Guilt, Innocence, and Vladimir

Well, the chatterati won’t give it a rest. I like to see what all sides of the aisle have been making of the Trump interview, so I tuned in to The Late Show With Steven Colbert. He played a bit from the interview where President Trump asked a question that has been setting the Democrats’ hair on fire, viz:

Bill O’Reilly: But Putin’s a killer!

President Trump: There’s a lot of killers. We got a lot of killers. What, do you think America is so innocent?

Steven Colbert then jumps in and says “Oh, I know that one”, and wags his finger in our faces as if we were naughty children and shouts “Yes!”.

The audience goes wild. They are comforted, Colbert says America is innocent, all’s right with the world. He continues:

I mean not totally, I mean obviously, but I mean compared to Vladimir Putin we’re innocent. We’ve done a lot of bad things over the years but we eventually feel bad about it. Then Ken Burns does a documentary. There’s a process. You gotta go through the steps. that’s how it goes.

The audience finds this totally hilarious, of course, it relieves them of any guilt about bad things in the past. Colbert goes on.

I can’t believe he said that, a President of the United States said, “You think our country is so innocent?”. Has there ever been a President who hates America more?

Again the audience breaks out in laughter, while I’m thinking, Trump hates America? What is Colbert smoking that he thinks Trump is anything but a rabid patriot? Trump hates America? Who knew?

But I see Colbert’s main argument. Colbert says yes, we ARE as bad as Putin, but we feel bad about it afterwards so it’s OK … moral relativism at its finest.

And Colbert is not alone in this pearl-clutching. Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan got their precious feelings all hurt about Trump’s comment, the mainstream media has killed an untold number of electrons misrepresenting the interchange, and of course the Democrats were ecstatic.

I gotta say, this is a curious view of history.

To take one example among far too many, Obama just attacked and smashed Libya and killed Muammar Khadafi, who was no threat of any kind to us. We were not at war with Libya, Obama didn’t have authorization from the Senate, no Declaration of War, there was no reason to do it, and yet he just went and bombed the sh*t out of them. I guess it’s the best part of having a Nobel Peace Prize, you never have to say you’re sorry …

Hillary Clinton was a major force behind the destruction of Libya, and she famously commented “We came, we saw, he died.”  A charming expression of compassion for a fellow human being.

Well, yes, Khadafi did die, as did lots of innocent Libyan women and children, maimed and flayed and blasted with shrapnel by American bombs from American planes … is Colbert saying that our hands are clean in Libya? All we did with our bombing was to open the door for ISIS and Al Qaeda to set up shop, and also to KILL A STACK OF INNOCENT PEOPLE FOR NOTHING … remind me again just how innocent we are?

But wait, you say, Putin poisons his enemies … surely you haven’t forgotten that President Kennedy tried to poison Castro? Yeah, he didn’t succeed, so I guess Kennedy was as bad as Putin … but just not as successful. But heck, it’s the thought that counts.

Funny how all of this U.S. innocence is making my stomach uneasy …

And Kennedy, of course, also approved of the murder of the President of an allied country, South Vietnam, in the name of fighting communism … how can anyone claim that our hands are clean? We murdered the head of an allied country because we didn’t like his politics, and Colbert thinks we are all pure and innocent?

Then there was Reagan, who cut a secret illegal deal with the Iranians to clandestinely arm contras in Nicaragua, contras who of course ended up killing all kinds of civilians … it’s that kind of upright honest transparent action that clearly demonstrates the U.S. innocence to an unbelieving world.

Ah, you say, but Vladimir Putin was head of the KGB, which kidnapped people off the street and tortured them in secret locations, “black sites” where their friends and relatives couldn’t locate them … yes, and George Bush was in overall charge of the CIA, which kidnapped people off the street and tortured people in secret locations where their friends and relatives couldn’t locate them …

… I can only say, may the spirit that watches over simple warriors like myself please spare me from ever experiencing  the full gamut of U.S. innocence in a CIA black site …

Then we have such charming things as the “Trail Of Tears”, and the brutal massacre of women and children at Wounded Knee, but I can’t even discuss those, my heart won’t take it … U.S. innocence at its finest.

And to close by returning to the present, Obama killed several US citizens with drone strikes, without a trial, not in a war zone, without a warning, just blew them to bits. Not only that, but Obama consistently refused to tell us what law authorized him to do that—he just did it, and screw us for asking. Here’s the ACLU on the matter:

The ACLU and CCR have filed a lawsuit challenging the government’s targeted killing of three U.S. citizens in drone strikes far from any armed conflict zone.

