Daily The Nation in Pakistan writes about this photo:
The Structure of Tyranny in Bahrain. A study of the Balance of power within the ruling family: here.
Daily The Nation in Pakistan writes about this photo:
The Structure of Tyranny in Bahrain. A study of the Balance of power within the ruling family: here.
This video from the USA says about itself:
Fox News: Iraq Chaos Proves Bush Right
16 June 2014
A Monday segment on Fox News asserted that President George W. Bush — who invaded Iraq under false pretenses, and then signed the agreement to withdraw all U.S. troops by 2012 — had been right all along because ISIS, an al Qaeda splinter group, was threatening to take over the country…
See also here.
By Richard Bagley in Britain:
Saturday 13th September 2014
The Islington North MP confronted junior minister David Lidlington a day after Downing St publicly slapped down Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond for suggesting there would be no British air strikes on Syria.
Mr Corbyn urged that Britain should not “automatically intervene everywhere and create the problems of tomorrow.”
But evasive Europe Minister Mr Lidlington, left in London to hold the fort for party “big guns” deployed to Scotland, pooh-poohed the idea that the rise of the brutal Islamic State (IS) is linked to the Iraq invasion and arms sales to the region.
And the minister parroted the Number 10 line that the government had not yet been “asked to take decisions about any possible military action.”
Warning bells repeatedly sounded as he evaded direct questioning in a session prompted by Tory John Baron, an ex-army captain who quit the front benches in 2003 over Iraq.
Mr Baron explained he had tabled an emergency question “given our past errors in our interventions — whether it’s going to war on a false premise in Iraq or the disastrous morphing of the Afghan mission into one of nation-building, or even Libya.”
With MPs now on a one-month break for party conference season, he said, “we must not allow Parliament to be presented with a fait accompli on our return.”
But Mr Lidlington did nothing to calm fears that Number 10 could be poised to act without MPs’ consent and sign up to bombing raids on Syria, where Britain has already spent £600 million to support rebel forces.
The scope of British involvement will become clearer next week after a Paris summit on Monday where “a detailed consideration of the part which countries can play” would take place.
“While wanting to put the matter to Parliament as rapidly as possible, it does need to have freedom to act in case of an urgent threat to the security of the UK or in case of impending human disaster,” he added.
‘Islamic State’ is a slur on our faith, say leading Muslims. Imams call on David Cameron and others to stop using phrase which they say gives credibility to a terrorist organisation: here.
The Iraqi army has killed scores of civilians by dropping illegal bombs on residential areas in its fight against the Islamic State (Isis): here.
This video from Wales says about itself:
All Out! Dancing in Dulais
10 November 2012
“The South Wales miners’ strike of 1984-1985 saw the formation of a curious alliance between a plucky group of young homosexuals from London and miners in Dulais Valley. In Dancing in Dulais, an initial wariness on the part of the young gays, the miners, and the miners’ families gives way, through sometimes delicate interactions, to a loving and purposeful solidarity. The unembellished videography captures well this fascinating-to-witness union of two disparate yet ultimately kindred groups. The “Pits and Perverts” benefit concert features the Bronski Beat.”
PopcornQ Movies at PlanetOut.com
Editor: Jeff Cole
By Peter Frost in Britain:
Thursday 11th September 2014
It has taken three decades for the BBC and the British film industry to tell the amazing story of Mark Ashton.
Thirty years is a long time, indeed a good few years longer than Ashton’s tragically short life — a life cut short by Aids at just 26 in 1987.
Mark, a mercurial young Irishman, was a gay rights activist and a founder member — some would say the founding member — of Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners (LGSM) during the epic miners’ strike of the 1980s.
LGSM came together to support the British miners during the year-long strike of 1984-5.
There were 11 LGSM groups throughout the country. London was the largest.
This video from Britain is called Pride – Official Launch Trailer (2014) Bill Nighy, Andrew Scott, Imelda Staunton [HD].
I loved the film. It made me laugh and it made me cry, but I’ll leave a full review to others. There is a more important story to be told.
The film is about two tough parallel working-class struggles. First the fight by lesbians and gay men in the ’80s against homophobic prejudice, street violence and against the horrifying threat of HIV-Aids.
