Gaffe Me Baby One More Time

Around 2006 Congress assured their fellow Americans that they were totally misled by the Bush Administration into Iraq, and that it will never happen again. Never again would Congress go to war, or even think about, if warmongering lobbyists present faulty data. Never again would they applaud such falsity, which was so brazenly presented.

It hasn’t even been a decade and that pledge was already broken, as Congress cheered brazen lies uttered by Poroshenko, lies which the US taxpayer will have to fund. So let’s begin dissolving the myths of Poproshenko’s speech, which can be found on C-Span: http://www.c-span.org/video/?321426-1/ukrainian-president-petro-poroshenko-address-congress

Despite speaking quite a bit about freedom and democracy, Poroshenko made it very clear that the Crimean People, oppressed by Kiev for decades, had no freedom to decide whether they want to be independent or not and no opportunity to hold a democratic referendum on secession. In his speech, which demanded freedom from freedom, Poroshenko stated that the US must supply him with weaponry, because democracies must support one another. Undertaking that task, the one that Congress applauded, could be unconstitutional. There’s not a single clause in the Constitution that requires America’s Government to support other democracies. There is a clause requiring the president to sign treaties and for the Senate to ratify these treaties.

However, even if such a provision existed, I highly doubt that Ukraine can be considered a democracy, because in a democracy the governors aren’t superimposed on regions in order to promote factional strife. Bush cannot superimpose a Republican to punish California for voting for Gore and Obama cannot superimpose a Democrat on Texas to punish Texas for voting for Romney. The superimposition of Taruta and Kolomoiski was not a democratic move and Kiev’s inability to hold democratic elections on a regional level certainly casts doubt on Ukraine being a democracy.

Additionally, Poroshenko should not be deluded into thinking that Americans think of him warmly. Most Americans have no idea who he is, and I doubt that Americans would enjoy funding his doomed Reconquista of the Crimea through the upkeep of sanctions against Russia. Congressional approval rating is at 14%, whereas 78% of the American public disapproves of Congress: http://www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/other/congressional_job_approval-903.html

Poroshenko tried to blame Russia for other “mistakes”, including adhering to their Peacekeeping Mandate in Georgia, (which the EU Report published by the Swiss also backed,) and intervention in Pridnestrovie, which Ukraine could have blockaded at the time that it occurred, but opted not to for financial reasons. He repeated the implicit accusations about Russia being behind the shootings of February 20th and 21st and the Malaysian Boeing, without providing any concrete proof. Interestingly enough, Russia is asking the UNSC to demand that Ukraine cooperation of the Malaysian Boeing investigation, but Poroshenko is refusing to release the dispatcher tapes.

He accused Russia of “fanning the flames of war” in every country with a large Russian population, including Kazakhstan. I’ve yet to see Nazarbayev panicking. The only governments who are making this as big a deal as Ukraine are the usual Russophobes, namely governments of the Baltics and Poland. Somehow, neither the Czech Republic nor Slovakia are concerned; perhaps they have governments that are focused on improving the economy, instead of promoting emigration, a record feat for governments of the Baltics.

There was quite a bit of hyperbole, including claims that the Annexation of Crimea is a huge setback for democracy Worldwide, (but not a word about the Scottish Referendum,) and that the system of international checks and balances is effectively ruined. I’m a bit curious, if Poroshenko is implying that the World is Unipolar, (which he did in his speech,) how can there be a system of checks and balances?

He went on to claim that if Russians aren’t stopped, then they’ll cross the European border, a geographically ignorant statement that Congress really shouldn’t have applauded to, since Russia is a Eurasian country. Poroshenko also added comments such as “how many lives will be ruined by this propaganda machine?” which he really shouldn’t have made. I’m tempted to make a pot-kettle reference, but I wouldn’t want someone to deliberately misunderstand it. Nevertheless, the statement that stole the show was in the middle, and since I cannot fathom to summarize the sheer “brilliance” of the statement, it’s simply too “bright” for me, I’ll quote it verbatim:

“I ASK THAT THE UNITED STATES BE FORCEFUL AND STAND BY ITS PRINCIPLES WITH RESPECT TO FURTHER SANCTIONS AGAINST THE AGGRESSOR. ECONOMIC SANCTIONS ARE IMPORTANT FOR MANY REASONS. THEY HELP TO DISTINGUISH BETWEEN GOOD AND BAD. THEY HELP US TO DEFEND AND STEM THE MORAL HIGH GROUND AND NOT TO SINK INTO THE INDIFFERENCE, DISGUST AND PRAGMATISM.”

