I never ask for more than I deserve
You know it’s the truth
You seem to think you’re God’s gift to this earth
I’m tellin’ you, no way
You ought to be thankful for the little things,
but little things are all you seem to give
You’re always putting off what we can do today
Soap opera says, you’ve got one life to live
Who’s right, who’s wrong?
Janet Jackson, from “What Have You Done For Me Lately?”
Did you happen to catch, “The Wedding Singer” when it was playing, circa 1998? Set in the 80’s, it is the somewhat sappy story of Robbie (played by Adam Sandler) and Julia (Drew Barrymore), two ordinary people who are each engaged to someone who is breaking their heart and is all wrong for them. What they really need, of course, is each other. Predictable, quite a few funny moments, okay light entertainment. Boy meets girl.
But there’s this great scene in it, in which Robbie is playing a song he has been writing for his fiancee Linda, to Julia. Alternating between his wistful love for Linda and his fury at her endless manipulation and shallowness, the lyric swings wildly from
And when we kiss I know that you need me too.
Can’t believe I found a love that’s so pure and true…
But it all was bullshit.
It was a goddam joke.
And when I think of you Linda,
I hope you fucking choke…
As he screams out his pain to the accompaniment of the final discordant chord, we see his musical rival, Jimmie Moore (Jon Lovitz) concealed behind a curtain in the wings, having heard the entire performance. He remarks quietly to himself, “He’s losing his mind…and I’m reaping the benefits!”
I was reminded of that scene as I digested Mark Adomanis’s “While The West Was Debating About ‘Defensive Weapons,’ Ukraine’s Economy Collapsed“, in Forbes (thanks for the link, Moscow Exile). Of course the news that Ukraine’s economy is collapsing like a grand piano that has had its legs kicked out from under it is unremarkable to anyone who has been following the slow-motion nightmare of the Ukraine conflict and civil war. What is remarkable is seeing Mark Adomanis defend the viewpoint that Russia is acting the dog in the manger, denying Ukraine its chance to blossom and become a prosperous western democracy at Russia’s expense, and not doing enough to help poor Ukraine even as it is the target of daily vilification and vituperation from both Ukraine and its western backers. The latter apparently want Russia to open its markets to Ukrainian goods even as Ukraine’s lunatic Ichabod Crane Prime Minister drives on the building of a wall between the two countries. Expect Russia to front Ukraine gas on credit even though Ukraine has a terrible history of refusing to pay for what it has already consumed and – when its friends calm it down from its fist-shaking tantrum – announces it will be mature and reasonable (take the high road, as it were) by naming a much lower figure that it considers fair discharge of all debts. And for Russia to stand aside as Ukraine’s army rolls over its own eastern regions and crushes their rebellion.
That last part is particularly resonant, for me, because it’s not the first time we have seen Mark Adomanis go off the rails as if his breakfast cereal had been liberally dusted with cocaine. For instance, back in 2012 he went all foamy about free speech and Pussy Riot, confiding to his audience, “After all, it’s not hard to imagine why people would support the young, female rock musicians in their struggle against a brutal, corrupt, cynical, and increasing unpopular system.” Take note, folks – that’s one of the fairest and most balanced among the “Russia analyst” community from the United States speaking. The Russian system is brutal, corrupt and increasingly unpopular. Perhaps that’s how it looks from Washington; I shouldn’t be at all surprised.
Oddly enough, the current conflict in Ukraine results also from a freedom of speech issue, in which the eastern regions said “Stuff it, Kiev” after the U.S. State Department-backed-and-financed coup drove a democratically-elected leader, who had already agreed to all of the opposition parties’ demands, out of the country and brought to power a self-appointed junta supported by fascist flag-wavers sporting Nazi regalia. The Donbas said “No, thank you”, and refused to accept the authority of the unelected government. Apparently they did not have the right to do that, or at least Mark Adomanis did not respond with a fiery denunciation of the junta for rolling against them with a military operation. Not that I saw.
