Detached from reality

Mr David Cameron the British Prime Minister is reported today as saying:

Russia has sought to annex Crimea. This is a flagrant breach of international law and something we will not recognise. This behaviour belongs to the Europe of the last century not this one. It cannot be ignored or we risk more serious problems in the future.

So it was very important that the European democracies represented here should send a strong and united message that Russia should face further consequences, and that is what we have done.

Lets review the recent events.

1. The elected President of Ukraine decides not to sign a trade association deal with the EU

2. He decides to accept a loan from Russia.

3. Protests break out on the streets of the Ukrainian capital by Ukrainians who see their future as being part of the EU

4. Senior officials and politicians from the West visit these protesters in Kiev, making clear their support

5. The protests turn increasingly violent. All over Ukraine government administrative buildings are seized.

6. A day after a compromise deal is signed between the elected President and the rioters, brokered by 3 EU countries, the rioters finally force the elected President from office and seize power. They break the terms of the agreement. Mr William Hague, the Foreign Secretary of Britain, merely says “events have moved on” when asked about what happened to this agreement.

7. There is incontestable evidence of the links between what the Western press immediately started to call the “new government” in Kiev and some rather questionable extreme nationalist elements.

8. The “new government” immediately rescinded a law allowing Russian to be used as the language of official business in Ukraine. (True. The “new President” didn’t sign it into law. But the mood expressed is clear).

9. The elected regional assembly in Crimea passed a resolution calling for Crimea to join Russia and organised a referendum. Contrary to some reports in the Western press, which echoed claims made by the “new government” in Kiev, about a Russian “invasion” no invasion took place. At most a few Russian soldiers who were in the peninsular legally provided security at key points before self-defence units were organised. (Though even this has not been conclusively proved by the media). Russian forces may have also been involved in limited actions containing Ukrainian military forces present on the peninsular.

Putting Putin on the naughty step isn’t going to work

As the Russian Foreign Ministry has pointed out the language of sanctions is an uncivilised way to settle disputes between nations.

A lot of the language coming from people like US Secretary of State John Kerry sounds like fifties parents haranguing a naughty child. It seems unlikely that Mr Putin, a dan grade in Judo, is going to be controlled like this. Russia is not Panama.

Unfortunately a lot of Western politicians simply lack the maturity to deal with international relations. They act like school prefects ticking off an errant junior, rather than statesmen.   Like school-prefects they are acting for a power behind them. School-prefects act on behalf of the head-master and the governing body. Western politicians act on behalf of the markets and the corporations. The Russian leadership (for now) can actually determine their own policy. This is why their actions are (in the main) rational. Western politicians are not able to think or speak for themselves.  You  rise to the top in the West not by your ability to think but by your ability to be subservient to power. I just don’t know if the Russians understand this. There are no serious “partners for negotiation” in the West because all the Western politicians just do what the markets require. There is no rationality about it. If the West was really, seriously, to negotiate here the whole question of how policy is determined in the West would come to light.  In the West policy  is driven by the markets. Not by the politicians. They just serve power and the markets. When they tell off Putin they are telling him off for not obeying the will of the markets, as they do. (This is why it is self-evident to them that they are ‘right’).

If Russia can achieve a diplomatic settlement in Ukraine it would be a tremendous achievement. It would detach Western politicians to some extent from subservience to the markets.

The language of sanctions though has a secondary purpose. It is to try to convince their own publics that Russia really is “naughty” or “out-of-step”. It is part of the propaganda war which has accompanied the West’s seizure of Ukraine. On behalf of the markets. (Sorry. ‘Freedom’).


The cold-war (II)

The second cold-war has in fact been underway for some time as the US plants it missile-shield all round Russia and Russia develops new generations of fighter-planes and missiles with increased manoeuvre and evasion capabilities.

In the last few days the NATO Secretary General has called on member countries to increase spending.

The liberal re-play of the cold war

Here is Mr Clegg doing it:

To regard closer ties between Ukraine and a non-military organisation like the European Union as the equivalent to American tanks on your lawn at the height of the Cold War suggests to me that we’re dealing with a man who’s applying yesterday’s divisions and arguments to today’s problems

And he is also quoted by the PA:

Nick Clegg has urged Moscow to enter into a “civilised dialogue” over Ukraine as the situation in occupied Crimea remained tense ahead of a proposed referendum on becoming part of Russia.

