Honor And Ukraine.

by Jerry Alatalo

“The 20th century, which was born proclaiming peace and justice, died bathed in blood. It passed on a world much more unjust than the one it inherited. The 21st century, which also arrived heralding peace and justice, is following in its predecessor’s footsteps. In my childhood, I was convinced that everything that went astray on Earth ended up on the moon. But the astronauts found no signs at all of dangerous dreams or broken promises or hopes destroyed. If not on the moon, where might they be? Perhaps they were never misplaced. Perhaps they are in hiding here. Here on Earth.”

– EDWARD GALEANO  “MIRRORS: Stories of Almost Everyone”

393American military advisers are in Ukraine training so-called “National Guard” volunteers. Some are comparing the sending of military advisers to Ukraine and those military advisers in Vietnam before outbreak of catastrophic war in that nation. Although virtually unreported in western media and unknown by most Americans, one has to wonder how training “extremist nationalists” in Ukraine contributes to peace, while much controversy has become generated because of the makeup of those volunteers.

Geopolitical analyst/researcher William Engdahl wrote a recent piece on California and the American west’s drought, how continuation of the drought seriously threatens the country’s food supply as California grows a large percentage of America’s fruits and vegetables, then he suggested a connection to Ukraine’s tremendous acreage of farmland. Whether his speculation holds any truth or not with regard to American soldiers’ training of Ukrainians – that one of the factors for the ousting of Viktor Yanukovych in February 2014, an ensuing civil war and tensions in the country is replacing food lost to drought in California – recent reports state that Monsanto and other corporations have purchased large tracts of farmland in Ukraine.

It may be there is no California drought-Ukraine linkage, and that the “breadbasket of Europe” – Ukraine – has only become the target of agribusiness, energy and other corporations/oligarchs determined to invest and set up shop in the country. Either way, the Ukraine situation hasn’t become completely resolved, sanctions over Crimea against Russia remain – and could be reinstated in the near future, and strong statements are still being made by US, EU, NATO and Russian officials.

Some analysts see American military trainers in Ukraine as a “stepping up” of tensions, a “meandering” or “sleepwalking” toward possible escalation of violence, and that people in the west must stop refusing to accept the realities of events in Ukraine by calling them “propaganda”; the west must face reality. Panelists on a recent edition of RT”s “Crosstalk” are hoping that people in Britain, the United States, and other western/EU nations start directing hard questions on Ukraine to their government decision-makers. They are hoping for that development from the sense that supplying, training, and providing military aid to Kiev’s government will encourage re-escalation of violence against Ukrainians in the east/southeast regions. This would threaten the Minsk II agreement between Hollande, Merkel, Poroshenko and Putin.

Ukraine was part of the Soviet Union during World War II, yet over the weekend celebration of Victory Day and the defeat of Nazi Germany Ukraine and Russia held their events on separate days. During World War II and the battle against Nazi Germany and Japan, nations lost millions of soldiers and people:

Russia – 25 million lives lost

China – millions of lives lost

Britain – 500,000 lives lost

France – 500,000 lives lost

United States – 460,000 lives lost

After British Prime Minister David Cameron compared Russia to Nazi Germany over Ukraine Vladimir Putin still invited him to attend the Victory Day celebration in Moscow, but Cameron, President Barack Obama and other western heads of state declined. In Kiev’s V-E (Victory in Europe) Day celebration, the Russian flag was absent while those of the EU and Ukraine flew – unfortunately rejecting Russians’ great sacrifice in the war, and most likely deepening differences among Ukrainians.

Of all men born in Russia in 1923, by 1945 80% were dead due to World War II.

One of Crosstalk’s guests made thoughtful remarks at the end:

“So for this huge event, and at the end of the day, Putin was right to invite Cameron and all the other leaders, because it’s about remembering those who sacrificed in the face of this existential threat to everybody that was fascism – and that’s really what counts. And so all these games, the political posing that’s going on in Kiev, for me is totally inappropriate. It is to sully the memory of those who gave their lives to defend our grandfathers and grandmothers and families. And it’s a shame that the whole of western politics is coming to this”.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in the days ahead. Among topics of the meetings is the situation in Ukraine. Here’s hoping the discussions are entirely honorable.

