Mar 032014
 March 3, 2014  Posted by at 3:52 pm Finance

John Collier San Francisco, Monday morning after Pearl Harbor 1941

John Kerry made me laugh yesterday. Not that he seems to be a very amusing man, but then I don’t think he was looking to entertain. And there’s not a lot of funny material to be found in the Ukraine situation to begin with, obviously. But John still found an angle. Kerry, in his quest to appear muscular in his use of language and make Russia look like a nation filled with demons, said this on Sunday’s Face The Nation:

You just don’t in the 21st century behave in 19th century fashion by invading another country on completely trumped up pre-text … “

That was exactly what I had been thinking, only not with Russia as the character stuck in the past, but the US. Reading through a whole bunch of background pieces, the impression arises of American government employees acting as kingmakers, and botching it in awful fashion, because they behave as the British or French would have in the 1800s. And that simply no longer fits. I guess that if you overestimate yourself long, wide and deep enough, it doesn’t seem to make any difference, because you think that if you’re sufficiently strong, you can push that square peg through that round hole no matter what. Well, guess what …

This idea is displayed probably most prominently by US Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland. Who rose into the limelight when a tape was leaked recently in which she said “F*ck the EU”. She made that remark with regards to what she was busy trying to do in Ukraine. She thought the EU wasn’t acting rapidly enough in the process of toppling the Ukrainian government and replacing it with one that would better serve American and European interests.

There’s a video in which Nuland states that the US have invested $5 billion in developing Ukraine “democratic institutions”. In light of the evidence that Nuland and others were actively involved in regime change, one must wonder what those $5 billion were spent on, how much the EU added, and what Putin thought hearing about it.

While there can be no doubt that ousted president Yanukovych was a corrupt pr*ck, he was still democratically elected. And considering that, instigating regime change on Russia’s doorstep would have to be a step so risky that perhaps only a somewhat 18th century megalomaniac mind would attempt it. Victoria Nuland and US ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt had been negotiating their goals for quite some time with the Ukraine opposition, so much so that Nuland calls new PM Arseniy Yatsenyuk “Yats” and leader of the Ukrainian Democratic Alliance for Reform Vitali Klitschko “Klitsch” in her conversations with Pyatt. These people know each other. Well.

“Yats” is now the PM of what should probably be called a technocrat government (illegal as it may be), he’s a former – central – banker, a pattern that has a familiar sound to it, most recently observed in southern Europe. For some reason Nuland and Pyatt didn’t want heavyweight boxing champ “Klitsch” to have a prominent cabinet post, though they apparently met many times. Too much of a conscience? Whatever the reasoning, they got what they wanted, and if anything shows their grip on the regime change process, it may be that: keeping out “Klitsch”.

Nuland wasn’t just impatient with the EU, she wanted the whole process to move faster. And that’s where she made here biggest kingmaker mistake: she got into cahoots with various highly shady and questionable right wing groups, who, since they were armed and willing, seemed the ideal partners for the US to speed up events. And it’s the influence of these right wing groups, often ultra-nationalist and with a deep hatred of everything Russian, Jewish, gay, dark colored, you name it, that Russia uses as justification for its present actions, which Kerry labeled an ‘incredible act of aggression’.

One of the first things the new government did was to revoke a 2012 law that allowed regions to use a second official language if more than 10% of its people spoke it as their native tongue. That measure smacks of these right wing groups. After all, why do it in the first place if you’re “Yats”, and why as one of your first acts? What’s the justification? Did “Yats” have an interest in antagonizing ethnic Russians? When protests got too loud, the measure was quickly withdrawn, but it was too little too late, because “Yats” and his buddies had lost what was left of the people’s trust.

Native Russians, the by far largest group affected by the language law, started thinking about seeking protection from Putin. The strong involvement on the coup and the new regime of the All-Ukrainian union “Svoboda” and the “Right Sector” group of semi-nazi militias, all of whom detest Russia and Russians, made them think a little stronger still. If you don’t feel that your government protects you, who are you going to turn to?

