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The Americocentric delusion

I am seeing a phenomenon being floridly expressed today, but it is something I have observed for many years: nothing happens in the world, at least nothing good, unless the malign USA is driving it.

Yes, the United States is the richest and most powerful nation on earth and it has been since World War II. And yes, it has interfered under presidents of all stripes for good or ill in a great many places, in pursuit of its perceived geopolitical interests, sometimes benignly, other times with a breathtaking lack of judgement.

But just as the leaders of that great nation have often overestimated the USA’s ability to impose its will in far away lands, many people in many places similarly overestimate America’s involvement everywhere. They largely deny that locals have agency, oblivious to the fact people everywhere are capable of organising politically in ways not directed and driven from an agency in Langley, Virginia. As a friend of mine who was deeply involved in the 2014 Maidan revolt in Kyiv said to me once:

“Woah! I’ve just heard we’re all CIA puppets on Washington’s payroll. There must have been an oversight as me and my friends never got a penny. You know people in America, so can you get me an address to apply for that lovely CIA money I’m apparently due?”

He was of course joking, but Maidan was a golden example of how something overwhelmingly driven and executed by Ukrainians, in Ukraine, in response to Ukrainian political and social pressures becoming intolerable, was nevertheless written off as CIA mischief-making.

And that notion was pushed hard by Russia when their pet oligarch was deposed, and it is entirely possible Putin even believes it himself. It is actually more supportive of his worldview than the notion it really happened because millions of Ukrainians loathed Putin, his Ukrainian’s puppet in Kyiv, and the malign influence of Russia generally.

But so many people seek a simpler world, a bipolar one in which everything is down to the Big Actors (with America still the biggest at the moment). Understanding that and feeding into it grants profound insight into Russian (and to some extent Chinese) propaganda. Add to that the rightly shattered confidence in Western institutions the last two years has wrought, and it is not surprising otherwise discerning folk fall for it.

Many seek to explain the world through the distorting prism of the Americocentric delusion, rather than face the complex frequently fracturing mosaic that explains the world more accurately. People do things locally for local reason; not everything is about some current iteration of the Great Game.

If the USA (and UK) have a share of blame for what is happening in Ukraine right now, it is not because they ‘provoked’ Russia: Putin has made it clear the very existence of a politically and culturally independent Ukraine is intolerable to him. No, their mistake, their toxic involvement, was when they pressed Ukraine into surrendering the nuclear weapons Kyiv inherited from the defunct USSR in return for meaningless guarantees.

Russia is not attacking Ukraine because of the actions of the USA since then, that is an Americocentric delusion. Putin is attacking Ukraine because Ukrainians do not wish to be ruled by the Russian government even indirectly, and so they overthrew Russia’s favoured oligarch and sought to chart their own course in the world. That is what this war is about.

90 comments to The Americocentric delusion

  • Nata K.

    As Ukrainian living in United States, agree with all words of that.

  • “I am seeing a phenomenon being floridly expressed today, but it is something I have observed for many years: nothing happens in the world, at least nothing good, unless the USA is driving it.”

    This viewpoint is true, as long as you note that it’s only half the story. The U.S. has backed plenty of things that turned out poorly, but what good things have been backed by Russia or China, to name the 2 biggest operators? The U.S. success rate may well be only 50% or less, but that seems to be, to my observation, 50 points better than the other side is doing.

  • I am seeing a phenomenon being floridly expressed today, but it is something I have observed for many years: nothing happens in the world, at least nothing good, unless the USA is driving it.

    And I have seen the equal-but-opposite phenomenon of everything bad being caused by the USA. And, of course, their CIA spies and catspaws.

  • My point, Billl, is generally the USA is either not involved or is really just a bit part player. The current horror in Ukraine is not about a NATO (meaning US) vs. Russia dynamic, regardless of people seeing it that way. It is about Russia wanting to destroy Ukraine because Russia is and always has been an Imperial power.

  • I obviously was not clear enough but that is what I said, Ellen. Now edited for clarity.

  • Shlomo Maistre

    Perry,

    If the USA (and UK) have a share of blame for what is happening in Ukraine right now, it is not because they ‘provoked’ Russia

    Would you consider America and/or NATO shipping military supplies, weaponry, and lethal aid to Ukraine to be a provocation in the eyes of Russia?

    Would you consider America and/or NATO publicly encouraging increased security cooperation between NATO and Ukraine to be a provocation in the eyes of Russia?

    Would you consider America and/or NATO publicly encouraging Ukraine to join NATO to be a provocation in the eyes of Russia?

    Would you consider America and/or NATO publicly condemning the election of pro-Russian leaders inside of Ukraine to be a provocation in the eyes of Russia?

    I could go on and on and on.

    Is your answer yes or no? Yes or no.

    My answer to all these questions is yes.

    Now, it may be your view that each of the above actions were (each time they have occurred) appropriate/warranted when accounting for the actions of Russia and the circumstances and/or desired by Ukraine’s government. And you may or may not be right about that (it’s complicated and a thorough analysis would require many many hours of discussion and documentation of the evidence for each case).

    But the bottom line is that America and NATO certainly have done things to provoke Russia. Some of those things were done by USA/NATO in the past few weeks. Some of those things were done by USA/NATO many, many years ago.

    Obviously:
    1. It’s no secret that Putin has strong opinions and feelings about the existence of Ukraine
    2. Putin’s strong opinions and feelings about the existence of Ukraine do not justify invasion of the Ukraine

    And at the same time, to claim that the USA has never done anything that has provoked Russia into wanting to invade Ukraine is just not based in reality.

    And at the same time, the decision for Russian troops to invade Ukraine is Russia’s and Russia’s alone.

  • SteveD

    ‘was when they pressed Ukraine into surrendering the nuclear weapons Kyiv inherited from the defunct USSR in return for meaningless guarantees.’

    It is Russia not the US or UK that is breaking its guarantee.

    https://larouchepub.com/eiw/public/2014/eirv41n08-20140221/34-35_4108.pdf

  • Would you consider America and/or NATO shipping military supplies, weaponry, and lethal aid to Ukraine to be a provocation in the eyes of Russia?

    In the eyes of Russia? Yes. So what? You are like a wife beater sadly announcing his battered wife “made him hit her”. If Ukraine hadn’t been threatened by Russia, there would have been no need to send them weapons. It all springs from Russian Imperial ambitions. So fuck what Russia wants.

    Given that Putin has stated he wants to end Ukraine, frankly I hope US/UK sends lethal aid to support Ukraine & aid to support a bloody insurgency until a genuinely independent Ukraine is restored or hell freezes over, whichever happens first.

  • It is Russia not the US or UK that is breaking its guarantee.

    Sure but unless the USA/UK actually do something meaningful about it beyond official grimaces, the guarantee was worthless.

  • Shlomo Maistre

    In the eyes of Russia? Yes. So what?

    So we agree that America and NATO have done things that provoked Russia.

  • The Wobbly Guy

    @SteveD,

    Implicit is the threat that the other signatories would oppose Russia. A treaty is only as strong as the power of the other members to enforce it against breakers.

    Russia signed it just after the cold war when it was in a poor bargaining position.

    Now, circumstances are different. Energy prices are high, Europe is dependent on Russia for energy, US leadership is weak.

    It’s not likely Putin would get a better time to strike.

