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newthinking

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Member since: Tue Feb 9, 2010, 11:51 PM
Number of posts: 2,416

About Me

Long time reader on DU and liberal/progressive. Up until recently I have not posted a lot. But I am very concerned about the situation in Ukraine and the people there. Liberals need to understand what is really happening, because Ukrainians are in a very dangerous situation and the geopolitical thing (US/Russia) is actually distracting from the realities that Ukrainians are facing on the ground there. So I have been posting a fair amount about that situation.

Journal Archives

OPED by William R. Polk - Foreign Policy expert who worked under JFK

during the Cuban Missile crisis.

William R. Polk is a veteran foreign policy consultant, author and professor who taught Middle Eastern studies at Harvard. President John F. Kennedy appointed Polk to the State Department’s Policy Planning Council where he served during the Cuban Missile Crisis.





Ukraine War: A Reverse Cuban Missile Crisis
February 24, 2015

Guided by an aggressive neocon “regime change” strategy, the United States has stumbled into a potential military confrontation with Russia over Ukraine, a dangerous predicament that could become a Cuban Missile Crisis in reverse, as ex-U.S. diplomat William R. Polk explains.

By William R. Polk

In a rather ghastly Nineteenth Century experiment, a biologist by the name of Heinzmann found that if he placed a frog in boiling water, the frog immediately leapt out but that if he placed the frog in tepid water and then gradually heated it, the frog stayed put until he was scalded to death.

Are we like the frog? I see disturbing elements of that process today as we watch events unfold in the Ukraine confrontation. They profoundly frighten me and I believe they should frighten everyone. But they are so gradual that we do not see a specific moment in which we must jump or perish.


------------------------------------------

Allow me to point out that I had a (very uncomfortable) ringside seat in the Crisis. I was one of three members of the “Crisis Management Committee” that oversaw the unfolding events.

On the Monday of the week of Oct. 22, 1962, I sat with Secretary of State Dean Rusk, Under Secretary George Ball, Counselor and Chairman of the Policy Planning Council Walt Rostow and Under Secretary for Political Affairs U. Alexis Johnson and listened to President John F. Kennedy’s speech to which we all had contributed.

Full article at : https://consortiumnews.com/2015/02/24/ukraine-war-a-reverse-cuban-missile-crisis/

Varoufakis Keeps Greece in the Eurozone, by its Fingernails

A Valiant Effort
Varoufakis Keeps Greece in the Eurozone, by its Fingernails

by MIKE WHITNEY

“Though it’s happening to a stricken country, on the edge of Europe, the choices presented to Greece are being understood throughout Europe… Obey or leave.”

— Paul Mason, Channel 4 News Blog

It’s not easy to negotiate with a gun to your head. Nevertheless, that’s the situation Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis found himself in on Friday preceding a crucial meeting with the Eurogroup. According to one report, the objective of the last-ditch confab “was to prepare a consensus text that would be the basis for the discussion” with the EU’s finance ministers. That might sound innocent enough, but it doesn’t come close to explaining the real purpose of the meeting which was far more sinister. Check out this blurb from Costas Efimeros at the Press Project:

“According to a Greek official who doesn’t want to be named, the Greek delegation were yesterday subject to outright blackmail. Our ‘partners’ informed us that if Eurogroup doesn’t result in an agreement, on Tuesday the Greek government will be forced to implement capital controls. It seemed that they had taken the decision to strangle the Greek economy by cutting off funding to the banks through the ELA system. Furthermore, it seemed that the big Greek banks already knew this. Leaks from the ECB, after all, had suggested that they were preparing for a GREXIT.” (“Europe trashed democracy“, Costas Efimeros, The Press Project)


It’s nice to know that EU leaders ascribe to the same basic moral code as Don Corleone, isn’t it?

The fact is, a slow motion bank run has been underway in Greece for more than a month draining roughly 40 billion euros from the Greek banking system. If a deal hadn’t been struck on Friday, the ECB would have pulled the plug on its liquidity assistance program and blown the whole system to kingdom come. That’s how the Eurocrats planned to say goodbye to their long-struggling member, Greece, by giving them a sharp jolt to the groin before razing their economy to the ground. That tells you everything you need to know about the Eurogroup.


