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15 February 2014

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Peter C

Cleary from the hacked cell phone call the U.S. diplomatic corps is going have a very difficult time getting their minds around the issue. Not only talking on an open network, but the rush to fund nasty folks to do your dirty work. I hope some historians and realistic thinking military strategist figure out the whole picture, and educate the State Department.

During 1972 a friend of mine was deployed on a U.S. Navy frigate that entered the Black Sea. The Russian Navy responded very aggressively and made it clear this is their back yard. The Frigate crew was on a modified General Quarters for the whole week they were stationed in the Black Sea. Modified general quarters in this case meant, you stayed on your weapons and you might get some hot food from the galley. It was very frightening to have Russian ships on either side, so close you could clearly see the faces of the Russian sailors. I don't know if there were more than on U.S. Naval vessel in on this exercise.

William R. Cumming

ALL! Agree with Harper!

Alba Etie

Harper
This is a very big flash point - and Nuland and the rest are playing not just with dynamite but IMO blasting caps. I would hope should Mrs Clinton decide to run we get a full throated vetting of her foreign policy views regarding not only the Syrian cluster f--ck , but how do we not beard Leader Putin in the Near Abroad . You are exactly right we need Russian leadership in North Asia & elsewhere. Perhaps General Dempsey & Sec of Defense Hagel can talk some sense to BHO . Our President needs to stop listening to the delusionnal neocons .

b

I agree. This is extremely dangerous for the Europeans and I do not understand why they let the U.S. manipulate this issue. Germany, Poland and the Baltic tinys would like a Ukraine bound to Europe. But the rest of Europe is not interested. The Ukraine, without Russian support, is simply broke and no one in the EU would want another bankrupt country. The Association Agreement would be deadly for what is left of the Ukrainian industry.

Europe should stay away from Kiev and press the U.S. to take its hands off the case. A civil war in the Ukraine, certainly possible now, is in no ones (but the U.S.?) interest.

Babak Makkinejad

The Russians could fracture Ukraine; the Western Catholic rump state could then join EU - that is if EU wants it.

Russia has many more hard options available to herself in Ukraine - the border country - that US or EU or both.

Charles I

Worse, where the Russians do not differentiate w/r/t their near abroad, we do not associate disparate entities and issues when blundering about in one particular one.
That any policy maker is unaware of or disregards the cold hard realities of the Russian warm ports issue - Remember they were going to drive south through Iran to get one, weren't they? - is, well, well now its snafu.

Even in the face of vocifierous expat interests long pandered to, one could hope that whatever was to be learned from Nato expansion could be at least adverted to. Didn't we save Georgia? Or maybe we just threatened to. Not to mention b's point about finances.

Charles I

Even if you educate them, there's no retention, no institutional memory bank, make it anew on the fly up every time.

Paul Escobar

To all,

Please highlight any reports/articles you have...explaining how the "Association Agreement with the EU" would have "wrecked the Ukrainian economy".

Up here in Canada, the original position of the party I am involved with was one of neutrality & negotiation. Unfortunately, those of us who encouraged this position at the outset...underestimated the significance & stakes (outlined by HARPER in the above article).

Over time, we watched the powerful & monolithic domestic Ukrainian opposition lobby: manipulate, bully, and buy our typically ill-informed foreign-affairs chiefs.

The horror that came over us non-interventionists...when the Conservative foreign-affairs chief proudly paraded around Ukraine - protesting & squatting as if he were a 17 year old anarchist.

I thank you ahead of time for any resources shared. You can be sure that they will be put towards more than mere parlour chatter.

Best,
Paul Escobar

different clue

I can't see what actual interest the US has in a Ukrainian Civil War either. Or a bankrupted Ukraine needing so much support as to semi-impoverish our European allies and flood them with millions of newly jobless Ukrainians looking for work.
This feels like pure emotional sentiment to me. We must support Ukraine-joins-EU because . . . Rwanda!

Norbert M Salamon

Hopefully the push does not come to a shove in Kiev. The consequences would by most disastrous.

On the other hand any noise by subservient MSM helps distract from the horrendous issues concerning labour participation of working age population, real unemployment rate , and forced part time employment.
To see this three issues in graphic form please visit:

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2014-02-14/us-participation-rate-35-year-low-how-it-looks-state-state

b

@ Paul Escobar said...

"Please highlight any reports/articles you have...explaining how the "Association Agreement with the EU" would have "wrecked the Ukrainian economy"."

The Association Agreement would have opened the Ukrainian economy to EU products (with little or no tariffs). It would also have required the Ukrainian companies to produce to/by EU standards. The second part alone would ruin most Ukrainian companies. At the same time their markets would be swamped with "western" products.

At the same time an EU Association Agreement would automatically put up new export troubles for exports from the Ukraine to Russia. Those are currently preferential but should the Ukraine be swamped by EU products Russia would have to put up barriers to not be swamped itself.