  • Martin

    Given that Putin has stated he wants to end Ukraine, frankly I hope US/UK sends lethal aid to support Ukraine & aid to support a bloody insurgency until a genuinely independent Ukraine is restored or hell freezes over, whichever happens first.

    Even better yet, you can always set up an international brigade like they did in the Spanish civil war and join in yourself 😉

  • Alsadius

    Perry: Very well said.

    Shlomo: Depends how you define “provocation”, really. Your definition is a coherent one, but if you apply it consistently, then Putin has also been provoking NATO constantly for many years – establishing puppet states on our border, overthrowing democratic governance to put his favourites on the throne in countries where we have interests, threatening to cut off gas supplies in order to ensure Germany etc. are compliant, and so on.

    If you’re willing to call those “provocations” as well, then you’re using a consistent definition, and I’ll agree that the US/NATO has also been engaging in “provocations” of Russia by the same definition. From what you’re saying here, I think you might actually be that consistent. (Most people who have Putin’s back on this one aren’t anywhere near so consistent, but a few are, and you don’t seem to really have his back either.)

    Personally, that is not my preferred definition of the word. It feels way too much like “well, her skirt was really short”. But I can respect consistent usage, even so.

  • So we agree that America and NATO have done things that provoked Russia.

    In Putin’s eyes, sure, as arming Ukraine interferes with his wish to destroy Ukraine. Hence my abusive husband analogy. But I’m sure you are right, how dare Ukraine want to defend itself against some cunt who openly says he wants to destroy it as a nation and a separate people.

  • Even better yet, you can always set up an international brigade like they did in the Spanish civil war and join in yourself 😉

    That happened in Croatia, where I did my very modest part early on, happy to see it happen in Ukraine as well, albeit I am a bit old for it this time around. But frankly the way to make Russia pay is not opposing them directly on the steppes, they will win in that sort of fight. Just keep giving Ukrainian nationalists weapons (Javelin ATGW for example) so they can make Ukraine an ungovernable nightmare.

  • Personally, that is not my preferred definition of the word. It feels way too much like “well, her skirt was really short”. But I can respect consistent usage, even so.

    Exactly so, and the Putin apologists know it but really do not care.

  • The Pedant-General

    how dare [insert name here] want to defend itself against some cunt who openly says he wants to destroy it as a nation and a separate people.

    Now where have I heard something like that before?

  • Great post, and I love the debate.

    I must add a pile of salt to the dessert of counter-insurgency and asymmetric warfare. The US has a terrible track record conducting such wars, the other NATO allies don’t even employ it – although the UK did a fine job in Burma in the 50s. They wrote the book as-it-were.

    The difficulty with such partisans is that they quickly devolve into criminal gangs, and gangs seek profit. Heroin in the Golden Triangle of Burma/Thailand/Laos, heroin trade by the various Islamist groups of Afghanistan, and the current drug and slave trade through the Sahara by Boko Haram. Only if a government-in-exile is formed, with resources, can such devolvement into criminal gangs be resisted, and I don’t think anybody wants to play patron to such.

    I have this vision of the Jacobite secession to the UK throne, but with a corrupt oligarch complaining bitterly about his patron not funding his lifestyle of choice, or worse: a Bay of Pigs scenario.

  • staghounds

    We have thousands of dead from our own domestic “partisans/insurgents” every year. I wish we cared as much about them as we seem to about foreigners.

  • Shlomo Maistre

    Alsadius,

    Shlomo: Depends how you define “provocation”, really. Your definition is a coherent one, but if you apply it consistently, then Putin has also been provoking NATO constantly for many years

    Where did I define provocation?

    Where did I say that Putin has not been provoking NATO constantly for many years?

    Certainly, if you had asked me “do you think Putin has been provoking NATO for many years?” I would have answered “yes”.

    Like most conflicts in history, both sides have been provoking the other in various ways and for various reasons.

    If you’re willing to call those “provocations” as well, then you’re using a consistent definition, and I’ll agree that the US/NATO has also been engaging in “provocations” of Russia by the same definition. From what you’re saying here, I think you might actually be that consistent. (Most people who have Putin’s back on this one aren’t anywhere near so consistent, but a few are, and you don’t seem to really have his back either.)

    To me, the question of what IS and what OUGHT TO BE are always distinct questions and should be treated as such. When analyzing what is happening I never have anyone’s back. And what has been happening?

    By any reasonable definition, the US and NATO have been provoking Russia and Russia has also been provoking the US and NATO. That is what has been happening recently and also for many, many years, including over Ukraine.

  • Sof haderech

    Now where have I heard something like that before?

    Israel of course 😀

  • We have thousands of dead from our own domestic “partisans/insurgents” every year. I wish we cared as much about them as we seem to about foreigners.

    Who is “we”? It is perfectly possible to care about both, so if you don’t, why comment on this thread?

  • Alsadius

    Where did I define provocation?

    You didn’t define “provocation” explicitly anywhere, but every word has a meaning, and I was trying to ascertain what meaning you had in mind.

    Certainly, if you had asked me “do you think Putin has been provoking NATO for many years?” I would have answered “yes”.

    That is precisely what I was asking you, yes. (And indeed, “yes” is the answer that I was expecting, as I said above.)

    So yeah, I don’t have any particular beef with what you’re saying here, other than that I think your usage of “provocation” is a bit too broad to really be useful. That quibble aside, everything else you’ve said is fair.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Well said Perry. The point about how other countries have agency is very important. I find bizarre how people who are the first to attack the “victim culture” play the same card when it applies to a thug such as Putin, buying his claim that he is so upset about Ukraine might want to join a defence pact, as any sane nation might want to do. What Putin is offering Ukraine is nothing more than “do as I say or else” – he does not really accept Ukraine as having an independent existence, any more than some advocate of Critical Race Theory thinks that non-white people can think for themselves.

    The “Americans did it” is a sort of mental comfort blanket. I read and heard a fair amount of this crap when a bunch of maniacs flew aircraft into the WTC, and now I hear it again when Putin sends tanks, rockets and helicopter gunships into the heartland of a country that, however imperfectly, had a measure of liberty for 30 years.

    As a side observation, consider Ukraine’s terrible history, such as the politically-created famine of the 1930s. Why would not a Ukrainian with half a brain not shudder at the idea of being controlled by Moscow?

  • Shlomo Maistre

    The main thing I have established in this thread so far is that it is clear that Russia has been provoking USA and NATO over Ukraine both recently and for many years and it’s also clear that the USA and NATO have been provoking Russia over Ukraine both recently and for many years.

    This is one important answer to the question “what has been happening?”

    There are many other important answers to the question of “what has been happening/what is happening?”.

    The other question is, of course, “what should happen?”

    I submit that the goal of statecraft and diplomacy SHOULD BE peace, security, prosperity, and liberty – in that order. So what SHOULD happen in Ukraine is, in my opinion, whatever would realistically give the people of Ukraine as much of those four things as possible over the long run.

    I do not claim to be in possession of the optimal solution to the conflict over Ukraine.

    Perry suggested:

    Just keep giving Ukrainian nationalists weapons (Javelin ATGW for example) so they can make Ukraine an ungovernable nightmare.

    I’ll just say that I think this is clearly not the optimal solution to the conflict over Ukraine if the goal is to give as much peace, security, prosperity, and liberty to the people of Ukraine as possible over the long run. It seems like a very bad solution to me.

