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Allen Dulles does the Congo

Posted on March 17th, 2015 in History by Robert Miller
Patrice Lumumba: elected as the first prime minister of the Congo, his rule was very brief

Patrice Lumumba: elected as the first prime minister of the Congo, his rule was very brief

Mention the name Patrice Lumumba to any senior native African and you will likely evoke an oratorical response about how he stood up to the Belgians in the Congo and served as the first elected prime minister of his country with a broad vision on how to move not only the Congo, but all of Africa forward towards freedom and democracy: he was a  Pan-Africanist of the first order! All this and yet he has been dead for more than fifty years! He was far and away the brightest shining light to come out of Africa in the mid-twentieth century and had he lived long enough he just might have made the difference between failure and success for the conversion of the Congo into a democratic state. In many ways he was the Malcolm X of Africa, but just a little greener. Indeed Malcolm X once referred to Lumumba as “the greatest black man who ever walked the African continent.” Unfortunately, Lumumba had two strikes against him when he came to power. The first was that the Congo had such an extraordinary level of mineral wealth in industrial diamonds and precious metals such as copper, manganese, zinc, cobalt and chromium and an abundance of a new ore of increasing importance—-uranium: this degree of mineral wealth attracted the attention of major industrial economies, including the United States.  Indeed the first uranium based power plant in Chicago used uranium from the Congo and Congo uranium went into the two atomic bombs dropped on Nagasaki and Hiroshima. The second obstacle related to the fact that the Cold War was raging and the Dulles brothers were loath to endorse any regime that showed a preference for aligning itself with the Soviet Union, the primary source of evil in the world.

The Congo was appropriated in 1885 by King Leopold II of Belgium. During Belgium’s seventy five year rule Belgians made immense fortunes while millions of indigenous people died through massacre or in slavery. The “Heart of Darkness,” written by Joseph Conrad, is based on his personal experiences as a ship’s captain on the Congo river. It was that experience that led to his rejection of colonialism in which he witnessed needless deaths of enslaved indigenous people. In addition, the harsh rule of the Congo by their Belgian occupiers did not lead to any elevation of Congolese citizens to assume control of the country. By one count there were only seventeen college graduates in a country of thirteen million. There were no Congolese doctors, lawyers or engineers and no one had any experience in government administration. And because of the inherent riches of the Congo, all government functions were handled by foreign companies or through the Belgian government. The army did not have a single Congolese officer. Despite these obstacles Patrice Lumumba, became a self-educated leader, with a voracious appetite for reading, and, as a beer salesman, he traveled throughout the Congo honing his speaking skills and perfecting his knowledge of different regions of his country. He was such an electrifying presence that he quickly came to prominence. When negotiators agreed on a formula for Congo independence, Congolese citizens went to the polls and overwhelmingly voted Patrice Lumumba into office as the first Congolese prime minister. Lumumba became an international celebrity—-he had a very lofty vision for the future of his country. At the initial ceremony, celebrating the transfer of power to civilian control,  King Boudouin of Belgium began the ceremony by characterizing what he was a gift to the Congolese people, from a generous King.

Later, after the King’s speech, in recognition of his election as prime minister, Lumumba gave the following speech which shocked the attending luminaries who had expected a far more mild transition of power. By one account King Baudouin turned  deathly pale. Patrice Lumumba spoke: [from “The Brothers” by Stephen Kinzer, p. 261]

  • Our wounds are too fresh and too painful for us to drive them from our memory…..We have known sarcasm and insults, endures blows morning, noon and night because we were “niggers”…..We have seen our lands despoiled under the terms of what was supposedly national law, but which only recognized the right of the strongest. We have seen that this law was quite different for a white than for a black: accommodating for the former, cruel and inhuman for the latter. We have seen the terrible suffering of those condemned for their political opinions or religious beliefs…..And finally who can forget the massacres in which so many of our brothers perished, the cells where the authorities threw those who would not submit to a rule where “justice” mean oppression and exploitation? All of that my brothers we have endured. But we, who by vote of your elected representatives, have been given the right to direct our dear country, we who have suffered in our body and in our soul from colonial oppression, we tell you loudly: all that is now ended!

All of this was true, but Lumumba had uttered these words to the wrong audience, except for the native Congolese in attendance: they were enthralled by his brief speech. The Congolese in the hall as well as thousands listening through the loud speakers outside, interrupted Lumumba at least eight times with loud applause. No African had ever hear someone address their colonial power masters in such an audacious manner and with a King present to boot.

