Remember, a few months back, when the United States was not going to get involved in a “bidding war” over Ukraine? Back then (beginning of December, 2013), America was faintly disdainful at the notion of getting down in the mud and wrestling over Ukraine. In fact, although that reference is not the main support for this post, it contains such a wealth of rich ironies that I want to stay with it for a couple of minutes.
Starting with the hot-button statement by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, otherwise known as The Arch-Fool of President Obama’s buffoon government, that “violence has no place in a modern European state”. He was referring to clashes between Maidan protesters and state police in Kiev, which later turned from merely violent to deadly, resulting in the shooting deaths of protesters and police by what Kiev’s ‘investigation’ recently determined were rogue elements of the Ukrainian Security Service, the SBU, in another of a disgraceful series of Ukrainian governmental cover-ups that often serve the dual purpose of getting rid of political opponents.
That so, John? Perspectives change rapidly in politics, I probably don’t have to tell you, because it wasn’t much later before the Arch-Fool and his colleagues opined that President Poroshenko had “a right to defend his country”.
Here’s a look at how he’s defending it: this is Sergey Prokofiev International Airport, in Donetsk. It has been completely destroyed, a write-off, by the Ukrainian Army. In case you wondered, this Donetsk is indeed in Ukraine.
Only a couple of years ago, in 2012, Ukraine spent $470 million on it getting it ready for the Euro 2012 football championship, which Ukraine co-hosted.
This is what it looked like then.
The Donetsk international airport was completely destroyed, in Ukraine, by Ukrainians. The Ukrainian Army shelled and bombed it to prevent it being used to resupply federalist rebels who did not want to be governed by Kiev, although God knows where that resupply was supposed to come from. Once they took it, they used it as a stronghold from which to indiscriminately shell the city of Donetsk, killing dozens of civilians. In trying to dislodge government forces to prevent this, the federalists also shelled it, and finally took possession of the shattered, burned-out ruin.
That’s just a tiny glimpse of the mindless destruction; the city of Slavyansk was almost leveled, and Lugansk and Donetsk have also experienced billions in property damage and ruined infrastructure. All, all unacceptable according to John Kerry 2013, but all of which took place with the stern approval of John Kerry 2014. John Kerry 2013 squealed with righteous indignation at the prospect of Yanukovych’s Berkut riot police defending themselves with shields and batons against fire-bombs, rifles and pistols – the correct thing for Kiev police to do would be to stand back and let the protesters have their way. John Kerry 2014 did not demur when Poroshenko fired short-range ballistic missiles at Ukrainian cities full of civilians. On that occasion, the American response was – you guessed it – “Ukraine has encountered serious threats to its security, and can use whatever means necessary and proportionate to defend itself. But NATO does not officially confirm that ballistic missiles have been used in the conflict.” I don’t know how many times an American crony-client has ever gotten a green light quite the glistening emerald brilliance of that one.
The same source article seemed to think it was okay for Washington to show its displeasure by snubbing Ukraine, after Yanukovych inexplicably turned away from EU association, but now Vladimir Putin is The Biggest Fucking Baby Ever because he won’t give Ukraine cheap gas and help them get into the EU by buying their products. Kerry 2013 argued that Russia was bullying Ukraine, as witnessed by its choice of a Russian path, and that “Ukraine should be free to choose its own path dictated by the will of the people. Obviously that’s no longer valid, since Kerry 2014 says it’s OK for Poroshenko to force the easterners to accept Kiev’s rule even though the Ukrainian constitution guarantees them the right of self-determination.
Anyway, that’s all the time we can spend on John Kerry, how the hell did we get talking about him? Yeah, so as recently as last Christmas, America’s position was that Ukraine was an international embarrassment (remember, Yanukovych was still in power), but if its leader wanted to go suck up to Russia, well, there’s no accounting for some people’s taste. If Ukraine wanted to take the non-EU road, well, let them. Just don’t expect the USA to shake its pom-poms and cheer.
But according to General (Ret’d) Wesley Clark, former SACEUR (Supreme Allied Commander Europe) 1997-2000, Democratic presidential candidate 2004, and former CNN expert-opinion generator during the Iraq War, Ukraine is central to America’s global strategy, and has been for quite some time. Those sneaky devils – they wanted Ukraine all along, they were just psyching us out with that ho-hum-this-is-boring attitude. Which puts quite a different complexion on the events which took EuroMaidan from just a few squawking perennially-dissatisfied students to a well-organized mob to snipers on the rooftops to Yanukovych fleeing for his life and a bunch of western proxies appointing themselves rulers, all to a steady backbeat of Russia-is-meddling-the-Russians-are-behind-this-get-the-RussiansRussiansRussians.
It’s likely no coincidence that Wesley Clark has a new book out this week, “Don’t Wait For the Next War – A Strategy For American Growth and Global Leadership”. It’s customary for authors launching a new book to go on the lecture circuit and bloviate their opinions, do a little PR song and dance to get the punters interested enough to lay their money down. And consequently it may be easy, in light of the Lockheed-Martin hood ornament Wesley Clark has morphed into, to forget it was Wesley Clark who first blew the whistle on George W. Bush’s neocon road show and its plans to knock over 7 countries in 5 years, reordering the global chessboard irrecoverably in America’s favour and destroying any country which resisted. Fairness bids me point out they were very nearly successful, smashing Iraq and Libya and killing their leaders, and kicking the stuffing out of Lebanon through Israel hard enough to make it curl up in the dirt. Disgust bids me point out that Obama continues to follow the program as if he were on rails. Yes, we can, motherfuckers.
