I’ve taken the title on this note from an article on the Automatic Earth site. It works for this. Part of that article is about the strange extended episode of the way CNN is dealing with the story of the mysterious disappearance of a Malaysian ariliner.
The missing airline “story” fills hours and hours with all kinds of trivial minutiae. Meanwhile, while the “Ukraine Crisis” rolls on, that gets remarkably little attention and time, even while some people seem determined to get World War III started over some regional squabbling on the other side of the world. It might be reasonable with all the hours of program time on a 24/7 news network, we could be fully informed about that, including all the needed background, history, and context. That doesn’t happen.
I suspect that most Americans are like me, really knowing very little about the region before this drama. Actually, I suspect that most knew, and still know, virtually nothing. It is possible to fill in quite a bit about the story relatively easily, but you have to look for it. Follow and read the links at the end here. There are many more in a previous note.
The history of Ukraine and Russia is intermingled going back many centuries. Ukraine was one of the Soviet republics in the USSR, separating when the Soviet Union dissolved. The Crimea region was part of Russia, until sixty years ago when Khrushchev, for reasons I still don’t understand, decreed that Crimea would be part of Ukraine.
The Russian navy has had a base on the Black Sea coast of Crimea, reportedly their only warm water port naval base, apparently for pretty much as long as there has been a Russian navy. When the USSR broke up, the Russians made a long term lease agreement for that base, which, according to multiple reports, has allowed them to keep as many as 25000 military troops in the Crimea region for security of that base, which is obviously important to the Russians, and they are not likely to take lightly anybody messing with it. Added to that, much of the population of the region consists of a Russian culture, with many people who literally consider themselves Russian.
Ukraine had, until just recently, an actual elected president, who appears to be a corrupt kleptocrat of a character, and also on very friendly terms with Russia. That president, Yanukovych, rejected some sort of economic/trade agreement with the EU, favoring a different agreement with Russia. People went apeshit in the streets of Kiev.
Just how apeshit, and whom, is a complicated question. In mayhem and rioting there, which eventually ended up with Yanukovych fleeing the country to exile in Russia, a coup d’etat, people died, with a large number of people being shot by mysterious unidentified snipers, who shot people in the crowds, not just protesters, but random bystanders, and, for that matter, police. After Yanukovych bailed, the new “interim government” issued arrest orders for Yanukovych for murder, for supposedly ordering protesters to be shot, an evil despot crushing dissent. If that is true, who was shooting the police? Something smells.
For that matter, from some of the reports, it sounds as if some of the citizens who were shot by snipers were just tandom bystanders, including women and children, which begs for some wondering if whomever was behind the sniper fire was not intending to crush dissent and protest, but rather to stir things up and drive crowds to outrage.
What then ended up as a coup d’etat, the elected president fleeing the country, and a new “interim government” has been presented to us by the US government and news as a revolution of the people rejecting Russian domination to embrace Europe, freedom, and democracy. Pushing that narrative aside turns up a much more complex and nasty picture, as a faction of neo-Nazi fascist hardcore Ukranian nationalists (see Svoboda party) stormed in, and has apparently seized control of the new order of things, although from the looks of things, the reality is not all that ordered.
As that was happening, evidently the Russians saw a “Russian friendly” leader of Ukranian government fleeing, big trouble in the streets of Kiev, and the moves to take over by people in Ukraine who were the cultural (and probably often literal) descendents of the people who actually fought against the Soviet Union in World War II helping Nazi Germany, virulently hostile to Russia and Russians, and became alarmed enough to send in military reinforcements to Crimea, where they not only had that naval base, and their access to the Black Sea, but a large Russian population.
Again, they reportedly sent in a number less than what was allowed by their agreement for that naval base with Ukraine, yet from the first reports of that, it was described, repeatedly, incessantly, by the government and news media infotainment here in the US as “Russian invasion” and “Russian agression”, with pronouncements about “respecting Ukraine’s sovereignty” and warnings about “costs and consequences”.
After the Crimean parliament came to a decision to separate from Ukraine and ask to rejoin Russia, and then a voter referendum chose that route by a massively huge margin, by all reports, and then Crimea officially became part of Russia again, we’re still hearing about Russian invasion and aggression.
Listen to any of the politicians and officials in Washington about this, or any of the main American “news media” infotainment, and the story you get paints a different picture. It’s supposed to be something like “freedom-loving Ukrainian people rise up against Russian domination to embrace freedom and democracy and are threatened and attacked by Russian aggression and invasion of Ukraine with the capture and conquest of Crimea by the nasty Russian military seeking to rebuild the Soviet empire and take over Europe”. It’s just bullshit, although recognizing this should not be confused with some sort of naïve illusions of Vladimir Putin as any kind of saintly and noble character, either.
The point here is that it’s a regional squabble in an area where the parties involved have a long history, and it does not involve us, here in the US. It’s none of our business. Anybody attempting to paint this as Good Guys versus Bad Guys is going to be badly disappointed in finding Good Guys, or they know this, and are lying. Our government getting involved, or should I say getting more involved than they already have, is guaranteed to only make it worse.
Evidently people in positions of power in the US government decided to make it their business. That clearly backfired, still another example of neocon nutcases with delusions of grandeur deciding to meddle in everything everywhere, in their quest for world domination and control. Aong the way, deciding to follow the thinking “the enemy of my enemy is my friend”, they end up supporting evil rat bastards who, they think, serve their purposes, which inevitably goes bad. How many times does that kind of story have to play out?
