Friday, May 16, 2014

Is Ukraine The Mess We Created? Is Our State Department our New CIA?

I haven't written much on Ukraine other than a couple of stories on the country's complete fiscal irresponsibility and astonishment that a country so often tossed around among powers, couldn't find a decent man or woman to lead them and maintain a free society. Corrupt leaders never lead to freedom. Corrupt leaders always led to less freedom. Note that Russians have done the same thing and put Putin back on the throne. From the beginning, I felt that Russian agitators were sent into Crimea, and still believe that, but I'm beginning to also believe that the U.S. was complicit in agitating inside Ukraine, to the point that the mess there now, is American-made. The following are a few examples of why I believe this to be a real possibility:  These demonstrations, and the raising of the Russian flag, at a time (Wednesday evening, March 5, 2014) when the Russian army is present only in Crimea, show that it is not only, strictly speaking, the Russian speakers who have so demonstrated their mistrust against the de facto power established in Kiev. It is highly informative to look at a map of the linguistic repartition in Ukraine, established by Kiev University.
Click the map to visit RussEurope for more information.

 These demonstrations, and the raising of the Russian flag, at a time (Wednesday evening, March 5, 2014) when the Russian army is present only in Crimea, show that it is not only, strictly speaking, the Russian speakers who have so demonstrated their mistrust against the de facto power established in Kiev. It is highly informative to look at a map of the linguistic repartition in Ukraine, established by Kiev University.
Click the map to visit RussEurope for more information.
If the US State Department's Victoria Nuland had not said "F**k the EU," few outsiders at the time would have heard of Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt, the man on the other end of her famously bugged telephone call. But now Washington's man in Kiev is gaining fame as the face of the CIA-style "destabilization campaign" that brought down Ukraine's monumentally corrupt but legitimately elected President Viktor Yanukovych.

"Geoffrey Pyatt is one of these State Department high officials who does what he’s told and fancies himself as a kind of a CIA operator," laughs Ray McGovern, who worked for 27 years as an intelligence analyst for the agency. "It used to be the CIA doing these things," he tells Democracy Now. "I know that for a fact." Now it's the State Department, with its coat-and-tie diplomats, twitter and facebook accounts, and a trick bag of goodies to build support for American policy. 
A retired apparatchik, the now repentant McGovern was debating Yale historian Timothy Snyder, a self-described left-winger and the author of two recent essays in The New York Review of Books – "The Haze of Propaganda" and "Fascism, Russia, and Ukraine." Both men speak Russian, but they come from different planets.

On Planet McGovern – or my personal take on it – realpolitik rules. The State Department controls the prime funding sources for non-military intervention, including the controversial National Endowment for Democracy (NED), which Washington created to fund covert and clandestine action after Ramparts magazine and others exposed how the CIA channeled money through private foundations, including the Ford Foundation. State also controls the far-better-funded Agency for International Development (USAID), along with a growing network of front groups, cut-outs, and private contractors. State coordinates with like-minded governments and their parallel institutions, mostly in Canada and Western Europe. State's "democracy bureaucracy" oversees nominally private but largely government funded groups like Freedom House. And through Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland, State had Geoff Pyatt coordinate the coup in Kiev. 
The CIA, NSA, and Pentagon likely provided their specialized services, while some of the private contractors exhibited shadowy skill sets. But if McGovern knows the score, as he should, diplomats ran the campaign to destabilize Ukraine and did the hands-on dirty work. 
Harder for some people to grasp, Ambassador Pyatt and his team did not create the foreign policy, which was – and is – only minimally about overthrowing Ukraine's duly elected government to "promote democracy." Ever since Bill Clinton sat in the Oval Office, Washington and its European allies have worked openly and covertly to extend NATO to the Russian border and Black Sea Fleet, provoking a badly wounded Russian bear. They have also worked to bring Ukraine and its Eastern European neighbors into the neoliberal economy of the West, isolating the Russians rather than trying to bring them into the fold. Except for sporadic resets, anti-Russian has become the new anti-Soviet, and "strategic containment" has been the wonky word for encircling Russia with our military and economic power. 
Nor did neoconservatives create the policy, no matter how many progressive pundits blame them for it. NED provides cushy jobs for old social democrats born again as neocons. Pyatt's boss, Victoria Nuland, is the wife and fellow-traveler of historian Robert Kagan, one of the movement's leading lights. And neocons are currently beating the war drums against Russia, as much to scupper any agreements on Syria and Iran as to encourage more Pentagon contracts for their friends and financial backers. But, encircling Russia has never been just a neocon thing. The policy has bi-partisan and trans-Atlantic support, including the backing of America's old-school nationalists, Cold War liberals, Hillary hawks, and much of Obama's national security team. 
No matter that the policy doesn’t pass the giggle test. Extending NATO and Western economic institutions into all of a very divided Ukraine had less chance of working than did hopes in 2008 of bringing Georgia into NATO, which could have given the gung-ho Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvilli the treaty right to drag us all into World War III. To me, that seemed like giving a ten-year-old the keys to the family Humvee. 
Western provocations in Ukraine proved more immediately counterproductive. They gave Vladimir Putin - Obama[/caption] Putin the perfect opportunity for a pro-Russian putsch in Crimea, which he had certainly thought of before, but never as a priority. The provocations encouraged him to stand up as a true Russian nationalist, which will only make him more difficult to deal with. And they gave him cover to get away with that age-old tool of tyrants, a quickie plebiscite with an unnecessary return to Joseph Stalin's old dictum once popular in my homestate of Florida: "It's not the votes that count, but who counts the votes."... 
For Pyatt, the payoff came on November 21, when President Yanukovych pulled back from an Association Agreement with the European Union. Within hours Hromadske.TV went online and one of its journalists set the spark that brought Yanukovych down.

