Crimea and Western 'values' – Escobar

Crimea and Western ‘values’
By Pepe Escobar – The Roving Eye – 14 March, 2014

Every sane sentient being knows that Ukraine’s “unity” is not worth a new hot or warm war. Or even the current Western-peddled Cold War-style hysteria. Especially when Russia, once again, fights fascism – as embodied by some of the key players now in power in Kiev, and the US and EU’s response is to relentlessly demonize Russia.

Crimea – historically, culturally, sentimentally – is Russian, conquered by Catherine the Great from the Ottomans in 1783. Sevastopol was founded by Catherine. If a swing band would play a version of I Left My Heart in Sevastopol, all hearts involved would be Russian.

Yet those eminent Western practitioners of state idolatry have ruled that the population of Crimea has no right to conduct a referendum to decide its future – be it rejoining Russia or remaining in Ukraine with a huge degree of autonomy, according to the 1992 constitution. The eminences could not possibly admit that does not suit their geopolitical power play.

Thus the current Mass; a ritualistic, hysterical invoking in unison of “international law” (Obama), (distorted) history and even morality (in the US’s case, considering the historical record, a positively dreadful joke).

No question the original inhabitants of Crimea are the Tatars – whose rights will be fully protected in a new Crimea. They had not achieved their self-determination for the same reason Native Americans also did not.

Yet much more alarming in the whole case is how the West once again conveniently, selectively manipulates the arbitrary carving of colonized lands – the key reason of ongoing, intractable geopolitical disasters.

South Sudan’s independence was obsessively fought for by Washington – helped by Hollywood clones of the Clooney variety. The pretext was to correct an arbitrary colonial carving. So that applies to Sudan, but it does not apply to Crimea.

Thomas Jefferson’s “insurgents” had the right to rebel against the British, but Crimeans cannot rebel against what most view as an illegal, fascist-laden, putschist regime in Kiev.

And that is superimposed on an arbitrary colonial carving; Ukrainian-born former premier Nikita Khrushchev, then at the head of the USSR, gave Crimea away to Ukraine, in the name of Soviet solidarity, without a Crimean referendum.

Washington – via a NATO war – dismantled the former Yugoslavia in the name of the “right of nations”. While Crimea is not allowed a peaceful referendum, Kosovo – essentially a drug mafia scam – had the right to be “liberated”. It would be so complicated to explain to public opinion that was essential for the maintenance of Camp Bondsteel – the largest military base outside of the US. The Empire of Bases trumps any “right of nations”. …more

US imperialism, Ukraine and the danger of World War III

US imperialism, Ukraine and the danger of World War III
World Socialist Web Site – 5 March, 2014

Are we standing on the brink of a nuclear war? That is the question that everyone should be asking.

The US-backed coup in Ukraine has triggered the most dangerous international crisis since the Cuban missile crisis of October 1962. American and European officials are denouncing Russia for sending troops into Crimea in response to the installation of an anti-Russian regime in Ukraine that has seized power through a coup d’état staged by fascist militia.

The Obama administration appears determined to escalate the confrontation with Moscow. Demanding a withdrawal of all Russian forces from Crimea and the Kremlin’s total acceptance of the new US-NATO puppet regime in Kiev, the US is calling for sanctions aimed at the complete economic isolation of Russia.

On Tuesday, Secretary of State John Kerry threatened at a press conference in Kiev that the US is seeking to “isolate Russia politically, diplomatically and economically.” His statements were echoed by bellicose threats from leading American politicians.

Senator John McCain delivered an anti-Russian rant from the well of the Senate in which he again expressed regret that the United States had not intervened in the 2008 war between Russia and Georgia. He accused Putin of engaging in “the old Russian, Soviet doublespeak” and called for a “quick path for Moldova and Georgia to move into NATO.”

The Obama administration feigns shock and horror over the Russian response to the Ukrainian coup. This is nothing but deceitful and cynical posturing. It knew full well that the imposition of an anti-Russian puppet regime in Kiev, controlled by the US and NATO, would be viewed by Putin and the Russian military as a massive change in the geo-strategic environment in Eastern Europe and an existential threat to Russia.

