by G. Murphy Donovan (January 2020)
It’s Just Fashion, György Kovásznai, 1975
It’s better to be hanged for loyalty than be rewarded for betrayal. –Vladimir Putin
The wisdom of crowds is a wonder. Given enough sources of information, the average citizen in a democracy will be able to sift the truth, or at least enough facts to make sound judgements.
Hat tip to the flat hats in Manchester.
Emanuel Kant would have called such outcomes a categorical imperative: “. . . an action objectively necessary in itself, without reference to any other purpose.” Principled reflection allows regular folks to understand what is necessary and practical—and in a moral context, separate good and evil, right from wrong, and even just from unjust.
In short, the golden rule is actually a rule.
Even a zoo keeper could argue that the categorical imperative separates men from monkeys. Nevertheless, if you have been following the Russian, then Ukrainian soap operas since 1990, you might conclude that the “first draft of history,” and contemporary rules of evidence, are written by bug-eyed baboons or Botox bonobos.
With apologies to Kant, Marx, and Darwin, political recidivism is the flip side of all evolutionary—dare we say—progressive coins. Human history is always a two way street. One step forward is often followed by three steps back.
The passage of time is, alas, too often confused with progress.
Analysts are fond of looking at the Ukraine mess as just another surrogate Russian/American competition. By any measure, the Ukraine is much more complicated.
If facts matter, and Ukraine is the Euro equivalent of Afghanistan.
The Russian Story
The Russians knew when to quit Kabul in 1989. Nevertheless, America adopted that theocratic tar baby, along with 9/11, and three decades of global blood sport and small wars that continue to this day. The same jihad that Moscow tried to suppress in Afghanistan, and successfully defeated in Chechnya, now tortures America on a global scale.
Remember the good old days before the 9/11 and Beslan slaughters? Muslim Chechens and South Asian mujahedeen were labeled “insurgents” or “freedom” fighters by CIA and US State Department shills.
In fact, Al Qaeda, the Taliban, ISIS and “nefarious characters” like bin Laden and al Baghdadi are all linear descendants, in part, of American foreign policy naiveté.
So let’s, at least for Emanuel Kant’s sake, review the bidding since the old Soviet Union imploded, the Warsaw Pact died, and the Ukraine was set adrift on the stormy seas of European social democratic hubris.
Reality and facts still matter, even in an age of utopian, globalist piffle. Hat tip to George Soros here.
Mikhail Gorbachev threw in the Soviet towel a decade before the end of the 20th Century. The Berlin Wall crumbled. The Warsaw Pact was consigned to the dustbin of history. And, to ice Ronald Reagan’s glasnost cake, a humbled Kremlin, in cooperation with NATO and the EU, cleansed the Ukraine of Russian ground and air bases, nuclear weapons and delivery systems. At the same time, Moscow negotiated a lease with an independent Kiev to keep a single naval base, and the Black Sea Fleet, at Sevastopol in the Crimea.
Russia has had a naval base in the Crimea since 1772 when George Washington was still a Lieutenant Colonel. Over two hundred fifty years later, an independent Kiev granted Moscow a lease until 2042 with an option to extend. Activists in Kiev, however, agitated for Russia to leave Sevastopol anyway, rent agreements be damned.
The Kremlin caved again and started to refurbish Novorossiysk on the Black Sea to host their fleet in a Russian port. Up until 2014, the Russians were trying to accommodate Ukraine dissidents, Brussels and Washington.
Meanwhile, back in the west, from 1990 thru 2014, NATO and the EU couldn’t take yes for an answer.
In spite of what amounts to extraordinary Russian cooperation in Eastern Europe; the EU and NATO continued to meddle in the former Warsaw Pact as if Moscow had no legitimate security concerns along its new heartland borders.
Starting in 1990/1991, after a series of ethnic/religious clashes, four Yugoslav republics declared independence with EU support and urging. A Yugoslav civil war ensued with NATO and the Clintons taking sides with Muslim rebels against Christian nationalists.
