Burning Down The House

If you recollect from the Business As Usual blog post, I said the events in Ukraine are “very similar, in fact identical to, the dissolution of Yugoslavia. Except this time it’s Ukraine, and thankfully the Ukrainians aren’t cooperating like the Yugoslavians did, however reluctant they may have been at first. For any objective and independent Ukrainians reading this, don’t get caught up in the contrived conflict. Haters of many stripes want you to do their fighting for them. Don’t spill your blood. It’s what they want…it’s why they’re hyping every trivial event and making more of it than it is. They want to ignite the conflict and they’re furious right now it’s not working. They will resort to other measures after a while since this direction isn’t paying dividends, but understand no one in this faux conflict has your best interests at heart. Behind the scenes, it’s Business As Usual.”

Well, it looks like Operation Ukrainization (a Balkanizing project) is entering its next phase. It’s the same crap they pulled in Yugoslavia in manufacturing a crisis which ultimately led to civil war and factionalization of….….the former socialist state cobbled together and held together by Marshal Josip Broz Tito’s genius. Unfortunately, Ukraine hasn’t had a Tito so its existence as a sovereign nation has been short-lived as we’ll watch from the sidewalk as its drawn and quartered like Yugoslavia before it in the wake of the passing of Tito’s unifying presence.

As many visiting this blog already know, the trumped up hostilities have elevated to a new level in the last couple days as this article from NPR underscores. From the article:

Blaze In Odessa Kills 31, Marking Escalation In Ukraine Crisis

The situation in Ukraine escalated further on Friday: First, as we reported, Ukraine launched a military operation against separatists in the east, and then a fire in a building in the Black Sea port of Odessa killed 31 people.

As the Kyiv Post reports, the building was set on fire after pro-Moscow demonstrators took cover in a trade union building.

The Post adds:

“The Interior Ministry reports that at least 31 people died in the fire, a majority of whom suffocated. Some died in a desperate attempt to escape after leaping from the building’s meters-high windows. The Odessa city website, meanwhile, reports that 41 were killed and another 123 injured, according to its preliminary findings.
“The blaze began after pro-Russian separatists clashed with activists partaking in a rally filled with supporters for a united Ukraine. The rival groups hurled cobblestones, smoke grenades and Molotov cocktails at each other.
“A mob shouted ‘Glory to Ukraine’ and ‘Death to enemies’ as the building burned with people inside.”

This marks the deadliest day in Ukraine since 70 people were killed in Independence Square on Feb. 20. Those people were demonstrating against former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich, who supported closer ties with Russia.

Eventually, Yanukovich was ousted and Russia annexed Crimea. Since then, separatists have been taking over buildings in areas of Ukraine with close ties to Russia.

The New York Times hints that the big issue here is that Moscow has repeated that “it reserved the right to intervene to protect its interests and Russian-leaning residents of eastern Ukraine.”

Reporting from Donetsk, NPR’s Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson reports that Russia’s Foreign Ministry says Moscow is “outraged” by the incident and denounced Kiev’s “irresponsibility.”

The Ukrainian government blamed Russia for stoking the violence.

So far, the Times reports, “there were no signs of an imminent move across the border” by Russia.

They’re not going to stop, and in fact, they’re well-prepared to pull out all of the stops to get this thing on. I believe we are witnessing the beginning of yet another Slavic tragedy…one of a long litany of tragedies that are a permanent unhealed wound of this slavish culture. If you want to get a sense of soul-decimating and soul-wrenching tragedy that is the culture of this area, read A People’s Tragedy: The Russian Revolution: 1891-1924 by Orlando Figes. If you make it through, because it’s an incredibly dense and comprehensive accounting, be prepared to seek intervention to prevent you from slitting your wrists. It goes a long way in explaining my ancestors and how some of that still survives to this day after many transplanted generations. Some things Die Hard…proclivity for tragedy being one such thing.

Perhaps some of the Ukrainians reading this post can chime in and provide us with personal, first-hand accounts because it’s extremely difficult to get anything resembling the truth, when it comes to the specifics of skirmishes like this, in the media, mainstream or alternative. For example, the NPR article I linked to quotes the Kiev Post, and no doubt the Kiev Post is about as objective as the NYT or Russia Today—or, gasp, NPR despite Liberals’ protestations to the neutrality of public radio and television.

Also, read the comments at that NPR-linked article and try to decipher the truth about the specifics from the noise. Once again, as I’ve mentioned in earlier posts about this subject, Putin’s Russia has infiltrated the comment sections of Western media spaces and it appears these Western media publications are complicit with this tactic by virtue of allowing these blatant pro-Russian, anti-American propagandistic comments through uncensored whilst censoring pretty much any and all comments I, and no doubt countless others, make regardless of the media space I/we choose. The global audience to this contrived and unfolding tragedy is being consensually manufactured. It’s being socially engineered in plain site.

From the comments to the linked NPR article, we have the Russian version of events concerning the conflagratory clash in Odessa:

Guest • 13 hours ago

Locals report that members of the Right Sector and similar factions arrived from out of town, organized the rally, equipped themselves with shields, and began marching towards the pro-Russian protest on the other side of town. When they heard about this, the more militant of the pro-Russians decided to strike preemptively. The two groups fought with molotov cocktails, bats and iron bars, and the pro-Ukrainian group won (probably because they were an actual militia, instead of normal Ukrainian citizens). The rest of the pro-Russians hid in the trade union building, which was promptly set on fire. Many people were burned alive and some died after jumping out of the windows. Those who survived continued to be cursed and berated by the pro-Ukrainians as they tried to crawl to someplace safe. Some of the stragglers who were particularly badly burnt or who had sustained serious injuries from the fall were even beaten as they made their way across the street.

