Category Archives: Ukraine

The West’s Audacity of Sanctioning: The Latest Case is Belarus

On 23 May 2021 President Lukashenko ordered the Ryanair plane, flying from Athens to Vilnius, capital of Lithuania, carrying his Nazi-schooled threatening opponent and activist Protasevich and his girlfriend, to be diverted to Minsk. He did so after having received a message of a bomb threat on board the plane from the Swiss e-mail provider Proton Mail. Proton later said the message was sent after the plane was already diverted.  Whom to believe? If Proton Mail is right, why then send a message in the first place?  Neutral Switzerland is again caught red-handed – and red-faced.

The opposition activist Roman Protasevich and his girlfriend, Sofia Sapega, were immediately arrested upon landing in Minsk and are now jailed, awaiting judgment and/or extradition to Ukraine, where Protasevich is accused of having participated fighting in Kiev’s neo-Nazi battalion against Donbass.

As reported by RT, authorities of the self-proclaimed Lugansk Republic (LNR) have accused Roman Protasevich of being part of the neo-Nazi Azov Battalion. The LNR is an unrecognized state located in Ukraine and has existed since the 2014 western prompted “civil war” in Donbass, when separatists unilaterally declared independence from Kiev. The Azov Battalion is an ultra-right-wing military unit now incorporated into the National Guard of Kiev-Ukraine.

RT states that Azov fought during the height of the Donbass war, first seeing action at the Battle of Mariupol. The group is heavily linked to neo-Nazi ideology, with the regiment’s logo featuring the Wolfsangel, a symbol of many divisions of the Nazi German Army during World War II. Joining the Azov Battalion is illegal in Donbass, as well as in Belarus.

An LNR Prosecutor says there is evidence that Protasevich has fought in the Donbass war on the side of Kiev. See here.

Given the tense circumstances — call them western aggressions — after President Lukashenko’s landslide reelection, there may be good justification for Lukashenko to arrest his archenemy, Protasevich, whose unpredictability – and especially, his most likely following orders from the west, predominantly the US and its EU “compradores” – might be a threat to Lukashenko’s life.

The arrest of Protasevich is the official reason for predominantly the US, followed by the vassalic Europeans, to initiate a series of “sanctions” against the Lukashenko Government and Belarus. Sanctions include travel bans for prominent people, the freezing of Belarusian state assets and Belarusian private assets in the US and EU and in the west in general. For those who don’t know, this is only possible because the western dollar-based economy is totally controlled by US/Wall Street banks. Any western currency transaction flows automatically through a US bank – mostly through the SWIFT system – thus, can be interrupted and confiscated at any time by Washington orders.

The point is, the west – again especially the US – wants to get rid of Lukashenko, a close Kremlin ally. They want to replace Lukashenko by a friend of the west, so as to be free to advance with NATO into Belarus, a step closer to Moscow’s doorstep. Belarus is extremely important for Russia, not only as buffer zone, but more so because of Russia’s two key military bases in Belarus. The importance of Belarus to Russia is about equivalent to the importance of Crimea and particularly Sebastopol for Moscow.

NATO aggression — that’s the key reason. The west couldn’t care less about human rights, the reason they bring forward for the sanctions. The west has never cared – and under the current constellation will never care – for human rights. In fact, the west is the world’s biggest and most brutal offender of both civil and human rights. And this doesn’t even take into account the western instigated worldwide covid drama – decimating world population, as well as the world economy.

Just imagine the reverse, a ferocious eastern enemy of the Biden Administration, on a plane approaching the US, but destined to a neighboring country, say Nicaragua or Mexico, or, god-forbid, Cuba – with threats to harm President Biden or people of his entourage. The US would just let it go? I don’t think so. If Washington had a chance to bring the threatening eastern enemy onto US soil and arrest him, they would do so.

Would the east, and I mean the entire eastern alliance of the SCO (Shanghai Cooperation Organization) – about the equivalent of the western alliance – start sanctioning the US, foremost the US President and his close support group; the European Union, putting up travel bans for political leaders and high officials of the US/EU Administrations – plus a myriad of economic sanctions; i.e., interrupting the eastern supply chain for western consumer goods, but foremost, for eastern (mostly Chinese) produced pharmaceuticals on which the west heavily depends?

Have eastern countries ever sanctioned the west? Never, as far as my history books say, and they were all edited and printed in the west. It’s not part of the eastern cultural and ethical standards punishing other countries – even their western self-proclaimed enemies – to punish them for their autonomous and sovereign independent behavior. China, Russia, Syria, Iran, Venezuela, Cuba, North Korea – to name just a few – might not like what is done to them by the west, but “sanctioning” an autonomous sovereign nation, for example, by cutting off their energy supply is not in the cards for the east.

Is it surprising that the east is increasingly going its own way – a way offering incorporation for those who want a peaceful social and economic development, but no longer a way of dependence and obedience to Washington and western puppets?  Sorry to call the European “puppets” of the Washington empire. They may be the “parents” – the parent empire – of today’s US-empire, but that they follow in their offspring’s criminal footstep is not a feast of honor, or of inspiring respect.

Back to Belarus. Lukashenko has done what he had to do to protect the integrity of his country and government – and viewing ahead with a looking glass – to protect their ally Russia from another NATO step closer to Moscow. And so did President Putin, when he had his arch-enemy and traitor, Alexei Navalny, arrested; Navalny, who claimed the nonsensical, having been poisoned by Russia – when the very Russian authorities let him go to the west, Berlin as it were, to receive medical treatment against his “poison”. A huge western anti-Russia propaganda ensued.

Did Russia sanction Germany, the EU or the US for these abject lies?

There seems to be no limit – on any subject, on any issue – to western lies and manipulation of the truth. At least until now. This may change as more people are waking up, seeing ever clearer through the thinning sham of veil. It also seems that the west doesn’t realize that their very empire is committing suicide by this eternal regime of “sanctioning” whomever doesn’t dance according to their flute. Former or potential allies are driven away into the more peaceful camp of eastern respect for the sovereignty of their allies.

The post The West’s Audacity of Sanctioning: The Latest Case is Belarus first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Unwise to Expect Anything Substantial from Biden-Putin Meeting This Week

This Wednesday, the United States president Joe Biden will meet Russian president Vladimir Putin in Geneva in the first meeting of the two since Biden came to power in January 2021. It would be unwise to expect too much from this meeting. There are a number of reasons for advancing this view.

The first of these reasons relates to American motives for the meeting. It is clear that the Americans have decided that the greatest threat to their position in the world comes from the Chinese. Their policy is plainly to try and isolate the Chinese. In this endeavour they are employing a number of tactics. One of these tactics is to negatively portray Chinese behaviour. Hence the constant use of pejorative terms such as “aggressive” or “one-sided” in their attempts to negatively portray Chinese interaction with its neighbours and international trading partners. That this tactic is blatantly obvious, not to mention untrue, has not deterred Americans from its relentless pursuit.

A second tactic is to try and set up an alternative system of international trade to compete with China’s Belt and Road Initiative. This is laughable. The BRI has already signed up more than 140 nations, including 12 members of the European Union. Australia is one of the few nations that have bought into the American propaganda about the BRI. Partial evidence for this is the treatment of the State of Victoria which signed memorandum of understanding with China.

This was bitterly opposed by the Morrison government, although it is impossible to find a rational basis for their opposition. A number of Australia’s neighbours, including New Zealand, have signed into the BRI and there is no evidence that they see themselves as victims of some Chinese plot to subvert their economies.

A third reason the talks will be unlikely to achieve anything of substance is history. The Americans have not ceased their economic and political warfare on Russia. The fact that the United States appears to have withdrawn its opposition to the Russian pipeline to Germany has more to do with a recognition that the Germans see it as essential to their economic well-being than anything else.

The Americans have been prepared to sacrifice the Ukrainians on this point, which is a measure of the importance to United States interest in Europe of keeping the Germans on side. In pursuit of this they are prepared to sacrifice the Ukrainians. This latter fact has come as a rude shock to the Ukrainians who faced the twin humiliation of a visit from United States secretary of state Antony Blinken followed by a blatant refusal by Biden to support Ukrainians when the latter made a telephone call to the White House.

The Americans continue in their demands that Crimea should be returned to Ukraine, which tells one more about the American grasp of geopolitical reality than it does about the likelihood of Crimea ever becoming part of Ukraine again. History is not the least of the reasons why Crimea will remain part of Russia. Australia has bought into the rubbish that Crimea is part of Ukraine. They would do well to remember their own history, including the fact that the Australians fought the Russians in Crimea in the 1850s.

Putin is also well aware of American efforts to destabilise countries on its borders, including a coup attempt last year to overthrow the government of Georgia. This is on top of ongoing destabilisation by the Americans on Russia’s other neighbour Belarus. Biden’s faux friendliness to Russia has not stopped any of these destabilisation efforts.

Part of the problem the Americans have in dealing with Russia is that the upper echelons of power in Washington are appallingly ignorant of Russia. They have fallen into the trap of believing their own propaganda. Their mainstream media is no better. The Russian writer Andrei Martyanov, an American resident and one of the most clearsighted analysts around, is particularly scathing of the quality of United States “analysis” of Russia.

In his latest book, Disintegration, (2021) Martyanov argues that the United States is “non-agreement capable.” Anything that the Americans sign is worthless as they cannot be relied upon to honour that in the longer term. He argues most recently (June 13) that the forthcoming summit between Biden and Putin is primarily for United States domestic consumption and for the benefit of the United States’ vassal states in Europe, designed to prove that “America is back.” Back to what exactly remains an open question.

Another of the real reasons for Biden wanting the summit is the gap that has broken out between Russian and United States weaponry. The United States is currently about 10 years behind the Russians in military technology and Biden is desperate to pin the Russians into some form of treaty that could limit the effects of this devastating gap. Russian weaponry such as the 3M 22 Zircon and the 3M 14 Khalibr are overwhelmingly superior to anything the Americans have. Putin is highly unlikely to agree to anything that will lessen the Russian advantage in these areas.

Biden will be making a desperate attempt to peel the Russians away from the effect of their alliance with China. His motives are obvious. The Americans want to be left with a clear field to refine and expand their attack upon China. That attack could quickly degenerate into a real shooting match given the constant provocation in the South China Sea that the United States (with their British and Australian allies) are constantly engaging in.

The Russia – China allegiance is now 20 years old and has never been stronger. American ambitions about luring the Russians away from the Chinese embrace are doomed to failure.

In short, it would be extremely unwise to expect any achievements from the Biden – Putin summit this week. There will be polite noises and many smiles, but the odds against a serious achievement run into the brick wall of the United States’ profound belief in its mission as “leaders of the free world.” As long as they maintain that delusion the chances of a serious degree of agreement are practically zero.

The post Unwise to Expect Anything Substantial from Biden-Putin Meeting This Week first appeared on Dissident Voice.

NATO Raises Military Tensions against Russia over False Accusations of Russian Threats against Ukraine

A new round of disinformation and threats against Russia is being staged by the NATO military powers and their state and corporate media outlets.

The backdrop is the continued military occupation and aggression by Ukraine in sections of the Donbas region in the east of the country, combined with the Ukrainian government’s ongoing refusal to implement the ceasefire and peace measures of the 2015 ‘Minsk 2’ agreement, Minsk 2 was signed by Ukraine and the pro-autonomy forces of Donbas, with the governments of Russia, France and Germany agreeing to act as guarantors. It was ratified unanimously by no less than the UN Security Council, on February 17, 2014. But this proved of little value in bringing peace because for NATO and its propaganda services, nothing less than heightened military tensions would do. Instead, the world gets a new round of stories of imminent ‘Russian aggression’ or ‘Russian invasion’ against Ukraine.

NATO head Jens Stoltenberg wrote on Twitter on April 6, “I called President @ZelenskyyUa to express serious concern about Russia’s military activities in and around Ukraine & ongoing ceasefire violations.”

White House press secretary Jen Psaki chimed in on April 8 (CNBC) with: “The United States is increasingly concerned by recent escalating Russian aggression in eastern Ukraine, including Russian troop movements on Ukraine’s border.”

The same CNBC report offered in its own words: “In recent weeks, Russia has increased its military presence along the Ukrainian border, sparking concerns in the West of a budding military conflict between the two neighboring countries.”

The seasoned, anti-Russia Globe and Mail daily in Canada baldly asserted on April 10 that there are “too many parallels with 2014”. That’s when, according to the newspaper’s crack anti-Russia writer, “a Russian invasion” of Ukraine saw an “annexation’ of Crimea” and the rise of a “Kremlin fueled conflict” in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine [the former Ukrainian oblasts of Donetsk and Lugansk].