Then there was the Edward Snowden affair. Mr. Adomanis capered about, figuratively speaking, hurling vituperation at Mr. Snowden for essentially defending the right of people around the world to speak freely without their conversations being listened in on by the National Security Administration of the United States; they had tapped Angela Merkel’s telephone for years, and Germany was one of America’s staunchest allies. Then it developed that Mr. Adomanis also worked as a consultant to Booz-Allen Hamilton, the management company for whom Mr. Snowden had worked in the USA. Booz Allen enjoyed a very close relationship with the U.S. leadership and the intelligence services – current U.S. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper is a former Booz Allen executive. Former DNI Michael McConnell is Booz Allen’s current vice-president. Former CIA director and raving neo-con James Woolsey was also a former Booz Allen vice-president. Mr. Adomanis subsequently deleted his posts on that subject, but I think it should be clear that he has a sliding scale of grief over free-speech issues when he slobbers and moans about the cruel dictatorship that will not permit homeless unemployed delinquents to shout about shit and bitches and Putin in its houses of worship, but maintains that Edward Snowden is a traitor who should be shot because free speech is just a commodity to be harvested and exploited like any other.
But let’s not get too far off the subject – free speech was not the issue I wanted to look at today. No; as I mentioned earlier, I was intrigued by Mark’s position on Russia’s responsibility to help Ukraine move as painlessly and joyously as possible from its own orbit to that of the EU, just as if no harm to Russia was intended thereby, and such a move would be mutually beneficial. Because that’s pretty much the official stand of the U.S. State Department.
“Russia is damaging Ukraine’s economy faster than the US and its European allies can provide support”, Mark squeals, parroting Bloomberg. Come again? What’s this based on? Oh, I see: “Gazprom, the Russian natural gas monopoly that still provides the lion’s share of Ukraine’s energy, is threatening to cut off gas supplies unless it receives prepayment for future deliveries. Given Ukraine’s incredibly precarious state finances and its extreme shortage of foreign currency (Ukraine pays Russia for natural gas in US dollars) this new effort is tantamount to driving Kiev into bankruptcy.”
Let’s recap. Russia shut off Ukraine’s gas back in 2009, complaining that Ukraine was siphoning off and stealing Russian gas even though it got it at an attractive, subsidized price. Ukraine denied it, insisting it was diverting gas for technical reasons, to maintain pressure in the pipeline and ensure the transit of Russian exports. Some said Ukraine had actually blocked deliveries through its pipelines itself, in an attempt to get the EU onside and force Russia to come to terms. Sound familiar? In the current crisis, as soon as gas shortages began to bite, Ukraine asked Poland for free coal. On the occasion of the 2009 energy battle, the EU blustered that the situation was “completely unacceptable”. Sound familiar? Ever afterward, Russia was accused of “using energy as a weapon”, although the alternative was to supply Ukraine with free gas for ever and anon while paying it transit fees for Russian gas exports to cross its lands. Now Ukraine wants the EU to help it pay its transit fees, while it has raised consumer gas prices 300% in an effort to show its EU friends that it is serious about reforms, please give us 17, no, make that $40 Billion. Whose fault is that? Russia’s?
In the latest row, Russia sold gas to Ukraine for nearly $100.00 per 1000 Cubic meters less than the price it was asking in 2009. Russia extended the deadline for a decision, while it was the EU which took credit for brokering the deal whose terms were that Ukraine would prepay for its gas and pay its arrears. I’m damned if I can see how Russia is the villain in all that hot mess, but that’s what the west – and Mark Adomanis – say. Tantamount to driving Kiev into bankruptcy, or something.
Should any of this have been a surprise? Not to anyone who can add and subtract. Back in August 2013 it was acknowledged in print, for anyone who could read as well as add and subtract, that more than 60% of Ukraine’s exports go to the former Soviet market, with Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan the most important. Ukraine yelled for western sanctions against Russia, and then begged for more sanctions to be levied against it to bring it to its knees. Ukraine was quick to blame the shooting-down of MH-17 on Moscow, although Russia stood to gain nothing by doing such a horrible thing and in fact suffered for it since it overcame European resistance to sanctions. Is anyone surprised that Russia shut its markets to Ukrainian goods? Would any country in the same situation have continued to buy from and assist a neighbouring country that daily asked for new challenges to prove its enmity? Remember the “Don’t Give It To a Russian” campaign? How about “Why Ukrainians and Russians Can Never Be Brothers“? You are big, but we are grand? Fine. Grandeur yourself out of your problems.
Now, when Russia wants Kiev to stop murdering its own citizens in the east by firing heavy artillery into population centers, to pay for gas it consumes after having agreed to pay for it, when Russia wants the west to hold Kiev to long-established standards of international law, Russia is – according to Mark Adomanis, “ratcheting up the tension”.
Kiev and its western “partners” are like a couple of drunk good ole boys at a fishing camp, egging each other on with ever-wilder stories until bullshit becomes reality. The west is making parody obsolete. It deserves to fail. And Ukraine’s problems are entirely of its own making.