The agreement between the US, the EU, Russia, and Ukraine that was signed last week stipulated that Ukraine would disarm the Right Sector and Svoboda. They have failed to do that, and here is the result. The US and EU, however, have turned a blind eye on this and instead continue to put pressure on Russia.

Now, I just want you all to know that everything I just typed is pretty much a transcript of a report from Ria Novosti, one of the main Russian news agencies. This is the perspective that is being reported to the Russian people. Whether or not elements of it may be false, I think it is pretty important for us to be aware of what people there are thinking — especially since we seem to be so eager to place ourselves in full opposition of everything Russia is doing.

I suspect Russians will be more than willing to fight over this, and shame on you if you dare to ridicule them for that.

I think “ridicule” at the end there is an odd choice of word to use. Criticize would be better, but other than that, this post raises an excellent point…one that supports my thesis nicely, although I’m quite certain the author of that comment would shrink at the notion of supporting my thesis, inadvertently or advertently. Regardless of their shrinking, they did support my Manufacturing Consent theme applied to this unfolding Ukraine tragedy, like it or not.

Valissa at Pat Lang’s blog underscored my recurring theme nicely with a comment to this thread at Sic Semper Tyrannis:

Valissa said in reply to David Habakkuk directly and Cold N. Holefield indirectly…

I was struck by this sentence of yours about the media, which is similar to some remarks you made the other day at the post ‘Open Thread – 27 April, 2014’:
” Once again, they prefer to present incredibly complex intrigues – intrigues which Machiavelli would have relished – in terms of a childish story of ‘black hats’ versus ‘white hats’.”

Yes, simple black & white narratives with good guys and bad guys are the standard MSM style and have been for many years. This is not unlike the TV shows I grew up watching. Simple morality plays that engage one’s sentiments rather than one’s mind, and that actively avoid addressing the complex, and often morally ambiguous world we live in. This is also the way history was taught when I was in grade school & high school. No wonder Americans have such simplistic attitudes and beliefs about the world!

How does one learn to think about the world in all of it’s multi-dimensional glory and in many shades of gray? If you are not taught or educated by someone “in the know” you have to puzzle it out for yourself. That takes time and energy, something most people can’t be bothered with. It also takes a willingness to buck conventional thinking, which most people are afraid to do.

I think the main reason Game of Thrones is so popular is because it does not follow the simple morality play narrative style. Also because it addresses issues of “power” explicitly, without academic euphemisms and false civility.

Remember what I said in my first blog post about liars not attributing their lying lines of reasoning to the source and inspiration of those reasoned lies? Well, I believe the above quote is an example of it. I have no doubt both of those individuals, if they’re distinct at all, read my earlier posts about the mainstream media presenting this contrived Ukrainian crisis as a binary bind of paper versus plastic and used it as inspiration for further elaboration on their part without ever ignobly stooping to credit me as the source of that inspiration. It’s all part of the Big Lie. In the hierarchy of lying, it’s an unwriiten rule to never attribute the source of your inspiration to anyone who is not credit-worthy. Only acknowledged authoritative sources receive attribution and credit. In the world of lying, which is our world by the way, it’s kiss up and kick down, so if you’re nobody, meaning you haven’t been officially acknowledged and accepted as an authoritative, professional and popular liar, then any inspiration you provide to others will not only not be acknowledged, but will in fact be attributed to someone higher in the lying hierarchy in lieu of you. Don’t you love how this works?

All that being said, it’s still an articulate and excellent comment, “Valissa,” and thank you and “DH” (who comments at Moon of Alabama blog on occasion amidst the plenary of anti-Semites who crowd Bernhard’s space, by the way) for taking my inspiration and running with it. Let it spread like wildfire (as opposed to the deliberate Burning Down The House fire), attribution or not.

Another way this fomented and slowly-unfolding Ukrainian tragedy resembles the Balkanization of the former Yugoslavia is this latest announcement by the temporary Kiev government to conscript troops. Here’s a link to that story from yet another objective publication, The Telegraph. A snippet per the linked article:

Ukraine to restore conscription after admitting it has lost eastern front

Ukrainian authorities reinstated conscription in a bid to deal with the deteriorating security situation in the country.
Oleksandr Turchynov, the acting president, reintroduced compulsory military service in a decree signed on Thursday, a day after he admitted that security forces have effectively lost control of two eastern regions to a pro-Russian rebellion.
The decree cited “the rising force of armed pro-Russian units and the taking of public administration buildings… which threaten territorial integrity”.

