February 24, 2014
American neocons helped destabilize Ukraine and engineer the overthrow of its elected government, a “regime change” on Russia’s western border. But the coup – and the neo-Nazi militias at the forefront – also reveal divisions within the Obama administration, reports Robert Parry.
More than five years into his presidency, Barack Obama has failed to take full control over his foreign policy, allowing a bureaucracy shaped by long years of Republican control and spurred on by a neocon-dominated U.S. news media to frustrate many of his efforts to redirect America’s approach to the world in a more peaceful direction.
But Obama deserves a big dose of the blame for this predicament because he did little to neutralize the government holdovers and indeed played into their hands with his initial appointments to head the State and Defense departments, Hillary Clinton, a neocon-leaning Democrat, and Robert Gates, a Republican cold warrior, respectively.
Even now, key U.S. diplomats are more attuned to hard-line positions than to promoting peace. The latest example is Ukraine where U.S. diplomats, including Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland and U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt, are celebrating the overthrow of an elected pro-Russian government.
Occurring during the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, the coup in Ukraine dealt an embarrassing black eye to Russian President Vladimir Putin, who had offended neocon sensibilities by quietly cooperating with Obama to reduce tensions over Iran and Syria, where the neocons favored military options.
Over the past several weeks, Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych was undercut by a destabilization campaign encouraged by Nuland and Pyatt and then deposed in a coup spearheaded by neo-Nazi militias. Even after Yanukovych and the political opposition agreed to an orderly transition toward early elections, right-wing armed patrols shattered the agreement and took strategic positions around Kiev.
Despite these ominous signs, Ambassador Pyatt hailed the coup as “a day for the history books.” Most of the mainstream U.S. news media also sided with the coup, with commentators praising the overthrow of an elected government as “reform.” But a few dissonant reports have pierced the happy talk by noting that the armed militias are part of the Pravy Sektor, a right-wing nationalist group which is often compared to the Nazis.
Thus, the Ukrainian coup could become the latest neocon-initiated “regime change” that ousted a target government but failed to take into account who would fill the void.
Some of these same American neocons pushed for the invasion of Iraq in 2003, not realizing that removing Saddam Hussein would touch off a sectarian conflict and lead to a pro-Iranian Shiite regime. Similarly, U.S. military intervention in Libya in 2011 eliminated Muammar Gaddafi but also empowered Islamic extremists who later murdered the U.S. ambassador and spread unrest beyond Libya’s borders to nearby Mali.
One might trace this neocons’ blindness to consequences back to Afghanistan in the 1980s when the Reagan administration supported Islamic militants, including Osama bin Laden, in a war against Soviet troops, only to have Muslim extremists take control of Afghanistan and provide a base for al-Qaeda to plot the 9/11 attacks against the United States.
Regarding Ukraine, today’s State Department bureaucracy seems to be continuing the same anti-Moscow geopolitical strategy set during those Reagan-Bush years.
Robert Gates described the approach in his new memoir, Duty, explaining the view of President George H.W. Bush’s Defense Secretary Dick Cheney: “When the Soviet Union was collapsing in late 1991, Dick wanted to see the dismantlement not only of the Soviet Union and the Russian empire but of Russia itself, so it could never again be a threat to the rest of the world.”
Vice President Cheney and the neocons pursued a similar strategy during George W. Bush’s presidency, expanding NATO aggressively to the east and backing anti-Russian regimes in the region including the hard-line Georgian government, which provoked a military confrontation with Moscow in 2008, ironically, during the Summer Olympics in China.
As President, Obama has sought a more cooperative relationship with Russia’s Putin and, generally, a less belligerent approach toward adversarial countries. Obama has been supported by an inner circle at the White House with analytical assistance from some elements of the U.S. intelligence community.
But the neocon momentum at the State Department and from other parts of the U.S. government has continued in the direction set by George W. Bush’s neocon administration and by neocon-lite Democrats who surrounded Secretary of State Clinton during Obama’s first term.
The two competing currents of geopolitical thinking – a less combative one from the White House and a more aggressive one from the foreign policy bureaucracy – have often worked at cross-purposes. But Obama, with only a few exceptions, has been unwilling to confront the hardliners or even fully articulate his foreign policy vision publicly.
