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Ukraine

Meet the Americans Who Put Together the Coup in Kiev

Victoria Nuland Geoffrey Pyatt

If the US State Department's Victoria Nuland had not said "F**k the EU," few outsiders at the time would have heard of Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt, the man on the other end of her famously bugged telephone call. But now Washington's man in Kiev is gaining fame as the face of the CIA-style "destabilization campaign" that brought down Ukraine's monumentally corrupt but legitimately elected President Viktor Yanukovych.

"Geoffrey Pyatt is one of these State Department high officials who does what he’s told and fancies himself as a kind of a CIA operator," laughs Ray McGovern, who worked for 27 years as an intelligence analyst for the agency. "It used to be the CIA doing these things," he tells Democracy Now. "I know that for a fact." Now it's the State Department, with its coat-and-tie diplomats, twitter and facebook accounts, and a trick bag of goodies to build support for American policy.

A retired apparatchik, the now repentant McGovern was debating Yale historian Timothy Snyder, a self-described left-winger and the author of two recent essays in The New York Review of Books – "The Haze of Propaganda" and "Fascism, Russia, and Ukraine." Both men speak Russian, but they come from different planets.
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US 'Democracy Promotion' Destroys Democracy Overseas

It was almost ten years ago when, before the House International Relations Committee, I objected to the US Government funding NGOs to meddle in the internal affairs of Ukraine. At the time the “Orange Revolution” had forced a regime change in Ukraine with the help of millions of dollars from Washington. 

At that time I told the Committee:
We do not know exactly how many millions—or tens of millions—of dollars the United States government spent on the presidential election in Ukraine. 

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War in Syria Set to Intensify

Syrian Rebels 2

As Syria lies dying, western media cries, “we must save Syria’s suffering children.” Indeed so, among Syria’s nine million internal and external refugees, some 450,000 are children.

All civil wars are bloody and cruel, but Syria’s strife has reached new extremes of violence and mass civilian suffering as the US and Saudi Arabia use this once beautiful, bountiful nation as a proxy battleground against Iran.

I extensively covered Lebanon’s 1975-1990 civil war; its ghastly memory still makes me shudder. In the 14 wars I’ve reported on, Lebanon holds top ranking for barbarity and sadism. One friend of mine, the owner of women’s boutiques, became a paramilitary Rambo and went from selling perfume to cutting off and collecting the ears of Muslims.

A similar madness has descendent on Syria as its many ethnic and religious groups tear one another’s throats. Syria’s 630,000 Palestinian refugees have suffered frightfully, caught between the warring parties.


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Kto Kogo?* The NATO Syndrome, the EU’s Eastern Partnership Program, and the EAU

Whowhom

In 2009, Poland and Sweden, ever attentive to the US’s geostrategic goals of isolating Russia and gaining control of China thereafter, initiated the Eastern Partnership program, which its sponsors said was intended to tighten ties with former Soviet Republics, such as Moldova, Armenia, Kyrgyzstan, and Ukraine. A trade pact is a part of the Partnership’s Association Agreement (AA) deal.

What the Russians saw in the EU initiative was a repeat of the “NATO Syndrome,” in that what was promised would soon be betrayed, i.e. no NATO expansion in exchange for a Soviet agreement to the reunification of Germany.

To Russian eyes, NATO’s 1999 expansion throughout Eastern Europe and the subsequent celebratory bombing campaign against Serbia, inaugurated just one month later, and the still later Albanian annexation of Serbia’s heartland province of Kosovo, were altogether the Clinton Administration’s triple-combo opening salvos in an American campaign to recreate the Versailles Treaty’s cordon sanitaire. And the 2009 Association Agreement is but a Trojan horse whose only practical purpose is to advance US and EU interests at the expense of the former Soviet republics’ naïve hopes and Russian security.
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Crimean Referendum Ilegal? Nonsense!

Crimeavote

On the question of why the U.S. government considers the Crimean referendum on secession from Ukraine to be illegal, Michael S. Rozeff points to an interview with John B. Bellinger III, Adjunct Senior Fellow for International and National Security Law at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), whose answer consists of (a) Alice-In-Wonderland-worthy illogic and (b) lying about what international law has to say about the right to self-determination. Bellinger’s full response to the question is as follows:

The Obama administration and most European governments argue that the referendum violates both the Ukrainian constitution and international law. The Ukrainian constitution requires that any changes to the territory of Ukraine be approved by a referendum of all of the Ukrainian people. The requirement is consistent with general principles of international law, which respects the territorial integrity of states and does not recognize a right of secession by a group or region in a country unless the group or region has been denied a right to "internal self determination" (i.e., its right to pursue its own political, economic, social, and cultural development) by the central government or has been subject to grave human rights violations by the central government. These factors, which could give rise to a right of remedial secession under international law, are not present in Crimea.