This action supports my earlier bolded and quoted assertion from a previous blog post that “they want to ignite the conflict and they’re furious right now it’s not working. They will resort to other measures after a while since this direction isn’t paying dividends.” Well, like clockwork (orange?…could be), here it is…the “other measures” to ignite and escalate. One way or another, by hook or crook, or better yet by a gun to the back of their heads, Ukrainians will be cajoled into spilling each other’s blood as they were forced to do in the former Yugoslavia. Per this article appropriately titled You’re In The Army Now…:

The eruption of large-scale violence first in Croatia in the summer of 1991 and then in Bosnia and Herzegovina in the spring of 1992 put any alternative conceptions of male civic duty to the test. The unfolding context of the war together with the traditional understanding of men’s duty as defence of their community meant that many men now faced a painful dilemma: to wait for the politicians to resolve the conflict or to take-up arms in defence of Yugoslavia, their local community or their new state. This changed perception and the tension this caused is expressed in an article published in Peace News in 1992 by Zoran Oštrić, a Croatian anti-war activist:

Some young Croatian men fled the country prior to that [violence] and have avoided the horrors that have become part of our everyday life. Many of those who have left could not understand how two or three months later some of their friends were in the army and had in some cases had [sic] even joined up voluntarily (…) Perhaps it was once possible to change things without offering armed resistance, but now a time has come where it’s simply no longer possible.

Pressure increased on those who did not want to fight in the war. Still, a small minority continued to question the idea of military contribution. In Croatia, where a provision for conscientious objection was included in the 1990 Constitution, 882 requests for civilian service were filed between 1992 and 1995 (Tatalović and Cvrtila, 2003, p. 29). These men extolled the merits of civic contribution, demanding recognition for their work, which could include voluntary work, humanitarian involvement and political lobbying. In Serbia, where no such option existed, desertion and draft evasion were the main ways of avoiding military involvement. It is estimated that only 50% of men responded to the draft call.

I bring this up because I have a close acquaintance, a Bosnian Muslim, who emigrated from Bosnia after the war and settled in America after an arduous, painstaking process. We don’t see each other much these days because our lives are taking different paths, but when we did spend time I would pick his brain about his experiences because I’m fascinated with first-hand accounts from those who really experienced these events on the ground in the midst of it all. He recounted many things to me, but one of the things that really stuck with me was him candidly asserting that one day all was fine and calm and there was no sense of conflict or tension in his locality and the the next day all hell broke loose seemingly out of nowhere. Without guiding him, he said himself it was as though there were outside forces making this happen…that it was not organic or homegrown, but rather foisted on a peacefully coexisting people by forces that sought to factionalize them.

Soon enough, at the age of sixteen, a military that had not even existed a couple of years earlier knocked on his door and told him he needed to sign up for the newly-instituted draft or face jail time. At first, he took the jail time, but after being harassed and beat up in jail for refusing to do his duty, he gave in and was shuffled to the front lines and ordered to shoot at and kill those who a year earlier were his friends, neighbors and schoolmates. He mentioned that he, and many like him, would often shoot to miss because they could not see the sense in killing their former friends and neighbors. For two years he endured this sadistic, contrived lunacy…shooting to miss and at the same time avoiding getting shot by those on the other side who didn’t feel as reluctant to murder their former friends and neighbors. He managed to make it through without serious physical injury although he is psychically scarred for life. He has seen much death and destruction and he never looked back when he left. Yes, he’s been back since immigrating to America, but he’s never wanted to live there again…the memories are too painful and it’s no longer the same place—it’s a disfigured shadow, ghost even, of its former self and he always feels overwhelmingly depressed when he returns from a trip back “home” to Bosnia.

This is what increasingly seems to be the fate of Ukraine…once again. There is no better definition of a tragedy…and a senseless one at that. Getting back to the NPR article linked to earlier in this post, and more specifically the comments to that article by the concerned, inquisitive, objective and impartial readers, don’t you know. I quoted the pro-Russian, anti-American example of one side of the binary divide that’s presented by the media in all its manifest forms, so it’s only fair I present the other side of the dualistic, binary messaging. Here’s the pro-Western, anti-Russian take from the linked NPR article:

John Collins • 17 hours ago

This isn’t going well. There is an increasing cycle of violence which could end up with an invasion by Russia.

It is in our interests to end this conflict as soon as possible. The only way to resolve it peacefully is to start working at partitioning Ukraine along ethnic lines. This will resolve the dispute and give us what we need: a stable central Europe and improved relations with the Russians.

We have much bigger fish to fry than to get sucked into a extended conflict with Russia as it seeks to protect it’s people and vital interests. In a few years we will need their help in deterring a war with China. The last thing we need to be doing is to drive the Russians into China’s arms.

A concerned reader responded to the concerned reader who made that comment as follows:

David Cramer • 17 hours ago

Ukraine has a choice, either fight back to regain control of their country despite the risk of invasion by Russia, or just stand by and let Russian special forces overthrow their cities and town in the eastern one by one until Putin controls the entire country and it’s would be too late to do anything about it.

Now you might think their best option is to appease Putin and hope that after he takes over half their country he’ll be satisfied, but history tells us that bullies like Putin and Hitler are never satisfied, you give than inch and they’ll take your entire country.

I thought the reference to allying with Russia in a war against China was bizarrely interesting. Aside from that, take note of the bolded part. It’s important to keep amplifying an imminent Russian invasion and occupation of Ukraine, but as I’ve implied all along, that’s not the goal and it will not be the case despite these prevarications by provocateurs. I’m sure there are more than a few who will take umbrage with this linked article from Forbes authored by Paul Roderick Gregory, but I consider it an excellent analysis and supportive of my recurring theme concerning the fate of Ukraine. Per the article:

Putin’s Promises To Eastern Ukraine Could Bankrupt Russia

As the moniker Petrostate implies, the Russian economy and state have an extreme dependence on energy: One half of budget revenues come from taxes and levies on oil and gas. Energy exports currently bring in a quarter trillion dollars annually and the energy sector accounts for 20 percent of GDP. Petrodollars enable Putin to avoid the economic reforms that could modernize and diversify the economy. The Russian Petrostate will remain dependent on energy as long as Putin remains in power. As the North American fracking revolution advances and spreads and energy prices fall, Russia faces the double whammy of falling production (without Western investment) and shrinking prices.

