May 4, 2014
By Chris Martenson via Peak Prosperity,
Regrettably, I am very close to issuing an official Alert over the situation in Ukraine as it has continued to both escalate and deteriorate.
…The situation involving the tug of war between the West and Russia regarding Ukraine has steadily worsened over time and now involves outright economic warfare…For an already weakened western and Japanese financial system that is still heavily leveraged, the risks are very high for financial blowback by Russian – and possibly Chinese – agencies. Imagine a possible energy war, where Russia basically cuts off gas for Europe (that could spill over more broadly if things go badly). Or even more worrisome, a shooting war between the East and the West.
One significant risk in this story is that the die-hard ‚military first‘ neocons who control US foreign policy have not encountered a real foe in a very long time. They appear to be under-appreciating what a real adversary like Russia could do if (when) push comes to shove.
These policy hawks only know how to push harder when things don’t immediately go their way and, based on previous ridiculous notions they’ve held such as the idea that the Coalition of the Willing would be met with flowers in Baghdad, they are delusional. The list of US military involvements is long, but
- not very impressive when considering the strength of the adversaries:
- Grenada – 1983
- Libya – 1986
- Panama – 1990
- Gulf war – 1991
- Somalia – 1992
- Bosnia – 1993
- Haiti – 1994
- Kosovo 1998
- Afghanistan – 2001
- Liberia 2003
- Iraq – 2003
- North-West Pakistan – 2004
- Yemen – 2010
- Libya – 2011
Of course, those are just the wars we know about. You might notice that Iran is not (yet) on that list… Further, the US has been deeply involved in supporting the insurgents in Syria (and certainly many other places)…
Warfare is now conducted on multiple fronts:
- one being via the usual information and propaganda channels,
- another being in the electronic space,
- a third being economic, and
- the final one being military.
Each of them are effective and damaging in their own ways. Warfare is what you resort to when diplomacy fails, or at least that used to be the saying. Now it seems that warfare is the preferred means of ‚diplomacy‘ for the US and I suppose there’s a certain rationale for that when your potential adversaries are small and easily over-powered.
Which is absolutely not the case with Russia
Ukraine and NATO
The US and Europe have been working hard for years to convince Ukraine to join the EU both economically and militarily via inclusion in the NATO structure. Since the dissolution of the former USSR, the US has funneled some $5 billion into Ukraine to assure that it favors the West with these goals in mind. Although $5 billion sounds like a lot, when it comes to advancing US interests abroad, it’s practically pocket change. After 15 years of wooing, the US thought it had things pretty well locked up and everything appeared to be going according to plan as recently as early November 2013. Our man in charge over there was Victor Yanukovych and he seemed to be playing ball with the West. But everything fell apart for (the now deposed) Yanukovych – and Ukraine at large – in early November 2013 when he balked at what everyone thought was going to be a signing ceremony, although very few in the public knew it at the time. This editorial is from November 2013:
In a controversial move, Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych decided not to sign the country’s anticipated Association Agreement with the European Union at a summit this week in Vilnius, Lithuania. This pact would have advanced a comprehensive framework for relations between the former Soviet republic and Western Europe. In the aftermath of Yanukovych’s regrettable decision, the United States and the European Union must reaffirm efforts to help Ukraine improve its governance, strengthen its economy and deepen ties with the West. Over the long term, Ukraine would enjoy overwhelming economic and political benefits by signing the E.U. deal. As U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee earlier this month, if Kiev concludes the Associate Agreement, “it will be able to export its goods” to the European Union, “the largest single market in the world, tariff-free, by early 2014.” At that same hearing, the Peterson Institute’s Anders Åslund said that the pact – which also includes a so-called Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement – could add as much as 12 percent to the country’s gross domestic product and boost its exports by 46 percent. The Association Agreement would also intensify efforts by the European Union and its member states to provide technical assistance to improve good governance and combat corruption in Ukraine.
Russia, however, has successfully used political and economic leverage to dissuade Ukraine from signing the E.U. deal. In the months prior to the Vilnius summit, Russian President Vladimir Putin engaged in a trade war with Kiev, blocking nearly all imports from Ukraine and cutting energy supplies to the country. In turn, this reduced Ukrainian exports by 25 percent and shrank the economy by 1.5 percent. As the Wall Street Journal reported, “Ukrainian officials say the Russian sanctions cost them $15 billion in lost trade and could run up to half a trillion by signing the E.U. deal.” What’s more, Åslund recently warned, “The Kremlin has publicly threatened to drive Ukraine into default,” adding: “Once again, as in January 2006 and January 2009, the notoriously unreliable Russian state-dominated gas company Gazprom may cut its supplies to Ukraine.” The basic theme here is that Ukraine was caught in a tug of war. On the one side you had the EU offering plenty of economic carrots, but virtually no tangible assistance besides „Hey, we’ll buy a lot of stuff from you…we promise!“ while Russia was supplying Ukraine with lots of tangible assistance in the form of heavily-subsidized natural gas. Moreover, Russia was owed a huge amount of money in back payment for natural gas already shipped to and used by Ukraine.The spurned West was outraged by that last minute scuttling of the Association Agreement by Yanukovych. Almost immediately, it began working on supporting his opposition and eventual replacement. By failing to sign that agreement, Yanukoyvych had sealed his eventual ouster and indeed he was gone within months…
The essential and missing context concerns the fact that, back in the early 1990’s when Mikhail Gorbachev agreed to the reunification of Germany, he got an explicit agreement from then US Secretary of State James Baker that NATO would „not move one inch to the East“.
