Washington’s War Crimes Spread From Africa and the Middle East to Ukraine

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How Long Can Putin Wait?

by PAUL CRAIG ROBERTS

A person might think that revulsion in “the world community” against Washington’s wanton slaughter of civilians in eight countries would have led to War Crimes Tribunal warrants issued for the arrest of presidents Clinton, Bush, Obama and many officials in their regimes.  But the vocal part of “the world community”–the West–has become inured to Washington’s crimes against humanity and doesn’t bother to protest.  Indeed, many of these governments are complicit in Washington’s crimes, and there could just as well be arrest warrants for members of European governments.

The one exception is Russia.  The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation has published a White Book on violations of human rights and the rule of law in Ukraine.  Propagandized Americans think that all the violations in Ukraine are made by Russians.  The White Book carefully and accurately documents reported violations that occurred in Ukraine for four months from December 2013 through March 2014.

The White Book is available here. You will not hear much or anything about it from the presstitute US media, and it is unlikely to receive much coverage in Europe.  The facts are so greatly at odds with the West’s position that the White Book is a huge embarrassment to the West.

The slaughter of Ukrainians on Washington’s orders by Washington’s stooge government in Kiev has worsened considerably in the past three months, producing more than 100,000 Ukrainian refugees fleeing into Russia for protection from strikes against civilian housing from the air, artillery, and tanks.

Every effort by the Russian government to involve Washington, the European Union, and Kiev in negotiations to find a peaceful settlement has failed.

Washington is not interested in a settlement.  Disturbed by its NATO vassals’ dependence on Russian energy and the growing economic relationships between Russia and Europe, Washington is at work through its Kiev proxy murdering citizens in eastern and southern parts of present-day Ukraine that once were part of Russia.

Washington has declared these civilians to be “terrorists” and is trying to force Russia to intervene militarily in order to protect them.  Russia’s protective intervention would then be denounced by Washington as “invasion and annexation.”  Washington would use this propaganda, which would blare from the Western media, to pressure Europe to support Washington’s sanctions against Russia. The sanctions would effectively destroy the existing economic relationships between Russia and Europe.

Washington has not had success in imposing sanctions, because, although Washington’s European vassals, such as Merkel, are willing, business interests in Germany, France, and Italy stand opposed.  Washington is hoping that by forcing Russia to act, Washington can sufficiently demonize Russia and silence the European business interests with propaganda.

To counter Washington’s ploy, Putin had the Russian Duma rescind his authority to send Russian forces into Ukraine.  Unlike the American presidents Clinton, Bush, and Obama, Putin does not claim the authority to use military forces without permission from the legislature.

Washington’s response to Putin’s stand down is to increase the slaughter of civilians, all the while denying that any such slaughter is occurring.  Washington is determined not to acknowledge the existence of a slaughter for which it is responsible, although everyone knows that Kiev would not dare to take on Russia without Washington’s backing.

Putin’s bet is that European business interests will prevail over Washington’s European lap dogs.  This is a hopeful and optimistic bet, but Washington is already at work to threaten and to undermine the resistance of European business interests.  Using concocted charges, Washington has stolen $9 billion from France’s largest bank for doing business with countries disapproved by Washington. This was Washington’s warning to European business to comply with Washington’s sanctions. Washington even told France that  the fine would be rescinded or reduced if France broke its contract with Russia to supply two helicopter carriers.  Other such moves against European businesses are in the works. The purpose is to intimidate European businesses from opposing sanctions against Russia.

Washington’s arrogance that Washington can decide with whom a French bank can do business is astonishing.  It is even more astonishing that France and the bank would accept such arrogance and infringement of France’s sovereignty. France’s acceptance of Washington’s hegemony shows that one risk in Putin’s bet is that the bet assumes European business interests can prevail over Washington’s strategic interest.

Another risk in Putin’s bet is that by standing down and tolerating Washington’s slaughter of civilians, Putin is becoming complicit in Washington’s crimes against humanity.  The longer the slaughter goes on, the more complicit the Russian government becomes.  Moreover, the passage of time allows Kiev to increase its forces and NATO to supply these forces with more deadly weapons.  A Russian intervention, which previously would have met with easy success, becomes more costly and more drawn out as Kiev’s forces increase.

Washington’s puppet in Kiev has made it clear that he is not going to accommodate any Russian interests or any opposition of Ukrainian provinces to the radical anti-Russian policies of Washington’s stooge government.  As Washington acknowledges no responsibility whatsoever for the situation, how long can Putin wait for Merkel or Hollande to break ranks with Washington?

Putin’s alternative is to come to the defense of the Ukrainians who are being attacked. Putin could accept the requests of the rebellious provinces to rejoin Russia as he did with Crimea,  declare  Washington’s stooge, Petro Poroshenko, to be a war criminal and issue a warrant for his arrest, and send in the Russian military to face down the forces sent by Kiev.

Outside the West, this would establish Putin as a defender of human rights.  Inside the West it would make it completely clear to Washington’s European vassals that the consequence of their alignment with Washington is that they will be drawn into war with Russia and, likely, also with China.  Europeans have nothing to gain from these wars.

Sooner than later Putin needs to realize that his reasonableness is not reciprocated by Washington.  Washington is taking advantage of Putin’s reasonableness, and Washington is pushing Russia harder.

Putin has done what he can to avoid conflict.  Now he needs to do the right thing, as he did in Georgia and Crimea.

Paul Craig Roberts is a former Assistant Secretary of the US Treasury and Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal. Roberts’ How the Economy Was Lost is now available from CounterPunch in electronic format. His latest book is How America Was Lost.

http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/07/04/how-long-can-putin-wait/

 

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Fascism Is Rearing Its Ugly Head in Ukraine

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The fire in Odessa, killing dozens of ethnic Russians, has disrupted the US media’s efforts to deny the existence of neo-Nazis.

As much as the coup regime in Ukraine and its supporters want to project an image of Western moderation, there is a “Dr. Strangelove” element that can’t stop the Nazism from popping up from time to time, like when the Peter Sellers character in the classic movie can’t keep his right arm from making a “Heil Hitler” salute.

This brutal Nazism surfaced again on Friday when right-wing toughs in Odessa attacked an encampment of ethnic Russian protesters driving them into a trade union building which was then set on fire with Molotov cocktails. As the building was engulfed in flames, some people who tried to flee were chased and beaten, while those trapped inside heard the Ukrainian nationalists liken them to black-and-red-striped potato beetles called Colorados, because those colors are used in pro-Russian ribbons.

“Burn, Colorado, burn” went the chant.

As the fire worsened, those dying inside were serenaded with the taunting singing of the Ukrainian national anthem. The building also was spray-painted with Swastika-like symbols and graffiti reading “Galician SS,” a reference to the Ukrainian nationalist army that fought alongside the German Nazi SS in World War II, killing Russians on the eastern front.

