Monday, March 17, 2014

How the US dream of world supremacy was buried in Crimea

written specially for the Asia Times

These are official results from the referendum in Crimea:
  • 96.77% voted for Crimea to join Russia
  • 02.51% voted for Crimea to remain a sovereign autonomous republic inside the Ukraine
  • 00.72% of the votes were declared invalid
  • 83.10% of the eligible voters participated in this referendum (thus:16.9% did not vote)
As a reminder, this is the official ethnic makeup of Crimea (in 2001):
  • 58.32% Russians
  • 24.32% Ukrainians
  • 12.10% Crimean Tatars
Okay, so what does this mean?

First and foremost, the participation was massive and the 'yes' to Russia won by a landslide.

Second, this was not a vote along ethnic lines.  When we say that are 58.32% Russians in Crimea that does not mean that all of these are eligible voters as children are not allowed to vote.  So the real figure of eligible Russian voters in Crimea is probably well under 50%.  And yet the results show that 96.77% of the eligible voters voted to join Russia.  Where did the rest of the 43.77% (more or less) come from?  It had to be from Ukrainian and Tatar voters.  Even if we assume that 100% of the Russians in Crimea were eligible voters and that they all showed up to vote and all of them voted for the 'yes' to Russia, it still leaves 35.45% of the 'yes' vote to non-Russians.  Even 100% of the Ukrainians does not fill the gap.  In other words, the so-called "Tatar boycott" of this referendum is a complete fabrication of the western media.

Now, this begs the question: why would the Crimean Tatars, who were brutally repressed and massively deported under Stalin and many of whom were seen screaming Allahu Akbar! in clashes with pro-Russian demonstrators suddenly decide to vote for Russia?  Did they suddenly change their minds?  Did the "Polite Armed Green Men" come to their houses and force them to vote at gunpoint?  Of course not.  The explanation is much simpler: in 22 years of independence the Ukraine did exactly nothing to help the Crimean Tatar people, language or culture, nevermind compensating them for their suffering.  In contrast, Russia passed a law called "Law on the Rehabilitation of Repressed Peoples"(here in Russian; here in a Bing machine translation) as early as 1991 which basically solves the problem for the Crimean Tatars who will get what they have always hoped for right along their brand new Russian passports.  Yes, of course, there are some Crimean-Tatars who would have preferred to remain under Ukrainian sovereignty because they believe that Russians are inherently capable of repeating the actions of Stalin at any time and that Russian nationalism is a threat to them.  I don't mean to suggest that they are smart - only that some of them do really believe that.  Some Muslim radicals want to either be part of Turkey or create their own Islamic state.  Fair enough - but they are a minority within a minority and thus, frankly, quite irrelevant.  The reality is that this entire "Crimean Tatar issue" is a canard cooked up in the West in the desperate hope to find some kind of "ethnic/religious fulcrum" to deny the legitimacy of this referendum and stir up more ethnic trouble.  The results show that this plan clearly failed.

So what is going to happen next?

The Ukraine is dead, long live Banderastan?

Some readers have objected to my use of the word "Banderastan" to describe the Ukraine.  Had they read with a little more attention they would have understood that I do not equate the Ukraine with Banderastan at all.  In fact, the Ukraine is the country which ended its existence in February 2014 and Banderastan is the new national project of the Right Sector and the Liberty Party (yes, the one whose original name was Socialist-National Party).  So what is Banderastan exactly?

Banderastan is the Ukraine which Dmitry Iarosh, Andrei Parubii or Oleg Tiagnibok want to create: a "socialist national" state whose founding principle would be "Бий жидів та москалів - Україна для українців" ("beat the Jews and the Russians - the Ukraine for the Ukrainians").  Simple and clear.  This state would have one language (Ukrainian), one ethnicity (Ukrainian), one leader (Iarosh) and one founding father (Bandera).  The long term political goal of this regime would be to "return" the "rest" of the "Ukrainian land" which now is under Polish or Russian "occupation" and to "punish" the "traitors to the Fatherland".

You can think of the "Banderites" are the Ukie version of the Taliban, but far more evil and infinitely more stupid.  Something like a Ukrainian version of the Interahamwe maybe?

One reader send me this great little video (thanks "JP"!) showing some of these Banderites and what they like to do:

Great stuff, no?