Like India, Yugoslavia was eventually parsed, with western support, into religious ghettos.
Without UN authorization, NATO launched an air assault against Serbia which led to a Serb withdrawal from Muslim strongholds and a terminal dissolution of Yugoslavia. Parts of Tito’s old federation are occupied by NATO “peacekeepers” to this day.
Two new Muslim majority states emerged from the Clinton era Yugoslav carnage as a result of NATO “peace keeping” interventions.
The fate of Yugoslavia made clear that NATO and the EU had adopted what amounts to a policy of imperial expansion with an endgame that probably included Moscow as a target. The Yugoslav wars also exposed what has now become a pronounced Washington/Brussels tilt towards Mecca.
Given Russia’s restive Muslim population, surely Kremlin paranoia got a shot in the arm with the rape of Yugoslavia and the advent of Bosnia and Kosovo.
The Yugoslav fiasco under Clinton was followed by the 9/11 Arab/Muslim attack against Manhattan under Bush. Ironically, Bosnia and Kosovo, bastard children of Clinton’s folly would subsequently send more European jihadists to the budding ISIS War in the Levant than any other nations. In 2011, not chastened by her husband’s fail in Yugoslavia, Mrs. Clinton, as Barak Obama’s Secretary of State, subsequently sponsored yet more coup carnage in North Africa.
Benghazi is now a metaphor for coup politics and associates regime change follies. Chalk up another win for the jihad.
In 2011, Colonel Gadhafi was assassinated in exchange for a failed state and yet another Muslim refugee blitz. What had been the richest state in Africa became another Islamist sierra hotel a few miles off Italy. As we speak, the Libyan fail is the single point source of most of the illegal Muslim immigrant tsunami—out of Africa and sweeping over Europe.
Brexit takes a bow here. British nationalists alone had enough insight to recognize the folly of open borders. England voted emphatically to bounce from the EU in 2016. That vote was confirmed again by UK parliamentary elections on 12 November 2019, thanks to Boris Johnson.
Through the Carter, Bush, Clinton, Bush II, and Obama administrations, regime change and the expansion of NATO to the Russian border were the leitmotifs of US and EU foreign policy. According to demagogues in Brussels and Washington, EU imperialism was not provocative or anti-Russian.
From the Kremlin perspective, it’s not a stretch to see that the Warsaw Pact, the Soviet Union, and then Russia were in EU/NATO crosshairs, dominos all, like Yugoslavia, thought poised to tumble. Seems the fall of Moscow, not Berlin, would signal the real “end of history.”
Cultivating paranoia in Moscow has been a cash crop in Brussels and Washington since 1990.
The Ukraine Follies
Ukraine enters the narrative in 2014 from stage left—literally from the American left. In 2013, protestors appeared in Maidan Square to dispute Ukraine’s President, Viktor Yanukovych’s decision to accept Russian aid rather than move closer to Brussels.
The Obama administration, with John Brennan, George Soros, and Victoria Nuland on point, staged a coup in Ukraine with the support of local neo-Nazis, authors all of the so-called “revolution of dignity.” Nuland, with John McCain playing the useful idiot, subsequently helped to cobble a cabal of corrupt fascists and venal oligarchs to rule in Kiev.
One of those oligarchs, Mykola Zlochevsky, managed to suck then Obama Vice President Joe Biden and son into the muck of Kiev corruption with a bribe, a no-show job at Burisma Corp for junior at $50-80k a month.
Hunter Biden’s short shady career is a testimony to perils of deficit parenting. Call the Biden family hijinks in Ukraine what you will, but “pay to play” plus second party nepotism still equals bribery.
Meanwhile back in Moscow, Vladimir Putin, understandably, had had enough.
Team Obama’s collusion with neo-Nazis and corrupt oligarchs in Kiev was one thing, but removal of a democratically elected ally, on Russia’s border, was a bridge too far.
Surely, Putin was having hot flashes of Yugoslav deja vu. Subsequently, the difference between Yugoslavia and Ukraine turned out to be Vladimir Putin’s testicles.
