Monday, March 3, 2014

The self-defeating fuite en avant of the US in the Ukraine

The past few days have seen an amazing acceleration of developments which has created a totally new situation.  In simple and plain language the following three momentous events have happened:

1) In Kiev an armed insurrection overthrew the elected President and replaced him with a new revolutionary regime.
2) Crimea completely broke-off from the rest of the Ukraine.
3) An counter-revolutionary insurrection has begun in the eastern Ukraine.

The situation in the eastern Ukraine is a complex one and I don't want to address it at this point in time.  What I propose to do here is to re-state some well-known and undeniable facts, organize them, and then do a basic "compare and contrast" exercise with the two clearly defined regimes/entities which have now formed in the Ukraine: the revolutionary regime in Kiev (which I will refer to as RRK and the secessionist regime in Crimea (which I will refer to as SRC).  I think that this exercise will allow us to fully qualify the decisions made by various governments to recognize and support one side or the other and it could also provide some hopefully useful talking points.  Finally, I want to repeat that I will refer to well-known facts only and I will try to refrain from loaded judgmental statements until I come to the conclusion part.

So let's look and compare the RRK and the SRC by a basic set of criteria.

1) Legal basis of the regime:

RRK: came to power by violent overthrow of the last lawfully elected President.  Then, an self-appointed group of political activists split the main government functions between themselves and went to the Maidan square to get popular approval of the assembled crowd.  Some candidates seems to have been endorsed, others were booed, but all were declared endorsed.  Nobody knows how many people were present at that moment on the Maidan, nor does anybody have any information as to who these people were.

SRC: came to power by peacefully declaring that the local officials would temporarily taken upon themselves all the functions of the federal authority which at that moment in time had already been overthrown by the RRK.  In some cities he former mayors which had been appointed by the Yanukovich regime have been replaced by locals also elected by crowd support.

2) Legality of their decisions:

RRK: Since the former President had fled but never resigned, none of the decisions of the RRK are legal, not by the old constitution, not by the new one.

SRC: The act of taking over the powers of the federal authority was illegal, but considering that the federal authority literally did not exist any more, it could be interpreted as a case of force majeure.

Special forces showed up overnight
 3) Popular support:

RRK:by most accounts the RRK enjoys a majority support in western Ukraine, central Ukraine, including Kiev, and north-central Ukraine; it has a probably the support of a minority in some parts of the eastern Ukraine.  In other words, and based on population density, it is most unlikely that more than 50% of the people in the RRK controlled areas actually support this regime.

SRC: I would estimate that the vast majority of Russian-speakers in Crimea support the SRC, something in the 95% or more, and I think that a seizable minority of Tatars also support it.  Still, assuming a 100% opposition of the Tatars and assuming a 15% opposition amongst Russian and Ukrainian speakers that leave no less than 75% of support for the SRC.

4) Foreign patrons:

RRK: whatever the degree of popular support the RRK enjoys in the part of the Ukraine it controls, there is no doubt that its political leaders are basically US appointed (Ms. Nuland said so much).  Furthermore, we also know that the US has spent 5'000'000'000 dollars to overthrow the Yanukovich regime.  As for the armed mobsters which gradually filled the Maindan square, there are numerous reports that these were specially trained groups of the so-called Right Sector which were trained in the Baltic States, in Poland and in Canada.  In other words, the RRK is a pure creation of the West.

SRC: one can speculate what would have happened if the Russian military had not intervened in Crimea, but the fact remains that it did.  There is overwhelming evidence that the "mysterious" armed men which suddenly appeared in Crimea are part of the Russian Spetsnaz GRU, probably the 3rd Independent Spetsnaz Brigade normally based in the city of Toliatti and, possibly supplemented by elements from the 15th peacekeeping brigade or the 31st peacekeeping division.  In other words, the SRC is fully backed by Russia, which also promised it financial support.

5) Ideology:

RRK: nobody denies that the Freedom Party and the Right Sector are neo-Nazis and racists.  The other parties in he RRK could be described as "nationalists", but nationalists who have no problems working hand in hand with neo-Nazis (both Tiagnibok and Iarosh have been offered top positions in the new government).  Also telling is the fact that the first two laws (illegally) adopted by (the illegal) "revolutionary Rada" were to re-authorize the propaganda of Fascism and to revoke the status of Russian as an official language (the RRK as now "revoked this revocation").  Nationalist demonstrations are full of photos of Stepan Bandera and neo-Nazis symbols, which the putatively "moderates" never remove.  Their goal is a unitary Ukraine in the image and likeness of the western Ukraine.