The death by fire of dozens of people in Odessa recalled a World War II incident in 1944 when elements of a Galician SS police regiment took part in the massacre of the Polish village of Huta Pieniacka, which had been a refuge for Jews and was protected by Russian and Polish partisans. Attacked by a mixed force of Ukrainian police and German soldiers on Feb. 28, hundreds of townspeople were massacred, including many locked in barns that were set ablaze.

The legacy of World War II – especially the bitter fight between Ukrainian nationalists from the west and ethnic Russians from the east seven decades ago – is never far from the surface in Ukrainian politics. One of the heroes celebrated during the Maidan protests in Kiev was Nazi collaborator Stepan Bandera, whose name was honored in many banners including one on a podium where Sen. John McCain voiced support for the uprising to oust elected President Viktor Yanukovych, whose political base was in eastern Ukraine.

During World War II, Bandera headed the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists-B, a radical paramilitary movement that sought to transform Ukraine into a racially pure state. OUN-B took part in the expulsion and extermination of thousands of Jews and Poles.

Though most of the Maidan protesters in 2013-14 appeared motivated by anger over political corruption and by a desire to join the European Union, neo-Nazis made up a significant number. These storm troopers from the Right Sektor and Svoboda party decked out some of the occupied government buildings with Nazi insignias and even a Confederate battle flag, the universal symbol of white supremacy.

Then, as the protests turned violent from Feb. 20-22, the neo-Nazis surged to the forefront. Their well-trained militias, organized in 100-man brigades called “the hundreds,” led the final assaults against police and forced Yanukovych and many of his officials to flee for their lives.

In the days after the coup, as the neo-Nazi militias effectively controlled the government, European and U.S. diplomats scrambled to help the shaken parliament put together the semblance of a respectable regime, although four ministries, including national security, were awarded to the right-wing extremists in recognition of their crucial role in ousting Yanukovych.

Seeing No Nazis

Since February, virtually the entire U.S. news media has cooperated in the effort to play down the neo-Nazi role, dismissing any mention of this inconvenient truth as “Russian propaganda.” Stories in the U.S. media delicately step around the neo-Nazi reality by keeping out relevant context, such as the background of national security chief Andriy Parubiy, who founded the Social-National Party of Ukraine in 1991, blending radical Ukrainian nationalism with neo-Nazi symbols. Parubiy was commandant of the Maidan’s “self-defense forces.”

When the neo-Nazi factor is mentioned in the mainstream U.S. press, it is usually to dismiss it as nonsense, such as an April 20 column by New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof who visited his ancestral home, the western Ukrainian town of Karapchiv, and portrayed its residents as the true voice of the Ukrainian people.

“To understand why Ukrainians are risking war with Russia to try to pluck themselves from Moscow’s grip, I came to this village where my father grew up,” he wrote. “Even here in the village, Ukrainians watch Russian television and loathe the propaganda portraying them as neo-Nazi thugs rampaging against Russian speakers.

“‘If you listen to them, we all carry assault rifles; we’re all beating people,’ Ilya Moskal, a history teacher, said contemptuously.”

In an April 17 column from Kiev, Kristof wrote that what the Ukrainians want is weapons from the West so they can to go “bear-hunting,” i.e. killing Russians. “People seem to feel a bit disappointed that the United States and Europe haven’t been more supportive, and they are humiliated that their own acting government hasn’t done more to confront Russian-backed militants. So, especially after a few drinks, people are ready to take down the Russian Army themselves.”

Kristof also repeated the U.S. “conventional wisdom” that the resistance to the coup regime among eastern Ukrainians was entirely the work of Russian President Vladimir Putin, who, Kristof wrote, “warns that Ukraine is on the brink of civil war. But the chaos in eastern cities is his own creation, in part by sending provocateurs across the border.”

However, when the New York Times finally sent two reporters to spend time with rebels from the east, they encountered an indigenous movement motivated by hostility to the Kiev regime and showing no signs of direction from Moscow. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “Another NYT ‘Sort of’ Retraction on Ukraine.”]

Beyond the journalistic risk of jumping to conclusions, Kristof, who fancies himself a great humanitarian, also should recognize that the clever depiction of human beings as animals, whether as “bears” or “Colorado beetles,” can have horrendous human consequences as is now apparent in Odessa.

Reagan’s Nazis

But the problem with some western Ukrainians expressing their inconvenient love for Nazis has not been limited to the current crisis. It bedeviled Ronald Reagan’s administration when it began heating up the Cold War in the 1980s.

As part of that strategy, Reagan’s United States Information Agency, under his close friend Charles Wick, hired a cast of right-wing Ukrainian exiles who began showing up on U.S.-funded Radio Liberty praising the Galician SS.

These commentaries included positive depictions of Ukrainian nationalists who had sided with the Nazis in World War II as the SS waged its “final solution” against European Jews. The propaganda broadcasts provoked outrage from Jewish organizations, such as B’nai B’rith, and individuals including conservative academic Richard Pipes.

According to an internal memo dated May 4, 1984, and written by James Critchlow, a research officer at the Board of International Broadcasting, which managed Radio Liberty and Radio Free Europe, one RL broadcast in particular was viewed as “defending Ukrainians who fought in the ranks of the SS.”

Critchlow wrote, “An RL Ukrainian broadcast of Feb. 12, 1984 contains references to the Nazi-oriented Ukrainian-manned SS ‘Galicia’ Division of World War II which may have damaged RL’s reputation with Soviet listeners. The memoirs of a German diplomat are quoted in a way that seems to constitute endorsement by RL of praise for Ukrainian volunteers in the SS division, which during its existence fought side by side with the Germans against the Red Army.”

Harvard Professor Pipes, who was an informal adviser to the Reagan administration, also inveighed against the Radio Liberty broadcasts, writing – on Dec. 3, 1984 – “the Russian and Ukrainian services of RL have been transmitting this year blatantly anti-Semitic material to the Soviet Union which may cause the whole enterprise irreparable harm.”

Though the Reagan administration publicly defended Radio Liberty against some of the public criticism, privately some senior officials agreed with the critics, according to documents in the archives of the Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California. For instance, in a Jan. 4, 1985, memo, Walter Raymond Jr., a top official on the National Security Council, told his boss, National Security Adviser Robert McFarlane, that “I would believe much of what Dick [Pipes] says is right.”

What the Reagan administration apparently didn’t understand three decades ago – and what the U.S. State Department still has not seemed to learn today – is that there is a danger in stirring up the old animosities that divide Ukraine, east and west.

Though clearly a minority, Ukraine’s neo-Nazis remain a potent force that is well-organized, well-motivated and prone to extreme violence, whether throwing firebombs at police in the Maidan or at ethnic Russians trapped in a building in Odessa.