Another tack in the Western media and government propaganda drive is to express bewilderment at why Russia would choose to supposedly act aggressively in recent weeks. “It’s not completely clear what the Russians are doing there, we’d like to understand that more, and that uncertainty is obviously not contributing to a more stable, more secure situation,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told reporters on April 7.

The Washington Post printed a front page story on April 9 saying, “Russia’s motivations for the buildup are still unclear and do not necessarily signal a looming offensive, Ukrainian and Western officials said.”

The New York Times‘ key anti-Russia reporter, Andrew Kramer, keyed in, also on April 9, with, “Videos of military movements have flooded Russian social media for the past month, shared by users and documented by researchers. Western governments are trying to find out why…”

No peace in Ukraine because Kyiv and NATO reject Minsk 2 agreement

Western media carefully avoids reporting the background to the tensions it is stoking, namely that the Minsk 2 ceasefire and agreement remains stalled and unimplemented due to Ukrainian government intransigence, with the blessing of NATO.

As the anti-Russia Politico.eu reported in October 2020, “The Minsk II peace agreement, brokered and guaranteed by France and Germany, has barely inched forward since Zelenskiy and Putin met in December in Paris [2019] with French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel — largely because of the standoff over holding local elections and changes to the Ukrainian constitution that would grant ‘special status’ to the embattled regions of Donetsk and Luhansk.” The text of the Minsk 2 agreement (as distinct from the ‘Minsk Protocol’ of September 2014) is here.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova laid out the situation in her weekly media briefing on April 9. She blamed “Kyiv’s belligerent attitude” for the rise in tensions, saying this is “still based on the illusion that there can be a military solution to the conflict in [Ukraine’s] southeast. Troops and military equipment are being deployed there. Reservist mobilisation plans are being updated. Ukrainian media are fanning hysteria about a mythical Russian threat and Moscow’s plans to attack Ukraine very soon. All this is happening at the prompting of Kyiv’s Western sponsors, with overt public support… We are calling on the Kyiv authorities yet again to act responsibly and start implementing their obligations under the Minsk Package of Measures.”

She explained further, “I would like to remind you that throughout this year alone, NATO is planning seven military exercises in Ukraine. The active phase of the Defender Europe 2021 exercise, the most extensive exercise for many years, is to commence near Ukraine soon. This event is to involve 25 states. NATO warships are entering the Black Sea ever more frequently; the number of such visits increased by one-third last year. U.S., British, Canadian and Lithuanian training missions are deployed in the country. It should be noted that Ukrainian service personnel that have been trained by NATO instructors are often sent to the zone of the so-called ‘anti-terrorist operation’ directed against certain districts of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions.”

In her briefing of April 16, Zakharova reported: “According to the latest report by the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM), the number of ceasefire violations [in Donbas] in the previous two weeks has doubled compared to two weeks earlier, reaching 4,300. The shelling of towns in the Lugansk and Donetsk regions by the Ukrainian armed forces has become heavier. Casualties among civilians in Donetsk and Lugansk are growing. Kyiv continues to deploy more military vehicles and troops in the region. According to SMM reports, Grad multiple rocket launchers, the use of which is banned under the Minsk agreements, have been seen in the settlement of Druzhkovka to the north of Donetsk.”

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said in an interview with Argumenty i Fakty newspaper published on April 8 and reported by TASS, “Things are bad regarding the Normandy format [meetings of the governments of Ukraine, Russia, Germany and France]. We can say that under President Zelensky, things haven’t budged either in fulfilling the Minsk Package of Measures or in further agreements achieved in Paris,” he said.

TASS continued, “Peskov also noted that tensions have been mounting on the contact line. ‘Over the past six months we have heard many times that Kyiv considered the Minsk agreements as dead, that this deal cannot be fulfilled and new documents were needed and so on. This is probably the most dangerous thing,’ Peskov stressed, noting that apart from the Minsk agreements there was no other basis for building international efforts for settlement in Donbas.”

On April 9, Zakharova also blamed Ukraine’s volatile quest to join the NATO military alliance. “We have taken note of a statement by Ukrainian President Zelensky, who visited Donbas yesterday [April 8] and said that the country’s accession to NATO would supposedly help end the conflict in the region. However, contrary to Kyiv’s expectations, potential NATO accession will not only fail to bring peace to Ukraine but will, by contrast, lead to a large-scale rise in tensions in the southeast, possibly causing irreversible consequences for Ukraine’s statehood.”

The unresolved conflicts arising from the 2014 coup in Ukraine

Western media and governments are having a relatively easy time with bamboozling their consumers and subjects, respectively, over events in Ukraine because of widespread ignorance of the recent history of the country.

In February 2014, a violent coup d’etat against the elected president and legislature of Ukraine was staged by extreme-right political parties and their associated paramilitary legions. The coupmakers successively manipulated prevailing social and economic dissatisfaction among many Ukrainians that had them longing for new economic ties to Europe, particularly if these would expand their right to emigrate and work there. For several years, Yanukovych had considered embarking on a path of greater trade and investment ties with Europe, but in late 2013 he changed course after the Russian government offered substantial expansion of investment and trade ties between the two countries. Several months of violent protests, centered in Maidan Square in central Kyiv, followed.

Millions of Ukrainians live and work in Poland and other countries in Europe, and millions more aspire to do the same.

Yanukovych sought refuge in Russia following the coup. An election was staged three months later to replace him and the members of the legislature. In addition to an economic ‘turn to Europe’, such as it has been, the new, right-wing government in Kyiv embarked on an ideological drive to break up the country’s multi-national character and renounce its history as a component of the Soviet Union. An ultra-nationalist ideology with roots in the World War Two collaboration by Ukrainian nationalists with Nazi Germany has become predominant. Widespread measures have been enacted to downgrade if not suppress the status of the Russian language and culture and the shared history of Russia and Ukraine as components of the Soviet Union.

The coup and its aftermath did not go over well, to say the least, with the large sections of the population that reject the ideology of right-wing nationalism if not neo-Nazism. Opposition to the coup was quick to organize, above all in Crimea but also in the eastern (Donbas) and southern (Odessa) regions of the country and in the center of the country where Kyiv is situated. But this opposition was met with extreme violence.

Crimea

Crimea was uniquely placed to resist the coup. Its population is multinational, with approximately 65 per cent of Russian ethnicity and the remainder divided between Ukrainian and Crimean Tatar ethnicities. It was the only region of Ukraine with an autonomous governing authority, the ‘Autonomous Republic of Crimea’ (Wikipedia). Its origins go way back to the self-determination policies of the Russian Revolution which became codified in the constitution of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (founded in 1922). The elected government of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea’ held powers roughly equivalent to U.S. states and Canadian provinces.

Crimeans voted by more than 70 per cent in favour of Yanukovych during the presidential election of 2010 (the vote result for Yanukovych in Donbas was even higher). Using their autonomous institutions that were preserved through the riotous years following the collapse of the Soviet Union (albeit falling short of the outright independence from Ukraine that so many sought), the Crimean people turned to their autonomous government for protection in 2014 from the coup violence that threatened to engulf their republic at the hands of the ultra-nationalist paramilitaries. The government appealed to the Russian military to help preserve social peace, and it organized a referendum vote on March 16, 2014 to secede from the new, right-wing Ukraine and join (many Crimeans would say ‘rejoin’,) the Russian Federation.

The vote passed overwhelmingly, and polls during the years that followed showed strong satisfaction with the result, including among the minority Ukrainians and Tatars. An op-ed by three Western researchers published in the Washington Post on March 18, 2020 reported: “Here’s what we found: Support for joining Russia remains very high (86 per cent in 2014 and 82 per cent in 2019) — and is especially high among ethnic Russians and Ukrainians. A key change since 2014 has been a significant increase in support by Tatars, a Turkic Muslim population that makes up about 12 per cent of the Crimean population. In 2014, only 39 per cent of this group viewed joining Russia as a positive move, but this figure rose to 58 per cent in 2019.”

There was no ‘Russian invasion’ of Crimea in 2014 because thousands of Russian troops were already there by virtue of the military treaty signed by Russia and Ukraine in 1997 (Wikipedia). It guaranteed Russia’s continued military presence in Crimea.

As to the role of Russian troops in preserving social peace, the evidence for that is overwhelming and positive, as polling has consistently reported. There has been precious little social violence in Crimea in the years following the referendum vote, certainly in comparison to the bloodletting that beset Ukraine during and following the coup. Economically, Crimea has become one of the fastest growing regions in Russia, helped along by the construction of the first, lasting road and rail link between Crimea and the Russian mainland.

The Kerch Strait Bridge (formally named the Crimean Bridge) fully opened in 2020. It became a vital project for the Crimean peninsula immediately after the referendum vote in 2014 because in response to the vote, Ukraine severed all road, rail and aircraft ties to Crimea. It even severed the pipeline carrying Crimea’s largest supply of fresh water, though the Western ‘human rights’ brigades did not issue a peep of protest and concern.

Donbas region

Tragically, Odessa and Donbas regions as well as other regions in central and southern Ukraine were quickly engulfed by violence following the coup. Odessa and Donbas had little, meaningful local governing authority to which to turn to protest the coup and they had little recent history of autonomous political organizing within Ukraine’s highly centralized governing structures. On May 2 in the city of Odessa, right-wing paramilitaries attacked a large protest calling for political autonomy for Odessa and other regions alienated from the central government in Kyiv. The rightists burned down the Trade Union House in the city where protesters had taken refuge, killing dozens and wounding hundreds. The Odessa Massacre passed unnoticed in Western media, or it was presented as a confusing ‘clash’ with no one and everyone to blame.

In Donbas, right-wing paramilitaries invaded the region beginning in May 2014. But the proximity to the Russian border, long distances from the parts of Ukraine where the paramilitaries had their social base, and the valiant, early actions of small numbers of pro-autonomy military forces bought enough time, over months, for the population to organize armed self-defense and new organs of autonomous political rule. Today, Donbas consists of two ‘people’s republics’ with elected governments—the former Ukrainian oblasts of Donetsk (population app. 2.3 million, similar to Crimea) and Lugansk (app. 1.5 million). Travel to Russia and the right to work there and acquire citizenship are freely available.

The above presents a starkly different picture than the comical presentation in Western media which posits a frightening Russia looming over Ukraine, just waiting for the opportunity to once again ‘invade’ or otherwise ‘threaten’ its poorer and less well armed Slavic cousin.

Even informative and well-intentioned writers can trip up on the history. For example, in an article published on April 6, writer Vijay Prashad wrote, “In March 2014, after Russian troops entered Crimea, the population voted to join Russia…”

Another informed writer, Oliver Boyd-Barrett at Bowling Green State University, wrote on April 14 of the “separatist republics” of Donetsk and Lugansk. The term ‘seperatist’ is a perjorative one universally employed by Western media. It ignores the fact that the initial struggle in Donbas was a struggle for autonomy and only turned, over time, against continued association with Ukraine when the latter invaded the region and let fly its artillery and snipers in the heavily urbanized region. To this day, the bombs and shells are still falling, egged on if not guided by NATO’s military trainers in Ukraine.

Altogether, the referendum vote in Crimea and the formation of the people’s republics of Donetsk and Lugansk were acts of political self-determination par excellence. Yet liberal opinion in the West and much of left-wing opinion, too, refuse to recognize this fact.

The terms of the Minsk 2 agreement are crystal clear—they envision autonomy, not independence or affiliation to the Russian Federation, for Donetsk and Lugansk. (Of course, after years of being under direct military attack by Ukraine, it is not at all clear that the populations of Donetsk and Lugansk would accept rejoining the violent, right-wing state of Ukraine, even with an autonomy status.) Until social and political protests in Ukraine proper can loosen the stranglehold of extreme-right ultra-nationalists and NATO military advisors over the country, prospects for peace in Donbas are, tragically, remote.

The hold of right-wing Ukrainian nationalism in the West

Liberals and soft-left social-democrats in the West are near-to universal in their acceptance of the received, ‘official’ history of Ukraine and its relations within the Soviet Union, then with Russia. According to this history, Ukraine has been universally oppressed and exploited by the Soviet Union then Russian Federation since its emergence as a modern country following World War One.

Nazism is whitewashed in this scenario because little attention is paid by its ideologues to the calamitous German invasion and occupation of Ukrainian and other Soviet territory during World War Two. Worse, an ‘equivalency’ school of history has arisen in the West during the past decade or so, according to which the crimes of Nazism are said to be equivalent to those during the same years in the Soviet Union, under Stalin. Celebrated author Timothy Snyder tells this version of history in his bestselling 2010 book Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin. A lengthy essay and review sharply criticizing that book by writer Daniel Lazare was published in Jacobin in 2014 and remains essential reading for understanding this history.

Added to this are the years of the Cold War against Russia following WW2, when an unrelentingly negative image of the Soviet Union was burned deeply into the consciousness of people in the West.