The other battle was that of Britain’s miners to stop Margaret Thatcher and her government killing off their industry and their union.
On striking miners he was equally crass. He described mass picketing and street demonstrations as “acts of terrorism” and trade unions as “a politically motivated industrial mafia at work.”
He should have been sacked, but Thatcher knew she needed reactionary police allies like Anderton in her battle to destroy British trade unions, starting with the miners.
In this historical maelstrom Ashton was one of the first to realise the connection between two groups both under attack from bully Thatcher, her savage government and her tame and reactionary police.
Ashton told his gay activist friends: “Mining communities are being bullied like we are, being harassed by the police, just as we are. One community should give solidarity to another. It is really illogical to say: ‘I’m gay and I’m into defending the gay community but I don’t care about anything else’.”
The paper’s headline-writers certainly linked the two groups in what must be one of the most disgusting headlines ever written. “Pits and perverts” it screamed in huge type on the front page.
The Sun clearly intended to undermine the striking miners’ cause and ridicule or belittle its support from lesbians and gay men. In fact they ended up having exactly the opposite effect.
The so-called perverts appropriated that headline as the title of a massive fundraising event organised by Ashton’s LGSM at the Electric Ballroom in Camden, London.
The concert itself was a huge success — raising £5,650 (the equivalent of more than £20,000 in today’s money) for the striking miners and their families in south Wales.
At the concert David Donovan, from the Dulais NUM, told the 1,500-strong, mostly gay and lesbian audience: “You have worn our badge, ‘Coal not dole,’ and you know what harassment means, as we do. Now we will pin your badge on us — we will support you.
The fundraiser was headlined by Bronski Beat, whose lead singer Jimmy Somerville would go on to form The Communards, a group who would record For A Friend, Somerville’s personal tribute to Ashton.
This music video is called The Communards – For A Friend – HQ Video with Lyrics.
“Summer comes and I remember how we’d march/We’d march for love and peace, together arm in arm.”
The new film Pride tells a good story and tells it well, but although one of its main themes is coming out of various closets it is sad that one important closet door remains firmly nailed shut.
Ashton was many things, but he was first and foremost a communist. He never hid that fact.
Sadly the film doesn’t mention what was one of the most important factors that guided and inspired Ashton in all his actions.
I knew, and worked, with Ashton during the miners’ strike when he was general secretary of the Young Communist League (YCL).
It is sad, but perhaps predictable, that the BBC has edited Ashton’s membership of the Communist Party and his leading role in the YCL out of the storyline completely.
I was proud to work with Ashton and other communists raising money and support for the miners.
We helped to picket power stations and fuel dumps, organised fundraisers, demonstrations and street collections.
The savage Thatcher government had sequestered the funds of the NUM which meant that it was pointless for supporters to send donation via the national union.
Instead support groups throughout Britain adopted individual mining communities. Ashton’s London LGSM group twinned with Dulais Valley in south Wales.
They had chosen that particular colliery after meeting some reluctance to accept their support from other miners’ groups.
Ashton and his LGSM comrades raised an amazing £20,000 for the strikers as well as visiting the Welsh pit village in solidarity and to deliver money, food and others supplies.
The alliances which Ashton and his campaign forged between LGBT and trade union groups proved to be an important turning point in the development of LGBT struggles and issues.
Miners’ groups began to support and endorse and participate in various Gay Pride events. Miners Lodge and other trade union banners headed the 1985 Gay Pride rally in London.
That same year, at the 1985 Labour Party conference in Bournemouth, a resolution committing the party to support LGBT equality rights was passed.
The issue had been raised and defeated before. This time unanimous support from the NUM won the vote against fierce opposition from many on the Labour Party national executive.
In 1988 the NUM was among the most outspoken allies of the LGBT community campaign against Section 28 — an attempt to ban any mention of homosexuality in schools.
Ashton was diagnosed with Aids on January 30 1987. Just 12 days later pneumonia took his young life.
His premature death prompted a tremendous response, not just from the gay community but also from the left and the labour movement in general.
