William Boardman / Reader Supported News – 2015-03-10 23:59:24
US Goes Ballistic Over Ukraine as Both Sides Wage Peace
US and UK deploy troops to Ukraine, but they’re just “advisors”
William Boardman / Reader Supported News
(March 10, 2015) — American combat troops deployed in Ukraine will soon number in the hundreds, at least, but US officials claim they’re there only as “advisors” or “trainers,” not as an in-place threat to Russia. Whatever advising or training they may do, they are also an in-place threat to Russia. US officials are also lobbying to arm Ukraine with “defensive” anti-tank rockets and other lethal weapons in hopes of escalating the fighting, maybe even killing some Russians. In other words, American brinksmanship continues to escalate slowly but recklessly on all fronts.
To the dismay of the Pentagon, the White House war crowd — and the rest of the American bloviating class of chickenhawk hardliners — the warring sides in Ukraine are disengaging and the ceasefire has almost arrived (March 7 was the first day with no casualties). The government in Kiev and the would-be governments of the People’s Republics of Donetsk and Luhansk have been acting as if they’re not hell-bent on mutually assured destruction after all.
They’ve exchanged prisoners. They’ve agreed to double the number of ceasefire monitors to 1,000. They’ve pulled back their heavy weapons. Both sides have stopped the random shelling that has caused “heavy civilian tolls of dead and wounded,” according to the March 2 report from the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights.
The calmer heads of Europe, in Germany and France particularly, are presently prevailing over the fear-mongered countries closer to Russia who seem bewitched by US enthusiasm to subject Europe to yet another devastating war in which those near-Russia countries would be the first to feel the pain.
But for now, most of Europe seems willing to accept the notion that the Russians have a rational view of their reasonable security needs, that the cost of further Russian advances outweighs any rational gain, and that all the mad babbling of bellicose Americans is just unprocessed cold war hysteria amplified by the need to deny decades of imperial defeats.
What Is It with Exceptional
American Irrationalists’ Love of War?
Still the manic American willingness to risk war with Russia, including nuclear war — over what, exactly? — keeps spinning out of Washington:
Ashton Carter, President Obama’s choice as Secretary of Defense, assured senators during his confirmation hearing in February that he would push for more aggressive military action for the rest of Obama’s term, that he favors lethal arms for Ukraine, and that he would not be pressured into faster release of innocent prisoners held in Guantanamo.
John Kerry, Secretary of State, advocated in early February in favor of sending arms to the Ukraine government. Since April 2014, Kerry has been demonizing Russia, blaming Russia for growing violence in eastern Ukraine even as Kiev militias were attacking the Donetsk and Luhansk separatists, calling them “terrorists.” Kerry, the highest-ranking American diplomat, recently and publicly accused the Russians of lying to his face.
James Clapper, director of national intelligence, has told the Council on Foreign Relations that he wants to give “lethal- defensive weapons” to the Kiev government to “bolster their resolve” and persuade them “that we’re with them.” Clapper was calling Russia one of the greatest threats to the US as early as 2011.
Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, jumped on the arm-Ukraine bandwagon March 3, saying “I think we should absolutely consider lethal aid.” (He didn’t add that the big danger of non-lethal aid is that it might help people settle differences without killing each other.)
Victoria Nuland, formerly security advisor to Dick Cheney, now an assistant secretary of state for European affairs, has long engaged in working for regime change in Russia. Nuland is famous for her “f–k the EU” attitude during the Maidan protests in 2014. On March 4 she became the first US official to call Russian actions in eastern Ukraine “an invasion.” She claimed there were hundreds of Russian Tanks in eastern Ukraine, though no credible evidence supports the claim.
“NATO now exists to manage the risks created by its existence.”
â€“ Richard Sakwa, Frontline Ukraine
From the Russian perspective, NATO aggression has continued for the past 20 years. Secretary of State James Baker, under the first President Bush, explicitly promised the Russians that NATO would not expand eastward toward Russia. For the next two decades, at the behest of the US, NATO has expanded eastward to Russia’s borders and put Ukrainian NATO membership in play. The unceasing madness of “US and NATO aggression in Ukraine” is argued forcefully by attorney Robert Roth in Counterpunch, who notes that US-sponsored sanctions on Russia are already, arguably, acts of war.
NATO continues to maintain nuclear weapons bases around Russia’s periphery while adding more anti-missile missile installations. Anti-missile missiles to intercept Russian missiles are generally understood to be part of the West’s nuclear first strike capability.