Many self-proclaimed Marxists in the West, particularly those of Trotskyist origin, share the ‘official’ view of an unrelenting oppression in Ukraine. A key piece of this view is the false claim that the government in the Soviet Union under the leadership of Joseph Stalin perpetrated a ‘genocide’ against the peasants of Ukraine in 1932-33 in the form of a deliberate famine. The Holodomor, as it is known in Ukrainian terminology, is officially recognized by many Western governments. Schools and other public institutions in Canada and the U.S. recognize the fourth Saturday of November as ‘Holodomor Memorial Day’ and statues and memorials have been erected in both countries.

But Holodomor is a myth. There was a ghastly famine in Ukraine in 1932 and 1933. Tens of thousands died. But there were famines simultaneously in other parts of the Soviet Union as well during those terrible two years. Soviet government policy of the day contributed to famine conditions because of the chaotic conditions which the rushed policy of collectivization of agriculture, begun in 1928, created. But the larger responsibility for the Soviet famines (plural) of the day were multifold:

  • The backward conditions of agriculture inherited by the Soviet Union from the empire of the Tsarist monarchy overthrown by the Russian Revolution in 1917.
  • The destruction caused by the Western invading armies following 1917, seeking to overthrow the Revolution.
  • The harsh economic embargoes by these same Western powers following the defeats of their military interventions of 1918-1921.
  • And harsh climactic conditions which beset the Soviet Union in 1932-33.

For all the chaos that collectivization of agriculture sowed, the early 1930s were the last years of famine in the Soviet Union (the war years under Nazi occupation excepted).

Historian Mark Tauger at West Virginia University is a leading scholar on the Soviet famines of those years. His writings and research and those of other writers can be found here.

The widespread acceptance of Holodomor theory across the political spectrum in the West was an early sign of the political degeneration that came to hobble so many liberals and leftists in Western countries during the latter half of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st century. Attention and research to the evolving Soviet Union fell away. Inattention deepened following the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s. Racist stereotypes against the people of China and Russia that are rooted in the years of the Cold War remained strong in popular consciousness.

In the case of the Trotskyist doctrine, its was deeply scarred by a founding ultraleftism, notably in its dismissal of the significance of the mixed-economy, New Economic Policy which guided the early Soviet Union from 1921 to 1928, and its formal revival in 1929 of the theory of permanent revolution. The latter displaced the theory and strategy of Vladimir Lenin, proven correct in 1917 and countless times since, of the central importance of an alliance of the working class and peasantry for any successful revolutionary transformation.

Today’s global political situation is historically unprecedented. Two, large non-imperialist countries—Russia and China—are resisting imperialist diktats and striving for a multipolar world. This creates countless openings for countries such as Cuba, Venezuela and North Korea to break from the imperialist strangleholds that marked the latter decades of the 20th century and forge alternative economic and political ties that strengthen national sovereignty.

The imperialist countries have been waging military threats and economic embargoes against the peoples of Russia, Crimea and Ukraine for nearly ten years now. It is long past due for the progressive people of the world to condemn these policies and campaign to end them.

This is doubly the case now that China has come squarely into the West’s gunsights. Here, too, the political left in the West needs to rise to the defense of the people and government of China against military threats and economic embargoes.

Rising imperialist war and militarism, the collapse of social policy as evidenced by the coronavirus pandemic, and global warming cry out for building broad-based social and political movements that unite the oppressed peoples of the world in a fight for a world of social justice. Broad-based anti-imperialist unity should be the strategic path for all those concerned about the fate of the planet.

The post NATO Raises Military Tensions against Russia over False Accusations of Russian Threats against Ukraine first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Biden’s Appeasement of Hawks and Neocons is Crippling His Diplomacy

Biden with NATO’s Stoltenberg (Photo credit: haramjedder.blogspot.com)

President Biden took office promising a new era of American international leadership and diplomacy. But with a few exceptions, he has so far allowed self-serving foreign allies, hawkish U.S. interest groups and his own imperial delusions to undermine diplomacy and stoke the fires of war.

Biden’s failure to quickly recommit to the Iran nuclear deal, or JCPOA, as Senator Sanders promised to do on his first day as president, provided a critical delay that has been used by opponents to undermine the difficult shuttle diplomacy taking place in Vienna to restore the agreement.

The attempts to derail talks range from the introduction of the Maximum Pressure Act on April 21 to codify the Trump administration’s sanctions against Iran to Israel’s cyberattack on Iran’s Natanz nuclear facility. Biden’s procrastination has only strengthened the influence of the hawkish Washington foreign policy “blob,” Republicans and Democratic hawks in Congress and foreign allies like Netanyahu in Israel.

In Afghanistan, Biden has won praise for his decision to withdraw U.S. troops by September 11, but his refusal to abide by the May 1 deadline for withdrawal as negotiated under the Trump administration has led the Taliban to back out of the planned UN-led peace conference in Istanbul. A member of the Taliban military commission told the Daily Beast that “the U.S. has shattered the Taliban’s trust.”

Now active and retired Pentagon officials are regaling the New York Times with accounts of how they plan to prolong the U.S. war without “boots on the ground” after September, undoubtedly further infuriating the Taliban and making a ceasefire and peace talks all the more difficult.

In Ukraine, the government has launched a new offensive in its civil war against the ethnically Russian provinces in the eastern Donbass region, which declared unilateral independence after the U.S.-backed coup in 2014. On April 1, Ukraine’s military chief of staff said publicly that “the participation of NATO allies is envisaged” in the government offensive, prompting warnings from Moscow that Russia could intervene to protect Russians in Donbass.

Sticking to their usual tired script, U.S. and NATO officials are pretending that Russia is the aggressor for conducting military exercises and troop movements within its own borders in response to Kiev’s escalation. But even the BBC is challenging this false narrative, explaining that Russia is acting competently and effectively to deter an escalation of the Ukrainian offensive and U.S. and NATO threats. The U.S has turned around two U.S. guided-missile destroyers that were steaming toward the Black Sea, where they would only have been sitting ducks for Russia’s advanced missile defenses.

Tensions have escalated with China, as the U.S. Navy and Marines stalk Chinese ships in the South China Sea, well inside the island chains China uses for self defense. The Pentagon is hoping to drag NATO allies into participating in these operations, and the U.S. Air Force plans to shift more bombers to new bases in Asia and the Pacific, supported by existing larger bases in Guam, Japan, Australia and South Korea.

Meanwhile, despite a promising initial pause and policy review, Biden has decided to keep selling tens of billion dollars worth of weapons to authoritarian regimes in Saudi Arabia, the UAE and other Persian Gulf sheikdoms, even as they keep bombing and blockading famine-stricken Yemen. Biden’s unconditional support for the most brutal authoritarian dictators on Earth lays bare the bankruptcy of the Democrats’ attempts to frame America’s regurgitated Cold War on Russia and China as a struggle between “democracy” and “authoritarianism.”

In all these international crises (along with Cuba, Haiti, Iraq, North Korea, Palestine, Syria and Venezuela, which are bedevilled by the same U.S. unilateralism), President Biden and the hawks egging him on are pursuing unilateral policies that ignore solemn commitments in international agreements and treaties, riding roughshod over the good faith of America’s allies and negotiating partners.

As the Russian foreign ministry bluntly put it when it announced its countermeasures to the latest round of U.S. sanctions, “Washington is unwilling to accept that there is no room for unilateral dictates in the new geopolitical reality.”

Chinese President Xi Jinping echoed the same multipolar perspective on April 20th at the annual Boao Asian international business forum. “The destiny and future of the world should be decided by all nations, and rules set up just by one or several countries should not be imposed on others,” Xi said. “The whole world should not be led by unilateralism of individual countries.”

The near-universal failure of Biden’s diplomacy in his first months in office reflects how badly he and those who have his ear are failing to accurately read the limits of American power and predict the consequences of his unilateral decisions.

Unilateral, irresponsible decision-making has been endemic in U.S. foreign policy for decades, but America’s economic and military dominance created an international environment that was extraordinarily forgiving of American “mistakes,” even as they ruined the lives of millions of people in the countries directly affected. Now America no longer dominates the world, and it is critical for U.S. officials to more accurately assess the relative power and positions of the United States and the countries and people it is confronting or negotiating with.

Under Trump, Defense Secretary Mattis launched negotiations to persuade Vietnam to host U.S. missiles aimed at China. The negotiations went on for three years, but they were based entirely on wishful thinking and misreadings of Vietnam’s responses by U.S. officials and Rand Corp contractors. Experts agree that Vietnam would never violate a formal, declared policy of neutrality it has held and repeatedly reiterated since 1998.

As Gareth Porter summarized this silly saga:

The story of the Pentagon’s pursuit of Vietnam as a potential military partner against China reveals an extraordinary degree of self-deception surrounding the entire endeavor. And it adds further detail to the already well-established picture of a muddled and desperate bureaucracy seizing on any vehicle possible to enable it to claim that U.S. power in the Pacific can still prevail in a war with China.

Unlike Trump, Biden has been at the heart of American politics and foreign policy since the 1970s. So the degree to which he too is out of touch with today’s international reality is a measure of how much and how quickly that reality has changed and continues to change. But the habits of empire die hard. The tragic irony of Biden’s ascent to power in 2020 is that his lifetime of service to a triumphalist American empire has left him ill-equipped to craft a more constructive and cooperative brand of American diplomacy for today’s multipolar world

Amid the American triumphalism that followed the end of the Cold War, the neocons developed a simplistic ideology to persuade America’s leaders that they need no longer be constrained in their use of military power by domestic opposition, peer competitors or international law. They claimed that America had virtually unlimited military freedom of action and a responsibility to use it aggressively, because, as Biden parroted them recently, “the world doesn’t organize itself.”

The international violence and chaos Biden has inherited in 2021 is a measure of the failure of the neocons’ ambitions. But there is one place that they conquered, occupied and still rule to this day, and that is Washington D.C.

The dangerous disconnect at the heart of Biden’s foreign policy is the result of this dichotomy between the neocons’ conquest of Washington and their abject failure to conquer the rest of the world.

For most of Biden’s career, the politically safe path on foreign policy for corporate Democrats has been to talk a good game about human rights and diplomacy, but not to deviate too far from hawkish, neoconservative policies on war, military spending, and support for often repressive and corrupt allies throughout America’s neocolonial empire.

The tragedy of such compromises by Democratic Party leaders is that they perpetuate the suffering of millions of people affected by the real-world problems they fail to fix. But the Democrats’ subservience to simplistic neoconservative ideas also fails to satisfy the hawks they are trying to appease, who only smell more political blood in the water at every display of moral weakness by the Democrats.

In his first three months in office, Biden’s weakness in resisting the bullying of hawks and neocons has led him to betray the most significant diplomatic achievements of each of his predecessors, Obama and Trump, in the JCPOA with Iran and the May 1 withdrawal agreement with the Taliban respectively, while perpetuating the violence and chaos the neocons unleashed on the world.

For a president who promised a new era of American diplomacy, this has been a dreadful start. We hope he and his advisers are not too blinded by anachronistic imperial thinking or too intimidated by the neocons to make a fresh start and engage with the world as it actually exists in 2021.

The post Biden’s Appeasement of Hawks and Neocons is Crippling His Diplomacy first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Arsonist US Plays With Fire

You would think riling up one nuclear power is bad enough, but the United States seems intent on doubling the risk of starting a world war by gratuitously aggressing Russia and China simultaneously.

Throwing around personal insults against the leaders of those two countries is one thing. But actually winding up military tensions is quite another which shows how reckless the Biden administration is.

Since Joe Biden became the 46th president, there has been an alarming increase in hostile rhetoric and conduct by the US toward Russia and China.

Ludicrously, the Biden administration is accusing Moscow and Beijing of aggression towards European and Asian allies when it is the United States that is building up warships, warplanes, missiles and troops in sensitive regions that threaten Russia and China.

Under this Democrat president, the US is increasing lethal military supplies to the Ukraine where an anti-Russia regime in Kiev has been waging a seven-year war against ethnic Russian people in the east of that country on Russia’s border. It is no coincidence that the US-backed regime in Kiev is emboldened to step up offensive military attacks on civilian centers in east Ukraine. The city of Donetsk is this week reportedly coming under intensified shelling.

Likewise, the Biden White House has become more vocal in support of Taiwan, the breakaway island territory off China’s southern coast. US military leaders are warning that China might invade the island, which most nations view to be a sovereign part of Chinese territory. Since 1979, even the US recognized this under its One China policy.

Washington is, however, conducting a record number of military maneuvers in the South China Sea and through the Strait of Taiwan, only about 100 kilometers from mainland China. This week – for the fourth time since Biden took office, the US dispatched a guided-missile destroyer through the Strait.

China’s territorial claims in the region have a lot more credibility than America’s posturing about “defending allies” and so-called “freedom of navigation” exercises.