As vengeance now seeks vengeance across Ukraine, this Nazi imperative will be difficult to hold down, much as Dr. Strangelove struggled to stop his arm from making a “Heil Hitler” salute.

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his new book, “America’s Stolen Narrative,” either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com). For a limited time, you also can order Robert Parry’s trilogy on the Bush Family and its connections to various right-wing operatives for only $34. The trilogy includes “America’s Stolen Narrative.” For details on this offer, click here.

http://www.alternet.org/world/ukraine-catastrophe-offers-many-frightening-reminders-nazi-era?akid=11782.265072.lM9dK4&rd=1&src=newsletter989688&t=7&paging=off&current_page=1#bookmark

America’s Coup Machine: Destroying Democracy Since 1953


U.S. efforts to overthrow foreign governments leave the world less peaceful, less just and less hopeful.

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Soon after the 2004 U.S. coup to depose President Jean-Bertrand Aristide of Haiti, I heard Aristide’s lawyer Ira Kurzban speaking in Miami.  He began his talk with a riddle: “Why has there never been a coup in Washington D.C.?”  The answer: “Because there is no U.S. Embassy in Washington D.C.”  This introduction was greeted with wild applause by a mostly Haitian-American audience who understood it only too well.

Ukraine’s former security chief, Aleksandr Yakimenko, has reported that the coup-plotters who overthrew the elected government in Ukraine, “basically lived in the (U.S.) Embassy.  They were there every day.”  We also know from a leaked Russian intercept that they were in close contact with Ambassador Pyatt and the senior U.S. official in charge of the coup, former Dick Cheney aide Victoria Nuland, officially the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs.  And we can assume that many of their days in the Embassy were spent in strategy and training sessions with their individual CIA case officers.

To place the coup in Ukraine in historical context, this is at least the 80th time the United States has organized a coup or a failed coup in a foreign country since 1953.  That was when President Eisenhower discovered in Iran that the CIA could overthrow elected governments who refused to sacrifice the future of their people to Western commercial and geopolitical interests.  Most U.S. coups have led to severe repression, disappearances, extrajudicial executions, torture, corruption, extreme poverty and inequality, and prolonged setbacks for the democratic aspirations of people in the countries affected.  The plutocratic and ultra-conservative nature of the forces the U.S. has brought to power in Ukraine make it unlikely to be an exception.

Noam Chomsky calls William Blum’s classic, Killing Hope: U.S. Military and CIA Interventions since World War II, “Far and away the best book on the topic.”  If you’re looking for historical context for what you are reading or watching on TV about the coup in Ukraine, Killing Hope will provide it.  The title has never been more apt as we watch the hopes of people from all regions of Ukraine being sacrificed on the same altar as those of people in Iran (1953); Guatemala(1954); Thailand (1957); Laos (1958-60); the Congo (1960); Turkey (1960, 1971 & 1980); Ecuador (1961 & 1963); South Vietnam (1963); Brazil (1964); the Dominican Republic (1963); Argentina (1963); Honduras (1963 & 2009); Iraq (1963 & 2003); Bolivia (1964, 1971 & 1980); Indonesia (1965); Ghana (1966); Greece (1967); Panama (1968 & 1989); Cambodia (1970); Chile (1973); Bangladesh (1975); Pakistan (1977); Grenada (1983); Mauritania (1984); Guinea (1984); Burkina Faso (1987); Paraguay (1989); Haiti (1991 & 2004); Russia (1993); Uganda (1996);and Libya (2011).  This list does not include a roughly equal number of failed coups, nor coups in Africa and elsewhere in which a U.S. role is suspected but unproven.

The disquieting reality of the world we live in is that American efforts to destroy democracy, even as it pretends to champion it, have left the world less peaceful, less just and less hopeful.  When Harold Pinter won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2005, at the height of the genocidal American war on Iraq, he devoted much of his acceptance speech to an analysis of this dichotomy.  He said of the U.S., “It has exercised a quite clinical manipulation of power worldwide while masquerading as a force for universal good.  It’s a brilliant, even witty, highly successful act of hypnosis… Brutal, indifferent, scornful and ruthless it may be, but it is also very clever.”

The basic framework of U.S. coups has hardly evolved since 1953.  The main variables between coups in different places and times have been the scale and openness of the U.S. role and the level of violence used.  There is a strong correlation between the extent of U.S. involvement and the level of violence.  At one extreme, the U.S. war on Iraq was a form of regime change that involved hundreds of thousands of U.S. troops and killed hundreds of thousands of people.  On the other hand, the U.S. role in General Suharto’s coup in Indonesia in 1965 remained covert even as he killed almost as many people.  Only long after the fact didU.S. officials take credit for their role in Suharto’s campaign of mass murder, and it will be some time before they brag publicly about their roles in Ukraine.

But as Harold Pinter explained, the U.S. has always preferred “low-intensity conflict” to full-scale invasions and occupations.  The CIA and U.S. special forces use proxies and covert operations to overthrow governments and suppress movements that challenge America’s insatiable quest for global power.  A coup is the climax of such operations, and it is usually only when these “low-intensity” methods fail that a country becomes a target for direct U.S. military aggression.  Iraq only became a target for U.S. invasion and occupation after a failed CIA coup in June 1996.  The U.S. attacked Panama in 1989 only after five CIA coup attempts failed to remove General Noriega from power.  After long careers as CIA agents, both Hussein and Noriega had exceptional knowledge of U.S. operations and methods that enabled them to resist regime change by anything less than overwhelming U.S. military force.

But most U.S. coups follow a model that has hardly changed between 1953 and the latest coup in Ukraine in 2014.  This model has three stages:

1) Creating and strengthening opposition forces

In the early stages of a U.S. plan for regime change, there is little difference between the methods used to achieve it at the ballot box or by an anti-constitutional coup.  Many of these tools and methods were developed to install right-wing governments in occupied countries in Europe and Asia after World War II.  They include forming and funding conservative political parties, student groups, trade unions and media outlets, and running well-oiled propaganda campaigns both in the country being targeted and in regional, international and U.S. media.

Post-WWII Italy is a case in point.  At the end of the war, the U.S. used the American Federation of Labor’s agents in France and Italy to funnel money through non-communist trade unions to conservative candidates and political parties.  But socialists and communists won a plurality of votes in the 1946 election in Italy, and then joined forces to form the Popular Democratic Front for the next election in 1948.  The U.S. worked with the Catholic Church, conducted a massive propaganda campaign using Italian-American celebrities like Frank Sinatra, and printed 10 million letters for Italian-Americans to mail to their relatives in Italy.  The U.S. threatened a total cut-off of aid to the war-ravaged country, where allied bombing had killed 50,000 civilians and left much of the country in ruins.