For instance, Obama succumbed to the insistence of Gates, Clinton and Gen. David Petraeus to escalate the war in Afghanistan in 2009, though the President reportedly felt trapped into the decision which he soon regretted. In 2010, Obama backed away from a Brazilian-Turkish-brokered deal with Iran to curtail its nuclear program after Clinton denounced the arrangement and pushed for economic sanctions and confrontation as favored by the neocons and Israel.
Just last summer, Obama – only at the last second – reversed a course charted by the State Department favoring a military intervention in Syria over disputed U.S. claims that the Syrian government had launched a chemical weapons attack on civilians. Putin helped arrange a way out for Obama by getting the Syrian government to agree to surrender its chemical weapons. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “A Showdown for War or Peace.”]
Stirring Up Trouble
Now, you have Assistant Secretary of State Nuland, the wife of prominent neocon Robert Kagan, acting as a leading instigator in the Ukrainian unrest, explicitly seeking to pry the country out of the Russian orbit. Last December, she reminded Ukrainian business leaders that, to help Ukraine achieve “its European aspirations, we have invested more than $5 billion.” She said the U.S. goal was to take “Ukraine into the future that it deserves.”
The Kagan family includes other important neocons, such as Frederick Kagan, who was a principal architect of the Iraq and Afghan “surge” strategies. In Duty, Gates writes that “an important way station in my ‘pilgrim’s progress’ from skepticism to support of more troops [in Afghanistan] was an essay by the historian Fred Kagan, who sent me a prepublication draft.
“I knew and respected Kagan. He had been a prominent proponent of the surge in Iraq, and we had talked from time to time about both wars, including one long evening conversation on the veranda of one of Saddam’s palaces in Baghdad.”
Now, another member of the Kagan family, albeit an in-law, has been orchestrating the escalation of tensions in Ukraine with an eye toward one more “regime change.”
As for Nuland’s sidekick, U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Pyatt previously served as a U.S. diplomat in Vienna involved in bringing the International Atomic Energy Agency into a line with U.S. and Israeli hostility toward Iran. A July 9, 2009, cable from Pyatt, which was released by Pvt. Bradley Manning, revealed Pyatt to be the middleman who coordinated strategy with the U.S.-installed IAEA director-general Yukiya Amano.
Pyatt reported that Amano offered to cooperate with the U.S. and Israel on Iran, including having private meetings with Israeli officials, supporting U.S. sanctions, and agreeing to IAEA personnel changes favored by the United States. According to the cable, Pyatt promised strong U.S. backing for Amano and Amano asked for more U.S. money. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “America’s Debt to Bradley Manning.”]
It was Ambassador Pyatt who was on the other end of Nuland’s infamous Jan. 28 phone call in which she discussed how to manipulate Ukraine’s tensions and who to elevate into the country’s leadership. According to the conversation, which was intercepted and made public, Nuland ruled out one opposition figure, Vitali Klitschko, a popular former boxer, because he lacked experience.
Nuland also favored the UN as mediator over the European Union, at which point in the conversation she exclaimed, “Fuck the E.U.” to which Pyatt responded, “Oh, exactly …”
Ultimately, the Ukrainian unrest – over a policy debate whether Ukraine should move toward entering the European Union – led to a violent showdown in which neo-fascist storm troopers battled police, leaving scores dead. To ease the crisis, President Yanukovych agreed to a power-sharing government and to accelerated elections. But no sooner was that agreement signed then the hard-right faction threw it out and pressed for power in an apparent coup.
Again, the American neocons had performed the role of the Sorcerer’s Apprentice, unleashing forces and creating chaos that soon was spinning out of control. But this latest “regime change,” which humiliated President Putin, could also do long-term damage to U.S.-Russian cooperation vital to resolving other crises, with Iran and Syria, two more countries where the neocons are also eager for confrontation.
February 22, 2014
Right-Wing Extremists control the streets of Kiev: who will govern the whole nation?, by Andrew Taylor, Feb 22, 2014
The nature of the opposition in Ukraine in the evening of the day of the coup d’état: Fascists from the Right Sector rule the streets around Maidan Square; they have been the hard edge training and battling police in the Square. In the parliament EU and US favoured nationalists, oligarchs, rightists and opportunist defectors from the governing Party of Regions struggle for power and place, today issuing an anti-constitutional motion removing the president from office.