But the reckless rhetoric from the Biden administration – labelling Russia and China as “aggressors” – is serving to embolden regimes in Ukraine and Taiwan to engage in dangerous provocations.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky this week called on the US-led NATO alliance to fast-track membership for his country. Such a move would be incendiary for Russia’s national security. The Kiev regime is also intensifying offensive operations in east Ukraine which is another form of provocation toward Russia due to Washington’s indulgence.

Similarly, the anti-China separatists in Taiwan are feeling ever-more confident in taking a militarist posture. With American warships sailing nearby, the Taiwanese authorities this week warned they would not hesitate to shoot down Chinese aircraft that approach the island. This is a flagrant provocation to Beijing’s authority.

The United States has indicated it will support Ukraine or Taiwan if a war with Russia or China were to erupt. Such a policy is an incentive for rogue conduct leading to war.

It is perplexing to see just how far the Biden administration is willing to go in risking a war with either Russia or China, or both at the same time. Any such war would inevitably result in a nuclear conflagration in which tens of millions of people would die, if not bring about the end of the world as we know it.

This is a measure of how desperate the American imperial state is in trying to maintain its ambitions of global hegemony and domination. US global power is waning – in line with the historic failing of its capitalist system – and in order to offset that loss of power, its ruling class are resorting to maniacal militarism against perceived geopolitical rivals. The objective is to intimidate and terrorize the world into accepting its “rules-based order”. That is rules ordered by the US for its advantage and privileges over others.

Russia and China, and many other nations, are refusing to capitulate to America’s diktat. There was a time when such bullying may have worked. Not any more.

American rulers – the deep state – and their puppet president are behaving like arsonists. They’re playing with fire in provoking Russia and China. It is criminal and it’s psychopathic recklessness. It’s also abominable that the planet is being held hostage by such a crazy American regime.

• First published in Sputnik News

The post Arsonist US Plays With Fire first appeared on Dissident Voice.

The Biden Administration Proving to Be More of the Same Old Discredited Policies as its Predecessor

There were a number of political commentators who urged us to give newly elected United States president Joe Biden a chance to show that he would offer a new approach to the multiple problems facing the United States alliance. Well, he had an opportunity to do so. But the speech that Biden gave on 19th of February of this year that “an attack on one is an attack on all” tells a different story. This “attack” was going to be made by either Russia or China, whom he declared to be the greatest enemy of both the United States and Europe.

What Biden hoped to achieve, beyond gratifying the exorbitant United States military budget, in attacking Russia and China as the United States’ main threats is unclear. Certainly, any kind of military attack on those two nations, or either of them, is a fantasy invoked by more than a few of the United States strategic planners. This fantasy has not stopped the United States from using its military to continue to threaten both Russia and China.

Three days after his speech, the United States deployed four B1 heavy bombers to Norway. According to the CNN commentary on the move, the objective of this particular exercise was to send “a clear message” to Russia that the United States intended to operate in the strategically important Arctic region. The move was also apparently to send a message that the United States will defend allies in the Arctic area against “any Russian aggression.”

That the United States is unable to point to a single instance of this alleged “Russian aggression” is apparently immaterial. That the placing of United States military assets within reach of Russia’s borders could reasonably be perceived as an American threat to Russia is a concept that appears beyond American minds to grasp.

That the United States military deployment to threaten Russia and China is contrary to international law is apparently an idea that fails to trouble United States planners. Their double standard in this regard was exemplified in the United States’ response to a speech by China’s foreign minister Wang on 22nd of February indicating a continued Chinese willingness to communicate on problems that may exist.

The conciliatory approach by the Chinese was rudely rebuffed by United States State Department spokesman Ned Price, who instead of welcoming the offer of constructive dialogue preferred to characterise it as reflecting the alleged continuing pattern of China’s tendency to “avert blame for its predatory economic practices, it’s lack of transparency, its failure to honour international agreements, and its repression of universal human rights.” This is a classic example of the pot calling the kettle black, because each and every one of Mr Price’s allegations could be applied to United States behaviour over the past 70+ years.

Further convincing evidence that NATO (and Biden) are still singing from a long-discredited song sheet is found in the recently published document NATO 2030, prepared by a group of so-called “wise persons.” It contains 138 specific proposals that does nothing to modify French president Macron’s description of NATO as “brain dead.”

In comments made just prior to the documents publication, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg declared that “China posed important challenges to our security.” At a press conference given to broadcast his views, Stoltenberg claimed that China did not share “our values” and tries to “intimidate other countries.”

Unfortunately, Stoltenberg is locked in the same outdated time frame as Biden. China is now the largest trading partner for the European Union, replacing the United States in that role last year. A total of 18 of the European Union nations have now signed a Memorandum of Understanding regarding China’s Belt and Road Initiative. According to independent economic data the European Union member States that have signed up to the BRI are now experiencing faster economic growth rates than those who have not signed on.

This development is a classic illustration of what Chinese president Xi refers to as a “win win situation”. Critics of the Chinese moves have claimed that it is all part of some undefined “Chinese plot” to take over the economies of Western Europe. The economic logic behind such a claim is manifestly lacking.

NATO and the Biden administration are happy to promote this anti-China rhetoric, regardless of its detachment from reality, but also manifestly at odds with the experience of countries that have embraced the Chinese initiative.

Similarly, on 20th February Biden repeated tired US claims that Russia had violated international law with its purported annexation of Crimea. This is a claim endlessly repeated in the western media. Such claims show a casual disregard for Crimea’s history. Alarmed at the manifestly illegal coup that replaced the legitimate Ukrainian government in early 2014, the Crimean parliament voted to re-join the Russian Federation.  I say “re-join” because Crimea had been part of Russia for centuries before being gifted to Ukraine in 1953 by then Russian President Khrushchev.

The issue was then put to a referendum on whether or not the people wanted to re-join Russia. It is the “re-join” component that is notably lacking from western commentary. The people of Crimea voted overwhelmingly (>90%) in favour of reunification and the Russian parliament in turn voted to allow them to re-join. All of this relevant history is missing from western discussion of what happened. Instead, there is a constant misrepresentation of events that also ignores the right, guaranteed by the United Nations Charter, for such self-determination votes to occur.

That Kosovo was similarly separated from Serbia in 2008 is a fact that the critics of Crimean separation from Ukraine carefully avoid, not least because the Kosovo government has become a major United States asset with an enormous military presence.  It also serves as a major conduit to Europe of heroin from Afghanistan. That the United States had similar visions for its navy in Crimea, replacing the Russians, is another part of the equation carefully avoided in western analysis.

For the United States, what happened in Crimea is yet another stick with which to beat the Russians. That Biden, who had his own particular role in the Ukrainian revolution, is unlikely to have a change of heart on this topic is yet further proof that there will be no substantive changes in United States foreign policy under the new administration.

Fortunately, the world has changed since he last held power. The sooner the United States recognises that fact and adjusts its foreign policy accordingly, the safer we are all likely to be.

The post The Biden Administration Proving to Be More of the Same Old Discredited Policies as its Predecessor first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Why Victoria Nuland is Dangerous and Should Not be Confirmed

Victoria Nuland exemplifies the neocons who have led US foreign policy from one disaster to another for the past 30 years while evading accountability. It is a bad sign that President Joe Biden has nominated Victoria Nuland for the third highest position at the State Department, Under Secretary for Political Affairs.

As a top-level appointee, Victoria Nuland must be confirmed by the US Senate. There is a campaign to Stop her confirmation. The following review of her work shows why Victoria Nuland is incompetent, highly dangerous and should not be confirmed.

Afghanistan and Iraq

From 2000 to 2003, Nuland was US permanent representative to NATO as the Bush administration attacked then invaded Afghanistan. The Afghan government offered to work with the US remove Al Qaeda, but this was rejected. After Al Qaeda was defeated, the US could have left Afghanistan but instead stayed, established semi-permanent bases, split the country, and is still fighting there two decades later.

From 2003 to 2005 Nuland was principal foreign policy advisor to Vice President Dick Cheney who “helped plan and manage the war that toppled Saddam Hussein, including making Bush administration’s case for preemptive military actions based on Iraq’s alleged weapons of mass destruction.” The foreign policy establishment, with Nuland on the far right, believed that removing Saddam Hussein and installing a US “ally” would be simple.

The invasion and continuing occupation have resulted in over a million dead Iraqis, many thousands of dead Americans, hundreds of thousands with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder at a cost of 2 to 6 TRILLION dollars.

From 2005 to 2008 Victoria Nuland was US Ambassador to NATO where her role was to “strengthen Allied support” for the occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq.

On the 10th anniversary of the invasion, when asked about the lessons learned Nuland responded: “Compared to where we were in the Saddam era, we now have a bilateral security agreement … We have deep economic interests and ties. We have a security relationship. We have a political relationship.” Nuland is oblivious to the costs. Nuland’s loyalties are to the elite who have benefitted from the tragedy. According to online google, “One of the top profiteers from the Iraq War was oil field services corporation, Halliburton. Halliburton gained $39.5 billion in ‘federal contracts related to the Iraq war.’ Nuland’s boss, Vice President Dick Cheney, was the former the CEO of Halliburton.

In January 2020, seventeen years after the US invasion, the Iraqi parliament passed a resolution demanding the US troops and contractors leave. Now, over one year later, they still have not left.

Libya

In spring 2011, Victoria Nuland became State Department spokesperson under Hillary Clinton as she ramped up the “regime change” assault on Moammar Gaddafi of Libya. UN Security Council resolution 1973 authorized a “No Fly Zone” for the protection of civilians but NOT an air assault on Libyan government forces.

That summer, as US and others bombed and attacked Libyan forces, she dismissed the option of a peaceful transition in Libya and falsely suggested the UN Security Council required the removal of Gaddafi.

The campaign led to the toppling of the Libyan government and killing of Gadaffi. Commenting on the murder and bayonet sodomizing of Gaddafi, Nuland’s boss Hillary Clinton chortled: “We came, we saw, he died.”

Before the overthrow, Libya had the highest standard of living in all of Africa. Since the US led assault, Libya has become a failed state with competing warlords, huge inflation, huge unemployment, and exploding extremism and violence that has spread to neighboring countries. Most of the migrants who have crossed the Mediterranean trying to reach Europe, or drowned trying to, are coming from Libya. By any measure, the goal of “protecting” Libyan civilians has failed spectacularly.

Syria

One reason that Clinton and hawks such as Nuland wanted to overthrow Gaddafi was to get access to the Libyan military arsenal. That way they could funnel arms to insurgents seeking to overthrow the Syrian government. This was confirmed in secret DOD documents which state: “During the immediate aftermath of, and following the uncertainty caused by, the downfall of the [Gaddafi] regime in October 2011 and up until early September of 2012, weapons from the former Libya military stockpiles located in Benghazi, Libya were shipped from the port of Benghazi, Libya to the ports of Banias and the Port of Borj Islam, Syria.”

In January 2012, Nuland claimed the US is “on the side of those wanting peaceful change in Syria.” While saying this, the US was supplying sniper rifles, rocket propelled grenades, and 125 mm and 155 mm howitzer missiles to the “peaceful” protestors.

The US “regime change” strategy for Syria followed the pattern of Libya. First, claim that the protestors are peaceful. Then claim the government response is disproportionate. Put pressure on the target government to paralyze it, while increasing support to proxy protesters and terrorists. As documented, there were violent Syrian protesters from the start. During the first days of protest in Deraa in mid-March 2011, seven police were killed. As spokesperson for the State Department, Nuland was a major figure promoting the false narrative to justify the “regime change” campaign.

Ukraine


In September 2013 Victoria Nuland was appointed Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs. The uprising in the central plaza known as the Maidan began soon after her arrival. To underscore the US support for the protests, Nuland and Senator John McCain passed out bread and cookies to the crowd.

Protests continued into January 2014. The immediate issue was whether to accept a loan from the International Monetary Fund which was going to require a 40% increase in natural gas bills or to accept a loan from Russia with the inclusion of cheap oil and gas. The opposition wanted the Yanukovych government to take the EU/IMF loan. The opposition was comprised of different factions, including the neo-Nazi Svoboda Party and Right Sector.

In early February 2014, an audio recording of Victoria Nuland talking the US Ambassador to Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt, was leaked to the public. The 4-minute conversation was a media sensation because it included Victoria Nuland saying, “Fuck the EU.”

But Nuland’s cursing was a distraction from what was truly significant. The recording showed that Nuland was meddling in domestic Ukraine affairs, had direct contacts with key opposition leaders, and was managing the protests to the extent she was deciding who would and would not be in the post-coup government! She says, “I don’t think Klitsch [Vitaly Klitschko] should go into government…… I think Yats [Arseniy Yatseniuk] is the guy… “

The reason she wanted to “Fuck the EU” was because she did not approve the EU negotiations and compromise. Nuland and Pyatt wanted to “midwife” and “glue” the toppling of the Yanukovych government despite it being in power after an election that was observed and substantially approved by the OSCE (Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe).