It is inconceivable that the White House, the Pentagon and the CIA did not foresee that Putin would respond to the coup in Kiev. Can anyone seriously believe that Washington did not expect that Russia, at the very minimum, would deploy military forces to secure control of Crimea—a part of Russia until 1954, the home of Russia’s Black Sea fleet and its sole access point into the Mediterranean? Or that Washington knew Russia would not simply turn the other cheek as the installation of an extreme rightwing government in Ukraine, in which xenophobic nationalists exert immense influence, transformed the country into the new forward base for NATO forces, armed with missiles, on the very border of Russia? …more

The fascist danger in Ukraine

The fascist danger in Ukraine
World Socialist Web Site – 6 March, 2014

A politically sinister propaganda offensive is underway in the media to either deny the involvement of fascists in the US-backed coup in Ukraine or present their role as a marginal and insignificant detail.

The New York Times, for example, asserted, “Putin’s claim of an immediate threat to Ukrainian Russians is empty,” while Britain’s Guardian dismissed as a “fancy” claims that events in Crimea were an attempt to “prevent attacks by bands of revolutionary fascists,” adding that “the world’s media has [not] yet seen or heard from” such forces.

This is an obscene cover-up.

The reality is that, for the first time since 1945, an avowedly anti-Semitic, pro-Nazi party controls key levers of state power in a European capital, courtesy of US and European imperialism. The unelected Ukrainian government, headed by US appointee Arseniy Yatsenyuk, includes no fewer than six ministers from the fascist Svoboda party.

Less than a year ago, the World Jewish Congress called for Svoboda to be banned. But the party’s founder and leader, Oleh Tyahnybok, who has spoken repeatedly of his determination to crush the “Russkie-Yid mafia that controls Ukraine,” was feted by US and European Union officials as they prepared last month’s coup.

Following the 2010 conviction of John Demjanjuk as an accomplice in the murder of nearly 30,000 people in the Nazi concentration camp at Sobibor, Tyahnybok called him a hero. Tyahnybok’s deputy, Yuriy Mykhalchyshyn, founded a think tank called the Joseph Goebbels Political Research Center.

Svoboda was the major political force in the Maidan protests that overthrew Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych. In return for providing the shock troops for the coup, it has been given control of vital ministries.

Svoboda co-founder Andriy Parubiy acted as “security commandant” in the protests, directing attacks by the Right Sector—an alliance of fascists and extreme right-wing nationalists, including the paramilitary Ukrainian National Assembly-Ukrainian National Self Defense (UNA-UNSO). Dressed in uniforms modelled on Hitler’s Waffen SS, its members boast of fighting Russia in Chechnya, Georgia and Afghanistan.

Parubiy is now secretary of the National Security and Defence Council, overseeing the Defence Ministry and the armed forces. Dmytro Yarosh, leader of the Right Sector, is his deputy.

Deputy Prime Minister Oleksandr Sych is another leading Svoboda figure, as is Oleh Makhnitsky (prosecutor-general), Serhiy Kvit (Education Minstry), Andriy Makhnyk (Ecology Ministry) and Ihor Shvaiko (Agriculture Ministry).

Others reportedly connected to UNA-UNSO are Dmytro Bulatov (youth and sports minister) and the “activist” journalist Tetyana Chernovol, who was named chair of the government’s anti-corruption committee. …more

A “tribune of the people” in Donetsk – neo-Nazis on the side of Putin

UKRAINE: Paul Gubariew – a “tribune of the people” in Donetsk, ie neo-Nazis on the side of Putin
8 March, 2014 – by tahriricnv – by Tahrir-ICN

We reported earlier exploits of Ukrainian nationalists. Now it turns out that the “other side” is crowded with nationalists and neo-Nazis.

According to the Russian website Lenta.ru , Paul Gubariew who, along with joining-Russia supporters from Donbass, occupied administration buildings of Donetsk and proclaimed himself the “people’s governor” and a local authority, is not only a capitalist, but was also a member of the neo-Nazi organization “Russian National Unity” ( Русском национальном единстве ) and then a councilor the racists and anti-Semitic Progressive Socialist Party of Ukraine.

