American Policy on Ukraine Crisis is Wrongheaded

March 17, 2014

A recent Post/ABC poll found that 56 percent of Americans would be in favor of the United States and its allies imposing sanctions on Russia for its role so far in the crisis in Ukraine.  This is not surprising given the fact that most Americans get their news one sound bite at a time delivered by a media that generally is complicit in spouting whatever the Washington, D.C. line is on a story.  And it doesn’t help that President Obama ignores the sins of his own government while lying that Russia’s decision to send troops into Crimea is a “violation of Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity…and breach of international law.

Then, there is the obligatory bluster of America’s biggest warmonger – John McCain.  Not only does he favor sanctions against Russia, but he also wants Congress to send American tax dollars to Kiev and U.S. missiles to the Czech Republic to show those evil Ruskies that we mean business.  And just a few days ago he ranted that the Obama Administration is derelict in its duty because it won’t supply the new regime in Kiev with arms, ammunition, and intelligence support for Ukraine’s military.

What makes the view of 56 percent of Americans, John McCain and President Obama ridiculous is that the crisis in Ukraine has American fingerprints all over it.  A leaked phone call between Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland and U.S. Ambassador to the Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt indicates American government involvement with protests and the eventual coup in Kiev.

And both Nuland and Pyatt were photographed in Kiev in December handing out baked goods and mingling with anti-government protestors.  For those that say this proves nothing, since when is it appropriate for a sitting ambassador to directly encourage protests against the government he is supposedly engaged in diplomatic relations with?  Can we now understand why ambassadors like Chris Stevens get killed?

The point is, whether the U.S. government supported the coup which overthrew the popularly elected president in Ukraine directly or indirectly is immaterial.  Washington’s support for the coup is primarily responsible for the current tensions between Russia and the U.S.  We rightly wouldn’t like it if Russia facilitated the overthrow of the government in Mexico and supported a new regime hostile to America in that country.  Why do Americans have a hard time feeling empathy towards others?

But, the American response to Ukraine is also wrongheaded because the new Washington supported regime in Kiev is filled with ultra-rightist Svoboda party members and other neo-Nazis.  These are hardly the kinds of folks that share our values of human rights and liberty.  But, in the view of Washington, damn the Ukrainian people as long as their leaders are supportive of the West, not Russia.  Thus, once again, our government is playing politics with the wellbeing of people in another country.  This can only lead to disaster, not a good outcome.

Perhaps the biggest idiocy of the American position on the crisis in Ukraine is the belief that we could enact sanctions against Russia for her part in the crisis with no consequences for ourselves and our trading partners.

First of all, Russia is a major trading partner with all of Europe.  Sanctions against her would also harm her trading partners.

China would support Russia and the two of them could stop using U.S. dollars for international purchases.  Both could also completely stop buying U.S. debt.  The consequences for our economy would be devastating and quite possibly be the final nail in the coffin for the dollar as the world’s reserve currency.  Washington would be faced with two choices:  continue to spend at current levels and face hyperinflation at home or live within its means by drastically cutting federal spending and face social unrest from Americans who have become accustomed to federal largess.

The above scenario is inevitable in any event, but Washington would expedite the event by imposing sanctions on Russia now.

At the end of the day, the U.S. should leave Ukraine alone.  She has already caused enormous harm to the Ukrainian people.  And pushing the envelope by imposing sanctions on Russia could wreak economic devastation on her economy.  That is why the American policy toward Ukraine is wrongheaded.

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Russo-Georgian War Revisited

December 5, 2008

December 5, 2008

On August 17, 2008, I published a blog that decried the reporting of the Russo-Georgian War by the American “mainstream” media.  In that piece, I accused our media of disinformation, ignoring the facts and downright lying in its coverage of the conflict.  Specifically, my condemnation centered on the impression our media gave that the conflict was all Russia’s fault.  We were led to believe that Russia had invaded Georgia unprovoked and Georgia’s enlightened democratic president Mikhail Saakashvili was a victim of the big bad bear from the north.

Of course, I took a lot of abuse for my siding with the bad guys (Russia) in this event.  It was indicative of the “you are either with us or against us” mentality that our esteemed president has instilled into our cultural norms.  Some of the comments I received for that blog included, “Are you getting your news from TASS”; “I suggest that from your perch in Zambia, you need better binoculars to see the action”; and my favorite, “do cue me as to when I start playing the Russian national anthem on the violin here…”  I also received hate e-mail from a woman of Georgian descent. 

Now, I am a big boy and can take the abuse, even the e-mail that condemned me to eternity in hell.  And as a big boy I can also boast and say I told you so.  On November 26, Georgia’s former ambassador to Russia Erosi Kitsmarishvili, told a Georgian parliamentary commission that Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili was “itching” to do battle over South Ossetia.  Kitsmarishvili labeled Georgia the aggressor in the conflict and said that Georgian officials told him President Bush gave his blessing for such a use of force when he met the Georgian president in Washington in March. 

Vindication is sweet, but I am sure that the same detractors will respond to this blog by saying Kitsmarishvili is suffering from Stockholm Syndrome.  Or they will say he is really a Russian parading around as a Georgian ambassador.  Or that he is lying because he is a communist.  In any event, these detractors will probably still not face reality that their media and president have lied to them again.  They will still have faith in the man who chewed on his tie in front of live TV cameras.

But, this blog is not just about saying I told you so.  It is a reminder that we shouldn’t believe everything the media in America tells us.  Their perspective on most things is skewed.  They have been socialized by the public schools, their college professors, and the underlying persuasion in this country that the U.S. government can do little wrong.  Most journalists have sold out to their corporate employers who in turn are more interested in pleasing the politicians so they can get the interview or the special favor than in doing their jobs – holding elected official accountable.  With the advent of the Internet we do have more choices when it comes to media outlets.  Here’s hoping more Americans will overcome their socialized belief that if ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, and Fox said it then it must be true.