Who will lead then? The president Viktor Yanukovich, solely blamed for violence and the deaths of the last week is reported to be in Kharkov the second-largest city of Ukraine located in his eastern power-base. He has issued a television appeal denouncing the betrayal of the Pact made yesterday with The Opposition whereby he would share power with them until early May elections. His appearance included a statement that he counted on the EU 'guests' in yesterday's Agreement to guarantee his constitutional position.
But he has now fled Kiev. The city's citizens are ushered into the grounds of the mansion by right-wing militant guards at the gates while the EU guarantors have betrayed their undertakings to him.
Extremists among the citizens of Ukraine may be few in number, but it was the extremist fascists who were permitted to lead the fighting with Molotov cocktails, baseball bats, bricks and seized service rifles. The anointed provocateur which was to instigate the Coup by its street violence was The Right Sector, an extreme fringe which operated with the knowing connivance of the parliamentary political leadership, the EU and USA.
It was the xenophobic Right Sector that helped instigate the street battles with police on January 19 that claimed four lives.
It was the anti-Semitic Right Sector that again and again said its forces would remain at the barricades until their "Revolution" was accomplished.
The US & European Union leaders have all along used the hard right to execute the extra-parliamentary side of the coup, while simultaneously condemning the violence and brazenly laying the entire responsibility for the bloodshed at the feet of the embattled President. But it satisfied a belief among many ordinary anti-Yanukovich demonstrators on Kiev’s Maidan square, that after the alleged incidents of abductions of protesters, and the real deadly battles with armed riot police, violent confrontation was perhaps justified.
Anton Shekhovtsov a Ukrainian political writer disingenuously noted“[Far-right groups] are a minor element, but they’re very visible...The radical protesters somehow met the demand for more radical actions ... People were tired of just listening to speeches, and peaceful approaches.”
That ordinary Ukrainians “were tired of just listening to speeches and peaceful approaches” is a political obfuscation. Kiev newspapers, television with other western Ukrainian media were filled with one-sided op-eds, features and photos that artfully played into the nationalist fervour being whipped up with the assistance of Washington, Berlin and Brussels. From the start of the unrest, Russia couldn’t win for losing, and its offer to wipe out billions of Ukraine’s debt and offer of $15bn in credit actually prompted media rage that Ukraine was being sold out to its neighbour. The prior extraordinarily meagre “offer” by The European Union had to be rejected by Ukraine as it would have caused massive job-loss by a “shock-therapy” style rapid upgrade of Ukraine’s industrial & environmental standards to those obtaining in the EU.
But to return to the Right-Sector, having used these thugs to get their way, how are the ‘respectable’ Opposition and their western benefactors going to get the fascist thugs to stand down? I see three scenarios for the Right Sector now patrolling the streets of Kiev: (1) the ‘respectable’ coup leaders in the Supreme Rada of Ukraine will co-opt the fascists by letting them run candidates in areas and promising them seats at the table, $ and power if they tone down their racism, or (2) Jail and try them, because the far-Right wants Power for fascist Revolution.. Or (3) The Unthinkable, The fascists take power through refusing to lay down arms and a putsch.
Ukraine itself and Russian-Ukrainian relations are facing the most grave of crises since independence in 1991. It is now much more than disputes over trade links with the EU and/or Russia, the real probability of a NATO satellite on the western border of Russia is here. And a new level of unprecedented instability is upon us all.
February 21, 2014
They are already sewing your funeral gown, Venezuela. They are now ready to welcome you back to that world of the lobotomized, destroyed nations that are fully submissive to Western political and economic interests – Indonesia, Philippines, Paraguay, Uganda, Kenya, Qatar, Bahrain, and almost the entire Eastern Europe. There are so many places like that – it is impossible to list them all.
They want you back in their deadly embrace; they want you to be corrupt and hopeless, as you were before the “Bolivarian Revolution”.