“civilised” is not the word some would use to describe the petrol bomb throwing, paving stone throwing, stave wielding mob in Maidan square. Russia quite correctly doubts the legitimacy of this “new government”. The “new government” even broke an agreement mediated by EU member countries Poland, France and Germany. Why isn’t staunch EU supporter Mr Clegg lambasting them about that? There is nothing “civilised” about talking with people who were propelled to power by thuggery. We know the EU game. They fostered the revolution and gave tacit cover to all sorts of violent groups. Now they are trying to move quickly on, bury that fact, and pretend that the “new government” in Kiev is just a normal democratic body. (See for example the leaked call with Catherine Ashton where the EU strategy is completely clear). It is a dishonest game.

It is a complete fiction that this is about “a non-military organisation like the European Union”. It is well-known including to Mr Clegg himself that NATO is fully on-board with this programme and is just biding its time. (Even the claim that the EU is a ‘non-military’ organisation is completely false. Under the Common Security and Defence Policy the EU has launched multiple military and security operations around the world.

They’ve already gone too far

This is a succinct article by Professor Frank Furedi about the crisis in Ukraine.

He points to one of the most staggering aspects of all this. The sheer “geopolitical illiteracy” of the Western elites who plan these adventures.

Take Afghanistan. Did they really think you could have a Western style “parliamentary democracy” in Afghanistan? A country with its tribal heritage and traditions of warrior-ship and resistance to occupiers? Apparently so.

Did they really think that if they toppled the dictator (whom, as usual, they had previously done business with) Saddam Hussein the country would be unified in its sense of “liberation” and would embrace “freedom” and “democracy” and “prosperity”? Apparently so. (The warnings from British intelligence that a post-invasion Iraq would be more favourable to Al-Qaeda were of course ignored). In fact the country has descended into a sectarian and terroristic blood-bath.

Did they really think that bombing Muammar Gaddafi’s army (which the UK and EU  had previously supplied) would lead to peace and “democracy” in Libya? Check out the chaos now. Oil production down to a fraction of what is possible as various armed factions control the ports. Armed attacks on members of the government. The government in Tripoli only able to maintain some control by alliances with various militias.

All of these outcomes were predictable to anyone who is equipped with some historical, geographical and political sense and a will to use them.

And the same in Ukraine. The West backed a coup by one section of Ukrainian society. This strand of Ukrainian society may well have legitimate aspirations. But it is obviously not representative of the whole country. Indeed one of the first acts of the “new government” was to over-turn a law allowing Russian to be used as a language of official business. The West supported this particular section of Ukrainian society, sending senior figures to Maidan square to urge them on. They did this for the simple reason that they saw this as the way to capture the country for the EU and NATO. †That the Russian leaning population in the East is less than enthused is hardly surprising. That Russia is concerned a) about its compatriots, b) about the possibility of NATO bases on its southern flank and c) its Black Sea bases was entirely predictable. Now, when Russia re-acts the Western press and political rulers unite in creating a big lie about “Russian aggression” and “Russian invasions” and all the rest of it. Like Blair in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq Mr William Hague changes his story day by day. † â€

In Ukraine. Did they really not think this through? It seems quite possible that that is the explanation. Â But can they really not be thinking any of this through? They have whole departments of staff tasked to study foreign countries. However; government departments are staffed with people who live by pleasing people above them in the hierarchy. As a result people like Mr Cameron and Mr William Hague only read reports written by yes-men. Or they read the corporate press which is busy protecting its commercial interests and the interests of the corporate world to which it owes allegiance. Maybe they really believe their own lies in a kind of circular feedback loop type situation. In the end the Western corporate-government world is staffed at all levels by people who think that school taught them about reality. They believed it when the school-teacher told them we have “democracy” in the West. They didn’t question it. Â They are collectively estranged from reality.

The opportunism which seems to govern British foreign policy is perhaps a reflection of that fact that opportunism is the chief value of capitalism.

As far as Ukraine and Russia goes the tragedy is that whatever happens the West has already done serious harm to relations with Russia and thus (since they are a permanent member of the Security Council) to efforts towards a peaceful, lawful, international world order.


†Without a trace of embarrassment the EU is pressing ahead with plans to sign an association agreement with the “new government” in Ukraine before any elections have been held.

† † See Note 2