SRC: it has no clear ideology at all.  It is not unreasonable to suspect that some if its supporters are communists, but by no means a majority.  It is clearly pro-Russian, so it could be labeled as both "capitalist" (Russia is a capitalist society) and possibly as "Putinist", though that is by no means certain.  Their goal is a multi-ethnic Crimea which would be a sovereign state in a Ukrainian confederation.
The only real "Ukrainian Army" today
6) Future prospects:

RRK: a lot will depend on the situation in the eastern Ukraine where an insurrection against the RRK seems to be growing in power and resolve and which could see a real civil war taking place.  But even assuming that nothing at all happens in the east, Iatseniuk himself openly said that there is no money at all left and that his entire government is a "kamikaze government".  The RRK has no army, no police, nobody at all to ensure law and order.  Russia will cease its financial support to the RRK and Russian gas will be sold only a the previous price.  A social explosion is simply inevitable at this point.  At this point in time, there are already shortages everywhere and many stores and companies are closed.

SRC: the SRC enjoy a complete monopoly on power in Crimea, thanks to the numerous defections which took place over the past 24 hours, the SRC has its own military, its own police, its own special police (Berkut) and even its own security service (the SBU in Crimea switched sides).  Not only has Russia committed to assist the SRC financially, the SRC has a guaranteed source of revenue from the lease of the bases to the Black Fleet and from the huge amount of wealthy Russian tourists (about 6 millions each year).  At this point in time, all stores and restaurants are open, business is working as usual and there are no signs of social tensions.

Now let's sum it all up:

The USA and the EU have put their full support and political credibility behind a regime which is:

1) Illegal and came to power by violence.
2) Has no right to pass any law.
3) Whose popular support is dubious at best
4) Which is a pure creation of the West.
5) Whose ideology is basically neo-Nazi and/or rabid nationalism.
6) Which no matter what is headed for disaster.

Russia has put its full support and political credibility behind a regime which is:

1) Which is arguably legal, at least over the territory it controls.
2) Which has been forced to temporarily over-step its legal rights.
3) Which clearly enjoy the full support of a majority of the population.
4) Which has been secure in power by Russian military power.
5) Whose ideology is most likely social/liberal and pluralistic.
6) Which has all the means needed to be successful.

From the above I think that it is pretty undeniable that the West is not only supporting the wrong side, and also that this decision is only completely immoral but also amazingly short-sighted.  This is yet another case of what the French called fuite en avant (literally "to flee forward"): when somebody does something clearly and obviously mistaken and then, frightened by that, instead of reversing course decides to run forward at even a higher speed.  In contrast, Russia's decision is not only morally right, it is also pragmatically correct.  But there is more to this than just pragmatism.

Western-backed nationalists

As I have written in the past, for the USA, wrecking the Ukraine is a way of denying it to Russia.  This is a Cold War like logic, a zero-sum game and a way of making Russia pay for being independent of the AngloZionist Empire.  Still, this is also clearly a choice, an "optional crisis", a conflict which really does not have a strategic impact on US national security.  Not so for Russia.

For Russia the conflict on the Ukraine has become an existential issue.  For 20 years Russia did put up with corrupt, oligarchic, pro-Western and anti-Russian regimes, which blackmailed Russia and Europe over gas pipelines and which printed stamps of Stepan Bandera (whom Yushchenko even made "hero of the Ukraine").  Even when the Ukies sent neo-Nazis to support the Chechen Wahabis and when they armed Saakashvili to the teeth, Russia did nothing other than denounce it (nobody gave a damn).  But when it became clear that millions of Russians and Russian-speaking Ukrainians were threatened by neo-Nazis and that a bloodbath in the east was inevitable, Russia decided to act not only to protect its citizens abroad, but to protect itself.