They want you to be the top oil exporter, but with all those horrific slums hanging, like relentless nightmares, over your cities. They want your elites and your military top brass to speak English, to play golf, to drive luxury cars and to commit treason after treason, as they used to commit treason for decades, before your brave predecessor, President Hugo Chavez, began serving and literally saving the poor, in Venezuela and all over Latin America.
Those who are planning to destroy you, those who belong to the so called ‘opposition’, in their heads, are already portioning you; they are dividing your beautiful body – fighting over which parts should be taken where and by whom. They are arguing which pieces of you should stay at home, and what should be taken abroad – a leg, an arm, and your deep melancholic eyes, the color of the profound pools under the mighty waterfalls of Canaima. They want to sell your jet-black hair, as black as those evenings in the mountains, or like that endless night sky above Ciudad Bolivar.
They want everything, all that is under your skin as well as what is deep inside your body. They want your skin, too, as well as your heart.
They want your dreams, which are almost everybody’s dreams – the dreams of all those people from all over the world, people that have been oppressed, and humiliated, for centuries, up to today. They want to take your dreams and to step on them, dirty them, spit on them and to crush them.
But it is not over; it is all far from being over. You are loved and admired, and therefore you will be defended. By all means – we who love you will not be ungenerous; we will not be negotiating the price!
For many men and women, for millions all over the world, you used to be a girl; a brave, rebellious, wonderful young woman… then suddenly you became a mother and then you turned to a motherland – for all those who lacked one until this very moment. For me, too, you became a motherland… for me too!
I am not a Venezuelan citizen. I wish I could be, but I am not. But I have fought for Venezuela, in my own way, through my reports and speeches, through films and in my books. I fought ever since Hugo Chavez became the President, ‘my President’.
And I am proud that I fought. And now, when Venezuela is once again under vicious attack, I want to stand firmly by her side, by the side of her Revolution, by the side of El Processo, and of her great Presidents – both Chavez and Maduro!
And I want to say this, and I will say this loudly, carajo: I don’t care what passport is hanging from my pocket, but Caracas is now my capital, and Caracas is what we are going to defend, if we have to. Because in Caracas, we will be fighting for Havana, for Harare and Johannesburg, for Cairo and Calcutta, for the tiny atoll nations in the Pacific Ocean, for Hanoi, for Beijing, and even for Moscow, Asmara, La Paz, Valparaiso, Quito, Managua and for so many of the other independent, freedom-loving places of this wonderful world.
The violent activities undertaken by those so-called ‘protesters’ in Caracas have to be stopped, immediately, and if necessary, by force.
‘The opposition’ has been paid from abroad, as it has been paid, in the past and now, in China, in Eastern Europe, in Syria, Ukraine and in Thailand, as it has been paid everywhere else in the world, where the West could not manage to easily strip those ‘rebellious’ countries of all their riches, while keeping them humiliated, and on their knees.
As you are contemplating your next step, Mr. President Nicolas Maduro, as Venezuela is once again bleeding, as none of us knows what the next day may bring, I am leaving Indonesia, flying to Thailand. (For now it is Thailand, but I soon may change my course).
Thailand is not Venezuela, but their government also introduced free medical care and free education, and other basic social services. People responded – by supporting progress. They have been supporting it for years, through ballots.
But the elites intervened and the army intervened. There was a coup, and there are now voices shouting that ‘the people cannot be trusted’, otherwise they will always be voting for this administration, read: for progress.
The West is firmly behind the elites and against progress. Thai feudal leaders are fully trusted in Washington, in London, and even in Tokyo. It is because they have totally sold out their souls, because they fully lost all their shame during the Vietnam War. They fully participated in the horrible slaughter of the Vietnamese, Laotian and Cambodian people, and they even eagerly murdered their own people: revolutionaries, Communists and students.
The West likes it when such despots hold the reins of power. They like people like Duvalier, Trujillo, Videla and Pinochet – and their equivalents – on all the continents and in every country.
In Thailand they are now supporting the ‘opposition’, as they supported the ‘opposition’ in Chile before 1973 or in China before Tiananmen Square. As they are right now supporting ‘the opposition’ in Venezuela! Everything that can damage or destroy a rebellious country, Communist or non-aligned, goes!
