Apr 082014
 

By William Blum, 99GetSmart

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Indoctrinating a new generation

Is there anyone out there who still believes that Barack Obama, when he’s speaking about American foreign policy, is capable of being anything like an honest man? In a March 26 talk in Belgium to “European youth”, the president fed his audience one falsehood, half-truth, blatant omission, or hypocrisy after another. If George W. Bush had made some of these statements, Obama supporters would not hesitate to shake their head, roll their eyes, or smirk. Here’s a sample:

“In defending its actions, Russian leaders have further claimed Kosovo as a precedent – an example they say of the West interfering in the affairs of a smaller country, just as they’re doing now. But NATO only intervened after the people of Kosovo were systematically brutalized and killed for years.”

Most people who follow such things are convinced that the 1999 US/NATO bombing of the Serbian province of Kosovo took place only after the Serbian-forced deportation of ethnic Albanians from Kosovo was well underway; which is to say that the bombing was launched to stop this “ethnic cleansing”. In actuality, the systematic deportations of large numbers of people did not begin until a few days after the bombing began, and was clearly a reaction to it, born of Serbia’s extreme anger and powerlessness over the bombing. This is easily verified by looking at a daily newspaper for the few days before the bombing began the night of March 23/24, 1999, and the few days following. Or simply look at the New York Times of March 26, page 1, which reads:

… with the NATO bombing already begun, a deepening sense of fear took hold in Pristina [the main city of Kosovo] that the Serbs would now vent their rage against ethnic Albanian civilians in retaliation. [emphasis added]

On March 27, we find the first reference to a “forced march” or anything of that nature.

But the propaganda version is already set in marble.

“And Kosovo only left Serbia after a referendum was organized, not outside the boundaries of international law, but in careful cooperation with the United Nations and with Kosovo’s neighbors. None of that even came close to happening in Crimea.”

None of that even came close to happening in Kosovo either. The story is false. The referendum the president speaks of never happened. Did the mainstream media pick up on this or on the previous example? If any reader comes across such I’d appreciate being informed.

Crimea, by the way, did have a referendum. A real one.

“Workers and engineers gave life to the Marshall Plan … As the Iron Curtain fell here in Europe, the iron fist of apartheid was unclenched, and Nelson Mandela emerged upright, proud, from prison to lead a multiracial democracy. Latin American nations rejected dictatorship and built new democracies … “

The president might have mentioned that the main beneficiary of the Marshall Plan was US corporations 1, that the United States played an indispensable role in Mandela being caught and imprisoned, and that virtually all the Latin American dictatorships owed their very existence to Washington. Instead, the European youth were fed the same party line that their parents were fed, as were all Americans.

“Yes, we believe in democracy – with elections that are free and fair.”

In this talk, the main purpose of which was to lambaste the Russians for their actions concerning Ukraine, there was no mention that the government overthrown in that country with the clear support of the United States had been democratically elected.

“Moreover, Russia has pointed to America’s decision to go into Iraq as an example of Western hypocrisy. … But even in Iraq, America sought to work within the international system. We did not claim or annex Iraq’s territory. We did not grab its resources for our own gain. Instead, we ended our war and left Iraq to its people and a fully sovereign Iraqi state that could make decisions about its own future.”

The US did not get UN Security Council approval for its invasion, the only approval that could legitimize the action. It occupied Iraq from one end of the country to the other for 8 years, forcing the government to privatize the oil industry and accept multinational – largely U.S.-based, oil companies’ – ownership. This endeavor was less than successful because of the violence unleashed by the invasion. The US military finally was forced to leave because the Iraqi government refused to give immunity to American soldiers for their many crimes.

Here is a brief summary of what Barack Obama is attempting to present as America’s moral superiority to the Russians:

The modern, educated, advanced nation of Iraq was reduced to a quasi failed state … the Americans, beginning in 1991, bombed for 12 years, with one dubious excuse or another; then invaded, then occupied, overthrew the government, tortured without inhibition, killed wantonly … the people of that unhappy land lost everything – their homes, their schools, their electricity, their clean water, their environment, their neighborhoods, their mosques, their archaeology, their jobs, their careers, their professionals, their state-run enterprises, their physical health, their mental health, their health care, their welfare state, their women’s rights, their religious tolerance, their safety, their security, their children, their parents, their past, their present, their future, their lives … More than half the population either dead, wounded, traumatized, in prison, internally displaced, or in foreign exile … The air, soil, water, blood, and genes drenched with depleted uranium … the most awful birth defects … unexploded cluster bombs lying in wait for children to pick them up … a river of blood running alongside the Euphrates and Tigris … through a country that may never be put back together again. … “It is a common refrain among war-weary Iraqis that things were better before the U.S.-led invasion in 2003,” reported the Washington Post. (May 5, 2007)