Today Obama gave a speech in Brussels, on US-European relations. I caught a little bit of it via C-Span. It was a fine sounding speech, sounding noble and principled, about freedom and ideals and so on. It continued the narrative being pushed of the story of “Russia invaded Ukraine and took over Crimea” (my summary paraphrasing of the story we kee being told, not a quote from Obama’s speech), talking about freedom, and self-determination, and all that, and at one point, talked about learning lessons from the history of World War II in Europe. Meanwhile, neo-Nazis have taken over the government of Ukraine. How much are we hearing about that?
We have a hell of a lot to be embarrassed about here in the United States in our own government, and our supposedly free press. Aside from the astounding nonsense from the president and Secretary of State Kerry, and Senator John McCain, we’ve even had the spectacle of repeat candidate for president Willard M. Romney coming out in public again to talk out his ass. Thank God that neither McCain nor Romney were elected President of the United States. Unfortunately, a lot of people who still think highly of Obama are blind to realizing that Obama as president is obediently toeing the neocon party line of bombastic insanity, along with his Secretary of State.
Meanwhile, here we are. While people in charge of our own government (and some more who want to control it) are busy with trying to be a world empire, we have our own matters being ignored. Part of the chatter about the Ukrainian episode revolves around Russia being a major supplier of natural gas (and petroleum, let’s remember) to Europe. A recurring meme among the politicos barking nonsense puts forth the bright idea, or so they think, of converting natural gas here in the US to liquefied natural gas, and shipping the LNG to Europe. Hey, presto, “energy independence” from Russian gas for Europe!
Actually setting up such a system would be a huge project, with big problems and costs, and would probably take quite some time to get going and actually delivering LNG across the Atlantic, but that misses the more fundamental issue. It’s an insane idea. It buys into the now prevalent meme propagating among American groupthink mind now, that a “shale revolution” has suddenly provided us with a miracle bounty of natural gas, all worries over, alongside the same general idea about oil. This is delusional, and I’ve been writing about all that for some time, trying to direct people to some clues from people who are a little better tied into reality.
It never occurs to those people to notice the clue staring us in the face; that the whole epic of fracking is all about the simple fact that we are now so deep into depletion and diminishing returns, in natural gas and petroleum, that this is the kind of thing people are resorting to now, literally scrounging and scraping the dregs of the stuff any way possible. Even worse, people are generally completely oblivious to the nature of the stuff being extracted from shale formations, despite the fact that people are looking seriously at the reality of it.
It’s just staggering irony, absolutely tragic, to look at public affairs and find that among politico types, there is a load of barking platitudes and rhetorical noise about “energy security” or “energy independence”, without any indication that they know what they’re talking about. This is paired up with ideas of “foreign policy” that, if paraphrased to sort of translate to actual reality, is effectively saying “to ensure our national security, with energy supplies being a National Security issue, we should suck up large amounts of what we still have left in our own land, and ship it off to other parts of the world!“. You know, “let’s start exporting America’s abundant energy supplies!“.
This is such staggering, monumental, absolutely massive fucking stupidity that even now, after watching this kind of stuff play out in public view for some time, I still have trouble quite believing that it’s even possible as I type the preceding words. But, then, I remind myself that the very same people are likely to think that sensible government policy about “national security” and “defense” means to continue decades of bankrupting the nation spending amounts of money on military expenditures measured in astronomical-sized numbers, and then scattering the nation’s armed forces all over the planet in dozens of foreign countries.
Along with that, it’s clear that the same sort of people are pretty enthused about having everybody everywhere under total police state surveillance, while telling us that all of this, all of the above, is all about national security and freedom and democracy.
At the end of the page, I’m including a separate set of links from the rest. They are useful, I think, only to show how utterly bonkers some political and other public figures are. Reading those items gives you a pretty good glimpse of how off the rails some of our “leaders” are.
Those pages present quite a wealth of embarrassment for us here in the US. Especially nauseating and even horrifying are comments from congressman Mike Rogers, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee (oh dear God). One of the them was dredging up the idiotic propaganda claim of Edward Snowden supposedly being a Russian spy, and another about raising suggestions of sending “military aid” to Ukraine. Gee. Have we ever heard anything like that before in the “foreign policy” department? What could possibly go wrong?
We need some US aid to the US. We have people obssessed with their mad ambitions of empire and world domination while things are falling apart in all kinds of ways, particularly in what we might call the public commons and infrastructure. Just how crazy can you be?
Instead of trying to rule the world, and making messes everywhere, people in positions of leadership could consider the well being of the country they’re supposed to serve. Finally addressing the circus of fraud and insanity in banking and finance would be a good project. Getting the people of the US to finally get serious about recognizing the diminishing returns and depletion of the hydrocarbon resources we’ve been squandering for decades would be another. There’s a very large and challenging to-do list to work on.
How about we get on that and cross out the “World Domination” line?
“Europe has a set of primary interests, which to us have none, or a very remote relation. Hence she must be engaged in frequent controversies, the causes of which are essentially foreign to our concerns. Hence, therefore, it must be unwise in us to implicate ourselves, by artificial ties, in the ordinary vicissitudes of her politics, or the ordinary combinations and collisions of her friendships or enmities.” -George Washington
from the movie The World’s End–
Gary King: I think you bit off more than you can chew with earth mate!
Andrew Knightley: Yeah, because we’re more belligerent, more stubborn and more idiotic than you could ever imagine!
Note: I’m including the following set of links with a warning comment, with what you might call a bullshit disclaimer. The pages below are included here despite their slightly warped nature, included as examples of how confusing and misleading so much of the news is about the whole “Ukrainian Crisis”. In slightly ruder form, let’s say that it’s showing a parade of lunatics and morons in positions of power and influence.