service is resumed and Putin is the next Tsar.

          The point does stand: Russia poses no threat to us in the West. Therefore anyone who can thwart the ambitions of the West’s criminal class is to be appreciated.

          1. Henry

            Looking at Russia’s actions in Crimea and its destabilization efforts in Eastern Ukraine as we speak, and previously in e.g. the Baltic states, it’s pretty absurd to state that Russia poses no threat whatsoever to “us in the West”. Or maybe you have a different definition of “us”…

            1. NotTimothyGeithner

              I think it’s fair to say there are different definitions to what constitutes the western world. I like Degalle’s view about interests not friends. Beyond appeals to our shared culture (what do you bet that’s code for white and not slavic), what is our interest? Russia will be a slightly bigger aids and drug riddled he’ll hole under put in who isn’t in US territory.

              When I say us, I’m more about my government’s failures to prevent child hunger in this country and don’t care about efforts to preserve western civilization because it’s come all the way from Egypt and greater iran 6000 years ago. I think it will survive Russians on youtube.

            2. cwaltz

              Who destabilized who first though? The Ukrainian region was once part of Russia. When it was dismantled there was supposed to be an agreement in place regarding NATO?
              Who reneged on that agreement again?

              Ultimately the West appears to have a pretty mean case of projection. They lied, so, of course, that must mean that Russia is also a lying.(rolls eyes)

              I’m sure Putin is a jerk, but I’m equally certain that his behavior is fairly justified considering the actions of the West.

        2. NotTimothyGeithner

          There are more Europeans than Ruskies. You really don’t need America to keep you safe from Russian culture, and the US can only dream of a welfare state.

          1. Henry

            Most European states do not mind some US security guarantees through NATO, for example, and in fact most European states belong to NATO. So please do not tell us what we need and what we don’t. Doing that, you might be mistaken for an arrogant American, and you don’t want to give that impression, do you?

            1. NotTimothyGeithner

              Has Russia attacked a member of nato? Nope. Is ukraine in nato? No. Is Ukraine necessary for nato to function by preventing aggression into member states and preventing Germany from rearming? No. Those goals have been achieved. Americans died fighting Germans, not russians. Coincidentally those dastardly russians supported the US against the allies of the confederacy. I know the racists have had it in for Russia ever since.

              You gave yourself up as a fascist when you started bemoaning the encroachment of western values by the Russian ones who seem quite eager to adopt whatever trash Hollywood pushes out. Non fascists stay away from mysterious cultural arguments. Perhaps you might list some of the ways you are assaulted by YouTube videos of idiot russians.

              1. Henry

                I know I probably shouldn’t reply to your ignorant tropes but here you go anyway.

                – You’re right, Russia has never attacked a member of NATO. That’s a strong argument for being a member, isn’t it?

                – Americans died fighting Germans, that’s right. Forgot about the Cold War? And as for Germany, I’ll quote the FM of the great socialist (well, at least social democratic) state of Sweden, Carl Bildt, who pointed out recently that it was the “historic failure of Russia that a quarter of a century after fall of Soviet Union the new generations in its neighbors see it as an enemy,” while, in contrast, “A generation or two after 1945 Germany is surrounded by countries that, after all the horrible pain and suffering, see it as a friend.”

                – Actually, Putin does speak a lot on Western/European values himself, too. For him, they are the ones he considers the current West has lost, namely, Christianity, respect of tradition and authority etc. etc. The same old conservative bullshit. Add to this the harsh policies and mainstream attitudes against gays, ethnic minorities etc. prevalent in Russia. With this rhetoric he has found some new friends in Europe, though (see e.g. http://imrussia.org/russia-and-the-world/645-putins-far-right-friends-in-europe ). Funny you should bring up fascism, by the way, since that’s what his new friends are pretty much about! As for the Western values I was talking about, they’re a bit different, I mean, democracy, rule of law, freedom and equality, the whole Enlightenment thing, you know?

                1. OIFVet

                  I know I should probably not feed trolls but here I go anyway:

                  To try to conflate Carl Bildt with socialism or even social democracy is simply outrageous. What kind of a “Finnish leftist” would say such a damned lie? Bildt was and is an apologist for US imperialism, a lap dog that thinks it’s a pit bull. I will not even go into the mess he helped to make in Bosnia, or his neocon credentials as a member of the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq. Good lord Henry, you are not even half as clever as you think. Either TPTB don’t think much of the NC commentariat to send their best trolls or the troll budget won’t allow it. Either way you, my friend, are quite inept. Free advice to you: you need to create a better cover than that of the “Finnish leftie”, one that clash so obviously with the contents of your propaganda.

                  1. Synopticist

                    I may be sympathetic to Russia over the western idiocy in Ukraine, but I think Henry understands Russia better than you do.
                    There’s nothing cuddly or nice about the Russian embrace. It’s a brutal and callous society, and the government represents and reflects that. In many ways it rejects the things about western society that make it better than anywhere else. And the Russian form of real-existing capitalism is even worse than our version.

                    Don’t have too many romantic ideas about Russia. It’s a frickin ‘orrible place, ruled by a brutal, super-corrupt elite. Just because the NATO powers have screwed up, doesn’t make Russia the good guy.

                    1. OIFVet

                      Yes, everything you say is true, I just have trouble remembering where I may have implied or said that Russia is some utopia. I have long ago disabused myself of any idealistic worship of countries, ideologies, and individuals. In this case I am simply appalled at the brazenness of our foreign policy and the associations with neo-fascists that it relies upon. Hence my vocal objections to what is happening. Do not mistake those for endorsement of all things Russia though, they are not. Russia is doing what it has been forced to do and any objective realist recognizes her actions as such, but I fail to see how support for her in this case translates into broad endorsement overall.

                  2. Henry

                    Heh, yeah, I admit there was some light trolling involved with respect to the socialism–Bildt love connection. No hard feelings? I’m perfectly aware Bildt is not a socialist or social democrat, and in terms of Swedish political elite, he’s firmly in the right-wing military-connected camp.

                    But anyway, I do not consider my statement factually incorrect, since all I said was that *Sweden* is a social democratic state (despite the current conservative government).

                    1. OIFVet

                      You know what you did there so please give me the courtesy of not rationalizing it. Give me that much at least.

                2. NotTimothyGeithner

                  Joining NATO also means bringing something to the table, and removing buffer states isn’t worth antagonizing Russia. What does the Ukraine offer besides a higher rate of fascism in the local population?

                  The founder of NATO spent his declining years lobbying against expansion warning us that expansion would cause a problem. In case you missed, the USSR is gone. NATO is superfluous.

                  1. Henry

                    Living in such a NATO-less buffer state, I can tell you it’s all good now, but I would start feeling a bit more uneasy if Russia started exerting its influence a bit more aggressively. I certainly don’t want to go back to the past buffer state days (google ‘Finlandization’).

                    The anti-NATO argument of “avoiding antagonizing Russia”, prevalent here too, makes me nervous, as well. I mean, who gets mad if I just want to obtain guarantees against *them* hurting *us*?

                    1. NotTimothyGeithner

                      So? My country doesn’t need to defend every little country with a bully, and the Finns with Nazi help held the Soviets at bay. Im sure modern missiles will be able to prevent the rump Russian state from invading.

      3. Thor's Hammer

        “For that matter, how does anything the Russians, Chinese or Iranians do affect westerners in a negative way?”

        You can’t be serious.

        The opening salvos of a war to control the world’s reserve currency are being fired as we speak. A large portion of the wealth that you as an American have enjoyed over the past three decades rests upon the success of the US in controlling (by force of arms when necessary) the ability to import oil at very favorable terms and pay for it by merely printing money. Reserve currency and oil price control is the backbone of our suburban/SUV lifestyle, and one for which “patriots” from Kermit Roosevelt to Dick Cheney were willing to create false flag attack events and initiate wars based upon fabricated evidence.

        And since protecting American Exceptionalism is bi-partisan, just why do you think it was necessary for Obama the Assassin to exterminate Qaddafi and his sons and replace them with a mixed bag of El-Qaeda and fundamentalist jihadits? Because he wore weird looking clothes and liked to take his vacations in tents? Might the fact that Qaddafi was promoting a new currency among African and Middle Eastern oil producers with petroleum and gold as its backing rather than the Dollar have something to do with why he had to go?

        Once the US loses the ability to extract wealth from the rest of the world by controlling the PetroDollar, it will be left with only a hollowed out manufacturing base, a populace educated to third world levels of skill, and a few thousand banksters and private equity criminals who have extracted the lions share of wealth from the former middle class and moved to St. Barts.

        Actually what the Russians, Chinese and Iranians (allied with the Indians, Venezuelans and Brazilians) do as they unify to create the new international trading currency will affect the the prosperity of the US in such a negative way that it could be compared to a nuclear attack.

        1. financial matters

          Yes, my first exposure to Ellen Brown..


          Libya: All About Oil, or All About Banking?

          13 April 2011
          by: Ellen Brown, Truthout

          “The most renegade of the lot could be Libya and Iraq, the two that have actually been attacked. Kenneth Schortgen Jr., writing on Examiner.com, noted, “[s]ix months before the US moved into Iraq to take down Saddam Hussein, the oil nation had made the move to accept Euros instead of dollars for oil and this became a threat to the global dominance of the dollar as the reserve currency and its dominion as the petrodollar.”

          According to a Russian article titled “Bombing of Lybia – Punishment for Ghaddafi for His Attempt to Refuse US Dollar,” Qaddaffi made a similarly bold move: he initiated a movement to refuse the dollar and the euro and called on Arab and African nations to use a new currency instead, the gold dinar. Qaddafi suggested establishing a united African continent, with its 200 million people using this single currency. During the past year, the idea was approved by many Arab countries and most African countries. The only opponents were the Republic of South Africa and the head of the League of Arab States. The initiative was viewed negatively by the USA and the European Union, with French President Nicolas Sarkozy calling Libya a threat to the financial security of mankind; but Qaddafi was not swayed and continued his push for the creation of a united Africa.”

    6. Brindle

      “very minor fascist elements in Ukraine” —-absurd statement. Ukraine has a history of virulent fascism.

      1. Cal

        In reaction to virulent Communism a.k.a. the Holodomor, the mass starvation of at least 10 million Ukranians by Stalin before WWII.
        What goes around…

          1. vidimi

            are you seriously denying the role the holodomor had in shaping ukraine’s image of russia?

    7. sidelarge

      The “fascist elements” in Ukraine are certainly not “very minor”. Everyone talks about Right Sector, and seems to forget the elephant in the room: Svoboda.

      They got 12% of the votes in the last election nation-wide. And that’s a big number considering that few in Eastern Ukraine would vote for them. In many areas in Western Ukraine, they became the biggest party in municipal elections etc.

      They were even expelled from the AENM (Alliance of European National Movements), a European far-right association, for being too racist, as Jobbik (the fascist party in Hungary) complained that they were discriminating against ethnic Hungarians in Ukraine. Yes, too racist even by the far-right standards.

      Last year, the ex-leader of the neo-Nazi National Democratic Party of Germany called Svoboda one of the most important European right-wing parties.