Former General Clark skips past the aperitif, and gets straight to the meat course; all of America’s problems will be harder to deal with if it does not bring Ukraine securely into the western orbit. Why? Well, because Vladimir Putin – synonymous with the Russian bully-state – needs to subjugate Ukraine for much more ambitious reasons than just making Ukraine Russia’s bitch. He needs to slap Ukraine down so all of Eastern Europe – “and others”, so I guess he means the whole world – knows who has the biggest boots in this ass-kicking contest. Once he has cowed everyone, like the larger-than-life mafia kingpin the west loves to characterize him as, well, he can just walk into a jewelry store in Prague, or Barcelona or Paris or wherever, say “Give me that diamond-encrusted Hublot Classic“, and then walk out without paying for it, while the proprietor is happy just not to have been killed. Figuratively speaking, of course, although that scenario plays nicely also to Putin’s vaunted love of expensive watches that cost more than the Russian annual GDP. Putin will be able to bop around Europe taking whatever he wants, or so General Clark would have you believe.
It’s depressing how often I have to say on this blog, “it’s hard to overstate how stupid this is”, but no other phrase seems to fit, and stupidity can penetrate any armor but indifference. It’s hard to overstate how stupid the idea is that Putin is getting ready to roll up all of Europe and make it his own, especially in light of the demonstrated fact that it has been Russia which has consistently begged international agencies like the United Nations to step in and stop the civil war in Ukraine, and whose pleas have fallen on deaf ears, while it has been Washington puppet Ban-ki-Moon – who would be Pralines and Idiot if he were an ice-cream flavour – has declined to do anything while Uncle Sam smirked in the background. Amazingly, Russia has been the most defensive and least aggressive power in the region, while Poland and the Baltic Chihuahuas have begged the west to bulk up their military clout with NATO troops and weapons even though they have received no threats from Russia at all (unless you count “numerous Russian violations of their airspace”, which I imagine they have demarcated to the millimeter).
As if that were not sufficiently nauseating, General Clark goes on to tell us that none of the challenges facing the United States can be successfully met “unless we have really tight relations with the countries that most share our values. That’s Europe”. That so? Depends who you ask. Pew Global Research says attitudes toward America on the part of Europeans have not changed much in the last 5 years or so, although that may have something to do with the methodology; Pew combines “favourable” and “somewhat favourable” into the same response category, just as it does with unfavourable, so that subtler shadings are harder to see. But according to Time and its interactive graphic, using the methodology of measuring the gap between favourable and unfavourable ratings, the USA slid in popularity in most European countries between 2011 and 2013. There has been little polling conducted in Europe, or at least published, in the last couple of months since U.S-driven sanctions have begun to play havoc with the economy, but it is kind of counter-intuitive to imagine this has increased the USA’s popularity, or the perception in Europe that the USA and Europe share common values. In Germany, bellwether of Europe thanks to its economic growth, 40% of Germans between 18 and 29 wanted to reduce their country’s cooperation with the U.S.
Following the time-honoured script, Clark then moves to a personal anecdote, in which he asked the Prime Minister of an Eastern European country if he would be willing to provide military assistance to Ukraine, which was his friendly neighbour. The leader in question got all big-eyed and nervous, and allegedly supplied exactly the answer General Clark needed to ram home his point: “No!!! We’re afraid of Russia!!”. See? Simple. Remove the threat of a bullying and aggressive Russia – a simple matter facilitated by the massive purchase of western weaponry, give ’til it hurts – and Europe will once again be peaceful and prosperous and happy. Russia is what’s wrong with the world.
I couldn’t help noticing how helpful that unnamed East-European leader was, quite a bit like that hapless mook who always approached a western journalist during Russian elections and asks where he should go to get paid for voting for Putin. Never fails; as reliable as a Timex.
And does the USA love Europe, and is it looking out for its best interests? I guess it is. Remember “Fuck the EU“? Even more illustrative of America’s maternal love for its Euorocousins is this clip of conservatroll Condi Rice calmly speculating that the European economy might have to crash in order to bring Russia to heel (but trust her, Russia will run out of cash first), the Europeans might have to tolerate being cut off from Russian oil and gas – but they should think of it as casting off the shackles, and an opportunity to make the USA their new Energy Daddy, as its bounty (I believe she actually says that) flows to hungry European markets. Apparently she has secretly discovered how to teleport oil and gas to Europe, as no mechanism currently exists to get American oil and LNG to Europe except by ocean-transiting tankers, and the current LNG capability would not satisfactorily supply even one European country, let alone all of Europe. She’s even talking pipelines, and if that’s not snapping-turtle crazy then I’ve lost my ability to recognize crazy. Nabucco is dead as Kurt Cobain, and there are no other arrangements for pipelines that cross neither Russia or Ukraine which would work, for any number of reasons. This is just soothing the frightened European children, wall-eyed with fear. Thanks to The Saker for that great clip.
What’s at the bottom of this? America is worried that it is losing its hold over Europe and the possibility of continuing to maintain it through the NATO alliance. “If we lose Ukraine, NATO will be much more difficult to manage,” says General Clark. That’d be the military cooperative created to counter the military muscle of the Soviet Union, which no longer exists, and which maintained its relevancy upon the perceived threat of the Warsaw Pact, which also no longer exists.
The bleats that Putin wants to re-create the Soviet Union are regularly invoked so that you will not notice NATO no longer has an adversary, and that there is no compelling reason for its continued existence.