After he was arrested by the Kiev authorities, a part of the western left, clueless in the situation, announced him a “repressed tribune of the people”.

While vesti.ru reported that the Serbian Chetniks, extreme chauvinists with bad reputation gained during the ethnic cleansing in the former Yugoslavia, arrived in Sevastopol “to help their Russian brethren”. The Chetniks pursue an active foreign policy, appear every year on Independence March in Warsaw and inspire demonstrations of Polish nationalists under the slogan “Kosovo is Serbia”. This is all the more important that a large minority of the Crimea are Tatars, who, like the people of Kosovo are Muslims. For Chetniks it may be an extension of the struggle for Kosovo with the “Islamic threat” and lead to ethnic cleansing of the Crimean Tatars, who were already deported once and exterminated by Stalin. Recently, someone began labeling homes of Crimean Tatars, which could be a prelude to pogroms.

Also during many demonstrations, promoted by Putin propaganda as “anti-fascist”, extremely nationalist and neo-Nazi elements were present, both at the demonstration in Odessa and in Sevastopol. …source

Ukrainians, Russians and Europeans against Putin's war

Ukrainians, Russians and Europeans against Putin’s war
2 March, 2014 – libcom.org

Ukrainians, Russians and Europeans were on the streets today protesting against the Putin regime’s attack on Ukraine.

The anti-war demonstrations today are the only shaft of light I can see in a dark sky overshadowed by the danger of war, with 6000 Russian troops reportedly on Ukrainian territory in Crimea, some of them surrounding Ukrainian bases.

Russia

In Moscow, anti-war demonstrators were detained in large numbers. Each time protesters assembled on Manezhnaya square in the city centre, more were arrested. Novaya Gazeta, the liberal opposition paper, reported 265 arrests and counting just after 16.00 Moscow time.

Voices on the Russian radical left were unequivocal. “It is necessary to call a spade a spade: what’s happening in Crimea these days is a classic act of imperialist intervention on the part of the Russian state”, said the Open Left group in a statement published in English here.

“Maidan has opened the sluices of activity of the far-right thugs – and at the same time has spurred to political life great masses of people, who perhaps for the first time perceive that they themselves are capable of determining their fate. This range of possibilities has the potential to resolve itself both into progressive social changes, and into the victory of extreme reaction. But the final decision must, without doubt, be left to the people of Ukraine themselves”, Open Left wrote.

Ukraine

Large numbers joined demonstrations against the war not only in Kyiv but in all the large Russian-speaking cities in the east. Ukrainska Pravda reported a demonstration of 5-10,000 people against Putin’s aggression in Nikolaev, a predominantly Russian-speaking city in southern Ukraine. The report said that agricultural and public sector workers, students and the intelligentsia were all at the march.

In Dnipropetrovsk, a predominantly Russian-speaking industrial city, and Odessa, the predominantly Russian-speaking port city in southern Ukraine, several thousand people joined similar marches. There were demos in Kharkiv, Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporozhye – smaller than pro-Russian marches … but shamefully downplayed by western media reports.

In Kyiv, the radical left called for working-class solidarity against Putin’s militarism. “There’s no point in waiting for ‘rescue’ from Nato”, said a statement by the Autonomous Workers Union, published in English here. “The war can be averted only if proletarians of all countries, first and foremost Ukrainian and Russian, together make a stand against the criminal regime of Putin.” …more

Venezuela at the crossroads

Article originally written in Spanish for the latest issue of the Chilean anarchist paper Solidaridad- The recent events that have shaken Venezuela reflect not only the level of interference that the USA maintains in the region or the pervasive coup-mongering trend in the Venezuelan elite which knows by heart the manual of the Chilean coup strategy. It primarily reflects the latent tensions in the Venezuelan model which should start to work themselves out from below, through struggle. Today more than ever we need critiques to be the essential tool of revolutionaries, rather than the attitude of passive approval of everything the Bolivarian leadership does.

Venezuela at the crossroads
3 March, 2014 – by José Antonio Gutiérrez D.

