CNN found just a few minutes for live reports from the Crimea region of Ukraine, about the voter referendum there on the future of Crimea.
The actual vote is reported to offer two options to Crimean voters: to declare Crimea an independent nation, or to declare Crimea no longer a part of Ukraine, and now a part of the Russian Federation. That’s interesting, there’s no option to stay with the status quo and remain a part of Ukraine.
After the referendum vote, there has at least been some mention of the results. A couple different reports have said that the Crimeans report a voter turnout of 83%, and that 96.7% voted to leave Ukraine and join Russia.
President Obama, giving a speech in the White House press room on new sanctions against Russia, among other statements, tells the press and the watching world that the voter referendum in Crimea “will not be recognized by the international community”.
One thought that came to mind was wondering what “the international community” might think about the president of the United States telling them what they will accept or not. With no apparent sense of irony, after declaring that the Crimean referendum vote is invalid, a “clear violation of Ukrainian and international law”, he then went on to opine about the right of the Ukrainian people to determine their own future. He did not add “… as long as they decide what we want them to decide“.
At the bottom of the screen, CNN ran text saying that Russia was reported to have as many as 20,000 troops in Crimea. I’ve seen or heard nothing there about Russia having an agreement for their naval base that allows them to have 25,000 troops there.
I found it interesting to see a new poll online, that shows some idea of what at least some sampling of the American people think about the situation. Even there, you can glimpse some sense of how things are being presented, and one result was about how many Americans follow news about “Russian troops in Crimea”. It’s not shown as “following news of the situation in Ukraine“.
Check the US news, if you’re one of those 28% of people listed as “closely following”, and it’s framed continuously as the Russian invasion or what is the US going to do about Russia’s aggression, and so on. It’s never about questioning the changes in the Ukrainian government and how that happened and played out, and it all seems to just assume that it’s a matter for the US government to control somehow.
If you go look at those poll results, it does look pretty clear that generally speaking, the people of the United States are not aligned with what our supposed representatives are saying and doing about the Ukrainian situation. Not surprising, this, as if the people running our government are just going off and doing whatever they want, and it’s all based on the presumption that the US government is the government of the world.
There’s chatter about how US Secretary of State John Kerry is making pronouncements to the Russian government of ultimatum, about the US Congress “taking action”, talking about sanctions, and what that might be.
There’s nothing on the TV news of anyone asking how any of it is any of our business
And, then, of course there’s the presidential executive order of a few days ago:
I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, find that the actions and policies of persons — including persons who have asserted governmental authority in the Crimean region without the authorization of the Government of Ukraine — that undermine democratic processes and institutions in Ukraine; threaten its peace, security, stability, sovereignty, and territorial integrity; and contribute to the misappropriation of its assets, constitute an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States, and I hereby declare a national emergency to deal with that threat.
This is insane. How is this an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security of the United States? How is this a national emergency? And, with that, I haven’t caught anything in the news about the sanctions or national emergency orders being directed toward anybody “contributing to the situation” by somehow being associated with an overthrow of an elected national government. That might be awkward.
Then there was the dog and pony show of a delegation from Congress led by Senator John McCain, travelling to Kiev, and putting on a media show with pronouncements of “bipartisan unity”. Another item popped up in the news, McCain barking again, about what he regards as Obama’s “timid response”. Keep banging that war drum, Senator. Maybe you’ll get another war, just like you always want.
One news note quotes McCain as calling Crimea “a critical area”. Critical to whom? How? Obviously it’s important to the Crimeans, and obviously to the Russians.
There is nothing critical about it to the United States, there’s nothing even important to the United States, unless you really do regard that whole freedom and democracy idea as an important principle, and in that case, supporting that principle would logically lead to: well, if the people in Crimea voted by a massively large proportion to choose to separate their region from Ukraine and become part of Russia, as it was until 60 years ago, then maybe it’s up to them to do that.
Yet that is exactly the opposite of the position we’re hearing from our own government. Now, if you look at all this from the premise that all the US government players here care about is Russia not having their naval base on the Black Sea, suddenly “Crimea is a critical area” makes sense, at least “making sense” in the sense of being consistent to the neocon megalomaniac mind.
