The free press in the West (10)

This is an article by AFP about the Russian travel ban list. AFP is owned by the French government. Though they are trying to sell part of it or all of it to private capital.

AFP explains:

Lavrov said those on the list “actively supported a state coup” in Ukraine, referring to a popular uprising in Kiev in 2014 which ousted Moscow-backed leader Viktor Yanukovych.

A popular uprising? That’s good. So – if say a violent protest takes place and forty thousand Englishman kick out David Cameron, torching a lot of policemen in the process, and seize power in Westminster, and try to ban the use of Welsh as a language of government business in Wales that would be a “popular uprising”?

As a corrective then. A number of


Igniting war while talking peace. What is new for the US?

Russia … tragically is sort of reigniting a new kind of East-West, zero-sum game that we think is dangerous and unnecessary

John Kerry. US Secretary of State

This is an excellent example of political projection. The US accuses the other side of its own mistakes. Psychoanalysts call it “projection”. In the run up to the Iraq war then President George Bush made endless statements about Iraqi aggression and the threat to the US while preparing to launch an illegal war which cost the lives of tens of thousands of civilians. This is nothing new.

Who is “igniting” things in Ukraine and on the world stage? At the time that the European powers of Germany and France, incidentally the ones who did not support the Iraq invasion, are desperately trying to midwife a peaceful end to the crisis in Ukraine the US (and therefore it seems the UK) are discussing more sanctions and sending more arms.

The UAE has announced it will provide Kiev with arms. This is almost certainly done with US collaboration.

The modus operandi of supplying arms

The modus operandi of the US/UK is brazen. They supply “non lethal” weapons such as jeeps, night vision googles and body armour. These are strategic pieces of kit which rebel forces do not typically have. Then they get some third-party country to supply actual weapons. In Libya, for example, the US brokered arms supplies to the rebels from Qatar. [1] Meanwhile the Pentagon sent “non-lethal” aid such as communications equipment and vehicles directly. [2] A similar game is being played in Syria. Here, for example, the UK is sending “non-lethal” military equipment. [3] At the same time various Gulf states send lethal weapons. [4] (The exception to the rule here is that there is also a CIA programme to send arms directly to Syrian rebels). [5]

It’s the same game in Ukraine. The US [6] and UK [7] send “non-lethal” weapons. Now, the UAE is to sell “lethal weapons” to Kiev. [8] Where does the UAE get its weapons from? Guess. [9] (At least some of them).

The end result and obviously the strategic aim is to fully arm whichever faction in a divided country they happen to be supporting at the time. While steering clear of legal problems of being associated with war crimes. And avoiding domestic democratic objections.

The US administration has told itself its own lie. Kiev is fighting for the “sovereignty and territorial independence of Ukraine” against “Russian aggression”. They just have a mental blank on their role in the crisis. Stirring up a coup and supporting one side in a divided country. Everything is predicated on this mental blank. It happens because they believe that their order, values, and way of doing things is “God-given”, the natural order of things, right and objectively real. (This is known as “freedom”). Any other point of view is an error. This is, of course, religious fundamentalism. One problem is that once a group embraces a fundamentalist outlook and starts acting from it the tendency is for it to become self-reinforcing. It is very hard from them to back out and admit that they were wrong. It is much harder for fundamentalists to change course than it is for actors who are guided by realism and pragmatism, as perhaps Hollande and to some extent Merkel are.

The US has seized Ukraine for Western liberal capitalism and NATO and is not going to give an inch. The fact that millions of people in the East of Ukraine are not represented by the “new government” in Kiev is simply blanked. As are Russian security concerns. They just deny all these evident facts and proceed to castigate Russia as 100% the “aggressor” while publishing videos about how they will absolutely destroy Russia with sanctions. This State Department video for example, starts with the words “Russia’s intervention in Ukraine…”. The 5 billion USD aid to Westernise Ukraine [10], the visits by US officials to revolutionists in Kiev [11], the automatic and immediate support for the “new government” which came to power in a violent coup etc. could also be called “America’s intervention in Ukraine”. Whose “zero-sum game” are we witnessing?

The fundamentalism of the US is in collision with the desires of a few million people in the East of Ukraine not to be ruled by nationalists who despise their culture. If that was all the US would just crush them. However, in its project to grab Ukraine for its system, the US has also brought itself into conflict with Russia. Russia has a range of interests which have been clearly articulated by the Russian side. These include security interests and interests which arise from the history of Russia. For example; the presence of ethnic Russians in the territories which have been handed over to the US. Russia has balls and will defend its interests. It remains to be seen what kind of accommodation with reality US fundamentalism is prepared to make and whether it will be sufficient to ensure peace in Ukraine and beyond. At any event it seems clear that the destruction of Russia in its present form is now a policy goal for the West. (See for example this comment in a recent House of Lords report:

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.

