The Siege of Sevastopol Threatens War

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Common Dreams

The Siege of Sevastopol Threatens War

Naval ships of Ukraine in Sevastopol, 2007

A U.S. National Endowment for Democracy (NED) “Resource Summary” for Fiscal Year 2013 says this about its policy toward Europe in 2013:

The objective of the Endowment in most of the countries where it is active in the Europe region is “helping new democracies to succeed.” For Eastern and Southeastern Europe, this goal is best met through these countries’ accession to the European Union and NATO (italics added).

In the same paragraph, the NED lists Ukraine as its first priority in Europe as follows: “In the Europe region, the 2013 priority countries will include Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, and Kosovo.”

Likewise, a U.S. State Department “Budget Summary” for Fiscal Year 2013 says this about Ukraine:

U.S. assistance aims to promote the development of a democratic, prosperous, and secure Ukraine, fully integrated into the Euro-Atlantic community as it struggles to overcome the effects of the global financial crisis and worsening backsliding on democratic reform (italics added).

Given that the Russian Black Sea Fleet is based in Sevastopol, Crimea, which as of now is part of Ukraine, my question is: How does the Obama administration expect Russia to respond to the U.S.-led effort to “integrate” Ukraine, including the Russian Black Sea Fleet in Sevastopol, into the NATO military alliance? Isn't this where the provocation lies? Why not avert a military showdown with Russia, which is reportedly massing troops near Crimea, and thus avoid the risk of major war, by letting the citizens of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea decide whether to secede from Ukraine, just as the U.S. supported the will of the people in Kosovo to secede from Serbia in 2008?

Suppose Russian (or Soviet) policymakers had issued documents for Fiscal Year 1941 in which they asserted their intention to “integrate" the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, into Russia’s economic, political, and military dominion. At the time, Hawaii was an American colony which, unlike Crimea and Sevastopol with Russia, had no ethnic, cultural, or historical affinity with the mainland United States. Wouldn’t most Russians in 1941 have assumed that they would be risking war with the United States by claiming their intention to attain and integrate the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor into the Soviet Union?

Suppose further that Russia had spent millions of dollars in FY 1941 on vaguely suspicious activities in Hawaii under the guise of a “National Endowment for Democracy” and an “Economic Support Fund” to effect the economic, political, and military integration of the Pearl Harbor naval base with Russia?

In fact, for FY 2013, the State Department, for Ukraine alone, budgeted $54 million for “An Economic Support Fund,” $7.9 million for USAID, $4.1 million for “International Narcotics Control and Law Enforcement,” $1.9 million for “International Military Education and Training,” and $7 million for “Foreign Military Financing.” This is in addition to the $9.5 million that the NED budgeted for its “Central & Eastern Europe” programs in 2013, of which Ukraine is the number one priority. This amounts to at least $75 million of U.S. involvement in Ukraine, where the head of state was just overthrown as explicitly supported by the United States.

Suppose also that you wake up one morning, say Wednesday (March 12, 2013), to the following headline in the New York Times: “Obama Team Debates How to Punish Russia.” This headline and story applies, bizarrely, to a situation where Team Obama was almost certainly involved on one level or another in the destabilization and overthrow of the democratically elected president of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych, and in the placement of the post-coup, de-facto head of state, Arseniy Yatsenyuk. In addition, President Obama, ahead of any country in Europe, invited the unelected post-coup head of state to the White House for consultations about matters which, for the most part, will no doubt remain secret. Under the circumstances, who should be threatening to punish whom? Yet the Russian government has refrained from issuing any such threats.

The unchallenged gross arrogance and stupidity of so closely identifying the United States with the post-coup, unelected Yatsenyuk, including a visit to the White House yesterday, a mere eighteen days after the U.S.-supported street-ouster of Yanukovych, no doubt will lead to more such conformist reports, including this one in the Times on March 11:

Apparently in an effort to portray the United States as the intransigent party [in post-coup talks], the Kremlin took the unusual step of televising a brief exchange between President Vladimir V. Putin and the Russian foreign minister, Sergey V. Lavrov, in which they complained that Mr. Kerry had spurned an invitation to come to Russia for consultations. The State Department responded by rushing out a statement saying it was the Russians who were not prepared to engage in discussions on the United States’ proposals, especially the idea that they meet with officials from the new Ukrainian government.

"Intransigence" in The Twilight Zone of U.S. press coverage of Ukraine is not seen in the American effort to hold talks with Russia hostage to the demand that the Russians sit down with “Yats” after Victoria Nuland -- somehow shortly and presciently before the coup – plotted with her ambassador in Ukraine to have “Yats” take over, whereupon “Yats” took over. Instead, the Russians are described as intransigent for refusing to, in effect, ratify the U.S.-supported coup by meeting with Yatsenyuk.

The fatal flaw here, ideologically speaking, and literally for millions of “others” who pay the price as war dead, is the false patriotism of intellectuals and journalists who persistently follow the lead of the serial insanity of our war-making leaders. In August 1964, the government of North Vietnam denounced the Johnson administration’s claims that two U.S. destroyers patrolling the Gulf of Tonkin had been attacked by North Vietnamese boats as “a sheer fabrication by the United States imperialists.” China denounced the alleged Gulf of Tonkin incident as “deliberate armed aggression.” The Soviet Union also described the incident as “armed aggression” by the United States. Intellectuals and journalists sided with the Johnson administration, as Richard Falk and I detail in our 2004 book, The Record of the Paper, but North Vietnam, China, and the Soviet Union were all correct in their denials and denunciations. Johnson, and to a great extent, the U.S. news media, subsequently led the country to full-blown war in Vietnam.

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