"Enter a lonely, courageous Ukrainian rebel, a leading investigative journalist," writes Snyder. "A dark-skinned journalist who gets racially profiled by the regime. And a Muslim. And an Afghan. This is Mustafa Nayem, the man who started the revolution. Using social media, he called students and other young people to rally on the main square of Kiev in support of a European choice for Ukraine."

All credit to Nayem for his undeniable courage. But bad, bad history. Snyder fails to mention that Pyatt, Soros, and the Dutch had put Web TV at the uprising's disposal. Without their joint funding of Hromadske and its streaming video from the Euromaidan, the revolution might never have been televised and Yanukovych might have crushed the entire effort before it gained traction. Source: Steve Weissman writing at Ron Paul Institute, March 25, 2014 - fascinating article, read more here.
I so wanted to put Mr. Weissman's entire article here, but, that's not the right thing to do, and I "stole" more than I should have. Thanks to Scoster Farrara, Minutemen of TN on Facebook who has been on top of Ukraine from the beginning and pointed me to Weissman and the last article linked below. 

My friend Norma Brown is a former U.S. diplomat who has lived and worked in Russia. The following is a portion of her latest post on Ukraine:
It is prepared to invade southeastern Ukraine if need be, but that seems unlikely now. Instead we had a referendum, however flawed, showing a strong anti-Kiev vote (whipped up by Kiev’s inept military assault against the “terrorists”) and a subsequent request from Donetsk authorities for annexation by Russia. Russia is being coyly silent about the request, but the tacit threat is real: continue meddling in Ukraine, and we’ll accept the request for annexation. This ace in the hole gives Russia what it needs to force an agreement for a federal Ukraine with significant powers held by the provinces. That in turn ensures Russia’s continued dominant influence in southeastern Ukraine that will almost certainly make it impossible for Ukraine to join NATO — Russia’s ultimate goal. 
That the strategy is succeeding is suggested by the sudden visit to Ukraine by the German Foreign Minister to encourage direct talks between the two parties and rumors that Kiev is being pressured to accept the federal solution. Germany is the number one opponent of any action by NATO vis-a-vis Ukraine and will spare no effort in heading off the American hawks. It isn’t just war with Russia that frightens, but the damage further sanctions can do to the German economy. Read more at Ooobie on Everything
Germany, "significant" US leaks:
Even the most staunch transatlantic tabloid in Germany, Bild, today reports (original here) that the CIA and FBI with dozens of agents are running the show in Kiev. The report is based on "German security sources" which lets me believe that the German government is looking for ways to counter Washington's moves. More intentional "leaks" were published today in the same media, the high circulation Bild am Sonntag print edition. According to this online summary (in German by the Bild sister paper Welt ) two different issues were revealed:
According to the German secret service BND some 400 U.S. mercenaries from the company Academi, previously Blackwater, are leading and coordinating with the Ukrainian army and police in operations against "guerrilla" in east Ukraine. 
• According to NSA sniffing on Russian military communication, released to the BND, Russian pilots were ordered to Violate Ukrainian airspace.
Both claims are sourced to BND security briefings in the German chancellery. 
The first claim seems plausible as it confirms accusations made earlier in several Russian media. Commentators in the German media seem to accept it even while expressing some doubts about the second claim. Hardly anyone in Germany today believes anything claimed by the NSA :-). Within just seven days two significant "leaks" to Bild,...Read more at Moon of Alabama
In the meantime, Joe Biden visited Ukraine and created the only two jobs of his administration - one for his son and one for a John Kerry family friend. It only cost the U.S. taxpayer $1 billion in loan guarantees, so if whatever we're doing in Ukraine fails, you and I have lost our share of $1B. Does our loan guarantee come before Ukraine's $2-$3 billion ANNUALLY gas debt to Russia?

Is it unfair, or biased, to refer to "U.S. mercenaries," I don't know. Is it unreasonable to believe German claims? I don't know. If the claims of U.S. agitation in Ukraine are true, is it wrong? I readily admit, I have no real knowledge of what is really happening in Ukraine, or the right and wrong of it, but if Yanukovych was elected in an unfair election, I don't believe it's our place to correct it. After all, this administration doesn't believe in voter IDs. Like everyone else, I'm reading, and wondering. Your opinions are welcome.

Posted by Maggie @ Maggie's Wine

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