I want to state here before I quote more that this is simply not true. The “fracking revolution” is not going to bring down prices and Russia is not going to face the “whammy of falling production.” The rest of what he says in this opening paragraph is spot on. Here’s some more:

Elsewhere such oil curses have funded extravagant private spending or generous welfare benefits. Putin deploys his petrodollars to pay for the rampant corruption which holds his KGB state together, and, as of late, he has found a new use: petrodollars to finance foreign adventurism in the Caucuses, Moldova, Crimea, and now Eastern Ukraine. He should beware: foreign aggression could impose annual “costs of empire” on Russia that are untenable.

This is true, and this is precisely why Putin will not invade and occupy Ukraine, but instead take part in destabilizing it and carving it up into subservient vassals that render their resources and allegiance without the attendant costs of maintaining the well-being and prosperity of the population at large. Like what’s happened in the former Yugoslavia but now Putin’s Russia gets a seat at the table so long as it plays its part well. Putin doesn’t want to adopt Ukraine so an invasion is out of the question. He wants loyalty, allegiance and burnt offerings from a smattering of vassalized statelets he essentially controls off-the-books. He does not want to put Ukraine on the Russian books for all the following reasons per the linked Forbes article:

Putin’s ongoing military campaign in Ukraine aims either at the complete destabilization of or the annexation of much of Eastern Ukraine. Annexation would be a giant step towards reconstituting a post-Soviet empire from the component parts of the former Soviet Union.

The annexation of the Donbass region, a territory centered around Ukraine’s second largest city, Donetsk, would add some eight million people to the Russian Federation. (Crimea adds two million). It would add a depressed rust belt of low quality coal and ore and high-cost metal products, whose exports are made possible only by exceptionally low local wages. (Russia’s own Kusbass metallurgy center in Kemerovo produces higher quality metals at much lower cost). Of the eight million new Russian citizens, about one third are retired or approaching retirement and they are overwhelmingly female. Another twenty percent work for the state. In other words, nearly half live from and are paid by the state budget.

In his east Ukrainian campaign, Putin deploys both the stick of repression, political murder, and brutal black ops, while dangling the carrot of higher living standards. Putin’s siren song to east Ukrainians is: join Russia and you will be better off. Our pensions are higher. Our public servants are better paid. Police, who must decide whether to restore order or look the other way, are told that Russian police earn double or even triple.

Annexation carries with it the implicit promise of Russian-style pensions, public-service salaries, and wages.

We propose a simple measure of what Putin’s implicit promises would cost Russia:

The latest IMF statistics show Russia’s per capita GDP $10,000 above Ukraine’s. This $10,000 gap reflects the Petrostate’s higher pensions, salaries, and wages. To fully meet its implicit annexation promise to the eight million new citizens from Donbass, Russia would have to budget an incremental $80 billion ($10,000 per person times 8 million people). If Russia raised only pensions and public-employee salaries to Russian levels, leaving the industrial workers at their current level, the incremental cost could be limited to $40 billion, but at the expense of restive and agitated mine and metal workers. (No one wants to take on inflamed miners, not even Putin). If Russia narrowed mining and metal worker wages to half of the gap, the annual incremental cost to the Russian budget would be $60 billion, rather than $80 billion. Most likely the outcome would be between $60 and $80 billion, or one quarter to one third of annual oil and gas export earnings.

With a Russian budget of 38 percent of GDP, or slightly less than one trillion dollars (Moscow’s Gaidar Institute), the annexation of just the Donbass region of eastern Ukraine would eat up between 6 and 8 percent of the Russian budget each year – as compared with 12 percent for the military. This is $60 to $80 billion less for investment, military expenditures, modernization, and other state activities.

If Putin were to annex the whole of east Ukraine (about 15 million population), the cost would double to $120 to $160 billion – to an untenable share of the budget.

With such numbers looming, even Putin might be inclined to listen to his economists.

The prospect of such high annexation costs could have different effects.

One, they could cause Putin, to stop short of annexation with all its financial responsibilities and content himself with a destabilized east Ukraine.

Two, Putin could annex and then renege, in part or in full, on his promise of Russian-style living standards. In the second case, East Ukrainians, who were not particularly keen on joining Russia anyway (see public opinion survey of Republican Institute). They would grow restive and support insurgencies mounted from the Ukrainian side of the border. The expense would rise as police, intelligence agents, and military rush in to pacify the population.

Three, Putin could raise east Ukrainian living standards to Russia’s but at a huge hit to the budget. The budgetary costs would likely rise over time as the Donbass rust belt became even less competitive with the rise in wages and would require ever higher subsidies.

For those who doubt that Russia’s annexation of east Ukraine would have huge budgetary costs, just imagine a decision by the United States to annex the 150 million citizens of Mexico under the agreement that Mexican citizens would receive U.S. pensions, and public servants would be paid at U.S. wage scales. With a $40,000 difference in per capita incomes, such a crazy scheme would break the back of the federal budget.