      The EU parliament officially urged the “mainstream” parties in Ukraine not to associate themselves with Svoboda in any way.

      So, no, they are certainly not “very minor”.

      1. sidelarge

        And needless to say, Svoboda men occupy several key positions in the interim government, including the attorney general.

        They claim their ideological roots in Stepan Bandera’s OUN. They are far more seriously “fascist/ultra-nationalist” than the likes of the National Front in France.

        I’m not saying that Ukraine will turn fascist any minute, but we should stop whitewashing the real danger that exists there.

    8. Devamitta

      Daize, what information can you give to show that the West is not just attempting to expand its neoliberal austerity program and attempt to ensure the banks get paid back for former loans before anything else is done. I realize the Russians do their fair of propaganda, but I see no reason why we should trust the West’s propaganda, which I see as heads and heels above the Russian brand of it. It seems to me the evidence of the drive to get the world under financial control of the WB, IMF, and neoliberal policy has an unmatched record over the last few decades. Places as recently as Iraq, Honduras and Venezuela, let alone the austerity pushed in the US and Europe to privatize everything makes me question the motives of the West more than Russia in this powerplay. It is afterall in Russia’s back yard.

    9. George

      I suppose the Crimean referendum is also “propaganda”. I suppose the presence of American NGO’s in Ukraine is also “propaganda”, as well as the $5 billion (!) in funding, etc. etc. The Jewish-Ukranian-Israeli oligarchs as governors is also telling. This is essentially about encirclement of Russia, regime change, and the rest of NATO’s perfidious operations in service of empire consolidation.

    10. Jim S

      I don’t buy for an instant the “everyone is guilty” excuse, and I am heartened that my fellow NC’ers don’t either. The Russian “talking points” are proven to be factually true, and the Western “talking points” are proven false time and again. “Everyone is guilty” doesn’t mean anything, but the facts do.

    11. ToivoS

      There are occasions where one side in a conflict does have truth on their side so they stick with the truth. I don’t find myself approving of Russia all that often, but this dispute in Ukraine is one case where we should be listening to what the Russians are trying to say.

      Daiz you cannot simply dismiss the role of the neo-Nazi elements in leading the coup that overthrew the Yanukovich regime. In early December there were demonstrations in the Kiev Maidan that included hundred of thousands of Ukrainian citizens. By late January the numbers were down to the low hundreds of protesters. This was when the Right Sector and Svododa Party took over. Then came the baricades, the tire fires, molotov cocktails and firearms. The final weeks saw a neo-Nazi led violent coup that toppled the legally elected Yanukovich government and replaced it with a junta that then passed legislation to outlaw the Russian language, banned Russian language TV stations and announced plans to invite in NATO.

      These were provocations that forced the Russians to react. Poor US diplomacy has made the situation even worse.

    12. john stephanus

      So true.

      My wife is from Kharkov so I have various sources of information and the Hudson line here is pathetically wrong and (as noted by Daize) essentially the Russian talking points.

      RealNews should be embarrassed for this.

      My knowledge is that Daize is spot on here.


    13. Banger

      The Ukrainian operation follows, more or less, the usual pattern of overthrowing governments that do not please the Washington imperialists. These operations have gone on suprisingly often since the end of WWII. Today, it is less a CIA operation and now involves, contractors, the National Endowment for Democracy (doing precisely what the CIA used to do alone because the Church Committee called the CIA out on their crap), USIS (generally a CIA front organization) and a growing number of NGO’s. Why you think, presumably that this is a matter that stems from Russia is incomprehensible to me. What possible interest does Russia have in Ukraine as long as it remained neutral?

      At any rate, there was an elected gov’t, a Constitution, and a typically corrupt President (check out other Presidents in the region). But democracy is still fragile in a divided state and it could have survived had both the demonstrators been what they were originally and not fascist the fascist thugs that took over the movement with U.S./EU encouragment and the regime hadn’t been so stupid. There was, BTW, a way to remove the President–it’s called impeachment–ever heard of it.

      This was a raw power grab by the West that had two causes. One, was the grab of power by a reconstituted neocon movement in Washington to control foreign policy and leave the realists in the dust by creating facts on the grounds and forcing Russia to retaliate. Two, to create a new strategy of tension or cold war that would make the call for increased military spending easier. Three, to pursue the general project of world domination by American Exceptionalists to isolate and sanction Russia before the burgeoning alliance of the BRICS grows too strong. None of this has anything remotely to do with “democracy.” We live in a very Machiavellian situation both in Washington and Moscow except Puting is his own man and is not as dependent on a cadre of true-believers with super-hero fantasies, Nuland and Kagan are typical of those fantasies–if you’ve ever been around those types you would know what I mean.

      As for RT, I don’t much like it–but watch it since it is the most diverse of all the cable channels–and gives more truth than the other cable channels that are more propaganda networks than RT could ever think of being–look how they treated Abby Martin–who condemned the incursion in Crimea yet kept her job and was only interviewed in the mainstream for that reason. If someone in the mainstream dared to cross the official line on this or any other policy they would be gone very quickly. I would say RT is 50% propaganda and I would say the average cable channel in the U.S. is 80% propaganda.

  2. Christopher D. Rogers

    Sorry, but Michael is correct.

    The US/EU and IMF should keep their noses out of the Ukraine full stop – Kissinger, despite being no fan, has this crisis labelled correctly and the US has made a massive faux pas.

    However, its not the first or the last time, the USA quite often, with UK connivence, topples elected governments, just look back to Iran in the early 50’s, Chile in the early 70’s and Australia, yes Australia in the mid 70’s – seems they can’t but keep their fingers out of the honeypot.

    However, they have screwed up mightily in the Ukraine, not only has a sovereign elected government been overthrown – thus denying the Ukrainian democracy a chance to develop, they have done this in Russia’s back yard – the equivalent of the USA interfering in Canada and not the done thing.

    Don’t the guys advising Obama understand that the Russian’s maintain a really independent large nuclear deterrent, one aimed at the West and one capable of obliterating the USA a one go.

    It would seem stupidity runs the entire length and breadth of the USA – that the UK and EU tag along with this, now here is the real shame of this appalling episode and one which leave an indelible mark on the EU and is indeed a turning point.

    Time for a community of sovereign nations again, at least this gives us a chance to fight the prevailing neoliberalism and neoconservative foreign policy that has infected much of the Western body politic.

    1. Dino Reno

      My understanding as well. It appears the neocon State Department has gone rogue and now there’s no digging out from the hole they’ve dug. Maybe they even ran it by Obama, after the fact, as a way to get back at Putin for slapping him silly over Syria. Obama running around Europe trying to rally the “folks” was a new low even for him. They really screwed the putsch on this one.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        John McCain leading the delegation was the kicker for me. DC has no idea of their standing anymore. The Washington Post or CIA times produced a poll which showed opposition to US action over Crimea and the Ukraine was strongest among participants who knew where the Ukraine is. Supporters of Versailles foreign policy have located the Ukraine in Alaska, Greenland, Afghanistan, Kamehameha (part of Russian Federation), and Southeast Asia. I wonder where Kerry thinks it is.

        I suspect this why CNN has been wall to wall coverage of the plane to distract because saber rattling isn’t working.

      2. NotTimothyGeithner

        I recall an article quoting an Israel I politician claiming Kerry seemed to have a messiah complex, but your point about state going rogue reminded me of the story about Kerry demanding answers from the Pentagon about the difficulty of bombing syria. Why was no it Hagel? Maybe he is desperate for a legacy. He went from sure fire president after Vietnam to losing to a clod like dubya with some hideous votes in between.

      3. Synopticist

        Yup, there’s a lot of rancour left over from Syria, and Obama is paying the price for not purging the neo-cons. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if he had no true idea what they were doing over there, and they dropped it onto his plate as a fait accompli.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          I expect Powers, Rice, and now Kerry run the White House foreign policy occasionally offering updates while the President handles the decisions brought to him by generals between meeting sports teams.

        2. Jackrabbit

          Recall that Nuland had no trouble offering Biden’s involvement and Obama has not made ANY comment that would indicate that he disagrees with the neocons in the slightest. He could’ve had Kerry work with the Russians on the plan for Federalism and neutrality – but apparently he hasn’t.

          The notion that Obama has a good heart or that he might object ‘had-he-known’ is nonsense. In all likelihood he DID know because ‘countering Russia’ seems to be high on the Agenda since Snowden and Syria. But whether he did or not is somewhat of a non-issue. I don’t see much concern from Obama for what is moral or principled except to use as sound bite for undermining or co-opting postions or policy that are adverse to the interests of Obama administration supporters.

          1. JerseyJeffersonian

            Yeah, the Obamabots are very fond of the old “If the Czar Only Knew!” ploy. We are well beyond that crap now. Obama, if not a True Believer himself, is certainly at minimum a pliant tool for the Deep State and its plots. But sometimes the Deep State steps on its own (rather overrated) dick, and lately, in a world grown tired of being messed with, these episodes grow more and more costly. Here in The Exceptional Nation, the propaganda is still working, more or less; but that is to the ultimate detriment of the citizens, because when the bottom falls out, it’ll be a cold bucket of water in the face. Very cold, indeed.

        3. OIFVet

          I have recently contemplated this possibility and it is perfectly plausible IMO. And that scares me beyond description. If it was a deep state op and Obama and Kerry are simply saving face by embracing it then we are even closer to authoritarianism then I suspected.

    2. HotFlash

      “yes Australia in the mid 70′s – seems they can’t but keep their fingers out of the honeypot.”
      Pls elaborate! For those of us who do not follow antipodean politics. Something to do with Gough Whitlam? Can you recommend a link, book, whatever, for more info? I have my suspicions abt Ontario at the same time, although moreso in mid 90’s. Would love to know more.

      1. RUKidding

        I had the good fortune to live downundah in the late ’70s and was very much confronted with the fact that “our” CIA has overthrown the lawfully elected Gough Whitlam govt by effecting a ginned up Constitutional Crisis. I lived there over 7 years and had a job where I was in touch with some higher level officials (Aus only had 11 million peeps back then, so it was not uncommon to rub shoulders with the PTB). Even rather rightwing types commented openly that it was the CIA that overthrew the govt, and some would’ve had an insiders view.

        See also the book & movie called The Falcoln & the Snowman:

        I can tell you this: it was often *very uncomfortable* to be a Yank living in Aus in those times. I caught a LOT of flack and had to go some distance to prove that I was “ok.” I didn’t blame my mates for their cynicism and attitude; it was deserved.

        Little known coup… it was bc Gough Whitlam threatened to close down the Pine Gap military/spy location. Team USA didn’t like that one little bit. It was supposed to be super secret & Gough let the cat outta the bag. Bad Gough! Bad bad Gough! He had to PAY for that.


    3. Banger

      I don’t think the even the fanatics in the State Dept. and the mainstream media actually want a war, though a few might, mainly in the press but I do believe they want some equivalent of a new Cold War since the so-called “War on Terror” seems to have run out of steam though it can always be held in reserve since it is no obvious that the U.S. is now supporting these movements as it has done since the end of WWII. This is all very Machiavellian and is mainly about Washington not Ukraine. This crisis along with the farce about Syria last year is just another bit of maneuvering within Washington power-circles and lobbyists. There’s a lot of money at stake here–where that money goes and to which operation is the key to understanding American foreign policy particularly during this relatively weak Administration.