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RPI's Laughland on the Crimea Referendum

RPI Advisor John Laughland weighs in on the Crimea vote to rejoin Russia, the breathtaking hypocrisy of the western governments and the disconnect between US and EU citizens and their governments. Of course the secession is illegal, Laughland says, but that also means that even the US Declaration of Independence was, strictly speaking, illegal. Dr. Laughland also offers his forecast as to the two possible outcomes of the standoff between Russia and the US/EU over Ukraine and Crimea. (Transcript here).


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Simple Stuff About Ukraine

Nulandfeu

On March 6th President Barack Obama signed an executive order "Blocking Property of Certain Persons Contributing to the Situation in Ukraine" which permits Washington to seize the assets of any "United States person" who opposes current US policies vis-à-vis that country. The order claims absurdly that the status quo in Ukraine and the Crimean referendum constitute a "national emergency" for the United States. Anyone who directly or indirectly is involved in "actions or policies that threaten the peace, security, stability, sovereignty, or territorial integrity of Ukraine" can have his or her assets seized. That means if you think a referendum by Crimeans that might result in union with Russia is not necessarily a bad idea and you write a letter to the local paper saying so it could be good-bye bank account. There is no appeal mechanism in the executive order.

Obama’s transition to the tin hat brigade is eerily similar to an order signed by George W. Bush in 2007, the "Blocking Property of Certain Persons Who Threaten Stabilization Efforts in Iraq." Taking both orders together, it is a clear indication of how low we have sunk so as to penalize any dissent over policies that have never been openly debated or voted on by the American public, but I suppose Bush would explain proudly that he "brought democracy" to Iraq while Obama would change the subject by noting that he killed Usama bin-Laden. Either way, the criminalizing of Americans exercising their First Amendment rights ends up making the rest of what happens relatively unimportant, nothing more than what our war masters refer to as collateral damage.
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The Use of Force, the Reflexive Resort to Economic Sanctions, and the Trials of America’s Hegemonic Mindset

Putincameronobama

As negotiations toward a “final” nuclear deal between the P5+1 and Iran continue, it is important to consider to what extent the world might be witnessing a fundamental change in American foreign policy. We are inclined to think that the Obama administration would not have gone as far down the diplomatic road with Iran as it has in the absence of President Obama’s self-inflicted debacle over his declared intention to attack Syria after chemical weapons were used there in August 2013. This episode drove home—to the Obama administration as well as to most of the rest of the world—that the United States can no longer credibly threaten to use military force in the Middle East for hegemonic purposes.

After the American public so resoundingly rebuffed Obama’s call for U.S. military action, his administration was compelled to conclude that starting down the diplomatic road with Iran was politically less costly than pushing for more sanctions and continuing to insist that the “military option” was still “on the table.”

But can the Obama administration really go all the way to a comprehensive realignment of relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran—and, in the process, show that the United States can shift proactively from a counterproductive drive to dominate the Middle East to serious engagement with all important regional powers, and not just slink out of region in defeat?
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After the Referendum...

Ukraine Crimea Russian Independence Referendum

If, as seems to be generally expected, today’s referendum in Crimea produces a substantial majority in favour of union with the Russian Federation, what will Moscow’s reaction be?

I strongly expect that it will be……

Nothing.

There are several reason why I think this. One is that Moscow is reluctant to break up states. I know that that assertion will bring howls of laughter from the Russophobes who imagine that Putin has geography dreams every night but reflect that Russia only recognised the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia after Georgia had actually attacked South Ossetia. The reason for recognition was to prevent other Georgian attacks.

Behind that was the memory of the chaos caused in the Russian North Caucasus as an aftermath of Tbilisi’s attacks on South Ossetia and Abkhazia in the 1990s. Russia is a profoundly status quo country – largely because it fears change would lead to something worse – and will not move on such matters until it feels it has no other choice. We are not, I believe, quite at that point yet on Crimea let alone eastern Ukraine.
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