But Lumumba had not prepared properly for his unanticipated future: no one really could. Just eleven days after assuming power, Moise Tshombe declared independence for Katanga (a mineral rich region of the Congo) and appointed himself as its leader. In the meantime Lumumba’s popularity was interpreted by Allen Dulles to think of him as another Fidel Castro who had just come to power the year before (1959). Eisenhower agreed that Lumumba should be eliminated as quickly as possible and gave his permission to have him assassinated (Foster Dulles was by then out of the picture, having died in May 1959; this left his brother Allen Dulles without a partner for their global war).

The CIA managed to carry out their traditional methods to unseat leaders they didn’t like. This included mobilizing bands of people frustrated with Lumumba (Belgian influenced leaders) who mounted an offensive against him that gained momentum. One of the leaders of this group was Joseph Mobutu. He closed parliament and ordered citizens of Communist countries forty-eight hours to leave the country. He established a “College of Commissioners” to run the country. Both the president and vice-president of “the College” were on the CIA payroll. The United States hastily recognized the Mobutu’s government, while leaders of many other nations voiced their displeasure. Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nerhu of India demanded that the Congolese parliament be reopened and allowed to vote on Lumumba’s leadership but this protest did not carry weight with the UN, as they were still straight-jacketed by the United States.

Lumumba was assassinated, as it turns out not by the CIA, even though they tried, but by his Belgian captors, who beat him to near death, shot him and dissolved his body in a vat of sulfuric acid on January 17, 1961. He was just thirty-six years old. [From “The Brothers” by Stephen Kinzer]

  • “Patrice Lumumba’s assassination was an unpardonable, cowardly and disgustingly brutal act. Belgium, Kasavubu [a fake leader installed by Mobutu] and Mobutu and Moise Tshombe bear the main responsibility for this atrocity. The United States and possibly other Western powers as well, tacitly favored it and did nothing to stop it.”

President John F. Kennedy was inaugurated, three days after Lumumba’s death. He had often expressed the idea that something should be done for Africa and he specifically suggested that Lumumba should be freed and integrated into a new Congolese government. Hours after his appeal, the secessionists in Katanga announced that he had escaped. A couple of days later they reported that hostile villagers had killed him. The shock of his death went far beyond Washington: angry crowds responded to the news, while demonstrators carried portraits of Lumumba through the streets of London, Paris, Vienna, Warsaw, Moscow, Damascus, Lagos and New Delhi. In Belgrade Marshal Tito claimed the killing had “no precedent in modern history” and a mob stormed the Belgian embassy.  Nikita Khrushchev announced that Peoples’ Friendship University in Moscow would be known as Patrice Lumumba University. It is not difficult to understand the depth and extent to which Lumumba aroused feelings and passion. He was an anti-colonialist killed by colonialists.

Joseph Mobutu replaced Lumumba as the leader of the Congo. To quote from Tim Weiner’s Pulitzer Prize-winning history of the CIA  “Legacy of Ashes” commenting on Joseph Mobutu’s reign: “He ruled for three decades as one of the world’s most brutal and corrupt dictators, stealing billions of dollars in revenues from the nation’s enormous deposits of diamonds, minerals, and strategic metals, slaughtering multitudes to preserve his power” During that time he was the CIA’s most trusted ally in Africa.

Allen Dulles began to lose his prestige with Eisenhower who insisted that someone else should be in the room when Allen came to visit. He was fired by John F. Kennedy for his mishandling the Bay of Pigs invasion. He died in 1969.

Allen Dulles’ death did not eradicate the template he left behind for future presidents: subsequent presidents would use the methodology that the Dulles brothers perfected for over throwing governments and the same insistence on choosing dictators over democratic governments persisted. Thus Lyndon Johnson used the same methodology against Greece, Brazil and of course what did him in was Vietnam. But modern presidents have not strayed far from the Dulles brothers’ template. Bush in Iraq and Afghanistan, and Obama in the Ukraine. All supported elimination of democratically elected leaders or those who had established power through autocratic means, meaning it was time for a “regime change.”