Of course, this project has exactly zero chance to succeed for a few basic reasons:
  • After 22 years of oligarchic rule, the previously wealthy Ukraine is now broke. Banderastan is even in a much worse condition.
  • Most Ukrainians are not "socialist-nationalists", not even in the western Ukraine.
  • Every time the "Banderites" make a move, the reaction to their actions it is more and more determined.
  • Many Russian-speakers and Jews are truly becoming terrified for their future (more about that later)
  • The Banderites have no economic program at all.
The bottom line is simple: there is more to governning or, really, re-building a bankrupt and ruined country and nation than parading in wannabe Nazi uniforms, taking US money, fighting cops and screaming "Glory to the Ukraine!  Glory to the heroes!!".  For all practical purposes the entire Banderite project is now in free fall, regardless of the fact that western leaders stubbornly pretend not to see this.  As for western loans (US, EU, IMF) - they can only delay the inevitable.

So how did we ever get to this crazy situation?

US foreign policy is not run by diplomats, but by politicians.

The main thing to understand about the US foreign policy is that it is basically run by people who have no experience or even understanding of diplomacy and its purposes.  It's not only Mrs Nuland and her famous "fuck the EU!" - it's also Kerry and his constant lies and zig-zags, it is Mrs Rice with her arrogant and always bellicose threats towards Russia and many other countries, finally, it is also Obama himself who combines imperial hubris with a truly phenomenal level of hypocrisy.  The very notion of negotiating anything is profoundly foreign to these Imperial leaders who strongly believe that to truly negotiate is basically a sign of weakness.  For them, the only thing which can be negotiated is the other guy's acceptance of all US terms and conditions.  And if that does not happen, the the US will basically threaten to bomb the other side into submission.  Long gone are they days of George H.W. Bush and his brilliant Secretary of State James Baker who understood how much careful diplomacy and negotiations can achieve.  The Kerry/Rice generation basically believes that they can tell everybody else want they want, and if that does not work, then brute force (whether threatened or actual) will solve the problem anyway.  This is why the US never agreed to negotiate with Gaddafi or Assad and this is why all the offers made by the Russians to find a negotiated solution were systematically rejected.

Russia offered to negotiation as far back as last fall, when the first signs of an imminent crisis began to become apparent.  Lavrov made an offer to begin trilateral negotiations  between the EU, the Ukraine and Russia.  The EU, either under US orders of simply acting on its own delusion of grandeur, contemptuously rejected that option under the pretext that the Ukraine was a sovereign nation and that therefore Russia should have no more say in its future than Paraguay or Vanuatu.  Worse, the EU pretended to believe that the Ukrainian government would sign on to 1'500 pages long text where terms and conditions of the proposed association between the EU and the Ukraine would be spelled out with no second thought about what Russia might do.  Except, of course, that it eventually became gradually clear to Azarov and Yanukovich that Russia really would have no other choice than to shut down its current borders to protect the Russian economy from a deluge of EU products which would inevitably flood the Ukraine.  When, at the last second, Yanukovich announced his notorious reversal, Russia again offered to negotiate and again this offer what rejected.  Some EU bureaucrats apparently still believed that Yanukovich would cave in at the Vilnius summit.  But he did not simply because he could not, at least not without killing the entire Ukrainian economy.  This is when the Americans suddenly literally freaked out because they understood that a 'no' to the EU, even temporary, meant a 'yes' to Russia, and probably a permanent one.  So then Uncle Sam got personally involved.

The goal, strategy and tactics of US foreign policy worldwide and the Ukraine

The overall goal of the US foreign policy worldwide is really very simple: to remain the sole superpower on the planet.  The fact that there are more and more signs which clearly point to the fact that the US is no more a real global superpower only make the achievement of this goal a higher priority.

In this context, the USA has a equally simple strategy towards Russia: do whatever it takes to prevent Russia from becoming a "new Soviet Union" or any other type of challenger to the US worldwide domination.  In practical terms, this means one thing: to do whatever it takes to break away the Ukraine from Russia.  There is, indeed, this rather bizarre notion amongst US elites that with the Ukraine Russia would be a superpower while without it it would not.  This notion is both counter-factual (Russia is already a superpower as we have seen in Syria) and illogical - Russia doe neither need not want the Ukraine which is basically a failed and wholly artificial state, run by oligarchs, with no foreseeable prospects of contributing much, if anything, to the current Russian wealth.  Frankly, and in purely realpolitik terms, the Ukraine is a headache that nobody in Russia really needs.  But nevermind that - the US elites are acting not on the basis of facts or Russian perceptions, but on the basis of their own perceptions: the Ukraine must never be allowed to fall back under Russian "domination" least Russia become a superpower again.

