The Obama Administration, with the support of the NATO, the EU, the NeoCons, and the mainstream media is stumbling blindly towards a New Cold War with Russia over Ukraine. The Military – Industrial – Congressional Complex (MICC) feeding off the Pentagon’s budget is preparing for another boom in defense spending triggered by the resurrection of the Russian “existential threat,” to borrow a term used in recent congressional testimony by the nominees for Chairman and Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff or interviews given by the retiring Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army. Add in the Pivot East to Contain China, plus the never ending, always mutating Global War on Terror, and it is easy to see why the MICC thinks it is once again headed for fat city. Using Ukraine to trigger of a New Cold War is, however, jewel in the crown of the MICC’s budget boomers.
Superficially, the issue of Ukraine revolves around the question whether Ukraine should be in the US/NATO/EU or in the Russian — particularly the demonic Vladimir Putin’s — sphere of influence. But this is just the outer layer of a far more complicated neo-liberal political-economic reality: at issue is who will own and exploit the resources of Ukraine (former state property including farmland, shale oil, off-shore oil in the Black Sea, gas pipelines, the industrial and mining resources of the Don Bass, etc), how to use Ukraine as a spear to penetrate and weaken Russia militarily and economically, and perhaps even set the stage for a regime change in Russia. To this end, U.S. diplomats and US domestic pressure groups and business interests have gotten in bed with some very unsavory Ukrainian oligarchs who have been looting the state property of the old Ukrainian SSR and impoverishing the Ukrainian people. In so doing US officials (1) worked to foment a coup in 2014 to depose a popularly elected, if corrupt, president-oligarch who was going wobbly with signs of leaning toward Russia and replacing him with questionably elected, also corrupt, president-oligarch who promised to lean more reliably toward the west, and (2) have fueled the civil war between the Ukrainian “government” and “insurgents” the Russophile provinces in the DonBass region of eastern Ukraine.
Most Americans know very little about Ukraine and rely on simple minded stereotypes conveyed by the biased emotion-laden sound-bytes in the mass media (the musings of Tom Daschle in the attached essay being a case in point). A poll conducted by two university professors in 2014 revealed that only 16% of American respondents could even locate Ukraine on a map! Some people even argue that Ukraine is more a region than a natural country because its borders have be changing constantly thru history. Readers interested in gaining some insight the fluid nature of Ukraine’s borders and how that fluidity may relate to unified Ukrainian national identity can start by examining this sequence of maps showing how the Ukrainian borders changed arbitrarily over time. Readers can draw your own conclusions about whether the state currently defined as Ukraine would be better organized as a monolithic state (allied with the West) or as a nonaligned decentralized federal state with semi-autonomous regions and guaranteed minority rights (as advocated by some American scholars, like Stephen Cohen, and by many in Russia, including President Putin).
The complexity of Cockburn’s micro-history is likely to make your head explode, but as the maps suggest, everything about Ukraine is bound to be complex, with lots of nuanced historical baggage. Its well worth a careful read.
How $1.8 billion in aid to Ukraine was funneled to the outposts of the international finance galaxy
By Andrew Cockburn, Harpers, August 13, 2015, 11:32 am