Analysing the factors leading up to the Ukrainian conflict

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Best article I have read to date analysing factors leading up to the Ukrainian conflict. I am only going to grab some core paragraphs but please read the whole article.
Seeking the Truth about Ukraine Dissident Voice
by Walter C. Uhler / February 19th, 2015
Professor Sakwa correctly claims, “The groundwork of the Ukrainian conflict has been latent for at least two decades. It was laid by the asymmetrical end of the Cold War, in which one side declared victory while the other was certainly not ready to ‘embrace defeat’” (Ibid). He might have added that America’s declaration of victory, called “triumphalism,” is just another strain of our relentless and obnoxious boasting, called “American Exceptionalism,” which dates back, at least, to the post-Revolutionary War period. Then, victory over the British moved the president of Yale College, Ezra Stiles, to proclaim America to be “God’s New Israel” and to compare George Washington to “Joshua commanding the armies of the Children of Israel and leading them into the Promised Land.” (Richard M. Gamble, The War for Righteousness: Progressive Christianity, the Great War, and the Rise of the Messianic Nation, p. 10–11.)

But, the most fateful failure of the triumphalists, was their refusal to recognize, let alone credit, Mikhail Gorbachev for the conceptual breakthroughs that led to the peaceful conclusion of the Cold War. For example, it was Gorbachev who advanced the concept of “mutual security.” His foreign policy advisor, Anatoly Chernyaev, explained “mutual security” as follows: “We are by no means talking about weakening our security. But at the same time we have to realize that if our proposals imply weakening U.S. security, then there won’t be any agreement.” (See Walter C. Uhler, “Gorbachev’s Revolution,” The Nation, Dec. 31, 2001, p. 44)

That conceptual failure had fateful policy implications for post-Cold War Europe. After all, when the West commenced its relentless expansion of the European Union and NATO, it dismissively lectured Russia that such expansion was no threat to Russia – even if the Russian leaders thought otherwise!

It was President George H.W. Bush’s sense of triumph – as will be shown below — that compelled him to persuade West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl to renege on his crucial promise to Mikhail Gorbachev: no eastward expansion of NATO. And it was the triumphalism of Bush’s Secretary of Defense, Richard Cheney, as well as his assistant, Paul Wolfowitz, that led to the promulgation of the infamous Defense Planning Guidance, which became known as the “Wolfowitz Doctrine.”

(The Soviet Union lost some 27,000,000 men, women and children before defeating Nazi Germany in World War II. By comparison, the U.S. lost some 400,000 during that war. Consequently, permitting the reunification of Germany in return for West Germany’s assurance of no NATO expansion eastward was an enormous concession by Gorbachev.)

The worst consequence of arrogant American triumphalism in the first Bush administration was the “Wolfowitz Doctrine.” It came to light in early March 1992, when the New York Times reported the details of Paul Wolfowitz’s Defense Planning Guidance (DPG), which had been leaked to the newspaper. Mr. Wolfowitz urged that the United States “must maintain the mechanisms for deterring potential competitors from even aspiring to a larger regional or global role.” In a word, Mr. Wolfowitz had drafted a plan for everlasting American global hegemony. According to Professor Sakwa, “this has been the strategy pursued by the U.S. since the fall of communism” (p. 211).

Yet, the reality proved to be much more aggressive than Wolfowitz’s DPG. Taking advantage of a weakened, inward looking Russia, the Clinton administration urged Warsaw Pact nations to apply for membership in NATO. Thus, not only did aggressive NATO expansion occur long before Russia became a “resurgent threat,” aggressive NATO expansion actually provoked Russia into becoming a resurgent threat.

(The triumphalism of the Clinton administration was best expressed by a proponent of NATO expansion, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright: “f we have to use force it is because we are America; we are the indispensable nation. We stand tall and see further than other countries into the future…” (Sakwa, p. 227)).

