Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Ukrainian Imbroglio: Why The War Party Must Now Stand-Down

By Justin Raimondo

The hysteria over Crimea’s secession from Ukraine and incorporation into the Russian Federation still has the Washington policy wonks all a-twitter. We even have the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (a.k.a. AIPAC) calling for US ground troops to be sent to “defend” Ukraine: apparently all military occupations are not morally equivalent.

But the reality is that, however loudly the neocon media screams bloody murder, the resolution of this phony “crisis” is within sight. Even as Ukrainian troops were advancing on eastern cities taken over by Russian separatists, the “interim President” in Kiev was trying to appease his rebellious countrymen:

“I am certain that a large majority of Ukrainians at this referendum,   which, when the parliament decides so, could be held alongside the presidential   election, will favor an indivisible, independent, democratic and unified Ukraine.”

While he added that the referendum would take place in “all of Ukraine,” and not just the eastern regions – which would ensure a victory for the centralizers – the mere fact that he offered this as an option is significant. For it echoes the “federalist” rhetoric coming out of Moscow and acknowledges what the Washington know-it-alls refuse to consider: that many if not most Ukrainians   who live in the eastern and southern parts of the country may not be entirely thrilled with the coup leaders in Kiev.

The right-wing ultra-nationalists of Svoboda and their crazed allies in the neo-Nazi Right Sector may be itching for a fight with Putin, but the relatively moderate coup leaders have a bit more common sense. They know they can’t hold on to the eastern and southern provinces without an all-out civil war, and they also know it’s by no means certain they can come out on top in the wake of such a conflict. What’s more, the corrupt oligarchs who dominate the “interim” government in Kiev are not about to give up their ill-gotten fortunes in order to uphold some nationalist ideologue’s idea of “Greater Ukraine.” They don’t want their factories and other holdings damaged or destroyed, and in the end they’ll follow the money all the way to the peace table.

Sitting around that table in Geneva, probably this Thursday, will be the Ukrainians,   the Russians, the Europeans, and Uncle Sam, and it’s hard to believe the concept   of a federalist solution won’t be introduced, if not by the US and the EU then   by the Kremlin. It’s also hard to see why this won’t be accepted, at least by   the US/EU mediators, as a face-saving way out of the embarrassing corner they’ve   backed themselves into.

After all, the West started all this: in spite of Western commentators loudly inveighing against Putin’s “incitement” of pro-Russian Ukrainians, it’s pretty hard to deny the US and its European allies are guilty of more than their fair share of inciting going all the way back to the “Orange Revolution.”This latest insurrection, too, is a product of Western “democracy promotion”   efforts, with tens of millions handed to our sock-puppets over the years.

And of course we have the presence of CIA director John “drone warrior“   Brennan in Kiev: he just slipped in to have a nice cup of tea, nothing to see   here – so move along, if you please. And while he traveled under an alias, that’s   nothing to be concerned about – because he’s a playful guy and he reads too   many spy thrillers.

Brennan’s visit doesn’t tell us anything we didn’t already know: anyone who   thinks our intelligence services haven’t been active in Ukraine for quite some   time is being willfully naïve. Not to mention the “democracy-promoting“    nomenklatura, both public and “private,” who have been funding   Ukrainian NGOs and “citizen education” programs: these are not neutral   players.

But what game are they playing?

Ever since the fall of the Soviet Union, the empire-builders in Washington   and the capitals of Europe have been marching eastward, bringing the “shield”   of NATO ever closer to Moscow’s gates. Their ultimate goal: the restoration   of Yeltsinism in the Kremlin, i.e. the installation of a pliable sock-puppet where Putin and Peter the Great once stood.

The Western powers have no intention of confronting Russia militarily, although   the potential use of force is always a card they hold close. With the US public    war-weary beyond endurance and the European economy dependent on Russian energy   exports, a direct military conflict with the nuclear-armed Russkies has to be   ruled out. However, as John Glaser wisely pointed out, a proxy war is another   question entirely: one can easily imagine an alternate world in which John McCain   is President and a full scale civil war breaks out, with Washington and Moscow   supplying arms to Kiev and the separatists respectively.

Reentering the real world, however, this possibility seems incredible – but   increasingly a possibility. Yesterday I would’ve given it a less than 20 percent   chance of happening: today the odds are considerably greater, although I don’t   see the point of assigning a numerical value until we find out what happens   in Geneva.

