Sunday, April 27, 2014

WaPo's Nazi-free Ukraine

      In one of the ascerbic Serbian political jokes told in Belgrade 1999, Mirjana (wife) wakes up Slobo (Milosevic) in the middle of the night, all panicked: "Wake up, wake up, Slobo, American soldiers are outside the house ! " . "Go back to sleep" ,  Milosevic tells her, annoyed at being awaken for no good reason, "it's our border patrol !". 
      Let me attempt to explain the point of the joke for those unfortunate Americans who only speak  English,  have poor memory and not knowing how to google their way to reality in the Internet Tower of Babble, rely on the so-called "mainstream media" (MSM) for the news about the world around them. Of course, the joke would not have made any sense even to Madeleine Albright  or Richard Holbrooke who had their own sources, but that is a somewhat different story.  For the ordinary folk in the land of the free and home of the misinformed, Milosevic of course was an usurper who was striving to create "Greater Serbia", one properly ethnically cleansed of Croats, Gypsies, Shkiptari (Albanians) and whoever else James Rubin (and his wife) cared to declare to be his enemies. Of course, the Serbs had a different perception of Slobo, who lived his dream of Serbia as the Big Brother in the Balkan Brotherhood to his last days in the cell of the International Criminal Tribunal in the Hague. His popular image was that of a slippery wheeler-dealer (most Serbs would happily concede he was "dirty") who (by 1999) was badly outmanoeuvred by the lower ranks of the US State Department, dead set to reduce Serbia to either rubble or the size of Luxembourg, or both, if need be.  The joke of course also speaks to Milosevic' acting always - even through his worst bungling - like he was in control. Hence the howler about the border patrol. 

     Reading WaPo, the great bullhorn for whatever bull Secretary Kerry is made to recite thee days by the operations directors of the State (-anarchy-in-progress) Department, one gets the impression the bull in the bullhorn is getting stinkier.  Now of course, the villain today is not some local satrap who happens to be a traditional ally of Russia, as it was during the times of the friendly Boris Yeltsin tottering in the halls of Kremlin. The villain now is the President of the Evil Empire itself who has lulled the West into believing the empire was dead, or at any rate, more concerned in getting Russia catch up to modernity.  The Post editorial board collectively warns us that it is not so:  The Russian ruler [sic] has Euroasian ambitions. Even though Putin has never quite said of what WaPo accuses him of, one should not let the truth get in the way of a really scary story.

     I carefully studied Putin's speech that the editorial references (in translation here). Vladimir Vladimirovich certainly did not articulate a nationalist version of the Brezhnev doctrine. He did call Crimea going to Ukraine an "outrageous historical injustice" but he stressed that he himself concluded the transfer of the peninsula to Ukraine in 2000, and that the issue was "thereby closed".  He also made remarks saying in effect that Russia, and he personally, considered the Crimea and the Sea of Azov deal, an investment of sorts in fostering good relations with Ukraine, a sort of "land for peace" deal. As long as the relationship between Ukraine and Russia remained friendly (and brotherly), Russia would have lived with Crimea under Ukrainian flag. However, we expected Ukraine to remain our good neighbour, we hoped that Russian citizens and Russian speakers in Ukraine, especially its south-east and Crimea, would live in a friendly, democratic and civilised state that would protect their rights in line with the norms of international law.  This cannot be read as some universal principle a la Brezhnev doctrine that gives Russia automatically the right to walk in anywhere where Russians live and impose its will.  It does not even sound like Israel's reserving the right to protect Jews from persecution everywhere. It addresses Ukraine specifically, and the issue Putin articulates clearly is this:  "we are against having a military alliance [NATO] making itself at home right in our backyard or in our historic territory. I simply cannot imagine that we would travel to Sevastopol to visit Nato sailors". 
       The WaPo editorial elders accuse Putin of mendacious charges in saying the provisional government has been hijacked by nationalists, neo-Nazis, Russophobes and anti-Semites.  Now who is being mendacious here ?  Not only do the Svoboda and Right Sector party leaders posture and talk in ways (habitually referring to Jews as "kikes" and the Russians by the pejorative 'Moskali') that are deeply embarrassing to their western sponsors but they do so openly without the slightest blush.

       It is really unbelievable that something like the hoax in Donetsk at Passover, seeking to discredit the pro-Russian protesters, can be taken seriously by American legislators even for a minute . But obviously, the likes of John McCain are past caring.  Unfortunately, for the attempts of Washington to re-write the history and the roles in them, the issue of the Ukrainian collaboration with the Nazis during WWII. and the recent attempts at rehabilitation of the WWII. nationalist leaders  are impossible to hide. The protagonists are brazenly open and proud about who they are and what they want. 

      An amusing item that "corrects" WaPo's twisted perspetive on Ukraine appeared in the paper last  Thursday.  At issue are leaflets dropped from  a military-style helicopter operated by Ukrainian Security in the East warning the peaceful population against the pro-Russian terrorists and offering guidance how to protect their lives and those close to them. I repeat: it was a military-style helicopter which apperas to have been associated with the Ukrainian government offensive against the insurrection.  The curious item is the instruction number 5., on the list. It reads:

Avoid mass gatherings - there are agents of Russian special services among the demonstrators tasked with physically eliminating (!) all those who openly criticize Russian policies.  They will use you as "human shield"  as the occupiers of the Soviet Union did in the period of 1941-45.

Hmmm....thank you very much Washington Post for offering this curious piece of evidence for the existence of neo-nazi ideology within the current Ukrainian government.  Of course, places like Dniepropetrovsk and Donetsk were part of the industrial heartland of Stalin's Soviet Union (Donetsk was actually called Stalino at the time). They were part of Russia before the Soviet Union came into being.  So, the Soviets were not occupiers there (that despite the crime of Holodomor, which pace Solzhenitsyn was a mass political murder motivated by ideology rather than nationalism: I agree). So this piece of "history" sure will not fly in the Eastern Ukraine, and not just among the Russian speakers. There, like among most WaPo readers, Hitler and his national quislings were enemies not only of the Soviets (bad as they were) but of civilized humanity.

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