Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

Opinion

March 11, 2014

Lion and the Lamb: The crisis in the Ukraine

CROSSVILLE — Once again our nation is trying to decide how to respond to another political crisis in the Middle East—an area that has produced a continuing series of "threats" to us and our empire, such as in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Iran, and Syria. This new crisis, however, takes us into a slightly different part of the world—the Ukraine. Its territory has had over a thousand years of tumultuous history, including being ruled by Russia since the 18th century, but a brief look at its most recent years will help provide some additional understanding of the current crisis.

In 1954, on the 300th anniversary of Ukraine's merger with tsarist Russia, Nikita Khrushchev gave the Crimean peninsula as a gift to the Ukraine as a gesture of goodwill. Russia, however, was able to keep its Black Sea naval base at Sevastopol which it continued to operate under a long-term lease from the Ukraine.

In 1991, the breakup of the Soviet Union left 25 million Russians residing in 14 newly independent states, one of which was the Ukraine. This turned out to be a popular development with more than 90 percent of Ukrainians voting to declare independence. This new state, however, had a built-in division that was eventually to cause problems. A majority (59 percent) of those living in eastern Ukraine and the Crimea were ethnic Russians speaking the Russian language, but those in the western more European-oriented part of Ukraine spoke Ukrainian. In 2012 a law was passed giving the Russian language official status in regions where Russians comprised more than 10 percent of the population. At the end of this past February, however, the Ukrainian parliament in an anti-Russian maneuver, overturned the language law, a serious violation of ethnic minority rights.

The growing crisis in the Ukraine has been noted in varying degrees by our American news reporting. One important factor, however, has generally been omitted from their reports: the significant role that the U.S. has been playing in the Ukraine. For a number of years the U.S. has, through the National Endowment for Democracy, U.S. AID, and other governmental and quasi-government bodies, been funneling money to anti-government groups in the Ukraine.

In 2004 a U.S.-financed "Orange Revolution" sought to introduce European Union membership for Ukraine that would have included putting the cash-strapped state in an International Monetary Fund financial straitjacket, opening it up to looting by Western bankers and corporations, and positioning NATO missile bases close to Russia's borders, but the effort failed.

More recently, neocon efforts have included helping anti-government groups to fund and organize the mobs that sought to oust the elected government of Ukraine in a coup attempt in January. The National Endowment for Democracy has invested more than $5 billion in 65 projects inside the Ukraine for these kinds of purposes. When the coup efforts began developing, the authorities in Crimea sent an urgent request to Putin to send Russian troops there for protection, a move that was denounced by the U.S. State Department.

A leaked tape of the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland and the U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt discussing how to staff the new government of Ukraine after the anticipated collapse of the elected government reveals how deeply the U.S. had been involved in the undermining of the government of Ukraine. (Destabilizing governments in the name of promoting democracy has been a longtime project of the neoconservatives in the State Department.)  In Ukraine's case, it means moving that state into the West's orbit and away from Russia's. Victoria Nuland herself comes from a prestigious neocon family: she is the wife of prominent neocon Robert Kagan and the sister-in-law of the Gates-Petraeus adviser Frederick Kagan.

The crisis in Ukraine, at this point, keeps bubbling along. The anti-government groups, many of which have right wing, neo-Nazi orientations, control the streets of Kiev, Ukraine's capital, but do not control the government. If they succeed in doing so, it is feared that they will begin to pass laws that strip away the rights of people to practice their culture and use their language. The forces patrolling the streets of Kiev also include several hundred Americans who are members of the Blackwater private army (renamed Academi).

The parliament of Crimea has voted recently to join the Russian Federation rather than remain an autonomous republic within the Ukraine—a vote to be confirmed by a Crimea-wide poll on March 16. Responding to this, Russia's parliamentary leaders on March 7 welcomed a delegation from Crimea's parliament and declared that they would support such a vote. This action, however, has been strongly opposed by the Ukraine and U.S. leaders, stating that a vote for secession would violate Ukraine's Constitution and international law. President Obama has also announced sanctions in response to what he has called Russia's de facto military occupation.

The U.S. has been playing a very dangerous neoconservative game of encircling and threatening the Russian Federation. We'll see what develops further during this month.

1
Text Only
Opinion
  • Lion and the Lamb: A promised land?

    Back in biblical times there was a group of people who believed that God had promised them a segment of land on this planet that would be theirs forever. Who could have known back then that this ancient promise and territorial justification would be used by their descendants today to claim the same segment of land?

    July 29, 2014

  • We the People: Bring back the American dream

    Our economy continues to expand. The stock market is at record levels, yet many ask why so many of us are struggling?  Barely half of us believe the American dream is attainable.

    July 29, 2014

  • Tidbits: Taking a low-tech break

    Feeling increasingly strangled by my electronic leash, with phone, text messages, email, social media and a variety of other forms of communication always at my side, I took the weekend off.

    July 28, 2014

  • Stumptalk: Governing before and after mass corruption

    Laws in America were originally written simply. Every citizen could read them quickly and understand their meaning. The founders wrote the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, the Northwest Ordinance and the Constitution of the United States, none of which was longer than 4,500 words.

    July 28, 2014

  • We the People: The last dance

    Charlie Hayden’s last recording session with his early partner, Keith Jarrett, was in 2007.  The songs they played were mostly melancholy.  The second album coming from that session includes Weil’s “My Ship” and Porter’s “Every Time We Say Goodbye.” The dark ballad “Goodbye,” by Gordon Jenkins, was the final track.

    July 22, 2014

  • Lion and the Lamb: Living in a pressure cooker

    The Gaza Strip, a small Palestinian territory about the size of Washington, D.C., has been in the news almost every day.  Its key location at the eastern end of the Mediterranean Sea has attracted a number of occupying powers over the years, and it has  been at the center of much Middle East history.

    July 22, 2014

  • Tidbits: The excitement of election day

    On March 12, 1996, there were 427,183 votes cast in the presidential primary election. Among those votes was mine, the first vote I cast in an election, just two days after my 18th birthday.

    July 21, 2014

  • Raising the minimum wage

    My first job from which FICA was withheld was a minimum wage job, seventy-five cents an hour. And yes, even then no one could live on that little money. However, I was a high schooler living at home where my father provided room and board. The job gave me pocket money to buy gasoline, to take my girlfriend out for movies and burgers, and to buy tickets for baseball games.

    July 21, 2014

  • Lion and the Lamb: Children on the move

    The news this past week has focused on the humanitarian crisis developing on our southern border. Thousands of unaccompanied children from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras seeking to escape from the violence, human trafficking and extreme poverty in their countries have been entering the United States.

    July 15, 2014

  • We the People: Memo to gun rights groups

    The recent incident in California helps us understand why we cannot rely on mental health services alone to solve the problem of gun violence.

    July 15, 2014

Marketplace Marquee
Parade
Must Read
Section Teases
Seasonal Content
AP Video
US Ready to Slap New Sanctions on Russia Kerry: Not Worried About Israeli Criticism Boater Rescued From Edge of Kentucky Dam Girl Struck by Plane on Florida Beach Dies Rodents Rampant in Gardens Around Louvre House to Vote on Slimmed-down Bill for Border Looming Demand Could Undercut Flight Safety Raw: 2 Shells Hit Fuel Tank at Gaza Power Plant Raw: Massive Explosions From Airstrikes in Gaza Giant Ketchup Bottle Water Tower Up for Sale Easier Nuclear Construction Promises Fall Short Kerry: Humanitarian Cease-fire Efforts Continue Raw: Corruption Trial Begins for Former Va Gov. The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Weather Radar
2014 Readers' Choice
Graduation 2014