Wednesday, March 5, 2014

I crane, you crane, we all crane our necks to the Ukraine

When people in any country start getting rowdy with respect to their economic or political overlords, I am generally one who smiles.  Rebellion, revolt, and talking back are messy, flawed, ugly-beautiful, human-all-too-human enterprises.  They usually need to be done, and usually need to be done differently, but they usually still need to be done.

That said, we shouldn't be babes-in-the-woods cheerleaders, either. 

When the protests began in the Ukraine, the Western media reported that it was about the government's decision to tie the knot tighter with Russia (which offered a $15 billion loan and subsidized natural gas) rather than the EU (which offered economic austerity and IMF rules), - a sign supposedly of more repression to come, less freedom.  Of course we always say that.  Doesn't mean it's 100% off.  The writing was on the wall when NPR started editorializing through on-the-scene reporters that of course the regime had to change.

Then a bunch of Ukrainian cops defected to the mob.  And the dominoes really flew then.

But when and where did they start?  Some smarty-pants lefty is bound to ask if the whole thing doesn't seem a bit familiar.  (Hint: from US covert operations in Italy (financing opposition parties), Ukraine (military aid to rebels) and Greece (propaganda and psy-ops), 1947-1975, to support for the coup in Haiti in 1993 and engineered opposition and staged protests in Iraq, 1992-2003.)

Of course Putin's reaction was probably one of those predictable dominoes.  Canning the laws allowing the Russian language (and Hungarian, etc.) was the first sign admitted in the West (in case the presence of Nazi groups among the protesters didn't clue you in) that the Russians were coming.  The Crimean airport was only a matter of time.

And Obama's comments, and all the President's men's comments, flow naturally from there (without any apparent irony).  (I mean, why, just because the US military rolled into Iraq on made-up excuses, does that mean just anybody can do it?)(Of course, Russia's ostensible defense of ethnic Russians does sound a lot like Hitler's excuse of defending his ethnic brethren and sistren in the Sudetenland and then Poland.  And a lot like Reagan's excuse - or one of them - for invading Granada.  And Bush Senior's excuse - again, or one of them - for taking Panama down.  Etc.)

So if the CIA did it, did they screw it up?  The Ukraine is "friendly" for the time being.  But if Putin continues as he is going...  Well, some clever-drawers has already speculated that Russia has other, superior means of controlling the situation.  And the whole situation could have been provokatsiya from the start, for all we know - an excuse to march inIt's not paranoid to wonder.  Especially considering that, if both the CIA and the SVR (formerly KGB) are not both in there - fomenting - they've dropped the ball.

To recap: (1) US foreign policy is hypocritical - not news, (2) Ukrainian people caught between world powers with their own sneaky agendas - really not news, especially for Ukrainians, and (3) no, we haven't done "3" yet.  Here it is: I've heard a number of liberals in person or on the air with varying degrees of hawk-talk to the effect of the US isn't doing anything (as if that were a bad thing), at its best with a dash of "the US encouraged the protesters and then hung them out to dry."  OK, starting from the end there, again, what else is new?  But on the rest: sometimes well-meaning Americans like to think of ourselves as the world's liberators, the way Napoleon's folks often did.  (All around us are oppressed and benighted peoples laboring under false tyrants.  Let's help 'em out.)  And if we haven't always measured up to that, is it a reason not to try to do better?

Here's the thing, folks.  Sorry to be the bearer of bad news.  If the US were there on the side of democracy and freedom and ending poverty and fear, I'd be the first to say, Hell yes!  Send whatever we can to help.  The problem is, that's like Charlie Brown believing that Lucy is going to let him kick that football.  Yeah, she always apologizes and admits some previous mischief, but everyone deserves a second chance, right?  And a third?  And a fourth?  And 77 times 77 chances?  And no matter how many times the US sends our boys and girls to save democracy, and no matter how many times that goes south with money-grubbing "military contractors" and our own "political objectives" and bombing civilians and propping up a "friendly" dictator with all kinds of sweet deals and cheap labor agreements, toxic dumps, police aid and "interrogation training," (we even pulled this stuff in WW2, see above), we always want to believe that this time will be different, don't we?

That just makes our leaders all the more despicable for taking advantage of our goodwill and our blissful ignorance about our own past.  Every.  Single.  Time.

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