How can all these mistakes, such arrogance, hypocrisy and absurdity find their way into a single international speech by the president of the United States? Is the White House budget not sufficient to hire a decent fact checker? Someone with an intellect and a social conscience? Or does the desire to score propaganda points trump everything else? Is this another symptom of the Banana-Republicization of America?

Long live the Cold War

In 1933 US President Franklin D. Roosevelt recognized the Soviet Union after some 15 years of severed relations following the Bolshevik Revolution. On a day in December of that year, a train was passing through Poland carrying the first American diplomats dispatched to Moscow. Amongst their number was a 29 year-old Foreign Service Officer, later to become famous as a diplomat and scholar, George Kennan. Though he was already deemed a government expert on Russia, the train provided Kennan’s first actual exposure to the Soviet Union. As he listened to his group’s escort, Russian Foreign Minister Maxim Litvinov, reminisce about growing up in a village the train was passing close by, and his dreams of becoming a librarian, the Princeton-educated Kennan was astonished: “We suddenly realized, or at least I did, that these people we were dealing with were human beings like ourselves, that they had been born somewhere, that they had their childhood ambitions as we had. It seemed for a brief moment we could break through and embrace these people.” 2

It hasn’t happened yet.

One would think that the absence in Russia of communism, of socialism, of the basic threat or challenge to the capitalist system, would be sufficient to write finis to the 70-year Cold War mentality. But the United States is virtually as hostile to 21st-century Russia as it was to 20th-century Soviet Union, surrounding Moscow with military bases, missile sites, and NATO members. Why should that be? Ideology is no longer a factor. But power remains one, specifically America’s perpetual lust for world hegemony. Russia is the only nation that (a) is a military powerhouse, and (b) doesn’t believe that the United States has a god-given-American-exceptionalism right to rule the world, and says so. By these criteria, China might qualify as a poor second. But there are no others.

Washington pretends that it doesn’t understand why Moscow should be upset by Western military encroachment, but it has no such problem when roles are reversed. Secretary of State John Kerry recently stated that Russian troops poised near eastern Ukraine are “creating a climate of fear and intimidation in Ukraine” and raising questions about Russia’s next moves and its commitment to diplomacy. 3

NATO – ever in need of finding a raison d’être – has now issued a declaration of [cold] war, which reads in part:

“NATO foreign ministers on Tuesday [April 1, 2014] reaffirmed their commitment to enhance the Alliance’s collective defence, agreed to further support Ukraine and to suspend NATO’s practical cooperation with Russia. ‘NATO’s greatest responsibility is to protect and defend our territory and our people. And make no mistake, this is what we will do,’ NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said. … Ministers directed Allied military authorities to develop additional measures to strengthen collective defence and deterrence against any threat of aggression against the Alliance, Mr. Fogh Rasmussen said. ‘We will make sure we have updated military plans, enhanced exercises and appropriate deployments,’ he said. NATO has already reinforced its presence on the eastern border of the Alliance, including surveillance patrols over Poland and Romania and increased numbers of fighter aircraft allocated to the NATO air policing mission in the Baltic States. … NATO Foreign Ministers also agreed to suspend all of NATO’s practical cooperation with Russia.” 4

Does anyone recall what NATO said in 2003 when the United States bombed and invaded Iraq with “shock and awe”, compared to the Russians now not firing a single known shot at anyone? And neither Russia nor Ukraine is even a member of NATO. Does NATO have a word to say about the right-wing coup in Ukraine, openly supported by the United States, overthrowing the elected government? Did the hypocrisy get any worse during the Cold War? Imagine that NATO had not been created in 1949. Imagine that it has never existed. What reason could one give today for its creation? Other than to provide a multi-national cover for Washington’s interventions.

One of the main differences between now and the Cold War period is that Americans at home are (not yet) persecuted or prosecuted for supporting Russia or things Russian.