The FDP was reduced from a combined 40% of the votes in 1946 to 31% in 1948, leaving Italy in the hands of increasingly corrupt U.S.-backed coalitions led by the Christian Democrats for the next 46 years.  Italy was saved from an imaginary communist dictatorship, but more importantly from an independent democratic socialist program committed to workers’ rights and to protecting small and medium-sized Italian businesses against competition from U.S. multinationals.

The U.S. employed similar tactics in Chile in the 1960s to prevent the election of Salvador Allende.  He came within 3% of winning the presidency in 1958, so the Kennedy administration sent a team of 100 State Department and CIA officers to Chile in what one of them later called a “blatant and almost obscene” effort to subvert the next election in 1964.  The CIA provided more than half the Christian Democrats’ campaign funds and launched a multimedia propaganda campaign on film, TV, radio, newspapers, posters and flyers.  This classic “red scare” campaign, dominated by images of firing squads and Soviet tanks, was designed mainly to terrify women.  The CIA produced 20 radio spots per day that were broadcast on at least 45 stations, as well as dozens of fabricated daily “news” broadcasts.  Thousands of posters depicted children with hammers and sickles stamped on their foreheads.  The Christian Democrat Eduardo Frei defeated Allende by 17%, with a huge majority among women.

But despite the U.S. propaganda campaign, Allende was finally elected in 1970.  When he consolidated his position in Congressional elections in 1973 despite a virtual U.S. economic embargo and an ever-escalating destabilization campaign, his fate was sealed, at the hands of the CIA and the U.S.-backed military, led by General Pinochet.

In Ukraine, the U.S. has worked since independence in 1991 to promote pro-Western parties and candidates, climaxing in the “Orange Revolution” in 2004.  But the Western-backed governments of Viktor Yushchenko and Yulia Tymoshenko became just as corrupt and unpopular as previous ones, and former Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich was elected President in 2010.

The U.S. employed all its traditional tactics leading up to the coup in 2014.  The U.S. National Endowment for Democracy (NED) has partially taken over the CIA’s role in grooming opposition candidates, parties and political movements, with an annual budget of $100 million to spend in countries around the world.  The NED made no secret of targeting Ukraine as a top priority, funding 65 projects there, more than in any other country.  The NED’s neoconservative president, Carl Gershman, called Ukraine “the biggest prize” in a Washington Post op-ed in September 2013, as the U.S. operation there prepared to move into its next phase.

2) Violent street demonstrations

In November 2013, the European Union presented President Yanukovich with a 1,500 page “free trade agreement,” similar to NAFTA or the TPP, but which withheld actual EU membership from Ukraine.  The agreement would have opened Ukraine’s borders to Western exports and investment without a reciprocal opening of the EU’s borders. Ukraine, a major producer of cheese and poultry, would have been allowed to export only 5% of its cheese and 1% of its poultry to the EU.  Meanwhile Western firms could have used Ukraine as a gateway to flood Russia with cheap products from Asia. This would have forced Russia to close its borders to Ukraine, shattering the industrial economy of Eastern Ukraine.

Understandably, and for perfectly sound reasons as a Ukrainian president, Viktor Yanukovich rejected the EU agreement.  This was the signal for pro-Western and right-wing groups in Kiev to take to the street.  In the West, we tend to interpret street demonstrations as representing surges of populism and democracy.  But we should distinguish left-wing demonstrations against right-wing governments from the kind of violent right-wing demonstrations that have always been part of U.S. regime change strategy.

In Tehran in 1953, the CIA spent a million dollars to hire gangsters and “extremely competent professional organizers”, as the CIA’s Kermit Roosevelt called them, to stage increasingly violent demonstrations, until loyal and rebel army units were fighting in the streets of Tehran and at least 300 people were killed.  The CIA spent millions more to bribe members of parliament and other influential Iranians.  Mossadegh was forced to resign, and the Shah restored Western ownership of the oil industry.  BP divided the spoils with American firms, until the Shah was overthrown 26 years later by the Iranian Revolution and the oil industry was re-nationalized.  This pattern of short-term success followed by eventual independence from U.S. interests is a common result of CIA coups, most notably in Latin America, where they have led many of our closest neighbors to become increasingly committed to political and economic independence from the United States.

In Haiti in 2004, 200 U.S. special forces trained 600 FRAPH militiamen and other anti-Lavalas forces at a training camp across the border in the Dominican Republic.  These forces then invaded northern Haiti and gradually spread violence and chaos across the country to set the stage for the overthrow of President Aristide.

In Ukraine, street protests turned violent in January 2014 as the neo-NaziSvoboda Party and the Right Sector militia took charge of the crowds in the streets.  The Right Sector militia only appeared in Ukraine in the past 6 months, although it incorporated existing extreme-right groups and gangs.  It is partly funded by Ukrainian exiles in the U.S. and Europe, and may be a creation of the CIA.  After Right Sector seized government buildings, parliament outlawed the protests and the police reoccupied part of Independence Square, killing two protesters.

On February 7th, the Russians published an intercepted phone call betweenAssistant Secretary of State Nuland and U.S. Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt.  The intercept revealed that U.S. officials were preparing to seize the moment for a coup in Ukraine.  The transcript reads like a page from a John Le Carre novel: “I think we’re in play… we could land jelly-side up on this one if we move fast.”  Their main concern was to marginalize heavyweight boxing champion Vitali Klitschko, who had become the popular face of the “revolution” and was favored by the European Union, and to ensure that U.S. favorite Arseniy Yatsenyuk ended up in the Prime Minister’s office.

On the night of February 17th, Right Sector announced a march from Independence Square to the parliament building on the 18th.  This ignited several days of escalating violence in which the death toll rose to 110 people killed, including protesters, government supporters and 16 police officers.  More than a thousand people were wounded. Vyacheslav Veremyi, a well-known reporter for a pro-government newspaper, was dragged out of a taxi near Independence Square and shot to death in front of a crowd of onlookers.  Right Sector broke into an armory near Lviv and seized military weapons, and there is evidence of both sides using snipers to fire from buildings in Kiev at protesters and police in the streets and the square below.  Former security chief Yakimenko believes that snipers firing from the Philharmonic building were U.S.-paid foreign mercenaries, like the snipers from the former Yugoslavia who earn up to $2,000 per day shooting soldiers in Syria.

As violence raged in the streets, the government and opposition parties held emergency meetings and reached two truce agreements, one on the night of February 19th and another on the 21st, brokered by the foreign ministers of France, Germany and Poland.  But Right Sector rejected both truces and called for the “people’s revolution” to continue until Yanukovich resigned and the government was completely removed from power.

3) The coup d’etat.

