The Ukraine crisis gives us a peak behind the curtain into the workings of our government

Summary: Every geopolitical crisis provides us with information about our nation and our world. They provide peeks into the machinery hidden behind the government’s secrecy and journalists’ narratives. The Crimean crisis, a small area inside Russia’s sphere of influence, hyped by our hawks into a world-shaking incident, provides a rich lode for mining insights. Helping us, doing the heavy lifting, is one of our top defense analysts, Chuck Spinney. See the last section for links to other useful articles about this.

Military spending

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Ukraine: Manna From Heaven for the Green Line and Beyond Crowd

Franklin “Chuck” Spinney

From his website, The Blaster
26 March 214

Posted with his generous permission

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Most Americans know very little about the immediate origins of the crisis in the Ukraine and their government’s involvement in it. They know even less about its deeper roots, that reach back into Russian view of American duplicity in breaking its verbal promises not to expand NATO and the European Union eastward (useful summaries can be found here and here).

These promises were interpreted quite reasonably by the Russians as a quid pro quo for Mikhail Gorbachev’s agreement to

  1. the unification of Germany,
  2. the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact, and
  3. the withdrawal of Soviet forces from eastern Europe.

Gorbachev’s dream of a common European Home was always fanciful, but today, Ukraine proves it is in tatters.

If one is to believe the reportage in the mainstream media, the duly elected but decidedly corrupt government of the Ukraine was overthrown by a spontaneous revolt of the freedom-seeking Ukrainian people. But it is also clear from leaked recordings of phone conversations and the bloviations of U.S. “pro-defense” legislators that members of the U.S. government were at least tangentially involved, as were Ukrainian neo-fascists.

There is much more, however.

 

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This article by investigative reporter Steve Weissman of Reader Supported News is Part 1 in a series of reports detailing the nature of that involvement in the current crisis. It should be read carefully, because Weissman reveals a mind-boggling maze of tentacles reaching deeply into the Ukrainian regime change gambit.

Even if you dispute some of Weissman’s conclusions, the overwhelming assembly of facts proves a significant level western involvement is in play. There is one highly convenient coincidence he only alludes to, however: The American people are war weary, and the pivot to the China threat has no real traction. The domestic politics of fear unleashed by 9-11 are running out of steam. The possibility of a new cold war with our old nuclear armed adversary is just the ticket needed to rectify the situation by bringing back the politics good wholesome fear that evolved so productively for the American pro-defense nomenclatura during the 40 years of permanent mobilization for Cold War.

A dose of this kind of fear would be especially propitious for the Military – Industrial – Congressional Complex (MICC) at this juncture. Today, the MICC is haunted by the ‘cost-plus’ specter of a budgetary/force structure/readiness meltdown of its own making. It must find some way of coping with out-of-control operating costs (read reduce current combat readiness and force structure again) to save the sacred cows in the procurement and R&D budgets, like the F-35, the new long range bomber, etc. — even if the budget were not cut back!

But the threat of a budget sequester that, ironically, would reduce the defense budget to a ‘high’ Cold War level is now so serious that Mr. Obama found it necessary to send sequester-dodging 5-year defense budget plan to Congress. The scam as can be seen in this chart, reproduced from page 13 of the Pentagon Comptroller’s FY 15 budget briefing {March 2014}. The red star is the unfunded wish list in FY 15 (a list guaranteed to unleash a horde of porkers in Congress) and the green dotted line is the topline of the 5 year plan.

Bear in mind, this topline does not even include the $79 billion in FY15 plus the $30 billion estimated in each following year to pay for the so-called global war on terror (these add-ons are depicted in the chart on page 2 of the same briefing).

DOD March 2014 presentation, p13
Presentation by DOD’s CFO, March 2014

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It does not take a conspiracy theorist to see why Ukraine has the champagne corks popping for the “green line and beyond” lobbyists in the gucci-shoed halls of K Street. I will have more to say on this budgetary nuttiness in later articles. For the moment, I urge you to read Steve  Weissman’s report: “Meet the Americans Who Put Together the Coup in Kiev“, Reader Supported News, 25 March 14.

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About Chuck Spinney

Franklin “Chuck” Spinney retired from the Defense Department in 2003 after a military/civilian career spanning 33 years, 26 of them as a staff analyst in the Office of the Secretary of Defense. He is author of many articles about US military and geopolitical affairs.