  3. vidimi

    while it certainly is a complicated and confusing issue, it’s less complex than the syria story which involves even more players.

    my understanding of the situation, in condensed form, is the following:

    ukraine is a confluence of sorts between orthodox russia and catholic western slavs. there are other ethnic minorities to be sure, but these are the major players and, despite years of intermixing, deep divisions still exist.

    the corrupt but democratically-elected president of ukraine, yanukovich, who won mostly by carrying the east and south of the country, was deeply unpopular with the western part, especially the youth. when he abandoned a deal with the EU and the IMF at the eleventh hour, that proved to be the final straw for many who then took to the streets.

    Kiev, the capital of the country and the seat of the president, is deeply western ukrainian and so, anti-yanukovich sentiment was stronger there than in most parts of the country, leading outsiders to believe that he had lost the support of the entire country.

    of course, wherever national divides are strong, you can rest assured that imperial interests generally, and the CIA specifically, will do their best to exacerbate the situation. after all, divide and rule isn’t just a catchy slogan; for empires, it’s a modus operandi.

    sure enough, we know that, over almost two decades, the US state department had invested some $5B in ukrainian “democratic institutions” and they weren’t about to miss out an opportunity to cash in on their investment. thus they played a leading role organising the protests, financing some of the more brazen groups, and fomenting further unrest all the while portraying a singular image of a democratic movement united against a corrupt despot through their captured media to their populace back home (and i include the populations of vassal states in this).

    the protestors became more and more violent and the police response followed suit. the turning point was the use of snipers to pick off people (both protestors and the police) at the maidan. this was unilaterally portrayed as the work of yanukovich, though we still don’t know who was behind it, though i don’t think the official story passes the smell test. personally, i think it is far more likely that the protest organizers, whether native or foreign, conducted a black flag operation, but without concrete evidence, this is just speculation.

    following an agreement with the west, yanukovich pulled out the police, which was a huge tactical blunder as the protestors stormed government offices, and was forced to flee. an interim government comprised of officials handpicked by the american undersecretary of state victoria nuland took power, fired a third of supreme court judges, and de facto annulled the acting constitution.

    one can argue that the ouster of yanukovich was democracy in action, though i think that argument is rather weak, but there is nothing democratic about those who usurped the government in the ensuing vaccuum. that said, many in the ukrainian west support the new government because it is a poke in russia’s eye.

    the annexation of crimea happened next, though i won’t get into too much detail there. on its own, it’s a flagrant violation of another nation’s sovereignty but, in light of the events in kiev, difficult to condemn. In particular, despite the dubious legality of the referendum (then again, kiev’s claims of unconstitutionality were hilarious), it’s difficult to believe that the majority did not prefer union with russia and, more importantly, that they won’t be much, much better off as a russian province than as a ukrainian one.

    who knows what will happen next as the conflict may be still in its infancy, but one thing that isn’t in much doubt is ukraine’s future economic health. by any measure, the country is seriously fucked – the correct technical expression, i believe – and will probably replace moldova as europe’s poorest country in per capita terms. this will lead to mass emigration, especially to neighbouring poland which has employment problems of its own, and the poverty will inevitably lead to increased criminality. the influx of ukrainian economic refugees will strengthen right-wing nationalism in the neighbouring countries and, potentially, lead to a break-up of the european union at some distant stage.

    ukraine is a county that is being torn away by a global hegemenon from the claws of a regional hegemon which is not letting go. regardless of who wins, her people will lose.

    enjoy the rollercoaster ride, everyone.

    1. Daize

      I’d go along with most of your points. It is a pretty fair assesment.

      I would just like to add that NATO expansion into ex-Soviet countries was done at the behest of those countries who wanted to put as much of a buffer between them and Russia as possible based on past history.

      There is no black and white viewpoint here that exactly fits reality. Ukrainians, and most non-Russian slavs are pretty fearful of Russia, and with good reason imo. Western expansion was encouraged by those countries. It is not a simple case of the West imposing its will, and it is unfair to compare it to the Greek situation… That the IMF has horrifically bad economic policies we can all agree on.

      1. vidimi

        that is certainly true. russia’s neighbours all have reason to fear her imperialism.

        i don’t think that the pre-maidan default of being a kremlin vassal was good for ukraine, and i would have been very supportive of the revolution had it meant true independence for the country. however, they’ve handed themselves over to a global empire instead; one that is more ignorant of their culture and situation.

      2. James Levy

        I’m murky about whether or not Daize is Murky. He or she is certainly selling the same concern troll line.

        Yes, this is complicated, but the 5 billion the US pumped in to destabilize Ukraine isn’t, nor is the fact that the deal that was stuck to end the crisis and bring on fresh elections was repudiated immediately and a coup took place. Now an unelected government is making deals with foreign powers to the detriment of Ukraine. How exactly are the Russians at fault in these critical areas?

        1. notexactlyhuman

          I’m betting troll. Anyone who can argue with a straight face that the US, EU and NATO are concerned about or are protecting nations from modern Russian Imperialism is a crank. Russia has less than half the population and 1/10th the military of the US, let alone joint NATO forces.

          1. NotTimothyGeithner

            And the troll argument ignores recent US behavior, and sending Kerry to lecture anyone on international laws after a Dubya gallery exhibition is a sign of a deranged foreign policy. Thugs like Kerry and McCain have no work record which would overlook their years of support for imperialist policies, and the only message they can send is the emperor is getting cranky. Diplomacy is dependent on a certain amount of good will or total transparency, and the Russians have been clear they would exercise regional power in the face of expansion. Anything else that Put in might be (has anyone noticed a lack of leaks of private Russian conversations despite the n’s A’s best efforts) is irrelevant given our own nature.

            Will John Kerry’s temper tantrums and travel expenses lead to America leaving Estonia territory when it comes to rates of child hunger? The answer is no. John Kerry and his ilk need to understand this is a poor country ruled by pigs.

              1. notexactlyhuman

                In how many countries is Russia currently engaged in covert destabilization efforts for the sole purpose of transforming said countries governments into more readily exploitable regimes for Russian businesses to plunder?

                1. Henry

                  Let’s see… The purposes are probably somewhat more numerous, but I’d say in around as many as half a dozen states currently, including Ukraine, Georgia and the Baltic States. They haven’t met great success in the Baltic States lately, but I’m sure they’re still trying their best to make a big number of the “apartheid policies” and “violations” of the rights of the Russian-speaking part of the population there.

                  1. notexactlyhuman

                    The US has that beat by a dozen, at least. Venezuela, Somalia, Yemen, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Sudan, Ukraine, Ethiopia, Israel, Palestine, Iran, Cuba, Haiti, Egypt……..

                    Amazing how neocons are so butthurt over Russia not bombing Crimea to smithereens.

                    1. Henry

                      OK, so let me get this right, it’s a competition, and whoever is losing gets excused for destabilizing and occupying countries until they’re even?

                    2. NotTimothyGeithner

                      No. We need to get out of the business and send non deranged diplomats. Iraq war lunatics aren’t credible.

                    3. OIFVet

                      Holly willikers Henry, if you hadn’t informed us about your Finmish Leftist background I would have mistaken you for a neocon or one of their local compradors.

              2. NotTimothyGeithner

                According to the CIA Times, the Wash Post, supporters of intervention think Russia is invading areas all around the globe.

        2. Jackrabbit

          Another troll point is: “annex” of Crimea. Sometimes with sensational details like “the Tartars didn’t participate!”

          While it seems clear that Russia had secured Crimea militarily before the vote, its seems unlikely that the vote itself was manipulated because the Russian majority was overwhelming. IMO this is exactly why the Tartars didn’t participate: they had no chance to win so they attempted to discredit the vote instead.

          PS Virtually all western MSM take Russia’s “annexation” as a starting point for Russia bashing and fear-mongering.

          1. NotTimothyGeithner

            Minor quibble, the Russian bashing has been ongoing since Syria. The Olympic coverage was bizarre.

              1. NotTimothyGeithner

                Oh yes. I almost forgot in the constant barrage of stories about what a lower and chappy employee Snowden* was to have noticed. Versailles just can’t do propaganda the way tHey use to.

                *who despite his various issues according to his employers had access to everything.

                1. Synopticist

                  “Versailles just can’t do propaganda the way tHey use to.”
                  We used to be mostly in the right, most of the time. Now we’re mostly in the wrong, and propaganda can only do so much after a while. The Russians, unlike the Syrians or Iraqis, say, know how to do propaganda as well.

                  1. NotTimothyGeithner

                    I would think sending John McCain would be the last thing anyone would do. Unless Obama wants peace and this is an example of 823rd dimensional chess, they would have at least sent people who didn’t name Sarah Palin as a running mate.

                    Sending McCain and Kerry just reminds ever one of US behavior in recent years and undermines any credibility we might have.

                2. different clue

                  And Putin had to chide the USGov for pulling Snowden’s passport AFter Snowden was in Moscow airport, thus preventing him from reaching some other country he mighta woulda wanted to reach.
                  But he’s safer in Russia. Safer from extraordinary kidnap and/or guantanamization, and safer from assassination then he would be if he makes the mistake of going to Germany.

                  1. Jackrabbit

                    I believe they revoked Snowden’s passport while he was in in HK or on the way to Russia.

          2. Bill Smith

            The questions on the ballot didn’t have a choice to NOT to become part of Russia.

            1. Jackrabbit

              It is said that something like 95% voted for joining Russia. So what did the other 5% vote for then?

            2. vidimi

              that’s not quite true. they didn’t have the choice to rejoin current-state, post-putsch ukraine. had they voted against union with russia, they would have been in a kind of russian-controlled limbo which would have been viewed as an enormous rebuke of russia internationally.

      3. hemeantwell

        NATO used the requests of those countries as an excuse to challenge Russia’s security. It could only encourage another goddamned arms race, with all its goddamned correlates. The US, with its preeminence in war capacity, would love to force any national challenger to compete in armaments. Reagan’s promise to Gorbachev not to expand NATO was his sanest act as president. A simple compromise between the interests of the formerly occupied and the formerly devastated would have been neutralization, aka Finlandization. But, in the words of US representatives, “Fuck that.”

        1. Synopticist

          I don’t agree actually. It was right to invite eastern Europe and the Baltic states into NATO. It was what they wanted, and still want.

          1. different clue

            It was against a gentleman’s agreement promise Reagan made to Gorbachev and which Bush senior renewed and kept to. Saudi Arabia wants us to overthrow the Assad government. That doesn’t mean we should, just because KSA wants us to.

        2. Henry

          Although not on par with occupation, Finlandization was and would be de facto submission to a moderate degree of Russian political influence. I do not speak for all Finns, but in Finland the era of Finlandization (1945-1991), despite the overall positive economic and social development of that time, was in many ways a degrading and stifling experience for a sovereign democracy. It meant self-censorship and even outright censorship in media, public discussion and political rhetoric. If it was humiliating then, I imagine it would be even more so now that Russia doesn’t even have the pretense of protecting the workers and the rights of the people.

