Estranged from reality

Here is Mr David Cameron again:

I don’t accept this. The responsibility for what has happened in Ukraine lies absolutely squarely with Vladimir Putin and Russia.

They destabilised and effectively invaded this country and have caused all the problems that have happened since.

What Britain and countries of the European Union have done is merely to say that Ukraine should be able to choose its own future [1]

The “this” he is referring to and “doesn’t accept” is a report by a House of Lords Committee. [2] The report is entitled “The EU and Russia: before and beyond the crisis in Ukraine”. It makes a number of criticisms of EU actions leading up to the Ukraine crisis. However, the report essentially shares the NATO “analysis” of an expansionist Russia. NATO is a “defensive alliance”. Russia is eyeing “futher destabilising” actions in the Baltic states. Russia is trying to re-establish itself as a “great power” and with the Eurasian Union Russia is trying to create a geo-political competition with the EU. Indeed:

In the review of the neighbourhood policy, the EU and Member States face a strategic question of whether Europe can be secure and prosperous if Russia continues to be governed as it is today.

This appears to be paving the way for a military action against Russia in the name of defending the “security” of Europe. It is wild and dangerous stuff. The “neighbourhood” is the ex-Soviet republics of Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia. Here the House of Lords Committee decide that the EU must decide:

The first step is for the EU to distinguish between the legitimate and the illegitimate security interests of Russia.

No hint of irony here. The EU will decide and then inform Russia what their legitimate interests are one imagines.

There are some criticisms of how the EU failed to explain the EU Association agreement with Russia.

There is the inevitable respect for the “sovereignty” of Ukraine:

the dismemberment of a sovereign independent state is not acceptable

“Human Rights” will still be used in the future to attempt to force political change in Russia:

The EU and Member States must continue to raise the human rights situation in Russia in international forums and to press Russia on human rights violations in their bilateral relations.

There is a claim totally at odds with reality that:

While the current government in Russia may not appear to welcome a strategic dialogue with the EU or the West, the EU and Member States must nevertheless be bold and ambitious in their aims for a better understanding with Russia.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Despite sanctions and all the other hostility the Russia side continues to seek co-operation with the West in multiple international forums. This is an astonishing display of self-control and “maturity” from the Russia side which will certainly be noted by history. What this text means is that Russia has not agreed to the line of the West. The project is imperialist and dominating. “Dialog” means “agree or be attacked”. The classic example of this conception of “dialog” was the Rambouillet conference which preceded the illegal NATO war of aggression on Yugoslavia. [3] Of this US diplomat Kissinger said;

The Rambouillet text, which called on Serbia to admit NATO troops throughout Yugoslavia, was a provocation, an excuse to start bombing. Rambouillet is not a document that an angelic Serb could have accepted. It was a terrible diplomatic document that should never have been presented in that form [3]

There is an interesting admission that the EU just discussed the Association agreement in terms of “free-market liberal economic arguments” and did not engage with Russian concerns.

Finally; there are some criticisms of a lack of analytical capacity at the Foreign Office in the lead up to the War. These are the criticisms which David Cameron is rebuffing.

The report as a whole (based on the summary) then makes no concessions at all to any other point of view than the NATO/EU position. Russia is expansionist. Its actions in “destabilising” Ukraine are “illegitimate”. NATO is nothing but a defensive organisation. Etc. It is the kind of document one would expect from the British establishment. It makes some minor operational criticisms while shoring up the Establishment position as a whole. The British establishment knows how to do a whitewash if nothing else. There is no mention at all of the legitimate concerns of people in the East of Ukraine, who were not represented by the coup in Kiev. [4] Above all there is no recognition of the actions of the West in destabilising Ukraine. No mention of the billions of USD poured in by the State Department to try to “Westernise” Ukraine. [5] No mention of the US advisers in Kiev. [6] No mention of the reckless attendance at rallies by Western politicians. [7] Rallies which became a violent coup in which an elected President was deposed. And naturally no mention of the history of Ukraine, a history which shows that Russia is likely to have significant concerns. All these democratic and historical concerns are opposed with “the territorial integrity of Ukraine” and “free-market liberal economic arguments”. This all dates from 19th century arguments between free-market liberals and socialists. The main argument of the free-market liberals is that free-market capitalism is the “natural” order. Being the “natural” order it is “beyond argument” (to borrow a phrase from the Guardian). Thus it trumps history, democracy, the rights of peoples etc.