The recent events that have shaken Venezuela reflect not only the level of interference that the USA maintains in the region or the pervasive coup-mongering trend in the Venezuelan elite which knows by heart the manual of the Chilean coup strategy. It primarily reflects the latent tensions in the Venezuelan model which should start to work themselves out from below, through struggle. Today more than ever we need critiques to be the essential tool of revolutionaries, rather than the attitude of passive approval of everything the Bolivarian leadership does.

The genesis of Bolivarianism

An event that marked the recent history of Venezuela was the Caracazo, that gigantic, spontaneous popular mobilization the structural adjustment measures decreed by the Social-Democratic government of Carlos Andrés Pérez in 1989, which was drowned in the blood of between 500 and 2,000 Venezuelans. It is surprising to note that to date there are no reliable figures on the number of dead, which to some extent reflects their status as “nobodies”, “disposable”, “marginal”. After earning a reputation for his coup attempt in 1992 – in direct response to a government widely seen as illegitimate by the working classes – the retired officer Hugo Chávez Frías stood in the 1999 elections, an outsider in the circles of power which, during the so-called Punto Fijo period, divided up bureaucratic quotas between two parties. His populist, direct speeches, his denunciation of a status quo increasingly tired out by the oil crisis which eroded the corrupt networks of clientelism, immediately captured the fascination of the majority, alienated by the political-economic system.

Although his first redistributive measures were timid, Chávez immediately alienated the elite because for the first time in the history of the republic they were displaced from the circles of power. This abrupt change was ratified in 1999 by the constituent assembly, where the old parties ended up disappearing. The new Constitution, which even the Right led today by Capriles lays claim to, has established certain social guarantees and rights that have benefited sectors previously excluded from access to health or education, counter to the neoliberal trends that dominate throughout the world. Principles of participatory forms of democracy are also experimented with through the institutionalization of Poder Ciudadano (Citizen Power). From the point of view of guarantees, this Constitution is almost unique in recognizing the right of civil disobedience in cases where the government violates the Constitution.

The years that followed the Constitution were turning points in the leftist turn of the Chavista political project; at each attempt to remove him from power, the masses at the grassroots of the Bolivarian project responded with increased demands. Some of these measures included the April 2002 coup and then came the bosses’ lockout from December 2002 to February 2003, both decisively defeated by popular mobilization and support from the Army for the process. The lockout, which was centred on a shutdown of oil production, saw workers self-manage sectors of that industry so as to keep the economy running. In this process, the rentier capitalist class became worn out and important areas of it were ousted from a significant centre of power when Chávez fired 19,000 technicians, directors and middle managers. The Bolivarian project thus took control of oil revenues and set about a series of social programmes called “missions”, through which the newly conquered social rights were extended to the most marginalized areas of the country. But even in this process, the experience of self-management came to an end and albeit with new faces, there was a return to the same labour dynamics as before.

But it was only after the victory in the recall referendum of 2004 and his overwhelming victory in the presidential elections of December 2006, that he dared publicly to describe his project as “Socialism of the 21st Century”.

Socialism of the 21st Century

Chávez now defined the five motors of the construction of socialism: the nationalization of telecommunications and electricity; control of 60% of Petróleos de Venezuela S.A. (PDVSA, state-owned oil and gas company) of the multinational oil operations; constitutional reform to declare Venezuela a Bolivarian, Socialist republic; political education and ideological struggle to overcome capitalist prejudice, a new system of territorial administration of the country in line with the people’s needs; and the development of organisms of community power. It was intended with these measures to move from developmentalism to poder popular (people’s power).

The first measures to promote people’s power, such as urban land committees, invariably came from above, while the main emphasis continued to be redistribution through the missions, which were skillfully created by-passing the structures of the State’s administrative bureaucracy, mixing social mobilization with Army participation. These bodies provided perhaps the most spectacular achievements of the Bolivarian project, such as the virtual elimination of illiteracy.