Red, pink and rainbow flags and miners’ union banners all fluttered at his impressive Lambeth funeral.
His memory lives on in the Mark Ashton Red Ribbon Fund. His name is still honoured in the ex-mining valleys of south Wales and now the film Pride will introduce at least some of his story to a massive new audience.
Go and see it. It will make you laugh a lot and cry a little, but more important it will inspire you to action — and that is the only legacy communist Mark Ashton would ever have wanted.
Peter Frost blogs at frostysramblings.wordpress.com.
Comment from Madame Pickwick Art Blog on this ‘guns or butter’ picture, with as its caption title ‘Hurrah, the butter is gone!':
This work is Heartfield’s most famous, it is the climax of the artist’s mastery of the genre. A German family is depicted eating various parts of a bicycle, with Hitler’s portrait and swastika wallpaper in the background. The quote is from Hermann Göring, and it reads: “Iron has always made a nation strong, butter and lard have only made the people fat”. In his work, Heartfield parodied the style of Nazi propaganda posters to criticize the regime. Heartfield’s work was of course a type of propaganda in itself, but his work expressed the discontent of the opposition in Germany.
Apparently, the present British government, buying 600 new tanks, has not learned from Heartfield.
Neither, it seems, has the government of Heartfield’s country of birth, Germany.
By Christoph Dreier in Germany:
German government discusses massive increase in military spending
6 September 2014
At the NATO summit in Wales, the United States and Great Britain pressured member states to fulfill the 2006 agreement to increase military spending across the alliance to at least two percent of gross domestic product (GDP). So far just five of the 28 NATO countries—the United States, France, Great Britain, Greece and Estonia—adhere to the target.
In Germany, which spends around 1.4 percent of GDP on its military budget, the summit has led to immediate demands for massive rearmament.
“If Europe wants to keep its freedom, it is not possible without additional efforts,” declared the Christian Democrat (CDU) foreign policy expert Karl-Georg Wellmann, in order to combat what he called the “threat from Moscow.”
CDU defense politician Henning Otte also supported a military upgrade. “We must adapt our defense preparedness to the new threat. That will not be possible without an increase in the defense budget,” he said. “The assumption that the Bundeswehr (German army) can do without armor or heavy equipment in future is wrong … Both will cost money, but there is no security without expenditure,” the CDU deputy declared.
“The time of the peace dividend is over,” proclaimed the foreign and security policy spokesman for the Christian Social Union (CSU) in the Bundestag, Florian Hahn. Just a few weeks ago CSU leader Horst Seehofer had pleaded in the news magazine Der Spiegel for an increase in military spending. “We cannot discuss progressive tax changes and then say there is not enough money for the Bundeswehr to fulfill its responsibilities,” he said.
The budget increase required by NATO and now being discussed in the German government, would be the biggest increase in spending for the Bundeswehr since the unification of Germany 25 years ago. It would mean that Germany, which currently stands at number seven of the countries with the highest military expenditure, would shift into fifth place ahead of France and Great Britain, and become the biggest military power in the EU.
In 2013, the military budget was already increased as part of the reform of the Bundeswehr. In the 2013 federal budget, overall spending was reduced by 3.1 percent to 302 billion euros, but the defense budget rose 4.4 percent to 33.3 billion. Only the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs has a larger budget. This remains the case in 2014, when defense spending will total 32.4 billion euros. That is more than ten percent of all public expenditure.
In 2013, however, this total only represented about 1.4 percent of GDP. An increase to the required target of two percent would mean an additional expenditure of over 14 billion euros.
This sum corresponds almost exactly to the state spending in 2013 on Germany’s 4.4 million recipients of unemployment benefits (without counting administrative costs). Major cuts in social spending to pay for a beefed up military amount to a social declaration of war on the working class.
However, even the NATO requirement is not enough for the warmongers in Berlin and in the media. The long-time US correspondent for Der Spiegel Gregor Peter Schmitz recently demanded that Germany and Europe compensate for the failures of the ‘lame duck’ from Washington and take over the main responsibility in NATO.