Putin runs a similar risk, whether he knows it or not. As the Zenmaster says: “Be careful what you wish for.”

I feel for the good people, not the bad people, of Ukraine…you know, the Small People who want to live their lives peacefully and to be left alone and not tyrannized and/or exploited by local thugs, oligarchic leaders or meddlesome outside interlopers who want their resources for nothing. I don’t think the press anywhere, whether it be East, West, North or South is covering the wishes of the Small People in Ukraine, but it’s doing a fine job of expressing everyone else’s wishes for Ukraine, and let me tell you, they’re some pretty sick wishes.

What’s going on in Ukraine is quickly becoming a hateful projection of those who see it as their battleground for a lifetime of powerlessness in their lives. It’s quite a sadistic onus to place upon the Small People of Ukraine…to have them spill their blood and murder each other because some fanatics who purport to speak for the whole comb the internet and look for vehicles to wage their battles with demons that exist only in their twisted and gnarled minds. To those fanatics I say, the Small People of Ukraine should not have to fight your absurd and futile battle with a phantom you’ve conjured from bits and bytes. Leave the Small People of Ukraine alone and leave their country out of it. To all those, besides these fanatics and provocateurs, who seek understanding, I say to you don’t carry water for the oligarchs and don’t hesitate to call out anyone who does carry water for them. Playing up a crisis in Ukraine that will lead to a bloody civil war and Balkanization is carrying water for the oligarchs because that is their plan. Don’t participate (but instead, eviscerate), and for those who do, see them as water carriers and indict them as complicit in the holocaust of Ukraine to come.

That’s all for now. To the good people of Ukraine, remain strong, fervent, resilient, patient and ever mindful of the minefield that’s being laid out before you. They want you to kill each other. They want your blood sacrifice. And when you’ve yielded and sacrificed blood and body, any survivors will be forced to pay the bill and rebuild with breaking backs from the ruins that was once a sovereign nation.

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19 thoughts on “Burning Down The House

  1. Cetrainly interesting; quite diluted messages, hard to understand what you stand for and who you are; not that it matters, but we all have our biases. times unfortunately require taking a side. regards

    • What I stand for and who I am is not important. This isn’t about me and my opinion, although I do have an opinion that’s always subject to change based on new information. Making sense of what is going on, viewing it from unique perspectives, is the important take-away from all of this. That is my goal. Getting people to think through all of this rather than just passively, or zealously, receiving pre-digested, validating messaging from sources that seek to social-engineer their perspective and perception about what constitutes our reality.

      Of course we all have our biases, that’s an implicit implication of this blog. That’s part and parcel of why reality is a lie. Our biases and prejudices obscure our metaphorical vision. My only fear in this trying-to-see-the-light process is that in earnestly attempting to remove the cataracts from our eyes, we come to realize the light we are seeking is not the benevolent radiation of a brilliant star that’s the center of our metaphorical universe, but rather the intense glare of a massive spotlight focused upon us in some remote and isolated metaphorical Syrian interrogation room/torture chamber hidden far below some abandoned former administrative building from a bygone era.

      If that is the source of the light, the question is, do we really want to know? I’m willing to take the risk, because to not is a sort of death in and of itself.

      And no, we, I, don’t have to take sides because the sides are not what they seem or appear to be. That’s what “this” requires…for the collective unconscious and conscious energy of the world to focus itself and its energy on sides it’s created, and by allowing ourselves to be used, wittingly or unwittingly, in this way, we contribute to the carnage “this” requires. I don’t want to contribute to it, so I will remain a passive observer on the margins switching lenses for a clearer focus, or a greater, superseding perspective about what’s really going on.

      • I expect many disagree, elisimova, but I’m not sure what you agree with and don’t agree with. For example, you contend that my messaging is diluted. Can you specifically elaborate? What should the messaging be if there is to be messaging? You claim we must choose sides, so what are those sides, and which side of those sides do you choose?

    • When you say “they have ever lived,” are you referring to Saker?

      Have you investigated the significance of the ribbon in the upper left hand corner of the home page of Saker’s blog? If you haven’t, here’s some interesting background. For a Russian, if Saker is indeed a Russian expat, he exercises impeccable command of the English language…making sure to screw up occasionally to keep it real.

      What’s Orange And Black And Bugging Ukraine?

      As pro-Russian separatists continue to tighten their grip in eastern Ukraine, some angry Ukrainians have given them a nickname that sums up just how they feel about teeming swarms of unwanted pests: “koloradi.”

      The term is short for Colorado potato beetles, the invasive, plant-eating insects that are the scourge of gardeners and farmers around the globe.

      Koloradskiye zhuki, as the plump, six-legged bugs are known locally, are distinctive for their bright orange-and-black stripes.

      In this, they bear a marked resemblance to the orange-and-black St. George ribbon, a symbol of Russian military valor that has become de rigueur lapel-wear for the separatists occupying administration buildings in cities like Donetsk and Slovyansk.

      The ribbon, normally associated with Soviet World War II veterans, is enjoying a patriotic renaissance in the wake of Russia’s military annexation of Crimea and its continued standoff with Ukraine.

      The Russian RIA Novosti news agency reported this week that close to 100 million St. George ribbons have been distributed “worldwide” ahead of the May 9 Victory Day holiday marking 69 years since the end of WWII.