  • bobby b

    “No, their mistake, their toxic involvement, was when they pressed Ukraine into surrendering the nuclear weapons Kyiv inherited from the defunct USSR in return for meaningless guarantees.”

    I’d only question the use of “mistake.”

    I think they – Clinton – we – knowingly jettisoned Ukraine on the day we made that unkeepable promise. There was no mistake – there was realpolitik cynicism.

    Leaving nukes in Ukraine might have made it a bit more secure for a very small period, but eventually, anti-Putin nukes on Putin’s border would have degenerated into a dangerous world-scope mess. Russia would not have allowed that to continue. What do you think Putin would do to a nuclear threat on his own border?

    Promising to defend Ukraine if it gave them up – that was a sucker’s bet on Ukraine’s part at best – left an inevitable small domestic Russian-border fight like we see today.

    I think that there was a recognition that, due to geography and power and resources, if Russia wanted Ukraine, it was going to have it, unless we sent in the fleet against it, and we were never going to do that.

    Interests, not friends, or so I’ve heard.

  • bobby b

    “I submit that the goal of statecraft and diplomacy SHOULD BE peace, security, prosperity, and liberty – in that order.”

    So, you’d vote for Trudeau?

  • The main thing I have established in this thread so far is that it is clear that Russia has been provoking USA…

    All you have established, by parroting RT propaganda, is Putin thinks he has been provoked by the USA, not that he actually has. Yet he also says Ukraine should not exist as a nation and Ukrainians are really just Russians. And as clearly nothing Ukraine or indeed the USA could have said or done would change that view, the notion this is because “Russia was provoked” is a non sequitur, just the usual Putin apologist bullshit.

    I’ll just say that I think this is clearly not the optimal solution to the conflict over Ukraine if the goal is to give as much peace, security, prosperity, and liberty to the people of Ukraine as possible over the long run. It seems like a very bad solution to me.

    I suppose you’d have said the same in late 1940 too, just roll over and accept the Thousand Year Reich.

    Peace, security, prosperity, and liberty is not what Putin’s initial victory is going to bring to Ukraine. Arm the Ukrainians and bleed Russia until it turns white.

  • Shlomo Maistre

    So, you’d vote for Trudeau?

    Why would you ask that?

    I guess I should specify that when I said “I submit that the goal of statecraft and diplomacy SHOULD BE peace, security, prosperity, and liberty – in that order” – by prosperity I meant a minimal level of welfare/prosperity. IE, so that people can survive decently enough. I do place a very high priority on liberty and would never vote for Trudeau in ten million years.

  • Why would you ask that?

    Because you support authoritarian thugs.

  • Shlomo Maistre

    Perry,

    All you have established, by parroting RT propaganda, is Putin thinks he has been provoked by the USA, not that he actually has.

    And that’s our difference.

    Yes, it is true that Putin has chosen to be provoked by the actions of NATO and USA.

    It’s also true that Putin would choose to be provoked by the actions of NATO and USA in all of the following three scenarios:
    1. He did have reasonable and understandable grounds to have been provoked by the actions of USA and NATO and responded in a reasonable, judicious manner with no ulterior motives
    2. He did not have reasonable and understandable grounds to have been provoked by the actions of USA and NATO, did not respond in a reasonable, judicious manner, and decided to be provoked as an excuse in order to achieve goals that he has
    3. He did have reasonable and understandable grounds to have been provoked by the actions of USA and NATO, did not respond in a reasonable, judicious manner, and used (and is using) the provocations of the USA and NATO as excuses in order to achieve goals that he has

    I think the reality is #3.

  • TomJ

    As an aside, there has been a lot of the opposite delusion about recently; that Russia caused everything they disagree with that has transpired in politics over the last decade; Brexit happened at Putin’s desire in order to weaken the EU and without that weakness today’s invasion could not have happened… (See also Trump installed to weaken NATO &c)

  • Shlomo Maistre

    Because you support authoritarian thugs.

    Well, that’s what I get for trying to add a bit of nuance in a time of war.

    I support Sisi, Orban, and Pinochet. And I certainly make no apologies for that. So I guess there are some authoritarian thugs I support.

    You support:

    Just keep giving Ukrainian nationalists weapons (Javelin ATGW for example) so they can make Ukraine an ungovernable nightmare.

    I’m comfortable where I stand.

    Anyway, I don’t believe you or anyone else here genuinely suspects that I support Trudeau. But whatever.

  • Snorri Godhi

    Great post, and i greatly admire Perry’s (and others’) diligence in arguing with comments that i do not even bother to read.

    I beg to disagree, however, that the only mistake of “the West” was to seduce Ukraine into giving up its nuclear arsenal. Other mistakes include Biden’s puppet-masters driving up energy prices, Nord Stream 2, and shutting down German nuclear power.

    Please note that, to paraphrase Heinlein:
    In the absence of evidence to the contrary, I do not attribute to malice what can be adequately explained by delusional insanity.
    That is why i use the word ‘mistake’.

  • bobby b

    “Anyway, I don’t believe you or anyone else here genuinely suspects that I support Trudeau.”

    Of course not. That was my point. Your formulation – ” the goal of statecraft and diplomacy SHOULD BE peace, security, prosperity, and liberty – in that order . . . ” – could have been lifted from one of Trudeau’s speeches as he shut down the truckers. Liberty gets short shrift.

  • Martin

    Because you support authoritarian thugs.

    Surely we’ve learned in the past few years that practically every NATO and EU government is also run by authoritarian thugs. I mean this blog has illustrated that repeatedly. Even Ukraine had lockdowns and vaccine mandates, as did Russia. So by that standard really we are at a case of authoritarian thugs versus authoritarian thugs but maybe a little less authoritarian and also allies of the west.

    David Starkey said at the start of covid we’ve got a Chinese virus and we’d end up with Chinese style governance. He’s not wrong, except of course it’s got tied up with woke culture in the west as well.

  • Shlomo Maistre

    could have been lifted from one of Trudeau’s speeches as he shut down the truckers

    Ok?

    Liberty gets short shrift

    Liberty gets a mention, unlike equality, equity, welfare, feelings, diversity, or any other horseshit etc.

    Anyway, we were discussing Ukraine which is currently at war. Liberty should get short shrift in a time of war.

    I would claim to place a higher value on liberty than 90% of the general population of the West. I’m sure many would say “but you support authoritarian thugs like Pinochet, Sisi and Orban so you don’t support liberty much/at all!!” I support liberty in the moral sense and also in the practical sense and sometimes, depending on the circumstances, a thug is exactly the best solution to achieve as much actual, real, long-term liberty as possible.

    Trump was far too weak, as far as I’m concerned.

  • Plamus

    If the USA (and UK) have a share of blame for what is happening in Ukraine right now, it is not because they ‘provoked’ Russia: Putin has made it clear the very existence of a politically and culturally independent Ukraine is intolerable to him. No, their mistake, their toxic involvement, was when they pressed Ukraine into surrendering the nuclear weapons Kyiv inherited from the defunct USSR in return for meaningless guarantees.

    Perry, without codes those nuclear weapons are paperweights. Even if they weren’t and even if Ukraine had kept them in the 90’s, Yanukovich probably would have surrendered them in the 00’s; and if Ukraine wanted nukes, it has had the time and has the capability to make them. Otherwise, great points.