It does not matter how many millions will die in the process. As long as a rebellion, or a fight for independence, can be crushed, Western imperialism and neo-colonialism will sacrifice any amount of human lives, especially the lives of those ‘un people’, just to borrow from the Orwellian lexicon.
I am soon leaving Indonesia, Comrade President Maduro. Indonesia is the country about which I have written books and made films, including a recent film for TeleSur.
Here, too, the West disliked the progressive President, Sukarno, who used to scream in face of the US Ambassador: “To hell with your aid!” Sukarno was one of the founders of the Non-Aligned Movement. Some would call him the Asian Chavez, and they would not be too far off the mark.
And so in 1965, the West teamed up with the local military and religious cadres, supplying them with lists of those ‘who had to be killed’. What followed was one of the bloodiest coups in human history: between one and three million Communists, intellectuals, trade unionists, teachers and people belonging to the Chinese minority, were slaughtered. Culture was destroyed. The spine of the country was broken. It is broken right until now. It is terrible, a terrifying sight!
Now Indonesia is a servile, nauseating place, corrupt, both financially and morally. Its people are only there to supply multi-national companies and the local ‘elites’ with raw materials, and a low quality uneducated cheap work force.
It is exactly what the West wants to turn Venezuela into – the Latin American Indonesia, or even more frighteningly, the Latin American version of the African horror story – the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Venezuela’s riches under and above the ground, are so numerous, and its land so fertile, its rainforests endless. Foreign companies and governments from the North simply cannot stop shaking from the lowest type of desire; unable to contain their unbridled greed.
The West, of course, does not come and say: We will rob you and rape you. They sing some stereotypical tunes about freedom and democracy. But anyone in Venezuela who wants to know what will happen to their country if the ‘opposition’ takes over, should go to Indonesia and see with his or her own eyes. Or should at least remember what occurred in the Chile of 1973, because in Chile, the US replicated its horrible Indonesian formula.
It is all connected and inter-connected, comrades, although Western mass media does not want us to know any of this.
Venezuela has to fight back! It is under siege and you were democratically elected, Mr. President. You have a mandate, and an obligation to defend your people.
I have worked in almost one hundred and fifty countries. And I have seen the horrors of those places that fell into the hands of Western usurpers: directly or indirectly. I have worked in places as diverse but broken as Paraguay, Honduras, Egypt, Bahrain, Kenya, Uganda, Philippines, Indonesia, the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Marshall Islands.
Countries are so often punished for their great leaders!
In Congo, Patrice Lumumba decided to dedicate his life to feeding the children of the continent, to use the enormous natural wealth of his country for the good of his citizens. He despised colonialism and he openly repeated his accusations again the former colonial masters (the Belgians murdered ten million Congolese people during the reign of the Kind Leopold II) and against the neo-colonial clique. And he was murdered; after the Belgians, North Americans, Brits and others joined forces and decided that ‘such behavior’ could not be tolerated.
Now the DRC, country which has some of the greatest natural wealth on this planet, has the lowest ‘Human Development Index’. Brutal Western allies in Africa – Rwanda and Uganda – have plundered DRC since 1995, on behalf of Western companies and governments. By now around eight million people have died. I made a film about it. Needless to say, nobody in Europe or in the United States wants to see it!
It is all because of Coltan, Diamonds, Uranium and Gold. But it is also, undeniably, because Congo once so proudly stood up against imperialism and foreign oppression. The Empire almost never forgives!
The Empire never forgave Yugoslavia, another founding member of the Non-Aligned Movement, breaking it apart and bathing it in blood. It never forgave Russia, supporting an awful despot and alcoholic, Boris Yeltsin in his determined efforts to ruin what was left of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, and by murdering thousands of Russian people during the siege of Russian ‘White House’.
It never forgave China, or North Korea, or Zimbabwe.
The list goes on, and it is endless.
Please, do not allow this to happen to Venezuela!
Allende, Sukarno and others, fell, and their countries fell, because they assumed that despite everything, despite the West murdering hundreds of millions of people all over the world, for many centuries, it would actually not be as brutal in this particular day and age, it would at least spare cities such as Santiago or Jakarta.