Over the next few weeks, the protests escalated. The President of the American Chamber of Commerce in Kiev, Bernard Casey, described what happened next. “On February 18-20, snipers massacred about 100 people [both protestors and police] on the Maidan …. Although the US Ambassador and the opposition blamed the Yanukovych Administration, the evidence points to the shots coming from a hotel controlled by the ultranationalists, and the ballistics revealed that the protestors and the police were all shot with the same weapons.”

The Estonian Foreign Minister later said the same thing: “behind the snipers it was not Yanukovych, but it was somebody from the new (opposition) coalition”.

President of the American Chamber of Commerce President for Ukraine, Bernard Casey, continues: “On February 20, 2014 an EU delegation moderated negotiations between President Yanukovych and the protestors, agreeing to early elections – in May 2014 instead of February 2015…. Despite the signing of an agreement … the ultranationalist protestors, and their American sponsors, rejected it, and stepped up their campaign of violence.”

The coup was finalized over the coming days. Yanukovych fled to for his life and Yatsenyuk became President after the coup as planned.

One of the first acts of the coup leadership was to remove Russian as an official state language, even though it is the first language of millions of Ukrainians, especially in the south and east. Over the coming period, the “birth” of the coup government, violence by ultranationalists and neo-Nazis was prevalent. In Odessa, they attacked people peacefully protesting the coup. This video shows the sequence of events with the initial attack followed by fire-bombing the building where protestors had retreated. Fire trucks were prevented from reaching the building to put out the fire and rescue citizens inside. Forty-two people died and a 100 were injured.

A bus convoy heading back to Crimea was attacked with the anti-coup passengers beaten and some killed.

In the Donbass region of eastern Ukraine, protests against the coup were met by deadly force.

Victoria Nuland claims to be a “victim” because her conversation was leaked publicly. The real victims are the many thousands of Ukrainians who have died and hundreds of thousands who have become refugees because of Nuland’s crusade to bring Ukraine into NATO.

The audio recording confirms that Nuland was managing the protests at a top level and the results (Yats is the guy) was as planned. Thus, it is probable that Nuland approved the decision to 1) deploy snipers to escalate the crisis and 2) overturn the EU mediated agreement which would have led to elections in just 3 months.

Why were snipers deployed on February 18? Probably because time was running out. The Russian leadership was distracted with the Sochi Olympic Games ending on February 23. Perhaps the coup managers were in a hurry to “glue” it in advance.

Russia

During the 1990’s, Nuland worked for the State Department on Russia related issues including a stint as deputy director for former Soviet Union affairs. The US meddled in Russian internal affairs in myriad ways. Time magazine proudly proclaimed: “Yanks to the rescue: the secret story of how American advisors helped Yeltsin win.” The Yeltsin leadership and policies pushed by the US had disastrous consequences. Between 1991 and 1999, Russian Gross Domestic Product decreased by nearly 50% as the social safety net was removed. The Russian economy collapsed, oligarchs and lawlessness arose. Nuland was part of the US group meddling in Russia, deploying economic “shock therapy” and causing widespread social despair.

Meanwhile, the U.S. reneged on promises to Soviet leader Gorbachev that NATO would not expand “one inch” eastward. Instead, NATO became an offensive pact, bombing Yugoslavia in violation of international law and then absorbing Poland, Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania, the Baltic states, the Czech Republic, Albania, Croatia and more.

Coming into power in 2000, Putin clamped down on the oligarchs, restored order and started rebuilding the economy. Oligarchs were forced to pay taxes and start investing in productive enterprises. The economy and confidence were restored. Over seven years, GDP went from $1300 billion (US dollars) to $2300 billion. That is why Putin’s public approval rating has been consistently high, ranging between 85% and a “low” approval rating of 60%.

Most Americans are unaware of these facts. Instead, Putin and Russia are persistently demonized. This has been convenient for the Democratic Party establishment which needed a distraction for their dirty tricks against Bernie Sanders and subsequent loss to Donald Trump. The demonization of Russia is also especially useful and profitable for the military industrial media complex.

Victoria Nuland boosted the “Steele Dossier” which alleged collaboration between Russia and Trump and other salacious claims. The allegations filled the media and poisoned attitudes to Russia. Belatedly, the truth about the “Steele Dossier” is coming out. Last summer the Wall Street Journal reported “the bureau (FBI) knew the Russia info was phony in 2017” and that “There was no factual basis to the dossier’s claims”.

While promoting disinformation, Victoria Nuland is pushing for a more aggressive US foreign policy. In an article titled “Pinning Down Putin”, she says “Russia’s threat to the liberal world has grown”, that Washington should “deter and roll back dangerous behavior by the Kremlin” and “rebuff Russian encroachments in hot spots around the world.”

The major “hot spots” are the conflicts which Victoria Nuland and other Washington neocons promoted, especially Syria and Ukraine. In Syria, the US and allies have spent hundreds of BILLIONS of dollars promoting the overthrow of the Assad government. So far, they have failed but have not given up. The facts are clear: US troops and military bases in Syria do not have the authorization of the Syrian government. They are actively stealing the precious oil resources of the Syrian state. It is the US not Russia that is “encroaching”. The dangerous behavior is by Washington not Moscow.

Conclusion

Victoria Nuland has promoted a foreign policy of intervention through coups, proxy wars, aggression, and ongoing occupations. The policy has been implemented with bloody and disastrous results in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, and Ukraine.

With consummate hypocrisy she accuses Russia of spreading misinformation in the US, while she openly seeks to put “stress on Putin where he is vulnerable, including among his own citizens.” She wants to “establish permanent bases along NATO’s eastern border and increase the pace and visibility of joint training exercises.”

Victoria Nuland is the queen of chicken hawks, the Lady Macbeth of perpetual war. There are hundreds of thousands of victims from the policies she has promoted. Yet she has not received a scratch. On the contrary, Victoria Nuland probably has profited from a stock portfolio filled with military contractors.

Now Victoria Nuland wants to provoke, threaten and “rollback” Russia. A quick look at a map of US military bases shows who is threatening whom.

Victoria Nuland is highly dangerous and should not be confirmed.

The post Why Victoria Nuland is Dangerous and Should Not be Confirmed first appeared on Dissident Voice.

What is Canada’s NDP Thinking?

Brand a few neo-Nazis in Canada as “terrorists” but train and give military assistance to a much larger and more violent group of them in the Ukraine. What’s going on?

The New Democratic Party’s successful push to list the Proud Boys as a terrorist organization highlights their indifference to imperialism and a decidedly ‘North Americanist’ worldview. A tool of US-led global domination, Canada’s terrorist list should be abolished not have names added to it.

One indication that the push to list the Proud Boys was “North Americanist” posturing is revealed by the NDP’s indifference to the best organized neo-Nazis in the world. A political party serious about listing white supremacist organizations would include right wing groups in the Ukraine that helped bring down the government in 2014. But Ottawa – with NDP backing – has supported those forces as opponents of Russia. Using the Nazi “Wolfsangel” symbol and praising officials who helped slaughter Jews and Poles during World War II, the Azov Battalion is a prime example. In 2018 Canada’s military attaché in Kiev met Azov representatives, Canada finances a police force aligned with them and our military is probably training them.

While none of the more influential Ukrainian neo-Nazi groups are on the list, the far-right Russian Imperial Movement was one of the 13 groups recently added. But, that group is viewed as a geopolitical competitor since it helped pro-Russian separatists in the war in eastern Ukraine.

Another violent, racist group that could be listed, but isn’t because it serves the US Empire, is Venezuela’s Voluntad Popular (VP). The Proud Boys role in the January 6 siege of Capitol Hill – what prompted NDP leader Jagmeet Singh to call for their designation as a terrorist organization – is no worse than VP’s violent coup efforts. In January 2014 VP leader Leopoldo López launched La Salida (exit/departure) in a bid to oust Nicolas Maduro who had just won a presidential election even the Stephen Harper government accepted. VP activists formed the shock troops of “guarimbas” protests that left 43 Venezuelans dead, 800 hurt and a great deal of property damaged. Dozens more were killed in a new wave of VP-backed protests in 2017, including Orlando Jose Figuera who “was burned alive on May 20 in Caracas’ Altamira neighborhood, one of the capital’s affluent areas, after opposition protesters suspected that the 21-year-old Black man was a government supporter.”

At the time NDP deputy foreign affairs critic Hélène Laverdière criticized the Harper government for being soft on Maduro! Subsequently, Laverdière supported the Liberal government in backing VP National Assembly member Juan Guaidó’s bid to seize power. (Amidst criticism from NDP activists, Singh later equivocated on explicitly recognizing Guaidó.)

The Mujahedin-e-Khalq (MEK) is another group that demonstrates the imperial politics driving terrorist designations. It was removed from the terror list in 2012 prompting the Globe and Mail to note: “Changes to Canada’s terror list a shot across Iran’s bow”. At the same time the Harper government added the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Qods Force, an offshoot of Iran’s military. The MEK was removed because it was working with Mossad and the CIA to assassinate Iranian scientists and others. (Under different legislation Iran was also designated a “state sponsor” of terrorism alongside Syria.)

Who are the 70 groups on Canada’s terror list?

Twelve per cent of the list is from a long-occupied land with one tenth of one per cent  of the world’s population. Representing much of Palestinian political life, eight of the oppressed nation’s organizations are listed, ranging from the left secular Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine to the elected Hamas ‘government’ in Gaza.

A dozen years after the terror list was established the first ever Canadian-based group was added. In 2014 the International Relief Fund for the Afflicted and Needy (IRFAN) was designated a terrorist organization for engaging in the ghastly act of supporting orphans and a hospital in the Gaza Strip through official (Hamas-controlled) channels.

Compared to the Israeli military, Hamas looks like a Quaker social justice club. But the NDP is not pushing to remove Palestinian organizations from the list. Nor is it calling for the Israeli military to be added. In fact, no NDP MP has yet been willing to publicly say Canada should uphold its own laws and stop illegal recruitment for the Israel Defence Force in Canada!

Two other groups on the terror list are leftist Colombian guerilla groups Ejército de Liberación Nacional and Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia. But not listed is the far more violent US-backed Colombian military, which has long operated “death squad tactics”. Between 2002 and 2008 the Colombian military murdered more than 10,000 civilians so commanders could bolster their tallies of ‘enemies’ killed in combat. With the FARC disarming as part of a 2017 peace accord the number of indigenous and social movement leaders killed in Colombia has risen to shocking levels.

The dynamic is not dissimilar with a major Turkish group listed. Canada considers the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) a terrorist organization, but not the military of our NATO ally. Through the 1990s and early 2000s the PKK fought a bloody campaign for autonomy. But the bulk of the violence was meted out against Kurdish civilians by the US-armed Turkish military.

Even some of the more violent and reactionary groups on the list have legitimacy. The Taliban governed Afghanistan until the US, Canada and others invaded. Twenty years later they still control much of the country.

Al-Shabab was also part of a short-lived government in Somalia. In 2006, 50,000 Ethiopian troops invaded Somalia, which saw about 6,000 civilians killed and 300,000 flee the country. Washington prodded Addis Ababa into intervening and the US literally fuelled the invasion, providing gasoline, arms and strategic guidance as well as launching air attacks. The invasion/occupation led to the growth of al-Shabab, which waged a violent campaign against the foreign forces in the country and Somalia’s transitional government. Al-Shabab grew from being the relatively small youth wing of the Islamic Courts Union to the leading oppositional force in the country. It also radicalized and turned them from being a national organization towards increasing ties to Al Qaeda.

Al Qaeda and ISIS affiliates represent a number of the groups on the terrorism list. But, as distasteful as they may be, their listing also highlights a double standard. Al Qaeda and ISIS are responsible for a fraction of the US military’s terror. Rather than list the Marines, Canada has hundreds of accords with the US military and Canadian generals regularly lead US troops (in Iraq after the 2003 invasion, Haiti after the 2010 earthquake, etc.).

Beyond consisting almost entirely of organizations viewed as challenging US hegemony, Canada’s terrorism list itself reflects imperial dynamics. These lists offer powerful nations an added instrument to exclude and punish. For this reason, the world’s leading bully has copious terrorist legislation. While the US has various forms of terrorist designations, the UN and many countries in the Global South do not. Haitian officials understand full well that as much as many people there may want the Marines or CIA listed as ‘terrorists’ they are simply not in a position to do so.

The NDP leadership is indifferent to the imperial implications of Canada’s terrorism list. They pushed to list the Proud Boys because it garnered them headlines amidst widespread legitimate dislike of Donald Trump. But it is not progressive to reinforce a fundamentally racist US-led imperial system.