There is also another phenomenon taking place.  Unlike the the USA or Europe, Russians have a much longer attention span.  While in the West nobody cares to ever remember that, Russians do remember the promise made to Gorbachev not to move NATO to the East, they remember the US bombing and invasion of Bosnia and Kosovo, they remember the West's support for Chechen Wahabis and Jewish oligarchs like Berezovsky, they remember the West's full support for Saakashvili's attack on Russian peacekeepers and the people of South Ossetia, they remember the deployment of missiles all around Russia and they remember the war on Libya, and the US and EU sponsored butchery of Syria.  And as one commentator put it yesterday, "this time it is not about Syrians or Ukrainians, it's about us, we are next in line".

Russian forces

Some have said that I make too much of the unanimous decision in the Duma and the Council of the Federation to authorize the use of force because these bodies are controlled by the Kremlin and basically rubber-stamp whatever Putin says.  First, this is not quite true, though there is much truth to it, but what this overlooks is the huge swelling of popular anger and even rage to which these politicians responded as least as much as to order from the Kremlin.  So when I wrote that "Russia is ready for war" I was not exaggerating.  True, in the general public nobody believes that a war will start: most Russians think that Obama, Merkel & Co. will run as soon as Putin bares his fangs, but that is not how people in the Kremlin or the General Staff think.  They know that wars can start for the wrong reasons, that the use of force is always dangerous, that before using military force each possible consequence and effect must be carefully calculated and assessed.  They also know that Obama is the worst and most incompetent President in US history and that they should never assume that he will do the rational, pragmatic thing, even in his own interests.  And I can promise you that when the military took the decision to tell Putin "we can do this" they did consider even the unlikely possibility of a US/NATO military response, either to protect the regime in Kiev, or even in Crimea (where and international coalition lead by Anglo powers already had attacked Russia in the past).  Russians don't do operations like sending the Marines into Beirut or Somalia.  If they use military force they are committed to it.  In this case, it is obvious that they felt that they had no other choice than to draw a thick and clear line in the sand to stop further US aggression by proxy.

Obama and the Neocons:

I have received many emails suggesting that the Neocons imposed that mess upon Obama who did not need that at all. I don't necessarily disagree with that version.  We know that the Republicans negotiated with the Iranians behind Carter's back and we know that the Republicans have a proud tradition of not giving a damn about legalities anyway.  Finally, there are also plenty of Neocons in the Obama administration itself.  But none of this can serve as an excuse.  If Obama really did let himself become a hostage of an operation run behind his back, he did not have to be a coward and fully endorse it when it became obvious.  Yes, I know, Kennedy was murdered for, amongst other things, not supporting the Bay of Pigs.  So what?  That just proves my point: Kennedy was no spineless coward whereas Obama is exactly that.  As are Merkel, Hollande and the rest of them in the EU.

Thus we see these 1%ers still at time: holding emergency sessions in NATO HQ, condemning Russia at the G7, making more threats on TV (Kerry) and at the UN (Powers) - they are all in the fuite en avant mode.  They hope that if enough words are spoken and loud statements are made, this will change something on the ground.  It's wont.  Magical thinking does not work in real life.  Right now there are two possibilities: either a civil war starts in the east of the Ukraine, or the RRC simply collapses and vanishes in thin air (a very real possibility).  After all, what can it do with no money at all and no basic resources?  Sing the Ukie anthem and blame Moscow for it all?  That is hardly a real program.  And even though the western corporate ziomedia tries hard to conceal it - nobody, and I mean *nobody*, in the new regime has *any* idea as to how to begin to address the current problems.  The best they could come up so far is to appoint to multi-billionaire oligarch to run the east and southeast of the Ukraine.  Check out this headline from the Kyiv Post

Oligarchs step in to save Ukraine’s sovereignty

It would be hilarious if it wasn't so tragic: the so-called "anti-corruption" revolutionary regime appoints oligarchs to save the Ukraine.  When I saw that one it really felt like we were entering the twilight zone or lala land where the most ridiculous and crazy things could happen.  This makes for great stories, but for politics this is a recipe for disaster.  Sure, these oligarchs have more money that the RRK, but they made that money by robbing the Ukraine of everything it had.  And if anybody seriously believes that the Russians will deal with these two thugs then they are dreaming.

They really mean it
As I wrote in November, the Gates of Hell are opening for the Ukraine.  What is amazing is that the entire western ruling class seems to be determined not only to encourage the Ukraine to step in, but also to risk following it.  For the life of me I cannot imagine a more self-defeating, dangerous, immoral and stupid policy.

The Saker