      Ukraine’s pro-Russia separatists, who wear unmarked military uniforms and deny any formal ties to the Russian government, have relied on the orange-and-black ribbons as a kind of makeshift marker of Kremlin loyalty.

      When separatist troops first entered eastern Ukraine earlier this month, most did so with one or more St. George ribbons tied around their biceps or pinned to their jackets — a useful visual for the Kremlin, which has tried to portray the current unrest in Ukraine as a heroic, WWII-style battle against “fascist” influences in Kyiv and western Ukraine.

      It’s not just the ribbons that have Ukrainian loyalists drawing parallels with Colorado beetles. For post-Soviet citizens, the unloved, destructive insects are also synonymous with imperialist plots and foreign invasions.

      The bugs — which reportedly originated in the U.S. state of Nevada, not Colorado — first appeared on Soviet territory in the wake of World War II, when they were believed to have been unwittingly transported to Europe alongside American troops.

      The Warsaw Pact countries, fearing a food shortage, decried the voracious outsiders as a CIA plot to destroy Soviet agriculture. Officials launched a region-wide campaign to wipe out the beetle, villainizing them in propaganda posters and pulling schoolchildren from class to gather the bugs and drown them in buckets of benzene or spirit.

      Now, with a current crop of “koloradi” to worry about, many Ukrainians have created their own Soviet-style campaigns, producing online posters alerting viewers to the current “distribution” of Colorado beetles in Crimea, Kharkiv, and Donetsk, and depicting the bugs happily nibbling on a leafy plant and proudly defending themselves as potato “self-defense” forces.

      A current insecticide ad running on Channel 5, the station owned by Ukrainian presidential candidate Petro Poroshenko, has even raised chuckles among some Ukrainians with its promise to kill Colorado beetles “on the spot” — although in this case, the enemy in question are the actual bugs, which remain an annual threat.

      Other observers seem to be taking the “koloradi” nickname in their stride. Moscow-based analyst Grigory Trofimchuk chided Russian propagandists for using heavy-handed labels like “fascists.”

      He urged them to try “light irony” instead, suggesting that Ukraine’s Right Sector nationalists, with their red-and-black insignia, bear more than a passing resemblance to another kind of a bug — klop-soldatki, or firebugs, which he noted mischievously, “tend toward cannibalism.”

      It’s tragic comedy and the irony is so ridiculously thick you need a MS 880 MAGNUM® chainsaw to cut through it. Juxtapose what we know about the significance of the ribbon with this Russian softball piece by the NYT:

      Behind the Masks in Ukraine, Many Faces of Rebellion

      His is one of the faces behind the shadowy paramilitary takeover. But even with his mask off, much about his aims, motivations and connections remains murky, illustrating why this expanding conflict is still so complex.

      Yuri, who appears to be in his mid-50s, is in many ways an ordinary eastern Ukrainian of his generation. A military veteran, he survived the Soviet collapse to own a small construction business in Druzhkovka, about 15 miles south of here.

      But his rebel stature has a particular root: He is also a former Soviet special forces commander who served in Afghanistan, a background that could make him both authentically local and a capable Kremlin proxy.

      In this war, clouded by competing claims on both sides, one persistent mystery has been the identity and affiliations of the militiamen, who have pressed the confrontation between Russia and the West into its latest bitter phase.

      Moscow says they are Ukrainians and not part of the Russian armed forces, as the so-called green men in Crimea turned out to be.

      Western officials and the Ukrainian government insist that Russians have led, organized and equipped the fighters.

      A deeper look at the 12th Company — during more than a week of visiting its checkpoints, interviewing its fighters and observing them in action against a Ukrainian military advance here on Friday — shows that in its case neither portrayal captures the full story.

      Throughout the week, as Ukrainian soldiers sometimes pressed closer, he chuckled at the claims by officials in Kiev and the West that his operations had been guided by Russian military intelligence officers.

      There is no Russian master, he said. “We have no Muscovites here,” he said. “I have experience enough.”

      That experience, he and his fighters say, includes four years as a Soviet small-unit commander in Kandahar, Afghanistan, in the 1980s.

      The 119 fighters he said he leads, who appear to range in age from their 20s to their 50s, all speak of prior service in Soviet or Ukrainian infantry, airborne, special forces or air-defense units….

      Whatever the final shape, Yuri said later, Ukraine’s interim government must allow a vote or face civil war.

      “Either a sea of blood and corpses, or a referendum,” he said. “There is no third way.”

  2. “There is no third way.”

    A telling decree. Is the man even in any sense elected to represent the people he is effectively holding hostage and using as bartering chips? Not to say that the more radical Maidanites haven’t put the West (and not only Western Ukraine) in effectively the same, false position.

    Also, we can notice that the Maidanite coup government has done a fine job of discrediting and belittling its own army providing the cover for disbanding, dismantling or otherwise removing it from the theatre of play. These soldiers – who alone have demonstrated a measure of sanity and humanity by consistently refusing to kill or at least kill unnecessarily or use excessive force – naturally more or less represent the real Ukraine and real Ukrainian, as opposed to the false, artificial and revisionary caricatures being produced to create an ideological and ethnic divide in the Ukraine. The Maidanites have also done a fine job providing a pretext for NATO intervention: the rebels in the East turn out actually to be “terrorists”. With their army effectively discredited while the Maidanites recruit a fresh, properly ideologically indoctrinated army, the ground is being laid for factional warfare by new, in reality utterly foreign, “national” forces domestically aided and abetted by obviously foreign influences: NATO and Russia.