  • Martin

    Because you support authoritarian thugs.

    This is also a rather childish insult as well. The West likely wouldn’t have won World War 2 or Cold War without the help of many an ‘authoritarian thug’. In WW2 Stalin, Chiang Kai-shek, Tito weren’t exactly liberal democrats. During the Cold war, for at least periods of the era at least (if not the entirety) South Korea, South Vietnam, Pakistan, the Gulf States, South Africa, Chile, Egypt, Taiwan, Thailand, Singapore, Brazil, Indonesia, Greece, Spain, Portugal, Turkey and plenty other anti-communist states were ran by ‘authoritarian thugs’. Was the west right to support them at the time? Absolutely. Does that make me a supporter of authoritarian thugs? Well so be it….

  • APL

    At least Ukrane can rely on NATO.

    NATO should have been disbanded twenty years ago, at least it might have been saved from such indignity.

    “At NATO, diversity is our strength”. Probably because the European members of NATO refuse to pay their way.

  • Does that make me a supporter of authoritarian thugs? Well so be it…

    I’m going with yes on that.

  • Perry, without codes those nuclear weapons are paperweights.

    You really think Ukrainian boffins working under lab conditions could not have replaced those things? Seriously? They are designed to stop terrorists working out of basements who get their hands on one, not national governments.

  • Martin

    I’m going with yes on that.

    That’s fine, geopolitics is more than virtue signalling.

  • Paul Marks

    The United States has been in relative decline (as a proportion of world industrial output) for about 70 years. The United States stopped being the number one industrial power in 2014 (“GDP” is spending – consumption), these days China dwarfs American in terms of production.

    I suspect that peak year of America (relative to the rest of the world) was about 1948. If it was not that year – it was close to it.

    A Russian “Austrian School” economist I know is in despair about the madness that many American libertarians believe – for example that Ukrainian elections are rigged by the CIA and that most people in the Ukraine love Mr Putin.

    This madness goes back a long way.

    Murray Rothbard used to deny that the Soviet Union was out to dominate the world (being an apologist for such things as the Soviet invasion of Finland).

    Murray Rothbard also claimed that the Western “drive to war” against poor innocent victim Nazi Germany was caused by Western envy of Nazi trade deals (he drops this pearl of wisdom into his history of American money and banking).

    It is not just the left who are obsessed with how “evil” America is behind all that is bad in the world – it is some of our libertarian brothers and sisters as well.

    I do not like the CIA (which has pushed ever bigger government “Social Reform” in most of Latin America for 60 years) or the American government in general – but to pretend they control such things as elections in the Ukraine (recent Ukrainian elections are MUCH harder to rig than American elections are) is nonsense.

  • Plamus

    You really think Ukrainian boffins working under lab conditions could not have replaced those things? Seriously?

    They could, Perry, but it would have taken several years to re-purpose them. What I believe is that they did not have those several years – Russia would have gone in and taken the nukes it could, while the rest would have been scattered all over the world as an imploding government would have meant a free-for-all grab.

    I can also tell you as someone who lived in Eastern Europe in the 80’s and early 90’s – there was a level of disfunction you can hardly imagine. The states were broke, and being looted. The boffins, the best and the brightest, were unemployed, or being paid $50-ish a month in rapidly devaluating currency. There was corruption on a scale I honestly think has never been seen in the West.

    CSB: my dad worked as a de-facto sales rep for a government-owned company that sold military gear. They were approached by the Albanian military, which was looking to buy parts and maintenance for MiG-15s. In the 1990’s. Nobody was making/selling/offering those – not the Russians, not the Ukrainians. My dad was contacted, by telex, by some Albanian dudes who offered to sell MiG-15s for parts. They sent pictures at some point, and those had Albanian Air Force insignia on them. There was no deal, FWIW. End CSB.

  • Martin

    Interesting stuff Plamus. I remember readings news articles in the late 90s and early 2000s about fears Russian nuclear material might fall into the hands of terrorists and/or black marketeers because of the corruption and military disintegration of the Yeltsin era. Corrupt Russian official selling a nuke or someone stealing a nuke from a poorly run Russian base was a trope in films, video games etc back then. Haven’t heard any further such stories for years though. Whether this is due to it being harder to report in Russia or if it is due to the military modernisation under Putin or something else I don’t know.

    As far as I’m aware Ukraine’s military between the end of the USSR and 2014 was a shambles, and Ukraine was (still is) extremely corrupt. It does seem possible that if Ukraine had retained nuclear weaponry that might have been pray to corruption.

  • bobby b

    All of which explains why Clinton was willing to promise whatever was asked in order to corral the equipment before it scattered to the wind. I can’t call that a mistake.

  • bobby b

    PdH, the site and people were unfamiliar, and when I was aimed at it earlier, I thought “what would a comic tell me that I need to know?”

    Is Kisin someone normally worth spending time with?

  • […] Samizdata, Perry de Havilland notes that not every single thing that happens in the wider world is linked to or directed by […]

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Martin engages in some context-dropping:

    The West likely wouldn’t have won World War 2 or Cold War without the help of many an ‘authoritarian thug’. In WW2 Stalin, Chiang Kai-shek, Tito weren’t exactly liberal democrats. During the Cold war, for at least periods of the era at least (if not the entirety) South Korea, South Vietnam, Pakistan, the Gulf States, South Africa, Chile, Egypt, Taiwan, Thailand, Singapore, Brazil, Indonesia, Greece, Spain, Portugal, Turkey and plenty other anti-communist states were ran by ‘authoritarian thugs’. Was the west right to support them at the time?

    In some cases yes, in some cases that would be a no. It rests on what the likely alternatives were – far, far worse. In any event, the vast majority of these countries did, eventually, become democracies or, in the case say of places such as UAE and Singapore, become more benign overall. (Pakistan I am not sure about.)

    We cannot really compare these cases with what is happening now in terms of the excuses that one might come up with. A Russian president, almost out of his mind with rage that the Soviet empire collapsed, and determined to restore it, is attacking a sovereign country and a democracy because it is a sovereign country and that he does not like it. Ukraine is no doubt imperfect in many ways (spoiler alert – most places are) but it has had 3 decades free of Moscow rule. Its citizens will have remembered the history of what happened in Ukraine before and during WW2, and likely wish to remain independent, by and large. Ukraine does not, unlike, say, Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, pose a great threat to its neighbours. It hasn’t, for example, shown a track record of using WMDs on people, or massacred large numbers of civilians in recent years, etc. So even the standard neocon reasons for overthrowing it haven’t applied. What Putin is doing is engaging in pure conquest. His claims “Nazis” or whatever is cheap propoganda.

    The US and the West have propped up some fairly unsavory thugs over the years (Pinochet, etc) or turned blind eyes at them (too numerous to mention) for varying reasons of cowardice, convenience, or crap alternatives. We have also for far too long turned a blind eye to what is happening in Russia, and made ourselves foolishly large users of its natural resources, and happy to bank its money, and let our guard down.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Interesting perspective from those who broadly agree with the philosophy of Ayn Rand (who was from Russia, leaving in the early 1920s). One of the speakers notes that there is quite a large pro-freedom group in Ukraine, or at least there was.