Then, when millions of Indonesian women had been gang-raped, when their breasts were ‘amputated’, when victims had to dig their own graves before being killed… when Chilean women were violated by dogs, under the supervision of ‘English speaking investigators’ as well as old German Nazis from Colonia Dignidad, when people were “disappeared”, tortured, thrown alive from the helicopters… Mr. President, it was too late… Too late to fight!
I saw enough of this. As a war correspondent, as a man who was searching for the truth on all continents, writing about the most devastated cities and nations, I managed to absorb so much pain and suffering that I hope it gives me at least some right to write this letter, this appeal, and to urge you: “Do not allow this to happen to Venezuela.”
Those who are opposing you will not stop – they will go all the way, if allowed. They have been engaged in a disinformation campaign, suspiciously similar to the one before the “9/11” in Chile, 1973. The ‘strikes’ and ‘insecurity’ are also similar to those provoked in Chile and Indonesia before their coups. And like elsewhere, in Venezuela there is also a group of ‘economists’ and ‘business people’, ready to reverse the course of the country, immediately, were the counter-revolution to succeed.
It is great business to oppose you! Tens of millions of dollars are poured into the coffers of those who want to overthrow the government of Venezuela… of Cuba… of China… of Iran, Bolivia, Ecuador, and so many other countries…
But Venezuela is now so high, perhaps at the top, of the Western mafia-style hit list.
In my recent essay: “How the West Manufactures ‘Opposition Movements’”, I gave a list of countries where all this is happening right now – an attempt to use local gangs to overthrow totally legitimate governments only because they are defending the interests of their people.
Mr. President, your country – Venezuela – is much more than a beautiful place inhabited by brave people. It is also a symbol of hope, and as Eduardo Galeano once told me in Montevideo: “To take away hope is worse than murdering a person.”
Do not allow them to choke this hope: the hope of the Venezuelan people, and the hope of millions all over the world.
If you have to fight, please fight! And we will join you; many of us will. Because what your predecessor and friend, Hugo Chavez, started, is what billions all over the world desire and dream of.
Venezuela, your Venezuela and my Venezuela, gave free books to the poor, free medical care, education, and housing to all needy people. Not as some sort of charity, but as something they deserve, have right to. Venezuela built cable cars, libraries and childcare care posts to help working mothers, where only naked misery reigned before. Venezuela educated and inspired some of the greatest musicians on earth. It stood against imperialism; it redefined, together with Cuba, what is ‘heart’ and what is ‘courage’.
Now our Venezuela cannot fail. It cannot fall. It is too big, too important. Perhaps, the survival of the human race depends on the survival of Venezuela and the countries related to it.
After Hugo Chavez died, or as many believe was killed in cold blood, I visited TeleSur in Caracas. In the center of the city, there was a photo of Chavez, sweating, clearly suffering from chemotherapy, but clenching his fist: “Here, nobody surrenders!”
And a short distance away, there was another poster only showing a sprinkle of blood on a white background. ‘Chavez from his heart’, it read. Chavez was endorsing Maduro, posthumously.
President Maduro, let’s defend our Venezuela! Please let us not allow this revolution to fail. Let us do it by reason and by force! Let us do it for every tiny village destroyed by drones, for children dying from depleted uranium, for the ‘Cuban 5’, for those who died from the horrors of modern-day imperialism, in Congo, Angola, Vietnam, Laos, Indonesia, Iraq, Libya, Chile, and in dozens of other ruined countries.
Let us defend Venezuela for the sake of the humanity. No pasaran! This time, let us make sure that the fascist forces will not be allowed to advance!
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Andre Vltchek is a novelist, filmmaker and investigative journalist. He has covered wars and conflicts in dozens of countries. His discussion with Noam Chomsky On Western Terrorism is now going to print. His critically acclaimed political novel Point of No Return is now re-edited and available. Oceania is his book on Western imperialism in the South Pacific. His provocative book about post-Suharto Indonesia and the market-fundamentalist model is called “Indonesia – The Archipelago of Fear”. He has just completed the feature documentary, “Rwanda Gambit” about Rwandan history and the plunder of DR Congo. After living for many years in Latin America and Oceania, Vltchek presently resides and works in East Asia and Africa.
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