The creation and grooming of opposition forces and the spread of violence in the streets are deliberate strategies to create a state of emergency as a pretext for removing an elected or constitutional government and seizing power.  Once the coup leaders have been trained and prepared by their CIA case officers, U.S. officials have laid their plans and street violence has broken down law and order and the functioning of state institutions, all that remains is to strike decisively at the right moment to remove the government and install the coup leaders in its place.  In Iran, faced with hundreds of people being killed in the streets, Mohammad Mosaddegh resigned to end the bloodshed. In Chile, General Pinochet launched air strikes on the presidential palace.  In Haiti in 2004, U.S. forces landed to remove President Aristide and occupy the country.

In Ukraine, Vitaly Klitschko announced that parliament would open impeachment proceedings against Yanukovich, but, later that day, lacking the 338 votes required for impeachment, a smaller number of members simply approved a declaration that Yanukovich “withdrew from his duties in an unconstitutional manner,” and appointed Oleksandr Turchynov of the opposition Fatherland Party as Acting President.  Right Sector seized control of government buildings and patrolled the streets.  Yanukovich refused to resign, calling this an illegal coup d’etat.  The coup leaders vowed to prosecute him for the deaths of protesters, but he escaped to Russia.  Arseniy Yatsenyuk was appointed Prime Minister on February 27th, exactly as Nuland and Pyatt had planned.

The main thing that distinguishes the U.S. coup in Ukraine from the majority of previous U.S. coups was the minimal role played by the Ukrainian military.  Since 1953, most U.S. coups have involved using local senior military officers to deliver the final blow to remove the elected or ruling leader.  The officers have then been rewarded with presidencies, dictatorships or other senior positions in new U.S.-backed regimes. The U.S. military cultivates military-to-military relationships to identify and groom future coup leaders, and President Obama’s expansion of U.S. special forces operations to 134 countries around the world suggests that this process is ongoing and expanding, not contracting.

But the neutral or pro-Russian position of the Ukrainian military since it was separated from the Soviet Red Army in 1991 made it an impractical tool for an anti-Russian coup. So Nuland and Pyatt’s signal innovation in Ukraine was to use the neo-Nazi Svoboda Party and Right Sector as a strike force to unleash escalating violence and seize power. This also required managing Svoboda and Right Sector’s uneasy alliance with Fatherland and UDAR, the two pro-Western opposition parties who won 40% between them in the 2012 parliamentary election.

Historically, about half of all U.S. coups have failed, and success is never guaranteed.  But few Americans have ended up dead or destitute in the wake of a failed coup.  It is always the people of the target country who pay the price in violence, chaos, poverty and instability, while U.S. coup leaders like Nuland and Pyatt often get a second – or 3rd or 4th or 5th – bite at the apple, and will keep rising through the ranks of the State Department and the CIA.  Direct U.S. military intervention in Ukraine was not an option before the coup, but now the coup itself may destabilize the country and plunge it into economic collapse, regional disintegration or conflict with Russia, creating new and unpredictable conditions in which NATO intervention could become feasible.

Russia has proposed a reasonable solution to the crisis. To resolve the tensions between Eastern and Western Ukraine over their respective political and economic links with Russia and the West, the Russians have proposed a federal system in which both Eastern and Western Ukraine would have much greater autonomy.  This would be more stable that the present system in which each tries to dominate the other with the support of their external allies, turning Ukraine and all its people into pawns of Western-NATO expansion and Russia’s efforts to limit it.  The Russian proposal includes a binding commitment that Ukraine would remain neutral and not join NATO.  A few weeks ago, Obama and Kerry seemed to be ready to take this off-ramp from the crisis.  The delay in agreeing to Russia’s seemingly reasonable proposal may be only an effort to save face, or it may mean that theneocons who engineered the coupare still dictating policy in Washington and that Obama and Kerry may be ready to risk a further escalation of the crisis.

The U.S. coup machine has also been at work in Venezuela, where it already failed once in 2002.  Raul Capote, a former Cuban double agent who worked with the CIA in Cuba and Venezuela, recently described its long-term project to build right-wing opposition movements among upper- and middle-class students in Venezuelan universities, which are now bearing fruit in increasingly violent street protests and vigilantism.  Thirty-six people have been killed, including six police officers and at least 5 opposition protesters.  The protests began exactly a month after municipal elections in December, in which the government won the popular vote by almost 10%, far more than the 1.5% margin in the presidential election last April.  As in Chile in 1973, electoral success by an elected government is often the cue for the CIA to step up its efforts, moving beyond propaganda and right-wing politics to violence in the streets, and the popularity of the Venezuelan government seems to have provoked precisely that reaction.

Another feature of U.S. coups is the role of the Western media in publicizing official cover stories and suppressing factual journalism.  This role has also been consistent since 1953, but it has evolved as corporate media have consolidated their monopoly power.  By their very nature, coups are secret operations and U.S. media are prohibited from revealing “national security” secrets about them, such as the names of CIA officers involved.  By only reporting official cover stories, they become unwitting co conspirators in the critical propaganda component of these operations.  But the U.S. corporate media have turned vice into virtue, relishing their role in the demonization of America’s chosen enemies and cheerleading U.S. efforts to do them in.  They brush U.S. responsibility for violence and chaos under the carpet, and sympathetically present U.S. policy as a well-meaning effort to respond to the irrational and dangerous behavior of others.

This is far more than is required by strict observance of secrecy laws, and it reveals a great deal about the nature of the media environment we live in.  The Western media as it exists today under near-monopoly corporate ownership is a more sophisticated and total propaganda system than early 20th century propagandists ever dreamed of.  As media corporations profit from Western geopolitical and commercial expansion, the propaganda function that supports that expansion is an integrated part of their business model, not something exceptional they do under duress from the state.  But to expect factual journalism about U.S. coups from such firms is to misunderstand who and what they are.

Recent studies have found that people gain a better grasp of current affairs from John Stewart’s Daily Show on Comedy Central than from watching “news” networks.  People who watch no “news” at all have more knowledge of international affairs than people who watch MSNBC or Fox News.  A previous survey conducted 3 months after the U.S. invasion of Iraq found that 52% of Americans believed that U.S. forces in Iraq had found clear evidence of links between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda.  Among Republicans who said they were following “news on Iraq very closely”, the figure was 78%, compared with only 68% among Republicans at large.

If the role of the corporate media was to provide factual journalism, these studies would be a terrible indictment of their performance.  But once we acknowledge their actual role as the propaganda arm of an expansionist political and economic system, then we can understand that promoting the myths and misinformation that sustain it are a central part of what they do.  In that light, they are doing a brilliant job on Ukraine as they did on Iraq, suppressing any mention of the U.S. role in the coup and pivoting swiftly away from the unfolding crisis in post-coup Ukraine to focus entirely on attacking President Putin for reclaiming Crimea.  On the other hand, if you’re looking for factual journalism about the U.S. coup machine, you should probably turn off your TV and keep reading reliable sources like Alternet,Consortium News and Venezuela Analysis.