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(Thank you to RT at YouTube)

Economist Michael Hudson On Ukraine, “Financial Warfare.”

(Cross-posted on February 16, 2015  from http://michael-hudson.com / Comment: Mr. Hudson’s brilliant, timely and important article on Ukraine and “financial warfare” expounds on points made in his recent, brief The Real News interview / Denouement: n. The unraveling or outcome of a situation; solution; revelation) 

Suits 1

Ukraine denouement

February 16, 2015

By

The  Russian loan and the IMF’s One-Two Punch

How much of Ukraine’s budget will be spent on arms? Germany and France made it clear that they oppose further U.S. military adventurism in Ukraine, and also oppose NATO membership. But will Germany follow through on its threat to impose sanctions on Kiev in order to stop a renewal of the fighting? For the United States bringing Ukraine into NATO would be the coup de grace blocking creation of a Eurasian powerhouse integrating the Russian, German and other continental European economies.

The Obama administration is upping the ante and going for broke, hoping that Europe has no alternative but to keep acquiescing. But the strategy is threatening to backfire. Instead of making Russia “lose Europe,” the United States may have overplayed its hand so badly that one can now think about the opposite prospect. The Ukraine adventure turn out to be the first step in the United States losing Europe. It may end up splitting European economic interests away from NATO, if Russia can convince the world that the epoch of armed occupation of industrial nations is a thing of the past and hence no real military threat exists – except for Europe being caught in the middle of Cold War 2.0.

For the U.S. geopolitical strategy to succeed, it would be necessary for Europe, Ukraine and Russia to act against their own potential economic self-interest. How long can they be expected to acquiesce in this sacrifice? At what point will economic interests lead to a reconsideration of old geo-military alliances and personal political loyalties?

The is becoming urgent because this is the first time that continental Europe has been faced with such war on its own borders (if we except Yugoslavia). Where is the advantage for Europe supporting one of the world’s most corrupt oligarchies north of the Equator?

America’s Ukrainian adventure by Hillary’s appointee Victoria Nuland (kept on and applauded by John Kerry), as well as by NATO, is forcing Europe to commit itself to the United States or pursue an independent line. George Soros (whose aggressive voice is emerging as the Democratic Party’s version of Sheldon Adelson) recently urged (in the newly neocon New York Review of Books) that the West give Ukraine $50 billion to re-arm, and to think of this as a down payment on military containment of Russia. The aim is old Brzezinski strategy: to foreclose Russian economic integration with Europe. The assumption is that economic alliances are at least potentially military, so that any power center raises the threat of economic and hence political independence.

The Financial Times quickly jumped on board for Soros’s $50 billion subsidy. When President Obama promised that U.S. military aid would be only for “defensive arms,” Kiev clarified that it intended to defend Ukraine all the way to Siberia to create a “sanitary cordon.”

First Confrontation: Will the IMF Loan Agreement try to stiff Russia?

The IMF has been drawn into U.S. confrontation with Russia in its role as coordinating Kiev foreign debt refinancing. It has stated that private-sector creditors must take a haircut, given that Kiev can’t pay the money its oligarchs have either stolen or spent on war. But what of the €3 billion that Russia’s sovereign wealth fund loaned Ukraine, under London rules that prevent such haircuts? Russia has complained that Ukraine’s budget makes no provision for payment. Will the IMF accept this budget as qualifying for a bailout, treating Russia as an odious creditor? If so, what kind of legal precedent would this set for sovereign debt negotiations in years to come?

International debt settlement rules were thrown into a turmoil last year when U.S. Judge Griesa gave a highly idiosyncratic interpretation of the pari passu clause with regard to Argentina’s sovereign debts. The clause states that all creditors must be treated equally. According to Griesa (uniquely), this means that if any creditor or vulture fund refuses to participate in a debt writedown, no such agreement can be reached and the sovereign government cannot pay any bondholders anywhere in the world, regardless of what foreign jurisdiction the bonds were issued under.