If one takes Schmitz’ claims seriously then, based on the 3.8 percent of GDP spent by the United States on its military, Germany would have to spend an extra 57 billion euros. If Germany sought to spend as much money as the United States for arms (in real terms) it would have to raise more than 400 billion euros—an unimaginable sum for the current federal budget.
There is no question that such armament hikes can only be financed by violent social attacks on the working class. Historically in Germany, such hikes in military spending have always been associated with sharp cuts in social spending and repression against the workers. This process found its most extreme expression in the Nazi regime.
The federal government is aware that such increases in the military budget will inevitably be met with massive popular resistance. Following two world wars, the rejection of militarism is deeply rooted in the German working class.
This is why some government representatives from the social democratic SPD and the CDU have been initially more cautious in raising demands.
Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble (CDU) reportedly said during a conference that there would be no cuts made in the defense budget “in the near future.” At the same time, any increase in military spending, he continued, was “not a wise policy.”
The Chairman of the Defence Committee, Hans-Peter Bartels (SPD), proposed using defense budget funds more effectively and distributing them “intelligently.”
Such statements cannot hide the fact that the massive military buildup is the logical consequence of the foreign policy of the government and was planned long ago. They are merely aimed at disguising the process from the population.
At the beginning of the year, Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen, announced the end of German military restraint. Since then, Germany has pursued an aggressive policy of military confrontation towards Russia and in the Middle East.
Just on Thursday, the Defense Department announced it was transferring more troops to Poland. The German contingent in the Szczecin headquarters of the Multinational Corps Northeast is to be doubled.
At the NATO summit, US Secretary of State John Kerry announced the setting up of a “core” coalition for military intervention in Iraq, which is also to include Germany.
Kerry’s ‘core’ coalition also includes the government of Turkey, which played a big role in helping ISIS to start its bloodbaths in Syria and Iraq.
It has now become a matter of course. Whenever a new offensive for war commences, Germany’s mainstream media reacts at once. Journalists with close ties to German and American government circles immediately ratchet up their propaganda. This was once again the case on September 4. The propagandists for war switched gears at the start of the NATO summit in Wales, which is focused on the intensified militarization of Europe and direct preparations for war against Russia: here.
This video from Britain is called Hack Attack: How the truth caught up with Rupert Murdoch – Nick Davies.
From Ain’t it cool news:
Published at: Sept. 3, 2014, 3:50 p.m. CST by Papa Vinyard
Just this week, we were reminded of two crucial, highly relevent aspects of modern society. 1. That the privacy of the contents of our cell phones is…dubious at best. 2. That celebrities are elevated (and simultaneously trivialized) to such an extent in this country that violations on their rights/privacy are looked at as an unavoidable occupational hazard.
George Clooney, a famed victim of the latter, is taking on the former as his next writing/directing/starring project. Clooney will be adapting HACK ATTACK, Guardian reporter Nick Davies’ investigation into Rupert Murdoch‘s News of the World and the allegations that they were accumulating info by hacking into the cell phones of celebs and civilians alike. Presumably, Clooney will be playing Davies himself, as well as directing the film and co-writing/co-producing with his longtime partner Grant Heslov (“I’ve got my hand up her skirt and I’m…”).
Clooney makes his liberal stance very clear in his directing projects, from the anti-McCarthyism in GOOD NIGHT AND GOOD LUCK to the political backstabbery of THE IDES OF MARCH, and this seems like a great, topical use of his talents and attention. The subject of privacy is a fluid one at this point in American history, and it seems that the rules and restrictions can’t keep up with those set on breaking them, so conversation on these ideas is becoming more and more of a necessity. Clooney’s one of those people who knows he has eyes on him, and tries to use his position to do whatever good he can (Smug Clouds notwithstanding); this seems like something he can shed light on while providing a damned entertaining flick at the same time.
See also here.
By Mike Head:
ISIS murders another US journalist, Steven Sotloff
3 September 2014
A repugnant video released by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), purporting to show the beheading of an American journalist, Steven Sotloff, has already been seized upon by Washington and its allies to justify further intensifying the military intervention in Iraq, with Syria the likely next target.
Sotloff’s barbaric murder was the second by ISIS of a freelance US journalist in as many weeks, following that of James Foley. It was accompanied by a threat to kill a British hostage, David Haines.