The post What is Canada’s NDP Thinking? first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Defunding the Myths and Cults of Cold War Canada

For decades the Canadian government has been supporting East European émigré associations whose much-revered founders, leaders and war heroes include veterans of Waffen SS divisions and other fascist military formations, perpetrators of the Holocaust and other ethnic-cleansing campaigns, officials from and apologists for Nazi puppet regimes, postwar CIA propaganda assets, proponents of Cold War terrorist groups like the US-armed Nicaraguan contras and Afghan mujahideen, and other virulently anticommunist “freedom fighters” and their ideologues.

Over the past few years alone, the most influential of these ethno-nationalist émigré organizations — those representing the right-wing Ukrainian diaspora — have received millions of dollars in Canadian government grants and contributions. For many decades, the Canadian government’s financial largesse has helped subsidize the most powerful of these groups’ day-to-day operations, their office spaces, meeting halls, events and publications. In doing so the Canadian government continues to aid and abet these associations’ efforts to glorify, with cult-like adoration, their fascist heroes from WWII and the Cold War. (Read articles with Details on Canadian government funding of fascist-linked groups)

Throughout the Cold War, Canada’s right-wing émigré groups—such as those representing Czechs, Estonians, Latvians, Lithuanians, Poles, Slovaks and Ukrainians—were enthusiastic cheerleaders for the Canadian government’s devotion to proUS and proNATO policies. Their ongoing support for Canada’s hawkish foreign policies has not wavered.

Long recognized by Canada’s government as officially representing their ethnic communities, these émigré organizations continue to promote propaganda narratives that whitewash their histories. These histories would be publicly embarrassing to them and to their government allies if the mass media were ever to expose them. However, the corporate press has itself been deeply complicit in perpetuating the very propaganda that still needs to be exposed.

Canada’s ethno-nationalist organizations continue to push their political agendas by initiating and assisting right-wing government policies that suit their shared goals. They also serve government interests by mobilizing electoral support from their ethnic communities and the public at large for mainstream politicians, their parties and corporate-friendly programs.

Exposing the fascist roots of Canada’s Cold War émigrés from Eastern Europe

Before and during WWII, the Canadian government’s firmly entrenched immigration policy was to turn away Jewish and left-wing refugees who were desperately trying to flee persecution by the Nazis and other fascist forces in Europe. Then, during the late 1940s and early 1950s—with the West’s launch of its Cold War against communism and the USSR—Canadian governments continued to restrict the immigration of Jews, communists and others considered undesirable. In stark contrast, these Liberal governments eagerly encouraged the entry of about 160,000 predominantly anti-Soviet migrants from Eastern Europe. Although many of these newcomers either collaborated with Germany’s Nazis and their East European allies, or at least shared their extreme antiRed/antisemitic worldviews, the government and its friends in the mainstream media considered them to be virtually ideal Canadians.

These émigrés came from communities that had enthusiastically welcomed the Nazis as liberators during Germany’s massive June-1941 “Operation-Barbarossa” invasion of the Soviet Union. Within a few years, Germany’s attack and occupation, assisted by local collaborators, had taken the lives of about 27 million Soviet citizens. Many of Canada’s new arrivals from Eastern European had actively supported the Nazi cause by taking up arms against their common enemy, the much-fabled Moscovite, Judeo-Bolshevik bogeyman. Later, when Canada’s military ally—the Soviet Red-Army—was successfully defeating the Wehrmacht invaders and chasing them back to Berlin, hundreds of thousands of East Europeans chose to flee their ancestral homelands to find safe haven in Nazi Germany.

These Nazi sympathizers who were welcomed here by Canada’s early Cold War Liberal governments, included thousands of veterans of Baltic and Ukrainian Waffen SS divisions, as well as fighters from East Europe’s clandestine guerrilla armies. The latter were fascist militias brought together with Nazi support in November 1943 by Stepan Bandera’s faction of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN-B). This alliance of antisemitic/anticommunist armies called themselves the Committee of Subjugated Nations. In 1946, with funding from US, UK and West German intelligence agencies, this OUN(B)-led network rebranded themselves the Anti-Bolshevik Bloc of Nations (ABN).

For the next half century, the ABN remained the most powerful network of anti-Soviet groups led by former Nazi collaborators. They continued their wartime Russophobic struggle under the protection of new, Cold War benefactors, who had taken over Hitler’s role as the world’s leading force for anticommunism. While openly advocating armed struggle by all of the so-called “subjugated,” “enslaved” and “captive nations” still trapped behind the “Iron Curtain,” the ABN fought a propaganda war to pursue their longstanding goal, the utter destruction of the Soviet Union. Headquartered in Berlin, and dominated by Ukrainian fascist organizations led by Bandera and his deputy Yaroslav Stetsko, the ABN’s base of support relied on the extremely anticommunist ethnic organizations that emerged to represent those displaced East European communities in postwar Germany and elsewhere. (See: “The Anti-Bolshevik Bloc of Nations and the World AntiCommunist League” and “Yaroslav Stetsko: Leader of proNazi Ukraine, 1941“)

In the immediate aftermath of the war, these communities understandably sought to escape the consequences of their collaboration with the Nazis. While they still pretend to have been equally opposed to Germany and the USSR, these extreme anticommunists and their sympathizers fought repatriation to the Soviet Union. Considering themselves to be “freedom fighters” who had waged the war’s noble crusade against Soviet communism, these veterans, their families and highly-supportive communities, were generously given refuge in Canada. Once embraced and protected in this multicultural country, some of the most strident of these anticommunists soon became the founders and leaders of major ethno-nationalist associations. These highly-politicised anticommunist groups still represent Canada’s largest East European diaspora communities.1

Canada’s web of “captive nations” groups in the CIA-led war to divide-and-conquer the USSR

After NATO was created to again take up the West’s gauntlet against communism, Canada’s far-right émigré groups were eager to contribute however they could to this new global war against their longstanding, Soviet enemies. To assist the Cold War cause, Canadian émigré groups publicly endorsed their new government’s support for a variety of illegal US-led wars, invasions, coups and other regime-change operations. These attacks on popular, anti-imperialist struggles were generally rationalized by calls to thwart the Soviet Union’s alleged dream of global domination. Likewise, Canada’s East European émigré groups also voiced their approval for various business-friendly dictatorships across the Third World that were justified as bulwarks against the supposed spread of communist aggression. These brutal regimes were propped up by military exports from the US and its stalwart NATO allies, including Canada, which remains America’s largest supplier of military technology.

Canada’s East European émigré organizations were duly rewarded and encouraged by government to continue their nationalist struggles against the Soviet Union. Their primary goal was to form independent Christian nation states based on their ethnic identities and fanatical anticommunist ideals. Their ethno-nationalist visions of “freedom” dovetailed perfectly with the US-led, NATO goal of dismantling and ultimately destroying the USSR. While Nazi Germany had failed to achieve this primary objective, NATO finally achieved its ambition in 1991. In large part, this important victory in the West’s Cold War battle was achieved through use of an age-old, divide-and-conquer strategy. That tried-and-true imperialist stratagem relied on exploiting ethno-nationalist ambitions for political statehood that were so righteously demanded by the USSR’s so-called “captive nations” émigré groups.2)
Throughout the Cold War, Canada’s “captive nations” organizations banded together to form alliances that lobbied the government and pushed their political agendas through the corporate-controlled, mass media. These Canadian networks have included the Canadian branch of the ABN, the Baltic Federation of Canada, and the Black Ribbon Day Committee which in the mid1980s took over from the Group of Seven (a.k.a. Canada’s Committee of Captive European Nations). The current iteration in this evolution of far-right networks is the Central and Eastern European Council in Canada. It represents the same seven cultural diasporas that came together for anticommunist propaganda offensives during the Cold War. Its member organizations now find unity in focusing their wrath on Russia, whitewashing their WWII histories, and falsely portraying fascism and communism as diabolical, twin evils that launched that war.

The Cold War efforts of Canada’s Committee of Captive European Nations with the psychological warfare campaigns of the US-based Assembly of Captive European Nations. This US-based alliance, created in 1954, was funded for decades by the National Committee for a Free Europe, a covert CIA front organization chaired by Allen Dulles (CIA Director, 1953-61). Canada’s ultranationalist émigrés worked closely with their US allies as well as with other counterparts around the world, particularly in western Europe, Australia and South America, where similar communities of fascist collaborators had relocated after the war.

While Western intelligence agencies backed these representatives of the widely-scattered East European diaspora, NATO governments bestowed their leaders with artificial authority by granting them official recognition as “governments in exile.” Canada, being one of the largest recipients of this exodus, had its share of these international leaders.

Throughout the Cold War, the efforts of these and other far-right East European groups around the world were promoted by the CIA’s huge propaganda apparatus. Chief among these were Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty (RFE/RL). (RL originally operated under the name Radio Liberation from Bolshevism.) Although now privatised and largely funded by George Soros’ Freedom Foundation, these CIA media outlets gave voice to numerous former Nazi collaborators. The CIA website still brags that the RFE/RL was one of their greatest success stories, and credits it with having played a key role in destroying the Soviet Union. From its early heyday in the 1950s, RFE/RL was ostensibly funded by “Crusade for Freedom.” This major CIA propaganda campaign was publicly fronted by then-actor and corporate shill, Ronald Reagan.

Cozying up to collaborators: A Liberal-Tory competition in anticommunism

Canada’s Liberal governments under Prime Ministers Mackenzie King, Louis St Laurent and Lester Pearson were eager to promote Western civilization by participating in the US-led, NATO war against communism. Pearson in fact saw his co-founding of NATO, as his biggest contribution to world peace. Under his tutelage, Canada worked most aggressively to wage a total war against communism. This multifaceted military, political, economic, cultural, ideological and spiritual battle targeted what Pearson deemed to be an insidious evil to be eradicated both at home and abroad. Although still heralded as an icon of peace by many, Pearson brought the social phobia of extreme anticommunism to dizzying heights. As such, Pearson should be recognised as a political godfather of the Cold War and the heroic patriarch of its hate-filled propaganda.

Pearson’s many contributions to this elitist cause included threatening left-wing “ban-the-bomb” peace activists with treason, purging leftists from the civil service and creating CBC International, a propaganda arm of the Department of External Affairs that beamed incessant right-wing propaganda in various languages around the world. But for many decades, the main targets of these Voice-of-Canada broadcasts, were citizens of the Soviet Union and its East European allies. To fight this psychological war, Pearson and his colleagues worked closely with the leadership of Canada’s far-right East European émigré groups. (See: “L.B.Pearson: Godfather of Canada’s Cold War on the new “Red” enemy” and “Wielding CBC’s “Voice of Canada” as a weapon of Cold War propaganda”)

But the Liberal Party was not alone in waging Canada’s Cold War battles. In fact, the Liberal and Progressive Conservative parties engaged in a seeming competition to position themselves as Canada’s political champions of NATO’s anticommunist worldview. Both tried to outdo the other in their vitriolic attacks against their common Soviet foe; both bent over backwards to ingratiate themselves to Canada’s self-styled “captive nations;” and both vied for these émigré communities’ support during and between elections. (A similar jockeying process continues to this day as these, and other parliamentary parties, strive to tap into this diaspora’s voter base as well as to demonize NATO’s current, Kremlin-based enemies.)

To this day, Tory Prime Minister John Diefenbaker is remembered with great fondness by East European émigrés who remember his historic denunciation of the USSR at the United Nations. In 1960, Diefenbaker took to the world stage at the UN and led the way in decrying the Soviet Union. His inflammatory UN diatribe came in response to the USSR’s launch of a groundbreaking General Assembly resolution that critiqued the imperialist powers for their racist, colonial histories of war, slavery and corporate plunder. Khrushchev’s UN speech demanded complete emancipation of imperialism’s colonial assets. The Soviet initiative was well received throughout the world, especially by socialist countries and the Non-Aligned Movement. While not one nation voted against the USSR’s resolution, eight imperialist powers and one US-backed military dictatorship abstained. The Soviet initiative invoked such outrage from Canada that for many decades Diefenbaker was exalted as a great hero by the pro-fascist ABN and its most reactionary East European member groups in Canada.
(See: “John Diefenbaker: Strong voice at the UN for ‘Captive Nations’ bloc”)

The “Black Ribbon Day” (BRD) Crusade: Canada’s greatest Cold War export

With tremendous support from the corporate media as well as from politicians ensconced at all levels of government, Canada’s far-right East European diaspora played major roles in many of the Cold War’s most successful propaganda crusades. The best ongoing example of this is the international Black Ribbon Day (BRD) movement which was spawned in the mid-1980s by leading activists in Canadian and international East European diaspora groups based in Toronto. The campaign was initiated by Markus Hess, a Canadian of German-Estonian heritage representing Canada’s Toronto-based Estonian Central Council.