Without ever renegotiating that agreement, NATO proceeded to move into a dozen countries to the East over the following years. When it started making the move on the final piece of the chessboard – the Ukraine -Russia, understandably and for a number of reasons, was not too keen on that.
We might consider Ukraine the final straw for a very patient Russia that did not resist as NATO steadily advanced East many millions of inches. Here’s a recent map of NATO membership:
On March 12 1999, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland joined NATO. Then, on March 20 2004, Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia and Slovenia all joined. And finally on April 1 2009 Albania and Croatia joined.
Now the really interesting part of this story is that the original reason NATO was founded for was to counteract the combined strength of the former Soviet Union. Note that several of the recent NATO members are former members of the Warsaw Pact, which was the USSR’s equivalent of NATO. So if NATO represents no threat to the East, as the feckless western press regularly implies, then why all the military advancement towards the East? Why have NATO at all in these post-Soviet days?
An easy answer that makes sense here is that the West, indeed, still considers the East a threat and is doing what it can to assert its dominance to prevent that threat from materializing. It’s just a big power game…
Flashpoint in Ukraine provides insight into today’s gravest geopolitical crisis since WW II. Possible global war looms.
- Viewed from the perspective of Western mainstream media, the crisis arose due to pro-democracy activists overturning a brutal dictatorship, which led swiftly to Russian incursion into Ukraine and annexation of Crimea.
- Viewed from the perspective of 22 highly-credentialed analysts who have contributed to this anthology, it’s an entirely different story. Obama’s pivot is global, in pursuit of unchallenged worldwide dominance, leading to multiple direct and proxy wars. Neocon-dominated Washington seeks to marginalize its Russian and Chinese rivals, surrounding both countries with US bases. Ukraine is in the eye of the storm, the crown jewel of NATO eastward expansion, the last step in Washington’s drive to incorporate all former Soviet republics and Warsaw Pact countries into NATO and install missile defense sites on Russia’s very border.
To that end, the US has poured some $5 billion into “pro-democracy” NGOs which, counter to intention or not, were soon swept aside by neo-Nazi groups, and leading to the installation as President of former banker, Arseniy Yatseniuk, advance leaked as the unelected pick of Victoria Nuland, US Assistant Secretary of State for Europeanand Eurasian Affairs. While, as it is argued here, Russia did not invade Crimea and in fact has taken an extremely measured response with primary emphasis on diplomacy and ending the crisis, NATO, European and US spokespersons and media are seeking to dramatize and indeed
resurrect a “Russian threat”. Eastern resistance forestalls Obama’s imperial project. The West appears willing to pursue it, at the risk not just of Ukrainian civil war and potential East/West confrontation but of global nuclear war. The flashpoint in Ukraine risks the unthinkable.
Flashpoint in Ukraine explains today’s most important geopolitical issue. It’s the gravest one since WW II. Possible global war looms. Things head perilously closer to it than any previous time. Neocons infest Washington. They influence administration policy. They want Russian and Chinese rivals marginalized, weakened, isolated and controlled. They’re surrounding both countries with US bases. Obama’s pivot is global. Unchallenged worldwide dominance is sought. Multiple direct and proxy wars continue. More are planned. Ukraine is in the eye of the storm. Washington wants all former Soviet republics and Warsaw Pact countries co-opted into NATO. Ukraine is the crown jewel. Eastern resistance threatens Obama’s imperial project. Preserving it requires crushing it. Doing so risks civil war. At risk is spilling it cross border. Potential East/West confrontation could follow. Global wars start this way. WW I and II weapons were toys compared to today’s super-weapons. Admiral Hyman Rickover was the father of America’s nuclear navy. In 1982 congressional testimony, he said:
“In all wars, man has used the best weapons available to him.” “If history has any meaning for us, it shows that men will continue to use (them) to win.” They’ll use everything in their arsenals to prevent losing. America v. Russia and/or China risks possible mushroom-shaped cloud denouement.