In tactical terms, this strategy is implemented with two simple rules:

a) any anti-Russian force, no matter how ugly or insane, gets US support
b) it's a zero sum game: anything Russia loses the USA wins and vice-versa

The ultimate prize for the US would be to get the Russian Black Sea Fleet out of Crimea and put US/NATO bases in the Ukraine, not because there would be much of a military advantage in doing so, but to prevent the Ukraine from ever becoming close to, or part of, Russia again.  Short of that, doing anything to keep an anti-Russian regime in power in Kiev is the next best option.  And if that regime comes to power in a armed insurrection - that's ok.  And if all the key positions in this regime are given to neo-Nazis, that is fine too.  None of that really matters as long as the Russians don't get the Ukraine back.

Of course, the world is much more complex that the primitive representation these ignorant and arrogant politicians have of it.  In fact, not only is the USA the sole party responsible for the current chaos in the Ukraine, it is is also solely responsible for achieving the exact polar result of what it set out to do.

How US incompetence resulted in a "patriotic domino effect" in Russia

As far back as in November of last year I wrote the following about the Russian-speaking population of the Ukraine:
They have no vision, no ideology, no identifiable future goal. All they can offer is a message which, in essence, says "we have no other choice than sell out to the rich Russians rather than to the poor European" or "all we can get from the EU is words, the Russians are offering money". True. But still extremely uninspiring, to say the least.
One month later, I added:
What are these 17 million Russians and several million of Russian oriented Ukrainians doing right now? It's their country which is driven directly over the cliff, and they are doing nothing at all. How many Russian flags did you see in the demonstrations in the eastern Ukraine, in Donetsk, or in Sevastopol? That's right - zero! Even the so-called "Russians" and "pro-Russians" are marching under the yellow-blue flags which are west Ukrainian, Galician colors. You speak of moral and spiritual issues at stake - have you ever heard the east Ukrainians raise such issues? Do they ever speak of the thousands of saints which lived in this hallowed land? Do they ever mention the millions of Russians who died freeing this land from the Poles, the Jesuits and the Jewish overseers which they imposed upon the Orthodox Christians? No, never. All the speak about is money, money and money: "we will be poor with the EU, with Russia our business will flourish" - that is their idea of spirituality. Pro-Russians in the Ukraine? Ha! Let me ask you this: when it became known that Ukrainian volunteers fought on the side of the Chechen Wahabis - did you see any protests in the Ukraine? Or when the Ukrainian government was arming Saakashvili to the teeth - did you see any protests in the Ukraine? No, never. Their version of "pro-Russian" means "we like Russian money". They are not pro-Russian, they are pro-Ruble!
What I wrong then?  Not at all: that was the sad reality then.  What really happened is that over the past few month these almost totally passive Russian population underwent a brutal "shock-therapy" which woke them up from their silent stupor induced by 22 years of Ukrainian nationalist propaganda combined and a deafening silence about them from Russia.  These previously "invisible" Russian speakers suddenly woke up.  How did that happen?

First, there was the Nazi freak show around the Maidan square in Kiev which soon escalated into an armed insurrection.  Then, when Yanukovich was finally overthrow, the new regime's very first decision was to pass a law banning the Russian language from official use and another one lifting the ban on Nazi propaganda.  Simultaneously, a string of violent attacks against "collaborators" of the Yanukovich regime soon turned into an anti-Russian terror campaign.  And for the first time the Russian-speakers really began to fear for their future: they began to rally and protest openly and vocally.

That, in turn, triggered a reassessment of the situation by many Russians in Russia who, up to this point, had accused their compatriots of passivity.  For example, on many talk shows Russian-speakers from the Ukraine who were complaining about their plight were told "we are not going to help you if you don't begin by helping yourself first; you have to speak up and take action against this new regime before we will do anything.  We cannot solve your problems for you - you have to act first.  Then we will help!".  And when the population in the East and South of the Ukraine finally took to the streets, this time not with Ukrainian flags but with Russian ones, the people in Russia took notice and began to change their outlook on the situation.

