The title I’ve thrown on this is, of course, a reference to an old jingoistic marching song from around a century ago, apparently crafted to whip up enthusiasm for the idea of Americans to join up and go get tangled up in the hellish mess of what eventually became known as World War I, thousands of miles away on the European continent. The fact that what was happening didn’t really involve the United States didn’t seem to matter much to some people. Maybe more to the point is to ponder the idea that what was happening did not really involve most of the nations and people who got dragged into “The Great War”, but, yet, somehow they all got involved, in a tragic tale of pompous hubris and malfunctioning governments and geopolitical wrangling that made one trigger incident in Sarajevo into a giant war.
I’m not the guy to do a historical analysis of WWI and how that horror show got started, and escalated. There are plenty of sources to study that. What is apparent from the slightest examination is that it was a good lesson in malfunctioning governments, delusions of grandeur, hubris, and determination to stick with bad ideas no matter what their consequences. A collection of formal agreements between governments of nations set it all in motion in a mess of grand folly, of alliances and treaties that committed nations to get involved in actual shooting wars as an obligation if other parties had some stupid squabble escalate.
It’s worth remembering, today, and unfortunately, it recalls a saying that one of the lessons of history is that people fail to learn the lessons of history. Now, looking around at the world news, The entanglements are large, complex, and often pretty irrational, to put it one way. I’m talking mostly about the US government.
The world news over the past few days has included election news of Ukraine. Even referring to that is not quite simple, as this includes chatter about a Ukrainian parliamentary election that’s actually a continuation of a government by coup d’etat, after the coup early this year, supported by the neocon gang in Washington who proudly squawk in staggering hypocrisy about “democracy and self-determination of the Ukrainian people”. Right on the heels of that is other news of elections being conducted by the regions in eastern Ukraine who wanted nothing to do with the new government by coup that overthrew the government they had elected, and declared themselves as new separate nation-states. There, we find the people who keep being referred to as “terrorists” or “Pro-Russian separatists”, even though there has never been anything resembling “terrorist” activity from them, even in the pseudo-news propaganda incessantly portraying them as the Bad Guys in the US government’s narratives, and they seem to be less “Pro-Russian”, in terms of allegiance to the Russian state, than simply being essentially both Russian, culturally, and Ukrainian, and wanting to be left alone by the virulently anti-Russian xenophobes in other parts of Ukraine, who took over in Kiev.
That any of this is even getting much attention here, in the United States, is due to the involvement of the US government in the whole ugly mess. I’ve been talking about that plenty in the past months, and pointing to endless loads of stories that go digging into the story like actual journalists do. So, I won’t rehash the entire saga now. I would hope that anybody reading this will already be familiar with all that.
It’s no surprise to see what gets reported by the main US infotainment news sources, obediently parroting the government narratives about “freedom and democracy” in Ukraine as the new junta government proceeds, completely ignoring the neo-nazi characters woven throughout current and recent events there, while continuously declaring the whole separatist republic happenings in the east, with their own elections, struggling to break free of the junta in Kiev even as they suffer renewed attacks from that regime, as “illegal” and “illegitimate”, and supposedly controlled by the Russian government.
As this happens, of course, here in the US we have the circus of an election as the “mid-term” elections are upon us. I’m not sure who really cares, outside of the participants in what has become essentially just some twisted sport. By “participants”, just to be clear, I’m not referring to us, the people of the United States of America as a whole, although that is supposedly how this works. To quote from elsewhere:
The actual democratic content of this process is zero. The American people have little say in the outcome of the election and no say at all in what their elected “representatives” will do once they arrive in Washington.
That pretty much covers it all.
It’s especially galling to lay this farce alongside the posing and pronouncements from characters in Washington about elections elsewhere in the world, as summarized like so in another recent essay about the elections in Ukraine (and former Ukrainian territory, a point people will argue):
Those who overthrow democracy by force are legitimized – you might even say laundered – by an election they had no legal right to hold in the first place, while those who stood by previously-elected leaders and scheduled elections as a way out of the crisis caused by US interference are condemned, ignored, and not even recognized by the US government.
So here is the real message from the US government: elections overseas are only legitimate if we have pre-approved the parties allowed to stand and if we have pre-approved the outcome. The election must result in exactly the kind of “pro-West” government that we desire or we will begin destabilization and regime change, if completely ignoring the results does not do the trick.