In the TV news and prominent American newspapers and other US “news media”, there isn’t much attention given to what American citizens think of this circus of megalomania and bombast.
Steve Ludlum, writer of the Economic Undertow blog, talked about Ukraine and the situation there in a broader context in a recent entry. I think he’s wrong about a thing or two, but puts things in perspective in the bigger picture that’s being almost entirely avoided in all the noise.
It is hard to know what to make out of what is underway in Ukraine. Putin has decided to rock the boat and is doing so with vigor. In a tightly coupled world with brittle-fragile credit markets and the Russian dependency on Western credit, it is possible Mr. Putin does not understand the risks.
Based on what I can see, I don’t think this is getting it right. I seriously doubt Putin had any intention to “rock the boat”, and, moving aside from Ludlum’s assessment for a moment, especially don’t buy all the histrionics about Putin’s supposed grand plans to invade Ukraine as one step in re-establishing a Soviet empire seeking world domination. What I see looks more like reaction. Other people have rocked the boat, so to speak, and he’s reacting.
The main thing seems apparent and easy to understand; chaos breaks out and a Russian-friendly president is forced out, and Putin reacts in some kind of emergency mode to make it clear that he is not going to allow anyone to mess with the Russian naval base on the Black Sea in Crimea. That much is not complicated. It’s not hard to understand.
In the larger picture and longer term, it’s also easy enough to understand a Russian point of view on this being a matter of not being especially welcoming to the idea of a coup in Ukraine, leading to a questionable government and having Ukraine fall into a situation I’ve already talked about. That is, having a nation on Russia’s border, that contains that Russian naval base, becoming indebted to European and American governments and banking systems. Then, along the way, being told that, as long as we’re making some changes, and with Russian being hostile to your new government, clearly you should join NATO for your own protection against those nasty Russians, and next thing you know, a NATO base, effectively a US military base, is in Ukraine, all cocked and aimed at Russia’s border.
This seems especially plausible, and reasonable, from the Russian perspective, given the neocon lunatics dominating our government here in the US, with their Dr. Strangelove attitudes and deranged view of the world, which still clearly includes a mindset where Russia is still the Evil Empire Soviet Union determined to take over “the Free World”.
Back to Steve Ludlum-
Some of the intimations of meddling are just dumb; that US funding caused the popular revolution that unstrung Yanukovych, or hired neo-Nazis bent on reviving the Third Reich. Agitators and extremists have had their part, but the ground was- and is fertile for removing Yanukovych who is both a common thief and a pro-Moscow partisan. Neither the US nor the EU paid hundreds of thousands of demonstrators to crowd into Kiev and other Ukrainian cities.
I think Ludlum has a problem here, also. It seems as if he thinks the above is an either/or proposition.
I think he got it right in the middle there, the second sentence. I don’t think there’s any doubt at this point that the now exiled Yanukovych was a thieving rat bastard, and there were plenty of Ukrainians who were fed up with things as they were, and protests that started happening were genuine.
The problem is that it also seems to have been a situation that had not so good characters taking advantage and jumping in for their own questionable ends, and that our own government here in the US decided to do as they often do in the world, meddle and manipulate things to suit their own objectives, none of which include having the slightest glimmer of giving a rat’s ass about the well being or freedom of the people in Ukraine.
Popular revolutions have been underway around the globe since 2008, this has everything to do with the governments’ dwindling ability to provide luxury lifestyles including jobs for their teeming multitudes of educated- and thwarted children. Revolutionary skills require time, practice and opportunity to acquire, the young are learning; now, success. Ukraine’s children have managed at least for a brief interval to free their country from some of its odious tycoons. The youths do not understand at this moment that both the car-waste Western lifestyle and tycoons are unaffordable extravagances but they are learning and as such the children are dangerous. Part of Putin’s violent reaction is the push-back by tycoons and the status quo that supports- and rationalizes them. In this sense, the US- and EU bosses should be supporting Putin and encouraging him to crush Ukraine’s young people! This is class war, as Warren Buffett has insisted, and up to a few weeks ago the Buffett class was winning, now … not so sure!