In Al-Aulaqi v. Panetta (Al-Awlaki v. Panetta) the groups charge that the U.S. government’s killings of U.S. citizens Anwar Al-Aulaqi, Samir Khan, and 16-year-old Abdulrahman Al-Aulaqi in Yemen last year violated the Constitution’s fundamental guarantee against the deprivation of life without due process of law.

The killings were part of a broader program of “targeted killing” by the United States outside the context of armed conflict and based on vague legal standards, a closed executive process, and evidence never presented to the courts.

us-innocence-i

And Putin is the bad guy, while Obama is innocent?

Funny. Until now, I was totally unaware that U.S. innocence involved so many corpses.

So yes, indeed Putin IS a very bad guy, one of the worst. But Putin being bad doesn’t mean that the US is innocent … like the man said, “We got a lot of killers”.

Finally, please note what Trump did NOT say, but which people are acting like he said. He did NOT say the US is as bad as Russia, or as bad as Putin. He never made that comparison. That’s the media and the commenters moving the goal posts. Note that Colbert’s whole claim, as well as the claims of McConnell and Ryan, are all based around that incorrect idea, that Trump said the US was as bad as Russia. He did not say that.

Instead, the President said we also have blood on our hands, that we are not innocent in any sense of the word … and that, sadly, is all too true.

Here, we’re looking at about three more days of rain … and who knows how many more days of the talking heads whining about Trump’s interview and Putin …

w.

PS—if you comment, please QUOTE THE EXACT WORDS YOU ARE DISCUSSING so we can all understand what you are talking about.

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52 thoughts on “Guilt, Innocence, and Vladimir

  1. successful Generals are also killers (as most soldiers who survive for long in a war zone)

    Killer != Murderer

    some of the things Putin has done (or organizations that he has been involved with have done) that have people up in arms are simple collateral damage in war, some is collateral damage from a spy vs spy covert war, some is legitimate enemies of his country, and some was probably for personal reasons.

    War is not a precision operation, in spite of what video games teach you, weapons cannot be set to only kill the guilty (as if the world could always agree on how to define that anyway), and intelligence is not always correct.

    No country in the world has the ability to spend as much money as the US does on precision weapons (or could produce as many even if they had the money).

    As Trump has said, Every country has the Right and Responsibility to be acting in what they perceive as their own best interest. That is always going to involve people making judgments on the information they have, and some of those judgments are going to be wrong, and others look wrong to outsiders who don’t know everything.

    And sometimes the goals themselves can be wrong.

    I think that the US has done a better job than other countries at having the right set of goals, but to pretend that anyone is perfect is just stupid.

    George HW Bush is a killer, he shot down enemy aircraft and killed their crew. George Washington was a killer, a survivor of many battles.

    If you want to talk about which President, or which Administration has the highest body count, you have to define how you want the accounting to go. Do you only include people directly killed by the people? do you include the ones killed under their command (and at what level do you say they are too isolated from the battles? is FDR guilty of killing all the people that Eisenhower’s troops killed when he was in charge of the Allies in Europe? is Eisenhower? how many times can each death be counted against different people?)

    For those who are dense, I am NOT saying that Putin is a good guy, or that the US is as bad as Russia, just pointing out ways that the world is not black-and-white.

    Liked by 2 people

      • As Jefferson said:

        The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.

        It’s not that it’s desirable to spill red, but sometimes it’s better than the alternatives.

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        • But all too often it’s worse than the alternatives. Worse for the victims at least. Often worse for almost everyone. Perhaps even worse from the people who originally expected to gain from it.

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          • It depends on just what the realistic alternatives are. When people are backed into an untenable corner, bad things are guaranteed to happen. It doesn’t make it right, but time and circumstance often doesn’t allow better alternatives to play out.

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    • I find it hard to describe Mr. Litvinenko’s murder as a collateral damage.

      Blowing up apartment blocks in Russia in order to blame it Chechens may be a little closer.

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    • And sometimes the goals themselves can be wrong.

      I think that the US has done a better job than other countries at having the right set of goals, but to pretend that anyone is perfect is just stupid.

      Cuba (Spanish-American war), Guatamala (CIA coup 1954), Vietnam (duh!), the list goes on and on. It’s hard to be worse (but it’s been done). On the plus side, WW2, full credit.