  • NickM

    I’m getting incredibly angry with the people (many on the “right”) twisting truth to make it America’s fault. It isn’t. This is one of the clearest cases of outright, naked, unjustifiable agression I can recall. If the West can be held to blame it is for it’s weakness (real or perceived). NATO could have prevented this maybe by acting earlier and more decisively but we didn’t so we must act (or history will judge us very harshly). We must move Heaven* and Earth Full Spectrum to not just defeat Putin and Russia but utterly humiliate them. Arm Ukrainians. Fuck Russia’s economy over – sabotage it by all means available from banking on up. Cripple their internet, spread mis-information. Use every dirty trick in the book and a few that aren’t. I don’t want to see Putin on trial in The Hague. I want to see him boiled alive in a cauldron of donkey piss in Red Square by babushkas holding portraits of their fallen sons.

    I apologise for not commenting sooner but I was so inchoate with rage (I haven’t felt anything like this since 9/11) I had to cool down. My original feelings were rather more… er… Old Testament.

    *Can we get Elon Musk to annex the ISS? Chuck the Cosmonauts out the air lock to boil in the vacuum for the Motherland.

  • I apologise for not commenting sooner but I was so inchoate with rage (I haven’t felt anything like this since 9/11) I had to cool down. My original feelings were rather more… er… Old Testament.

    Feel free to give us some of that Old Time Religion. At a time like this, calling a cunt a cunt is entirely appropriate.

  • Freddo

    I’m guessing the majority of the Ukrainian people would have been happy to live in a (somewhat) demilitarized zone and the inhabitants of Donbass region would have been happy with some independence and no shelling. Unfortunately – and as usual – nobody asked the people, but the oligarchs of Kiev liked the US (military) aid with the required kickbacks to the Biden family, most Western leaders and NATO thought that empty posturing makes for good foreign policy, and Putin had his dreams of the Russian Empire. Still, I think that Putins casus belli – protecting the civilians in the Donbass – is at least as strong as NATOs excuses for wrecking Libya.

  • There must have been an oversight as me and my friends never got a penny.

    There was a time when many a (real) climate researcher and blogger joked that, since warmenists kept reporting that ‘Big Coal’ and ‘Big Oil’ capitalists were buying ‘denier’ science, could someone please tell them where they could register for this money.

    As for the main topic, I’m with the OP and defended that view here.

  • Still, I think that Putins casus belli – protecting the civilians in the Donbass – is at least as strong as NATOs excuses for wrecking Libya.

    Except there was no “genocide of Russian speakers” going on in Ukraine. Indeed, an irony of that is a lot of Ukrainian nationalist are actually Russian speaking at home themselves. Putin’s casus belli was utter bullshit.

  • bobby b

    So, what are “Ukronazi’s” and why do I keep reading about them? Seems to be a target of Putin’s ire – denazification? – but info regarding them is . . . contradictory. Some say they don’t really exist except as phantoms in Putin’s mind, but then I see a progressive-written article explaining that the prevalence of Nazi symbolism amongst the Ukrainian forces is simply an expression of style and manliness, which rings all sorts of my bullshit detectors. (“They’re not really Nazi’s, they just like the clothes!”)

    (My problem is, I simply don’t trust ANY media source anymore.)

  • Martin

    Bobby – I’d say the Nazi accusation against Ukraine is totally overblown. But there are some actual neo-nazis within the Ukrainian nationalists like the Azov Battalion. If you don’t trust any media source there’s little point me providing links but you can Google them and make your own assessment. I have always thought it curious that Azov Battalion has been integrated into the Ukrainian military. I think that battalion has been used as an excuse for some western governments in the past to be wary providing weapons to Ukraine out of fear they ended up going to the Azov Battalion.

    Given the fact that western countries are overrun by antifa hysteria, it isn’t surprising Russian propaganda hypes up how influential Nazism/ultranationalism is in Ukraine. While it is quite cynical, it does also display some hypocrisies in the west because of the above mentioned antifa mentality dominant in western elites. For example, Trudeau in Canada ludicrously calls the trucker protestors Nazis and racists. Yet his own government have been accused of providing help to the Azov Battalion in Ukraine. I think overall that says more about how bad western elites are than anything specific to Ukraine.

  • bobby b

    Thanks, Martin. You’re correct that providing links wouldn’t really help me at this stage – I see completely contradictory things all over the place. What’s more important to me right now is, asking the question here and getting responses from people on whom I can at least paste a superficial picture of their sympathies. Not that I actually know anyone here – but it’s at least a different set of sources than the media. So this helps.

  • My problem is, I simply don’t trust ANY media source anymore

    Sensible attitude. My views of Ukraine are based on having actually been there over the years & knowing people deeply involved with the Maidan revolt.

  • Paul Marks

    Perry – yours seems a reasonable approach.

  • Philip Scott Thomas

    bobby b

    I too was puzzled by Putin’s statement that Russia’s purpose was the “demilitarization and de-Nazification of Ukraine.” Coincidentally, Prof. Reynolds over at Instapundit posted a link to this Hot Air article at about the same time. If it’s correct, then the “Nazi” claim is pointing back to a short-lived Ukrainian response to the Holodomor.

    Speaking of the Holodomor, it wasn’t something I was taught about in my (American) schooling. I first learnt of it here, at Samizdata. But it was this article some years ago that drove the true horror of it home.

  • bobby b (February 26, 2022 at 7:48 am), Stalin murdered enough Ukrainians to meet the UN definition of genocide. (However, Stalin himself did not intend literal genocide. After discussing his liquidation of several ethnic groups from the Caucasus, he added that he wanted to ‘deport’ the Ukrainians as well “but there were too many of them.”) Stalin was much hated in the Ukraine.

    “I think with shame and horror of a Europe divided by the Bug*, on one side of which people pray for liberation by Hitler’s army, while on the other side people regard liberation by the armies of Stalin as their last hope.”

    [*Bug: the river along which Hitler and Stalin partitioned Poland]

    So wrote one commentator in 1940. When Hitler attacked Russia in 1941, many Ukrainians were at first far from sad to see the communists kicked out, disbelieved that Hitler was as bad as Stalin had told them (and of course Stalin had been saying nice Mr Hitler was being victimised by the imperialist west for almost two years before the invasion started). Over time, German policy brutally disillusioned them. The Germans loved the way the hated collective farm system put the authorities in change of the crop, so they kept it. And, unlike Stalin, they really did intend to exterminate the Ukrainians – after they had finished with the Jews and the Poles, and along with the Russians (the relevant SS document planned to exterminate some 170 million Slavs all told).

    The US surveyed the Ukrainians in their hands after the war. One question was “Did attitudes to the Germans change during the war?” The answer was heavily yes (I think the ‘noes’ were mostly those who had been wholly hostile from the start), with a sizeable majority saying it changed in 1942 “when German policy left no more room for doubt.

    Some Ukrainians became communist partisans. More became anti-German partisans who “were not pro-communist but were very anti-German” (increasingly so as the war progressed). Some of these had defected from the Germans. (Very much against Hitler’s orders, many Ukrainians – and many Russians – became Hiwis, German military auxiliaries, from hatred of the communists, and took time to change their minds. The Kremlin was fairly ignorant of how numerous they were until they first captured them in numbers at Stalingrad – it seems to have been a shock to them.) The Russians nominally served under the defecting General Vlassov, and in 1943 and after, the Kremlin ran the ‘anti-Vlassov action’ which persuaded some of these units to defect back to the communists again. The Ukrainians were more apt to defect from the Germans but not back to the Russians.