But don’t worry, folks, there won’t be a big US-Russian war. For the same reason there wasn’t one during the Cold War. The United States doesn’t pick on any country which can defend itself.

Cuba … Again … Still … Forever

Is there actually a limit? Will the United States ever stop trying to overthrow the Cuban government? Entire books have been written documenting the unrelenting ways Washington has tried to get rid of tiny Cuba’s horrid socialism – from military invasion to repeated assassination attempts to an embargo that President Clinton’s National Security Advisor called “the most pervasive sanctions ever imposed on a nation in the history of mankind” 5. But nothing has ever come even close to succeeding. The horrid socialism keeps on inspiring people all over the world. It’s the darnedest thing. Can providing people free or remarkably affordable health care, education, housing, food and culture be all that important?

And now it’s “Cuban Twitter” – an elaborately complex system set up by the US Agency for International Development (USAID) to disguise its American origins and financing, aiming to bring about a “Cuban Spring” uprising. USAID sought to first “build a Cuban audience, mostly young people; then the plan was to push them toward dissent”, hoping the messaging network “would reach critical mass so that dissidents could organize ‘smart mobs’ – mass gatherings called at a moment’s notice – that might trigger political demonstrations or ‘renegotiate the balance of power between the state and society’.” 6 It’s too bad it’s now been exposed, because we all know how wonderful the Egyptian, Syrian, Libyan, and other “Arab Springs” have turned out.

Here’s USAID speaking after their scheme was revealed on April 3: “Cubans were able to talk among themselves, and we are proud of that.”  7 We are thus asked to believe that normally the poor downtrodden Cubans have no good or safe way to communicate with each other. Is the US National Security Agency working for the Cuban government now?

The Associated Press, which broke the story, asks us further to believe that the “truth” about most things important in the world is being kept from the Cuban people by the Castro regime, and that the “Cuban Twitter” would have opened people’s eyes. But what information might a Cuban citizen discover online that the government would not want him to know about? I can’t imagine. Cubans are in constant touch with relatives in the US, by mail and in person. They get US television programs from Miami and other southern cities; both CNN and Telesur (Venezuela, covering Latin America) are seen regularly on Cuban television”; international conferences on all manner of political, economic and social issues are held regularly in Cuba. I’ve spoken at more than one myself. What – it must be asked – does USAID, as well as the American media, think are the great dark secrets being kept from the Cuban people by the nasty commie government?

Those who push this line sometimes point to the serious difficulty of using the Internet in Cuba. The problem is that it’s extremely slow, making certain desired usages often impractical. From an American friend living in Havana: “It’s not a question of getting or not getting internet. I get internet here. The problem is downloading something or connecting to a link takes too long on the very slow connection that exists here, so usually I/we get ‘timed out’.” But the USAID’s “Cuban Twitter”, after all, could not have functioned at all without the Internet.

Places like universities, upscale hotels, and Internet cafés get better connections, at least some of the time; however, it’s rather expensive to use at the hotels and cafés.

In any event, this isn’t a government plot to hide dangerous information. It’s a matter of technical availability and prohibitive cost, both things at least partly in the hands of the United States and American corporations. Microsoft, for example, at one point, if not at present, barred Cuba from using its Messenger instant messaging service. 8

Cuba and Venezuela have jointly built a fiber optic underwater cable connection that they hope will make them less reliant on the gringos; the outcome of this has not yet been reported in much detail.

The grandly named Agency for International Development does not have an honorable history; this can perhaps be captured by a couple of examples: In 1981, the agency’s director, John Gilligan, stated: “At one time, many AID field offices were infiltrated from top to bottom with CIA people. The idea was to plant operatives in every kind of activity we had overseas, government, volunteer, religious, every kind.” 9

On June 21, 2012, the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA) issued a resolution calling for the immediate expulsion of USAID from their nine member countries, “due to the fact that we consider their presence and actions to constitute an interference which threatens the sovereignty and stability of our nations.”

USAID, the CIA, the National Endowment for Democracy (and the latter’s subsidiaries), together or singly, continue to be present at regime changes, or attempts at same, favorable to Washington, from “color revolutions” to “spring” uprisings, producing a large measure of chaos and suffering for our tired old world.