The footage shows Sotloff, 31, who was kidnapped in northern Syria just over a year ago, dressed in orange and on his knees in a desert landscape. As in the previous video of Foley, this one then shows Sotloff’s severed head resting on his corpse.
The young man, originally from Florida, had worked for several publications, including Time, the Christian Science Monitor, World Affairs Journal and Foreign Policy, reporting from many parts of the Middle East, including Libya, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey, and finally Syria. Former colleagues, associates and editors paid tribute to his courage and dedication.
Sotloff’s family yesterday said they were aware of the video, which was yet to be verified by the US administration, and were grieving privately. He was executed despite a televised plea a week ago from his mother, Shirley, to the ISIS leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, to spare his life.
The family had known of Sotloff’s capture for a year, as had the US government, but his plight was not made public until he was shown on the video of Foley’s murder. A masked killer threatened his life in the event of further US airstrikes against ISIS.
As with Foley’s beheading, ISIS justified the heinous act as retaliation for the US bombing campaign in Iraq, referring this time specifically to the air strikes around the Mosul Dam and the northern Iraqi town of Amerli, previously under siege by ISIS. Over the past month, the US has conducted more than 120 bombing raids in Iraq.
On the video, Sotloff’s executioner declares: “I’m back, Obama, and I’m back because of your arrogant foreign policy towards the Islamic State… So just as your missiles continue to strike our people, our knife will continue to strike the necks of your people.”
To murder individual journalists for the ongoing crimes being committed by their country’s government—which are opposed by millions of Americans—underscores the reactionary outlook of ISIS and other Al Qaeda-linked groups.
These atrocious killings, together with those of captured Syrian soldiers, have nothing to do with the aspirations of the oppressed masses of the Middle East for liberation from imperialist violence and domination. ISIS represents the interests of disaffected sections of the Arab and Muslim bourgeoisie, which seek to exploit the predatory drive of the US for hegemony over the energy-rich region, and whip up sectarian divisions, for their own capitalist agenda.
In turn, this barbarity is being seized upon by the Western ruling elites and their media outlets to overcome the broad hostility of their populations to the launching of a renewed war in the Middle East.
Even before the video of Sotloff’s beheading was verified, the American media and political establishment ratcheted up the drumbeat of demands for the Obama administration to escalate its military campaign and extend it into Syria. Referring to Obama’s comment last week that his administration did not yet have a “strategy” for Syria, CNN’s Christiane Amanpour said Sotloff’s killing would heighten pressure on Obama to devise a strategy to combat ISIS.
Senator Bill Nelson, a Florida Democrat and member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said he would introduce a bill giving Obama authority to order air strikes in Syria. Representative Ed Royce, a California Republican and chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, called for more aggressive action against ISIS. “Working with key allies, the United States needs to be acting urgently to arm the Kurds on the ground who are fighting them, and targeting ISIS from the air with drone strikes,” he said.
British Prime Minister David Cameron said the video depicted an “absolutely disgusting, despicable act.” Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said the killing “demonstrates that we are dealing with pure evil” and “abundantly justifies what Australia and other countries are doing to assist people who are threatened by this murderous rage.”
Such statements are hypocritical to the core. The roots of the emergence of ISIS, formerly known as Al Qaeda in Iraq, lie in the US financing and backing of the Islamic fundamentalists in Afghanistan during the 1980s. The organisation emerged in Iraq in the midst of sectarian violence encouraged by the US occupation, expanding into Syria as part of the US-backed regime change operation against President Bashar al-Assad.
As long as ISIS was carrying out its beheadings and other atrocities in Syria, directed against Bashar al-Assad’s regime, the US and its partners remained silent on the barbarity of the Islamists, because they were supposedly fighters for “freedom” and “democracy.” It was not until ISIS swept into Iraq, taking advantage of the utter devastation and sectarian divides produced by the US occupation, that ISIS’s crimes were suddenly denounced as “terrorist” slaughters.
Now, the horrific murders of journalists are being turned into a pretext for another full-scale war of aggression in the Middle East, driven by the same underlying agenda—to exercise unchallenged US domination over the entire region.