    As the Russians reconquered Ukraine, these partisans fought them – and, of course, that was very embarrassing to the Russians whose version of events varied between total silence and total misrepresentation. For a very long time (you’ll still see it today), Russia history claimed General Vatutin “fell ill” (Zhukhov’s memoirs) at a rather important point in the spring 1944 campaign (he was killed by Ukrainian partisans).

    During and after completing WWII against the Germans, the communists crushed the Ukrainian resistance – and, of course, propagandised it their way (and to a considerable degree, made themselves understand it so and made everyone else they could control fear to understand it any other way).

    Modern Ukraine has a Jewish president and etc. As Trudeau claimed the truckers were Nazis without an atom of justification, present-day or historical, so Putin would have said the Ukrainians were Nazis even if his views had not been formed by survivals of Stalin’s orders of how this was to be understood. But it may help to know he’s at the tail end of the history and, far more, of the enforced propaganda version of this history.

    HTH. Be aware: this is a very brief summary of a very complicated situation – much more could be said. (All quotes from memory.)

  • Alsadius

    AFAICT, there’s actual Nazis among the anti-Russian forces in Ukraine. There’s a few in every country, of course, but they’re somewhat more common in Ukraine than elsewhere (likely because that’s one of the few places Hitler was even slightly seen as a liberator, following Stalin’s atrocities). Still, it’s not that many in the grand scheme of things. I haven’t seen any evidence of mass rallies or any other significant show of mainstream support – the biggest gathering I’ve heard of was a few hundred, not much bigger than Charlottesville. They’re certainly nowhere near the levers of power, given that the President is Jewish.

    Most of the stuff about Nazis comes from two places. First, Putin and friends. Needless to say, “Nazi” is at least as nasty an allegation to Russians as it is to us, and Putin has shown a decent understanding of how to jump into Western debate to cause maximum chaos. Calling your enemies Nazis is a strong play if you want to divide us and prevent us from supporting them wholeheartedly. Second, the kind of idiot lefties who call a small mountain stream “Nazi” because a white guy drank from it one time. Needless to say, neither of these is worthy of much attention.

  • bobby b

    Thanks, all. That does make things clearer for me. I joked above about not believing the line of “they’re not really Nazi’s, they just like the clothes”, but it sounds as if it’s not far off from the truth of “they’re not really Nazi’s, they just appreciate having been rescued by them.” And that I can understand, even while thinking it’s such a bad look that they need a good marketing manager to fix it.

  • “they’re not really Nazi’s, they just appreciate having been rescued by them.” (bobby b, February 27, 2022 at 1:25 am)

    Niall-pedant-Kilmartin (or maybe not such a pedant – the difference matters) would like to point out that as the war progressed (see the survey date of 1942 in my comment above), the Ukrainians became horribly well aware that the Nazis had not come to rescue them. Hence the wartime and post-war partisan movement that fought whichever of Hitler and Stalin was in control of their local area at the time. I’ve seen claims the Russians had not wholly crushed the partisan movement before 1950 – but between vague rumours on one side and the NKVD arresting ‘partisans’ to meet arrest quotas on the other, I can only speculate on their accuracy. It must be remembered that the Ukraine’s geography is ill-suited to partisan warfare.

    Ukrainian units that had defected from the Germans were no more able to replace their uniforms than they were able to replace their weapons. They liked having weapons, and military-grade clothing, and were in no position to be fussy about either being German in origin.

    The Poles, unlike the Ukrainians, knew from the very start that the nazis were also their deadly enemies, and their briefer experience under the communists in 1940 in the east, left them slightly less unable than the Ukrainians to hope against hope (and be murderously betrayed) when the Red Army returned, but their partisans too experienced fighting the nazis and then the communists as the front line swept east and then west.

    However the Russians seem to have been slightly more genuinely embarrassed (or more ideologically unprepared) that Ukrainian partisans behind their lines were operating on such a large scale they could kill even high-ranking generals. When it came to the Poles, Stalin simply faced down the west over his helping Hitler crush the Warsaw uprising. He got plenty of help from his lickspittles in western media over that, but when it came to partisans inside Russia’s 1939 borders operating behind the ‘liberating’ Red Army lines on such a scale, he preferred not talking about it at all.

  • Paul Marks

    Mr Putin can play the “punch a Nazi” game just as much as rich trust-fund-kids in the West can – and he can play “Gun Control” as well (RT has attacked the United States for not having enough “Gun Control” in the past – as well as pushing the “White Supremacy” LIE, and attacking the same lie – when it suits them).

    When Mr Trudeau calls the truckers “Nazis” (and everything else) he is lying – and when Mr Putin plays the same game in relation to the Ukrainians – he is LYING as well.

    Sorry my brothers and sisters on the right – Mr Putin is no alternative to the “Woke” establishment of the West (which I despise more than anyone does), no alternative at all.

  • dougg

    You talk about people wanting simplified answers but you insinuate that american skullduggery played no part in 2014? Of course there were Ukrainians who sought closer involvement in NATO and the EU and rose up against Yanukovych, no one anywhere believes that. But to believe that the scales can’t or aren’t regularly tipped one way or the other by a major global power is pure naivety. Every nation seeks to covertly influence and move politics in other countries to their favor. To imagine that a globe trotter crusading american elite does not regularly induce some f**kery around the globe is just plain daffy.

  • But to believe that the scales can’t or aren’t regularly tipped one way or the other by a major global power is pure naivety.

    Sure, I am not saying “the CIA never interferes in the affairs of various nations”… I have probably met more actual CIA people than most who read Samizdata… what I *am* saying is that a mass movement like the Maidan revolt is far beyond their capabilities to orchestrate. That was a result of domestic political & social pressures as explained to me at great length by a great many Ukrainians in assorted Ukrainian dive bars like Pink Freud in Kyiv. It would have happened regardless of “American skullduggery”, even though demoting the mighty CIA from shadowy puppet master to a bit part player does not suit the world view of many folk (including Vlad Putin), that’s the prosaic truth.

    And the entire Ukraine-Russia war is not primarily about Ukraine wanting to join EU/NATO, although of course that is an issue in that it would preclude Putin’s Make Russia Great Again wish to annex all of Ukraine. But of course that is precisely *why* Ukrainians want to be part of the EU/NATO… not because “The CIA wants us to” but rather because Putin has hardly made a secret that he regards Ukraine as part of Russia and denies there is a separate Ukrainian identity. That is the primary driver of all of this.

    Do not listen to Russia Today, listen to Putin himself. Read translations of what he says to Russians, not the RT narratives designed for useful idiots in the rest of the world. It is all there.

  • Shlomo Maistre

    As I said originally in this thread: it is clear that Russia has been provoking USA and NATO over Ukraine both recently and for many years and it’s also clear that the USA and NATO have been provoking Russia over Ukraine both recently and for many years.

    One way to analyze what is happening with Ukraine is to say “Ukraine did not start this war. Russia started this war without legal justification or moral justification. Ukraine has not done anything that should merit being invaded. Russia is the clear aggressor and morally, legally culpable as such.”

    And sure, all that is true. But it’s an obscenely naive, superficial analysis of the situation.