BTW - at no time was there (or will there be) an offer for the Ukraine to actually join the EU and to be thereby able to draw money from Brussels. The U.S. is pressing for that but no EU country wants to pay for that.

David Habakkuk

'b', different clue:

As with U.S. policy towards Israel and the ME, U.S. policy towards the former Soviet space quite patently cannot be explained simply in terms of ‘realist’ conceptions of national interest. Nor is this simply a matter of 'R2P' rhetoric spinning out of control.

Look for example at the biography of Brzezinski.

‘Zbigniew Brzezinski was born in Warsaw, Poland, in 1928. His family, members of the nobility (or "szlachta" in Polish), bore the Trąby coat of arms and hailed from Brzeżany in Galicia. This town is thought to be the source of the family name. Brzezinski's father was Tadeusz Brzeziński, a Polish diplomat who was posted to Germany from 1931 to 1935; Zbigniew Brzezinski thus spent some of his earliest years witnessing the rise of the Nazis. From 1936 to 1938, Tadeusz Brzeziński was posted to the Soviet Union during Joseph Stalin's Great Purge.’

(See http://forum.prisonplanet.com/index.php?topic=196064.0;wap2 )

Brzezany is south-east of Lviv, in what is now the West Ukraine. When the Soviets moved into the area, then part of Poland, in the wake of the Nazi-Soviet Pact, they ‘purged’ the Polish elite – there was the small matter of the Katyn massacre, as well as mass deportations.

When the Germans moved in, following their repudiation of the Pact, they did their best to liquidate what remained of the elite, as well as the Jewish population.

It is hardly surprising that people with Brzezinski’s background, or indeed descendants of Jews who came to the United States to escape pogroms in Tsarist times – of whom I think Victoria Nuland may be one – are Russophobic. Whether this makes them a constructive influence on policymaking is another matter.

David Habakkuk

Charles I,

As to the Russian drive for warm water ports, a good deal of that has turned out to be BS. Historically, it was aimed at the Black Sea, not the Gulf, and does not explain the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. From an interview with the former British ambassador to Moscow, Sir Rodric Braithwaite, about his book ‘Afghantsy’:

‘I think that I had not realized until I read the documents how reluctant the Russians had been in, how long the Politburo had struggled to avoid going in, it was about 7 or 8 months that they tried not to go in and in the end they were driven by circumstances. I hadn't expected that. Apart from that I think that thing that did surprise me, which the soldiers told me and then I tested it, was the extent to which the soldiers would retain rather warm feelings for Afghanistan and the Afghans.’

(See http://voiceofrussia.com/2014_02_14/USSR-struggled-to-avoid-entering-Afghanistan-Rodric-Braithwaite-author-of-Afgantsy-1186/ )

Harper

Reply to Paul Escobar: The Associate Agreement would have bound Ukraine to free trade agreements with the EU and obliged them to cancel some special trade arrangements with Russia. Under such an arrangement, Ukraine's manufactured goods would have still been barred from the EU until they meet "EU standards." Yanukovych at the end told the EU that Ukraine would need $40 billion a year for an undefined but long period of time to retool industry to meet those bizarre EU standards. EU said flat "no." In the meantime, the only Ukraine goods that would have been eligible for export to EU would have been agricultural products (Ukraine as the second best agricultural climate, black soil, etc. to the US midwest grain belt). Under the free trade arrangements at the heart of the Association Agreement, EU goods would have been freely dumped on Ukraine market, further weakening their industrial base--and those good would have also seeped into Russia via Ukraine-Russia bilateral agreements. While there was no "formal" clause providing for EU access to Ukraine bases, siding with the EU over Russia would have opened the door for NATO as well.

David Habakkuk

Harper,

This is an excellent and timely piece.

The one qualification I would want to add is that the Black Sea is not just a place from which the Russians can get out to the Mediterranean. Historically, it has been a place from which enemy power could effectively be deployed against Russia. This was the case in the Crimean War, and in the Allied intervention after the Revolution. It was widely believed that the primary purpose of the vast submarine fleet which Stalin began constructing in 1950 was to attack NATO’s sea lines of communication. In fact, the preponderant part of it turned out to be intended to counter possible Allied D-Day type operations, in which the Black Sea as well as the Baltic were seen as prime targets.


jonst

I agree Clue....100%.............20th century, and further back, thinking.

David Habakkuk

All,

It is worth reflecting on Ambassador Jack Matlock’s suggestion that Ukraine may be the ultimate booby prize: that if it were to opt decisively for Russia, the end result would be more and more Ukrainians blaming that country for their misery, and if it were to opt decisively for the EU, the end result would be the EU getting blamed.

(See http://www.russiaotherpointsofview.com/2014/02/ukraine-and-the-us-implications-of-victoria-nulands-candid-remark.html#more )

Babak Makkinejad

Russia began from Kiev.

To expect a 20-year long weakness of the Russian state to be made permanent in Ukraine is, in my opinion, unrealistic.