For a long list of objective reasons, Crimea was by far the most vocal part of this protest movement and it is of no surprise that the next big development took place there.  Russian intelligence services clearly detected some kind of coup about to take place and the Kremlin took the absolutely crucial decision to send in the so-called "Polite Armed Men in Green" (PAMG) normally called "Spetsnaz GRU".  What exactly the Russians detected is still unclear, but what is certain is that the manner in which the PAMGs were deployed into Crimea was not a the way a normal peacetime force is moved, but the way a special force is sent in in a wartime military operation: rapidly, under cover, with heavy fire support and on key objectives to be seized for a subsequent deployment of reinforcements.  That overnight deployment of PAMGs apparently did stop the planned coup as only a few clashes were very vaguely reported and soon forgotten.  The main effect of this move by Putin was to send a powerful message to Russian-speakers in the rest of the Ukraine: Russia will not let the new neo-Fascist regime attack and terrorize you.  What Putin had done was to extend a "psychological shield" over the Russian-speaking East and South of the Ukraine by letting the Banderites know that if they crossed the line they would be engaged and destroyed by the Russian military.  That had a huge effect and soon the protest crowd grew bigger and more determined.  As for the new regime, all it could do was to use the SBU forces to arrest some political leaders.  But beyond that, Kiev has not moved to suppress these regions by military force (at least until now).  Finally, upon seeing the sudden surge of Russian protests in the Ukraine, more and more Russians took to the streets in Russia to express their support for their compatriots in the Ukraine.  The end result of all this has been to wake up a previously semi-lethargic Russian national identity and a sense of patriotism which the Kremlin could never have even dreamed of inducing in the Russian people.

The western press is doing a truly remarkable job of trying not to notice all of this.  Western commentators and politicians are acting as if there was a way to somehow push the genie of Russian patriotism back into the bottle even though they themselves, and not the Kremlin, made him come out of the bottle in the first place.  Worse, the western propaganda still tries to represent the issue as being one about the future of the Ukraine.  It is not.  The Ukraine is now gone, dead, finished, forever relegated to the past.  The issue now is not the future of the Ukraine, but the future of the US Empire.

The tectonic faceplant of the US Empire and its policies

By its arrogance, ignorance and total intransigence the US and its EU colonies have completely redefined the terms of the issue for the Russian people.  In their immense majority when the Russian people look at what is taking place in Kiev they see a replay of the worst years of World War 2 and they are absolutely determined not to let that happen again.  When they see crowds of Ukrainian nationalists marching at night with torches and large photos of Stepan Bandera, Russians (in the Ukraine and Russia) see the rise of an evil which they had to beat down at the costs of millions killed and maimed. This is why I wrote on March 1st "make no mistake about that RUSSIA IS READY FOR WAR".  I meant that literally and I still think that this is true: the Russian people have suffered too much during WWII to let any neo-Nazi thugs terrorize their fellow Russian again.  The depth and intensity of this feeling is not something which can be understood in the EU, and even less so in the USA.  I suspect that the only place in which the vehemence of this determination could be understood is Israel.  In practical terms this means that Russia will not negotiate with any neo-Nazis which threaten the Russian speakers in the Ukraine nor will Russia yield to any western threats or sanctions.  Again, Russia, as a nation, is willing to pay the cost, whatever it might be, to choke and defeat the nasty "Banderastan" which is currently getting so much support from the US and EU.  If the Ukrainian crazies attack the Russians speakers in the East or South, Russia will intervene militarily - you can be sure of that.

There is even a more important consequence stemming from the current events.