Many pundits in the West, including Tom Friedman and Trudy Rubin, have decried Russia’s decision to upset the world’s peaceful “end of history” liberal economic world order by resorting to such revolting twentieth-century geopolitical tactics as invading another country. Their views deserve contempt, not only because NATO’s expansion has been geopolitical from the start – as was the U.S. invasion of Iraq — but also because the EaP “had a profound geopolitical logic from the first” (Sakwa, p. 40). It is worth adding that, by precluding “closer integration in Eurasian projects,” the EaP violated the very principles of the liberal economic world order that advocates like Friedman and Rubin supposedly hold dear.

In 1991, the U.S. commenced its investment in a democracy promotion program in Ukraine, which, according to obnoxious neocon Victoria Nuland, cost American taxpayers $5 billion by 2013. In 1992, as we have seen, Paul Wolfowitz drafted a Defense Planning Guidance that aimed at perpetual U.S. hegemony over the world.

In 1997, Zbigniew Brzezinski — who later became a foreign policy advisor to the Obama administration – had published a book titled The Grand Chessboard, which was “translated into Russian and is part of everyday political discussion” (Sakwa, p.215). According to Mr. Brzezinski, “Ukraine, a new and important space on the Eurasian chessboard, is a geopolitical pivot because its very existence as an independent country helps to transform Russia. Without Ukraine, Russia ceases to be a Eurasian empire.”

Between 2004 and 2013, the EU spent 496 million euros, in order to subsidize Ukrainian “front groups” (Sakwa, p. 90). In September 2013, Carl Gershman, the president of the National Endowment for Democracy in Washington, declared that Ukraine represented “the biggest prize,” because it not only would cause Putin to lose the “near abroad,” but also might lead to the overthrow of Putin himself (Ibid, 74-75). In a word, the EU and the US had been waging a war against Russia by other than military means.

As Professor Sakwa put it, “The Ukrainian border at its closest is a mere 480 kilometers from Moscow and thus the whole issue assumed an existential character. Ukraine matters to Russia as an issue of survival, quite apart from a thousand years of shared history and civilization, whereas for Brussels or Washington it is just another country in the onward march of ‘the West’” (p. 75)

He notes three distinct and irreconcilable social and political tendencies that have undermined the state-building processes in Ukraine — the Orange, Blue and Gold. The first, which he calls Orange and “monist,” is largely based in Galicia and western Ukraine. It is ultra-nationalistic and wallows in its victimization at the hands of Russians. It fosters support for nation-building by focusing its attention on an external evil that has kept Ukrainians down. Thus, it is virulently Russophobic. But, “externalization means that inadequate attention is devoted to finding negotiated domestic solutions to domestic problems” (p. 70).

The Orange tendency also can be credited for ensuring that the 1996 constitution recognized Ukrainian as the sole national language and described Russian as the language of a national minority — notwithstanding the fact that 80% of Ukraine’s population uses Russian as its language of daily communication, and notwithstanding the fact that, according to 2012 data, “60 percent of newspapers, 83 percent of journals, 87 percent of books and 72 percent of television programs in Ukraine are in Russian” (p. 59) As one correspondent put it: “Is there any other country on earth where a language understood by 100% of the population is not a language of state?” (Sakwa, p. 149) Clearly, it was a move made by a people with a huge inferiority complex when it comes to Russian culture.

“One hundred people control some 80-85 percent of Ukraine’s wealth” (p. 61). Name the oligarch. Whether it has been Kuchma, Yushchenko, Tymoshenko, Akhmetov, Taruta, Firtash, Poroshenko, Kolomoisky, Yanukovych or others, the oligarchs have alternately competed or cooperated with one another, through bribes and political favors, to make Ukraine one of the most corrupt countries in the world (See “Welcome to Ukraine: One of the ‘Biggest Kleptocracies in the World’.”).

But, he blames Right Sector and Svoboda, among other protesters, for the sniper fire on February 20th that proved decisive in achieving the coup that took place two days later. He also blames the “high degree of U.S. meddling in Ukrainian affairs,” and notes that Victoria Nuland’s infamous “fuck the EU” actually referred to “the hesitancy of the EU to go along with American militancy on the Ukraine crisis” (p. 87).

 

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