Some of his major publications:

  1. Defense Facts of Life: The Plans/Reality Mismatch (1985)
  2. The Defense Death Spiral, 8 November 2000
  3. Bill Moyers Interviews Chuck Spinney, 1 November 2002 –Won an Emmy as the best news magazine show of the year
  4. The Domestic Roots of Perpetual War“, chapter one in The Pentagon Labyrinth: 10 Short Essays to Help You Through It, ed. Winslow Wheeler (2011)
  5. A contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (2012)

Many of his articles are published at CounterPunch:

Other posts by Chuck Spinney at the FM website:

  1. The Taliban Rope-a-Dome, 19 July 2009
  2. Can Obama, or anyone else, outmaneuver the war advocates?, 2 October 2010
  3. Chuck Spinney describes the next phases of the Afghan War: defeat, retreat, & demobilization, 9 April 2012
  4. Chuck Spinney explains our broken OODA loop, 25 September 2012

For More Information

(a)  Articles about the Ukraine crisis:

  1. Provocative (but unverified): “Reichstag Fire in Kiev“, Dmitry Orlov, 1 March 2014
  2. Recommended: “Here’s What Is Going to Happen With Ukraine“, Kevin Drum, Mother Jones, 1 March 2014 — We’re running the standard script.
  3. The Ukrainian Grand Delusion” by billmon — Summary: “U.S. and E.U. to pro-West Ukrainians: You f***ed up, guys. You trusted us.’”
  4. Recommended: “The Resolve Fairy and the Precedent Fairy“, Robert Farley (Prof Dipomacy, U KY), Lawyers Guns, and Money, 2 March 2014
  5. Why Russia No Longer Fears the West“, Ben Judah, Politico, 2 March 2014 — They neither fear nor respect a West run by plutocrats interested only in money, lacking strength and morality.
  6. Is Putin the Irrational One?“, Pat Buchanan, The Unz Review, 18 March 2014
  7. The U.S. has treated Russia like a loser since the end of the Cold War“, Jack F. Matlock Jr., op-ed in the Washington Post, 14 March 2014 — He was ambassador to the U.S.S.R. from 1987 to 1991
  8. 8 Questions on Ukraine“, David C. Speedie, The Moscow Times, 21 March 2014 — Speedie is with the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs
  9. The Imperial Bully – How Much War Does Washington Want?“, Paul Craig Roberts, CounterPunch, 26 March 2014 — Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan Administration, and is considered a co-founder of Reaganomics.

(b)  Posts about the Ukraine crisis:

  1. About the Ukraine-Russia conflict. First, know what we don’t know., 2 March 2014
  2. America’s hawks sing a song of national decline, 4 March 2014

American Priorities

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Cartoon about NASA

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13 thoughts on “The Ukraine crisis gives us a peak behind the curtain into the workings of our government

  1. The Russians took one of our astronauts up to the int space station yesterday .
    It shows that the deep state keeps going along unhindered, while lame stream media and politicians act like its 1939 again.

  2. For a heartbreaking reminiscence of the hopefulness that Gorbachev embodied read “Freedom’s Sunset” which captures the feelings at the moment before the Soviet Union fell as well as the ensuing application of “free market shock therapy”. This is a novel not a tract; it provides a very personal look into Gorbachev and the history he inhabited–which hasn’t changed. Gorbachev was a heroic and tragic figure.

    http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00DHSKWP0

  3. For Fabius Maximus’ amusement:

    The Last of the Light Brigade

    There were thirty million English who talked of England’s might,
    There were twenty broken troopers who lacked a bed for the night.
    They had neither food nor money, they had neither service nor trade;
    They were only shiftless soldiers, the last of the Light Brigade.

    They felt that life was fleeting; they knew not that art was long,
    That though they were dying of famine, they lived in deathless song.
    They asked for a little money to keep the wolf from the door;
    And the thirty million English sent twenty pounds and four !

    They laid their heads together that were scarred and lined and grey;
    Keen were the Russian sabres, but want was keener than they;
    And an old Troop-Sergeant muttered, “Let us go to the man who writes
    The things on Balaclava the kiddies at school recites.”

    They went without bands or colours, a regiment ten-file strong,
    To look for the Master-singer who had crowned them all in his song;
    And, waiting his servant’s order, by the garden gate they stayed,
    A desolate little cluster, the last of the Light Brigade.

    They strove to stand to attention, to straighen the toil-bowed back;
    They drilled on an empty stomach, the loose-knit files fell slack;
    With stooping of weary shoulders, in garments tattered and frayed,
    They shambled into his presence, the last of the Light Brigade.

    The old Troop-Sergeant was spokesman, and “Beggin’ your pardon,” he said,
    “You wrote o’ the Light Brigade, sir. Here’s all that isn’t dead.
    An’ it’s all come true what you wrote, sir, regardin’ the mouth of hell;
    For we’re all of us nigh to the workhouse, an’ we thought we’d call an’ tell.