    Finally, from my POV Putin may very well not be acting along but prodded. He may well have at least partially bought Western BS and post-Soviet propaganda only to find that NATO had never ceased looking on Russia as an enemy at worst and potential competitor for global control and power and best. The cannibalization and disintegration of the Soviet world was only partially completed: more destabilization and dismantling is needed to neuter the possibility of its emerging again as a possible base for global power projection. Hence divide and conquer, though trying to conquer Russia is a dangerous and would be an extremely expensive enterprise. Now Putin’s official line vis-à-vis Ukraine has so far been the most realistic one and also in line with authentic Ukrainian interests: dialog, stability and a return to Constitutional law and order. He has disavowed any desire to (further) disintegrate the territory of the Ukraine: the only necessary part for him has been secured (Crimea, which was Russian until the 1950s anyways and gifted to Ukraine by a Soviet leader).

    If this is so, the provocations in the Ukraine are arguably as much aimed at forcing and baiting Putin into a senseless trap that does neither him nor Russia certainly any possible service or favour. This may be the reason Putin/Russia seems to be relying intensely on propaganda. Russian propaganda is exposing the falsity and illegitimacy of the new Ukrainian regime. The popular Russian anger and discontent at seeing Russian speaking Ukrainians butchered would probably be almost sufficient to force Putin to act or face a mutiny by opportunists seeing the possibility of seizing power and sealing it by a popular war.

  3. I should add, however, that Russian propaganda – while making obvious the brazen lies being told about the truly *new* revolutionary Maidanite gov’t by the Western MSM, isn’t exposing the questionable credibility and legitimacy of the resistance leaders and fighters in the East. This clouds the solution to the artificially generated “crisis”: i.e. a unity government representative of the entire Ukraine that isn’t willing to sacrifice its peace and unity to an ideologically motivated action with little or no real, tangible benefits for actual Ukrainians (IMF loans always end up back in the hands of those who provided it, e.g. by spending it on arms and security. Nor would joining overtly Russia’s camp do anything except agitate the West against them). The bread basket of Europe could easily negotiate on its own terms if it was willing to invest in its agricultural industry and stop letting foreign companies and corrupt oligarchs run it (deliberately into the ground).

    • Thanks, Tim. Great comments from you, as well, so right back at you. On the surface, your reading of it, especially your first comment, is spot on, but as I’ve narrated thus far in all these blog posts, there’s much more going on beneath the surface that belies the veneer explanation of events. For the record, and I’m sure you’re the same, I ignore the rhetorical propaganda from both sides of this contrived divide and read between the lines and watch the behavior versus taking anyone at their word. What I mean to say is, many of these alternative media blogs harp on incessantly about statements Kerry makes. I couldn’t care less what Kerry says and don’t pay any attention to it. Same goes for Merkel and Obama and Putin and Lavrov. It’s what they do rather than what they say. What they do is much more telling. I think many of those blogs just like to bitch over obvious rhetorical hyperbole issued by VIPs. I’m not sure how that’s constructive in any way in gaining a better understanding of what’s really going on. Same goes for the rhetoric of the temporary government in Kiev. I don’t believe a thing it says anymore than I believe Obama and Kerry or Putin and Lavrov, and I won’t waste my time analyzing their nonsensical statememts.

  4. I have heard that Putin was working with the West to dismantle Syria and you seem to be saying that his is doing similarly with Ukraine. I have no problem entertaining such ideas but Occam’s Razor suggests that he is reacting to Western expansionism (which involves breaking apart states as you note). Did Putin allow the US backed coup in the Ukraine just to pick up the pieces?

    [On a separate note: Why choose such flippant pictures of fire to ‘illustrate’ the immolation of humans in Odessa? Is it an ironic counterpoint to those who would make martyrs of them? If you are OK with showing decapitation why not simply use actual photos of the burnt and shot bodies inside the Trade Union house?]

    Overall I appreciate your thesis that ‘small’ people should always think twice before joining in the latest bloody adventure hoisted upon them by the Big Men.

    • I have no problem entertaining such ideas but Occam’s Razor suggests that he is reacting to Western expansionism (which involves breaking apart states as you note). Did Putin allow the US backed coup in the Ukraine just to pick up the pieces?

      I don’t know if I would call that Occam’s Razor, though. I would call it conventional thinking, but even using conventional thinking and narratives to describe this, the one you’ve provided isn’t the only conventional interpretation. It could also be described as checking Putin’s expansionism and revanchism. Whichever conventional interpretation we apply though, it falls short and apart as an effective explanation when we consider the behavior versus the words. The words, the conventional narratives which are essentially propaganda, would have us believe this a dualistic, binary black and white matter with two opposing sides or forces when in fact it could very well be the two sides on offer are the same coin.

      As far as the fire pics are concerned, yes, they’re flippant. Most, if not all, of my writing has a satirical bent. Sometimes I come across as distasteful. I won’t apologize for it. The ones responsible for conjuring this death and destruction are the ones who should apologize…but never will. I’m in their collective face and exposing their sadistic charade. I do it with maximum irreverence for maximum effect.

