Sunday, July 20, 2014

Examining the Flashpoints in Ukraine | The Smirking Chimp

(A book review)

Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks World War III, edited by Stephen Lendman (Clarity Press, May 2014) was rushed into print in order to capitalize on the current crisis there. Thus, the book has flaws and redeeming qualities.

The book’s introduction and 24 chapters are uneven in quality; ranging from rants to hurried sketches to documented scholarship. Although some writers contradict others, the chapters are uniformly liberal in their point of view; which is to say that the neo-Nazis and oligarchs in Ukraine, the neoconservatives, liberal interventionists and predatory capitalists in the United States, as well as their feckless lackeys in the European Union and NATO, deserve much of the blame for the crisis. Notably absent from the book are chapters written by historians of Russia and Ukraine, which might have provided historical perspective to these recent events.

Not that it would be easy to find a scholar specializing in Russian or Ukrainian history who is reliable. Recently, Stephen D. Shenfield exposed the bias of 41 experts on Ukraine, working both in Ukraine and various Western countries. They failed to address the ugly truth about the leading role played by neo-Nazis in toppling the democratically elected government in Ukraine, because they feared that by doing so, they would be providing more fodder for Russia’s propaganda campaign. Thus, Mr. Shenfield reluctantly concluded: “They seek not to determine where the truth may lie but rather to deal with the phenomenon of the Ukrainian radical nationalists in such a way as to do the least harm to the cause with which they sympathize.”

Similarly, the West has very few historians of Russia who have not succumbed to “the image of Russian iniquity” that, according to Allesandra Stanley, “is so deeply embedded” in America’s collective unconscious. Thanks to America’s pathological collective unconscious about Russia, the views of Russophobes like Zbigniew Brzezinski and bombastic, attention-seeking politicians possessing no demonstrable knowledge of Russian history, like John McCain, Hillary Clinton, and John Kerry, are courted by an equally pathological and ignorant mainstream news media. Simultaneously, the views of sane and serious students of Russian history, like Steve Cohen, Jack Matlock and Gordon Hahn are virtually ignored.

Instead of including chapters by reliable historians, the book offers the views of the highly esteemed and always intriguing Paul Craig Roberts. This former high level official in the Reagan administration now believes that “The Washington-sponsored coup in Kiev is a reckless act [that] … should alarm the entire world.”

He asserts that “the ultra-nationalists… introduced violence into the protests and changed demands from joining the EU to overthrowing the elected government.” He also sees similarities linking neoconservative claims of “American exceptionalism” to Hitler’s claims for the German nation. Finally, he warns, unless the U.S. rids itself of the obnoxious “Wolfowitz doctrine” – a doctrine that urged the use of American power to keep other countries forever locked into their subordinate positions – “nuclear war is the likely outcome.”

A few of the book’s authors address the economic aspects of the crisis in Ukraine. In Michael Hudson’s view, “Finance in today’s world has become war by non-military means.” (p.27) “Backed by the IMF and the European Central Bank (ECB) as knee-breakers in what has become in effect the financial extension of NATO, the aim is for U.S. and allied investors to appropriate the plums that kleptocrats have taken from the public domain of Russia, Ukraine and other post-Soviet economies…” (Ibid)

Complete story at - Examining the Flashpoints in Ukraine | The Smirking Chimp

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