After recruiting support from Canada’s Committee of Captive European Nations (i.e. the Toronto-based “Group of Seven”), they decided to broaden their core base of support beyond East European émigré groups by teaming up with the National Citizens’ Coalition (NCC). With 40,000 members, it was one of Canada’s most formidable, right-wing forces. NCC vice president David Somerville became what Hess called his “brother in arms.” While building the International BRD Committee, they toured Europe and met Slava Stetsko. She had just assumed top leadership positions in the ABN, the Banderite-led Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN-B), and the World AntiCommunist League (WACL) from her recently-deceased husband, Yaroslav Stetsko. (See Slava’s photo above and Yaroslav’s photo below.)

Growing by leaps and bounds, the ABN campaign to obfuscate WWII history, quickly became Canada’s greatest Cold War propaganda export. Still expanding, the BRD campaign continues to spread the hate-filled myth of fascist-communist equivalency by focusing on August 23, 1939, when the USSR very reluctantly signed a nonaggression treaty with Germany.

BRD propaganda conveniently forgets that Nazism and communism are diametrically opposed political forces. By 1939, the Soviets and communists around the world had long been opposing the rise of fascism. They had known of course for many years that Hitler’s fanatical anticommunism—expressed in Mein Kampf (1925)—included the dream of expanding Germany by overtaking the USSR. In mid-August 1939, Soviet leaders made a final last ditch effort to persuade Britain and France to join them in a war to stop Nazi Germany. When they refused these Soviets pleas to form a military alliance against the Nazis, the USSR felt compelled to sign an agreement with Germany not to attack one another. This gave the Soviets another 22 months to build their defences against the Nazi invasion which they knew was coming. Without that time to prepare, the Soviets would not have been able to withstand the Nazi invasion that came in June 1941. In fact, because The USSR signed that treaty, they were able to eventually defeat German forces in Stalingrad and to begin to expel them from all of Eastern Europe, thus liberating various Nazi death camps, including Auschwitz.

By 2009, Canada’s BRD crusade gained unanimous endorsement in parliament when presented by Liberal MP Bob Rae, the former NDP premier of Ontario. (The bill was drafted by an Estonian leader of the Central and Eastern European Council in Canada, which spearheaded the parliamentary initiative.) That year, BRD was also officially recognized by the US and Australian governments. Since then, BRD laws—which deceitfully equate the world’s most avidly-opposed, mortal enemies as if they were equally to blame for starting WWII—have been passed in nine East European countries. (See: “The BRD campaign: Canada’s top Cold War propaganda export” and “The late Cold War context of the BRD crusade”)

Ukrainian ethno-nationalism: Linchpin of the far-right “captive nations” movement

While governments in Canada since WWII (both Liberal and Tory alike) employed their McCarthyesque zeal to disempower progressive left-wing activists, the country’s far-right East European émigré groups enjoyed friendly relations with leading politicians and received generous funding from the state. Most notable among those benefiting from millions of dollars in recent Canadian government grants, are Ukrainian groups that still glorify WWII-era war criminals as their cultural heroes. These Ukrainian associations still revere with cult-like devotion such leading fascist ideologues and military leaders as Stepan Bandera, Yaroslav Stetsko and Roman Shukhevych. (See: Roman Shukhevych: Assassin, terrorist, ethno-nationalist, war criminal and cult hero”)

In June 1941, immediately following the German invasion of Soviet Ukraine, in which Shukhevych led the Nazi-collaborating, Ukrainian Nachtigall Battalion, Stetsko was proclaimed to be the “Prime Minister” of a new Ukrainian state that pledged its allegiance to Germany.

Stetsko’s biography written in July of that year stated in part:

I consider Marxism to be a product of the Jewish mind, which has been applied in the Muscovite prison of peoples by the Muscovite-Asiatic people with the assistance of Jews. Moscow and Jewry are Ukraine’s greatest enemies and bearers of corruptive Bolshevik international ideas. Although I consider Moscow, which in fact held Ukraine in captivity, and not Jewry, to be the main and decisive enemy, I nonetheless fully appreciate the undeniably harmful and hostile role of the Jews, who are helping Moscow to enslave Ukraine. I therefore support the destruction of the Jews and the expedience of bringing German methods of exterminating Jewry to Ukraine, barring their assimilation….”3 (See: “Yaroslav Stetsko: Leader of proNazi Ukraine, 1941”)

In Canada, the global OUN-B movement is represented by the League of Ukrainian Canadians, which officially represented the ABN in Canada. The strongest affiliate of this government-funded organization is the quasi-military Ukrainian Youth Association. Its purpose includes the indoctrination of children and youth in this community’s cultural tradition. As a scouting organization, its uniform-clad Bandera youth, are taught to march in formation carrying the battle flags of the OUN-B’s Ukrainian Insurgent Army. They also display a cult-like adoration for their community’s Nazi-collaborating war heroes by perform patriotic songs and dances flanked by large portraits of their military leaders in government-funded Ukrainian community centres. (See: “Government-funded centres of Canada’s Bandera cult and its Bandera youth”)

For several decades, LUC officials have held the top leadership positions within the Ukrainian Canadian Congress (UCC). This umbrella organization, which falsely claims to represent all Ukrainians, was created by Mackenzie King’s infamously antisemitic Liberal government in 1940. Its purpose was to unify anticommunist Ukrainian groups in support of government policies, and to help them crush the anti-fascist Ukrainian organizations which—although thoroughly despised and long persecuted by Canada’s government— then dominated the Ukrainian diaspora in Canada.

The UCC also brought together the OUN-B with its rival faction within the OUN. That faction, the OUN-M, led by Andriy Melnyk, was more trustworthy to the Nazis. As such it was instrumental in coordinating overall collaboration and establishing the Waffen SS Division, whose volunteers pledged to fight to the death for Hitler’s anti-Bolshevik cause. The OUN-M is represented within the UCC by the Ukrainian National Federation of Canada.

Throughout the Cold War and since, the UCC has continued to promote the proNATO/Russophobic foreign policies that it shares with the Canadian government. Most recently this has involved working closely with its strong allies in the Harper and Trudeau governments to build corporate and military ties with far-right, proNATO governments in Ukraine and to wage economic war against their shared, Kremlin-based enemies. (See: Liberal Canada’s Ukrainian Canadian Congress”)

Closing the Pandora’s Box: Beyond the Freeland-Chomiak connection

Over the decades, Canada’s state-funded “captive nations” groups—particularly Ukrainians—have seen considerable success helping to elect their confederates. None however have come closer to power than under the Trudeau Liberals. Despite the flurry of news in 2017 revealing that Chrystia Freeland’s maternal grandfather, Michael Chomiak, was the Nazi’s top Ukrainian-language news propagandist throughout WWII, the mass media has remained silent on her own life-long history of involvement in fascist-linked Ukrainian organizations and their publications. To shed light on this story would reveal many additional skeletons in the still largely closeted histories of government and media involvement with Nazi collaborators.

Freeland can, of course, bear no blame for her grandfather’s role in promoting and benefiting from Nazi war crimes. However, legitimate concerns have been raised about her efforts to deflect the truth by turning the blame on Russia. By decrying the revelations about Chomiak as a Kremlin-led smear campaign to undermine Canadian democracy, this PR tactic put a chill on further “unpatriotic” stories. Similar tactics were used throughout the Cold War by émigré groups when their founders, leaders or adherents were revealed to have been Nazi collaborators.

Still left uncovered by the mainstream media, are the facts about Freeland’s three decades of support for Ukrainian-Canadian organizations with historic links to fascism.

As early as 1986, Freeland took her first Canadian government-funded job writing for the Edmonton-based Encyclopedia of Ukraine. This publication, in which her grandfather had been involved since at least 1976, was the brainchild of Volodomyr Kubijovych. He was Chomiak’s boss throughout WWII and led the Ukrainian Central Committee. Representing Melnyk’s faction of the OUN, it was established and funded by the German military’s Abwehr intelligence agency to oversee Ukrainian collaboration with the Third Reich. This included Chomiak’s career as a Nazi propagandist who recruited for the Ukrainian Waffen SS Galicia. (See: “Nazi Germany’s Ukrainian Central Committee”)

After the war, Kubijovych’s encyclopedia became an all-consuming effort to consolidate an official, whitewashed version of history. In 1976, Kubijovych travelled from France to Edmonton where he signed a deal to team up with the provincially-funded Canadian Institute for Ukrainian Studies (CIUS) at the University of Alberta. One CIUS co-signer was Peter Savaryn, a proud veteran of the Ukrainian SS. A decade later, when Freeland first job for the encyclopedia began, and it’s publication was still the CIUS’s top project, Savaryn was the university’s chancellor.

In the late 1980s, Freeland also worked for another Edmonton-based publication in which her grandfather had been involved, The Ukrainian News. Exemplifying the Melnykite brand of ethno-nationalism, it pushed the Cold War’s hyperbolic anticommunism, and was edited by Freeland’s grandfather in the early 1980s.

Her early media career also included co-authoring an anti-Soviet article in 1988 for The Ukrainian Weekly, America’s largest Ukrainian publication. To understand this paper’s political orientation, it is worth noting that her article appeared on the same page as an ad for a book that glorified the Nazi-armed, funded and– led Ukrainian SS as noble “freedom fighters.”

Freeland also contributed to that former CIA propaganda front, Radio Liberty (RL), through a 1990 interview with the founder of Rukh, Ukraine’s separatist movement. This RL interview, done at the CIUS, was printed in The Ukrainian Weekly, as well as in an RFE/RL-published journal, and an RFE/RL-published book.

Freeland’s fledgling media work for publications deeply rooted in Ukrainian fascism and the CIA, coincided with her work as a grassroots activist fighting for Ukrainian independence from the USSR. As a young Canadian activist in Soviet Ukraine, within a CIUS student exchange program, Freeland became so deeply engaged in influencing Ukrainian elections that she was publicly denounced by the government there as a “well-known troublemaker” and a “banderite enemy of the Soviet state.” While the Soviet government lodged an official complaint to the Canadian embassy denouncing her meddling in Soviet elections, Freeland was exalted as a hero by Canada’s corporate press. Using the credentials afforded by her proven commitment to the Cold War’s extremely anti-Soviet biases, Freeland used her new-found celebrity to launch a career in mainstream journalism.

This move coincided with her so-called “chance meeting” with billionaire George Soros. Freeland says she met Soros in Soviet Ukraine and advised him on anticommunist dissident groups and individuals that deserved his financing. Having gladly assisted his early efforts to influence Soviet politics, Freeland began a friendly working relationship with Soros which has continued for decades.

Freeland’s inability to be objective on political issues was not a liability for her aspiring career. In fact, her devotion to anticommunism must have been an important asset contributing to her meteoric rise through the corporate ranks to became an information gatekeeper for the Financial Times‘ (Moscow bureau chief) and the Globe and Mail (deputy editor).

Given Freeland’s continuing identification with her far-right Ukrainian community, and the government’s continuing support for the hawkishly Russophobic diaspora, Canadians would be prudent to heed their government’s increasingly bellicose, proUS/proNATO foreign policies. For example, during her tenure as foreign minister, Canada took a prominent role in US-led efforts to provoke a coup against the democratically-elected socialist government of Venezuela.

Freeland has also continued to maintain affectionate working relationships with her good friends and allies in Ukrainian-Canadian organizations with fascist roots. For example, in 2015, she tweeted a photo of herself with the three leading elder statesmen of Canada’s Banderite movement: Oleh Romanyshyn, Yuri Shymko and Orest Steciw. These men have devoted their lives to serving as major organizers, spokesmen and leaders for such groups as the League of Ukrainian Canadians, its Ukrainian Youth Association, the Anti-Bolshevik Bloc of Nations and the Ukrainian Canadian Congress. (See: “Yuri Shymko: From Bandera youth leader, MPP and MP, to elder statesman”)

The struggle continues…

Following its long history of hate crimes, war, imperial land plunder and genocide against First Nations, the Government of Canada has officially proclaimed its intent to follow a process of truth and reconciliation. Canada’s very foundations are grounded in this genocide that was based on an ethno-nationalist, white-power elitism that declared the supremacy of European culture and its powerful economic, legal, political and religious institutions.

The Trudeau Liberals have, more recently, vowed to end the Canadian government’s long, ongoing legacy of systemic racism.

Because Nazi Germany and its fascist allies exemplify racism, xenophobia and hatred in a most extreme form, the Canadian government needs to acknowledge and be held accountable for its close, Cold-War collaboration with East European émigré organizations that are linked to perpetrators of Holocaust and other crimes committed during WWII.