      Some other countries have managed not to invade any countries, especially for the wrong reasons.

      “to make the world safe for democracy” — good one! (sarc)
      The world will never be safe for democracy, evil will always exist, and in any case, democracy contains its own trojan horse.

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      • you say “It’s hard to be worse (but it’s been done).”

        Countries with large amounts of power have been so much worse than the US that it’s hard to find any examples of world powers that have been better.

        That doesn’t mean that the US hasn’t made mistakes. The Spanish-American war and the CIA actions in Guatamala, and the Obama administrations actions in Libia are good examples of things being done wrong. Vietnam and Korea are far less obviously wrong (arguably, the biggest problems in Vietnam were excessive restraint and the lack of an exit)

        Sherman’s March to the Sea was not unthinking brutality, it was a very calculated action designed to end the war quickly to minimize the total number of casualties on both sides.

        The use of the Atomic bombs on Japan were similarly an action that was brutal for the people directly affected, but ended up saving far more lives on both sides.

        David Lang

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        • “Countries with large amounts of power have been so much worse than the US that it’s hard to find any examples of world powers that have been better.”

          I was thinking of countries without those large amounts of power. With great power comes … great temptation.

          “the biggest problems in Vietnam were excessive restraint and the lack of an exit”

          And lack of a goal worth fighting for. There was a good exit. Nixon used it.

          “The use of the Atomic bombs on Japan were similarly an action that was brutal for the people directly affected, but ended up saving far more lives on both sides.”

          Hypothetical, unknowable, but possible. Add to that the fire-bombing of Tokyo (US) and fire-bombing of Dresden (UK). All of these are attacks on civilians. Regrettable, but necessary? I’m not going to judge that. I’d rather be far away and ignorant.

          The original comment was about the US invading countries and staging coups where the right thing to do was not interfere. The CIA coup in Iran in 1953, I wonder how that has worked out. The CIA coup in Chile in 1973 which resulted in Pinochet being in power for years, you know, the guy who tortured people who didn’t like him and threw them out of helicopters over the ocean. Not a family values kind of guy.

          Chapter 2 of “The Limits to Power” by Andrew Bacevich is quite amazing. The CIA and the generals have been out of control since Ike. We always blame the president, but the president is being manipulated behind the scenes by the military industrial complex that Ike warned against. I hope Trump has read that book.

          Anyway, where the US is very good (at least relatively) is in not attacking its own citizens.

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          • re: end of WWII, if you are going to use that as an example of the US doing the wrong thing, you really should research to know what you are talking about.

            as far as the firebombing of Tokyo, there are two counter-arguments there

            1. there was a lot of ‘cottage industry’ being done in people’s houses, so it really was knocking out military production

            2. there is the argument that knocking out manpower for the factories is a valid military target

            I’m not saying that these attacks were clearly the right thing to do, but I will argue that they are defensible as military targets.

            Also note that the firebombing didn’t come close to causing Japan to surrender.

            As for the casualties that were expected if there was an invasion of mainland Japan:

            On the US side, look at what the estimated vs actual casualties were for all the island invasion and consider that the same Washington-based people were estimating 1M US casualties for an invasion of the mainland and think about how much worse it probably would have been

            On the Japan side, look at the civilians throwing themselves off of cliffs in Okinawa, and the fact that they were teaching grade-school kids to attack tanks with suicide bombs.

            And before you dismiss this as US propganda, go look at some of the videos available of interviews with these civilians 50 years later where they tell you that they were fully prepared to resist to their last breath. The actions of the holdouts on the various islands is also proof that they were not at all prepared to surrender, even in the face of overwelming power.

            At this point, 1/4M deaths from the atomic bombs is looking dirt cheap.

            And if you think the collective guilt over the dropping of the bombs was bad, imaging the impact to society from millions of troops returning home having had to kill women and children to protect themselves (after seeing lots of their buddies killed by the women and children they had not killed first)

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          • re: end of WWII — I didn’t say the US was wrong. I said I couldn’t judge. I’m aware of the counter-arguments, I just don’t have enough information to judge and I’m glad that I did not have to make those decisions. After all is said and done, those were weapons of mass destruction, killing many civilians. Collateral damage doesn’t get much worse than that and it probably crosses the line “Killer != Murderer” that you mentioned. Was it mass murder? That’s the problem with war. Killing your enemy is one thing, killing innocent people to get at the enemy is another thing, far more evil, the kind of thing the SS did. I’m glad I didn’t have to make the necessary evil decision.