If EU were smart, they would leave that border country alone or try to make it neutral.

Will any one in EU want to fight Russia over Ukraine and die on that steppe?

I think not.

David Habakkuk

Babak Makkinejad,

We simply do not know whether, in the future, Russia will be strong or weak. What happens is likely to depend less on what happens in Russia than on what happens in the rest of the world.

A remarkable feature of Western policy, however, appears to be an inability to realise that in today’s world, there are dangers from a Russia which is too weak – while the dangers from a Russia which is too strong quite clearly are unlikely to reappear for the foreseeable future.

In his famous ‘X-article’, commonly regarded as a classic statement of the ‘containment’ strategy, George Kennan laid out what he expected to result from the destabilisation of Soviet power he quite patently hoped to achieve.

If, he wrote, ‘anything were ever to occur to disrupt the unity and efficacy of the Party as a political instrument, Soviet Russia might be changed overnight from one of the strongest to one of the weakest and most pitiable of national societies.’ Furthermore, he suggested that, if ‘disunity were ever to seize and paralyze the Party, the chaos and weakness of Russian society would be revealed in forms beyond description.’

On the whole it seems to me that ‘chaos’ in a country with a large nuclear arsenal is best avoided. But then, unlike Brzezinski and his like, I have no great belief in ‘real democracy’ – it sounds to me rather like that old slogan ‘people’s democracy’.

Tyler

This is all quite fascinating even if it does point at a decline and fall of the US. I doubt Vicki Nuland, any of the Kaganistas, or any of the other R2Pers are going to be on the firing line.

Bandolero

Harper

I wonder that triggering a civil war in Ukraine looks like a bug for you when I thought it was the aim of the US neocons stirring up the pot in Ukraine.

Isn't the dependence of the Russian mediterranean fleet on the Krim port a perfect reason for Israel and it's dear friends to try to wage a proxy war on Russia in Ukraine? From what I see Israel dislikes a Russian mediterranean fleet as it sets limits to Israeli dominance over the region.

Here in Germany it looks like that many German politicians try their best to avoid uploading Germany the burden of financing yet another troubled southern European country, so the interest of most powerful Germans in binding Ukraine to the EU is very limited. Stirring up the pot in Ukraine is even more troublesome to Germans as it would likely hamper exports of the crucial German automotive industry to Ukraine. The only guys I see really pressing "to do more" here regarding to Ukraine are politicians who are very close to the US and Israel.

I also think that may explain the infamous Nuland remark, Germany is on the breaks regarding stirring up trouble in Ukraine, but Nuland, who is, for sure, a good friend of Israel, wants to push Ukraine in direction of a civil war anyway.

As I see it, the strategic goal for the US in inciting a civil war in Ukraine would be to weaken Russia in this way, because Russia couldn't sit idle in such a case.

Norbert M Salamon


All:

At best the USA and the EU have about 3-4 years to do the heavy lifting necessary to transform themselves into green energy units, for by then the availability of fossil fuels will be too highly prized for economic growth, or they will step over the cliff of climate change.

For the USA and China major effort to do thorium reactor research [China is doing it, while the US is renewing far too many nuclear bombs instead of the requisite research].

Ukraine is a side show, makes lots of noise and has no short or long term economic/green energy advantage for any party involved, US, EU and Russia.

Iran can not be attacked, it is another side show for political noise for the neither the US nor Israel can endanger the energy production capabilities of Iran [and surrounding Persia Gulf producers] when the greatest oil fields are depleting at 5-7% annually. At present Saudi Arabia uses more than one barrel of cleaned seawater for every two barrels of oil production.

The shale oil and gas plays are too expensive and have too high depletion rates [approx. 20%+ per annum] to create the wealth necessary to act as economic wealth producing sources. The need of constant new drilling at approx. $ 10 million per fractured well indicates that with the exploitation of the so called "sweet spots" the return on investment will turn negative.

While it is true that the Russian Federation is not as strong economically, nor in military capacities as was the USSR, they still have enough bombs to destroy life on earth - without any reaction of more bombs by any other nuclear power. So destabilization of the Russian Federation could [and IMO will] lead to major war].
It is true that the USA depends to very limited extent on Russian Oil imports, the situation for the EU is very different - no Russian gas, no economy to speak of.

fanto

Sir, I am not familiar with Brzezinski's positions on Ukraine, would you please give the reference - how to view him in that respect? I have not been following the MSM recently and did not see him on any of the talk shows or panels.
Thank you
fanto

Burton50

Mr. Escobar, here is a link to the English-language version of the Association Agreement itself. Note that Article 10 (page 14) anticipates military cooperation.

http://glavcom.ua/pub/2012_11_19_EU_Ukraine_Association_Agreement_English.pdf

Paul Escobar

Harper, B, & Burton50,

Thank you all for the guidance. It gives me an excellent basis on which I can peform some research.

If only principle of the thing was enough...,
Paul Escobar

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