Nicolas J. S. Davies is the author of Blood On Our Hands: The American Invasion and Destruction of Iraq. He wrote the chapter on “Obama At War” for the book, Grading the 44th President: A Report Card on Barack Obama’s First Term as a Progressive Leader.

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German media campaigns for war in Ukraine

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By Ulrich Rippert
7 March 2014

So-called liberal German media outlets such as the daily Süddeutsche Zeitung, Die Zeit, which is close to the Social Democratic Party (SPD), and the Green Party-aligned TAZ have responded to the intensification of the crisis in Ukraine with a vehement campaign for war. As though they had received their training in Goebbels’ propaganda ministry, some commentators are openly defending fascist parties, hailing anti-Semitic militias as freedom fighters, and calling for a military strike against Russia.

On Monday, TAZ Russian correspondent Klaus-Helge Donath railed against “Berlin’s cuddly diplomats” in a lead article. He accused the German government of allowing Putin to lead them “around the arena by the nose.” On the title page, an oversized telephone receiver was featured, designed to show that Berlin’s policy was restricted to diplomatic efforts.

The west could no longer allow Putin “to make a fool of them,” TAZ insisted.

Donath explicitly justified collaborating with fascists. “No one disputes that there are influential, radical right-wing forces,” he wrote. “But are there not several groups in the Ukraine as in other European democracies?”

When violent groups overthrew the President in Kiev two weeks ago, Donath defended the Ukrainian fascists, who enjoy close ties to the German government. He described them as “an active part of Ukrainian society,” which had driven forward “the protests of Ukrainian society against a pro-Soviet, kleptocratic autocracy.”

In the same vein, Stefan Kornelius went on the offensive in the Süddeutsche Zeitung. He described the overthrow of Yanukovych as a “revolution” which had to be defended. By contrast, he accused Russian President Putin of knowing only the language of violence, striving for a counter-revolution and being intent on war. Therefore, he had to be forcibly resisted.

That Kornelius dares to describe the fascists as national revolutionaries, in Ukraine of all places, where names like Babi Yar recall some of the worst Nazi crimes, is not only deeply repugnant but also politically criminal.

Yet Kornelius is aware that the right-wing putsch in Ukraine was guided by external forces, above all by the deliberate actions of the German and American governments. He wrote in his comment that the previous power relations in Ukraine were overturned by a “political intervention.”

The course of this political intervention is well known. When Viktor Yanukovych refused last November to sign an association agreement with the European Union (EU), the governments in Washington and Berlin began a systematic campaign of destabilisation. They supported the pro-EU opposition which organised protests against Yanukovych. Along with Yulia Tymoshenko’s Fatherland and Vitali Klitschko’s Udar, both right-wing parties with close ties to Germany’s Christian Democratic Union, the fascist Svoboda party of Oleg Tyahnybok was also included.

The fact that Svoboda employs neofascist symbols, rails against foreigners, Jews, Poles and Hungarians, maintains close ties to the French National Front, and that it was compared with Greece’s Golden Dawn and Hungary’s Jobbik by the World Jewish Congress did not prevent the German and American governments from publicly supporting Tyahnybok.

Kornelius defended this collaboration with the fascists and was supported by his editorial colleague Daniel Brössler. In the same paper, Brössler demanded, “The west has to set limits for Putin.” Brössler demanded that the west had to “establish a state of emergency” for Russia. This meant sanctions at least.

On Wednesday afternoon, Kornelius went one better. In an online comment, he called on the German government “not to accept the facts created by Putin.” Then he posed the question, “Can Russia only be impressed by counter measures if the navy is sent quickly?”

He did not provide a direct answer, but noted that all diplomatic and psychological efforts or the “restricted pinpricks of sanctions” were failing to achieve anything. “A brutal but calculated duel” was necessary. He demanded that decisiveness be answered with decisiveness, leaving no doubt that he was talking about military escalation.

Similar war propaganda came from Eric T. Hansen in Die Zeit. He wrote that although reason, caution and compromise were good virtues, Europe had “to learn power politics.” The article went on: “We convince ourselves that the world works generally on a rational basis, with lots of compromise and consideration.” This is false. “Man is not a moral animal, but an animal of power.” The EU stood at a crossroads, Hansen continued. “Does it have the guts to meet power politics with power politics? Or will it withdraw into the old patterns, like the Germans in the Cold War?”

He wrote of post-war Germany with disdain. “Above all that means peace demonstrations, and statements, and anger, and talk shows. Oh god, the talk shows! All of this is called moral politics, and the emphasis is on moral.”

To leave no doubt about for what he was calling for, Hansen wrote, “Now I know what you’re thinking. Hansen wants to take us to war. But that is the moral politician in you who is speaking. He screams ‘war, never again’ at every opportunity, he can’t do anything else.”

This is explicit. When Hansen ridicules “moral politicians,” he means the replacement of the demand “war, never again,” which became deeply imbedded in the population after two world wars with hundreds of millions of dead, with the call, “we want war again!”

As with Kornelius and Klaus-Helge Donath, Hansen speaks for a super-rich layer at the top, who set the tone in politics and the media, and, as in the 1930s, are crying for war and dictatorship. At that time, many lackeys of the Nazis sat in the editorial offices and at university lecterns.

As one reads such comments, the angry remark of Max Liebermann springs to mind. When he saw the hordes of the SA marching through the Brandenburg Gate in 1933, he said, “I can’t eat as much as I would like to throw up!” But anger and outrage are not adequate to combat the cheerleaders for war. The working class and youth must take up the struggle against war and fascism on the basis of an international, socialist programme.

US-backed Ukrainian regime mobilizes reserves, threatening war with Russia

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By Alex Lantier
3 March 2014

In the most serious military crisis in Europe since the end of World War II, the Western-backed Ukrainian regime that took power in Kiev in a fascist-led putsch a week ago put its military on high alert yesterday. It also began calling up its reserve forces, totaling around 1 million men, threatening war with Russia.

The day before, the upper house of the Russian parliament had unanimously passed a bill authorizing the deployment of Russian forces to Ukraine, a majority Russian-speaking region of Ukraine where Russia has a major naval base at Sevastopol. Officials in Kiev charged that over the weekend, Russia sent up to 6,000 troops to Crimea to bolster local authorities against Kiev.

The tensions between Moscow and Kiev directly raise the risk of a clash between Russia and the NATO powers backing Kiev. While Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed yesterday in a phone call with German Chancellor Angela Merkel to keep open “bilateral and multilateral” communications, Russian exchanges with Washington were very tense.