            It’s better to resolve problems before they get to fighting. I know, it’s hard. Yet the US has too often started unnecessary fights in foreign lands.

            According to “The Limits to Power”, the CIA Bay of Pigs invasion was planned to fail, in order to get the president to order a full invasion of Cuba. Scary stuff.

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          • it takes both sides agreeing to make peace. WWII is the perfect example (see Chamberlin’s actions) but the same thing applies today.

            ISIS has declared war on the western world, the western world did not declare war on ISIS. While there are examples if the western world tampering in various countries, if that stopped, it would not stop the people of Iran chanting “Death to America”

            Israel would be very happy to have peace with everyone in the region, but (with the exception of Jorden), those countries do not acknowledge the right of Israel to exist. There’s no amount of discussion that can prevent war when your opponent doesn’t acknowlege your right to exist.

            While I don’t at all agree with the idea of the CIA undermining governments, I will raise the question of what other foreign influences have been in play in the specific countries? We don’t know that at this point in history (just like we didn’t know that McCarthy was actually almost always correct in identifying people who were on the KGB payroll, and didn’t learn that until the KGB archives became available).

            Yes there is a tendancy to be harsher on our allies for not being perfect than on outright enemies, but that’s not limited to relations between nations (the bible cautions about this when it says to first remove the beam out of your eye before worrying about the mote in someone else’s eye). As a specific set of examples, look at how the Democrats have been able to play the Republicans for a few decades by accusing a Republican of not being perfect and having the voters turn on them while a Democrat doing the same thing has no problems.

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          • YMMV February 11, 2017 at 10:58 am

            Thanks for the comment. One thing struck my eye:

            According to “The Limits to Power”, the CIA Bay of Pigs invasion was planned to fail, in order to get the president to order a full invasion of Cuba. Scary stuff.

            Since the invasion did fail, and the President did NOT order a full invasion, this seems unlikely. It also runs counter to my rule of thumb which says:

            Never ascribe to malice what is equally explainable as ignorance or error.

            Yes, it’s wrong sometimes … but mostly that rule will serve you right. There’s a lot more mistakes and ignorance out there than … well … than I can imagine

            w.

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          • corrected title: “Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism”

            A short book. I wasn’t thrilled with Chapter 1. Chapters 2 and 3 are must-reads though.

            On the Bay of Pigs, p.91:
            <blockquote.
            It soon became apparent that the Chiefs had supported the mission less because they expected it to succeed than because they were counting on a CIA failure to pave the way for a conventional invasion, their preferred option for eliminating Castro. The Chiefs knew that Kennedy had no intention of ordering direct U.S. intervention — he had said as much — but they were counting on a presidentially ordered CIA disaster to force his hand. Rather than offering the president forthright professional advice, they had diddled him.
            […] A furious Kennedy, convinced (not without reason) that he had been set up and betrayed, drew two large conclusions from this experience. […] Second […] the Joint Chiefs of Staff [….] were either stupid or untrustworthy. […]

            I don’t want to type in the whole book — the whole book is very worth reading. He supplies lots of examples, before and after Vietnam, up to just before Obama was elected. Overwhelming amounts of ignorance and error and all attempts to fix things just make it worse.

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          • Wow, you gonna be giving us quotes and evidence from Alex Jones and infowars, too? As for bombing Japan and Germany, the “people” of those countries chose, and they chose poorly. For those poor choices they paid dearly.

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    • Thanks, MarloweJ. I just get so tired of the endless partisan parsing of every single word President Trump says. Plus which I have a huge advantage over most talking heads—I’ve been a businessman and a builder and a leader of teams of men and women in my life. It gives a different perspective on the world, one much more grounded in reality. It assists me in understanding, perhaps not Trump’s choices, but at least the reasons and impulses underlying those choices.

      Regards,

      w.

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      • “I just get so tired of the endless partisan parsing of every single word President Trump says.”

        It’s not just parsing, but nit-picking simply because he exists. Unfortunately, we are going to see much more of it before we’re done.

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  2. Cognitive Dissonance …

    In psychology, cognitive dissonance is the mental stress (discomfort) experienced by a person who simultaneously holds two or more contradictory beliefs, ideas, or values, when performing an action that contradicts those beliefs, ideas, and values; or when confronted with new information that contradicts existing beliefs, ideas, and values.