  5. Hey Cold,

    I have been helping to run up the view and comment counts on your blog (surprisingly good, btw, and I’ve learned more than I need to know about Ukraine) and since one hand washes another I’m asking a favor: I was banned (privately, by JHK via email) from CFN on Jan 28th (supposedly for starting a “pissing contest” with the commenter formerly known as Asoka) and would like to advise the few commenters who remain there accordingly. I don’t know the reason but other regulars such as Prog and ajmuste (Asoka) have been missing for a few weeks as well.

    If you are willing to provide this service please also copy and paste the following into the CFN comment section for me. It is a letter to the editor of the NY Times Sports section which will never see the light of day for a least two reasons: it is too long and it contains a couple of bad words.

    Warm regards,
    Q. Shtik:

    “Bravo, David Carr. You have perfectly captured with contemptuous sarcasm this whole fetid race scandal. The exotic “V. Sciviano” apparently is an intuitive media savant in the service of personal financial gain. And Donald “Sterling” is a rich sugar daddy and general schmuck whose Times obit one day will note his personal ruin by the thought police for crimes of egregious political IN-correctness. Both of these characters, we learn, found it necessary to change their names, presumably in the interest of panache, and thus the use of quotation marks above.

    Sterling’s sin reminds me of the 1967 movie “Guess who’s coming to dinner.” When Spencer Tracy’s character learns that his daughter has not only brought home to dinner a black man (Sidney Poitier) but that she intends to marry him, the camera slowly zooms in on his craggy face until it fills the entire screen and his dialog captures the awful prospect: “WELL. I’LL. BE. A. SON. OF. A. BITCH.” At least Poitier’s character is a doctor who appears to have assimilated into the majority culture and unlike, say, the black recent winner of a 46th consecutive boxing match without a loss, he understands usage of the verb to be in standard American English.

    I credit Mr. Carr for staying on topic, namely the art and science of getting over via social media in its present state of evolution, when it must have been tempting to drift off tangentially into the sordid money-grubbing role of the NAACP in this story and, as well, the list of other billionaires lining up to buy the Clippers when Sterling is forced to sell his club. We will shortly learn that Oprah has loved basketball since she played it in 6th grade gym class.

    I would like to find a synonym for the word disturbed that more forcefully describes my mental state concerning the free speech ramifications of this scandal. I mean, honestly, despite their for-public-consumption liberal hearts don’t most old white billionaires actually harbor sentiments similar to Donald Sterling’s? Wouldn’t they metaphorically sh*t their pants if a daughter, say, was seen seriously and publically connected to a black man?”

    • I’ll do it, even though I’ve been banned more times from CFN than I care to count (I always find a way back in). Do you have a link to the NYT article I can provide as reference and context that prompted your editorial reply?

      • Well, I see that you had no problem finding that link. Thanks for posting my comment at CFN but I am miffed that you didn’t tell readers that I was banned and now they will be under the impression I am back. You have usurped my screen name and now if I ever decide to schlep my laptop to Star Bucks, Panera Bread or my local library to post from an all-important different IP address I will not be able to use my screen name.

      • You can use your screen name again. That’s not how it works. As quickly as I put on your mask, I took it off and left it on the shelf for when you make your comeback. I left the link to your comment here behind the name so if anyone clicks on your name for that comment at CFN, they’ll find the rest of the comment at this blog. I suspect they’ve (all two of them acting as a multitude) already seen your comment here since they read my blog regularly but don’t have the temerity to post.

        I’m glad I could be of service and please don’t be miffed. I assure you they know it’s not you and they know you’re here commenting and they know what you’ve said about being banned, and in fact, may have known about it for quite some time now.

        Ask yourself Q. Shtik, how is it that Janos manages to not get banned? Same with K-Dog? Why you? Why me? Did we watch too much TV? Is that a hint of accusation in your eye?

        I’ll have another post up tomorrow entitled Georgia On My Mind which won’t disappoint. School’s still in session for Ukraine, so there’s still work to be done. Eventually, in a few years or a decade perhaps, when things calm down in Slavia and it’s been smashed into a thousand unrecognizable pieces that can never be glued together again, I’ll put a post up about Washington’s NFL team entitled Skins In The Game. I guarantee you’ll like that one as well if you have the patience to wait for it or don’t kick-off (haha…get it?) before then.

      • You have to keep a sense of humor. Your friend Marlin’s (BRH) playing games—as is his wont. He’s read what you’ve said here. He knows what we’re discussing like a stalker knows what underwear the subject of its stalking is wearing, but he pretends not to know over at CFN. In fact, Marlin has posted at this blog before…in one of the earlier threads here.

        For posterity, I’ll post his comment from CFN below, and then I will bow out of commentary to my own blog. If I embroil myself in the distracting commentary, I’ll never finish blog posts, and we can’t have that. There’s important work to be done.

        BackRowHeckler

        May 7, 2014 at 8:11 am

        Hey Q your back. I notice down at Rutgers, your esteemed state university, students and faculty have dis invited war criminal Condi Rice from speaking at this year’s commencement ceremony. That gracious woman has accepted it magnanimously. I wonder who will replace her? Bill Ayers? Angela Davis? Some other retro Marxist slug? Combined with the events at Brandies, Harvard and Dartmouth this season, what political crapholes these universities have devolved into.

        –BRH.

        Cute, Marlin. Obvious, but cute nonetheless. I bet not too many people refer to you or anything you do as cute, do they Marlin? Since I have, consider it your lucky day.

        Now, back to my mind, what’s on it and Georgia.

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