Putin’s claim that Russia’s troop movements to date are meant primarily to prevent fighting, not to instigate it, may not be all that wild a suggestion. There can be no doubt that at least some elements of the Kiev right wing, legitimized by the US Assistant Secretary of State, were, and are, more than willing to prolong their victorious mindsets with a move east to do a bit more “cleaning up”.

To understand Victoria Nuland a little better, it’s useful to know that she is married to Robert Kagan, co-counder and former director of the – now defunct – Project for the New American Century (PNAC), a neo-conservative American organization with a pretty much 19th century set of ideas.

Not only is Nuland closely familiar with right wing ideas in general, which perhaps makes it more normal for her to associate with “Svoboda” and the “Right Sector” than it would be for most Americans, she’s also deeply affected by the – outdated – notions of American dominance and world government her husband and his cronies have. Why president Obama kept her on is a bit of a mystery perhaps, but since he’s already “her 3rd president”, maybe we shouldn’t let that baffle us.

If, just hypothetically since it won’t happen, but if Russia were to withdraw its troops from the Crimea and possible other strategic points it may have “secured”, and that would mean nationalist militia feel free to roam the country, what would the west do? Would America send troops into Ukraine? Would the UN gather another peacecorps together and station it in 100 different places through the large country? Are people such as Victoria Nuland, Geoffrey Pyatt and John Kerry sufficiently aware of these matters, of the chequered history of the region? And even if they do, do they care enough, or are their eyes mainly on the prize of Russian pipelines, oil and gas supplies and political dominance in the region?

Yes, Yanukovych was a piece of sh*t, but he was democratically elected, which means that the US and EU have been instrumental in toppling a legitimate government, while the legal status of “Yats” and “Klitsch” (to the extent he’s still involved) is not at all clear. Who elected them? Plenty of stories of parliamentarians voting with right wing guns to their heads.

Or, to frame the question a little differently, who’s the aggressor here? And maybe we can take it a step further still, and ask: what are the odds that Putin is busy saving America from a Bosnian-like quagmire?

West must set aside geopolitical games, keep in mind Ukraine’s interests – Russian FM (Voice of Russia)

Read more …

Kerry condemns Russia’s ‘incredible act of aggression’ in Ukraine (Reuters)

Read more …

Rule by oligarchs: Kiev appoints billionaires to govern east (RT)

Read more …

Anti-Russian rants are just PR ahead of EU parliamentary poll – Russian officials (RT)

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China Factory Index Decline Adds to Li Growth Challenges (Bloomberg)

Read more …

Keynesian Political Economy Is Theft (Economic Noise)

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Memo to Obama: This Was Their Red Line! (David Stockman)

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Russia Says the Ukrainian Protesters Are Fascists and Nazis. Are They? (Slate)

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Wikileaks Crimean Foreshadowing (Slate)

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Many Ukrainians Want Russia to Invade (TIME)

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Russia Gas Threat Shows Putin Using Pipes to Press Ukraine (Bloomberg)

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‘F*ck the EU’: US diplomat Victoria Nuland’s phonecall leaked – video (Guardian)

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Victoria Nuland: US Invested $5 Billion In Development of Ukrainian, “Democratic Institutions” (ICH)

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Merkel: Victoria Nuland’s remarks on EU are unacceptable (Guardian)

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‘Nothing to do with democracy’: New Ukraine regime makes swift and controversial steps (RT)

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Nationalists promote granting citizenship to ethnic Russians from Ukraine (RT)

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Canceled language law in Ukraine sparks concern among Russian and EU diplomats (RT)

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Alarming trend in Ukraine: Historic monuments toppled, Nazi symbols spread (RT)

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Facts you need to know about Crimea and why it is in turmoil (RT)

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‘Height of hypocrisy’: West demonizes Russia doing everything to avoid conflict in Ukraine (RT)

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Thousands rally against ‘illegitimate govt’, raise Russian flags in eastern Ukraine (RT)

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Russian senators vote to use stabilizing military forces on Ukrainian territory (RT)

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Ukraine nationalist leader calls on ‘most wanted’ terrorist Umarov ‘to act against Russia’ (RT)

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Radical ‘Pravy Sektor’ group shifts Kyiv protests to the right (Deutsche Welle)

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Can Ukraine Control Its Far Right Ultranationalists? (Daily Beast)

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Euromaidan: The Dark Shadows Of The Far-Right In Ukraine Protests (IB Times)

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This article addresses just one of the many issues discussed in Nicole Foss’ new video presentation, Facing the Future, co-presented with Laurence Boomert and available from the Automatic Earth Store. Get your copy now, be much better prepared for 2014, and support The Automatic Earth in the process!