    Leon Festinger’s theory of cognitive dissonance focuses on how human beings strive for internal consistency. A person who experiences inconsistency tends to become psychologically uncomfortable, and so is motivated to try to reduce the cognitive dissonance occurring, and actively avoids situations and information likely to increase the psychological discomfort.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cognitive_dissonance

    Scott Adams has been writing about this …
    Sam Harris Induces Cognitive Dissonance in Ben Affleck
    http://blog.dilbert.com/post/156857834926/sam-harris-induces-cognitive-dissonance-in-ben

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    • Rovingbroker: I was always told that the way to figure out the definition of CD was to buy a new car – and wait three days.

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  3. Luckily, we have not sunk to the point of killing of our political opponents or those in the media we disagree with – although, Obama tried to imprison one from Fox News…or at least sully him with the charge of coconspirator. However, this is the history of the world. Not only did kings – and others – kill of there political rivals, they killed off their own family if they got in their way.

    And, let’s not forget Obama’s apology tour at the beginning of his administration. So far, Trump hasn’t gone overseas to criticize his own country.

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  4. One other thing, as long as I can remember – and I’m no spring chicken – whenever someone brings up how great, or exceptional, America is, its always been those on the left who immediately bring up its supposed sins and atrocities.So, how the left can now criticize what Trump has said, when it appears he’s speaking from their hymnal, is beyond me…but, one should never underestimate the level of duplicity and hypocrisy of the left.

    Liked by 1 person

      • “He’s not claiming that the US is uniquely bad.”

        I didn’t say he or they were – they are each making a counter argument to “America is great / exceptional” statement…alternative facts, if you will. However, there is a giant difference between the two of them – Trump believes America is great, is exceptional…warts and all. While the other believes we are no better than any other country, and maybe worse…all they see are the warts.

        But, you are correct – ‘Aw, grow up’ is a good description of his attitude in his response to O’Reilly.

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  5. If anyone knows about hating America it would be Stephen Colbert. As for “innocence” and Vlad, it was the Obama Admin who “reset” relations with Russia. They swept all Putin’s nasty actions under a rug so Hillary could do business with him, so all these media f**kbags can kiss my a$$. DJT and his Admin are looking at the world realisticly and THAT is pissing off the left.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. “The audience finds this totally hilarious, of course, it relieves them of any guilt about bad things in the past.”

    Well pointed out. Instead of learning about the world empirically, the progressive narrative aims to reshape the image of reality, denying nuanced truths in favour of comfortable black and whites. It takes a dollop of willful ignorance to see Trump’s response as a statement of moral parity rather than the obvious equivocative pivot that it was.

    O’Reilly put Trump in an unpleasant position where agreeing would mean castigating Putin and potentially undermining future relations, while an unqualified disagreement would mean denying reality. Neither of these was an option. Trump’s pivot was actually fair and well executed given that a diplomatic response was required.

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    • Rob, I don’t watch Colbert except for a clip now and then, but I do wonder what the audience smokes before they get into the building, heck I wonder what they smoke IN the building and that includes Colbert. They seem to have that maniacal laughter I can remember I had a few times many moons ago!

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      • They’re smoking better stuff than me, that’s for sure. I believe there’s an element of groupthink and social stroking that borders on collective insanity. The left have convinced themselves of the Trumpocalypse, so I supposed it would be just as easy to convince themselves that “progressive” political “comedy” is funny, with the maniacal laughter being a necessary validation or reinforcement. Sort of like a rosier version of Two Minutes Hate?

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      • If you ever attend a show like this, I expect you will find there is an official cheer-leader whose role is to pump up the audience and get them to go wild with applause, and they will even tell you when to cheer.

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      • I would mention LaVoy Finicum but there’s not enough parking for lots of black SUVs with heavily tinted windows. On top of that I will defend my dog.

        Anyways, I may consider renting a spare bedroom to “one of those” for a closer look. Observations go both ways, ya know.

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  7. Willis:

    Finally, please note what Trump did NOT say, but which people are acting like he said. He did NOT say the US is as bad as Russia, or as bad as Putin. He never made that comparison. That’s the media and the commenters moving the goal posts. Note that Colbert’s whole claim, as well as the claims of McConnell and Ryan, are all based around that incorrect idea, that Trump said the US was as bad as Russia. He did not say that.