In the “Untold History of the United States” by Oliver Stone and Peter Kuznick (on “Showtime” or on DVD) the authors make the argument that if Henry Wallace had been the Vice President (Wallace was FDR’s vice-president from 1940-1944) when FDR died and assumed the Presidency, the Cold War would not have taken place. Wallace was thoroughly ingrained with the attitude of FDR and new instinctively how to proceed, especially with Russia and Stalin, with whom FDR had formed a good working relationship. My take on this alternate history is that Henry Wallace would have been assassinated; but on the other hand, he was at the time, one of the most popular men in America, especially when he announced that the end of the war should see the rise of the common man! So, who knows? But by the time Henry Wallace ran for the Presidency in 1948, the rest of the country had tasted the “Kool-Aid” of anticommunist fear and loathing, such that the Wallace campaign went nowhere: Wallace-Taylor ticket finished in fourth place in the election, winning 1,157,328 votes (2.4%), with no electoral votes.


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The Damage Done to the U.S. by the Dulles Brothers

Posted on January 15th, 2015 in Culture,Government,History,Politics by Robert Miller
Dulles Brothers

John Foster Dulles (right) and his younger brother Allen Dulles; these brothers formed the template that we still use to depose governments and install those more favorable to our policies, even though time is running out when such behavior is acceptable

John Foster Dulles served as Secretary of State under Eisenhower until his death in May, 1959. Allen Dulles, John Foster’s younger brother was the first civilian directer of the CIA. He was appointed to that position in 1952 and served as the director of the CIA into the early Kennedy administration: he was fired by JFK because of the bungled Bay of Pigs invasion in 1960, in which he played a major planning role. For a while Kennedy put the CIA under control of the State Department and threatened to shred the organization into little pieces. By the time of the Bay of Pigs invasion, the damage to the reputation of the United States, sullied by the Dulles brothers, had already been established and was irreversible: irreversible because, even today, we continue to use the template established by the Dulles brothers to conduct our foreign policy—deposing democratically-elected leaders and installing more dictatorial leadership that would help promote American hegemony and better serve the business interests of America. The most recent example of this behavior is the Ukraine where we participated in a coup that deposed a democratically-elected leader, Viktor Yanukovich and replaced him with our chosen leader Arseny Yatsenyuk (until elections were held).   As the Dulles brothers saw it, democratically-elected leaders were more likely to nationalize American businesses; thus they viewed democracy, especially where the U.S. had strong business ties, with great suspicion. Whenever the brothers went to work to depose democratically elected leadership, they always had Eisenhower’s  knowledge and approval, although he stipulated that he needed to have “plausable deniability.”  By the mid-1950s hate towards America had two different elements, including our reputation for toppling governments and our military policies, adopted by the Eisenhower administration, in which nuclear munitions were regarded the same as ordinary explosives; hydrogen bomb testing in the 1950s gave rise to nuclear accidents in which the United States showed little regard for human safety.   The hated America that we live in today was created in the Truman and Eisenhower administrations, but with respect to regime change, that modification to our policies lies squarely with the Dulles brothers. Americans today don’t appreciate the degree to which we are despised in other countries because, for one thing, the American public does not insist on a free, non-corporate press that could educate our citizens about what is done abroad in their name. For another, Americans have little interest in the policies of other countries, because, like the Romans who conquered the ancient world, but didn’t want to know anything about it, Americans can be similarly characterized as a people who have conquered the modern world, but have little interest in learning anything about it, though they are not opposed to visiting lots of places lying fallow with American rubbish.

With John Foster heading the State Department and Allen in charge of the CIA, the two brothers worked in tandem, to formulate the strategies that are still used today to spread American dominance in foreign policy by toppling democratically-elected governments and putting in dictators to more reliably serve America’s foreign policy interests. All of this was done in secrecy because the Dulles brothers knew that if the American public had carnal knowledge of their methods and outcomes, there would be a public outcry against their actions, certainly from the left. The cover for the Dulles brothers actions was that they were always fighting Communism, even if there was little evidence that Communists were involved. The real motivation behind their action was spreading American power for the purposes of financial gain for American business interests. That is why their collective actions were and are done in secrecy: it is the principal reason why today our government is so secretive and why everything is classified.  The Dulles brothers quickly realized that their operations took place against the backdrop of an American Public that was the perfect foil for their actions—naive about the activities of their own country and willing to believe, in the absence of any information supporting alternative explanations, that America is a unique nation, the indispensable nation for operating in the interests of “global peace” through the spread of democracy. In reality it was just the opposite.