    “No, thank you, we don’t want food, sir; but couldn’t you take an’ write
    A sort of ‘to be continued’ and ‘see next page’ o’ the fight?
    We think that someone has blundered, an’ couldn’t you tell ’em how?
    You wrote we were heroes once, sir. Please, write we are starving now.”

    The poor little army departed, limping and lean and forlorn.
    And the heart of the Master-singer grew hot with “the scorn of scorn.”
    And he wrote for them wonderful verses that swept the land like flame,
    Till the fatted souls of the English were scourged with the thing called Shame.

    They sent a cheque to the felon that sprang from an Irish bog;
    They healed the spavined cab-horse; they housed the homeless dog;
    And they sent (you may call me a liar), when felon and beast were paid,
    A cheque, for enough to live on, to the last of the Light Brigade.

    O thirty million English that babble of England’s might,
    Behold there are twenty heroes who lack their food to-night;
    Our children’s children are lisping to “honour the charge they made – ”
    And we leave to the streets and the workhouse the charge of the Light Brigade!

    Rudyard Kipling

    1. Crawford. great post…Was thinking of artwork for the Kipling poem with Uncle Sam on a horse leading the charge…We already fought the Russians in WWI…maybe someone has in mind a violent reunion…

  4. Wandering river commentary….

    For me, at least, I do not know what to read or write anymore about US national security strategy and all the interconnections that entails between history, media, politicians, corporations, grey beard Cold Warriors, think tanks, etc. Exasperated I suppose sums it up. It is odd that the remembrance of WWI is almost upon us and that global unrest–some of it stoked by the USA–could easily spiral out of control with one really bad decision by some state or non-state actor. I don’t think that the Russian takeover of Crimea in a nearly bloodless fashion is that bad decision. There was never any doubt in my mind that the annexation would take place given the lunacy in the Ukraine and the significant history there. I’m sure that military commanders from the USA and Russia were in touch throughout the Russian takeover–at least I hope.

    I think our civilian leaders, if you can call them that, really seem to want a shooting war with Russia and China. Our bankrupt policies these days seem to be summed up in “all options are on the table” and sanctions and sanctimonious statements.

    I’d like to believe that Americans are war-weary but our history of military interventions (http://academic.evergreen.edu/g/grossmaz/zoltantalks.html); domestic violence (38 percent chance of getting away with murder according to BJS); violent video games–in which killing is central; the deification of the military; and, significantly, that our vocabulary has become hollow (murder, torture–these words don’t carry much emotional weight any longer) makes me skeptical of war weariness. If anything, over the last decade we have become numb to what “war” means. Then there is the purchase of guns which I read somewhere has increased in our country.

    I always look around for little tidbits on hunting-killing ’cause I think that provides insights about how we think of killing and war. Our species loves to hunt and kill, with impunity, wolves and other big game. You know in South Africa, there are more lions in captivity bred for “canned hunting” by Americans and Europeans that there are in the wild there.

    I think we are, literally, at war with the world and, it seems, every living thing, on every level. Now comes austerity. The OECD is worried that the masses will take to the streets more aggressively in the coming months and years as “entitlements” get sliced away.

    There is a great piece/talk by Dan Geer titled Trends in Cybersecurity given at the NRO in November of 2013. It speaks to many subsurface issues like those mentioned above with much better articulation. Geer’s views on American polarization are wicked insightful.

    There are a handful of sites I visit for some sanity and FM is one of them (thanks!). FM–and a few other sites– lets me know that there are others scattered around the country/world that hold similar views. Maybe even some of the same frustrations.That is comforting.

    I think John Lennon was right: “Our society is run by insane people for insane objectives. I think we’re being run by maniacs for maniacal ends and I think I’m liable to be put away as insane for expressing that. That’s what’s insane about it”.

    The “maniacs” are in charge.

    1. Bill,

      Thanks for posting — all rational material is welcomed.

      Question: why would anyone take this article seriously? There is hardly any numbers, and it cites no supporting evidence. No scientist, no report — just their own firm, who I have never heard of.

      I have seen news stories about Russian scientists forecasting global cooling, but never found English translations or detailed descriptions.

  5. FB –

    I see the true root of the problem is that we insist on organizing ourselves into nation-states, and nation-states trap humans into sets of behaviors that inevitably result in conflict, confrontation, and occasionally war. Those who benefit from it are simply exploiting the natural results of humans organized in such a way. If we seek to end that exploitation, the conversation has to move away from “Blame this nation-state” to “blame all nation-states, and perhaps find a way to do away with them.”

    As long we have nation-states, they will compete. Some of them will fight, and all of them will play dirty as they seek to establish security, prosperity, and dominance.

    Unfortunately, there’s no real option right now but to continue to have them.