With Sevastopol, Putin stopped the free fall of Russia in 2014.
The Kremlin, with the FSB on point, annexed a Crimea, largely populated by ethnic Russians. The seizure was later legitimized by popular vote. The transparent, but limited goal was to secure the large naval facility at Sevastopol. Moscow subsequently provided similar support to ethnic Russians too in Donbas and Luhansk, where skirmishes continue today.
In short, Putin drew a line in the sand around Crimea. NATO, the EU, and team Obama wet their knickers; followed by some tepid sanctions, yes, but little else.
Enter Trump, Stage Right
In 2016, cranky American populists elected Donald Trump, a reformer with little regard for establishment policy wonks left or right. With rice bowls in peril, the hate Trump movement coalesced immediately to bring down a parvenu who had the chutzpah to threaten to “drain the (Beltway) swamp.”
The coup, heretofore a perennial CIA tool in their foreign affairs tool kit, was then weaponized and imported for domestic use by the Intelligence Community with Langley and the FBI’s 7th Floor in the lead against team Trump. There was little need for “conspiracy” in DC because there was already a Beltway consensus. The federal demographic had been a smug liberal Democrat Party sinecure for years.
Ninety percent of capital area government workers and camp followers voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016 only to watch her drown in a puddle of rural blowback.
Trump didn’t necessarily win with charm, but most assuredly, Hillary lost for cause. On day one of the Trump era, a puerile federal enclave literally took to the streets with riot and fire to resist or oust Trump. Parallels with Maidan in Kiev, minus the gunfire, were unmistakable.
A Russian collusion hoax was fabricated immediately as a twofer; smear both Putin and Trump. Yet, even with a partisan special prosecutor, the Russian gambit bombed, only to be followed by the Ukraine hoax, then an “impeachment” soap opera. If you do apparatchik arithmetic: “Russian collusion” plus Ukraine “quid quo pro,” multiplied by fear and loathing of Trump, equals impeachment.
Today, with another election on the horizon, Beltway zealots may have over-played their hand, and handed yet another victory to Donald Trump.
Blowback is God’s way of dispensing poetic and political justice. The wisdom of crowds is a thing.
Impeachment Inquiry Charades
The so-called US congressional impeachment now underway is a lot like turning over rocks in a vacant lot. Each turned stone reveals another ugly truth.
Since 2016; Beltway partisans, the Intelligence Community, the State Department, and the Democrat Party have done more to divide and undermine American institutions than any foreign power could hope to.
The real enemy, as Pogo said, is still “us.”
The “Euromaidan” Revolution in Ukraine in 2014 was a joint venture with silent partners; Ukrainian neo-Nazis, the Obama National Security Council, the CIA, the US State Department, USAID, and the Open (sic) Society Foundation.
Team Obama sponsored the Kiev coup that provoked the Russians to take back Crimea, Sevastopol and Donbas. Today, or any day; citizens of those ethnic Russian border enclaves are happy to have Moscow’s protection—especially if the alternative is Kiev fascists and American corruption.
The Washington establishment, the deep state, has been on a suicide watch since 2016. If seppuku is the name of the game in DC, why does Vladimir Putin need to do anything?
If Trump is guilty of “bribery” in Ukraine, then Biden & Son should already be doing time in Leavenworth.
If America is at “war” with Russia, and Russia is at war with Ukraine, then somebody needs to tell Vladimir Putin and Sergey Shoygu. Putin is not Mikhail Gorbachev nor is he Boris Yeltsin. Russian pushback in Ukraine is mirror image of American pushback in Cuba.
Sevastopol and Guantanamo Bay are kissing cousins.
Twentieth Century free fall in Russia ended with 21st Century Putin. If the Red Army ever really “invades” Ukraine, they will be in Kiev in a week, Brussels the week after, and looking out at Dover a month later.