This video about the Iraq war and the USA says about itself:
WMD: Weapons of Mass Deception
8 March 2013
This documentary is about the media itself, viewed as a weapon system: Weapons of Mass Deception. Those weapons drove a media war, a war that many now believe perverted freedom of the press in order to manipulate public support for a real war.
Rather than challenging official assertions, most media outlets, used patriotism as a promotional tool, pandered to unjustified fears and nationalist sentiment, extolled the brilliance of military technology, and uncritically trumpeted the Bush administration’s “product.”
Don’t get fooled again on Ukraine
Wednesday 3rd September 2014
In an open letter to German Chancellor Angela Merkel, veteran US intelligence professionals urge her not to be swayed by dodgy evidence into backing conflict with Russia
We are long-time veterans of US intelligence.
We take the unusual step of writing this open letter to you to ensure that you have an opportunity to be briefed on our views prior to the Nato summit on September 4-5.
You need to know, for example, that accusations of a major Russian “invasion” of Ukraine appear not to be supported by reliable intelligence. Rather, the “intelligence” seems to be of the same dubious, politically “fixed” kind used 12 years ago to “justify” the US-led attack on Iraq.
We saw no credible evidence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq then — we see no credible evidence of a Russian invasion now.
In our view, you should be appropriately suspicious of charges made by the US State Department and Nato officials alleging a Russian invasion of Ukraine.
President Barack Obama tried earlier this week to cool the rhetoric of his own senior diplomats and the corporate media, when he publicly described recent activity in the Ukraine, as “a continuation of what’s been taking place for months now … it’s not really a shift.”
One year ago, hawkish State Department officials and their friends in the media very nearly got Mr Obama to launch a major attack on Syria based, once again, on “intelligence” that was dubious at best.
Largely because of the growing prominence of, and apparent reliance on, intelligence we believe to be spurious, we think the possibility of hostilities escalating beyond the borders of Ukraine has increased significantly over the past several days.
More important, we believe that this likelihood can be avoided, depending on the degree of judicious skepticism you and other European leaders bring to the Nato summit.
Hopefully, your advisers have reminded you of Nato secretary-general Anders Fogh Rasmussen’s chequered record for credibility. It appears to us that Rasmussen’s speeches continue to be drafted by Washington.
This was abundantly clear on the day before the US-led invasion of Iraq when, as Danish prime minister, he told his Parliament: “Iraq has weapons of mass destruction. This is not something we just believe. We know.”
Photos can be worth a thousand words — they can also deceive. We have considerable experience collecting, analysing and reporting on all kinds of satellite and other imagery, as well as other kinds of intelligence.
Suffice it to say that the images released by Nato on August 28 provide a very flimsy basis on which to charge Russia with invading Ukraine.
Sadly, they bear a strong resemblance to the images shown by Colin Powell at the UN on February 5 2003 that, likewise, proved nothing.
That same day, we warned President Bush that our former colleague analysts were “increasingly distressed at the politicisation of intelligence” and told him flatly: “Powell’s presentation does not come close” to justifying war.
We urged Bush to “widen the discussion … beyond the circle of those advisers clearly bent on a war for which we see no compelling reason and from which we believe the unintended consequences are likely to be catastrophic.”
Consider Iraq today. Worse than catastrophic.
Although President Vladimir Putin has until now shown considerable reserve on the conflict in the Ukraine, it behooves us to remember that Russia, too, can “shock and awe.”
In our view, if there is the slightest chance of that kind of thing eventually happening to Europe because of Ukraine, sober-minded leaders need to think this through very carefully.
If the photos that Nato and the US have released represent the best available “proof” of an invasion from Russia, our suspicions increase that a major effort is under way to fortify arguments for the Nato summit to approve actions that Russia is sure to regard as provocative.
Caveat emptor is an expression with which you are no doubt familiar. Suffice it to add that one should be very cautious regarding what Rasmussen, or even Secretary of State John Kerry, are peddling.
We trust that your advisers have kept you informed regarding the crisis in Ukraine from the beginning of 2014, and how the possibility that Ukraine would become a member of Nato is anathema to the Kremlin.