This bizarre interpretation of the “equal treatment” principle has never been strictly applied. Inter-governmental debts owed to the IMF, ECB and other international agencies have not been written down in keeping with private-sector debts. Russia’s loan was carefully framed in keeping with London rules. But U.S. diplomats have been openly – indeed, noisily and publicly – discussing how to “stiff” Russia. They even have thought about claiming that Russia’s Ukraine loans (to help it pay for gas to operate its factories and heat its homes) are an odious debt, or a form of foreign aid, or subject to anti-Russian sanctions. The aim is to make Russia “less equal,” transforming the concept of pari passu as it applies to sovereign debt.

Just as hedge funds jumped into the fray to complicate Argentina’s debt settlement, so speculators are trying to make a killing off Ukraine’s financial corpse, seeing this gray area opened up. The Financial Times reports that one American investor, Michael Hasenstab, has $7 billion of Ukraine debts, along with Templeton Global Bond Fund. New speculators may be buying Ukrainian debt at half its face value, hoping to collect in full if Russia is paid in full – or at least settle for a few points’ quick run-up.

The U.S.-sponsored confusion may tie up Russia’s financial claims in court for years, just as has been the case with Argentina’s debt. At stake is the IMF’s role as debt coordinator: Will it insist that Russia take the same haircut that it’s imposing on private hedge funds?

This financial conflict is becoming a new mode of warfare. Lending terms are falling subject to New Cold War geopolitics. This battlefield has been opened up by U.S. refusal in recent decades to endorse the creation of any international body empowered to judge the debt-paying capacity of countries. This makes every sovereign debt crisis a grab bag that the U.S. Treasury can step in to dominate. It endorses keeping countries in the U.S. diplomatic orbit afloat (although on a short leash), but not countries that maintain an independence from U.S. policies (e.g., Argentina and BRICS members).

Looking forward, this position threatens to fracture global finance into a U.S. currency sphere and a BRICS sphere. The U.S. has opposed creation of any international venue to adjudicate the debt-paying capacity of debtor nations. Other countries are pressing for such a venue in order to save their economies from the present anarchy. U.S. diplomats see anarchy as offering an opportunity to bring U.S. diplomacy to bear to reward friends and punish non-friends and “independents.” The resulting financial anarchy is becoming untenable in the wake of Argentina, Greece, Ireland, Spain, Portugal, Italy and other sovereign debtors whose obligations are unpayably high.

The IMF’s One-Two Punch leading to privatization sell-offs to rent extractors              

IMF loans are made mainly to enable governments to pay foreign bondholders and bankers, not spend on social programs or domestic economic recovery. Sovereign debtors must agree to IMF “conditionalities” in order to get enough credit to enable bondholders to take their money and run, avoiding haircuts and leaving “taxpayers” to bear the cost of capital flight and corruption.

The first conditionality is the guiding principle of neoliberal economics: that foreign debts can be paid by squeezing out a domestic budget surplus. The myth is that austerity programs and cuts in public spending will enable governments to pay foreign-currency debts – as if there is no “transfer problem.”

The reality is that austerity causes deeper economic shrinkage and widens the budget deficit. And no matter how much domestic revenue the government squeezes out of the economy, it can pay foreign debts only in two ways: by exporting more, or by selling its public domain to foreign investors. The latter option leads to privatizing public infrastructure, replacing subsidized basic services with rent-extraction and future capital flight. So the IMF’s “solution” to the deb problem has the effect of making it worse – requiring yet further privatization sell-offs.

This is why the IMF has been wrong in its economic forecasts for Ukraine year after year, just as its prescriptions have devastated Ireland and Greece, and Third World economies from the 1970s onward. Its destructive financial policy must be seen as deliberate, not an innocent forecasting error. But the penalty for following this junk economics must be paid by the indebted victim.

In the wake of austerity, the IMF throws its Number Two punch. The debtor economy must pay by selling off whatever assets the government can find that foreign investors want. For Ukraine, investors want its rich farmland. Monsanto has been leasing its land and would like to buy. But Ukraine has a law against alienating its farmland and agricultural land to foreigners. The IMF no doubt will insist on repeal of this law, along with Ukraine’s dismantling of public regulations against foreign investment.

International finance as war

The Ukraine-IMF debt negotiation shows is why finance has become the preferred mode of geopolitical warfare. Its objectives are the same as war: appropriation of land, raw materials (Ukraine’s gas rights in the Black Sea) and infrastructure (for rent-extracting opportunities) as well as the purchase of banks.