In August of 2008, right after the Russian military defeated the US backed regime of Saakashvili during the 08.08.08 war I wrote a two-part article entitled "The real meaning of the South Ossetian war" (part one; part two) which included the following assessment:
The ugly attack by Washington's Georgian puppet on the Russian peacekeepers combined with the absolutely amazing hypocrisy of the Western media and politicians who all fully sided with the aggressor turned into something of a “last straw” for Russia. This seemingly marginal development, at least when assessed quantitatively (“what else is new?”) ended up making a huge qualitative difference: it brought up a new Russian resolve to deal with, to use a favorite Neocon expression, an existential threat represented by the Western Empire. It will take a long while for the West to realize what has really happened and the most obtuse of pundits and politicians will probably hang on to their usual self-righteous rhetoric forever, but historians will probably look back at the month of August 2008 as the moment when Russia decided to strike back at the Empire for the first time.
What has happened this Winter is very much a continuation of the 08.08.08 war: yet again Russia did not want that to happen, but the West gave it no other option than to be willing to go to war if needed to protect itself (in 08.08.08 the Kremlin fully understood that there was a risk of US/NATO involvement on the Georgian side and it had conveyed in no unclear terms to US/NATO commanders that any US/NATO force sent to the theater of operation would be attacked). Still, the chances of a UN/NATO intervention in the 08.08.08 war were relatively small, and the Empire could always pretend that it did not care.  This time around, however, Putin did not confront Saakashvili and his "operetta army", but the President of the United States and the combined power of US and NATO military forces.  For a few days, the situation appeared every bit as critical as during the Cuban Missile Crisis and the world began to fear that WWIII could begin (hence all the rumors about US/NATO military moves and the oblique or even overt threats of US politicians).  The crisis became so acute that The Independent felt that it had to write an editorial entitled "We don't want a war with Russia" which concluded with the following warning:
The Independent on Sunday is not opposed to all wars, regardless of fashionable talk of living in a “post-interventionist” world. We, like President Obama, are opposed to dumb wars. War with Russia would be a dumb war to end all dumb wars
Soon, however, it began to be clear that the US was not willing to go to war over Crimea or the Ukraine.  Predictably, in the confrontation between Barak Obama and Vladimir Putin Obama blinked first.  The referendum which the US tried so hard to prevent went ahead, and its results are an absolute disaster for the USA. There are now some pretty good signs that the USA is throwing in the towel (Moon of Alabama has two good pieces on that; see here and here) and that the West is seeking a way out.

This shows that Obama did much more than just "blink first".  This shows that when push comes to shove, Russia has enough military power and political determination to deny the US Empire one of it's most important strategic objectives: pretending to be the sole superpower.  If the collapse of the US policy on Syria was a painful embarrassment, what just took place in the Ukraine is something of an entirely different order of magnitude:  Russia slapped down the EU, NATO and the US and came on top of a confrontation in which down to the last minute the West tried to bluff its way to victory and instead only achieved a full-spectrum defeat.

Full spectrum dominance is a thing of the past, and everybody now knows it

Two things are certain now.  First, Crimea is now gone, back to Russia, and nothing will change that.  Second, the attempt to turn the Ukraine into a "Banderastan" will fail.  Though there are regular reports of Bandestastani military forces being moved towards the Donbass, I personally don't see how the regime in power in Kiev could crush the current protests in the East and South of the Ukraine. Besides, as soon as what is left on paper of the ex-Ukrainian economy officially collapses, the new regime will have much more pressing issues to deal with than protests.  At some point I expect that the USA and Russia will get together and agree to discreetly show the way out to the hardcore Bandera crazies currently in power.  Some kind of more or less civilized and neutral regime will replace the current one and some kind of more or less civilized and neutral "Ukrainian Confederation" will be created.  If the folks in power in Kiev persist and hang on to power, a good part of the east and south Ukraine will follow the example of Crimea and join Russia.  A temporary split of the Ukraine into two, like what happened in Cyprus, is also possible.  I honestly cannot imagine anybody crazy enough to provoke the Russian military to enter the eastern or southern Ukraine.  On the long term, it would be better for everybody that the Ukraine be allowed to split up into two or three different entities: one western, Latin and neo-Fascist one, one Russian one which would probably join the Eurasian Union or even become part of Russia, and possibly one independent one in the South.  But the dream of a large united Ukraine ruled by russophobic nationalists will not happen - that option is gone forever.

What is next for the AngoZionist Empire?

Externally, nothing much really.  It will be business as usual.  Neither Russia nor China will do anything reckless to provoke the USA which, just as the Russia of the 1990s, will remain a nuclear superpower and one of the major military powers on the planet with which no country will dare ignore.  But the myth of US omnipotence is now gone, forever.  Furthermore, Europe will have to bear the brunt of the consequences of having to manage the gradual transformation of Banderastan into something reasonable and non-threatening.  The EU will sink further in its economic and social crisis and some other crisis will replace the Ukraine in the news.  Externally, little will be change, but to paraphrase my conclusion about the 08.08.08 war, it will take a long while for the West to realize what has really happened and the most obtuse of pundits and politicians will probably hang on to their usual self-righteous rhetoric forever, but historians will probably look back at the month of February 2014 as the moment when Russia successfully beat back the combined power of the USA and Europe and prevailed.

The Saker