Is that what John Kerry meant when he said, “you just don’t in the 21st century behave in 19th century fashion”?
While we’re at it, it is definitely worth noticing that in the chatter about the election in Ukraine, it seems to be the standard narrative to comment that the Ukrainian national parliamentary election did not include voting in the eastern regions, not exactly surprising to anyone, regardless of whether or not they understand what has actually been happening. The extra twist there is that despite all the posing and bullshit from the current regime in Kiev about crushing those nasty “pro-Russian terrorists” and bringing them back in line and getting those regions back under the control of Kiev as part of Ukraine, it’s obvious to anybody really paying honest attention that the junta in Kiev would not actually want the citizens of that region voting in Ukrainian national elections.
The other item among the standard narrative is noting that voting for the Ukrainian parliament was not conducted in Crimea. No kidding. Crimea is not part of Ukraine anymore, and the reason is because the overwhelming result of an actual democratic voter referendum in Crimea earlier this year, after the coup in Kiev, was to formally choose to separate from Ukraine and the new regime that overthrew elected government, and ask Russia to make Crimea part of Russia again, as Crimea had been until 1954. You know, just like a democratic process of the people’s right to self-determination, with all reports indicating that somewhere around 9 out of 10 Crimean voters chose this path.
Having just written that, I realize that anybody who has been reading here will find that repetitive, but it’s all just one tangled little chunk of the crowd in Washington just seemingly determined to meddle in everything everywhere in the world, to such a degree that it’s increasingly hard to not regard it as sheer psychosis, megalomania on a scale never seen before in human history.
The punch line of this twisted farce is that, doing that, it seems to never quite register among the lunatics involved that virtually every fucking bit of it goes horribly wrong, whether you consider it from the perspective of everyone else in the world affected by it, or the people of the United States. And, again, what any voters, any citizens, anywhere, have to say about any of it is dismissed as irrelevant. When a vote appears to support these guys, it’s hailed with great fanfare as “freedom and democracy in action”, if it doesn’t, it’s illegitimate in one way or another.
Turning back to the Ukraine situation again, that crazy mad unnecessary drama, it needs to be said that there are some eerie similarities to the knot of alliances that dragged a collection of nations into “The Great War”, and the strange persistence of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, despite the rationale for the existence of NATO having been gone for a whole human generation, since the collapse of the Eastern Bloc and Warsaw Pact national communist governments and the Soviet Union itself, all wrapping up by 1991, eliminating any reasonable notions of a need for western Europe to be prepared to fight off some mighty Red Menace invasion. Now, we’re in a period where the neocon megalomaniacs have just kept pressing to make every nation of Europe right up to Russia’s European borders a NATO member, essentially under Washington’s control.
Turning to a much different realm, there were recent events in actual sports, an odd juxtaposition to the sort of bizarre pseudo-sports game that politics has become. Yesterday the Formula 1 series ran the United States Grand Prix at Circuit of the Americas in Austin. It’s interesting that this event followed the first ever Russian GP, run three weeks ago at a brand new circuit located running through the site of the Winter Olympics in Sochi.
Both events were great successes. Aside from a mention in the NBC Sports broadcast about the squabbling surrounding Ukraine, all of that remained uninvolved in the assorted madness of international politics. The impression I got was that the Russians seemed awfully welcoming to the F1 teams, all of them based in Europe, for a country that we’re told is just itching to take over the continent any day now.
This past week also had some unfortunate news about a rocket launch gone wrong, as a rocket lifting a cargo shipment of supplies to the International Space Station blew up on liftoff. This was a private commercial venture, the Antares vehicle launched from a NASA Virginia facility. Reports indicate that the ISS will be alright on supplies, as a Russian spacecraft managed to get a load up there. Yes, remember this? The Russians are partners with NASA in the ISS project, and, since the end of the shuttle (STS) program, have basically been the transportation to and from the station.
Somehow all that seems to be apart in a different world from whatever it is that occupies the space that should be filled by a rational sense of reality ,and general goodwill, in the minds of the loons in Washington.
Looking south from there, the insane and even fully idiotic meddling in the middle east continues to backfire in all kinds of new and increasingly confusing and complex ways, yet the Washington neocons just keep at it. In a bit of news that maybe isn’t so surprising, a report in the British press indicates that we now have another example of the US government arming and supporting some bunch in the middle east and having it completely backfire on them.