The IMF has begun to look like an office situated in the Pentagon, renting a branch office on Wall Street from Democratic Party headquarters, with the rent paid by Soros. His funds are drawing up a list of assets that he and his colleagues would like to buy from Ukrainian oligarchs and the government they control. The buyout payments for partnership with the oligarchs will not stay in Ukraine, but will be moved quickly to London, Switzerland and New York. The Ukrainian economy will lose the national patrimony with which it emerged from the Soviet Union in 1991, still deeply in debt (mainly to its own oligarchs operating out of offshore banking centers).

Where does this leave European relations with the United States and NATO?

The two futures

A generation ago the logical future for Ukraine and other post-Soviet states promised to be an integration into the German and other West European economies. This seemingly natural complementarity would see the West modernize Russian and other post-Soviet industry and agriculture (and construction as well) to create a self-sufficient and prosperous Eurasian regional power. Foreign Minister Lavrov recently voiced Russia’s hope at the Munich Security Conference for a common Eurasian Union with the European Union extending from Lisbon to Vladivostok. German and other European policy looked Eastward to invest its savings in the post-Soviet states.

This hope was anathema to U.S. neocons, who retain British Victorian geopolitics opposing the creation of any economic power center in Eurasia. That was Britain’s nightmare prior to World War I, and led it to pursue a diplomacy aimed at dividing and conquering continental Europe to prevent any dominant power or axis from emerging.

America started its Ukrainian strategy with the idea of splitting Russia off from Europe, and above all from Germany. The U.S. playbook is simple: any economic power is potentially military; and any military power may enable other countries to pursue their own interest rather than subordinating their policy to U.S. political, economic and financial aims. Therefore, U.S. geostrategists view any foreign economic power as a potentially military threat, to be countered before it can gain steam.

We can now see why the EU/IMF austerity plan that Yanukovich rejected made it clear why the United States sponsored last February’s coup in Kiev. The austerity that was called for, the removal of consumer subsidies and dismantling of public services would have led to an anti-West reaction turning Ukraine strongly back toward Russia. The Maidan coup sought to prevent this by making a war scar separating Western Ukraine from the East, leaving the country seemingly no choice but to turn West and lose its infrastructure to the privatizers and neo-rentiers.

But the U.S. plan may lead Europe to seek an economic bridge to Russia and the BRICS, away from the U.S. orbit. That is the diplomatic risk when a great power forces other nations to choose one side or the other.

The silence from Hillary

Having appointed Victoria Nuland as a holdover from the Cheney administration, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton joined the hawks by likening Putin to Hitler. Meanwhile, Soros’s $10 million on donations to the Democratic Party makes him one of its largest donors. The party thus seems set to throw down the gauntlet with Europe over the shape of future geopolitical diplomacy, pressing for a New Cold War.

Hillary’s silence suggests that she knows how unpopular her neocon policy is with voters – but how popular it is with her donors. The question is, will the Republicans agree to avoid discussing this during the 2016 presidential campaign? If so, what alternative will voters have next year?

This prospect should send shivers down Europe’s back. There are reports that Putin told Merkel and Holland in Minsk last week that Western Europe has two choices. On the one hand, it and Russia can create a prosperous economic zone based on Russia’s raw materials and European technology. Or, Europe can back NATO’s expansion and draw Russia into war that will wipe it out.

German officials have discussed bringing sanctions against Ukraine, not Russia, if it renews the ethnic warfare in its evident attempt to draw Russia in. Could Obama’s neocon strategy backfire, and lose Europe? Will future American historians talk of who lost Europe rather than who lost Russia?

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Donetsk.

Posted on December 18, 2014

by Jerry Alatalo

smoky mt-1Alphabet In the interest of including all perspectives on events of high importance, we share the following short documentary “Inside the People’s Republic of Donetsk”. Ukraine and the people who live there, in both west and east, have become used as pawns in a dangerous geopolitical struggle between billionaires in the United States, European Union and Russia. With Ukraine, the extreme contrast between media and government of the “sides” in their versions of events, causes, and solutions has perhaps been so great that every day sees the previous day’s “world record narrative contrast” surpassed once again.