  6. I am bewildered by what is happening – mainly because when events like this happen it is hard to find reliable information. The narrative given by the media of is of a popular uprising and political realignments based on nationalist identities – but that seems to gloss over so much. Thanks for posts like this and for the good links.

    My takeaways from Spinney & Weissman are:
    1) Duplicity from NATO in the wake of Gorbachev’s geopolitical concessions to the end the cold war
    2) Both Democrats and Republicans are in-lockstep when it comes to foreign policy – basically they are all neo-cons
    3) The timing is perfect for a renewed Cold War in terms of getting some new momentum to gin up the MICC.

    I am glad to have these more nuanced insights, but sometimes I think ignorance truly is bliss because I am so sick of reading how our world is managed at the macro level by political and economic opportunists.

    musings…Sure, it seems to make sense that the State Department and the CIA would work in tandem but now it is seems the line between the two entities is totally blurred – and nobody cares. Is the CIA our de facto State Department? What are the implications if it is? It is utter insanity. And so Russia is said to have troops on the border of Ukraine and (as mentioned above) the Country of Georgia cannot drag NATO into conflict but what about Poland who has strong historic ties to western Ukraine? And what about lining up countries around nationalist identities anyway?!? – the last century showed us that that is a recipe for a bloody tangled mess that never resolves anything. The true-blue nationalists never get the land or the reforms they want because the strings are being pulled behind the scenes (and even if they did get what they want it means some other group has been displaced and now they want to fight it out)…

    Now I’d rather bleed out
    a long stream from being lonely
    and feel blessed
    Well than drown, laying face down
    in a puddle of respect
    I was once lost
    in the corridors of the arena
    in blindfolds
    I’ve been the bull
    I’ve been the whip
    I just pulled down the matador

    So now, turn on your lights
    ’cause I’m comin’ home
    I’ve been delivered for the first time

    Jakob Dylan “I’ve Been Delivered” Wallflowers Breach album (2000)

    1. Pastor Ames,

      If you search my name on this site, you’ll find several posts dating back… many years ago relating to a part of your musings. There exists between the Department of State (including a very vaguely defined entity within the DoS, “Intelligence Services” or ‘State Dept. Intelligence’, which seems to be something of a mixture of DoS and former CIA employees and some associated consultants with military backgrounds), the broader civilian “intelligence community”… but more specifically the CIA’s Directorate of Operations, and always shifting factions within the CIA, and the DoD, specifically SOCOM relating to it’s role in what are today commonly called “Tier One Black Ops”…. a great deal of jurisdictional overlap, friction, and inter-service/agency miscommunication and rivalry.

      This is further complicated due to the tendency of both Political parties in the capital to allocate ever increasing percentages of ambassadorial postings to political allies (read sketchy donors and crooked bag-men), and political operatives with little or no Diplomatic experience, knowledge, or qualifications. The previous Administration increased the long standing percentage of pure political appointments from around 20%+ up to around a third, and it’s my understanding that the current administration might broach the 50% threshold (if it hasn’t already). If the actual ambassador and his/her personal staff are inclined to treat their office as a political reward, or primarily as a means of making money for themselves by abusing their authority (and ignoring the Law), then senior career diplomats and/or spooks assigned to that embassy in order to do their jobs, have to factor in and deal with the additional workload, and/or liabilities that go hand in hand with working for an ambassador who doesn’t know, or who doesn’t expect, to actually perform their diplomatic obligation and duties.

      For example: If the Administration assigns a political appointee to a Country with a culture overtly hostile and/or suspicious of said appointees politics or behavior or fecklessness, the government officials in that Country will go out of their way to find someone else in a position of authority within the Embassy to go to instead. Sometimes this is the senior Dept. of State Consular official, but often the person with the most secure tenure (and power) at an embassy is the CIA Station Chief (who’s not using their ‘real’ name, and who has a vague or misleading job title.) Although I’m not notorious for my love of the CIA, one can hardly blame a CIA officer who’s so busy dealing with Consular and administrative headaches, that they’re not able to focus on the performance of their ACTUAL duties…. collecting and managing HUMINT. What are they supposed to do? Call the President or Secretary of State and complain? lol. That’s not going to happen.

      So often, through no fault or desire of their own, the senior CIA official at an embassy becomes the de facto ambassador, as far as their host Country’s ministers and political and military and intelligence leaders are concerned. There are other factors and circumstances that crop up, but it’s probably better not to go into these in detail (I’ve got enough people who hate my guts already!).

      Sincerely,

      A. Scott Crawford

    2. Thank you for the information. Like the set up for the article above says – situations like the Ukraine give people a glimpse of the contours of how power is used to put policies in place. When you see how things like Ukraine actually play out it is frustrating to see who is calling the shots and how the shots are being called. I plan to keep reading up on this and try to find your earlier posts.

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