Notes

  1. William Blum, America’s Deadliest Export – Democracy: The Truth About US Foreign Policy and Everything Else, p.22-5
  2. Walter Isaacson & Evan Thomas, The Wise Men (1986), p.158
  3. Washington Post, March 31, 2014
  4. NATO takes measures to reinforce collective defence, agrees on support for Ukraine”, NATO website, April 1, 2014
  5. Sandy Berger, White House press briefing, November 14, 1997, US Newswire transcript
  6. Associated Press, April 3 & 4, 2014
  7. Washington Post, April 4, 2014
  8. Associated Press, June 2, 2009
  9. George Cotter, “Spies, strings and missionaries”, The Christian Century(Chicago), March 25, 1981, p.321
Mar 182014
 

By James Petras, 99GetSmart

crimea-map

“La respuestas que esperamos de Estados Unidos y de Europa, es de no reconocer las elecciones en Crimea” lo que “tiene una significación particularmente en la propaganda, pero lo importante es el reconocimiento que tienen las elecciones entre los pueblos de Ucrania” pues “ahora en la parte Este de Ucrania, en los grandes centros industriales, surgen grandes manifestaciones reclamando un referéndum, que permita mayor autonomía estas provincias y estados y vetar la intervención militar de la Junta en Kiev”, dijo el sociólogo norteamericano James Petras quién hizo un profundo análisis en CX36, Radio Centenario (*), del resultado del referéndum celebrado el domingo 16 de marzo en Crimea.  En la oportunidad dio las cinco razones por las que los crimeos apoyaron en forma aplastante la independencia de Ucrania y la unión con Rusia. Asimismo se refirió a los avances en Venezuela y en Siria en la lucha contra el terrorismo. Transcribimos a continuación el análisis de James Petras de este lunes 17 de marzo, que Usted puede volver a escuchar aquí: http://www.ivoox.com/james-petras-17-marzo-audios-mp3_rf_2930241_1.html

Efrain Chury Iribarne: Recibimos con mucho gusto a James Petras. Buenos días ¿Cómo estás?

James Petras: Estamos muy bien, a la espera de esta llamada.

EChI: Comencemos entonces y si estás de acuerdo, lo hacemos con lo que está pasando en Crimea.

JP: Si. Primero, es un gran triunfo del pueblo de Crimea, que votó en un 97% a favor de la independencia y tal vez un paso hacia la unión con Rusia.

Tenemos que analizar ese voto. El hecho es que todos los sectores en Crimea votaron por la independencia. Incluso los tártaros, que según la prensa occidental estaban en contra de Rusia, en contra de la independencia y a favor de continuar con Ucrania.

Obviamente los tártaros junto con los otros grupos y clases sociales, votaron a favor de la independencia de Crimea.

Ahora, debemos ver por qué.

En primera instancia es un voto contra los golpistas y la Junta pro occidental en Kiev (capital de Ucrania). En segundo lugar, es un rechazo al control y la sumisión a la Unión Europea, prefieren juntarse con Rusia en un sistema democrático, en vez de someterse a los dictados de los gobernantes oligarcas de Bruselas. En tercer lugar, es un rechazo al programa de austeridad del Fondo Monetario que están preparando e implementando hoy en día en Kiev.  En cuarto lugar, es una clara preferencia por un standard de vida más alta en Rusia que en Ucrania. Es que el ingreso promedio en Rusia es tres veces más alto que en Ucrania. Y en quinto lugar, es una declaración a favor de la libertad cultural y de respeto para sus tradiciones nacionales y culturales, favorable a la lengua rusa y contra el chauvinismo ucraniano que es dominante hoy en Kiev.

Estas son las cinco razones por la que los crimeos votaron así en le referéndum del domingo.

Hay que destacar también que los observadores internacionales declararon que no hubo ningún caso de corrupción ni manejo deshonesto del conteo de votos; dijeron que estuvieron libres de coerción, que fue un conteo honesto y tal vez lo más importante, que la participación fue  altísima, votaron cerca del 90% del electorado. Si comparamos esto con los países occidentales, donde se celebran elecciones como en Colombia donde se da el 70% de abstención y voto en blanco. La diferencia entre Crimea y Colombia es contundente.

La respuestas que esperamos de Estados Unidos y de Europa, es de no reconocer las elecciones,eso solo tiene una significación particularmente en la propaganda,  pero lo importante es el reconocimiento que tienen las elecciones entre los pueblos de Ucrania. Ahora en la parte Este de Ucrania, en los grandes centros industriales, surgen grandes manifestaciones reclamando un referéndum, que permita mayor autonomía estas provincias y estados y vetar la intervención militar de la Junta en Kiev.