The question which becomes begged is “who is pulling the levers behind the scenes?” – what is causing the conflict in Ukraine? The most likely answer to that question lies in the recent significant global changes associated with the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) alliance, in particular the group’s paradigm-altering announcement of establishing a development bank which challenges International Monetary Fund, World Bank, and other formerly “competition-less”, powerful international financial institutions.

The people of Donetsk in eastern Ukraine were strongly opposed to the violent coup which ousted Viktor Yanukovych in February 2014, then voted to become an independent government entity, and have since experienced civil war intermittently between a number of ceasefire agreements. Unfortunately for the people living in all regions of Ukraine, the war and killing – over 4,000 have perished, more than 10,000 injured, and hundreds of thousands displaced – of the past months has made it much more difficult to use dialogue successfully to unite the Ukrainian people.

As with nearly all wars throughout history, the causes are directly related to small groups of very wealthy, powerful, politically influential people, whose seemingly insatiable lust for even more power results in unnecessary, heartbreaking harm to that majority of people living in areas of conflict who simply want to live peaceful lives.

Most are aware of the saying that “the love of money is the root of all evil”, and the BRICS nations have become viewed as potentially coming between the International Monetary Fund, World Bank, Bank for International Settlements, Federal Reserve, etc. and their previously unchallenged monopoly status with regard to $multi-billion deals with customers/nations in need of financial resources for developing their economies and improving the living conditions of their citizens.

Let us pray this “lovers quarrel” does not get out of hand, beyond the control of the world’s wise leaders. Wisdom has become urgently needed now.

All the wisdom in the world.

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(Thank you to PressTV Documentaries)

U.N. Truth Commission / MH17 Coverup / UNSC Calls For Ceasefire.

Posted on August 29, 2014

by Jerry Alatalo

blogger7-1The United Nations must form a permanent Truth Commission. The purpose of such a group would be just as its name implies: truth. In the year 2014, when one UN ambassador representing a permanent member state on the Security Council accuses another UN Security Council permanent member state of lying, the wisdom of establishing a Truth Commission becomes absolutely clear.

This refers to the United States and the Russian Federation. US Ambassador Samantha Power two days ago accused Russia of perpetually lying on Ukraine, and as a result the world’s people have disappointingly and unwillingly been placed in a state of confusion and lack of certainty about what has actually occurred in Ukraine. At the same emergency meeting of the Security Council, Russia’s ambassador Vitaly Churkin asked the Ukraine Ambassador why his government had not released the information contained on “black boxes” from downed Malaysian airliner MH17.

It seems strange that in the year 2014 meetings of the UN Security Council could display near name-calling. A permanent UN Truth Commission would be switched on when any member state requests an investigation into what that member state believes was a falsehood publicly made during UN meetings. Member states would make the same request if they believed falsehood was publicly disseminated outside the UN to the international media. In 2014 a civilized world can no longer tolerate any instance of false information being presented to citizens in any nation – for the simple reason it is dangerous, extremely risky, and in essence morally wrong.

Because this site is “The Oneness of Humanity” and does not agree with the philosophical concepts behind “sides”, some examples from both the United States and Russian Federation perspective are instructive as they relate to a UN Truth Commission. Before examples, as one who has in humility read a number of articles on Ukraine and listened to talk shows on internet sites, radio and television, it is obvious the benefit of a UN Truth Commission would be tremendously increased public understanding of facts on issues of great importance typical of UN undertakings and goals.

For those who share the practice of reading comments sections following articles and the range of news productions, it is not difficult to imagine the “before and after” status of quality in those comments when a UN Truth Commission becomes established and operational. If such a commission had become established decades ago, the UN’s website section “Truth Commission: Current Actions and Archives” would now be the most reliable, go-to place for truth-seeking men and women around the Earth.

Directly to the point, a UN Truth Commission would quickly become recognized the world over as perhaps the institution’s greatest achievement and most beneficial asset. No longer would falsehood and deception emanating from UN members negatively affect the thinking of people living around the world. Eliminated would be actions taken by people who have been given false information, made plans based on false information, then carried out those plans – harming small to large numbers of innocent men, women, and children in the process.