Economic sanctions, which apparently distinguish between the good and the bad, (Castro must be Dr. Evil at this point,) should not be based on pragmatism. That’s right, economist, and president of Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko, is claiming that sanctions should not be based on pragmatism. What should they be based on? Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory? How many governors Kiev can superimpose on Eastern Ukraine among factional lines? If not pragmatism, what should sanctions be based on? And, in case you’re wondering, Congress also applauded that statement, so that now everyone can understand why their approval rating is at 14%.

Poproshenko’s gaffe is phenomenally symbolic. There is no pragmatism in Kiev or in Congress. Nevertheless, the people are pragmatic; we have to be in order to survive. And in a real democracy, it’s the people who vote, as Eric Cantor recently found out.

Failed Interventions: Kosovo, Iraq and Libya

The failures of the Clinton Administration are numerous, including Kosovo, Somalia, Rwanda, etc. However, since I’m discussing interventions, Rwanda, which is a lack of an intervention, is out of the picture. Furthermore, since I want to focus on the administration’s major failure, I am going to focus on Kosovo, since it had more long lasting damage than Somalia’s Intervention.

Although Bush had his share of failures, Iraq stands out in the sheer degree of magnitude. As for Obama, he’s still in office and thus the failure in Libya has been the biggest. Ukraine could top it, but that’s yet to be decided.

When I spoke to hockey players, they told me that they don’t care how a game if refereed, as long as it is refereed consistently. If one team can hit, the other team should be able to get away with hitting. If one team cannot hit, then the other team shouldn’t be allowed to do that. Countries are similar in that countries demand a global set of rules. If territorial integrity is the name of the game, then territorial integrity should be honored by all; if it’s self-determination, then that’s something that should be honored by all. What cannot happen is that you cannot have both. You can’t ok hitting for one team but not the other; you can’t apply both principles to the same territory.

The “Territorial Integrity” of Kosovo

Ironically, the biggest challenge to US Hegemony came from the White House, when Washington consistently started to switch rules, right after the fall of the USSR. The borders of modern Europe started to be established in May of 1945. Portugal, Spain, France, the BeNeLux countries, Italy, Switzerland, Czechoslovakia, Austria, Hungary, UK, Ireland, Nordic countries, the USSR, Romania, Bulgaria, Poland, Greece, Yugoslavia, Albania, a divided Germany, and to an extent Turkey, formed the borders of Europe. That’s 27, out of the 48 that we have today. One could add the EuroShrimps, such as Andorra, Monaco, Lichtenstein, San Marino, as well as former British Colonies, namely Cyprus and Malta, which brings the number up to 32. How did the other 15 nations emerge?

There needs to be a major event, such as WWII, for a redrawing of the borders and establishing a new system. The Velvet Divorce of Czechoslovakia added a nation, but that was a minor challenge. Then came the dissolution of the USSR and the creation of nine more nations in three categories, three apiece: Baltics, Caucasian States and Eastern European States.

This served as a major challenge, since the Caucasian States generated wars over Nagorno-Karabakh, South Ossetia and Abkhazia, territories that did not want to remain parts of their states. The same occurred in Moldova with Pridnestrovie and was attempted with Sevastopol in Ukraine, but it ended with death threats. Russia had the Chechen Secession, with which the Yeltsin Government dealt rather poorly. This proved to be a challenge to the system of territorial integrity, a challenged that the UNSC was ill equipped to handle.

Instead of trying to handle this challenge with all of the resources he could muster, Clinton oversaw the same happen to Yugoslavia. By recognizing Slovenia, he encouraged the dissolution of Yugoslavia. The system of territorial integrity existed for less than 5 decades, from 1945 until 1992. Today we can see that it will be replaced. The dissolution of Yugoslavia brought Europe five more members. It was a very violent dissolution, resulting in ethnic cleansing.