US President Barack Obama made a 90-minute phone call to Putin to discuss Ukraine on Saturday. Obama demanded that Russian troops return to their bases in the Crimea, denounced Russian policy as a “violation of Ukrainian sovereignty” and a “breach of international law,” and threatened severe consequences for US-Russian relations.

Putin brushed aside Obama’s demands, calling the Ukraine situation “extraordinary.” He pointed out that far-right elements backed by Kiev and the Western powers threaten “the lives and health of Russian citizens and their many compatriots” in Ukraine.

Moscow may intervene not only in Crimea, but also in other majority-Russian-speaking areas of Ukraine hostile to the right-wing regime in Kiev. The Kremlin issued a statement that declared: “In the case of any further spread of violence to Eastern Ukraine and Crimea, Russia retains the right to protect its interests and the Russian-speaking population of those areas.”

Russian troops, Cossacks, pro-Russian local inhabitants, and Putin’s “Night Wolves” biker gang are reportedly working together to fortify the land bridge between Crimea and the rest of Ukraine and hold it against potential offensives by the Ukrainian military.

Russian officials bluntly dismissed US criticisms as hypocritical, noting that Washington has violated countries’ sovereignty by invading countries like Iraq and Afghanistan. Russian Foreign Ministry sources responded to US National Security Adviser Susan Rice’s comment that Russia was committing a “grave mistake” in sending troops to Ukraine by advising the United States itself not to use force.

They said, “We have seen the expert evaluations of Susan Rice, which are based on repeated US military interventions in multiple places around the world, especially where the US administration is of the opinion that the norms of Western democracy are in danger or ruling regimes begin too clearly ‘to get out of hand.’ We consider that the current presidential adviser will give this kind of advice about the error of using force to the US leadership, in the event of a decision about a new intervention.”

The reactionary Kremlin oligarchy cannot offer any progressive solution to the escalating tensions in Ukraine, which can only be halted by a political mobilization of the working class against imperialism and the post-Soviet capitalist oligarchies inside the ex-USSR. However, it is the imperialist powers that bear central responsibility for the military escalation in Ukraine and the country’s accelerating downward spiral towards war.

Russia’s intervention in Ukraine is the inevitable outcome of the reckless decision by Washington and the European Union (EU) to back a fascist putsch in Kiev. The Kiev regime came to power on a program of strategically orienting to the West and imposing deep austerity measures on the working class, including pension cuts and massive energy price increases, a strategy so unpopular that Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk compared himself to a “political kamikaze.”

Driven by social contradictions for which it has no solution, Kiev is stoking confrontations with Russia and ethnic Russians in order to mobilize its tiny social base—fascists like the Svoboda party or the Right Sector militia who praise the Holocaust and, identifying the USSR with Russia, combine hysterical anti-communism with anti-Russian hatred.

These developments point to the disastrous impact of the dissolution of the USSR. Under conditions where the working class has been shut out of political life due to the reactionary role of Stalinism, the vilest fascist forces have come to the fore, throwing the entire region open to imperialist intrigue and war.

The Kiev regime has prepared laws to strip Russian of its status as an official language and sent thugs to beat up officials in pro-Russian areas it fears may break away from Ukraine.

Leading Svoboda members are infamous for bloodthirsty denunciations of Russians. Iryna Farion called Russian speakers “degenerates” who should be imprisoned, and a top Svoboda official believed to be party leader Oleh Tyahnybok proposed on Svoboda forums to “physically liquidate all Russian-speaking intellectuals and all Ukrainophobes … registering Ukrainophobes can be done here by any member of Svoboda.”

US and European imperialism, having backed a putsch by far-right forces, are watching as the authority of its far-right proxy regime over large swathes of Ukraine begins to disintegrate.

Protests of tens of thousands of people took place this weekend across Ukraine’s eastern and southern industrial heartlands, which, like the Crimean Peninsula, include a greater number of Russian speakers. In Kharkov 20,000 protesters demonstrated, carrying Russian flags and storming local government offices, throwing out officials sent by Kiev.

In Donetsk—the capital of the Donbass region, where a referendum on independence from Kiev is now scheduled, as in the Crimea—10,000 protesters rallied and distributed leaflets calling on citizens to defy Kiev. Another 20,000 anti-Kiev protesters marched in Odessa, and smaller demonstrations took place in Mariupol, Melitopol, and Yevpatoria.

Only days after being appointed to head the Ukrainian navy, Admiral Dennis Berezovsky turned against the Kiev authorities and went over to pro-Russian authorities in Crimea, together with the flagship of the Ukrainian fleet, the frigate Hetman Sahaydachniy.

The main danger under these conditions is that the imperialist powers will escalate the crisis into a major war, either by stoking conflict inside Ukraine or by directly intervening themselves.

Writing in the Guardian, Dmitri Trenin of the Carnegie Moscow Center think tank pointed to the danger of a great-power war. Noting that “direct confrontation between Russian and Ukrainian forces will draw in the United States one way or another,” he compared a likely conflict today to the 2008 war in the ex-Soviet republic of Georgia in the South Caucasus—in which Moscow beat off an assault on Russian peacekeepers by US-backed Georgian forces.

He wrote, “So far, there has been no military confrontation between Russian and Ukrainian forces, but if they clash, this will not be a repeat of the five-day war in the South Caucasus, as in 2008. The conflict will be longer and bloodier, with security in Europe put at its highest risk in a quarter century.”

Neocons and the Ukraine Coup

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Exclusive: American neocons helped destabilize Ukraine and engineer the overthrow of its elected government, a “regime change” on Russia’s western border. But the coup – and the neo-Nazi militias at the forefront – also reveal divisions within the Obama administration, reports Robert Parry.

 

By Robert Parry

 

More than five years into his presidency, Barack Obama has failed to take full control over his foreign policy, allowing a bureaucracy shaped by long years of Republican control and spurred on by a neocon-dominated U.S. news media to frustrate many of his efforts to redirect America’s approach to the world in a more peaceful direction.

 

But Obama deserves a big dose of the blame for this predicament because he did little to neutralize the government holdovers and indeed played into their hands with his initial appointments to head the State and Defense departments, Hillary Clinton, a neocon-leaning Democrat, and Robert Gates, a Republican cold warrior, respectively.

 

Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland.

Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland.

 

Even now, key U.S. diplomats are more attuned to hard-line positions than to promoting peace. The latest example is Ukraine where U.S. diplomats, including Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland and U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt, are celebrating the overthrow of an elected pro-Russian government.

 

Occurring during the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, the coup in Ukraine dealt an embarrassing black eye to Russian President Vladimir Putin, who had offended neocon sensibilities by quietly cooperating with Obama to reduce tensions over Iran and Syria, where the neocons favored military options.