Aside from largely symbolic actions like banning certain Russian official and   semiofficial figures and sending extra stuff to Poland, the US has managed to   restrain itself: the President actually does seem like he’s amenable to a diplomatic   solution. But who knows what this administration is doing covertly? Even the   Estonian foreign minister wonders who those snipers were serving when they shot   both protesters and police in the incident that sparked the Kiev coup.

The fog of war has already descended over the Ukrainian landscape: it’s hard   to know what’s really happening over there. We’ve got Right Sector besieging the Rada (parliament), at one point, and then turning around and storming eastern   Ukraine: these, after all, are the only tough guys the coup leaders have at   their disposal these days. The Berkut was disbanded and the regular police aren’t   considered “reliable.” That leaves the Right Sector skinheads and   neo-Nazis who are coming from all over Europe to join up with a fascist version   of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade.

In the days leading up to World War III, Ukraine is slated to be the modern   day equivalent of the Spanish civil war – that is if the neocons, the professional   Russophobes, and the walking zombies left over from the last cold war have their   way.

Much has been said about the reluctance of the Europeans to take as hard a   line as the   Americans, and this is usually ascribed to pecuniary motives – the EU nations   are too economically intertwined with the Russian economy to bear the cost of   meaningful sanctions. Yet there is another reason for their reluctance which   nearly always goes unmentioned by Western pundits and that is the political   character of the “interim” Ukrainian government, which has a high   proportion of ultra-nationalists whose politics put them entirely beyond the  pale as far as the EU is concerned.

Given the ideology and origins of the Svoboda party, which holds no less than    eight top positions in the Ukrainian government, it would be illegal   in both Germany and France, which have draconian laws on the books against “hate   groups.” Svoboda (“Freedom”), founded as the “Social National”   party (wink! wink!), explicitly upholds the legacy of Stepan Bandera, leader   of the “insurgent” army recruited by the Nazis to fight the Soviets   during World War II. The party’s leader has ranted about an alleged “Jewish-Muscovite”   conspiracy against Ukraine, and Svoboda’s youth group, “C-14,” bears   a striking resemblance to the infamous Nazi S.A. The number 14 has symbolic importance   for neo-Nazis: thus the name.

To Americans, the idea of a National Socialist revival seems unlikely if not   impossible: to us, Nazis are simply figures out of some historical drama, a   synonym for pure evil. Europe, however, is another matter entirely: there the   old horrors lie just beneath the surface, and you don’t have to dig down very   deep in the eastern regions of the continent to find evidence that new horrors   are rising.

The Soviets kept a lid on all this, even as they encouraged it starting in   the 1950s with the Slansky   trial in what was then Czechoslovakia and continuing with the “anti-Zionist”   purges in the Soviet Union. When the Soviet empire imploded and Russian influence   receded, these neo-Nazi troglodytes came out from underground and were greeted   with the same propitious prospects for growth that had propelled their ideological   ancestors into power: widespread poverty, endemic corruption, pervasive hopelessness    – and the ever-present need for a “foreign” scapegoat.

The US State Department is now openly defending Svoboda as having “moderated”   its politics – while the party’s activists stage torchlight parades through   the streets of Kiev carrying   flags bearing the dreaded Wolfsangel   symbol, the insignia   of the Waffen-SS division that helped the German Nazis carry out the holocaust   in Ukraine.

No doubt the Europeans find this shocking, as do I. It wasn’t that long ago   that the European Parliament condemned the action of then President Viktor Yushchenko   honoring Bandera as a “national hero” of Ukraine. Listening to US   officials explain away Svoboda, the Europeans can hardly believe their ears.   After all, this is an ostensibly left-of-center “progressive” administration   headed up by an African American chief executive: what are they doing whitewashing   outright fascists who echo the slogans and symbolism of America’s white nationalists?

The neocons are hoping they can get Ukraine into NATO, thus raising the military   stakes considerably, but there’s no chance of that given the country’s financial   condition – and the look of the Ukrainaian political landscape. We’ll find out   much more about the latter after May 25, when elections are scheduled. We’re   told the far right is polling badly, but the reliability and sources of these   numbers is dubious at best. The country is ripe for demagogy of the worst sort   and certainly Svoboda and its allies even further to the right are capable of   it.