Instead of stopping here, Clinton continued to redraw the borders of Europe, this time with Kosovo. It was only a matter of time before territorial integrity would be destroyed. In order to achieve this aim, Clinton proceeded to bomb Belgrade, to get Serbia to surrender even more of their territory. But North Kosovo would not go, not even with the bombings. Although Kosovo was born through self-determination, which is the exact opposite of territorial integrity, North Kosovo was determined to stay with Serbia, and it was a determination that it made all by itself. In response, Clinton promptly trotted out the “territorial integrity” claim.

At this point the Russian Armed Forces had just about had it with Yeltsin and Clinton and launched an attack that captured Kosovo’s main airport. The attack led to the deposition of Yeltsin and the emergence of Putin, prevented ethnic cleansing in North Kosovo, gave Russia a solid ally in Serbia, and froze the conflict between territorial integrity and self-determination. The conflict remained frozen until 2008, and now we’re living through it, with self-determination clearly in the lead. That could not have been established, at least not at this pace, without Kosovo. It also, successfully, challenged America’s Hegemony for the first time since the fall of the USSR.

The Iraq Fiasco

The Iraq Fiasco was a disaster for US foreign policy. Originally the intervention was over WMDs, which Saddam didn’t have. Then it became about Human Rights, which brought on numerous charges of hypocrisy. The Iraq War PR Front suffered a severe setback. There have been no objectives achieved in Iraq, if we’re talking about objectives that are of any serious value to the US.

Instead the Iraq Fiasco produced a destabilized Iraq and enabled Iran to challenge the role of the US as a Middle East mediator. Prior to the War in Iraq, there were four centers of power in the Middle East: Teheran, Riyadh, Tel Aviv and Baghdad. Israel, despite their extraordinary efforts, simply lacks the population to rule the Middle East. The population of the Middle East is over 200 million, which Israel’s 8 million simply cannot rule. If we are to divide the Middle East into power spheres:

Riyadh: Saudi Arabia, Oman, Yemen, Bahrain, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Jordan

Teheran: Iran, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon

Tel-Aviv: Israel

Despite the difference in number of countries, the Teheran Sphere is currently the strongest, in part because Iraq joined said sphere. The War in Iraq effectively shifted the Levant Trio into Teheran’s Sphere, cementing Iran’s status as a major player in the Middle East. Currently Iran holds a plurality of power, and is set to join the SCO. Much like Clinton dethroned “territorial integrity” with Kosovo, Bush not only prevented Iran’s isolation with the Iraq War, but effectively handed over Middle Eastern Mediation to Iran and Iran called the SCO for assistance.

The Libyan Failure

As if this wasn’t enough, Obama thought that he could ride the wave of the Arab Spring. After all, he was an American Progressive, and they were Middle Eastern Progressives. A progressive is a progressive, right? Wrong. Americans and Middle Easterners have different cultural norms. Additionally, Obamacare showed that Obama’s no progressive and the Revolutions usually end up with the radicals on top, not the progressives.

When the Arab Spring swept through Libya, Obama worked hard to dethrone Khadaffi, but Obama failed to find a suitable replacement. If you’re going to intervene in the name of human rights, it’s your job to ensure that the people receive more human rights than they enjoyed under the previous leadership. Instead, because of complete unpreparedness, Libya fell into disarray and tribal warfare, and something tells me that those who butchered Tawargha aren’t too keen on human rights.

The Situation

The irony is that the current situation in Ukraine occurred in part because the US policies of the 1990s and 2000s challenged the norms set up in what used to be the Unipolar World. Kosovo shattered territorial integrity, Iraq shattered the US PR lobby and Libya was yet another reminder that human rights are just another excuse for war, not the reason for it.

These failures stand in sharp contrasts with Putin’s successes. He defended Dagestan, was able to prevent any more attacks on Serbia, checked the attacks against Syria, reintegrated Chechnya into the Russian Federation, stabilized the Caucasus, annexed South Ossetia and gave Abkhazia their long wanted independence. Putin’s only failure thus far has been the inability to prevent the bombing of Libya, a failure that’s eclipsed by his successes. (I didn’t mention anything about Ukraine, because the crisis is still ongoing.) The astute reader might ask “why Libya, why not Iraq?” The reason is that there’s nothing that Putin could’ve done about Iraq. If one lacks the tools to build a house, one should not be blamed for not building the house.