Hay una división más allá de Crimea, que cada vez es más grande. Además hay indicios de un realismo en la parte occidental, que exigen que Kiev no trate de militarizar el país, que se permita mayor autonomía y autogobierno. Pero vamos a ver si la Junta de gobierno de Kiev va a permitir la coexistencia en Ucrania, sino podríamos pasar a una guerra civil donde la Junta trate de imponer por la fuerza su gobierno, ante la falta de legitimidad.

La respuesta occidental habla de sanciones, hasta ahora las sanciones son muy débiles; se habla de castigar las cuentas y evitar dar Visas a una o dos docenas de oficiales, pero eso no va a afectar el comercio ni las inversiones.

Porque saben que las sanciones contra Rusia puede afectar la economía europea.Es decir Europa depende de las importaciones de gas y de petróleo  ruso y si aplican sanciones, van a afectar sus propias economías, van a sufrir consecuencias por le retiro de inversiones rusas. Eso también ha ocurrido, pues más de cien mil millones de deuda norteamericana en Bonos del Tesoro han salido del país y ya empieza a tener un efecto negativo sobre los bonos del gobierno norteamericano.

En otras palabras, estamos en una situación de enfrentamiento entre la autodeterminación en Crimea y la independencia; contra el imperialismo occidental que utiliza un gobierno títere para tratar de extender su influencia y amenazar los intereses de seguridad nacional de Rusia. No hay ningún gobierno independiente en Kiev, fue un gobierno que se impuso por la fuerza simplemente como instrumento occidental. Y los izquierdistas y liberales que hablaban de una “Revolución”, son los mismos tontos que apoyaron la invasión de Libia y la invasión se Siria; son consistentes en su entrega a los intereses imperiales.

El impacto sobre Rusia va a ser positivo, porque Rusia va a tener mejor defensa de sus bases militares.Está permitiendo actualmente un debate en su Parlamento  sobre cómo tratar la unión con Crimea; anotan que Washington podría recibir golpe por golpe. No estamos en situación de triunfo del occidente. Hablan de la aislación de Rusia, pero Rusia sigue teniendo grandes posibilidades no sólo en relación con Asia, África y América Latina, pero también incluso en Europa. Es dudoso que Alemania vaya a romper relaciones y someterse a una crisis económica por la falta de energía. Entonces, es mucho lo que occidente puede perder si Rusia los castiga, los elementos son bastante limitados y debemos anotar eso.

EChI: “Uno de los mayores destructores lanza misiles de la armada norteamericana abandonó un puerto búlgaro y tomó rumbo desconocido en el Mar Negro. ¿Qué significa esto?

JP: Es una guerra de tensiones, es una guerra peligrosa, para poner presión militar sobre Rusia.

En este momento tienen miedo del impacto positivo que la votación en Crimea puede tener sobre otras regiones en Ucrania. Tienen miedo de que un movimiento por la independencia pueda extenderse por la zona Este de Ucrania y están utilizando  la Armada, para evitar que Rusia preste apoyo a los independentistas en esas zonas de Ucrania. Es un hecho consumado el de Crimea, pero no quieren ver a su títere dividido en un sector independentista y otro sector gobernado pro la Junta. En todo caso la Junta está movilizando al Ejército para aplastar a los manifestantes en las zonas orientales de Ucrania y por eso creo que las Fuerzas Armadas occidentales quieren prestar apoyo a la Junta para conquistar las partes disidentes de ese país.

EChI: Bien, Petras. ¿En qué otros temas vienes trabajando en estos días?

JP: Hay dos temas y uno extendido; sobre Venezuela.

El señor (John) Kerry (secretario de Estado de Estados Unidos), el canciller, ataca al gobierno venezolano como “autoritario” y apoya lo que él llama la ‘oposición democrática y pacífica’. Pero los datos hablan de otra situación. Hay más de mil edificios, incluyendo Centros Médicos, Educativos, Mercados, Autobuses, camiones con mercancías, que han sido incendiados. Eso no es una protesta democrática, están atacando lugares civiles que alimentan y educan al pueblo.

Hay más de 60 guardias hospitalarias que han recibido heridos la mayoría con balas, eso no es protesta democrática y pacífica.