Continued: http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/02/23/varoufakis-keeps-greece-in-the-eurozone-by-its-fingernails/

Political Persecution: The Fight Against “Former People” of Yanukovych “Regime”

Settling of Scores or Reforming of the System?
The Fight Against “Former People” of Yanukovych “Regime”
by HALYNA MOKRUSHYNA

Director of the National Cancer Institute of Ukraine is fired.

As my recent article on the attempts to dislodge the head of National Cancer Institute of Ukraine in Kyiv was about to be published in Counterpunch, a colleague drew my attention to an article on the same subject which was published almost simultaneously in the The Guardian. I began to write a commentary on the biased and prejudiced style of the Guardian article. But the events of February 16 have changed my article’s focus.

Professor Ihor Shchepotin was given a notice of dismissal on February 16 right in the surgery room as he was preparing to operate on a patient laying on the operating table under anesthetic. A group of people headed by a Dr. Semivolos from the Institute burst into the room and informed the professor that he was dismissed and should quit the room. He was forced to leave, while the patient remained on the table.


When contacted by UNN News by phone, Prof. Shchepotin confirmed what happened to him that day. “My contract as the director of the Institute expired on February 11. However, I still remain the head of the department of abdominal swelling of the Institute,” he said. “That is why I went into the surgery room to do my job – to save people’s lives.

“It was like a stage setting… It’s a pity that those who wanted so much to dismiss me from the directorial position could not care less about people’s lives.”

The story of Prof. Shchepotin’s dismissal started many months ago. Before I begin to unravel it, let me remind you that Professor Igor Shchepotin is a world-renowned surgeon-oncologist and a member of numerous international organizations. He has published 600 scientific papers and 300 articles. On February 11, the International Association of Surgeons, Gastroenterologists and Oncologists (IASGO), of which Mr. Shchepotin is a member, sent a letter to Ukrainian Minister of Health O. Kvitashvili in support of the professor’s work. “Thanks to his efforts, Ukraine has become known in the domain of oncology throughout the world. Ukraine is a member of many international and professional associations… We were honored to have Mr. Shchepotin as a chair of a panel during the last World Congress of the IASGO in Vienna in 2014. Mr. Shchepotin is a prominent and world renowned surgeon-oncologist.”

How is it possible that a doctor with such a reputation was so theatrically pushed out of an operating room of the institute he used to lead and was fired without notice? It all started when a new Ukrainian government, formed as a result of a coup d’état last year, appointed several people from the Euromaidan protest movement to ministerial positions, as a way to recognize ordinary Ukrainians’ contribution to the overthrow of the “criminal” regime of former president Viktor Yanukovych.

Full story:
http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/02/23/the-fight-against-former-people-of-yanukovych-regime/

CrossTalk: Cold-Shoulder War

As usual a very interesting discussion:

"As the West and Russia face off over Ukraine, it is fair to ask whether this conflict represents a much larger struggle. Are we actually witnessing the Third World War being played out? If this is in fact true, what kind of war is it and who is winning?

With
George Szamuely (Global Foreign Policy Institute of London Metropolitan University),
John Laughland (Director of Studies at the Institute for Democracy and Cooperation), and
Graham Allison (Harvard University - Director, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs



Legendary Ambassador Delivers Some Straight Talk in DC

Legendary Ambassador Delivers Some Straight Talk in DC

Jack Matlock makes the case for the United States reaching a practical compromise with Russia.
James Carden
February 17, 2015

The Nation


Former U.S. Ambassador to Russia Jack Matlock (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

Just as the Beltway’s legions of neo–Cold Warriors were working themselves up into paroxysms of self-righteous indignation over the Obama administration’s refusal to (so far, anyway) arm America’s purported “allies” in Kiev, one of the Cold War’s wise men reappeared in Washington last week.

At a gathering sponsored by the Committee for the Republic, which was formed by an elite group of former Washington officials in response to George W. Bush’s foreign policy adventurism, Jack Matlock spoke for nearly an hour at the National Press Club urging the assembled not to fall prey to the Manichaeistic view of the current crisis in relations between the United States and Russia.

Matlock, 85, knows of what he speaks. He began his thirty-five-year career in the Foreign Service translating dispatches between Washington and Moscow at the height of the Cuban missile crisis. He was present at nearly every US-Soviet summit between 1972–91 and served as US ambassador to Russia under Presidents Ronald Reagan and George HW Bush from 1987–91.