        3. Henry

          Oh yeah, and the censorship thing was just an example. There are other ones, too, like the pressure exerted to keep a single man trusted by the SU, Urho Kekkonen, as the president for over 25 years straight.

          1. JerseyJeffersonian

            Finlandization seems like getting off pretty easy after Finland’s cooperation with the Nazis. At the end of the Second World War, Stalin could have just rolled the whole place into the USSR, reinstating Finland as a territory of Russia, something that it had been for quite a while in the past in the form of an autonomous entity classed as a Grand Duchy of the Czar and his Russian Empire.

            Now it wasn’t too polite of Stalin to demand territorial adjustments from Finland prior to WWII to enable the USSR to better defend Leningrad (St. Petersburg) against German aggression from the West (something that led to the short, sharp war that resulted in much of Karelia being annexed to the USSR [a simplified treatment of a seesaw battle for this area that had lasted centuries]). That German aggression had a long history, going back to the adventures of the Teutonic Knights back in the Middle Ages (ever hear of Alexander Nevsky?). And while we’re on the subject, both Poland and Sweden also had fought hard to restrict Russian access to the Baltic, and Finland had been a Swedish possession for quite a while, thus being perforce implicated historically in that long-running struggle. Oh, yeah, and during the Russian Revolution, Karelian groups fought the Bolsheviks, further ingratiating themselves with the eventual winners of the revolutionary struggle.

            This annexation (or re-annexation by the USSR) was very hard on Finland, and I don’t seek to minimize this. (Hey, I have been stirred when I have participated in performances of Jan Sibelius’ “Finlandia”.) But I do want to emphasize that there is a centuries-long history of conflict underlying more recent events that should not, and cannot, be ignored.

            P.S.: Swedish Prime Minister Bildt, as a conservative nationalist, may be motivated by historically-informed sour grapes, since back in the day, Sweden used to kick the Russians around (this going back as far as conflicts with Novogorod), but we know who won the struggle in the end. Sorry, Carl, facts is facts.

            1. Henry

              Some deep historical context, that’s always refreshing, and you seem to be reasonably well-read on this stuff. Geopolitically, Finland has indeed been in a number of tight spots that have left little room for choosing allies. In this respect, the times are different now, though.

              I don’t have much to protest in your post. The practical foreign policy concerns behind SU’s Finlandization policies didn’t have much to do with any German threat, of course, and that’s probably not what you meant, anyway. The Finnish-German relationship was something that SU didn’t appreciate, obviously, and Finland was forced to orchestrate a couple of show trial(-ish) events soon after the war to make that clear.

              As for Stalin’s demands for “territorial adjustment” preceding the Winter War 1939-40, I guess it’s somewhat obvious that Finland never really had a fair chance of settling that peacefully in any reasonable way, which was soon enough demonstrated by the SU as they started the war by way of a false flag attack on the border (shelling of Mainila).

            2. Henry

              One additional point.

              “At the end of the Second World War, Stalin could have just rolled the whole place into the USSR…”

              See, this is the heart of the compromise right there, and looking at the Soviets’ costs for their earlier attempts at invasion (see e.g. http://static.fjcdn.com/pictures/Epic_401315_1355967.jpg), you kind of get how they deemed it more efficient to exert much lighter influence and not pay the full cost of an occupation.

      4. PaulW

        When people are guided by emotions, like fear, it tends to end badly. Ukraine’s bad experiences of the past were with Imperial Russia and the USSR. Perhaps Putin’s Russia will evolve into one or the other, however it has not yet done so. Therefore, Ukrainians pinning those crimes on modern Russia is just foolish. How foolish? Let’s see, how about Russia providing Ukraine with discounted energy? How heavy handed is that from the Big bad Russian bear? Oh I forgot, the student protesters don’t pay fuel costs – their parents do. On the other hand, what is the EU and IMF’s track record?

        I can’t help but think the best solution for Ukraine would be for the government to provoke a war with Russia and for the country to be conquered and returned to Russia. The IMF wolf shall be barred from the door. The racists shall be driven from power. And all the student protesters can run off to Germany or the UK, which is the reason they wanted in the EU in the first place. I’m just not sure it’s a great deal for Russia…and Putin knows this.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          Russia won’t take the bulk of the country. They understand the costs of occupation. They have put the screws to Georgia, they didn’t. They dealt with Chechnya. They have a former -Stan refugee problem already, they don’t need more. They understand the connection between drugs and military activities. They warned us about the costs of Iraq.

          Unlike the US, Put in doesn’t suffer from a multi ethnic white man’s burden.

      5. cwaltz

        And I’m sure the money poured into the right hands had nothing to do with why someone would side with the west whatsoever.

        Russia may indeed have imperial interests but I can assure you it isn’t “democracy” for the sake of democracy that has the EU and the US interested in these areas. They’re just as interested in empire building and asset aquistiion as Russia. You’re fooling yourself if you believe otherwise.

    2. Henry

      vidimi: I was left wondering, why exactly do you find it difficult to condemn the annexation? The stated reasons, protecting Russian citizens under threat etc., were obviously a steaming pile of horseshit, and it is not hard to see it as nothing more than a barefaced Russian attempt to take advantage of the sudden regime collapse. Also, do you have any proof or indication of the US State Department financing “some of the more brazen groups”, such as Pravyi Sektor?

      On a general note, as a Finnish leftist, I find the amount of left-wing or liberal sympathizers of Russian interests and propaganda quite astonishing (see e.g. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/nikolas-kozloff/crimea-and-the-left-its-a_b_4943494.html ). Here as well.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Perhaps it has to do with the actors involved. As an antiwar american, I know predictions were made that wreckless foreign policy would result in this kind of event, so my natural question is why are warmongers such as John Kerry and John McCain being dispatched?

        This is about the destruction caused by my own country. The Russian reaction is predictable, and secondly as a finish leftist, what are you thoughts on the American embargo of cuba? Or are you just a plant?

        1. Henry

          You would kind of expect that someone who’s “antiwar” would condemn a forceful occupation and annexation of a piece of land belonging to another sovereign nation. But hey, what do I know?

          Also, overestimating American influence on an Eastern European popular uprising is certainly not as bad as underestimating American war crimes elsewhere, but it does make you look a bit America-centric.

          Embargo of Cuba? Not the biggest fan of authoritarian leftist dictators, but have always been against it. War in Iraq? Against it, absolutely. By the way, the antiwar demonstration of 2003 in Helsinki was probably the biggest demonstration in Finland since the 70’s (which was the time of the massive Vietnam war demonstrations…). Less critical of many of the UN sanctioned ones, though.

          1. NotTimothyGeithner

            How many people died in crimea? One. This is about my government. You are more than welcome to go to the Ukraine and join a defense brigade, but since the American actors were all Iraq war supporters, why would it be a good idea for them to be involved in the ukraine?

      2. vidimi

        Henry, some of the reasons why i can’t bring myself to condemn it were mentioned in my post. these are chiefly the fact that a credible majority of crimeans prefer union with russia, and that crimeans will be much better off for it than as a part of ukraine.

        i didn’t mention crimea’s historic ties with russia and the fact that it wasn’t until krushchev signed it over to ukraine that it was ukrainian, and that is another mitigating factor.

        finally, and i alluded to this near the end, i would condemn the annexation if the choices were russia or a free ukraine. however, the choice is russia, or a ukraine squeezed dry by an american extractive empire. but that goes back to the second point.

        one last thing i would note is that while i would not want to live in russia and the american standard of life remains much higher, standards of living have been going up there under putin, whereas standards of living have been going down in the usa under the last two presidents.

        1. Henry

          Whether Crimea, or any other part of Ukraine, is better off as part of Russia, especially in the long term, is very much debatable. Russia certainly has a lot more to offer in terms of rents from natural resource exports. Such rents are rarely shared evenly, though, and are a volatile thing to base your economy on. And as for the rest of the Russian economy, come on, man, just look at it. Corruption is endemic, the capitalism is textbook crony to the core, the infrastructure is crumbling, the political outlook is not that good and the rising middle class is completely fed up with the dysfunctional, authoritarian and primitive institutions and model of government (which are in turn forced to rely even more on the Russian equivalent of red state resentment in the provinces for support). And anyway, regardless of who’s better off where, annexing areas with elections held under occupation (no matter whether they reflect the will of the people at the time or not), just simply should not happen at this time and age. For us Europeans, it certainly brings back ghosts from times that no one wants back.

          As for Ukrainian expectations of improvement in living standards and rule of law, I believe the choice is rather between the European and the Russian model than the Russian and the American one. The European Union is living through some uncertain times itself, as well, and they probably do not have a lot to offer in the short run, but if you want any chance of maintaining your independence and developing some healthy democratic institutions instead of crony capitalist ones, which way would you choose?

          1. vidimi

            i disagree with nearly everything in this post.

            we can debate whether or not crimea will be better off as part of russia or not, but that doesn’t matter. what matters is that i believe it will and that is all i need in order to form an opinion on whether it is good or bad that they seceded and joined russia. why do i believe this? for starters, gas prices +100% and pensions -50% is a bad omen. secondly, one only needs to look at greece and spain to understand what IMF help entails. i believe the country will be sucked dry right to the marrow. i can’t prove it as it happened yet, but we have precedents.

            next, russia. yes, corruption is rampant and the country is run by an oligarchy, but things are much, much, much better than they were under yeltsin and are continually improving. you don’t build utopia from nothing and what putin is starting from was rubble.

            regarding the last point, the choice you outline does not exist. any independence they had – and it was substantial – is now lost as they have surrendered economic policy to the IMF. the democratic institutions they had have been subverted – the supreme court gutted, the president is also the speaker of the house. it’s the shock doctrine in action, so let’s not pretend that we’re witnessing a democratic miracle unfold.

            1. Henry

              What a silly post. And I suppose Russian help is perfectly unconditional and does not entail e.g. supporting a “Eurasian Union” of numerous authoritarian oligarchic shitholes lead by the biggest one? Life of a Russian was even worse under Yeltsin, I have no problem admitting it, but you shouldn’t expect that independent nations want to make a long term commitment to what is basically Russian soft imperialism. In fact, many of them made significant short-term sacrifices just to get out of the Russian sphere of influence in the 90’s. The Baltic states withstood a lot of Russian bullying and extortion, in the case of Lithuania for example, from 1997 to 2000 Russia halted oil shipments to the country no less than nine times after it refused to sell refineries to a Russian state company. The Baltic states rushed to NATO as soon as they could. Wonder why?

              I’m definitely not a great fan of IMF (although they’ve been getting a bit softer at least judging from its stances on Euro area development in recent years), but believe it or not, between a rock and a hard place, many Eastern European actually prefer the prospect of economic humiliation to the prospect of a very, very real and lasting kind of political (and also economic) domination by their Eastern neighbor.