Unfortunately, America came face to face with the Blowback from our foreign policies on 9/11, though we have yet to look through that window with any sense of clarity, because GW Bush told the American public that “they hate us for our freedoms.” Blowback is the term coined by the CIA to indicate the unintended consequences of policies that go awry, such that the impact of Blowback is on the general population. While the Dulles brothers have faded from our memory, we still live in the world they created and we still promote the overthrow of democratically elected governments, with Ukraine being our most recent experiment, applying techniques we have perfected over the decades, beginning at the end of WW II, armed seemingly with nuclear capability that the world knew we wouldn’t hesitate to use.  To fully appreciate this story, we have to begin during the latter events of WW II.

During WW II, then President Franklin Delano Roosevelt had made a promise to Stalin—that the two of them would work together to try and reduce the tensions between their two countries and continue to act as the allies they had been during the war. It seems to be a poorly understood fact that, unlike Trotsky and Mao, Stalin was not interested in fomenting a world-wide Communist revolution. In fact he said, when Poland became such a contentious issue right after the war, that “Communism fits Poland, like a saddle fits a cow.” Indeed, Stalin wanted to maintain good relations with the West and hoped to receive financial support from the United States, to help rebuild his country which had been ravaged by the war with 27 million of its citizens killed. FDR appreciated the fact that Russia was the real victor of WW II, not the Allies who claimed victory in Europe based on the D-Day invasion. It is hard for most Americans to appreciate that when we invaded Normandy on D-Day (June 6, 1944), Russia had already defeated the great German army at Stalingrad in the fall of 1943 and were marching West; the Russian army was closer to Berlin than the allies were on D-Day. Before that, the allies had trivialized their own impact on the German Army with ineffective invasions in Africa and Italy, which inflicted little damage to Hitler’s forces. One reason for this peek and poke behavior by the allies was that Churchill was afraid to confront the German army directly and preferred to see the Nazis and Communists destroy each other; but while the Russians destroyed the German army, the Russian army didn’t weaken and miraculously grew in strength, and resolve, aided by more sophisticated weaponry that they manufactured themselves as the war progressed: now Churchill had a new worry—He worried that the Russian army was too strong and could be threatening to his plans to restore the British empire after the war.  But if Russian troops had not inflicted a heavy cost on the German army, D-Day would have failed because Hitler would have been free to divert a larger force with which to greet the allies on that day. Roosevelt had a deeper understanding of the Russian contribution, whereas Churchill wanted to dismiss it. Roosevelt talked openly about providing financial assistance to Stalin for reconstruction after the war was over. In exchange for this commitment, Stalin agreed to enter the war against Japan after the war in Europe was over, which he did.

During WW II Winston Churchill flew to Moscow and made a bargain with Stalin that gave Russia control over Poland and the Baltic states, while England received nearly full control over Greece, which Stalin did not contest even though Communists fought against the Nazis occupation in Greece during the war and one might have assumed that the aristocrats that Britain eventually put in place to rule Greece, would be a more natural  adversary than the Communists who fought against the Nazi occupiers. At the end of the war, Stalin needed to demobilize, after suffering 27 million dead Russians during the war and, faced with a starving populous, he had more important things on his plate than conquering the world.  Unfortunately FDR did not live long enough to put his stamp on such policies as he died a few months after he was elected for his fourth consecutive term.

And because the Democratic party had taken a very conservative turn by eliminating Henry Wallace as FDR’ s vice president in the Chicago convention of 1944 (Wallace was FDR’s vice president 1940-1944), the presidency of the United States fell into the hands of Harry Truman, who had little experience and had only met twice with FDR, after his election as Vice President. FDR believed that he would live long enough to enforce his policies and create the United Nations. Truman did not even know about the development of the Manhattan project that would lead, only a few months later, to his decision to drop two atom bombs on Japan, believing until his death that his use of the atom bomb had forced Japan to surrender, despite evidence that it was the Russian entry into the war against Japan that forced Japan to the peace table, as they feared the huge Red Army would destroy the Japanese Empire.

By the time Eisenhower was elected in 1952, Truman’s reputation had sunk to a level not reproduced (22% approval ratings) until the Presidency of George W. Bush. Truman’s low approval ratings were generated by a confluence of several issues, including the prolonged war in Korea, the fall of China to the Communists in 1949 and the detonation of an atomic bomb by the Russians, after Truman had declared that the Russians weren’t smart enough to successfully build such a device. Truman’s firing of Douglas MacArthur did not enhance his popularity, even though by dismissing MacArthur Truman might well have avoided WW III, which would surely have involved an exchange of nuclear arsenals. MacArthur, Truman and Eisenhower at different times suggested using atom bombs to win the war in Korea.