Given his pivotal role in helping to end the four-decade Cold War, Matlock brings the long view so sorely missing from the current debate over Russia policy in Washington. For him Washington’s “group-think” on Russia is “difficult to comprehend.” He told the committee’s rapt, well-heeled audience of former office holders, political appointees and former spooks that as recently as a year ago he dismissed talk of a “new Cold War” as “silly”; after all, that was a worldwide ideological contest between two relatively equal military superpowers. Yet over the past year, Matlock told the group, he has had occasion to revise his view, especially in light of the debate currently being waged in Washington over whether to arm the regime in Kiev.

Continued:
http://www.thenation.com/article/198289/legendary-ambassador-delivers-some-straight-talk-dc


Democrats need an "Elizabeth Warren" for foreign policy

Democrats Need an Elizabeth Warren for Foreign Policy
George Zornick
The Nation Magazine


It’s not exactly surprising news, but The Wall Street Journal reported Friday morning that Hillary Clinton is leaning towards a much more interventionist foreign policy than Barack Obama, should she become president:

Private meetings that she’s held with various foreign-policy experts offer some hints as to how she might part ways with President Barack Obama when it comes to crises in Ukraine, Syria and other global trouble spots. The major takeaway from these private talks is that she wants a strategy more suited to shaping conditions overseas, as opposed to reacting to events as they arise, people familiar with the meetings said.…


“She’s much less risk-averse” than Mr. Obama, said Aaron David Miller, vice president of the Woodrow Wilson Center for Scholars who has taken part in Mrs. Clinton’s foreign-policy briefings.

It can be exhausting to funnel important policy debates through endless Hillary speculation, but the fact is she’s an avatar for where the party is headed. Much of the Democratic establishment hopes she’ll be the presidential nominee, and even more of it thinks she will be.

Yet a foreign policy with clear echoes of neoconservatism—pre-emptively shaping events overseas, with less reluctance to use military force—isn’t in line with many elected Democrats nor most Democratic voters. And while the effort to draft Elizabeth Warren into the presidential race is aimed at ensuring Clinton respects the more populist wing of the party on economic issues, no such effort of that scale yet exists on the foreign policy side.

Continued:
http://www.thenation.com/blog/198105/democrats-need-elizabeth-warren-foreign-policy

TRNN - Has the IMF Annexed Ukraine?

Five Reasons No Progressive Should Support Hillary Clinton

Five Reasons No Progressive Should Support Hillary Clinton
Friday, 13 February 2015 11:28
By Joseph Mulkerin, Truthout | Op-Ed

---------------------------------------------------------


1. Foreign Policy

As secretary of state, Hillary Clinton was reportedly one of the most hawkish members of President Obama's cabinet, pushing for the 2009 troop surge in Afghanistan and US intervention in Libya. She has also been a vocal proponent of the same drone war that has led to the deaths of 2,400 civilians. In her recent memoir, Hard Choices, she bragged about having presided over the imposition of "crippling sanctions" on the Iranian economy during her tenure as secretary of state. These crippling sanctions are a form of collective punishment and have benefited the wealthy only, while making life miserable for everyone else. In an interview with Atlantic columnist Jeffrey Goldberg in August 2014, she further outlined her views on Iran, staking out a maximalist position on Iranian nuclear enrichment, which effectively opens the door to military intervention. She also suggested that the United States should have done more to intervene in Syria, by, in her words, creating a "credible fighting force," while the lack of said force led to the rise of ISIS. In addition, she vociferously defended Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's handling of the assault on Gaza. Not surprisingly, her bellicose rhetoric has received praise from neocon luminary Robert Kagan. Senator Clinton's vote in favor of the Iraq war, a vote for which it took her more than a decade to express regret, was clearly not a temporary lapse in judgment.

2. Economy

Her recent foray into vague populist rhetoric notwithstanding, Clinton has long nurtured close ties to the financial sector. Over the course of her political career, JP Morgan, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and Citigroup have been among her top political donors, in addition to giving heavily to the Clinton Foundation. In October 2013, Clinton received $400,000 to speak at two Goldman Sachs events and delivered what was described as a "reassuring message" to the assembled bankers. In all likelihood, a second Clinton administration would involve the appointment of industry insiders to regulatory posts in the perpetually revolving door between Wall Street and the federal government. It's understandable then that her friends on Wall Street would be quick to shrug off her halfhearted attempt to shore up her left flank as anything but substantive. Nobody who was genuinely concerned with economic inequity would be hobnobbing with some of the same economic institutions whose reckless financial schemes helped engineer the 2008 economic collapse.