The reason for Putin’s success is pragmatism. He focused on specific goals, provided reasonable resources to achieve those goals and thus ensured the success of his aims. On the other hand, there was little to no pragmatism in Kosovo, Iraq or Libya. What would creating yet another country in Europe achieve for the US? Invading Iraq? Bombing Libya? There’s little to no pragmatism in those approaches.

And that’s why Poroshenko’s gaffe is phenomenally symbolic. There’s no way to defeat Putin in Ukraine if one performs actual analysis. That means that Poroshenko would have to adopt the approach of a leader who can stabilize the situation, keep Ukraine out of military blocs and join the Customs Union. That’s not an approach that Poroshenko wants to take, so he’s attacking pragmatism, an approach that assesses the truth of meaning of theories or beliefs in terms of the success of their practical application.

The problem with that is that the voters are forced to be pragmatic. If I don’t pay my gas bill, I won’t get gas, no matter how many times I yell that my gas company is trying to freeze me. We have to be pragmatic in order to live comfortably. It’s not a choice. My car needs gasoline; I cannot run it on nationalist feelings. My house needs repairs. My insurance companies only accept money. I have no choice but to be pragmatic. The sooner the US/EU leadership understands that voters will vote based on pragmatism, not on “what the Chocolate King wants”, the better for US, EU, Russia and Ukraine.

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5 comments

  1. Brilliant! The “pragmatism” fail is the more pathetic because Poroshenko was billed as “Poroshenko the Pragmatist” in his election campaign, and he was The Man who was going to heal the wounds Ukraine and Russia had exchanged with one another and get on with the business of living. Now kit turns out he does not even know what “pragmatism” means – much like his slightly-less-fat twin, Saakashvili, and “democracy” – and hopes his fellow Ukrainians are as ignorant.

    The folding in of hockey refereeing was also a master-stroke; it makes it instantly understandable to an entire new demographic which is typically not very interested in politics. This is a keeper – well done.

  2. I’d like to challenge your claim that Rwanda was a lack of intervention. Kagame was trained in the US (Fort Leavenworth), prior to his 1991 invasion of Rwanda from Uganda. There are several reports of US and Canadian supply flights from Uganda to RPF occupied Rwanda (and some parts, like Byumba, were depopulated by the RPF).

    If anything, I’d like to ask you to read the so-called “genocide radio” transcripts. Perhaps you could show me the exortations to genocide (hint: cockroaches refers to aristocratic feudal Tutsi refugees who fled during the 1959 revolution, but would return in groups of six and twelve to Rwanda to kill Hutu peasants).

    http://migs.concordia.ca/links/RwandaRadioTranscripts.htm

    Note that the Rwandan government wanted the peacekeepers, while Dallaire and the RPF opposed them.

    1. If the peacekeepers were wanted, but were not able to get there, is that not a lack of intervention? I’m also presuming that you’re referring to the time period when Habyarimana was still alive, right?

      1. The peacekeepers were there to some extent at various times, often under Dallaire (who ran a taxi service for the RPF…), over the wishes of the noted folks (Dallaire, Kagame). They also disarmed Rwandan soldiers upon entry of the their barracks, which is another matter which made it quite impossible (in addition to lacking SAMs) for the Rwandan army to shoot down Habyarimana’s plane (there’s some indication that Dallaire played a role in shutting down one of the functioning runways in Kigali to ease the assassination). But the peacekeepers didn’t interfere with Kagame, to the extent that they were present, other than the de facto taxi service, and possibly some spying on their behalf.

        I’m referring both to the period before and after he was killed. Dallaire was present in Rwanda with peacekeepers (albeit in insufficient numbers, although he initially admitted to CBC that that was *at his request*)—see both War Junkie (sic; Jon Steele) and Rwanda And The New Scramble For Africa (Philpot).

      2. I guess I should be more clear. I regard the RPF invasion as the (proxy) intervention, with the peacekeepers as a sideshow that threatened the intervention by its multinational character.

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