              1. Synopticist

                The thing is Henry, Ukraine is_never_going to get into the EU. It just ain’t on offer. They’re too poor, corrupt, and close to Russia. They have nothing to bring to the table except for food exports (France SAYS NON!!),

                1. Henry

                  I hate to be a pessimist but you *may* be right, short and medium term at least. And further than that, the world’s too chaotic to predict and might be in a bigger mess anyway…

              2. vidimi

                so what is so silly about my post? you didn’t really address any of my points honestly.

                the fact that the countries to russia’s west have had a bad history with russia is irrelevant to my argument. obviously, keeping nato out of ukraine is a huge priority for putin, but i haven’t mentioned nato anywhere.

                half of ukraine wants away from russia; half of ukraine wants closer ties with russia. why do you assume that that former half should have it their way at the expense of the rest? with crimea joining russia, western ukraine can still pursue closer ties with europe but the crimeans get what they want. what do you find so objectionable in that?

                russian help is obviously not unconditional but what is your point? my point was that the conditions of IMF help were much more punitive to the average ukrainian than russia’s and you simply ignored that.

                ultimately, you’re trying to take a specific argument about crimea and transform it into an argument that many eastern europeans don’t want russian domination. i don’t disagree with your straw man, but i’m not interested in it.

          2. OIFVet

            “Corruption is endemic, the capitalism is textbook crony to the core, the infrastructure is crumbling, the political outlook is not that good and the rising middle class is completely fed up” Substitute declining for rising and you will have described the US perfectly. And then one will be left to decide between a country with a rising middle class and a country with one that is declining. I would venture to guess that those who were reared with a heavy diet of American Exceptionalism will rationalize that America is so exceptional that it doesn’t matter how corrupt, corporatist, and economically declining it is, America is better than everyone else because it is so gosh darned exceptional.

            ” The European Union is living through some uncertain times itself, as well, and they probably do not have a lot to offer in the short run, but if you want any chance of maintaining your independence and developing some healthy democratic institutions instead of crony capitalist ones, which way would you choose?”

            Ask Bulgarians and Greeks how the EU is working out for them. Independence? Nein. Healthy democratic institutions? Nein. Crony capitalist ones? Jawohl!

            1. Henry

              Obviously, you don’t know much of Russia, the corruption or the middle class there. The middle class is rising, that’s true alright, but it’s the same middle class that is firmly opposed to Putin and the dysfunctional governance he represents. In fact, Putin has more or less given up on the urban middle class and draws his support from the under-developed provinces. And taking into account the historical nonexistence of peaceful democratic transitions in Russia, they’re looking forward to some serious upheavals and repression.

              1. OIFVet

                Yep, another troll hallmark: everyone else is an uninformed naif but me. You say you are Finnish. Well, I am native Bulgarian. I dare say I know far more about Russia and what it is like to be a part of its bloc than you do. But I seeing how you repeat the same talking points over and over again I will stop feeding you, its like arguing with a damned radio.

                1. Henry

                  Alright, I’ll admit I might’ve had a somewhat trollish and arrogant approach there, and I did assume you were American. Assuming that, I figured you would not be able to appreciate atl least the qualitative differences between corruption in the respective countries. Anyway, my bad. You live in the States yourself, btw?

                  I was absolutely not saying EU works out fine for everyone at the moment. Far from it. EU and especially the euro area is currently in many ways a dysfunctional mess, and the response to the crisis has been far too ad hoc and too much dictated by the “winners” (my country included) and their domestic electoral concerns. We should probably move into a stronger fiscal union with more powers to the EU parliament. The other alternative, I guess, would be to start disassembling the euro area somehow, moving to a more loose union. I’d expect that would leave unsolved a lot of issues with freeriding and run-to-the-bottom developments (unhealthy tax regime competition, environmental and labor regulation etc.). With the possibility to set common policies we would at least have a chance of start moving towards fixing those.

                  In either case, the lack of a real EU-level political arena and consciousness would remain at least a middle-term problem, as well as the weakness of left-wing EU politics (which is now perhaps even exacerbated by the relatively right-wing electorates in E. Europe, would you say?). Also, stronger union would mean a stronger counterforce to any Russian pressure in the future, which I assume you admit *exists* at least?

                  1. OIFVet

                    The last thing that would relieve Euro problems is an even stronger neoliberal Euro Parliament that has power to impose its “one size fits all” solutions on member states. I would say that the 3% of GDP deficit cap has done nothing but make things even worse for the common citizens of the have not members by enforcing severe austerity in order to comply with neoliberal Euro dictats.. And in the case of my native Bulgaria, EU accession has not only further entrenched corruption but has also exacerbated preexisting problems by destroying what had been BG’s traditional strength: its agriculture. So no thanks, more of the same will not fix anything. The EU has become nothing more than an enforcement tool for rent extraction from the “lazy southerners” and a liberalized market for “lazy” cheap serfs to collect the french and dutch produce from the fields and to provide cheap sex workers for the germans. Little wonder that neo-fascism is on the rise in the East and in the South.

                    And I say that as someone who has lived in the US since 1991 and feels far more American than Bulgarian. I feel far more threatened by the EU and by my adopted country than I do by Russia at this point. And guess what, the rest of the world agrees: http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2014/03/2014-gallup-international-poll-us-1-threat-world-peace.html. Russian pressure my butt; it may exist but is benign compared to the full spectrum imperial dominance of the US. Russia’s soft imperialism does not drop bombs and overthrow the governments of every nation that dares to disagree with it, and it does not install autocratic rulers while proclaiming itself the great defender of worldwide “democracy and freedom”. Whatever failings the Russians have, and they have many, bellicose hypocrisy is not one of them.

                    1. Henry

                      I do get your frustration with EU, but it’s not like Russia could or would protect you from that in any way or actually offering some kind of viable alternative. It’s a false choice. They do not really even counter US power, they just exert their own. Right now, politically, Russia pretty much just either acts neutrally towards its neighbors or puts pressure on them. I prefer the neutral option.

                    2. OIFVet

                      I agree, the neutral Russian version is far preferable to the aggressive, regime changing, bomb dropping, and killer drone American alternative. The false choice is proferred by you. “But it’s not like Russia can offer some viable alternative”: this is the strongest indictment of the EU/US axis of rent extraction and political oppression I have heard. Too bad it is not what you intended to do but I will take it.

                    3. Jackrabbit

                      “They do not really even counter US power . . .”

                      While true in terms of project power globally, it paints a misleading picture. What was Snowden, Iran, and Syria? And how much more powerful would US and her Arabian allies had control of all major energy supplies?

                    4. OIFVet

                      Oh my Kozloff sure told them lefties off. How silly of them to suggest that it behooves us to know what Putin’s motivations are. A glorious defense of surrealpolitik over old-fashioned realpolitik.

                  2. JerseyJeffersonian

                    Henry, arrogant doesn’t even begin to describe it. You have here a community of posters who are interested in listening to, and learning from, various sources. And the best that you can do is to condescend, lecture, and exhibit disrespect to them? These are the behaviors of a troll, and an unsophisticated one at that. Begone if you cannot behave with decorum; we shall be happier in your absence.

                    Actually, we did learn something from you. You showed us what a snide, patronizing attitude is to be had from Northern European NeoLiberal true believers. Educational this may be, but scarcely edifying.

                    1. vidimi

                      i think you are being too harsh on henry. he doesn’t come off as someone defending neo-liberalism but as someone who sees russia as the greatest evil. this is a cultural/historical legacy which i can understand very well, even though it is mostly irrational at this point, like e.g. a fear of spiders.

                    2. Henry

                      I’m sorry, but reading comments to this particular post this really does not strike me as a community of posters who are “interested in listening to, and learning from, various sources”. In fact, to but it a bit bluntly, it’s infested with a knee-jerk dogmatic-left world view built around supporting and sympathizing with any rotten dictatorship if you can just somehow construe it to be a counter-force to a global neoliberal hegemony. Full of baseless labeling and stigmatization, of which you yourself give a fine example by accusing me of being a “neoliberal true believer” (I’m not).

                      And vidimi, I actually find your comment much more condescending and lecturing that Jersey’s above (his is just unfair and inaccurate…). I am not claiming that Russia is a dangerous global force for evil. But please do not tell me my “fear” is “irrational”. It’s perfectly rational to keep a close, critical eye on Russia, which in current circumstances poses little danger to Finland or the Baltic states, but which is nevertheless constantly active in maintaining its potential to create a big mess if needed, e.g. by using Russian-speaking minorities as propaganda fodder, making concealed threats of gas price hikes, attempting to acquire ownership in strategic industries etc.

                    3. OIFVet

                      Yes indeed, to the Vichy Left anything that resembles resistance to the relentless neo-neo war machine is a “dogmatic and knee jerk” leftism. You euro “lefties” are just as bad as our democratic party “lefties”: not content to merely surrender, you actively cooperate and indeed lead the neoliberal destruction of the economies at home and abroad, lustily cheering the warmongering empire builders as they prepare to devour yet another country and unleash an economic war on its already suffering population. In the name of what, containing big bad Russia? Yes, it is a threat indeed: all of the BRICs are a threat to the neoliberal agenda and dominance whose foundation rests on the dollar as THE reserve currency, hence the fearmongering by the media and the trolls of TPTB.

                      Your answer to fixing the problems created by your own collaboration is to further strengthen the eurocracy, that vast unelected and unaccountable nest of mediocre cronies whose diktats you cheer in the name of integration even as they destroy the last vestiges of the welfare state you pretend to support. And then you are shocked, shocked that the extreme right is on the rise again throughout Europe and bemoan the “left’s” inability to win an election. Get the fuck off your hobby horse and if you will not be part of the solution at least stop being a big part of the problem. “Dogmatic and knee jerk”: its a badge of honor when it comes from the likes of you, proud supporters of the Vichy Left.

          3. notexactlyhuman

            It takes a helluva leap to deny that the Ukranian revolution was co-opted by western agents. The Nuland tape alone proves as much. Have a listen as Nuland and Pyatt structure Ukraine’s new government. Go ahead.


            1. Henry

              Bullshit. It *was* co-opted by a Western-aligned faction of Ukrainian oligarchs, I’ll give you that. Pretty much the same people that were in power before Yanukovich. But “Western agents” is just stupid and tired old Soviet-style rhetoric.

              1. notexactlyhuman

                Hahaha. And I hate to tell you this, but the West got Yanukovych elected, too. Same guy who ran John McCain’s presidential campaign, ran Yanukovych’s last successful bid. Soviet style rhetoric. Pfffft

                1. Henry

                  Isn’t it a bit arrogant (let alone conspiratorial) to assume that all Ukrainians, elite and people, are nothing but puppets and dupes helpless in the face of machinations by “foreign agents”?

                  1. notexactlyhuman


                    “KIEV, Ukraine—Viktor Yanukovych owes his comeback in Ukraine’s presidential election to a drastic makeover of his political persona. And, people in his party say, that makeover was engineered in part by an American consultant.

                    Paul J. Manafort was hired to advise the politician months after massive street demonstrations known as the Orange Revolution overturned Mr. Yanukovych’s victory in the 2004 presidential race.”