    Nations usually tend to act in their self interests. Putin has long been a believer in two things: 1. Force, naked force and autocratic thuggery and 2. Balance of power and realpolitik.

    For many years Putin has been very transparent in his public Russian-language statements about what is at stake for Russia when it comes to Ukraine. As Perry de Havilland has correctly pointed out:

    Do not listen to Russia Today, listen to Putin himself. Read translations of what he says to Russians.

    Amen to that.

    The reality is that according to any objective analysis of the historical facts and also according to Putin’s own statements the following are true:
    1. Russia and Putin have never been particularly happy with Ukraine being an independent country for a wide variety of understandable economic, diplomatic, geographic, and security reasons.
    2. Russia and Putin were willing to live peacefully with Ukraine being an independent country if Ukraine acts in a way that to a degree accounts for the vital economic, financial, and security interests of Russia to an extent.
    3. Actions have been taken by NATO, USA, Ukraine, and EU that have created a situation in which it is in Russia’s interest to invade Ukraine, even despite the massive financial penalties, economic sanctions, and diplomatic isolation of doing so. People here can deny this reality all they want, but it’s true.

    War is always a terrible thing.

    I don’t really give a shit who is in charge of Ukraine. It could be Biden, Putin, Zelensky, or Ursula von der Leyen or anyone else. I don’t give a shit. What matters is peace. A great way to not get peace is for whoever runs Ukraine to piss Russia off and act against the vital interests of Russia.

  • …and 2. Balance of power and realpolitik.

    He is said to be a fan of realpolitik yes, but balance of power? Not really.

    2. Russia and Putin were willing to live peacefully with Ukraine being an independent country if Ukraine acts in a way that to a degree accounts for the vital economic, financial, and security interests of Russia to an extent.

    So, in short, you are saying Putin was willing to live peacefully with Ukraine being an independent country if Ukraine does not act as an independent country. But even that contention on your part is not true. You said “Amen to that” when I said “Do not listen to Russia Today, listen to Putin himself. Read translations of what he says to Russians”… but it seems like you have not. he makes it crystal clear that his intention is to eliminate Ukraine not just as a sovereign nation but as an identity separate from Russian.

    So it is not just “Putin have never been particularly happy with Ukraine being an independent country”… he is so unhappy with the idea that he has invaded it. Forget the moral and legal issues, for someone supposedly into realpolitik, he seems oblivious to the price Russia will pay. Yesterday he caused a 180 degree shift in German energy & military policies & the supporting politics, that I never through possible. People who think Vlad is a cunning devil will find that stunning development a bit hard to handwave away.

  • War is always a terrible thing. (Shlomo Maistre (February 28, 2022 at 2:59 pm)

    Putin does not agree with you. Putin may of course agree with von Clausewitz:

    “The aggressor is always peace-loving; he would prefer to take over our country unopposed.”

    but while I think that was (and is) Putin’s preference, so far he seems to regard the second-best of a war of conquest as less terrible to him than an independent Ukraine.

    I don’t really give a shit who is in charge of Ukraine.

    The Ukrainians, by contrast, may give a shit – may indeed be willing to endure a degree of danger that causes them to give several – and thus demonstrate that they see war as less terrible than Russian rule.

  • Shlomo Maistre

    Perry,

    So, in short, you are saying Putin was willing to live peacefully with Ukraine being an independent country if Ukraine does not act as an independent country.

    No. That’s not what I’m saying at all.

    It seems like you are being intentionally obtuse with this kind of response. I do not think you are really this naive.

    Countries should act in their own self interests. Part of the reason Ukraine is being invaded right now is because Ukraine did not act in its own self interests for many years. Cooperating far more closely with Washington DC than with Moscow on security, economic, military, energy, and diplomatic matters is not in Ukraine’s interests. This is especially true when such cooperation with Washington DC leads to decisions that overtly harm the vital interests of Russia.

    Putin has made this crystal clear for years. And if you look back in history you would be hard pressed to find a single Russian leader at any point over the last 300+ years who disagrees with Putin on that.

  • Shlomo Maistre

    Niall,

    but while I think that was (and is) Putin’s preference, so far he seems to regard the second-best of a war of conquest as still less terrible to him than an independent Ukraine.

    but while I think that was (and is) Putin’s preference, so far he seems to regard the second-best of a war of conquest as still less terrible to him than an independent Ukraine that cooperates far more closely with Washington DC on security, military, economic, diplomatic, and energy matters than with Moscow.

    FTFY

  • Part of the reason Ukraine is being invaded right now is because Ukraine did not act in its own self interests for many years. (Shlomo Maistre, February 28, 2022 at 3:52 pm)

    Russia thought that about the Poles for centuries before and under communism. The experience of being compelled to act “in their own self interests” by their Russian neighbours merely made the Poles yet more eager to cooperate with the west, not Russia, than before.

    The idea of being forced to act “in your own self interests” but against your own wishes is very much the kind of idea this blog exists to criticise and limit as much as possible. We are not the best audience for the argument that people who do not act “in their own self interests”, as determined by others, are blameable when forced to do so by those others.

    We are by contrast a very good audience for arguments that these “in your own best interests” force-using others have ulterior motives, their proclaimed ones being lies. (In this case, I have offered such arguments here.)

  • Shlomo Maistre

    Niall,

    The idea of being forced to act “in your own self interests” but against your own wishes is very much the kind of idea this blog exists to criticise and limit as much as possible.

    The corrupt Ukrainian government and ruling class have acted to enrich themselves and their western sponsors at the expense of the interests of Ukraine repeatedly and in myriad ways for years. This has been true in security, energy, economy, and more.

    Contrary to your claim, I never spoke in favor of forcing Ukraine to act in its own best interests. I simply observed that Ukraine has not acted in its own self interests by cooperating far more closely with Washington DC than with Moscow on important security, economic, energy, and diplomatic matters, and also harming the vital security and economic interests of Russia and Russia’s ruling class. This is self-evidently true.

    The Burisma-Biden corruption is literally a drop in the ocean of all the corruption and shenanigans that the Ukraine ruling class have engaged in to enrich themselves and enrich western interests while hurting the interests of Ukraine.

    You can bury your head in the sand and continue to repeat the claim that whatever Ukraine’s ruling class has done was prima facie in the best interests of Ukraine because Ukraine’s ruling class did it. It’s not a falsifiable premise because it’s not based on evidence.

  • This is self-evidently true.

    Nothing you say is self-evidently true. For the most part it the product of your receptiveness to certain kinds of propaganda and the peculiarities of your worldview.

    It is ironic, indeed tragic, that many people who resolutely stood fast against the tsunami of covid-cult and woke MSM narratives are nevertheless an open goal for a different kind of toxic narrative.

  • Paul Marks

    Perry – I warned about this (about a different kind of toxic narrative) some time ago.

    RT (and the other pro Putin outlets – because it is NOT just RT) is an effective propaganda weapon – effective because it mixes lies with TRUTH

    It is true that the American government has unjustly interfered in the affairs of democratic countries in the past – for example Canada in the early 1960s.

    What RT does is take things (such as MK Ultra and other abuses) and then imply that American dirty tricks explain EVERYTHING.

    For example, why are most people in the Ukraine in support of Ukrainian independence from Moscow?