The line in the House of Lords report is that one rule applies to the West and another for Russia. This is natural in a world where the EU/US makes the rules and “good behaviour” means getting in line with them. For example Russia is criticised for creating the Eurasian Union. This is presented as an attempt to create a geopolitical competition with the EU and as part of Russian expansionism. But – what is the EU if not an attempt to gain geo-politcal power and economic strength through a trade Union? The project of the West is imperialist. They are trying to export “free-market liberal” economics all over the world. The rules which they want everyone to obey are not those of an international order based on law. They are in effect the rules of what is needed by international corporate capitalism. Their system. Because they believe, earnestly no doubt, that this system is the “natural order” they see any attempts not to get with the plan as “illegitimate” actions. They can only construe other points of view as retrograde and deviant.

Anyway to return to David Cameron’s falsehoods.

So much for democracy in Ukraine
The US State Department’s narrative simply forgets the population of the East of Ukraine who were not involved in the US backed February 2014 coup in Kiev and who hold demonstrably different views on the best future for Ukraine. In the East of Ukraine support for NATO and EU membership is just 13% and 19% respectively. [3] The 5 provinces which make up Eastern Ukraine account for about 13 million people out of a total population of about 44 million. [8] In electoral terms these provinces were strongly supportive of the Party of the Regions, [8] the party of the elected President Viktor Yanukovych, who was deposed in the US backed coup. So much for supporting democracy.

This is a babyish presentation: “They destabilised and effectively invaded this country and have caused all the problems that have happened since”.  Ukraine is a fractured and divided country.  Since WWI it has been split between a pro-Russian East and a more nationalist West. That all of Ukraine’s problems are down to Russian actions in the last year is not a serious piece of analysis. In February 2014 One side (Ukrainian nationalists) took power in an illegal Western sponsored coup. The views of the other side, “pro-Russian”, not keen on joining the EU etc are simply obliterated. The Western sponsored “interim team” in Kiev started off on the wrong foot with them by trying to ban the use of Russian as a language of official business, which naturally put the wind up the people in the East. This is the problem. David Cameron adopts the narrative he does because it is politically expedient. This is how they are going to bulldoze Ukraine into the “free-market liberal” world; by repeating over and over the mantra about the “territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine”. They do that because the current government in Ukraine is on board with this project. When the government in Ukraine was inclined to draw back from the EU and “free-market liberal” economics they put it under massive pressure and helped it collapse. The pressure on the previous, and elected government, was not just political. While protesters were attacking policemen and indeed killing them and trying to overturn the elected government David Cameron was lecturing then President Victor Yanukovych about how he should not use force! [8] They didn’t start going on about “sovereignty” until their lot were in power. The line about the “territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine” and the line about “Ukraine choosing its own future” means in effect “we’ve won, we’ve seized Ukraine, just, and we are not going to give an inch”. However, the millions of people in the Eastern provinces of Ukraine are notably not being asked to “choose their own future”. And when Crimea chose its own future this was presented by David Cameron as a “Russian invasion” at the “barrel of a Kalashnikov”.

In terms of “shallow posturing and empty moralising” David Cameron sets a new standard.

Like a psychotic David Cameron makes the mistake of thinking that reality is what he says it is. It remains to be seen where this madness is going to take us.

Update – they really are looking the other way

The Sunday Express reports a Foreign Office spokesmen reacting to the Lords report and saying:

If the Ukrainian people want a closer social, economic and political relationship with the EU, that is for the people of Ukraine to decide, not Russia.

The UK has played a leading role in supporting Ukraine’s right to chart its own future by ensuring that the EU imposed tough sanctions on Russia for seeking to dictate these choices.