According to a February 1 2008 cable (published by WikiLeaks) from the US embassy in Moscow to secretary of state Condoleezza Rice, US ambassador William Burns was called in by Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, who explained Russia’s strong opposition to Nato membership for Ukraine.
Lavrov warned pointedly of “fears that the issue could potentially split the country in two, leading to violence or even, some claim, civil war, which would force Russia to decide whether to intervene.”
Burns gave his cable the unusual title “Nyet Means Nyet: Russia’s Nato Enlargement Red Lines,” and sent it off to Washington with immediate precedence. Two months later, at their summit in Bucharest, Nato leaders issued a formal declaration that “Georgia and Ukraine will be in Nato.”
Just last week, Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk used his Facebook page to claim that, with the approval of parliament that he has requested, the path to Nato membership is open.
Yatsenyuk, of course, was Washington’s favourite pick to become prime minister after the February 22 coup d’etat in Kiev.
“Yats is the guy,” said Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland a few weeks before the coup, in an intercepted telephone conversation with US ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt. You may recall that this is the same conversation in which Nuland said: “f*ck the EU.”
The conventional wisdom promoted by Kiev just a few weeks ago was that Ukrainian forces had the upper hand in fighting the anti-coup federalists in south-eastern Ukraine, in what was largely portrayed as a mop-up operation.
But that picture of the offensive originated almost solely from official government sources in Kiev.
There were very few reports coming from the ground in south-eastern Ukraine.
There was one, however, quoting Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, that raised doubt about the reliability of the government’s portrayal.
According to the “press service of the President of Ukraine” on August 18, Poroshenko called for a “regrouping of Ukrainian military units involved in the operation of power in the east of the country,” adding, “we need to consider a new military operation in the new circumstances.”
At about this time, sources on the ground began to report a string of successful attacks by the anti-coup federalists against government forces.
According to these sources, it was the government army that was starting to take heavy casualties and lose ground, largely because of ineptitude and poor leadership.
Ten days later, as they became encircled and/or retreated, a ready-made excuse for this was to be found in the “Russian invasion.”
That is precisely when the fuzzy photos were released by Nato and reporters like the New York Times’ Michael Gordon were set loose to spread the word that “the Russians are coming.” (Michael Gordon was one of the most egregious propagandists promoting the war on Iraq).
The anti-coup federalists in southeastern Ukraine enjoy considerable local support, partly as a result of government artillery strikes on major population centres.
And we believe that Russian support probably has been pouring across the border and includes, significantly, excellent battlefield intelligence.
But it is far from clear that this support includes tanks and artillery at this point — mostly because the federalists have been better led and surprisingly successful in pinning down government forces.
At the same time, we have little doubt that, if and when the federalists need them, the Russian tanks will come. This is precisely why the situation demands a concerted effort for a ceasefire, which you know Kiev has so far been delaying.
What is to be done at this point?
In our view, Poroshenko and Yatsenyuk need to be told flat-out that membership of Nato is not on the cards — and that Nato has no intention of waging a proxy war with Russia — and especially not in support of the rag-tag army of Ukraine.
Other members of Nato need to be told the same thing.
KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — The office of Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said Wednesday that he and Russian President Vladimir Putin are in agreement on a cease-fire in eastern Ukraine, but the statement was ambiguous and a top rebel figure said no cease-fire was possible without Ukraine withdrawing its forces: here.
UKRAINE RETRACTS ‘CEASE-FIRE’ LANGUAGE “The office of President Petro O. Poroshenko of Ukraine said Wednesday that he and President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia had a similar understanding about what was needed to achieve a cease-fire in southeastern Ukraine, but it retracted a statement it had made earlier in the day that said the two men had agreed to a ‘lasting cease-fire.’ The initial statement, posted on the presidential website, went too far in describing the results of a telephone call between the two leaders as having reached a cease-fire, said a spokesman, noting that a revised version would be posted shortly.” The news, which comes just as President Obama is landing in the Baltics, is doing wonders for the markets despite an undercurrent of uncertainty. [NYT]
German President Gauck threatens Russia with war: here.