There is where Steve Ludlum gets into the gist of the bigger picture that’s being ignored, although I still see some problems with what he said there. Let’s just say for the moment that the first sentence of that paragraph. Look around the world and see the turmoil and unrest, maybe most notably what people started called the Arab Spring.
In Egypt, for example, there was the story of a “president” who was permanent dictator, at least up until things started changing, and off that went into a long story, that still is not settled. There is a basic and fundamental element to that saga that has been entirely ignored in any news media as far as I know, only covered in somewhat out of the way places.
It’s actually pretty simple. Egypt has now had its own time come to pass Hubbert’s peak, having the rate of oil extraction from their own land pass Hubbert’s peak and go into diminishing returns decline, while their rate of consumption of oil keeps increasing. To sum up: they have shifted from supplying their own oil consumption and also exporting oil, which means revenue coming in from that, to having to import oil, just to supply themselves. I’ve emphasized the text there just to make sure the point gets extra attention. There are profound economic repercussions.
There are nations all over the world with major financial problems, not just, for example, Ukraine, which, reportedly, now owes the Russian natural gas operation Gazprom something like 2 billion US dollars on their natural gas bill to Russia.
One of the nations with major financial problems is our own, right here in the United States. It has to seriously irk more than a few Americans that there is talk about “aid to Ukraine”, when they’re thinking that maybe we could use a little aid for ourselves, instead of funding our government’s games around the world in trying to be an empire. That’s added to the ugly spectacle of watching as people in power bankrupt the nation in trying to cover the entire planet with US military forces to control a world empire, and then having the sheer gall to call it “defense”. Of course, as I’ve mentioned before, the standard neocon line is that talking about the USA as an empire is nonsense, absurd, empires are bad, and we’re just the Good Guys bringing freedom and democracy to the world.
Contemplate for a while on the cognitive dissonance banging around in the minds of people who dismiss as ridiculous the idea of being an empire, and then regularly refer to the office of President of the United States as “the ruler of the free world“.
We’re into an era where empires, or attempts to be an empire, are not going to find things working out as they might like. Any of them.
Cooking up an “international crisis” like the situation in Ukraine, is always a good distraction to divert people’s attention. Whip up a war frenzy. Get everyone’s attention focused on that imminent threat from those people over there, that evil enemy. It’s all about that threat, that imminent danger, never mind our problems here, and presto, people are not paying attention to the problems closer at hand, maybe misbehavior of the people ruling and controlling them, and if they do, well, they can be squelched, attacked for being unpatriotic, or undermining our nation’s unity in a time of war, and so on.
People are sleepwalking, and there are people who would probably like to turn that into regimented marching of brainwashed zombies.
Thinking I might find something more direct in terms of what’s happening in American government given the international crisis, I turned to the pair of C-Span channels, and found some sort of seminar, meeting, hearing, or something, given the title YOUTH & FINANCIAL DECISION MAKING, happening in the US Treasury Department. One speaker at the table talking was shown as the CEO of Girl Scouts of America. This is reported to be the first meeting of the President’s Advisory Council on Financial Capability for Young Americans. Really? What, exactly, is that supposed to be?
That scene was some kind of twisted perfection, something truly deranged pretending to be something useful. After five years of Obama as president, we still have not seen anything even remotely showing any sign coming from the federal government of getting a grip on the lunacy and fraud and general disconnect from reality in banking and finance, even though this ongoing disaster arguably qualifies as an actual national emergency for the United States.
For that matter, even though I really don’t want to get into some repeating riff on the notion of national emergency, with all its aroma of hyperbole and panic and even mob rage, the overall situation in the energy department really should qualify as a national emergency level of importance and urgency. That should have been since it should have started to become apparent by around the mid-seventies that the USA had probably passed the peak of oil extraction that M.K. Hubbert had correctly predicted years before. Instead, like a variety of items, people in positions of power, authority, and leadership are just going on and on in an amazing variety of ways to avoid even acknowledging problems.