Is there a way out of Ukrainian crisis?
Under the inept leadership of President Barack Obama and the bumbling diplomacy of Secretary of State John Kerry, the US is stumbling towards Cuban Missile Crisis redux.
It is the same Obama who promised to extricate America from two lost wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and the same Kerry who in his youth protested against another lost war in Vietnam.
However, in a historical ironic twist it seems like both of them are now yielding to the enormous pressure from those whom Pat Buchanan calls the war party machine which includes some irresponsible politicians and the entire anti-Russian cabal with its media surrogates. In a rare case of bipartisanship, House Speaker John Boehner has called Russian President Vladimir Putin a thug, while potential presidential candidate Hillary Clinton compared him to Adolf Hitler.
I do not think the US leadership has used such inflammatory language even against Saddam Hussein or Muammar Gaddafi when America was getting ready for military action in Iraq and Libya.
Lost in this empty rhetoric is the sad fact that there are real neo-Nazis involved in this drama, but they are not in the Kremlin. They occupy a few important ministerial positions in the new government in Kiev and are among the Maidan leaders who are actually calling the shots.
US Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland - who gained instant celebrity status for using profane language while telling US ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt who should be included in the new Ukrainian government - specifically insisted on keeping a radical extremist Oleg Tyagnibok and his far right Svoboda party out of the picture. These guys could ruin the opposition’s ‘democratic’ face as they include those who have never disavowed various ugly anti-Semitic pronouncements and openly admire Nazi collaborators such as the notorious terrorist Stepan Bandera.
However, it turns out that Tyagnibok’s people have quite a few ministerial positions in the new government. Still, all of them can be viewed as Massachusetts liberals when comparing to Dmitry Yarosh, the real muscle behind the illegitimate coup that overthrew Ukraine’s constitutional government.
Yarosh has organized a paramilitary organization called Right Sector, based on recruiting hard-core skinheads and far-right nationalists, and arming them with pistols and machine guns. There is reliable information that his people got hold of ‘Igla’ shoulder missiles, which are comparable to American-made ‘Stingers’ and can be used to hit both military and civilian aircraft. Yarosh has been appointed to a key security position, and may turn out to be the real power behind the throne in Kiev. He has already declared his intention to run for president and recently appealed to Chechen field commander Doku Umarov, who is on the US terrorist list, to join forces to fight Russia. His associates are talking about creating a Ukrainian Taliban.
While Washington is coddling ultra-nationalists with a radical anti-Russian and potentially violent agenda, it is mischaracterizing the actions Russia has taken in Crimea. People may like or dislike Putin, but even his harshest critics do not dispute the fact that the overwhelming majority of Crimean citizens want to join Russia. This is understandable, since Crimea for more than 200 years was a part of Russia and was transferred from Russia to Ukraine in 1954 by USSR Communist ruler Nikita Khrushchev, the same guy who almost got us into WWIII by installing nuclear missiles in Cuba, banged his shoe at the UN table and promised to bury America. This extravagant gift was similar to the old-time emperors’ gestures to please loyal vassals and make the Ukrainian people forget that it was he who administered Stalin’s terror in Ukraine.
Does America want to go to war to preserve the legacy of this scoundrel?
Not so long ago, Obama hailed the overthrow of Egypt’s President Hosni Mubarak as an example of “the power of human dignity.”
“There are very few moments in our lives where we have the privilege of witnessing history taking place,” Obama said. “This is one of those moments. … The people of Egypt have spoken and their voices have been heard.”
Well, do the people of Crimea not deserve the same things as the people of Egypt, or for that matter of Kosovo, whose independence from Serbia was also supported by America?
US had the chance to make things different
Under Obama, America is pursuing the same reckless and provocative policy towards Russia as George W. Bush before him. After 9/11, Putin immediately called Bush and offered his country’s full support, which was instrumental in defeating the Taliban, thus saving countless American soldiers’ lives during the Afghan War.
At the time almost all US politicians praised Putin and treated him as a hero, but when he suggested building on this cooperation by forming a political, economic and military Russia–West alliance he was unceremoniously rebuffed. Such an alliance would be an invaluable boost not only to our common struggle against global jihad, but to energy security, nuclear non-proliferation and a million other things from agriculture to space research. Instead of embracing this sensible proposal, Washington scorned Putin’s offer by launching instead a color revolution crusade across the former Soviet republics and promoting further NATO expansion, including within Georgia and Ukraine. In the words of one of the most outstanding American diplomats, George Kennan, this policy was America’s greatest blunder leading to the new Cold War.
Now, to further weaken Russia, the EU under Washington’s direction, has invited six post-Soviet countries to sign ‘association’ agreements. Had the EU been indeed interested in helping these countries it should have included Russia to this list, which would benefit all sides and most of all Ukraine which has strongest family, demographic, economic, religious and cultural ties with Russia. But who cares about Ukrainians? They were just pawns in the West’s geopolitical games.
Now Obama is getting ready to waste his time by inviting the current Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk for talks. In the words of Forbes, “Yats may prove to be arsenic to the beleaguered nation.” He will follow the International Monetary Fund’s ‘Greek model’ austerity regime, which includes a regimen of tax increases, interest rate hikes and further currency devaluation. For economists who think austerity is a disaster, Ukraine is on a path to ruin.
“We saw this in the ’90s and what the IMF did to Russia with Yeltsin. They’ll do that to Ukraine,” says Vladimir Signorelli, president of Bretton Woods Research LLC in New Jersey. “Remember Slobodan Milošević in Yugoslavia? After the IMF finished with Yugoslavia it was only a matter of time before the separatist movements gained traction,” he said. “I think things in Ukraine can get really bad.”
The smart thing for Obama to do would be not to meet the kamikaze Yats, as he might as well talk to his direct supervisor Victoria Nuland. The wise course of action would be to dust off Putin’s old proposal for a Russia–West alliance and do some serious geopolitical strategizing with him, taking into account the modern global security threats.
However, to do that we would need someone in the White House with the vision of Ronald Reagan accompanied by the group of Wise Men.
Unfortunately, we do not see any chance for this to happen until at least the 2016 elections. So for now, we can only pray that World War III can be avoided, despite the unprofessionalism and shortsightedness of the current foreign policy makers and pundits in Washington.
Edward Lozansky, for RT
Edward Lozansky is president of American University in Moscow, and a professor at Moscow State University and National Research Nuclear University.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.