                  2. James Levy

                    I don’t know–ever hear of the Sudenten Germans? And 5 billion will buy a lot of local support for anything. I have noticed you haven’t addressed that, or Nuland’s role in all this, or the fact that even the US government didn’t deny the content of the telephone conversation that exposed US meddling in Ukraine and discussions of who we were going to get to run what after the coup.

      3. Banger

        Since traditional regime change operations are secret how would we have proof? This is a silly statement. Let’s look at history, something most American are unable to understand. Look at U.S. intel operations starting with Italy, Greece, Iran, Guatamala and that’s just until 1954. The U.S. has never, since the end of WWII ever intervened to create more democracy–usually they want to create more rule by oligarchs–just look at Latin America!!! The pattern is unmistakable and very consistent–the Machiavellian operators have been doing this since the beginning of imperialism around the turn of the last century if you can’t see that you have to be blind.

        The Ukrainian crisis had the clear mission of undermining and threatening Russia in the quest for U.S. global hegemony in the face of budget cuts and the growth of possible threats–the alliance of the BRICS, still in its infancy and so on. The planners at State decided to cash in their chips (4 billion overt aid to “democracy” groups in Ukraine since 94 and who knows how much in covert aid).

        Yes, Russian is an authoritarian country but why break all the agreements with Russia to surround it with NATO troops and ABM missiles? Are you, like, asleep and so dominated by the lying propaganda organs that march to the USG on matters of national security policy without a peep of dissent?

    3. be'emet

      what is Ukraine? as a nation, unhistoric, largely a Soviet invention after WWI, a combination of Austrian Ruthenia (Kiev, etc) and Little Russia, long associated with Tsarist empire. After WWII, reconstituted an an SSR to give USSR an additional vote in the UN. there’s no “integrity” to protect, Western Ukraine has roots in Eastern Europe, East Ukraine does not. IMF, NATO, US are out of their league.

  4. Dennis Redmond

    You want links, I’ve got links. Ukraine had a genuine revolution against a corrupt kleptocracy (see Timothy Synder here: http://www.nybooks.com/blogs/nyrblog/2014/mar/01/ukraine-haze-propaganda/). To understand what Ukraine’s thieving elites were doing, see: https://reportingproject.net/occrp/index.php/en/ccwatch/cc-watch-indepth/2406-how-kurchenkos-offshores-worked

    Ukraine 2014 = Argentina 2001. The people had enough of being robbed, pure and simple.

    The OCCRP does superb investigative journalism of corruption in Eastern Europe, Eurasia and Russia, read their articles here: https://reportingproject.net/occrp/index.php

    Human rights activists in Ukraine: http://www.khpg.org/en/index.php

    Citizen journalism from Ukraine: http://www.kyivpost.com/

    A final note: Russia Today once had decent news, but has degenerated into a hateful garbage dump of xenophobia, paranoia and Russo-imperialist lies. Not to be trusted any further than Putin’s pipelines. Coverage of Russia’s state-owned media lie campaign: http://www.stopfake.org/en/

    1. OIFVet

      Sure, there was genuine anger against the kleptocrats. And then, following the western financed coup against the elected government, Nuland’s man Yats rushed Ukraine straight into the hands of…kleptocrats. The same kleptocrats Argentina threw out in 2001. So what is your point, that our kleptos are better than their kleptos?

      PS Linking to a known propagandist such as Timothy Snyder will not advance your point, his half-truths and neo-fascist whitewashing has already been dealt with in these parts. The Kiev Post is not much better, its rank neoliberalism propaganda is as toxic as anything you find objectionable about RT.

      1. Henry

        You’re probably grossly overstating the role of “Western financing” in the “coup”. The ousting of Yanukovich was very widely supported in Ukraine, although admittedly somewhat less so in the Southern and Eastern metropolitan areas.

        Being optimistic, you could actually argue that the Ukrainian people have set a precedent for how they will deal with kleptocrats gone too greedy. What they still lack is healthy civil society institutions independent from the state, though, so we’ll have to see how they will manage to start exerting control on their oligarchs. Certainly, what they do not need, is the Russian “capo di tutti capi” model of controlling oligarchs. Or Russian destabilization of Eastern Ukraine, for that matter. After all, isn’t it a better starting point for building a thriving democracy to first secure the option of choosing your *own* kleptocrats?

        1. OIFVet

          If I am then so does Nuland, as I rely on her own assertion about the $5billion the US has spent promoting “democracy” in Ukraine. And do explain the mechanism whereby the Yats “government” deals with the kleptocracy by appointing kleptocrats as regional governors, as has been well-documented. Again, is it the case that our kleptos are better than their kleptos?

          You know, for a self-described Finnish leftist you appear to be very sympathetic to the neocon/neolib project. Just sayin’…

          1. Henry

            Well, like I said, that was my optimistic side speaking… Anyway, I don’t think you got my point, though. I was not arguing that the Yats government is dealing with kleptocracy effectively. I have too little information on that, and frankly I’m skeptical on the outcome. But the optimistic argument, and I guess this is what Klitshko has been arguing, is that if this uprising didn’t shake the kleptocrat class enough to restrain themselves more, maybe the next one will.

            Wrt to my leftist convictions, you just have to take my word for it. It might be that you are reading too much into the Russian/NATO stance, which I must admit, seems to be somewhat more aggressive than the average Finnish leftist one.

            Regarding Western financing, I was not saying you’re overestimating the financing but rather its influence.

            1. OIFVet

              I.e., Yats betrayed those sincere protesters. That’s the damned point, and why I will not take your word about your leftist credentials. Neoliberals rely on compliant and complicit kleptocratic oligarchs everywhere, and their man Yats delivered. Yet here you are defending what happened. I knew that the european “left” had changed, I just didn’t realize it had morphed into a carbon copy of the American “left”. My bad, I guess.

              Last point, this has been the US script for regime change for the past 60+ years. It works. To say that the influence of this tactic is overestimated is to deny the objective reality of its effectiveness. It works precisely because it BUYS INFLUENCE with the local elite turncoats. Its that simple.

              1. Henry

                I’m only defending the people’s right to revolt against all kleptocrats regardless of whether they tend to align with West or Russia. Yanukovich was definitely no better than the ones preceding or following him (which incidentally, are pretty much the same people).

                1. OIFVet

                  Oh, you are supporting them rights to overthrow kleptos? Please do tell how you feel about the US overthrowing or at least supporting the overthrow of elected leftist governments in the Americas such as Allende’s, installing the repressive shah in Iran after overthrowing the elected leftist government. Same for Indonesia. If these happen to be too far back in time and you are a bit fuzzy on the history, you can explain your support for OWS and its protests against the american kleptocracy and how you felt when you found out that it was brutally put down by the great defender of freedom and democracy, the US government. Methinks we ought to put our own house in order before we interfere with the internal affairs of sovereign nations.

                  1. Henry

                    Jeeesus, well here you go:

                    – Overthrow of elected leftist governments in the Americas such as Allende’s: acts of belligerent imperialism, criminal

                    – Shah etc: see above

                    – OWS: Supported. Condemnable violence against protesters, although not sure whether it was put down or just sadly dwindled away in the face of tough measures (not criticizing though, since it was a remarkable achievement in its own right).

                    Putting your own house in order first is a great principle, and very much called for after the neocon excesses. It should not prevent you from projecting power in milder way, however, through some of the more co-operative and balanced arrangements (UN, some cases NATO).

                    1. OIFVet

                      Co-operative arrangements? Who the heck do you think the US is, some Scandinavian country? This here is the land of rugged individualism and we are free to kick anyone’s butt anytime we please and without seeking co-operation. Matter of fact you deserve to have you butt kicked for even suggesting such socialist non-sense. Say, speaking of cooperation, where can I find the UN resolution authorizing the US to cbange the Ukrainian regime?

                    2. Henry

                      USA did not oust Yanukovich or change the regime. They might’ve helped somewhat, but your statement as such is a wild exaggeration and contrary to observable facts.

                    3. Jackrabbit

                      “USA did not oust Yanukovich or change the regime. They might’ve helped somewhat . . . “

                      Remind me again: during Nuland’s “f@#k the EU” phone call, what person or group did Nuland say she had to consult with regarding her picks for the next government?

                      Oh yeah, none. She spoke as though SHE had full authority. OK

        2. notexactlyhuman

          But when NATO does it, it’s OK. That’s essentially what you’re saying. America can do all the destabilizing it wants, and Russia can’t be allowed to defend itself. No one can be allowed to defend themselves from US and NATO encroachment, despite their proven track record of invading sovereign nations under false pretext to steal said countries resources. Not Pakistan, not Iran, not Iraq, not Venezuela, but especially not Russia. Russia has no right to defend its borders against the country that’s currently in the midst of a global war wherein no person or thing is immune from surveillance or assassination or war under the guise of terror. While the American war machine piles up civilian bodies and destabilizes numerous countries whose indigenous aren’t generous enough to allow global corporate interests to rape them the way America thinks they should be raped, you moan over Russia’s bloodless annexation of Crimea in retaliation of the west’s meddling on its turf and bringing NATO to its borders. Get real.

    2. vidimi

      timothy snyder has been one of the loudest pro-coup trolls, so i’d take him with a grain of salt.

      it’s important to remember that the issue is not whether yanukovich was corrupt or a thug. the issue is that he was elected and was deposed by thugs no less corrupt who are now selling out the country without any democratic mandate.

  5. Andrea

    Hudson exaggerated imho.

    For ex. about the language laws. The ex. of his prof in Riga who could not speak in Russian (and I doubt anybody would be arrested!) is perfectly normal, after Russian domination, an effort was made towards ‘national cohesion,’ promoting Latvian and its dialects, which shelved Russian into the ‘minority languages box.’

    German and English are also not allowed in official documents, for ex. and I’m guessing you can’t teach in German at a public U in Latvia, the audience would be outraged.

    Such lang. policies are very common – the French speak French today because ‘minority’ languages were forcibly eliminated. In any case, this is an internal Latvian matter and has nothing to do with Russia and any of its policies. Russian is indeed a language much spoken in Latvia, and is perhaps denied ‘minority language’ status from some pov, I’d agree with that.

    Note that Latvian is written with the Latin alphabet, Russian the Cyrillic, this complicates and costs..a headache.. Of course the whole issue is burning and mingles with politics as it does in the Ukraine. See for ex. Latvia and Lithuania recently banning some (?) Russian TV channels, because ‘against their language laws’…

    As for Ukr. ‘banning Russian’ this is not what happened. (Hudson doesn’t state this outright but the MSM have.) The ‘coup’ Gvmt – unelected – repealed a law granting ‘minority language status’ or more precisely ‘regional language status’ to Russian and any other language, spoken by over than 10% in x or y admin district .. i.e. yes, against Russian .. but that decision was quickly overturned or annulled. One brief article:


    US citizens and English speakers generally are so used to English being de facto dominant they don’t ‘get’ these language quarrels and their roots.