Then there’s the months-old, expanding Operation Atlantic Resolve, an elaborate US-sponsored NATO show of force deploying thousands of troops to NATO countries that are also Russia’s near-neighbors. Beginning in April 2014, Operation Atlantic Resolve started sending troops to Baltic countries (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland) that border Russia. Those troops remain, and Defense News reported that more US saber-rattling is coming:
The US military’s plans to send troops into Romania and Bulgaria as a deterrence to Russian aggression could expand to include Hungary, the Czech Republic and Russia’s southern neighbor, Georgiaâ€¦. by the end of the summer, you could very well see an operation that stretches from the Baltics all the way down to the Black Seaâ€¦.
In the Black Sea itself, NATO forces continue to project force through “training exercises” involving the Navies of at least seven nations: US, Canada, Turkey, Germany, Italy, Romania, and Bulgaria. NATO commander Gen. Philip Breedlove complained in late February that Russia had deployed “air defense systems that reach nearly half of the Black Sea” — as if it were surprising that Russia would respond to hostile military activity close to one of its oldest and largest naval bases, Sevastopol, in Crimea.
Breedlove admits that NATO naval forces have approached Crimea, provoking Russian naval responses. Breedlove’s warmongering reportedly upsets German officials, but they don’t object publicly to American lies.
This pattern of provocation and response is familiar to those who know the Viet-Nam War, when similar US tactics provoked the so-called “Tonkin Gulf incident.” That manipulated set of events, deceitfully described by the White House and dishonestly amplified by most American media, was used to gull a credulous and lazy Congress into passing the Tonkin Gulf Resolution, giving the president authority to wage that disastrous, pointless war. Watch for the sequel coming to a Black Sea theatre of war near you.
Congress Is as Eager for Ukraine War as It Was for Iraq and Viet-Nam
War-mongering has a large, noisy cheering section in Congress. Eleven American lawmakers including House Speaker John Boehner have signed a bi-partisan letter to President Obama demanding in the shrillest tones (“defend against further aggression”) that the US ship lethal arms to the Kiev government now.
The eleven Congress members (8 predictable Republicans and three veteran, dimwit Democrats) write about Ukraine what they had never had the wit or courage to say about US aggression in Iraq. They assert with grotesque oversimplification and false premises about “the crisis in Ukraine” that:
It is a grotesque violation of International law, a challenge to the west, and an assault on the international order established at such great cost in the wake of World War II.
Fatuous warmongering. At the end of World War II, Crimea was indisputably part of Russia (within the USSR) and the anti-Russian military alliance of NATO did not exist, much less had it pushed its existential security threat to the Russian border. You want an all-out, unambiguous assault on international law, look to Iraq and all the “little Iraqs” that the American hegemon executes with impunity and nearly endless destructiveness to peace, order, and culture.
The weak-kneed Democrats mindlessly signing on to this reflexive Republican rage to kill someone are:
Eliot Engel of New York (Westchester County), lawyer — first elected in 1988, he’s been a strong supporter of violence in Palestine, Kosovo, and Iraq (voting for the war in 2002);
Adam Smith of Washington (Seattle), lawyer — first elected 1997, he’s supported violence in Afghanistan and Iraq (voting for the war in 2001) and he sponsored a bill to allow the US government to lie to the people; and
Adam Schiff of California (Burbank), lawyer — he’s supported violence in Palestine, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and Syria (voting for the Iraq war in 2002). “Bi-partisanship” is pretty meaningless when the imperial war-making ideology is monolithic, as in this basic lie also in the Boehner letter:
We should not wait until Russian troops and their separatist proxies take Mariupol or Kharkiv before we act to bolster the Ukrainian government’s ability to deter and defend against further aggression.
The core of this lie is those “separatist proxies.” That’s an Orwellian phrase used to turn the roughly 5 million residents of the Republics of Donetsk and Luhansk into un-persons. These 5 million people are predominantly Russian-speaking and ethnic-Russian. They have legitimate, longstanding grievances with Ukrainian-dominated governments in Kiev, especially with the current illegitimate one which is neo-Nazi-tinged and Russo-phobic.
It is important for these 5 million people seeking self-determination to disappear from the American argument for war sooner rather than later. The American war justifiers require “Russian aggression” as a credible casus belli, but the would-be war makers offer no credible evidence to support that propaganda claim (“Remember the Maine!”).
The American News Bubble Distorts
And Excludes the World’s Realities
The blandly mindless media repetition of the phrase “Russian aggression” is a reliable measure of how much the news reports the government propaganda, at the expense of something like real world complexity. Dissenting voices are few in America’s media world, and seldom heard, especially those who ask: “What aggression?”
Somehow, in the well-washed American collective brain, it’s aggression when an oppressed minority declares its independence from its oppressors, the coup-installed Kiev government (and some of its predecessors). But that same scrubbed brain believes it’s not aggression when another minority, aligned with foreign interests, carries out a violent overthrow of Ukraine’s legitimately elected government.