What’s more, the “interim” government is encouraging the growth of   ultra-nationalist sentiment by sending the military – with a heavy quotient of Right Sector “activists” – into the eastern region, trying to quell   dissent by force when the only hope of holding the country together is negotiation.

The prospect of bloodshed doesn’t deter fanatics: it only emboldens. Even ostensible   “libertarians” like Eglė Markevičiūtė – board   member of “Students for Liberty,” whose leader recently denounced Ron Paul for   supporting Crimea’s right to secede – aren’t immune from the prevailing atmosphere   of blood-lust. Here   she is in the Daily Caller:

“Military intervention is a taboo topic, especially for war-weary Americans   in the wake of Iraq and Afghanistan. However, as the free-market Russian economist Andrei   Illarionov contends,    ‘Putin must be confronted militarily. I do not mean acts of war. But the West   should show a military presence in the Black Sea, for example. This is the only   way to stop Putin.’

“Limited military presence, such as an increased NATO presence in the   Baltic States and Poland or troop deployment in Ukraine, is something that liberty-minded   individuals should reconsider as a preventive measure to stop the spread of   Putin’s conquests further into Eastern Europe.”

What’s needed is a “preventive measure” on the part of the members   and affiliates of Students for Liberty to rein in their board-members-gone-rogue.   After all, here is a Lithuanian citizen who calls herself a “libertarian”   demanding that US taxpayers subsidize a NATO action to “stop the spread   of Putin’s conquests” – as if the people of Crimea prefer a bankrupt corruption-ridden   Nazi-infested Ukraine to their traditional loyalty to Moscow. What she’s asking   for is US troops in Ukraine – an outrageously nutty idea that not even the most   extreme neocons are proposing.

As for Mr. Illarionov: this isn’t   the first   time that wacko has called for US action against Russia, and it won’t be the   last. He’s an embittered expatriate who has a grudge against the country of   his birth that nothing and no one can propitiate. Listening to him on Ukraine    – or any Russia-related matter – is like listening to Lord   Haw Haw for the real lowdown on World War II.

At the bottom of Markevičiūtė’s piece her bio identifies her   as “an International Executive Board Member of Students For Liberty.” There   is no disclaimer stating that she speaks only for herself and not for SFL, so   it’s not unreasonable to assume that her call for US military intervention in   Ukraine represents the view of the Students for Liberty leadership. We’ve already   seen Alexander McCobin, the group’s Maximum Leader, attacking Ron Paul as an   “apologist” for the Russians, while SFL simultaneously denies the   organization takes any position on foreign policy matters. However, when I managed   to corner newly-appointed SFL board member Jeff Giesea on   Twitter, he lamely replied that, yes, non-interventionism is a core libertarian   principle, but that everyone is “entitled to their opinion.”

Isn’t it time for the activists who’ve been gulled by SFL’s apparently huge   budget and freebies all around to start demanding – and getting – some straight   answers from the leadership clique in Washington? First Ron Paul is slandered   by these folks, then they come out of the closet as full-on interventionists.   To the many dedicated student activists who have taken SFL as good coin: it’s   time to put your house in order, or abandon ship. There already is a very large   and active libertarian student group, Young Americans for Liberty (YAL), with   over 5,000 members nationwide. Founded by Ron Paul and his supporters, YAL is   doing real libertarian activism – like its “A Generation of War” project,   which last year drew renewed attention to Obama’s drone war and the depredations   of American intervention overseas.

Ukraine is the acid test for libertarians. How they respond is a measure of   how far they’ve traveled from their origins as a subset of the conservative   movement during the cold war era. Those who haven’t come all that far and are   still mired in the old cold war mentality that dominated the American right   in the age of Bill Buckley – no matter what their age – will react with a jerking   of the knees: “To arms! To arms! The Russians are coming!” Those who   have long since moved on – or were never in that space to begin with – are bound   to have a view much closer to Ron Paul than to some Lithuanian lady who expects   us to pay her “defense” bill.

And it’s an acid test for “progressives” and “constitutional   conservatives” as well: we’re seeing all sorts of splits and realignments   on account of this issue. Yes, folks, it’s going to get really interesting,   so stay tuned to this space for more developments

orally equivalent. But the reality

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