Home Forums Debt Rattle Mar 3 2014: Is Ukraine A Case of Botched Kingmaking?

This topic contains 6 replies, has 5 voices, and was last updated by  Sufferin Succotash 5 years, 11 months ago.

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    John Collier San Francisco, Monday morning after Pearl Harbor 1941 John Kerry made me laugh yesterday. Not that he seems to be a very amusing man, but
    [See the full post at: Debt Rattle Mar 3 2014: Is Ukraine A Case of Botched Kingmaking?]



    East West Proxy War. No more, no less. He who controls Western Europe’s energy supply controls it’s ultimate allegiance.

    My guess is, since Putin controls energy “in” at the Russian/Ukraine border, Ukraine proper isn’t in his sights. The low bidder will transport gas and oil through, and he doesn’t need another net debtor protectorate in The Ukraine anyway.

    He’ll just let the EU/Yellen and Co. have it, seeing to it that it costs them plenty.

    Crimea, on the other hand, offers strategic maritime advantage, so it will remain in the “portfolio.”

    Unless, of course,,,



    “Every nation-state, from brutal dictatorships to nominal democracies, ultimately depends on a spoils system that provides the various factions, classes, etc., with sufficient material and status benefits to accept the Status Quo arrangement. […]

    The spoils system is not only the foundation of every Elites’ political legitimacy, it is the thin layer of plaster that covers all the longstanding ethnic, regional, linguistic, religious and political fault lines that run beneath current nation-state arrangements.

    As noted in yesterday’s entry Ukraine: A Deep State Analysis, numerous national borders were drawn after World War II (1945) with little regard for historical divisions between various groups or preceding borders.

    Entire nations were penciled into existence by Imperial diktat in complete disregard for existing historical groups–Iraq and Syria being just two examples of many.

    As long as the stick of repression and the carrot of the spoils system were sufficiently persuasive, the tectonic plates beneath the regime were masked. But once the spoils system and the machinery of suppression crack, the old rivalries arise anew.

    The spoils system can crack for two reasons: either the national surplus declines so there simply isn’t enough spoils left to keep everyone placated, or the spoils diversion to the Elites and their cronies exceeds the tipping point of legitimacy.”

    When times are good, problems stay below the radar. When countries are divided up willy-nilly by distant leaders who draw circles on maps, when these leaders bring in cheap immigrant labor in order to force down wages, when the elite loot, it isn’t a big surprise that there be fireworks when economies get depressed. All the fuel that was thrown on the fire when times were good now suddenly ignites.

    Nationalism can be a very bad thing, but it seems to me that the opposite is equally true. Unless there is ‘some’ feeling of togetherness, you really have nothing; in good times it just looks like you do.


    Ken Barrows

    I always find people funniest when they are not trying to be. It’s a rare charm for generally rapacious humans.



    Wow, that didn’t take long! Headline as seen on ZH this afternoon




    on Nation States;

    “All governments suffer a recurring problem: Power attracts pathological personalities.” Frank Herbert

    The man on the gas/oil shutoff valve to The Ukraine and beyond, to a most important EU player at this point, Germany, is as Pathological as the drone pilot in Washington DC, who is facing a Congressional election.

    Talk about potential economic sanction? Reminds of the “Never Give Up” poster of the heron with the frog in it’s beak, the frog holding a firm grip on the birds throat.

    Could it be, Potus is rushing along funds to The Ukraine so it may pay it’s $billions in arrears to Gazprom? Vlad’s pals?

    Yup, the grass suffers.


    Sufferin Succotash

    “Man makes his own humor, but he does not make it just how he pleases.” — Karl Marx.

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