Hillary Clinton has a long history of being willing to serve the interests of large corporations. In 1976, while serving as legal counsel for the Rose Law Firm, she represented several Arkansas utilities companies that sued the state after a ballot initiative (sponsored by conservative boogeyman Acorn) passed that decreased utilities rates on Little Rock residents and increased them on businesses. In defending the utilities conglomerates, she argued that the initiative amounted to an unconstitutional seizure of property. The judge ruled in these companies' favor.

3. Environment

As Grist magazine reported, during her tenure as secretary of state, Clinton took an active role in promoting hydrofracking worldwide through the Global Shale Gas Initiative. Clinton's State Department, and in some cases she personally, lobbied on behalf of companies like Chevron intent on expanding the practice, particularly in countries like Bulgaria and Romania where there was widespread public skepticism. This lobbying was met with mixed success, as Chevron eventually pulled out of Bulgaria due to a moratorium, while Romania's moratorium was repealed following US lobbying. Since stepping down as secretary of state, Clinton has continued to express support for the practice, which she outlined in a September 2014 speech to the National Clean Energy Summit. She has also remained disturbingly silent on the issue of the Keystone XL pipeline.

Full article: http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/29052-five-reasons-no-progressive-should-support-hillary-clinton

Ukraine rebels warn Kiev over truce around battleground town

Source: AFP

Ukraine rebels warn Kiev over truce around battleground town

Pro-Russian rebels on Saturday warned that any attempts by Kiev forces to move out of the battleground town Debaltseve after the start of a ceasefire would be considered an aggression.

Separatist forces have all but encircled government troops inside the strategic railway hub, roughly mid-way between insurgent capital Donetsk and Lugansk.

Fierce fighting raged around Debaltseve on Saturday in the hours before the 2200 GMT start of a truce intended to be a first step in a peace plan to end 10 months of conflict.

Kiev denies rebel claims that thousands of government troops have been trapped in the town.





Read more: http://www.digitaljournal.com/news/world/ukraine-rebels-warn-kiev-over-truce-around-battleground-town/article/426085



Comments from the February 13, 2015 Alexander Zakharchenko press conference
(Before the midnight deadline)

"Please note that there is not a single word about Debaltsevo in the Minsk agreements. This means that Ukraine simply betrayed the 5 thousand people in the Debaltsevo cauldron. I can say the following, we will stop fire across the entire territory of Donetsk People's Republic, except for internal areas. Internal areas means Debaltsevo.

Any attempt of UAF to break out of this cauldron or deblock it will be considered a violation of the Minsk agreements, and naturally these attempts will be foiled, and the enemy will be destroyed. "

(Debaltsevo is behind the current battle lines and the Ukrainian forces there are surrounded. Poroshenko denied that the forces were there during the Minsk conference)

The untold story of the Maidan massacre - BBC

The untold story of the Maidan massacre

By Gabriel Gatehouse BBC News

A day of bloodshed on Kiev's main square, nearly a year ago, marked the end of a winter of protest against the government of president Viktor Yanukovych, who soon afterwards fled the country. More than 50 protesters and three policemen died. But how did the shooting begin? Protest organisers have always denied any involvement - but one man told the BBC a different story.



It's early in the morning, 20 February, 2014. Kiev's Maidan square is divided - on one side the riot police, the protesters on the other.

This has been going on for more than two months now. But events are about to come to a head. By the end of the day, more than 50 people will be dead, many of them gunned down in the street by security forces.

The violence will lead to the downfall of Ukraine's pro-Russian president, Viktor Yanukovych. Moscow will call 20 February an armed coup, and use it to justify the annexation of Crimea and support for separatists in Eastern Ukraine.

The protest leaders, some of whom now hold positions of power in the new Ukraine, insist full responsibility for the shootings lies with the security forces, acting on behalf of the previous government.

But one year on, some witnesses are beginning to paint a different picture.

When the shooting started early on the morning of the 20th, Sergei says, he was escorted to the Conservatory, and spent some 20 minutes before 07:00 firing on police, alongside a second gunman.

His account is partially corroborated by other witnesses. That morning, Andriy Shevchenko, then an opposition MP and part of the Maidan movement, had received a phone call from the head of the riot police on the square.

"He calls me and says, 'Andriy, somebody is shooting at my guys.' And he said that the shooting was from the Conservatory."


Full story here: http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-31359021
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