 

Over the past several weeks, Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych was undercut by a destabilization campaign encouraged by Nuland and Pyatt and then deposed in a coup spearheaded by neo-Nazi militias. Even after Yanukovych and the political opposition agreed to an orderly transition toward early elections, right-wing armed patrols shattered the agreement and took strategic positions around Kiev.

 

Despite these ominous signs, Ambassador Pyatt hailed the coup as “a day for the history books.” Most of the mainstream U.S. news media also sided with the coup, with commentators praising the overthrow of an elected government as “reform.” But a few dissonant reports have pierced the happy talk by noting that the armed militias are part of the Pravy Sektor, a right-wing nationalist group which is often compared to the Nazis.

 

Thus, the Ukrainian coup could become the latest neocon-initiated “regime change” that ousted a target government but failed to take into account who would fill the void.

 

Some of these same American neocons pushed for the invasion of Iraq in 2003, not realizing that removing Saddam Hussein would touch off a sectarian conflict and lead to a pro-Iranian Shiite regime. Similarly, U.S. military intervention in Libya in 2011 eliminated Muammar Gaddafi but also empowered Islamic extremists who later murdered the U.S. ambassador and spread unrest beyond Libya’s borders to nearby Mali.

 

One might trace this neocons’ blindness to consequences back to Afghanistan in the 1980s when the Reagan administration supported Islamic militants, including Osama bin Laden, in a war against Soviet troops, only to have Muslim extremists take control of Afghanistan and provide a base for al-Qaeda to plot the 9/11 attacks against the United States.

 

Regarding Ukraine, today’s State Department bureaucracy seems to be continuing the same anti-Moscow geopolitical strategy set during those Reagan-Bush years.

 

Robert Gates described the approach in his new memoir, Duty, explaining the view of President George H.W. Bush’s Defense Secretary Dick Cheney: “When the Soviet Union was collapsing in late 1991, Dick wanted to see the dismantlement not only of the Soviet Union and the Russian empire but of Russia itself, so it could never again be a threat to the rest of the world.”

 

Vice President Cheney and the neocons pursued a similar strategy during George W. Bush’s presidency, expanding NATO aggressively to the east and backing anti-Russian regimes in the region including the hard-line Georgian government, which provoked a military confrontation with Moscow in 2008, ironically, during the Summer Olympics in China.

 

Obama’s Strategy

 

As President, Obama has sought a more cooperative relationship with Russia’s Putin and, generally, a less belligerent approach toward adversarial countries. Obama has been supported by an inner circle at the White House with analytical assistance from some elements of the U.S. intelligence community.

 

But the neocon momentum at the State Department and from other parts of the U.S. government has continued in the direction set by George W. Bush’s neocon administration and by neocon-lite Democrats who surrounded Secretary of State Clinton during Obama’s first term.

 

The two competing currents of geopolitical thinking – a less combative one from the White House and a more aggressive one from the foreign policy bureaucracy – have often worked at cross-purposes. But Obama, with only a few exceptions, has been unwilling to confront the hardliners or even fully articulate his foreign policy vision publicly.

 

For instance, Obama succumbed to the insistence of Gates, Clinton and Gen. David Petraeus to escalate the war in Afghanistan in 2009, though the President reportedly felt trapped into the decision which he soon regretted. In 2010, Obama backed away from a Brazilian-Turkish-brokered deal with Iran to curtail its nuclear program after Clinton denounced the arrangement and pushed for economic sanctions and confrontation as favored by the neocons and Israel.

 

Just last summer, Obama – only at the last second – reversed a course charted by the State Department favoring a military intervention in Syria over disputed U.S. claims that the Syrian government had launched a chemical weapons attack on civilians. Putin helped arrange a way out for Obama by getting the Syrian government to agree to surrender its chemical weapons. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “A Showdown for War or Peace.”]

Stirring Up Trouble

 

Now, you have Assistant Secretary of State Nuland, the wife of prominent neocon Robert Kagan, acting as a leading instigator in the Ukrainian unrest, explicitly seeking to pry the country out of the Russian orbit. Last December, she reminded Ukrainian business leaders that, to help Ukraine achieve “its European aspirations, we have invested more than $5 billion.” She said the U.S. goal was to take “Ukraine into the future that it deserves.”

 

The Kagan family includes other important neocons, such as Frederick Kagan, who was a principal architect of the Iraq and Afghan “surge” strategies. In Duty, Gates writes that “an important way station in my ‘pilgrim’s progress’ from skepticism to support of more troops [in Afghanistan] was an essay by the historian Fred Kagan, who sent me a prepublication draft.

 

“I knew and respected Kagan. He had been a prominent proponent of the surge in Iraq, and we had talked from time to time about both wars, including one long evening conversation on the veranda of one of Saddam’s palaces in Baghdad.”

 

Now, another member of the Kagan family, albeit an in-law, has been orchestrating the escalation of tensions in Ukraine with an eye toward one more “regime change.”

 

As for Nuland’s sidekick, U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Pyatt previously served as a U.S. diplomat in Vienna involved in bringing the International Atomic Energy Agency into a line with U.S. and Israeli hostility toward Iran. A July 9, 2009, cable from Pyatt, which was released by Pvt. Bradley Manning, revealed Pyatt to be the middleman who coordinated strategy with the U.S.-installed IAEA director-general  Yukiya Amano.

 

Pyatt reported that Amano offered to cooperate with the U.S. and Israel on Iran, including having private meetings with Israeli officials, supporting U.S. sanctions, and agreeing to IAEA personnel changes favored by the United States. According to the cable, Pyatt promised strong U.S. backing for Amano and Amano asked for more U.S. money. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “America’s Debt to Bradley Manning.”]

It was Ambassador Pyatt who was on the other end of Nuland’s infamous Jan. 28 phone call in which she discussed how to manipulate Ukraine’s tensions and who to elevate into the country’s leadership. According to the conversation, which was intercepted and made public, Nuland ruled out one opposition figure, Vitali Klitschko, a popular former boxer, because he lacked experience.

 

Nuland also favored the UN as mediator over the European Union, at which point in the conversation she exclaimed, “Fuck the E.U.” to which Pyatt responded, “Oh, exactly …”

 

Ultimately, the Ukrainian unrest – over a policy debate whether Ukraine should move toward entering the European Union – led to a violent showdown in which neo-fascist storm troopers battled police, leaving scores dead. To ease the crisis, President Yanukovych agreed to a power-sharing government and to accelerated elections. But no sooner was that agreement signed then the hard-right faction threw it out and pressed for power in an apparent coup.

 

Again, the American neocons had performed the role of the Sorcerer’s Apprentice, unleashing forces and creating chaos that soon was spinning out of control. But this latest “regime change,” which humiliated President Putin, could also do long-term damage to U.S.-Russian cooperation vital to resolving other crises, with Iran and Syria, two more countries where the neocons are also eager for confrontation.

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his new book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com).