Many are familiar with certain radio talk-show hosts who attract listeners capable of becoming motivated to act from information presented to them during controversial broadcasts. The same scenario pertains at the UN when disputed statements remain unresolved, and lingering active in the public’s awareness. The great potential of the UN remains out of reach while the problem of unresolved disputes of truth and falsehood – among other reforms – is not wisely addressed. A Truth Commission would go a long way in solving this major institutional, erroneous public awareness problem.

For example, on Ms. Power’s assertion of Russian lying about events in Ukraine: the United States could have sought the UN Truth Commission’s help in determining the facts upon the first instance of Ukraine debate where the US thought Russia publicly stated a falsehood. For example, on Mr. Churkin’s assertion of US’ lying after MH17 crashed – that pro-federalists in Eastern Ukraine or Russia was responsible – Russia could have sought the UN Truth Commission’s help in determining the facts upon the first UN or media instance where Russia felt the US stated such a falsehood.

Public demands for the truth about MH17 have been stonewalled, suggesting a profound criminal coverup

Suggesting a “profound criminal coverup” on MH17 is certainly a bold action, yet those who are conducting the investigation can straighten out any disputes concerning a possible coverup by speaking to the international media. A very large number of men and women around the world are demanding answers, and authorities in charge of the investigation – by speaking to the press even before concluding their work – have a moral responsibility to discuss the concerns of those who feel there is something not right in the search for who did it.

Samantha Power mentioned MH17 during her address to the UN Security Council two days ago, implying Russia’s guilt in shooting down the airliner. When Mr. Churkin asked Ukraine’s ambassador to explain the delay in public announcement of Ukraine’s findings during its investigation of MH17, Ukraine’s ambassador replied by saying a report is under preparation and will become public in the near future. Those who’ve been following developments in the investigation of MH17 have become aware that western media outlets and political leaders for weeks now have been suspiciously silent, and of many explosive reports pointing to the Ukrainian government in Kiev as the guilty party in the shoot down where 298 passengers perished.

Samantha Power was implying Russia’s guilt in shooting down the airliner, and Vitaly Churkin implied stalling or coverup in the investigation of MH17 by Ukrainian officials – at the same Security Council meeting.

In the months of war in Eastern Ukraine, where Kiev’s army has used a bombing campaign almost identical to Israel’s “collective punishment” of Gazans, the UN reports some 2,600 Ukrainians have perished. The “Maidan Massacre” of February 2014 – where over 100 police and civilians became shot dead by sniper fire – remains an unsolved mass murder with no guilty persons behind bars. MH17 remains an unsolved mass murder with no guilty persons behind bars.

The combined death toll in Ukraine since November 2013, when protests began in Kiev, is more than 3,000.  Some estimate a higher number, perhaps 10,000 to 15,000. Estimates of 100,000 to 1 million in Eastern Ukraine have become refugees after leaving their homes due to bombing, violent battles, cutoffs of water and electricity from infrastructure destruction, and food shortages.

In the following interview on Democracy Now, Jonathan Steele suggests a simple step Barack Obama can take to de-escalate the violence in Ukraine: guarantee the Russians that Ukraine will not join NATO for ten to twenty years. He reminds viewers – in response to a question about satellite images claimed as evidence of a Russian invasion – of Colin Powell’s presenting false satellite images of Iraq WMD operations, so Mr. Steele can’t say whether images of Russian military movements inside Ukraine are fake or not. He leaves that to the experts.

There are a number of theories about what has really occurred in Ukraine, with geopolitical analysts and journalists around the world offering well-researched investigative reports. Ukraine is a large country with vast agricultural, energy, and mineral wealth. Given legal movements which have opened up Ukraine for extractive operations in the country to powerful multinational corporations – exemplified in US Vice-President Joseph Biden’s son Hunter being named legal head and member of the Board of Directors at Ukraine’s largest private energy company Burisma Holdings – people are certain money from natural resources is the basis of the Ukraine crisis.

Some analysts see Ukraine simply being looted. Is it possible billionaire oligarchs who want to both profit from Eastern Ukraine’s natural resource wealth – mainly large natural gas fields – and carry out other geopolitical aims are desperately creating pretexts for accelerated, escalated bombing and killing to gain total control – before the world learns the truth about Malaysian airliner MH17?

Until the United Nations establishes such an invaluable arm, that and other paramount questions are  left to humanity’s truth commission.

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(Thank you to democracynow at YouTube)