    As for partnerships between Ukrainian companies and Western ones, they are (or were) 100% encouraged, to the tune of permitting foreign cos to pay very low or no tax (that is its reputation), sort out…the loopholes jump out: PDF:


  6. Vatch

    I don’t trust Putin, and I’m very disappointed that the Ukrainian Holocaust of 1932-1933 is so rarely mentioned, but the right-wingers in Ukraine are really doing an effective job of turning me off. Yesterday, reader Brindle posted a URL showing some right wing members of parliament physically attacking a Communist member of parliament:



    These aren’t low level activists getting into booze fueled trouble on the street. These are members of the Ukrainian parliament physically attacking someone on the legislative body’s premises! This is redolent of the caning of Charles Sumner in 1856:

    The Caning of Charles Sumner

    Will the Ukrainian legislators who started that fight be expelled from parliament? They ought to be. Does anyone know whether any official action has been taken against them?

    1. Henry

      For the sake of contextualization, the Ukrainian political culture is not, surprise, surprise, always that civilized. There have been fist fights in the parliament before, among other groups as well, so it’s not that exceptional. I believe Ukrainian members of parliament have, like in most developed democracies, some immunity against prosecution, expulsion etc.

      Also, as you probably know, the political field is pretty polarized, to say the least, and Communists have been firmly in the pro-Yanukovich and pro-Russian camp.

      1. Vatch

        I admit to ignorance about Ukrainian law, but from the U.S. Constitution:

        The Senators and Representatives shall receive a Compensation for their Services, to be ascertained by Law, and paid out of the Treasury of the United States. They shall in all Cases, except Treason, Felony and Breach of the Peace, be privileged from Arrest during their Attendance at the Session of their respective Houses, and in going to and returning from the same; and for any Speech or Debate in either House, they shall not be questioned in any other Place.

        I think we would agree that starting a fist fight is a breach of the peace, and the instigators should be subject to expulsion from parliament and prosecution.

      2. NotTimothyGeithner

        Are you trying to frighten us with threats of communism? Red baiting went out of fashion in the western world except among illiterate Republicans so long ago.

        1. Henry

          No, I was definitely not. Just some background for the fist fight, describing where the Communist Party stands on the political spectrum vis-á-vis recent developments.

    2. sid_finster

      Not to mention the blockading of the courts, the recent seizures in Lvov, and last week’s Gunfight at the Hotel Dnieper.

  7. TomDority

    Smack dead-on Michael Hudson.

    Money makes the world go-around, it also makes it spin backwards in time and follows the playbook from century to century. Ebbs and flows like waves on a beach.

    The economists of today have not been taught the importance of land (the passive part of all production) nor have they been taught about the fourth leg of production – public infrustructure/the commons. Nor is it ever defined – economic rent – which takes toll from labor and real capital.

    Every rise in land value makes it more expensive to work, live and raise living standards..period. Value that the community created should be taxed back into the community’s use for they created that value. Today that value is being stolen for use by private interests (kleptocrates). This situation has always and, will always create unrest and instability….pull the rite strings and the puppets will go through the same staged play always and forever….just like waves on a beach. We sit around in the US somehow always in awe regarding extreme wealth inequality but seem unable to do anything about it because we think it is somehow a natural occurance like leaves on a tree comming out in the spring…it ain’t natural and it ain’t free market…..it is an unjust revenue system and a financialization of all measurements without regard for the earth/land we absolutly require if we are to do anything at all…live breath, pontificate. Why should economics be treated as a natural thing of nonle properties as opposed to the central motivator of things good and things bad….as if it were external instead of internal. Why do we fool ourselves into oblivion and kill our brothers and sisters through war and famine and creating what was one a habitable earth as opposed to an earth seemingly bent upon human existence. Free market my ass.

    Michael Hudson – smack dead-on the point as always.

  8. Jackrabbit

    Hudson points a damning finger at the West, But his focus on the economics of Ukraine comes at the expense of the larger geo-political picture. It was neocon Nuland, afterall, that baked the cookies for this adventure, not an IMF economist.

    1. OIFVet

      True enough, but who said that the neocon and neoliberal agendas are mutually exclusive? Personally I think of it as the new neo-neo synthesis: the neocons’ shock and awe regime changes are always followed by the neolibs’ shock and awe economic warfare.

      1. Jackrabbit

        Yes. Except that I’d add that in certain cases one (neocon/neolib) is more predominant.

        I just think that any analysis that focuses on one aspect should at least make note of the other dimension(s) for balance. We didn’t ‘poke the bear’ and disturb our European allies that rely on Russian energy just because we want to make a few bucks off Ukraine. In fact, any economic benefit may be a mirage as Ukraine appears to be an oligarch-controlled money-pit.

        1. OIFVet

          I fully agree with you Jackrabbit. Hudson is an economist so he talks about the economics of it. Of course it is only a part of the equation but it does help to complete the overall view.

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      The European colonization of Africa (excluding Egypt which has been intertwined with Med. powers started at the old slave forts. Someone had to manage the savages to bring them to light of Xtianity, and if a pound or a franc could be made, would it hurt anyone? The original colonialists were anti-slave advocates, not villains, and the lesson between then and now is whether those institutions are helping or making it easier for neocon-types to operate.

      Are the 23 year olds teaching in b inner city schools crooks? No, that would be absurd. At worst, they building a resume in a terrible economy, but Teach For America undermines local school boards and weakens teacher unions. Every dime spent on education is never hoarded, but Teach for America creates the illusion public schools aren’t necessary and can be turned over to private concerns. Individual villains aren’t necessary. Joe Lieberman is retired, but t Here are a dozen Democratic Senators eager to be him because we make issues about personalities.

      The question should be about the IMF’s success rate.

  9. TomDority

    We humans have done a great many things good by harnessing “economics” (the horses) to the common good (the humans of this earth) and in attempts to raise living standards. The neo-economics has now pulled of a feat of magic (neoclassical economics) by convincing the majority – globally – that the common good should be harnessed in the service of free markets -…. got some bad news because of that situation….. the free market (neoclassical economics) don’t give two craps weather the human species fails. The free market is not an entity that has reason in it’s artificial existence….it’s free to roam and trample and destroy as much as it is free to stumble occasionaly upon good. I am sure we would be horrified to let our children go into a zoo where all the cages are open – free hungry animals will do what they do just as much as a free market will do what it will do.

  10. May

    See what Leap 2020 has to say. Its all about bringing Europe into dollar zone. Maybe dollar is in deeper trouble than publicly known!
    GEAB N°83 is available! Global systemic crisis-escalation in the US reaction for survival: trigger a cold war to make it easier to annex Europe.

    Meanwhile, other developments are raising this issue:

    Is American democracy headed to extinction?

  11. TomDority

    Some reminders about how this shit goes down and lessons learned….particularly from George Orwell

    “No protracted war can fail to endanger the freedom of a democratic country.” -Alexis de Tocqueville

    . “War against a foreign country only happens when the moneyed classes think they are going to profit from it.” -George Orwell

    “A state of war only serves as an excuse for domestic tyranny.” -Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

    “It is a universal truth that the loss of liberty at home is to be charged to the provisions against danger, real or pretended, from abroad.” -James Madison

  12. allcoppedout

    I have no problem with what Hudson says on this. I’m just bored. Our choices seem to be between kleptos and thus no choice choices. Even the UK Parliament can’t sort its expenses out to appear above board. The place is stacked out with lawyers and a quarter of them are landlords. The problem seems to be that we have no honest accounting for anything. How can this be in the days of spreadsheets, databases and just-in-time inventories?

    What technical solutions might there be to this looting and amassed capital?

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      I think one issue is I think the western movers expected uniformed outrage and demand for spending. Between Syria, Central Africa, Afghanistan, and where fer the CIA is bumbling about, I would wonder what the cash flow is. They might be out of money. They aren’t putting up their money, so it’s possible they can’t keep payments going to local operators.

      The Western imperialists expected to grab Ukrainian resources Scott free, but things aren’t going so swimmingly. Americans aren’t keen on foreign intervention, and if they couldn’t blow up Syria last year Congress won’t vote for foreign aid this year. The only solution is to oppose further funding until the bush/Cheney cartel is in prison.

  13. steviefinn

    Speaking as a European it seems to me that those who see Putin as the guy in the black hat, with the West portrayed as the 7th cavalry engaged in spreading freedom & Democracy are stuck in a 1945 time warp -They either do not know the truth or prefer to stick to an old line.

    Putin is no good guy but due to the actions of the neoliberals, neocons & their political puppets, the West is no good guy either & is in no position to lecture anyone. The EU has lost any credibility in regard to giving a shit about it’s people due to it’s policy of austerity which has led to deaths through suicides, reduced healthcare, the inability to avoid hypothermia amongst old people etc. Just because none of these people’s lives were ended by a member of the Troika personally pulling a trigger, does not make them less tragic. They are the ignored collateral damage in a financial war.

    I fear the Russians to the extent that if the powers that be in the West will not stop till they achieve total world dominance thereby controlling what’s left of natural resources & of course all us serfs, they will inevitably force a reaction from the East which of course also includes China.

    Democracy & Freedom – Tell that to the Iraqi’s, Afghans, Libyans, Egyptians & to a lesser extent, Greeks, Irish etc.

    1. allcoppedout

      That’ll be the 7th Cavalry of Little Big Horn, Wounded Knee and on to the massacre of civilians in Korea, more recently freeing Iraq and Afghanistan? Dork will be pleased to know they march to a Garryowen serenade. Perhaps the plan is for history to blame it all on the Irish?

    2. Jackrabbit

      I think the frustration that you express is shared by many.

      Neocons and neolibs are fronting for, and propping up, cronies that are only interested in rent extraction and power for the sake of power. And keeping the circle-jerking rent ponzi going requires ever more outlandish actions from cold/hot war to propaganda to QEnfinity and more.

      Enlightened leadership would recognize that the status-quo is counter-productive and detrimental but the best government(s) money can buy seem to have weeded out anyone with a moral or enlightened view. As a class, our leaders seem robotic in their devotion to capital to the detriment of their own people.

      And I’d add that contrary to what troll/shill messaging, I don’t see anyone really disputing capitalism as much as the bastardization of capitalism that is crony capitalism. And I don’t think there is much love for Putin as much as a distain for bullsh!t neocon adventures in support of corrupt, fundamentalist “allies” in the ME.

  14. allcoppedout

    Stevie’s analysis looks about right. We have never boxed up democracy for export, though pretty much everything else. Thinking of Craazyman’s ‘cranks as a sub-set of quacks’, what might be the common set of the “democratic-thrusting-entrepreneurial-corporatism” actually be? NotTim gives a clue in suggesting where the bastards benefiting should end up. Long prison sentences followed by hanging seems about right. I’d tentatively advance these for common set consideration:
    1. Various theorists of economic and managerial dross no use to anyone
    2. Criminal gangs (kleptos, but also often Mafia, Tongs, Triads)
    3. Money flight offshore
    4. Bought and paid for politicians
    5. Loans that somehow are always bad loans that never bust the lender
    6. Trade agreements
    7. Absence of scrutiny
    8. Presence of vast bureaucratic blather on scrutiny
    9. Poverty
    10. Killings, torture and enclosures
    11. An absolute absence of any plan to provide decent lives until the magic invisible wand brings forth prosperity for all
    12. Rich bastards on every end of the deal that has made matters worse for everyone else

    Don’t we have 200 years of evidence of this repeat crime?