Most Americans do not know that it was our government that started the Cold War and not the Russians. When Truman began to search for his inner circle of advisers he had a natural proclivity to side with the views of Jimmy Byrnes, the Senator from South Carolina. Byrnes had fought against labor unions and had been instrumental in defeating the anti-lynching bill that Northern democrats tried to pass. He was a rabid anticommunist and helped steer Truman to confront the Russians at the close of the war. It was Henry Wallace that tried to steer Truman towards the policies that FDR would have preferred, but Truman was too weak and inexperienced and eventually he fired Wallace from his cabinet (Wallace was then Secretary of Commerce). Wallace was the last thread of hope to avoid the atom bomb culture that enveloped America and the irrational threat of Communism under McCarthyism that was used to begin dismantling labor unions in the United States. The Red Scare and Lavender Scare against homosexuals are sorry chapters in America’s postwar history.

Truman would later regret many of his actions, including his signing the bill that created the covert operations of CIA; after the JFK assassinated he wrote an op-ed piece in the Washington Post exclaiming that the CIA should give up its covert actions and be relegated to collecting intelligence only. At that point he wondered whether the CIA might have been involved in the assassination of JFK through rogue elements in the organization.

John Foster Dulles and his brother Allen worked for the law firm of Sullivan and Cromwell, a corporate law firm with extensive international business connections. John Foster was deeply involved in promoting the interests of Germany in the 1920s and 1930s and, most notably, after Hitler came to power. The firm was deeply involved in promoting Germany’s financial interests after Hitler came to power—this was also true of many industrialists who supported Hitler because of his anticommunist commitments, but also because of the similarities in what industrialists wanted to achieve—form a partnership between industry and government; many of these same industrialists supported the dictator Franco during the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939). Allen Dulles saw what was coming and warned Sullivan and Cromwell to drop their support of Germany, but his brother John Foster Dulles refused to give up his promotional efforts that favored Germany, so much so that he became an apologist for Germany and, after the German invasion of Poland, which triggered the declaration of war by the allies, he insisted he continued to support Germany—he had a deep proclivity for Germany which blinded him to the coming of Hitler and Nazism: at one point he predicted that the future would belong to the “dynamic powers” of Germany, Italy and Japan. Foster became the preeminent salesman for German bonds in America. He thrived at the intersection of Washington politics and international business. He never expressed remorse for his dealings with the German government long after the point at which dealings with Germany were shunned by other nations, including our own.

In February, 1954 the American government prepared for a hydrogen bomb test in the Pacific; unfortunately the bomb had twice the explosive power expected and a layer of white radioactive fallout from the blast reached Japanese fisherman in their boat, Daigo Fukuryu Maru (Lucky Dragon). When the boat pulled into port thirteen days later, the fisherman were already showing signs of advanced radiation poisoning: one fisherman died several months later. The world was outraged against the U.S.  shocking disregard for human safety. The outrage was compounded when the public learned that contaminated tuna from the boat had been sold in four major cities and had been eaten by many. Adding to the outrage, AEC chairman Lewis Strauss told the white house press secretary that the boat had really been a “red-spy outfit” and had been engaged in collecting espionage for the Soviet Union, an outrageous falsehood that the CIA quickly dispelled. Strauss went on to blame the fishermen for ignoring AEC warnings and downplayed the damage to their health. But the international community was appalled: Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru publicly stated that U.S. leaders were “dangerous self-centered lunatics” who would “blow up any people or country who came in the way of their policy.” Eisenhower said at a NSC in May 1954,  “Everybody seems to think that we are skunks, saber-rattlers and warmongers” and Foster Dulles added, “we are losing ground everyday in England and in other allied nations because they are all insisting we are so militaristic. Comparisons are now being made between ours and Hitler’s military machine.”

News of the Lucky Dragon helped to catalyze a worldwide movement against nuclear testing and brought into our lexicon, a new word—“fallout.” Nowhere was the global reaction more intense than in Japan, as that country had directly experienced the devastating effects of nuclear bombs. A petition circulated by Tokyo housewives called for the banning of hydrogen bombs and was supported by 32 million signatures, about one-third the population of Japan. But of course the United States was insulated from all this and we did not change our policy of testing hydrogen bombs: we were dedicated to a mission for which the rest of the world would eventually thank us—the elimination of Communism from the face of the earth, provided that there were good business opportunities in doing so.