Trump is correct; NATO is a paper tiger that writes bad checks. NATO has ballooned from 15 to 29 nations since the Berlin Wall fell, mostly check kiters. Only eight nations pay their way as required by treaty. If you need to forecast how the EU might react to a real Russian “invasion,” review any history of World War II—then read Marshall Zhukov’s memoirs.Trump’s instincts, and common sense, about Russia are identical to those of Ronald Reagan. If you really don’t want war; you visit, you talk, you compromise—then you sit down and cut a deal.
And no Intelligence agencies on the planet do more cyber meddling, targeting friend and foe alike, than Uncle Sam’s cowboys at Ft. Meade and Langley. Official American snoops are now allied with the largest internet services in America. Big brother lives in Washington. At best, he has a third cousin in Moscow.
If all the things said about Russian “interference” are true, then you have to believe that those billions spent on US Intelligence are a waste of money. A band of Arab jihadists attacked Manhattan, Pennsylvania, and Washington, DC in a single day right under CIA/FBI noses. If Kremlin operatives are as good, or as bad, as congressional demagogues claim, those “nefarious” Russians must be ten feet tall—again.
The Russian FSB, like CIA, makes mischief in cyberspace where they can, every day, in every way. That’s what spies and hackers get paid to do.
Withal, modern Russia should be an ally. America has more in common with Moscow than it will ever have with Mecca, Pyongyang, Beijing, or the American Democrat Party. The American left, and by no coincidence the entire clown car running against Trump in 2020, is now more “soviet” than the Kremlin.
Trump should accept Putin’s invitation to Red Square for the next Victory Day celebration in 2020, if for no other reason than to poke leftist bigots and cold warriors in the eye.
The Latest Wrinkle
The most recent chapter of the Russia/Ukraine narrative is the so-called, impeachment “inquiry” which only served to confirm Donald Trump’s assessments of National Security Council and US State Department perfidy. Even if you discount arrogant self-important conceits, three of a sorry group still stand out; Vendman, Holmes, and Hill, one from State and two from the NSC.
Vendmen and Holmes should be dismissed as effete “kiss and tell” office boys. Both displayed puerile contempt for security, discretion, and presidential confidentiality.
Ms. Hill, in contrast, appears to be a patina Trojan, vintage and polished. Fiona has more personal history with Christopher Steele (erstwhile dossier forger and head of the Russian desk at British MI6) than James Comey or John Brennan combined.
This Mata might know Hari. The English lady doth protest too much. Fiona may not have been outed as a double, but she may be getting emoluments from nefarious sources.
You cannot know her affiliations (MI6 and Brookings), or listen to Ms. Hill, and not see the specter of Kim Philby doing a jig at Kuntsevo. The Steele/Hill connection suggests that there may have more than just courtesy calls between anti-Trump and anti-Brexit plotters on both sides of the pond. British Intelligence has always been left, liberal, and notoriously porous.
George Blake, another SIS rascal, at 98, is still an icon in Moscow.
When there is a US Senate impeachment trail, and if the Republicans hire better lawyers, these and other incriminating disclosures should guarantee Trump gets to stir the pot for another four years.
In sum, the threat to civility and democracy in Washington is not Russia, nor collusion, nor quid pro quo, nor bribery, nor obstruction, nor even corruption. The threat is culture; a left leaning deep state, need we say creep state; a confederacy of urban statists and globalists that believe they, not democratically elected officials, make policy.
The Boris Johnson landslide in the United Kingdom in November 2019 may be a harbinger of Christmas futures and the 2020 election in America. Political arrogance and associated sedition midst unelected liberal mandarins, alas, is likely to transcend a Trump second term even if he wins in the new year by a landslide.
Tenure in progressive Washington, London, and Brussels is like a cimex lectularius infestation. Just when you think you will get a good night’s sleep, another liberal urban pest bites your azimuth.
G. Murphy Donovan is a Vietnam veteran and erstwhile military Intelligence officer who served at DIA, CIA, NSA, and under James Clapper at USAF Intelligence.
Follow NER on Twitter @NERIconoclast