03 February 2014

John Kerry's "stand with Ukraine's people" and the staggering ineptness of State Department

The United States and the European Union "stand with the people of Ukraine" in their fight for the right to choose alliances with countries other than Russia, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Saturday.

His comments come after a week of political tumult in which Ukraine's Prime Minister and Cabinet have resigned, a controversial anti-protest law has been repealed and the President has signed off on a contested amnesty bill for anti-government protesters.
This declaration by Mr Kerry may sound simple, true and straightforward to any freedom-loving and democracy-adoring Western reader. Indeed, CNN has its basic description of the situation in Ukraine (a bloody situation, to be sure) looking simple:
The protesters have been in Kiev's Independence Square, or Maidan, since November, when President Viktor Yanukovych reversed a decision to sign a long-awaited trade deal with the European Union and turned instead toward Russia.
In a nutshell, a pat summary of the situation, and Mr Kerry ads his weighty opinion to the whole:
"Nowhere is the fight for a democratic, European future more important today than in Ukraine," said Kerry, speaking at the Munich Security Conference in Germany.
Whether Ukraine will become more democratic if aligned with EU or less democratic remaining aligned with Russia - I don't really know. But neither does Mr Kerry, I am afraid. On one hand, Ukraine needs a lot of time and effort to get somewhat closer to a democracy, what with its current corruption index scraping the bottom (144 out of 176). On the other hand, the State Department during the several recent years was a bit too eager welcoming some countries to the fold of democracy, only to be sorely disappointed (I am trying to avoid expressions that include the word "laughingstock"). Still, Mr Kerry persists in making rush statements, without being sufficiently briefed about the complexity of the Ukrainian situation*. Or, for that matter, about the bloody underlying history of the current outbreak of hostilities.

State Department will do well heeding, at least partially, the truth in what the Russian FM said this time:
"What does incitement of increasingly violent street protests have to do with promoting democracy," he asked. "Why don't we hear condemnation of those who seize and hold government buildings, attack the police, torch the police, use racist and anti-Semitic and Nazi slogans?
Nope, I am not at all sure that Mr Lavrov is too concerned about the open antisemitism displayed by a good part of the rebels, nor is he moved too much by the fate of Ukrainian cops, some of whom has shown outstanding examples of cruelty and inhumanity on the streets of Kiev and in other places. The point is that a good deal of what he said, without being really concerned about it, was the truth and nothing but the truth. And this is only a tip of the iceberg in the overall complexity of the Ukrainian situation. And if this paragraph looks unduly confusing, do your best to stay alert for more of the confusion.

Let's start with watching this:

You don't have to know much of Ukrainian to understand the trend of this clip. Yes, one of the biggest factions that fights the current Ukrainian government on the streets of Kiev, is the Ukrainian Insurgent Army, OUN-UPA, one of the bloodiest nationalist militant movement in European history.
Fascism...genocide...collaboration...The OUN, a group of Ukrainian fascists (whose eventual goal was a totalitarian, ethnically-pure pan-Ukrainian empire) sought a Ukrainian-Nazi puppet state. Never promised it, they nevertheless collaborated in the Nazi genocide of Jews. Then they killed 180,000-300,000 Poles (limited only by Polish defenses) and thousands of independent-minded Ukrainians.

With Nazism nearing defeat, and fascism discredited, the OUN-UPA repainted itself as democracy-loving freedom fighters. The murders of Poles continued—until the Soviets crushed the UPA or expelled the remaining Poles (whichever locally happened first).
But take the clip itself with a grain of salt, because the source of it, at least its first uploader is one Yuri Azov, a member (or a sympathizer) of Berkut, the Ukrainian special police unit, used to crush the current Ukrainian revolt. Being a pro-Russian, his interest in painting the essentially anti-Russian rebels in one color is easily explained.

The other point is that, of course, OUN-UPA wasn't the only group of Ukrainians that eagerly participated in mass murder of Poles and Jews. Many other Ukrainians willingly and eagerly volunteered. And, of course, the Russians' hands are not exactly clean where mass murder of Poles is concerned.

And, lest we forget: the previous, "orange" pro-Western government of Ukraine, led by Viktor Yushchenko, has contributed to whitewash of Ukrainian ultra-nationalistic movements, stained by collaboration with Nazis, murder of Poles, Jews, Russians, communists etc.

To summarize: in the triangle of Russians, Ukrainians and Poles there is very little love lost, a slim chance to get to the truth and absolutely no chance to get the three parties united in peace and mutual sympathy (unless, of course, you throw a few Jews in the middle, which is the only way to get them united... for a while).

Now, if you think for a second that you have got a glimpse of the truth, read this. This should complete the picture in your mind: the picture of total confusion.

So, do you still think that Mr Kerry should have been sounding off so surely on the mayhem in Ukraine? If you do, I envy your steadfastness. Because, in my humble, this is how Mr Kerry really should have been looking - confused (which he really seems to be much of the time). Or, at least, quiet... because no opinion on the current crisis in Kiev is a true opinion right now.

(*) I am sure that US of A is choke-full of scholars of Ukrainian history that could have provided the State Department sufficient info on the last, say, 100 years of the subject matter. Or, at least, some highlights that would have allowed the State Department to avoid stepping into it...Too bad they didn't.


SnoopyTheGoon said...

From my limited knowledge of their condition I can only conclude that civil war is coming and soon. I think the country is too evenly divided and passions have escalated too far.

SnoopyTheGoon said...

If I was Ukrainian I'd be really alert for post Sochi Russian moves.

SnoopyTheGoon said...

I hope a full-scale civil war could be avoided, but it is definitely not a good time for Kerry or anyone else to take sides. Especially not in order to stick one to the Russians. Bad timing.

SnoopyTheGoon said...

Oh, I don't believe Russians will go military. Ukraine is too visible, too big and too close to the West. Russians may use gas/oil embargo, but nothing more, I believe.