    You are quite right: President Trump did not say that.

    But he damned well should have made clear that he was not saying that.

    I didn’t see the interview, but I did see the clips next day, and I was as nonplussed as so many others. I suspected as you did, that what he meant was that we’ve done lots of killing, but we’re not in the same same league as the Russians—and the Germans, and the Japanese, and all the others—because we have ideals to measure ourselves against, and in that respect, as in so many others, we are truly exceptional.

    The problem is, he didn’t say it. So even if I know his heart’s in the right place, and even if I can guess what he probably meant to say, and even if I have to give our new President a lot of leeway because he’s not one of the glib, fast-talking media and political professionals, why the hell does he have to be so damned inarticulate?

    But he is, so he should stay away from interviews and let Kellyanne Conway do the talking. She made a dumb mistake recently, too, but she wouldn’t have ever given the unintentional impression that she was equating Russian misdeeds with American.

    /Mr Lynn

    Liked by 1 person

    • It couldn’t be more clear Trump is publicly buttering Putin up. If Putin doesn’t see this, then he is not as great and Trump says he is. I don’t know exactly why Trump is doing this or what he is after with Putin. I will guess he wants Russia’s help with fighting ISIS. I can’t see or think of any other reason.

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      • What Trump said is that he respects Putin. I fear I don’t see how that is “buttering him up”. It is a simple statement from one alpha male about another alpha male.

        Trump would like to work with Russia on anything that they are willing to work on. He’s the ultimate pragmatist. ISIS is an obvious one. Trump would also like to split Russia off from the Shiites in the Mideast, which will be much harder.

        Short version? There’s no point in poking a grizzly bear with a stick …

        w.

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        • “There’s no point in poking a grizzly bear with a stick …” Unless you have a large caliber weapon loaded with hollow points in the other hand. To quote the immortal words of Bender Rodriguez, “Everybody look at my head, look at my head, look at my head…..”

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    • See, this is a large part of the problem right here. Editing. The Simpsons covered this 25 years ago, and yet you still fall for it. Want to know what someone has said? Read the entire transcript. Television a$$holes use editing to lie. Stop watching them. READ THE FULL TRANSCRIPT. Watch the FULL UNEDITED video. Wake up and stop falling for obvious lies.

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  8. Please take a listen,

    Nation Contributing Editor Stephen F. Cohen – Ukraine Revisited –
    From the beginning of the crisis more than three years ago, false (or half-true) narratives have dominated US media accounts and policymaking. – (here: https://www.thenation.com/article/ukraine-revisited/).
    ~
    Cohen begins with a generalization: As the possibility of a Trump-Putin détente grows, so do false narratives, even “fake news,” that the US political-media establishment has deployed, knowingly or not, to characterize the new Cold War and to shape Washington policy. Since Trump became president, for example, allegations that his would-be partner Putin has “killed” personal opponents and journalists (for which there are no actual facts) have redoubled, as have allegations that he hacked the DNC in order to put Trump in the White House (for which the “facts” are extremely tenuous and hotly disputed even by American experts), all the while, according to a New York Times editorial on February 7, “snuffing out Russia’s once-incipient democracy” (a process that actually began under Putin’s predecessor, Boris Yeltsin). In this toxically mendacious context, Cohen makes the following “alternative” points regarding the more than three-year long Ukrainian civil and proxy war:

    § The orthodox US narrative that Putin alone is responsible for the new Cold War hangs largely on his alleged unprovoked “aggression” against Ukraine in 2014 and ever since. (The narrative is sustained in part by the near-total absence of any American mainstream reporting of what is actually happening in Kiev-controlled or rebel-controlled territories.) In fact, Putin’s actions both in Donbass, where an indigenous rebellion broke out against the overthrow of the legally elected president in Kiev three years ago, and in Crimea, which had been part of Russia for 300 years (longer than the existence of the United States), was a direct reaction to the longstanding campaign by Washington and Brussels to bring Ukraine into NATO’s “sphere of influence,” itself a form of political aggression. Cohen discusses the centuries of intimate relations between large segments of Ukrainian society and Russia, including family ties, concluding that it was reckless and immoral for Washington and Brussels to impose upon Kiev a choice between Russia and the West, thereby fostering, if not precipitating, civil war. And to flatly reject Putin’s counter-proposal for a three-way Ukrainian-Russian-Western relationship. In this regard, Washington and Brussels bear considerable responsibility for the 10,000 who have died in the ensuing civil and proxy war, but they have yet to assume any responsibility at all.