Response to the Lucky Dragon incident. To counter the pervasive international, anti-nuclear sentiment, the NSC proposed launching a vigorous campaign to emphasize the peaceful uses of atomic energy and offered to build Japan an experimental nuclear reactor. The Washington Post endorsed the idea and wrote “many Americans are now aware that the dropping of the atomic bombs on Japan was not necessary….How better to make a contribution to amends than by offering Japan the means for the peaceful utilization of atomic energy. How better, indeed, to dispel the impression in Asia that the United States regards Orientals merely as cannon fodder!” Meanwhile, the Lucky Dragon crew members recuperated in the hospital for more than a year. While recuperating, one crew member issued a warning: “Our fate menaces all mankind. Tell that to those who are responsible. God grant that they may listen.”

Next: The Dulles brothers get down to work.

Sources: The Brothers: John Foster Dulles, Allen Dulles and Their Secret World War by Stephen Kinzer (the photo of the Dulles brothers is the cover photo for Kinzer’s book)

The Untold History of the United States by Oliver Stone and Peter Kuznick (history companion to the Showtime Documentary Series)


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My Turn: Putin and the Russian takeover of Crimea

Posted on March 29th, 2014 in History by Robert Miller

PutinWe have reached a point in the Putin-Russian-Crimea takeover where no one can predict how this imbroglio will end. Though neither party wants a war, it seems to have escaped notice in the West that groups like Svoboda, a neonazi group with a history of participation in the extermination of Jews during WW II and even more extreme groups that represent the radical right wing in Ukraine, have played a significant role in the riots; reports have appeared that a significant fraction of those killed during the riots in Kiev were actually members of the police force, killed by members of the radical right. The West seems hostile to the notion that Yanukovich was a democratically elected president but overthrown in some significant degree by the neonazi gangs of Ukraine. You can read about the ugly history of their operations during WW II here.

What matters to the West, in harmony with the neocon position, is to never allow another superpower to arise out of the ashes of the Cold War. That’s what this is all about. After promising Gorbachev that NATO would not be expanded to surround Russia, the United States broke that promise and in doing so have proposed NATO membership for the Ukraine and Georgia. In 2008 a brief war broke out between Russia and Georgia over South Ossetia, in which the United States was, once again on the wrong side and with little justification for their support of Georgia, except that we had hoped to make that country a member of NATO to tighten the NATO noose around Russia’s neck. Putin finally got fed up and annexed Crimea. For all the faults that we can pin on Putin, he is acting as a nationalist who wants to restore Russia to its rightful place alongside the great powers and the West doesn’t want to see him get his way.  His approval ratings in Russia have soared since he annexed Crimea, as he plays his domestic hand with approval ratings at more than 85%, very dizzying heights never matched by Obama. Putin didn’t choose to annex Crimea so much as he was reacting like a nationalist trying to fend off the encirclement that we put in place when we violated our promise to Gorbachev not to expand NATO. And no matter how Obama says otherwise, he is playing the hand of the neocons and the neoliberals.

From an article by Seumas Milne which appeared in The Guardian:

“We’ve been here before. For the past couple of months street protests in Ukraine have been played out through the western media according to a well-rehearsed script. Pro-democracy campaigners are battling an authoritarian government. The demonstrators are demanding the right to be part of the European Union. But Russia’s president Vladimir Putin has vetoed their chance of freedom and prosperity.It’s a story we’ve heard in one form or another again and again – not least in Ukraine’s western-backed Orange revolution a decade ago. But it bears only the sketchiest relationship to reality. EU membership has never been – and very likely never will be – on offer to Ukraine. As in Egypt last year, the president that the protesters want to force out was elected in a poll judged fair by international observers. And many of those on the streets aren’t very keen on democracy at all. You’d never know from most of the reporting that far-right nationalists and fascists have been at the heart of the protests and attacks on government buildings. One of the three main opposition parties heading the campaign is the hard-right antisemitic Svoboda, whose leader Oleh Tyahnybok claims that a “Moscow-Jewish mafia” controls Ukraine. But US senator John McCain was happy to share a platform with him in Kiev last month. The party, now running the city of Lviv, led a 15,000-strong torchlit march earlier this month in memory of the Ukrainian fascist leader Stepan Bandera, whose forces fought with the Nazis in the second world war and took part in massacres of Jews.”
From the same article :
“So in the week that the liberation of Auschwitz by the Red Army was commemorated as Holocaust Memorial Day, supporters of those who helped carry out the genocide are hailed by western politicians on the streets of Ukraine. But Svoboda has now been outflanked in the protests by even more extreme groups, such as “Right Sector”, who demand a “national revolution” and threaten “prolonged guerrilla warfare.””
“It’s anger at this grotesque corruption and inequality, Ukraine’s economic stagnation and poverty that has brought many ordinary Ukrainians to join the protests – as well as outrage at police brutality. Like Russia, Ukraine was beggared by the neoliberal shock therapy and mass privatisation of the post-Soviet years. More than half the country’s national income was lost in five years and it has yet fully to recover.”
Putin’s speech. Putin gave an interesting speech in which he said: “Like a mirror, the situation in Ukraine reflects what is going on and what has been happening in the world over the past several decades. After the dissolution of bipolarity on the planet [i.e. the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991], we no longer have stability. Key international institutions are not getting any stronger; on the contrary, in many cases, they are sadly degrading.“Our western partners, led by the United States of America, prefer not to be guided by international law in their practical policies, but by the rule of the gun. They have come to believe in their exclusivity and exceptionalism, that they can decide the destinies of the world, that only they can ever be right.“They act as they please: here and there, they use force against sovereign states, building coalitions based on the principle ‘If you are not with us, you are against us.’ To make this aggression look legitimate, they force the necessary resolutions from international organizations, and if for some reason this does not work, they simply ignore the UN Security Council and the UN overall.”
Everything he said is and was true. The United States behaved abominably during the Cold War and once it ended, we decided to turn a profit out of Russia’s assets over a period in which Russian life expectancy declined as many citizens became impoverished, while a few oligarchs got rich, including many who participated in “foreign investments” in Russia.
I blame the European Union for forcing Ukraine to choose between the EU way or the highway. Putin’s original suggestion that there could be a three-way arrangement between Russia, the Ukraine and the EU seemed like a sensible way out of the dilemma. But it appears to be too late for that solution, at least for now.  As for Obama’s assertions against Putin claiming that a country has no right to annex another country, just what did we do in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Panama? Those invasions were illegal based on international agreements that we helped sponsor. Yes, the oligarchs are running Russia, but who put them in there in the first place? It was our neoliberal policies. If our objective had been towards those Russians that were on the bottom wrungs of the economic ladder rather than use Russia as a feeder nation for our own exploitation, how much better off would we be now that we are faced with a strategy that will be dominated by realpolitik? This is not the way to begin paving the road for the world’s culture to face their most serious challenge to human existence—global climate change. Every alliance we make, every international arrangement we help to forge should be done with one objective in mind—saving the planet as we have known it from the broadly devastating effects of greenhouse gases.
Yesterday Obama addressed the EU gathered in Brussels in which he said “That in the 21st century, the borders of Europe cannot be redrawn with force; that international law matters; and that people and nations can make their own decisions about their future.” You cannot claim leadership for the free world if your country harbors leadership that from time to time violates the principles advocated in your speeches. The United States didn’t begin yesterday and because of that, going around the world giving speeches about noble causes and using rhetoric as if we had an unblemished record, doesn’t quite get the attention you may think it deserves. At best, these speeches are very disingenuous. As for the oligarchs who rule Russia, don’t we have something similar here in the states, where the Koch brothers for example and the elites of the oil and gas industry have successfully made it impossible to form effective policies to help adapt and mitigate global climate change? Don’t we live in a country run by oligarchs?
Finally, in the intercepted phone call between U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland  [a devout neocon] and U.S. Ambassador to the Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt, the two were, as Russian expert Stephen Cohen put it to Democracy Now, “plotting a coup d’état against the elected president of the Ukraine.”At one point Nuland endorses “Yat” as the head of a new government, referring to Arseniy Yatsenyuk of the Fatherland Party, who indeed is now acting Prime Minister. But she goes on to say that Svoboda leader Oleh Tyahnybok should be kept “on the outside.”
To what extent was our State Department in on planning a coup in Ukraine? To get the answer to this question, we will have to wait 30 years and then go through Freedom of Information (FOI) requests to find out!

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