On 21 February, the day the Yanukovich government collapsed, cocktail hour at the U.S. State Department must have been one rip roaring, hours-long, high-five fiesta. The many billions the US had invested in a string of attempts to undermine an elected government in a former Soviet republic had finally paid off.
Since the targeted government was Ukraine’s, the possibility of new NATO bases and the eviction of the Russians from the Black Sea naval base in Crimea were back in play. So too was control of Russian oil and gas transported via Ukrainian pipelines and the certain joy of another country-wide looting operation courtesy of the IMF.
The additional satisfaction of having delivered Vladimir Putin a bitch-slap for refusing to recognize Kosovo as a nation independent of Serbia, for having deflected a 2008 attack on Russia’s “soft underbelly” in Georgia, for having smudged Obama’s Syrian “red line,” and for having given shelter to NSA whistleblower, Edward Snowden, must have been immense.
Even better, the EU, either by choice or by instruction, had put itself in harness as the lead dog for the realization of US schemes to undermine the Russians’ planned Eurasian Union of Moldova, Armenia, Kyrgyzstan, Ukraine, Russia, and Belarus. (EAU).
With the vapors of Friday night’s celebratory toasts still circling in their thinking apparatus, the neocon poachers at State assumed the fact of dozens and dozens of corpses of protestors and police having collected overnight in Kiev’s Maidan could be managed to the US’s advantage.
Hadn’t Yanukovich fled Ukraine? Bang on! There’s the killer! With Our Man Yats in position as interim Prime Minister, Kiev was soon festooned with wanted posters for the vanished president. But why were they printed in English?
Still, despite the occasional revelatory detail, it was all good: Team America had succeeded in rewinding the clock to the giddy days of the 2004 Orange Revolution, a US-taxpayer-supported political extravaganza, which featured perfectly matched bright orange protest accessories – scarves, hats, decals, signs, bumper stickers and port-a-potties.
But all that was then. This is now. Two months later.
Other than a lesson in both geography and history, what beneficial returns on their $5 billion in capital invested specifically in undermining Ukraine’s elected government have American and EU taxpayers’ actually received?
Let us count Fedgov’s many own goals:
A bigger Russia.
A smaller Ukraine.
A happy Russian Crimea.
A politically-agitated and alarmed Eastern Ukraine in full cry.
A hungry, confused, and dispirited Ukrainian military, whose troops increasingly find themselves preferring the cut of the Russian army’s jib.
The withdrawal of many millions of Russian money from EU and UK banks.
The significant selling of US Treasuries from the Russian treasury’s portfolio.
A US commitment of $1 billion and of euro 2.5 billion from the EU in emergency funds to Ukraine’s U.S.-selected interim government of no authority.
A further commitment of $27 billion of US and EU taxpayers’ money to Ukraine via the usual consortium of global loan sharks: the IMF, the EBRD, the World Bank, and the IFC, whose loans will be ““a windfall for hedge funds and Russian banks.” (The initial sum is but a down payment on what will be at a minimum a $200 billion liability.)
An EU trade agreement with a bankrupt Ukraine whose products are not wanted or needed by the EU.
A near doubling of the price to Ukraine of formerly Russian-subsidized energy.
An unworkable plan to pipe Russian energy deliveries to Poland and Slovakia back to Ukraine, whose unnecessary costs US and EU taxpayers will be expected to make good.
Russian plans to create a national payment settlement system in light of US and EU sanctions, thus striking a blow to the US dollar’s reserve currency status.
An invigorated effort on the part of both Russia and China to conclude in May a ‘holy grail’ energy partnership in which settlement will not be in U.S. dollars.
A Russian agreement with Iran to purchase Iranian energy to re-sell and then transport to European buyers. Settlement to be in gold and Russian goods, not U.S. dollars.
After many months of failed neocon-inspired efforts to gull Russia into invading Eastern Ukraine, the US unilaterally decided to bully up by reassigning some 600 EU-based US troops to rotating in and out military exercises with the national troops of Poland, and the Baltic nations, while deploying US warships to the Baltic, eastern Mediterranean and Black Seas.
The decision to deploy US troops was made and planned in cooperation with NATO’s General Secretary, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, whom Der Spiegel reports has “positively blossomed” since the crisis in Ukraine began, and US Air Force Gen. Philip Breedlove, NATO’s top military commander in Europe.
How is it that NATO commanders planned a deployment of US troops?
To answer that question a brief review of NATO enlargement is in order.
The initial subterfuge to keep NATO alive after the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact was known as the Partnership for Peace. The alliance was to provide, and did provide, a framework for NATO troops to engage in war games with the shattered armies of the Warsaw Pact in locales once considered exotic, like Ukraine.
In reality, the P4P program laid the crucial groundwork for public acceptance of the routine movement of NATO troops outside the alliance countries’ boundaries on the basis of a vague, post-cold war gesture towards the defeated Soviet bloc.
The Clinton administration next advanced NATO’s cause with a sterling example of Clintonspeak known as “The Founding Act”. The Founding Act is an agreement between NATO and Russia governing the two entities’ relations in light of an enlarged alliance, but it was designed to be an end run around the U.S. Constitution, which requires Senate approval for a “Treaty,” but not for an “Act.”
Once the Founding Act was in place, in late April 1998, 81 senators, their pockets stuffed with $33 million of defense manufacturers’ campaign contributions, authorized the “rolling expansions” of NATO enlargement. Within a month bombs were dropping on Serbia.
The Really Big Idea was that NATO’s members would provide an international army under the de facto control of the US executive. This arrangement would also allow for a runaround of the US Constitution in that congressional support for NATO movements is not required as it is for use of the US military overseas.
However, the problem has been that NATO members have not played their assigned role as anticipated. Some members at various times in various US foreign campaigns have joined in the aggression, and at other times, certain members have declined to participate. Thus have NATO’s fortunes waxed and waned alongside US military campaigns in Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Yemen, Libya and Syria.
The reason NATO’s Rasmussen and Breedlove planned the deployment of US troops is because once again, the neocons miscalculated. Neocons were so certain that Russia’s annexation of a willing Crimea and deployment of 40,000 troops near Eastern Ukraine’s border with Russia would so set Europeans’ hair on end that they considered the matter a done deal and let NATO planners proceed.
It didn’t happen. European sentiment, though mixed, is largely distant from events in Ukraine if not in actual support of the Russians’ defensive posture. Most feel it is not their problem, nor one for the US, to resolve or finance.
The news of US troop deployments to Eastern Europe is actually good news in that it announces US failure to engage NATO member nations’ support for US provocations.
Should Eastern European members grasp that the greatest risk they face is not from Russia, but from the use of their territories as military staging grounds to provoke Russia at their peril in order to advance US neocon dreams of world domination, it will be game, set and match for prudence, foresight and peace, and a 25-year overdue farewell to NATO.