    § A similar false narrative quickly emerged to explain the recent escalation of fighting along the cease-fire zone in Ukraine. There are no facts to support the US political-media establishment’s contention that Putin initiated the escalation—all reported facts point to Kiev—or any logic whatsoever: why would Putin, who has openly welcomed Trump’s détente initiative, seek to provoke or challenge the new American president at this critical moment? Whether or not Kiev was actively encouraged by anti-détente forces in Washington is unclear, but a real possibility. (Inflammatory remarks made by Senators McCain and Graham in Ukraine, in January, now circulating on a video, may be telling evidence. If so, the blood of the 40 or more who died in the January–February fighting is on their hands as well.)

    § What, Cohen asks, are the chances of Trump-Putin cooperation to end the Ukrainian crisis? If Ukraine is not to fragment into two, three, or more parts, a united Ukraine will have to be militarily non-aligned (that is, never a member of NATO) and free to have prosperous economic relations with both Russia and the West. The Minsk Accords, drafted by Germany and France and endorsed by Moscow and Kiev, would have moved Ukraine in this direction, but have been repeated thwarted, primarily by Kiev. Whether or not full backing for Minsk by both Trump and Putin, particularly the provision giving rebel territories some degree of home rule, would end the Ukrainian civil war is far from certain, especially as it might result in the overthrow of the current Kiev government by well-armed ultra-nationalist forces, but for now there is no peaceful alternative.

    Cohen concludes that even if Trump and Putin adopt a wise joint policy toward Ukraine, neither leader has much political capital to spare at home. Trump is opposed by virtually across-the-political-spectrum opposition to any kind of détente with Russia, especially regarding Ukraine. And Putin can never be seen at home as “selling out” Russia’s “brethren” anywhere in Southeast Ukraine. Whether both leaders have the understanding and determination to end Ukraine’s tragic and utterly pointless war, which has left the country in ruins, remains to be seen.

    Ron

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  9. Willis, among other things you did leave out Saddam Hussein and the destruction of Iraq, the currently ongoing destruction of Syria, the destruction of Afghanistan and the legitimate Taliban, the attempts, possibly successful, on Hugo Chavez and the attempted destruction of his government, the ongoing war in Yemen supported by the US, the destruction of Yugoslavia, the atom bombs in Japan, and the list is still hardly started. This kind of innocent acts of the federal government will stand up well against even the deeds that have been assigned to Hitler and Stalin.

    Of course, I don’t believe Putin ever was “head of the KGB,” and as for this statement of yours, “So yes, indeed Putin IS a very bad guy, one of the worst. ” I really would be interested in seeing your proof. Putin has been accused of many things but no one has found proof about any of them – other than losing his wife because he works too hard at governing his federation. Just once, I would like to see someone “prove” that Putin is a “thug” or “a bad guy.” I am sure he is tough as nails, but there is a huge difference between being tough and “a bad guy.” And please, proof won’t be quoting something out of the MSM since they haven’t been able to tell the truth since at least WW2, and Putin isn’t that old.

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    • Tom O February 10, 2017 at 6:01 am

      Of course, I don’t believe Putin ever was “head of the KGB,” and as for this statement of yours, “So yes, indeed Putin IS a very bad guy, one of the worst. ” I really would be interested in seeing your proof.

      Tom, Putin was appointed by Boris Yeltsin to head the FSB (the modern name of the KGB, same torturers, different moniker) on 25 July 1998. I don’t care in the slightest if you believe that. You get your own opinions. You don’t get your own facts.

      And if you don’t think Putin is “a very bad guy”, well, I can only hope you don’t ever get him angry. Perhaps he’s just lucky, but his opponents get things like polonium poisoning … I’m sure you think that is just an unfortunate but amazing coincidence …

      Finally, “proof” that Putin is a bad guy is not hard to find. Just ask the folks in Crimea … oh, wait, you can’t do that, there is no crimea, Crimea got gobbled up by … wait for it … Putin.

      But like I said, whether you believe that or not is meaningless to me. You can waste your time trying to convince us Putin is a good guy who knows nothing of the KGB if you wish. I suspect most folks will just point and laugh.

      Best regards,

      w.

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