Han descubierto francotiradores y morteros para destruir edificios y atacar lugares estratégicos.

Hablan de la autonomía universitaria en Carabobo y en la Universidad Central de Venezuela, mientras encuentran armas, ametralladoras y fusiles allí. Eso no es autonomía, es un refugio de terroristas.

Encuentran en Táchira, una provincia de la frontera con Colombia, armas y paramilitares; eso no es una protesta democrática.

En otras palabras, Kerry está defendiendo a los terroristas y tratando de presionar al gobierno para que deje a los terroristas seguir destruyendo el país.

Por fin, la respuesta de (el presidente de la República Bolivariana de Venezuela, Nicolás) Maduro, fueron dos. Una fue presentar una propuesta a Kerry planteando la necesidad de abrir negociaciones para la paz, porque sabe que Kerry es el que controla a los terroristas. Y dice que negociamos la paz y la soberanía con la UNASUR, los países latinoamericanos, como mediadores.

Y la respuesta de Kerry a esa oferta de paz, fue pedir sanciones. Es una escalada a los ataques. Kerry está preocupado porque Maduro está defendiendo el país y los opositores están en declive; de sesenta municipalidades donde venían realizando acciones bajaron a tres y los tres últimos han sido limpiados por la Guardia Nacional en las últimas 12 horas.

Entonces, Kerry trata de sustituir sanciones por la ausencia y el declive de los terroristas internos.  Pero no es un problema entre gobierno y oposición, es el terrorismo contra la democracia, es el terrorismo violento que trata de desestabilizar al gobierno, dirigidos por los Estados Unidos.

Me parece que es un enfrentamiento muy importante y la victoria del gobierno que está avanzando, me parece con una decisión y una acción muy positiva. Es importante que por fin el gobierno ofrezca la paz y el diálogo, y a la vez aumente la presencia de la Guardia Nacional, para de un momento a otro terminar con los terroristas; porque los terroristas funcionan sólo en los barrios altos y medios altos, incluso ya está perjudicando el tránsito y los negocios de sus apoyantes políticos: las quejas entre la oligarquía contra los terroristas están aumentando. Por eso  no tiene ningún rechazo cuando Maduro manda tropas a sacar a los terroristas de las calles. Sólo quedan los políticos pro Washington, apoyando a los terroristas diciendo que son ‘disidentes democráticos’. Un chiste de mal gusto.

Finalmente, el otro tema, es la victoria en Siria, donde las fuerzas nacionales han atacado y destruido a los terroristas en una ciudad clave, en las fronteras de Siria y Líbano, en la ciudad de Yabrud.

Allí, las fuerzas nacionales liberaron la ciudad y terminaron con un lugar estratégico para la entrada de armas y el tránsito de terroristas  que vienen de afuera. Es otro indicio de que el gobierno de Bashar Al Assad está avanzando militarmente y también políticamente porque su propuesta de convocar a una eleccion multipartidaria han recibido alguna aprobación de la oposición dentro del país.

Los mercenarios occidentales que funcionan en Inglaterra, Francia, Turquía y Jordania, no han dado ninguna respuesta política y pierden capacidad militar –es cada vez más evidente- para tumbar al gobierno.

El tiempo marcha a favor del gobierno y la historia marcha hacia una resolución electoral y democrática.

EChI: Muchas gracias por todo este análisis. Un abrazo y nos reencontramos el lunes.

JP: Muchas gracias, hasta el lunes.

(*) Escuche en vivo los lunes a las 11:30 horas (hora local) la audición de James Petras por CX36, Radio Centenario desde Montevideo (Uruguay) para todo el mundo a través de  HYPERLINK “http://www.radio36.com.uy/” www.radio36.com.uy

Mar 122014
 

By James Petras, 99GetSmart

20140301_wom908

Introduction

In the biggest power grab since George Bush seized Eastern Europe and converted it into a NATO bastion confronting Russia, the Obama regime, together with the EU, financed and organized a violent putsch in the Ukraine which established a puppet regime in Kiev.[1]  In response the citizens of the autonomous Crimean region, fearing the onslaught of cultural and political repression, organized self-defense militia and pressured the administration of Russian President Vladimir Putin to help protect them from armed incursions by the NATO-backed coup regime in Kiev.[2]    Russia responded to the Crimean appeal with promises of military assistance – effectively halting further Western absorption of the entire region.