Other initiatives yielded more mixed results due to distortions caused by the oil-rentier economy and Dutch Disease, together with the persistence of the clientelist, bloated State. Land reform is a good case in point. Venezuela imports 70% of its foodstuffs, 12% of its population is rural and 5% of landowners in 1997 controlled 80% of the land. Since 2005, various farmers have received land and migration from urban areas to rural ones has been stimulated; however, it has not been easy to achieve the goal of food sovereignty because the distortion of the oil economy makes food production more expensive than that of Venezuela’s neighbours. Paradoxically, Mercal, the subsidized stores, sell most of the imported food because its cheaper price. And to the slow expansion of food production (lower than demand), the problem of sabotage and stockpiling must be added.

Workers’ control too is contradictory. The first expropriations by Chávez came about up to 2005, when some companies went under the control of the workers, alone or together with the State. But radicalized workers who were demanding the abandoning of old-style management patterns, consideration of not only profit but the need and sustainability as productive criteria or an end to the division between manual and intellectual workers, found their bitterest enemies in the Labour Ministry itself, while Chávez distanced himself from the “radicals” until in 2009 his interest in them was reborn with the need to fight against the “corrupt”. Many companies were left isolated in the swindle that was “socialism in one factory”, while sectors of the left denounced this adventurism, opting for purely statist schemes. But beyond the existing industries, the dream of economic diversification remained elusive: the economy continued to be dominated by oil revenues and the creation of initiatives such as cooperatives fell into a vicious circle – the exchange rate distorted by the rentier economy did not help competitiveness in the market in accordance with the capitalist laws in force in Venezuela and the region, and the subsidies and support for these diversification initiatives depended on oil revenues, which reinforced the structural weakness of the productive economy. …more

US hypocrisy over ‘Russian aggression’ in Ukraine

US hypocrisy over ‘Russian aggression’ in Ukraine
Nile Bowie – March, 2014 – RT

As divisions deepen between the eastern and western regions of Ukraine, the backers of the putsch regime in Kiev portray Russia as a reckless aggressor to absolve their own responsibility for engineering the crisis.

While denunciations of Moscow have streamed out of western capitals in recent days over the standoff in Crimea, it should be understood that the political crisis currently unfolding in Ukraine could have been wholly avoided. In attempts to defuse unrest and maintain legal and societal order, ousted President Yanukovich offered remarkable concessions in his proposal to install opposition leaders in top posts in a reshaped government, which was rejected. Russia expressed readiness to engage in tripartite negotiations with Ukraine and the European Union with the hope that both Moscow and Brussels could play a positive role in Ukraine’s economic recovery, but the EU was unwilling to accept such a proposal. The February-21 agreement was mediated by Russia, France, Germany and Poland and aimed to end the bloodshed in Kiev by reducing presidential powers and establishing a framework for a national unity government, in addition to electoral reform, constitutional changes, and early elections.

There was clearly no shortage of opportunities to ease the polarization of the Ukrainian state through an inclusive political solution, and yet the opposition failed to uphold its responsibilities, resulting in the ouster of Ukraine’s democratically elected leader to the detriment of the country’s political, economic, and societal stability.

As the new self-appointed authorities in Kiev dictate terms and push legislation through a rump parliament, the reluctance of western capitals to address the clearly dubious legitimacy of the new regime suggests that the US and EU condone what is effectively a coup d’état with no constitutional validity.

The leaked phone call between Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland and the US Ambassador to Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt, is a testament to Washington’s proclivity for foreign meddling and its brazen disregard of Ukraine’s sovereignty. It is no coincidence that Arseniy Yatsenyuk – handpicked by Nuland for the role of prime minister – now occupies that position in Kiev’s new leadership, and much like the reckless agitation strategies employed by the US elsewhere, extremist groups were manipulated to allow the nominal moderates to seize power on Washington’s behalf.
A new dawn for the far right

In order to maintain enough momentum to oust Yanukovich, Ukraine’s opposition leaders relied on allies in the radical camp such as fascist groups like Svoboda, Trizub, and the Right Sector. These organizations espouse ethnic hatred against Jews and Russians and promote neo-Nazi ideals. The foot soldiers of these movements laid the groundwork for the putsch by occupying the Maidan [Independence Square], storming government offices, and attacking riot police with Molotov cocktails, firearms, and other lethal weapons. …more