This neatly encapsulates the phantasy world these people live in. No wonder the House of Lords European Union Committee commented that “There is also a reduced emphasis on the importance and role of analytical expertise in the FCO”.

As per the above, the problem is that most (80%) of the people in the East of Ukraine do not want to join the EU. They were not part of the European backed coup. They were not consulted by the “new government”. So much for “the people of Ukraine to decide”.

The political part of the EU Association Agreement was signed on 21 March 2014. The post coup Presidential election in Ukraine was held on 25 May 2015. The economic portion of the agreement was signed on 27 June 2014. [10] Thus the EU signed the agreement with a government in Ukraine which had come to power in a violent coup. They didn’t even wait for elections to be held to get the process under-way. Again, so much for “the people of Ukraine to decide”.

Furthermore; how is Russia seeking to “dictate those choices”? Whatever clandestine support Russia is giving the rebels in the East (perhaps intelligence etc) it is to do with a) their support for their ethnic countrymen and other Russian speakers and b) concerns about their border security. They cannot and have not stopped Kiev signing the Association agreement. Finally however; the implementation of the Association agreement has been postponed by mutual agreement between Ukraine, Russia and the EU. [10] Thus Moscow”s arguments that it was not in Ukraine’s best interests appear to have been at least partially vindicated.

There does indeed appear to be a very serious lack of analytical capacity at the Foreign Office.

Update -an “intelligence” analysis

Update – the new collective view amongst the small coterie of the political, military and administrative elite in the UK appears to be that Russia is now a security threat to “our existential security”. Here is a retired MI6 head explaining that Russia is (according to the paper) a “state to state” threat.

Russia will become a “state to state” threat if it is threatened by the West. The politicians of the West talk to Russia like it is a junior partner who must be punished until it gets into line. Right now the US and EU are openly trying to destroy Russia economically. NATO is moving ever close-wards to its borders – even when, as n Ukraine, it takes a coup to do it – with missile systems that aim to give it an unbeatable advantage in any conflict. The US army allows its military vehicles to parade within a few hundred metres of the Russian border. The West, and this ex MI6 head is no exception, insist that Russia must adopt the same political and economic system as we have in the West – or else:

We shouldn’t kid ourselves that Russia is on a path to democracy because it isn’t

The language of the West almost implies that a regime change operation is in the planning for Russia.

Naturally Russia feels “threatened”.

From the report in the Daily Mail if appears that ex MI6 head Sir John Sawyers understands that if Russia feels threatened then there will be a response. It isn’t clear from this report if he understands that the demands and actions of the West are indeed, objectivity speaking, threatening to Russia.

Notes

1. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2961643/Russia-tensions-trigger-war-Britain-s-NATO-commander-warns-Soviet-style-tactics-pose-existential-threat-being.html

2. http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld201415/ldselect/ldeucom/115/115.pdf

3. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rambouillet_Agreement

4. http://www.bbg.gov/wp-content/media/2014/06/Ukraine-slide-deck.pdf

5. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CL_GShyGv3o  . Some of the USD 5 billion Victoria Nuland refers to is channelled to a wide range of NGOs in Ukraine through the National Endowment Fund for Democracy.  I think we can assume that these NGOs are not ones supporting closer ties with Russia. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Endowment_for_Democracy#Ukraine.2C_Georgia.2C_Serbia.2C_Slovakia

6. http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/jul/22/pentagon-team-dispatched-to-ukraine-amid-crisis-wi/?page=all

7. http://rt.com/news/us-eu-ukraine-protest-062/

8. http://www.dailystar.co.uk/sport/other-sports/366213/Sochi-2014-IOC-ban-Ukraine-athletes-black-armbands-despite-death-of-25-in-Kiev-protests

9. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eastern_Ukraine, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Southern_Ukraine. The population figure includes provinces from Eastern Ukraine and Southern Ukraine to tie in with the region defined as Eastern Ukraine in the Gallup poll.

10. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ukraine%E2%80%93European_Union_Association_Agreement#Postponement_of_full_implementation_until_December_31.2C_2015

 

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