) [12]

That is, the most likely response of the US will be to back off outright war with Russia while at the same time starting a long-term project to destroy Russia with economic, political and covert operations of various kinds. The kind of “dark tactics” that they accuse Russia of. [13]












Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov speaks at the UN

Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov speaks at the UN on the occasion of its 70th birthday.

This comes at a time when it is increasingly clear that the US/UK axis have no intention of participating in a form of democratic international relations. They use the UN if and when they can to add an air of legitimacy to their actions. But if they don’t get it to do what they want (because of a Russian or Chinese veto) they find reasons to go ahead anyway.

This cynical and caviller attitude to the UN would appear to be a chance missed.



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.






5.  . 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




9., 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.



Warmongers Inc. or lunatics who belong in an asylum?

The British Defence Secretary, Michael Fallon has said:

I’m worried about his pressure on the Baltics, the way he [“Putin”] is testing NATO. NATO has to be ready for any kind of aggression from Russia whatever form it takes. NATO is getting ready

Reuters reports his comments:

“I”m worried about Putin,” Fallon told the Times and Daily Telegraph newspapers, saying there was “a very real and present danger” Russia would seek to replicate the tactics it used to unsettle eastern Ukraine and Crimea in the Baltics.

At least there is a certain consistency here. The US/UK line is that Russia”s actions in Crimea and the east of Ukraine are driven by “aggression”, “expansionism” and, of course, “Putin”. There is no, zero, attempt, to understand the basis for Russia”s actions. From this deluded persepctive it is logical in a way to imagine that “Putin” will be moving in on the Baltic states soon.

The obvious danger of this is that it could become a self-fulfilling policy. If the US/UK so provokes Russia then yes, destabilising the Baltic states would be an option. In the same way that the West has destabilised Ukraine.

How the West destabilised Ukraine

Britain supported an illegal coup, in which an elected President was deposed. It doesn’t matter that he was corrupt and kept ostriches. In constitutional democracies there are legitimate ways of dealing with these matters. In any event an election was scheduled for 2015 – just a few months away. Britain as a member of the EU supported the signing of the Association agreement with the new government” even before it had managed to partially legitimize itself with elections. [1] While rioters were driving a legitimate government from office and trying to kill policemen the British Foreign Secretary was explaining that they were “peaceful protesters” [2] . Britain has continually criticised Russia for its support (more alleged than proven even now) for the rebels in Eastern Ukraine while saying nothing about Kiev’s bombing of civilians in the East. [3] Britain is arming Kiev. [4] Despite all the talk about democracy British government policy fails to consider the legitimate concerns of the people in the East of Ukraine, though the facts that they were not involved in the coup in Kiev and their views are not represented by the new government are checkable by usual democratic means. [5] The history of Ukraine is that of a country split between nationalists and pro-Russian elements. This is quite easily checkable. Anyone can do that by just buying a paperback on Russian or Ukrainian history published say by Oxford University Press (not the Communist Publishing league) and reading it. Obviously supporting exclusively one side in a fractured country is going to cause problems.

Russia has a set of rational interests which explain its actions in Crimea and Ukraine. These have been explained pretty openly by President Putin. The following is a brief summary in bullet point form:

  • Crimea was historically part of Russia. It was transferred to Ukraine when both Russia and Ukraine were part of the USSR. And at a time when no one expected the USSR to fall. (Yes; there may be valid historical arguments that Crimea was part of the Russian Empire and not Russia therefore it was not part of Russia per se. But if this is the argument then it should be made. We don”t even get anywhere near this point though because the position of the West is ahistorical. They can”t/won”t discuss history).
  • Russia did not want its Black Sea naval base to become a NATO base.
  • The majority of the population in Crimea is ethnic Russian. Many of the others are Russian speakers who look to Russia and not the tradition of Ukrainian nationalism.
  • Russia is concerned about the onwards expansion of NATO along the entirely of its borders. (Hint: the UK would be concerned if Russia brought the Republic of Ireland into its orbit and set up a missile base there).
  • The people in the East of Ukraine in the main look towards Russia rather than the Ukrainian nationalists who took power in a Western sponsored coup in Ukraine in February 2014. They have substantially different views on such key questions as EU and NATO membership. [6] They were not represented in the coup, which on the contrary toppled the elected President who did represent their views. Far from making efforts to include them the “new government” in Kiev has attempted to ban their language from official communications, described them as terrorists and bombed them.