  15. Banger

    I have one request to all who support basic U.S. policy here. Check out the history of U.S. involvement in these sorts of conflicts since the end of WWII. And count, if you can, how many governments were overthrown, how many movements crushed by covert operatives. Please understand that there is a solid cadre of true believers in the USG who believe the U.S. should be the New Rome and will do anything whether it is mass murder, torture, lying, destroying the Constitutions and, indeed, the very basis of Anglo-American law, i.e., due process and habeas corpus–then say that Putin is your enemy.

    My enemy is on Wall Street and within the national security/deep state. There is no room to fence-straddle on this one unless you deny history in favor of the official line of American Exceptionalism.

        1. OIFVet

          No offense to any of you anglo-saxon protestants, but perhaps history is skewed because it was mostly written from the viewpoint of your elites? Yesterday’s interesting discussion on war documentaries lends some support for this; as someone pointed out Ken Burns makes it look as though WW2 was won by the US all by its lonesome. And that elite anglo-saxon-centric narrative was OK I suppose, as long as the common anglo-saxon could obtain some fringe benefits from the empire. Now that neoliberal capitalism has reduced these benefits and began to devour its own in earnest, the narrative no longer bears any semblance to the reality experienced by the masses. Which in turn might explain why westerners suddenly seem so much more receptive to Moscow’s message rather than Obama’s version of history that he offered in Brussels.

            1. NotTimothyGeithner

              Most Americans believe we didn’t give up after the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor.

    1. Simon


      Can you recommend a good book on the US Governments foreign policy? Which book or books are foundational?

  16. TheCatSaid

    The Real News coverage has been impressively nuanced and comprehensive. They have had a wide number of commentators. On their home page do a search for Ukraine and you’ll get a feel for this.

    For example, one commentator was a historian who gave quite a lot of detail of the complex events, shifting loyalties and other aspects in that region (South Poland, Russia, Jewish populations, various political parties, etc.) This commentator meshes well with the pando.com article cited above by daitz, which discusses the historical complexity.

    A number of other commentators have brought out the conflicting interests (economic in particular) between various groups of Ukrainian oligarchs, and other oligarchs which are more Russian-aligned, and the protesters looking for a better quality of life.

    The Real News is doing a great job IMHO by providing a range of commentators sharing their diverse truths and not avoiding the situation’s complexity, and avoiding one sided propaganda.

  17. Mazeppa

    Wow, the myopia on this Hudson clip is unbelievable. I’ll try to address each of Hudson’s principal points:
    (1) Hudson claims the West pushed Ukraine to ban the Russian language. Wrong: (a) the Ukrainian parliament passed the subject law to ensure that Ukrainian was the only OFFICIAL language, i.e., the language for governmental business; (b) THE MEASURE WAS VETOED BY THE NEW PRESIDENT AND NEVER WENT INTO EFFECT; (c ) a poll today in the Ukrainian Press finds that 70% of people in Eastern Ukraine say they have experienced NO pressure to speak Ukrainian, and indeed, most people throughout the country at understand or speak Russian; (d) does anything in the wimpy way that the West responded to Russia’s seizure of Crimea suggest that it WANTED to provoke Russia or that the West is eager to grab Ukraine’s “great wealth”? Everything suggests that the West would rather that Ukraine simply disappear into a black hole. Hudson needs to take off his tin-foil hat.
    (2) Hudson claims that Russia gave gas to Ukraine at below-market rates out of charity. Wrong: Russia has always supplied gas to below-market rates to Ukraine and its kleptocrats to keep them on a very short leash, not out of love. Ukraine has always been able to strike back, though, by cutting Russia’s supply lines to the West, so in the past there’s been a rough balance between the countries.
    (3) Hudson claims that Latvia is an apartheid state. Wow, really wrong: Like most Americans, Hudson knows laughably little about history. After Stalin seized the independent nation of Latvia in the 1940s and murdered many of its citizens, he imported Russians to take their place (this happened in Ukraine too, after the 1932-33 famine). The Russians in Latvia are basically colonists. Latvia is willing to allow these people full rights if they learn to speak Latvian – is that too much to ask? How do people on this site feel about Anglos coming to the New World and driving out the natives? And by the way, there is no apartheid — these Russians live much better than the ones in Russia. If that weren’t the case, they would leave — Russia’s very close by and they have relatives there. The fact is that Russia is a very poor country outside the largest cities and life there is hard.

    A few other points: (1) there is little fascist threat in Ukraine. The leading candidate for presidential elections scheduled in late May is JEWISH (Pavlo Poroshenko). I suppose Russia will soon start talking about the Nazi-Jewish-homosexual threat menacing Ukraine. BTW, I’m still waiting for the first Jewish president of Russia (or the U.S., for that matter). (2) Nuland was talking about $5 billion spent in Ukraine over 23 years since independence. That’s peanuts compared to the billions that Russia has poured into Ukraine in the form of cut-rate gas. A lot of US aid went for Peace Corps, NGOs, election monitors, etc. (3) Putin has stolen approximately $50 billion (that’s billion with “b”) from the Russian people. He has had his opponents murdered (Magnitsky, Litvinenko). I thought the people on this site were against this sort of thing — was I wrong? Or do the people here think that Bush or Obama have stolen billions for themselves, so they are his equal? If so, where’s the money/mansions/art work? Have they murdered political opponents? If so, which ones? It’s important to have some perspective. BTW, when Yatseniuk traveled to Washington for help he flew . . .coach. How often do world leaders do that? Obviously he’s a kleptocrat! (4) The people at the Maidan were protesting Yanukhovich’s growing corruption. His son, a dentist in his 40s, had become worth 100s of millions of dollars after his dad won the presidency. The protests really took off after video spread of cops beating protesters — it had nothing to do with Nuland fomenting a rebellion. By the way, about 100 protesters were killed at the Maidan (and none of the dead were members of the far right, some were Jews). If these people were paid operatives, why didn’t they run away when the shooting started? (5) Ukraine and Russia have similarly dysfunctional and corrupt economies. The difference is that there is no meaningful free speech in Russia. Ukraine has a pretty rough-and-tumble political system but the press is free. This difference is encapsulated by the saying that “Ukrainian politics is like an insane asylum, Russian politics is like a morgue.” Putin fears Ukraine because a nearby, free-wheeling political system has the potential to make his dictatorship look very bad to Russians.

    There is much more that it is wrong in what Hudson and commentators have stated, but it’s getting late —

    1. OIFVet

      Mazepa had long been forgotten;
      Only during solemnities on holy ground,
      Annually unto this day, menacing,
      The cathedral thunders anathema on him.
      Alexander Pushkin, Poltava

      Seems a fitting treatment for an infamous traitor. But what of the traitor’s ally, the Swedish king? Pushkin again:

      Crowned with ineffectual glory,
      Audacious Charles slipped near an abyss.
      He marched on ancient Moscow,
      Enraging Russian principalities,
      Like a whirlwind stirring ashen plains
      And forcing dusty grass to bow.
      He took the road where tracks were left
      In our newer days by a mighty foe,
      When the retreating steps of that fated man
      Glorified his fall.

      I’m sure there is a lesson to be learned there by all: allying oneself with traitors tends to end badly. Anyone got Kerry’s email address?

    2. Jackrabbit

      Your first paragraph was interesting. But it restates and seconds what Andrea (above) wrote so your uber-consternation at NC commentators is really uncalled for.

      Your second paragraph is rather slanted. You seem to equate fascism with hatred of jews (strawman). Next you implore us to view the US’s $5 billion spent on Ukraine as insignificant in size and mostly directed at humanitarian projects while conveniently ignoring: 1) the use of NGOs by the West for political purposes (where is the money for human rights NGOs in Saudia Arabia?), 2) Nuland’s “f@#k the EU” hand-picking of the next Ukrainian government, and 3) the likelihood of additional ‘off-the-books’ funding. Then you engage in some useless d!ck measuring between Putin and Obama/Bush when most here have already made it clear that they have no love for Putin – just grudging respect some for someone willing to stand up to the corrupt cronys in the West. Your “paid operatives” on Maidan is another strawman, and comparing Ukraine and Russian political systems is irrelevant because NO ONE IN THE WEST IS WILLING TO DIE FOR YATS & GANG. And we don’t want to pay for Ukraine’s fight either. Not after getting fleeced by banksters and force-fed austerity.

      You are either deluded or a trolling/shilling true believer. I’d guess the latter. But which ever it may be, neolib/neocon deception and misdirection have wore thin.

    3. steviefinn


      The point is that whatever the truths of the propaganda war this is a battle between so called elites. The vast majority of people wherever they come from just want to get on with their lives in the hope that their children will thrive. They are only useful in terms of being financially milked & used as battlefield / political pawns etc.

      What you say about Putin & Russia may well be true, but it is at best a game of my Dad is bigger than your Dad, your Democracy is worse than mine etc. You defend the Neo con Nuland a member of the Kagan clan whose philosophy is based on the writings of Leo Strauss, a believer in Plato’s ideas that the World should be led by people such as the Kagan’s while the mass of humanity should only exist to give their lives to the state – Plato abhorred democracy & thought that the mass of people were of little worth. They also believe that in order to sway people to their ends it is appropriate to use ” The Great Lie “.

      Here is Nuland’s hubby quoted from an article in which he washes his hands of the unfolding Iraq debacle :

      “The two rising powers, China and Russia, are autocracies. They are undoubtedly becoming more aggressive and nationalistic. They will shape the entire international system to suit their purposes, unless democratically minded nations join forces and demonstrate their own collective will to shape the world order”.

      Now these aims might be Ok with you, but personally all I see is a bunch of elites who will not serve, whose children will not serve, looking for world domination in which the little people will be farmed as sheep, & if millions die due to this plan, so be it. Add to this the politicians of the West who appear to become more like provincial governors who simply want to sit at the table of empire while using their nations as personal fiefdoms & the neoliberal financial vultures, not to mention Eisenhower’s military industrial complex, for the ordinary person this to me looks like a form of slavery.

      Until enough people finally cop on to the fact that their glorious leaders are all of the same ilk with varying degrees of self justifications that only suit their & their classes own ends, we will continue to fight amongst ourselves in a world where suppressed cognitive dissonance & hubris leads to nemesis.

  18. Mickey Hickey

    I was talking to a Ukrainian woman from Kiev today. She was a staunch western Ukraine supporter, the Russian language should be banned in Ukraine. The hatred of everything Russian was abundantly evident. I have known her for a few years as a normal friendly woman. Based on whatI I am hearing the rift in Ukraine is now past the point of being repairable. A civil war is virtually guaranteed. Russian intervention will follow as night follows day. The US and the EU if they have any sense will stay out of it, any outside interference will lead to a failed state similar to Somalia with Ukrainians suffering poverty and strife for decades.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Don’t use outdated references to Somalia when newer examples can be found in Iraq and Libya, soon to be Afghanistan when the drug money dries up.

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