Sunday, January 9

Banana Split and Trifle

"Re your last post and the letter from June . I'm surprised you didn't call her out on her implied observation that it's okay for the US to intervene in another country's affairs whenever we perceive the possibility of election fraud. Also, the situation with Ukraine is so complicated it's easy to see how Max Boot could confuse separate issues.
[Signed] Chicago Dan"

Dear Chicago Dan:

Pundita thought she dealt with the point by observing that the US should not engage in the practice of unjustified and unsolicited intervention. Regarding your observation about Max Boot, are you making a little joke with Pundita? Mr. Boot is not confused. Ever since the Theoretical Bubble Machine went out for repairs, Boot and Opinion Experts like him have been reduced to the vocation of chef. Mr. Boot concocted a Trifle that layers different issues into a sickeningly sweet glop he called The Ukraine Miracle. After you swallow the stuff you'll belch, "Isn't democracy wonderful?" for days.

Yes it is wonderful, but what State was up to in Ukraine wasn't about democracy. All you really need to know about Max Boot is that he's a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. This is the same Council on Foreign Relations that is trying to claw their way back into influence at the White House. This is also the same council that installed the Theoretical Bubble Machine in their basement after World War II.

As to why the anti-Bush Los Angeles Times would publish Boot's Op-ed piece--any number of reasons. They might be trying to stay on the good side of their sources at the State Department. They might be trying to embarrass Bush by taking a whack at Putin. But of one thing you can be certain: The Los Angeles Times has no interest in gathering and presenting the facts on the Ukraine situation.

The LAT is not alone; no American newspaper informed their readers of the unfolding situation in Ukraine, which meant that TV newscasters didn't pick up on the story until after the situation in Ukraine blew up. Because of that, Americans who didn't listen to the John Batchelor program in 2003 and 2004 didn't have a clue as to the mess building in Ukraine. Not until the UK's Guardian Unlimited broke the story about State meddling in the Ukraine election. That didn't happen until after the first election round in Ukraine and the situation had blown up.

Then Pat Buchanan read the Guardian report and set up a howl on some website rag (Word Net Daily, if Pundita recalls). Only then did a couple US newspapers (Christian Science Monitor and Washington Post) dip their pinkie in the situation just enough to give readers an idea that the US was somehow "involved" in Ukraine.

This is why Pundita was forced into the ungraceful position of crawling to a socialist website run by a bunch of Trotskyites, just to scrape background on what Foggy Bottom has been up to in Ukraine these past few years.

Al Qaeda is always telling people that America is dangerous. You bet we're dangerous. Few things are more dangerous than a lone superpower with a Banana Republic press.

Now that we have that off our chest--State has made lemonade out of lemons with Bush's war on terror. At first, State was horrified that Bush radically altered US foreign policy after 9/11. But once they heard Bush's talk about democracy being the best antidote to terrorism, State was off and running. The machinations against Russia and in particular the scheme to set Yuschenko in power could be recast in the language of "Liberty's Century."

The tragedy is that there were good democracy programs at work in Ukraine, and which were sponsored by Americans not connected with State or any US government agency. As Pundita pointed out before, these Americans were invited by Kuchma's government, so these programs were not an "intervention" and most certainty not unsolicited.

But now, everything US citizens did to help democracy in Ukraine is tainted. All that donated money, all that hard work--tainted. Those Americans were used; they were manipulated into a situation they understood very poorly, if at all. Members of Congress and the esteemed American Bar Association, please take note.

American attorneys must learn not to shut off their brain and research department when they receive a request for pro bono assistance, just because the request is coming from foreigners who have mastered the Democracy Rap. And as the squirrel never tires of telling Pundita, we all need to get up a little earlier in the day than the State Department. And State needs to get up earlier in the day than their EU counterparts.

It seems that American ingenuity and compassion are matched only by our naivete. We need to wise up, for the world's lone superpower nation can no longer afford to be informed at the level of a Banana Republic about doings outside our shores.

This said, there is no shame in being outsmarted by oligarchs. The International Monetary Fund, which doesn't have bananas sprouting from their ears, was ripped off to the tune of $600 million (or $200 million, depending on which source) by oligarchs laboring for the Ukraine Central Bank under Yushchenko's leadership. Money says it's unlikely the IMF would ever have wised up, if one of those clan members hadn't ratted out other clan members.

This is just why Pundita is grateful to her foreign policy team. Sometimes it takes feathered bipeds and furry mammals to bring humans back to earth. The first thing the possum asks, whenever a foreign policy question is brought to the table, is whether a chief is involved. The second question is always, "Which clans" are involved in the situation.

Readers who worry that this way of viewing the doings of foreigners will lead to prejudice should be advised that one must be prejudiced against lobbing bombs and USD millions at the wrong situations.

In Afghanistan the US military learned the hard way that in those parts "cousin" is a euphemism for an enemy. The military began to learn this aspect of Afghan clan society after they bombed innocent civilians to kingdom come, on the "intelligence" provided by a cousin getting even with another cousin.

Yushchenko's clan got one over on us. Let's leave it at that. However, to put this in context, the ship had sailed even before reporters at the World Socialist Website caught up with the story. You would have to go back to Kuchma's rise to power and his dispute with Yuschenko to grasp the story--but all the details are not available. To the extent we're learning bits and pieces of the story, it's because Kuchma and his supporters began singing after they learned that ballot stuffing might not work to put Yanukovich in power.

What's done is done, except for the investigation we should conduct, and which Pundita mentioned in her prior post. But we should take extensive notes, in hopes this will raise flags because we're busy all over the world bringing the miracle of democracy to peoples we don't understand. Flags shouldn't stop up us from trying, but it's written nowhere that we have to wise up through hard knocks. There is an informed way to help. Taking this tack will save Americans, and the people we're trying help, untold grief.

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