At the very least, the Government of Canada should stop its decades-long funding of ethno-nationalist, émigré associations that continue to whitewash, revere and glorify WWII leaders and their fascist organizations, movements and military formations. These associations, which are still officially recognized as representing the East European diaspora in Canada, were originally founded, led and supported by Nazi sympathizers and collaborators, veterans of Waffen SS divisions as well as members of other fascist military units that helped to perpetrate the Holocaust and other genocidal, ethnic- and political-cleansing campaigns.

Over the past few years alone, the most influential of these organizations — representing Canada’s far-right Ukrainian diaspora — have received millions of dollars in government support.

For decades, the government’s financial assistance has been helping to subsidize these groups’ day-to-day operations, their office spaces, meeting halls, events, publications and propaganda campaigns.

By discontinuing this support, the government can begin the process of ending its systemic Cold-War collaboration with organizations that are deeply rooted in fascist history and which continue to proudly defend and glorify their so-called “freedom fighting,” WWII-era heroes.

  1. Read about the far-right roots of Canada’s East European diaspora
    Council of Free Czechoslovakia and the
    Czechoslovak National Association of Canada (now the Czech and Slovak Association of Canada)
    Estonian Central Council in Canada
    Estonian World Council
    Latvian National Federation in Canada
    World Federation of Free Latvians
    Lithuanian Canadian Community
    Lithuanian World Community
    Slovak World Congress
    Canadian Slovak League
    Ukrainian Canadian Congress
    League of Ukrainian Canadians
    Ukrainian Youth Association
  2. Toronto:
    A vibrant base of operations for many of the world’s leading East European Cold Warriors

    Toronto has always been a major base of operations, leadership and support not only for Canada’s far-right East European émigré groups, but for the fascist-rooted international diaspora movements to which they belong. For example:

    ● Several of the Anti-Bolshevik Bloc of Nations‘ (ABN) global conferences were held in Toronto and attended by some of the world’s most infamous Nazi collaborators, fascist leaders, terrorist group representatives and Canadian politicians. (See:Yuri Shymko: From Bandera youth leader, MPP & MP, to elder statesman,” “Lisa Shymko: In the footsteps of family, community & far-right, war heroes,” and “Rubbing political shoulders with the ABN in Toronto”)
    ● The Slovak World Congress (SWC) was founded in Toronto by prominent leaders of the Nazi-installed, clerico-fascist regime in wartime Slovakia. The SWC held several of its congresses there, including one attended by Prime Minister Brian Mulroney in 1987. The SWC’s co-founder and longtime president was Toronto-based billionaire Stephen Roman (“Canada’s Uranium King”). (See: Slovak World Congress and the Canadian Slovak League) Roman, who helped lead these Slovak organizations, funded huge campaigns like the Black Ribbon Day (BRD) movement, which was initiated by national and international East European diaspora groups based in Toronto.
    ● The International BRD Committee, Canada’s biggest Cold War propaganda campaign, also arose from beginnings in Toronto. (See: “The BRD campaign: Canada’s top Cold War propaganda export” and “The late Cold War context of the BRD crusade”)
    ● The global publication (The Combatant) catering to Estonian SS veterans around the world was published in Toronto by the World Center for Estonian Freedom Fighters-Canada (1952-2013). (See: Estonian World Council)
    ● The Toronto-based founding leader of the Lithuanian World Community, banker Jonas Matulionis, was the finance minister for two Holocaust-promoting puppet regimes in Lithuania during WWII. Throughout the Cold War, the LWC’s global congresses alternated between Toronto and US cities. (See: Lithuanian Canadian Community & Lithuanian World Community)
    ● The World Ukrainian Congress (formerly the World Congress of Free Ukrainians), representing anticommunist groups around the world, is headquartered in Toronto where many of its global conferences have been held. Often led by Ukrainian Canadians, its current, Toronto-based leader, Paul Grod, is a past president of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress. (See: Ukrainian Canadian Congress

  3. Yaroslav Stetsko, “My Biography,” July 1941.
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Dispossession and Imperialism Repackaged as “Feeding the World”

The world is fast losing farms and farmers through the concentration of land into the hands of rich and powerful land speculators and agribusiness corporations. Smallholder farmers are being criminalised and even made to disappear when it comes to the struggle for land. They are constantly exposed to systematic expulsion.

In 2014, the Oakland Institute found that institutional investors, including hedge funds, private equity and pension funds, are eager to capitalise on global farmland as a new and highly desirable asset class. Financial returns are what matter to these entities, not food security.

Consider Ukraine. The organisation Grain found that in 2014 small farmers operated 16% of agricultural land in that country, but provided 55% of agricultural output, including: 97% of potatoes, 97% of honey, 88% of vegetables, 83% of fruits and berries and 80% of milk. It is clear that Ukraine’s small farms were delivering impressive outputs.

Following the toppling of Ukraine’s government in early 2014, the way was paved for foreign investors and Western agribusiness to take a firm hold over the agri-food sector. Reforms mandated by the EU-backed loan to Ukraine in 2014 included agricultural deregulation intended to benefit foreign agribusiness. Natural resource and land policy shifts were being designed to facilitate the foreign corporate takeover of enormous tracts of land.

Frederic Mousseau, policy director at the Oakland Institute, stated at the time that the World Bank and IMF were intent on opening up foreign markets to Western corporations and that the high stakes around the control of Ukraine’s vast agricultural sector, the world’s third largest exporter of corn and fifth largest exporter of wheat, constitute an overlooked critical factor. He added that in recent years, foreign corporations had acquired more than 1.6 million hectares of Ukrainian land.

Western agribusiness has been coveting Ukraine’s agriculture sector for quite some time, long before the coup. That country contains one third of all arable land in Europe. An article by Oriental Review in 2015 noted that since the mid-90s the Ukrainian-Americans at the helm of the US-Ukraine Business Council had been instrumental in encouraging the foreign control of Ukrainian agriculture.

In November 2013, the Ukrainian Agrarian Confederation drafted a legal amendment that would benefit global agribusiness producers by allowing the widespread use of genetically modified seeds. When GMO crops were legally introduced into the Ukrainian market in 2013, they were planted in up to 70% of all soybean fields, 10-20% of cornfields and over 10% of all sunflower fields, according to various estimates (or 3% of the country’s total farmland).

Interestingly, the investment fund Siguler Guff & Co acquired a 50% stake in the Ukrainian Port of Illichivsk in 2015, which specialises in agricultural exports.

In June 2020, the IMF approved an 18-month $5 billion loan programme with Ukraine. According to the Brettons Wood Project website, the government committed to lifting the 19-year moratorium on the sale of state-owned agricultural lands after sustained pressure from international finance. The World Bank incorporated further measures relating to the sale of public agricultural land as conditions in a $350 million Development Policy Loan (COVID ‘relief package’) to Ukraine approved in late June. This included a required ‘prior action’ to “enable the sale of agricultural land and the use of land as collateral.”

In response, Frederic Mousseau recently stated:

The goal is clearly to favor the interests of private investors and Western agribusinesses… It is wrong and immoral for Western financial institutions to force a country in a dire economic situation amidst an unprecedented pandemic to sell its land.

But morality has little to do with it. The September 2020 report on the grain.org website ‘Barbarians at the barn: private equity sinks its teeth into agriculture’ shows that there is no morality where capitalism’s profit compulsion is concerned.

Private equity funds – pools of money that use pension funds, sovereign wealth funds, endowment funds and investments from governments, banks, insurance companies and high net worth individuals – are being injected into the agriculture sector throughout the world. This money is used to lease or buy up farms on the cheap and aggregate them into large-scale, US-style grain and soybean concerns. The article outlines how offshore tax havens and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) has targeted Ukraine.

In addition to various Western governments, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Trust, which manages the foundation’s endowment, is also investing in private equity, taking positions in farm and food businesses around the world.

Grain notes that this forms part of the trend whereby the world of finance – banks, funds, insurance companies and the like – is gaining control over the real economy, including forests, watersheds and rural people’s territories.

Apart from uprooting communities and grabbing resources to entrench an industrial, export-oriented model of agriculture, this process of ‘financialisation’ is shifting power to remote board rooms occupied by people with no connection to farming and who are merely in it to make money. These funds tend to invest for a 10-15 year period, resulting in handsome returns for investors but can leave a trail of long-term environmental and social devastation and serve to undermine local and regional food insecurity.

This financialisation of agriculture perpetuates a model of farming that serves the interests of the agrochemical and seed giants, including one of the world’s biggest companies, Cargill, which is involved in almost every aspect of global agribusiness.

Still run as a privately held company, the 155-year-old enterprise trades in purchasing and distributing various agricultural commodities, raises livestock and produces animal feed as well as food ingredients for application in processed foods and industrial use. Cargill also has a large financial services arm, which manages financial risks in the commodity markets for the company. This includes Black River Asset Management, a hedge fund with about $10 billion of assets and liabilities.

A recent article on the Unearthed website accused Cargill and its 14 billionaire owners of profiting from the use of child labour, rain forest destruction, the devastation of ancestral lands, the spread of pesticide use and pollution, contaminated food, antibiotic resistance and general health and environmental degradation.

As if this is not concerning enough, the UN Food and Agriculture is now teaming up with CropLife, a global trade association representing the interests of companies that produce and promote pesticides, including highly hazardous pesticides (HHPs).

In a 19 November press release issued by PAN (Pesticide Action Network) Asia Pacific, some 350 organisations in 63 countries representing hundreds of thousands of farmers, fisherfolk, agricultural workers and other communities, as well as human rights, faith-based, environmental and economic justice institutions, delivered a letter to FAO Director-General Qu Dongyu urging him to stop recently announced plans to deepen collaboration with CropLife International by entering into a formal partnership.

HHPs are responsible for a wide range of devastating health harms to farmers, agricultural workers and rural families around the world and these chemicals have decimated pollinator populations and are wreaking havoc on biodiversity and fragile ecosystems.

Marcia Ishii, senior scientist at PAN North America, explained the serious implications of the proposed collaboration:

Unfortunately, since Mr. Qu’s arrival at FAO, the institution appears to be opening up to deeper collaboration with pesticide companies, which are likely to exploit such a relationship for bluewashing, influencing policy development and enhancing access to global markets.

She went on to state:

It is no surprise that FAO’s recently appointed Deputy Director General, Beth Bechdol, comes to FAO with a history of close financial ties to Corteva (formerly Dow/DuPont).

The FAO has in recent years shown a commitment to agroecology but, in calling for an independent FAO, Susan Haffmans from PAN Germany, argues:

The FAO should not jeopardize its successes in agroecology nor its integrity by cooperating with precisely that branch of industry which is responsible for the production of highly hazardous pesticides and whose products contribute to poisoning people and their environment worldwide.

The July 2019 UN FAO High Level Panel of Experts concludes that agroecology provides greatly improved food security and nutritional, gender, environmental and yield benefits compared to industrial agriculture.

Agroecological principles represent a shift away from the reductionist yield-output chemical-intensive industrial paradigm, which results in among other things enormous pressures on human health, soil and water resources. Agroecology is based on a more integrated low-input systems approach to food and agriculture that prioritises local food security, local calorific production, cropping patterns and diverse nutrition production per acre, water table stability, climate resilience, good soil structure and the ability to cope with evolving pests and disease pressures.

Such a system is underpinned by a concept of food sovereignty, based on optimal self-sufficiency, the right to culturally appropriate food and local ownership and stewardship of common resources, such as land, water, soil and seeds.

However, this model is a direct challenge to the interests of CropLife members. With the emphasis on localisation and on-farm inputs, agroecology does not require dependency on proprietary chemicals, pirated seeds and knowledge nor long-line global supply chains.

By seeking to develop a formal partnership with the FAO, CropLife aims to further entrench its interests while derailing the FAO’s commitment to agroecology. This much has been apparent in recent times with US Ambassador to the FAO Kip Tom having attacked agroecology –  and like CropLife members – he perpetuates the myth (recently debunked by Dr Jonathan Latham in the new book Rethinking Food and Agriculture of impending disaster if we do not accept the chemical-industrial paradigm.

Whether it involves farmers in India recently taking to the streets to protest against legislation that will throw the sector wide open to foreign agricapital, land acquisitions in Ukraine or struggles for land rights and seed sovereignty (etc) elsewhere, it is clear that a small cabal of unscrupulous global agribusiness giants are driving and benefitting from deregulated capital flows, peasant displacement, land acquisitions and decisions made at international and national levels via the IMF, World Bank and WTO.

The web that global capitalism weaves in a quest to seek out new profits, capture new markets and control common resources (commonwealth) is destroying farmer livelihoods, the environment and health under the bogus claim of ‘feeding the world’.

Those farmers who survive the profiteering strategies of dispossession and imperialism are to become incorporated into a system of contract farming dictated by global agri-food giants tied to an exploitative food regime based on market dependency and corporate control. A regime that places profit ahead of biodiverse food security, healthy diets and the environment.

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