These are the reasons why Russia is acting as it is. Not because they are led by a tyrant and governed by blind aggression. This narrative is a phantasy. The phantasy masks the aggression of the West. Projection of their aggression onto the other side is familiar fare from the Western political class.]

The comments by Defence Secretary Michael Fallon show how dangerously estranged from reality the British political class is. Michael Fallon is a good example of the kind of modern politician who the writer Peter Oborne has characterised as “political class”. He went straight from “Uni” to a job in the Conservative party. In whose ranks he has risen ever since. Along the way he has held a series of company directorships. None of this (argues Oborne) is likely to have given him the depth and breadth needed to understand international politics.

One of the escalating factors here is the lack of wisdom by these figures. They act, not like statesmen, but like local authority bureaucrats. No doubt Mr Fallon receives reports from NATO about the possible threat to the Baltic states. NATO is a military organisation. Its job is to think of possible worst case scenarios and come up with contingency plans for dealing with them. No doubt some in NATO would relish an opportunity to put some of their plans into action to prove how good they are. An international leader would understand all this and would pro-actively looks for ways to avoid any of this coming true. He would put distance between himself and his technocratic advisers. He would lead. But the political class never show any leadership. Just like local authority bureaucrats their actions are governed by an excessive concern for their own positions and a concern never to be shown to have made a mistake. The easiest way to do this is to hide behind the advice from technocrats. The result is that policy is made on the basis of worst-case scenarios. Thus we move closer to war.

Statements about Russia being a threat to the Baltic states are dangerously irresponsible. At this point it does have to be asked if these people are trying to provoke an open military conflict with Russia. What doesn’t have to be asked any longer is about their aim. They are trying to subjugate Russia.

Finally, lets talk about danger for a moment. Who illegally invaded Iraq which action, according to such diverse figures as Kofi Anan [7] and MI6 [8] led to the rise of Isis? Who repeated the feat in Libya? Who is now trying to wriggle off the hook given the mess that Libya has become? David Cameron. [9] NATO [10] Who has been trying to topple the government of Syria and helping that country plunge into chaos? The UK has been sending non-lethal weapons [11] while the US [12] and other countries send the lethal ones. They tell us that failed states create terrorism. But they create one failed state after another. The situation is ludicrous. While talking up “Russian aggression” they blithely sidle away from disaster after disaster which they are at least partly responsible for.











10. RT”s evening news programme for 19/9/2015 carries a clip of Jan Scholtenberg explaining that NATO wasn’t the only party involved in Libya and everyone failed to put sufficient presence into Libya after the war. Since the two main bombing parties are both part of NATO and the biggest NATO member, the US, was also involved this is just hogwash.




14. The lethal ones and non-lethal ones are part of a package so all are equally responsible.

Oh, the lies

The UK political and media classes are struggling at the moment about how to manage public opinion on Libya. The grisly murder of 21 Egyptian Copts on a Mediterranean beach has brought the situation in Libya to the fore.

They must have been hoping that people were not paying attention to the total mess Libya is in. The “official” (Western backed) government has fled the capital to a location in the East. At one point they were based in a boat off-shore. The capital, Tripoli, is in the hands of a group with support from Misrata. The rest of the country is awash with rival militias and militant Islamic groups. There is no security and no functioning government. Libya is a failed state. And, as the political class admits, failed states provide a space for terrorism.

Even more so than Iraq, the connection between a ham-fisted regime change operation and subsequent chaos is plain for all to see. It cannot be denied.

This is David Cameron trying to wriggle off the hook:

Do I regret that Britain played our role in getting rid of Gaddafi and coming to the aid of that nation when Gaddafi was going to murder his own citizens in Benghazi? No I don’t.

It was the right thing for Britain to do. Gaddafi was no friend of our country – the Semtex given to the IRA has done a huge amount of damage in our country

This, incidentally, is an open admission that Britain does not believe in the UN. The campaign to effect regime change was carried out under a UN resolution [1] which permitted military force to defend civilians. At the time it was re-interpreted by then Foreign Secretary William Hague to sanction a campaign to eliminate Gadaffi. On the creative grounds that “Gadaffi was the threat to civilians so protecting civilians means any action against his forces.” But the coalition did not bomb to defend civilians