U.S. policy: Courting disaster in Ukraine?

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Editor's introduction: In Ukraine today, the Obama Administration is pursuing a dangerous neo-Cold War policy, overtly supporting a national chauvinist government that seized power in a coup and has used open neo-Nazi groups as shock troops in its war against largely ethnic Russian forces in eastern Ukraine, drawn from the ranks of unemployed factory workers whose factories were closed by EU de-industrialization policies and who have faced descrimination of all  kinds in the post Soviet period. Robert Parry, a journalist who won the George Polk award when he wrote important exposes of the CIA's dirty war against Nicaragua and the Iran-Contra scandal in the mainstream media (although these acts led to his departure from Newsweek) and has, as an independent journalist, pointed to the facts of what is really happening in Ukraine as against the Obama Administration's explanation of events. Let me say that I, like many of us, cut the Obama Administration a great deal of slack over the years, defending his positive achievements and contending that many of his failures were the result of forces beyond his control. The Administration, many of us hoped, would become a new New Deal and Obama a new Franklin Roosevelt. That, of course, did not happen and probably could not have happened, but today Obama is talking in a dangerous way like a new Harry Truman, portraying the Russian government of Vladimir Putin in ways similar to Truman's portrayal of the Soviet Union and Joseph Stalin, seeking a "containment" policy toward the Peoples' Republic of China, and in general advancing policies that lead to more military spending and more military interventionism, dangerous and sinister policies that deserve to be condemned. Below we are posting Robert Parry's recent article on what is happening in U.S. policy toward Ukraine.

Norman Markowitz, PA editorial collective


Obama's stupid propaganda stuff

By Robert Parry, Consortium News

11 June 15

Just last month, President Obama dispatched Secretary of State Kerry to secure Russian President Putin's help in addressing the Syrian crisis and other world hotspots - but despite Putin's agreement, Obama has reversed himself and is back hurling insults at the Russians, a troubling development, writes Robert Parry.

President Barack Obama must know better regarding the crisis in Ukraine, but he insists on reciting the propaganda lines drafted by his neoconservative and "liberal interventionist" advisers blaming everything on Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Perhaps, Obama just doesn't have the nerve to go against Official Washington's "conventional wisdom" no matter how misguided it is. The last time that Obama went against the grain in a decisive way was when he objected to the Iraq War in 2002, but then, of course, he was just a state senator in Illinois.

Watching his behavior in the White House over the past six-plus year, I've come to suspect that - if he had been a national politician amid the Iraq War fever - he would have gotten in line just like ambitious Sens. Hillary Clinton, John Kerry and Joe Biden did. Even as President, a position that gives him enormous power to push back against Official Washington's "group think," he won't.

Instead Obama spouts stupid propaganda stuff that is ultimately damaging to the American Republic. At a moment when Obama needs Putin's help in addressing dangerous crises in the Middle East - particularly to deal with advances by Al-Qaeda's Nusra Front and Al-Qaeda's hyper-violent spinoff, the Islamic State - Obama insists on joining in more misrepresentations about the Ukraine crisis.

At the end of the G-7 summit in Bavaria, Germany, Obama proudly announced that he had gotten the other six industrial powers to continue sanctions on Russia, based on the dubious argument that it is Russia, not the U.S.-backed regime in Ukraine, that requires more pressure to implement last February's Minsk-2 agreement.

The Minsk-2 deal largely reflected Putin's ideas regarding negotiations with ethnic Russian rebels in the east and constitutional changes granting the region substantial autonomy. However, after Minsk-2 was signed, hardliners in the Ukrainian government immediately sought to sabotage the political side by inserting a poison pill that required the rebels to essentially surrender before any negotiations could begin.

Since then, the Kiev regime has bulked itself up militarily, including training from 300 U.S. military advisers. In May, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko talked publicly about resuming the war and retaking rebel-held territory in the east, a position that even caused U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to suggest that Poroshenko should "think twice" about such an action.

Kerry made that remark during meetings with Putin and senior Russian officials in Sochi, Russia, in what then appeared to be a realistic shift in Obama's foreign policy, recognizing the grave dangers from a possible Al-Qaeda victory in Syria and the need for Russian help in averting that disaster. [See Consortiumnews.com's "Obama's Strategic Shift."]

However, in the last few weeks, the flip-flopping Obama seems to have flopped back into the hard-liners' camp of neocon Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland and liberal-interventionist Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power. Not only did Obama press the G-7 allies to renew sanctions on Russia, Obama hurled personal insults at Putin.

Pointing Fingers

In remarks to the news media on Monday in Krun, Germany, Obama said, "there is strong consensus that we need to keep pushing Russia to abide by the terms of the Minsk agreement ... [and] that until that's completed, sanctions remain in place. There was discussion about additional steps that we might need to take if Russia, working through separatists, doubled down on aggression inside of Ukraine. ...

"Ultimately, this is going to be an issue for Mr. Putin. He's got to make a decision: Does he continue to wreck his country's economy and continue Russia's isolation in pursuit of a wrong-headed desire to re-create the glories of the Soviet empire? Or does he recognize that Russia's greatness does not depend on violating the territorial integrity and sovereignty of other countries?