Immediately following the proxy putsch the entire US-EU propaganda machine spun into high gear.[3]  The nature of the Western power grab of the Ukraine was ignored.   Russia’s defensive action in Crimea became the focus of media and Western government attacks.  Unconditional support for  the for the violent seizure of the Ukraine by the US and EU-backed coup was broadcast by the West’s entire stable of journalistic hacks and accompanied by screeds calling for measures to destabilize the Russian Federation itself through a full-scale economic and diplomatic war.  The US and EU convoked meetings and press conferences calling for trade and investment sanctions.  Threats emerged from the White House and Brussels calling for a “freeze of Russian assets” in Western banks, if Moscow did not hand over the Crimea to the coup regime in Kiev.  Russian capitulation became the price of mending East-West ties.

The Obama regime and a host of US Congress people, media pundits and policy advisers called for, or engaged in, imposing sanctions on strategic sectors of the Russian economy, including its financial assets in the West.  Opinions in Europe divided over this issue: England, France and the rabidly anti-Russian regimes of Central Europe (especially Poland and the Czech Republic) pushed for harsh sanctions, while Germany, Italy and the Netherlands were more measured in their response (Financial Times, 3/5/14, p. 2).

The Washington-based advocates for imposing sanctions against Russia view this as an opportunity to: (1) punish Russia for acceding to the Crimean autonomous government’s call for defense against the Kiev putsch by activating Russian troops stationed  in the region; (2) weaken Russia’s economy and isolate it politically from its major Western trading and investment partners; (3) legitimatize the violent seizure of power by neo-liberal and neo-Nazi clients of the US; and (4) promote destabilization within the borders of the Russian Federation.  At a minimum, economic sanctions have become an aggressive tool for energizing the corrupt pro-Western elites and oligarchs in Russia to influence the Putin government to accept the de-facto regime in Kiev and deliver the autonomous Crimean nation into their hands.

Sanctions” are seen by the White House advisers as:  (1) projecting US power, (2) securing the Ukraine as a strategic new base for NATO, (3) ethnically cleansing this diverse and complicated region of its Russian-speaking minority and (4) opening the Ukraine for the whole-sale plunder of its economic and natural resources by Western multinational corporations.

The Obama regime cites the “success” of the financial and economic sanctions against Iran as a ‘model’ for what can be achieved with Russia:  A weakened economy, diminution of its trade, destabilizing its currency and provoking consumer scarcities and mass unrest. (FT 03/05/2014 p.2)  Secretary of US State John Kerry is pushing for more extreme forms of economic reprisals:  trade and investment sanctions, which obviously could lead to a break in diplomatic relations.(FT 03/05/2014 p.1)

Impact of Sanctions on Russia, the US and EU

Energy and financial sanctions on Russia, assuming that they can be imposed, would have a severe impact on Russian energy companies, its oligarchs and bankers.  Trade and investment agreements would have to be abrogated.  As a result Europe, which relies on Russian oil and gas imports for 30% of its energy needs, would slip back into an economic  recession (FT  03/05/2014 p.2). The US is in no position to replace these energy shortfalls.  In other words, trade and investment sanctions against the Russian Federation would have a ‘boomerang effect’ – especially against Germany, the economic ‘locomotor’ of the European Union.

Financial sanctions would hurt the corrupt Russian oligarchs who have stashed away tens of billions of Euros and Pounds in European real estate, business investments, sport teams and financial institutions.  Sanctions and a real freeze on the overseas assets of the Russian billionaires would curtail all those profitable transactions for major Western financial institutions, such as Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan-Chase and other “giants of Wall Street” as well as in the ‘City of London’.  (FT 03/05/2014 p.2)  In “punishing” Putin, the EU would also be “spiting on itself”.  Sanctions might weaken Russia but they would also precipitate an economic crisis in the EU and end its fragile recovery.

Russia’s Response to Sanctions

Essentially the Putin Administration can take one of two polar responses to the US-EU sanctions:  It can capitulate and withdraw from Crimea, sign an agreement on its military base (knowing full well that NATO will not comply), and accepts its own international status as a quasi-vassal state incapable of defending its allies and borders; or the Putin Administration can prepare a reciprocal set of counter-sanctions, confiscate Western investments, freeze financial assets, renege on debt payments and re-nationalize major industries.  The Russian state would be strengthened at the expense of the neo-liberal and pro-Western oligarchical sectors of Russia’s policy elite. Russia could terminate its transport and base agreements with the US, cut off the Pentagon’s Central Asian supply routes to Afghanistan.  President Putin could end sanctions with Iran, weakening  Washington’s negotiating position.  Finally, Russia could actively support dissident anti-imperialist movements in the Middle East, Africa and Latin America while strengthening its support for the Syrian government as it defends itself from US-supported violent jihadists.