    The reality is difficult and complex – that this is a matter of HISTORY going all the way back to the betrayal of the Cossack Brotherhood by Moscow centuries ago, but also including the murder of millions of people by Stalin (someone who Putin at least half admires). And various corrupt regimes supported by Moscow in recent years.

    It is so much simpler to say “the CIA MADE them hate Russia” – and that is what RT (and so on – it is NOT just RT) provides people – a simple answer (elegantly delivered).

    A simple answer “America is to blame” – and it is elegantly and well presented.

    Ironically it was Chinese English language news that was banned.

    It was banned because the lies it told were so obvious that even the boneheads of “Ofcom” could not avoid noticing that they were lies – that Chelsea had not “always been part of China” and that the “ancient map” had clearly just been printed (I am exaggerating – but not by much).

    But it was precisely because the lies of the Chinese news stations were so blatant (so obvious) that made them HARMLESS.

    The Russian propaganda is much better – very much better.

    “Paul you are denying MK Ultra, and the LSD experiments and…..” – no I am not denying these things.

    What I am denying is that the desire of most Ukrainians to be independent of Moscow is the result of “the CIA”.

    In reality it is the result of history – history going back centuries.

  • The Burisma-Biden corruption is literally a drop in the ocean of all the corruption and shenanigans that the Ukraine ruling class

    The Burisma-Biden corruption demonstrates Biden having to threaten the Ukraine government very firmly to get a prosecutor fired. This certainly speaks to there being a lot of corruption – in Washington, and in the Ukraine too, but maybe not quite enough in the latter to let Burisma pay off someone far cheaper than Hunter Biden.

    Meanwhile, there is a lot of corruption in Putin’s Russia, and there was a lot of corruption in the France of the third republic – but not enough to make me indifferent to Hitler’s invading it. It is ludicrous to talk of corruption in the context of the invasion, as if Putin invaded the Ukraine to stamp out corruption – that is not how he runs Russia.

    Zelensky’s reply to Biden’s offer of an exit, “I need ammunition, not a ride”, is not the obvious reply of a corruptocrat. Indeed,he could have told Biden:

    Thou thought I was even such a one as thyself.

    We’ll see how Zelensky acts as danger grows, but for now, Zelensky is not obviously acting like a guy who became president solely to line his pockets.

  • bobby b

    Interesting article, but one which I am totally unable to fact-check due to my ignorance of the region (and I probably know more about the region than 95% of Americans.)

    https://barnesreview.org/the-donbass-rebellion-and-the-political-idea-of-novorossiya/

  • Paul Marks

    Niall – correct, the President of Ukraine (elected in 2019 by almost 75% of the vote) has acted with great courage – and I write as someone who would NOT (back in 2019) have voted for him.

  • Paul Marks

    bobby b – the article talks about 2014, the election was in 2019.

    And the article talks about certain areas of the Ukraine that have been mostly Russian at least since the Holodomor (the slaughter of the Ukrainians in the 1930s).

    But it clear that Mr Putin wants all of the Ukraine to be under a puppet regime – not the President who was elected (by almost 75% of the vote – in a free and fair election that the sitting President LOST) in 2019.

  • Shlomo Maistre

    Niall,

    The Burisma-Biden corruption is literally a drop in the ocean of all the corruption and shenanigans that the Ukraine ruling class

    The Burisma-Biden corruption demonstrates Biden having to threaten the Ukraine government very firmly to get a prosecutor fired. This certainly speaks to there being a lot of corruption – in Washington, and in the Ukraine too, but maybe not quite enough in the latter to let Burisma pay off someone far cheaper than Hunter Biden.

    Meanwhile, there is a lot of corruption in Putin’s Russia, and there was a lot of corruption in the France of the third republic – but not enough to make me indifferent to Hitler’s invading it. It is ludicrous to talk of corruption in the context of the invasion, as if Putin invaded the Ukraine to stamp out corruption – that is not how he runs Russia.

    You selectively quoted only a portion of what I said. The full sentence was:

    The Burisma-Biden corruption is literally a drop in the ocean of all the corruption and shenanigans that the Ukraine ruling class have engaged in to enrich themselves and enrich western interests while hurting the interests of Ukraine.

    Please tell me where exactly is the basis for your insinuation/claim that I was saying that “Putin invaded the Ukraine to stamp out corruption”?

    Obviously my point was and is that:

    I simply observed that Ukraine has not acted in its own self interests by cooperating far more closely with Washington DC than with Moscow on important security, economic, energy, and diplomatic matters, and also harming the vital security and economic interests of Russia and Russia’s ruling class.

    And one aspect of that is:

    the ocean of all the corruption and shenanigans that the Ukraine ruling class have engaged in to enrich themselves and enrich western interests while hurting the interests of Ukraine.

    This is not the first time you appear to be insinuating/creating strawmen in our discussion of Ukraine/Russia instead of directly addressing what I’m saying, which is frustrating.

    There are few if any people with whom I enjoy banter and discussion in the comment sections of Samizdata more than with you. And I consider that a pretty high compliment since there are a lot of people I enjoy banter/discussion with in Samizdata comment sections.

    This Russia/Ukraine topic is an exception, however, and I’m not sure our discussion has been fruitful for either of us. I hope we can just agree to disagree.

  • bobby b

    Paul Marks
    February 28, 2022 at 7:34 pm

    “bobby b – the article talks about 2014, the election was in 2019.”

    I understand that, but felt that knowing the region history back to that period was pertinent.

    I suspect that y’all over there on that side of the ocean underestimate American ignorance of all things Ukraine. It’s just never really mattered to us. Now it does, and we have some heavy catchup work to do.

    The Maidan uprising is almost completely misunderstood here (to the extent that Americans even know it happened.) Most American knowledge of Ukraine begins with learning of the Hunter & Joe Biden dealings there. If you’re puzzled why conservative people here might start out with an anti-Ukraine bent, consider that it’s been presented for years as a corrupt place where corrupt people go to do corrupt things. Now, suddenly, it’s a place filled with brave and true patriots. We’ve always been at war with . . .

    Again, that’s the danger of joining sides. You don’t have facts – you have positions.

  • Alsadius

    Shlomo:

    Part of the reason Ukraine is being invaded right now is because Ukraine did not act in its own self interests for many years. Cooperating far more closely with Washington DC than with Moscow on security, economic, military, energy, and diplomatic matters is not in Ukraine’s interests. This is especially true when such cooperation with Washington DC leads to decisions that overtly harm the vital interests of Russia.

    How is it supposed to be in Ukraine’s interest to get colonized by a repressive dictator? I don’t think Belarus has a better deal than Ukraine does.

  • Would you consider America and/or NATO shipping military supplies, weaponry, and lethal aid to Ukraine to be a provocation in the eyes of Russia?

    Would you consider America and/or NATO publicly encouraging increased security cooperation between NATO and Ukraine to be a provocation in the eyes of Russia?

    Would you consider America and/or NATO publicly encouraging Ukraine to join NATO to be a provocation in the eyes of Russia?

    Who gives a fuck? Not me, that is for sure. All the anti-Russian warnings have been utterly vindicated. At this point you are really not worth debating, which I should have figured out when a few days into this war you wondered if any of this was really happening.

  • […] – Dorian Lynskey, making observations that also apply to certain libertarians/conservatives in the grip of the Americocentric delusion. […]