Newsweek has demonized Russian president Vladimir Putin for months now, including on a cover with the headline “The Pariah” over a picture showing Putin in dark glasses that seem to reflect two nuclear explosions. (This imagery worked with deceitful perfection in 2002 when President Bush and Condoleezza Rice terrified audiences with the possibility that the “smoking gun would be a mushroom cloud.”)
Newsweek has even called for regime change in Russia. Newsweek is hardly alone in demonizing Putin without considering the realities of his situation. Others, like CNN, simply resort to calling him “completely mad,” even though Russian actions have been largely measured and limited, especially when considered in the context of two decades of western provocation.
The New York Times got suckered by the Kiev government into running pictures “proving” Russian troops were in Ukraine, when they proved no such thing. This was not an anomaly among American media, according to Robert Parry in Consortium News:
At pivotal moments in the crisis, such as the Feb. 20, 2014 sniper fire that killed both police and protesters and the July 17, 2014 shoot-down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 killing 298 passengers and crew, the US political/media establishment has immediately pinned the blame on Yanukovych, the ethnic Russian rebels who are resisting his ouster, or Putin. Then, when evidence emerged going in the opposite direction — toward “our side” — a studied silence followed, allowing the earlier propaganda to stay in place as part of the preferred storyline.
When Reality Intrudes upon Propaganda,
Reality Must Be Discredited
In a somewhat mocking story about Russia’s denunciation of US troops arriving in Ukraine as a threat to Russia security, the Los Angeles Times give roughly equal time to a NATO commander denouncing the Russian denunciation. The casual reader who stops halfway through the story is easily left with the impression that the Russians are behaving badly again and maybe sending lethal weapons is a good idea. Only in the last two paragraphs does the Times, quite unusually, report some real things that matter about Ukraine:
Ukraine, which proclaimed independence from the Soviet Union in 1991 as the communist-ruled federation was collapsing, had pledged to remain nonaligned, and in any case would need years to carry out reforms and assimilation of its armed forces with those of NATO before it could be inducted into the Western defense alliance.
But since the Russian-backed insurgency began ripping Ukraine apart, Kiev authorities have renounced the nonalignment pledge and set their course for eventual NATO membership.
The first of these two paragraphs is a partly reasonable explanation of why Russia would feel betrayed by the US and NATO. A nonaligned Ukraine remains an obvious possible alternative to the present conflict ignited by decades of NATO aggression.
The second paragraph serves as a warning, packaged as a justification based on a lie. The lie is that it’s a Russian-backed insurgency that’s ripping Ukraine apart, when Ukraine has been ripping itself apart for years, a reality that led to the coup-government in Kiev. The explanation — which is false — is that the insurgency has forced the Kiev government’s hand, even though the government took power with EU and NATO links obviously in mind. The warning is that Ukraine may just join NATO as soon as it can.
Until Americans — and especially American policy makers — face fundamental realities in and about Ukraine, the risk that they will take the rest of us into an unjustified, stupid, and potentially catastrophic war will remain unacceptably high. One of the realities Americans need to face is that the Ukraine government is corrupt, as corrupt an some of the most corrupt governments in the world, and nothing the US has done is likely to change that any time soon. What any war would ultimately be about is: who gets to benefit from that corruption?
Ukrainians know this and despair as, for example, Lilia Bigeyeva, 55, a violinist and composer did when she told her family’s storyfrom Dnipropetrovsk in central Ukraine:
I was born in Melitopol, raised in Zaporizhzhya, and have spent all of my adult life in Dnipropetrovsk. It hasn’t been easy, this past year in Ukraine. The loss of Crimea is a tragedy, the war is a tragedy. And it’s far from clear that our government and our people are really prepared to institute rule of lawâ€¦.
The war is very close to us, here in Dnipropetrovsk. Every day there’s bad news. But we continue to play music, my pupils and I. Culture and art, these are the things that have always helped us through frightening times.
This was published in The Moscow Times on March 6, but it was originally recorded and distributed by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. In other words, there’s no excuse, for anyone on any side, to say they didn’t know what was happening to the Ukrainian people for the sake of geopolitical greed.
END NOTE: HOW YOU CAN HELP THE WEST’S WAR EFFORT
Source: Craigslist posting, edited, from Orange County, California,
March 3, 2015.]
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This is temporary, part time, on-call work based on need and availability.
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William M. Boardman has over 40 years experience in theatre, radio, TV, print journalism, and non-fiction, including 20 years in the Vermont judiciary. He has received honors from Writers Guild of America, Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Vermont Life magazine, and an Emmy Award nomination from the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.
Reader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work. Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back to Reader Supported News.