"And as I mentioned earlier, the costs that the Russian people are bearing are severe. That's being felt. It may not always be understood why they're suffering, because of state media inside of Russia and propaganda coming out of state media in Russia and to Russian speakers. ...

"And, ironically, one of the rationales that Mr. Putin provided for his incursions into Ukraine was to protect Russian speakers there. Well, Russian speakers inside of Ukraine are precisely the ones who are bearing the brunt of the fighting. Their economy has collapsed. Their lives are disordered. Many of them are displaced. Their homes may have been destroyed. They're suffering. And the best way for them to stop suffering is if the Minsk agreement is fully implemented."

In other words, Obama was doing the Full Monty of Official Washington's "group think" on the Ukraine crisis - that it was all caused by Putin's "aggression" and his delusions about reestablishing the Soviet or Russian Empire. But Obama knows the real history of the U.S.-supported coup d'etat that ousted Ukraine's elected President Viktor Yanukovych on Feb. 22, 2014, despite Yanukovych's political agreement a day earlier with France, Germany and Poland to accept reduced powers and early elections.

Rather than defending that political settlement, the United States and its European allies immediately recognized the coup regime as "legitimate," although it included neo-Nazis and other violent right-wing extremists who were rabidly hostile to Ukraine's ethnic Russian minority.

In the face of worsening violence, the people of Crimea - where ethnic Russians are a substantial majority - voted overwhelmingly to secede from Ukraine and rejoin Russia, an action supported by Russian troops who were based at Russia's historic naval base at Sevastopol in Crimea. Russia accepted Crimea's request but balked at a similar appeal from ethnic Russians in eastern Ukraine.

Then, amid feverish anti-Russian propaganda in the U.S. and European news media, the Kiev authorities designated the ethnic Russian resistance in the east as "terrorists" and mounted a brutal "anti-terrorism operation" against the population with the regime's neo-Nazi and other extremist militias spearheading the attacks. [See Consortiumnews.com's "Seeing No Neo-Nazi Militias in Ukraine."]

It was in the face of this ethnic cleansing that Russia moved to assist the defense of the so-called Donbass region. Yet, now Obama places the blame for all the destruction and suffering in eastern Ukraine, where thousands have died, not on the U.S.-backed Ukrainian government and its thuggish militias but on Putin.

And, with no sense of irony, Obama suggests that it is the Russian media that is distorting the story, another favorite theme of the U.S. propaganda campaign on Ukraine pushed by both the Obama administration and the mainstream U.S. media.

There was an up-is-down quality to the way that Obama presented the Ukraine situation which is troubling in one of two ways - either he believes his own propaganda or he is a conscious liar. There's also a third possibility, that he has completely lost his bearings and adopts one position one day and veers in the opposite direction the next depending on who last talked to him.

But whatever the case, Obama cannot expect Putin and the Russians to view his public comments and contradictory behavior in a favorable light - and then agree to cooperate with Obama on other hotspots where U.S. interests are much more endangered.

Photo: Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (l) and President Vladimir Putin (next to him) meeting with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in Sochi on the Black Sea May 2015.  Voz Iz Neiz? The voice of the Orthodox Jewish Community




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  • A Great Title:
    Robert Parry has given us a great title to describe the Obama administration’s explanation of what is happening in the Ukraine. President Obama’s ‘stupid propaganda stuff’ is an attempt to hide from the American people the real reasons the U.S. supports regime change and conflict in the Ukraine. It is a massive propaganda campaign to prepare public opinion for either regime change and /or war if American troops are directly needed to further intimidate and bully the Russians. If the American public is to support military intervention and regime change, it must first be reminded of the fears, anxieties, and tropes of the Cold War. This is done by equating contemporary Russia with the Soviet Union and Putin with Stalin or a Hitler bent on world conquest. Public support via ‘stupid propaganda stuff’ is needed because all factions of the ruling class are in agreement with supplying the neo-fascist Kiev government with military and economic aid. Both conservative neo-cons and liberal interventionists are willing to go to war, prepare for war, or threaten war to achieve U.S. geopolitical objectives. What are those geopolitical and economic objectives? As competitors for the energy and oil markets of Western and Eastern Europe, Russia must be weaken, controlled, or destroyed. Another benefit is more control over its European allies if they are less dependent on Russian oil and gas. It is the nature of imperialism to first weaken or destroy its competitors and rivals in order to achieve ‘full spectrum dominance.’ It is a dangerous game the interventionists are playing. Parry also laments how conflict over the Ukraine makes it difficult for the two super powers to cooperate in resolving other more pressing threats to world peace. But the sad fact is the U.S. does not care. Its first priority is to weaken or eliminate its major capitalist competitors. Such is the true nature of imperialism and capitalism as illustrated U.S. policy towards the Ukraine and Russia. NT

    Posted by Nat Turner, 08/09/2015 8:28am (7 years ago)

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