In other words, US-EU sanctions while attempting to undermine Russia could actually radicalize Moscow’s domestic and foreign policy and marginalize the currently pro-Western oligarchs who had influenced the heretofore conciliatory policies of the Putin and Medvedev Administrations.

The EU and Obama might consolidate their hold over the Ukraine but they have plenty to lose on a global scale.  Moreover, the Ukraine will likely turn into a highly unstable vassal state for the NATO planners.  EU, US and IMF loans for the bankrupt regime are conditional on (1) 40% cutbacks on energy and gas subsidies, (2) 50% cuts in public sector pension payments, (3) major increases in consumer prices and (4) the privatization (plunder) of public firms.  The result will be large-scale job loss and a huge jump in unemployment.  Neo-liberal austerity programs will further erode the living standards of most wage and salaried workers and likely antagonize the neo-Nazi ‘popular base’ provoking new rounds of violent mass protests.  The West would move forward with ‘agreements’ with their Ukraine clients ‘at the top’ but face bitter conflicts ‘below’.  The prospect of Brussels and the IMF dictating devastating economic policies as part of an austerity program on the masses of Ukrainian citizens will make a mockery of the puffed-up nationalist slogans of the far Right putschists.  Economic collapse, political chaos and a new round of social upheaval will erode the political gains assumed in the power grab of February 2014.

Conclusion

The unfolding of the US-EU-Russian conflict over the Ukraine has far-reaching consequences, which will define the global configuration of power and foster new ideological alignments

Western sanctions will directly hit Russian capitalists and strengthen a ‘collectivist turn’.  The Western power grab of the ‘soft underbelly of Russia’ could provoke greater Russian support for insurgent movements challenging Western hegemony.  Sanctions could hasten greater Sino-Russian trade and investment ties, as well as military cooperation agreement.

Much depends on Obama and the EU’s calculation of another weak and pusillanimous response from the Russian government.  They are confidant that the Russian Federation will once again, as in the past, ‘bluster and object’ to Western expansionist moves but will ultimately capitulate.  If these calculations are wrong,  if the West goes through with financial and energy sanctions and President Putin makes a robust riposte, we are heading into the eye of a new political storm in which a polarized world will witness new class, national and regional conflicts.

 

[1] The pro EU-US putsch regime in Kiev is a product of nearly 25 years of planning and enormous funding by political agencies of the US government.  According to William Blum (Anti-Empire Report#126, 03/07/2014), the self-styled National Endowment for Democracy bankrolled 65 projects involving political indoctrination and the formation of political action groups.  Under-Secretary of State Victoria Nuland boasted that the US government had spent over $5 billion dollars preparing the ground for the putsch in Kiev.

[2]  The Crimean people had excellent reasons for organizing self –defense militias and calling for Russian military aid.  According to analyst Brian Becker(“Who’s Who in Ukraine’s New Semi-Fascist Government”, Global Research 05/09/2014), prominent neo-Nazis and right-wing extremists occupy key positions in the Kiev junta.  Fascists hold the two top positions in the National Defense Council (controlling the army, police, intelligence and the judiciary); head the Ministry of Defense; control the Prosecutor General; and include one of the Vice Presidents.  The Prime Minister, Arseniy Yatsenyuk (‘Yats’), was ‘hand-picked’ by Washington, (as revealed by a secretly recorded conversation between US Under-Secretary of State Victoria Nuland and the US Ambassador to Kiev).  He is the ‘front man’ of Ukrainian fascism and NATO penetration.

[3]  ’News’ reporting became indistinguishable from editorials in all the major media outlets.  The corporate and state media’s rabid support of the violent seizure of power in Kiev by US-funded clients was equaled by their hysterical claims of a Russian “take-over” of Crimea.  See the coverage from the Wall Street Journal, New York Times , Financial Times , Washington Post, BBC News and CNN from  03/01/014 to 03/10/2014.