By Ochereome Nnanna
YES, ours is a mighty army. The Nigerian Army is a tested and certified war machine with degree and pedigree; an all-conquering military behemoth that has never lost a war, be it internal insurrection or external peace enforcement.
Except for the France-backed irritations often mounted by the Cameroun gendarmes during the tussle over the Bakassi Peninsula, no foreign country has ever attempted to invade the country.
The Nigerian military fought with distinction during the Second World War, WWII, in Europe and Asia, and helped to curtail the Congo independence crises.
They returned home to prevent a breakup of the country. Our armed services are the most powerful forces in Black Africa, the muscle on the right hand of Africa’s peace management endeavours and the guarantor of peace and democracy in the West African sub-region.
After our exploits in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Cote d’Ivoire and Mali, where we almost single-handedly ended the civil wars and assisted in the restoration of democracy, the United States, in setting up the African Command, AFRICOM, has relied on Nigeria as its invaluable local ally in the West and Central African sub-region.
It was based on a well-earned reputation and track record of on-field gallantry irrespective of theatres of operation.
This is the first time that Nigeria’s mighty military is suffering from doubts over its capacity to do what it knows how to do best: protect our territorial integrity from internal rebellion and external aggression. For the first time, we are hearing that our mighty army is reluctant to move into Sambisa Games Reserve, an open brush land in the poor Savannah zone, and dislodge an otherwise rag-tag band of terrorists because of miserable landmines!
For the first time, and in the face of withering waves of assaults on isolated villages on a daily basis in the semi-desert North East, we have been reading reports of mutinies and the near-murder of a commanding officer over sloppy handling of matters in the troubled Chibok area in Borno State. For the first time, a state governor became so bold as to tell the world that a local enemy was “better armed and more motivated” than our mighty army.
The terrorists are walking majestically and driving freely through our territorial precincts in Toyota Hilux SUV’s, killing our children, abducting young female students whom they want to “sell into slavery” and forcing Nigerians and even government officials to beg them tearfully to #Bring Back Our Girls Alive!
Why is this happening? It was never the case with Biafra, where the entire nation and her international allies closed ranks with a single-minded purpose of conquering the Igbos and destroying them politically, economically and socially. The army was together in containing the Niger Delta militants and forcing them to give up their armed struggle or face total annihilation.
But when it comes to stamping out an unlikely challenge by Boko Haram, our mighty army begins to dither and give us reason to fear the enemy. We begin to hear of alleged corruption and breakdown of discipline, internal sabotage and doubtful or divided loyalties, as well as power tussle issues playing out among the political leaders.
Much of this is rumour or speculation, though. It is fuelled by those in the struggle for the presidency in 2015 and their media backers.
It is also being stoked by foreign media and other interests who may not have the best interests of Nigeria at heart. Matters are not helped by the fact that the New Media – the fancy moniker for the social media – is bedevilled by lack of control.
Everybody just goes in there to vomit and transmit their ignorance, mischief and personal grudges to the whole world. It is exacerbated by the fact that historically, our armed forces, police and security agencies were built, in the main, with personnel from a section of the country, the North. So, if indeed sabotage and double loyalty in this campaign against Boko Haram is coming from there, it becomes difficult to handle, especially as the North is the theatre of this war.
The lesson here is that we must never build our army, police, security or any other national institution around the narrow interests of any section of the country. Rather, we must build truly national institutions, as that is the only way we can maintain a united front against the nation’s internal and external enemies. Perhaps, the evil our leaders committed in the past against our national unity due to their narrow regional interest is catching up with us.
Our armed forces must be mighty again. They must regain their invincibility, impregnability and indomitability. We must support the armed forces with all our might, sparing nothing to back it financially, morally and with intelligence support.
Let us remember that the men and women who work for us in the armed forces are putting their lives on the line for us. But they will not want to do it for a bunch of ingrates and noisy booers. Why will anybody agree to die for someone who will not even say thank you to the departed? We must support the military! Otherwise, there are grave consequences for us.
If the military refuses to defend us, Boko Haram will win. Fancy that? Nigeria will be the first place terrorists will be winning. It will become their festering ground to launch a worldwide attack. You and I will be dislodged from our comfort zones and we will start looking for a place to hide in other parts of Africa and the world.
Fancy 170 million Nigerian refugees across the face of Africa! However, I know the military will not allow Boko Haram to win.
Rather than allow that, they will truncate our democracy (as their counterparts in Mali did two years ago) with irresistible logic. Then it will be back to square one. We may never see democracy in our lifetime if that happens.
I support the Nigerian armed forces to defeat terrorism. What about you?
Controlled Demolition of WTC 7 Now Proven
Guest Posting by 9/11 Consensus Panel
Professor Daniele Ganser’s guest article on false flag attacks and his lecture on 9/11 will rescue you from the web of official lies spun by the government and presstitute media.http://www.paulcraigroberts.org/2014/06/01/false-flag-attacks-guest-article-professor-daniele-ganser-university-basel/
The latest research establishes that World Trade Center Building 7 was destroyed by controlled demolition. The press release below will suffice to inform you of the latest developments.
PRESS RELEASE: World Trade Center Building 7’s Controlled Demolition: 9/11 Consensus Panel Releases New Evidence from Witness Testimonies and Architectural Drawings
June 1, 2014 –The 24-member 9/11 Consensus Panel – which includes physicists, chemists, engineers, commercial pilots, attorneys and lawyers – today announced three new studies confirming the controlled demolition of World Trade Center 7.
The studies scientifically refute the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) claim that, for the first time in history, fire caused the sudden and complete collapse of a large, fire-protected, steel-framed building on 9/11.
(Note that whereas the Consensus Panel uses a scientific methodology to peer-review its work, the NIST report was not peer-reviewed.)
The first Panel study deals with the NIST computer simulations, which purported to show that fire-induced thermal expansion caused a girder to be pushed off its seat at Column 79, thereby initiating a global collapse of the entire 47-story building at 5:21 in the afternoon. http://www.consensus911.org/point-wtc7-5/
However, a recent FOIA request has produced WTC 7 architectural drawings showing that the NIST simulations omitted basic structural supports that would have made this girder failure impossible.
The second Consensus Panel study deals with NIST’s claim that it did not recover any steel from this massive steel-frame skyscraper. http://www.consensus911.org/point-wtc7-6/
This is extraordinary, given the need to understand why a steel-frame building would have completely collapsed for the first time in history from fire alone, and to thereby prevent a recurrence.
The third Panel study shows that on September 11, 2001, many people were told hours in advance that WTC 7 was going to collapse. http://www.consensus911.org/point-wtc7-7/
MSNBC reporter Ashleigh Banfield said early in the afternoon: “I’ve heard several reports from several different officers now that that is the building that is going to go down next.”
Many members of the New York Fire Department were confidently waiting for the building to come down:
Firefighter Thomas Donato: “We were standing, waiting for seven to come down. We were there for quite a while, a couple hours.”
Assistant Commissioner James Drury: “I must have lingered there. There were hundreds of firefighters waiting to — they were waiting for 7 World Trade Center to come down.”
Chief Thomas McCarthy: “So when I get to the command post, they just had a flood of guys standing there. They were just waiting for 7 to come down.”
In addition, CNN and the BBC made premature announcements.
This foreknowledge corroborates the evidence presented in previous Consensus Points (WTC7-1 to WTC7-5) that WTC 7 was brought down by controlled demolition.
Source: The 9/11 Consensus Panel @911consensus email@example.com
Contact List: http://www.consensus911.org/media-contacts/
Co-founders: David Ray Griffin, Elizabeth Woodworth
“For the good of our nation, we make a passionate plea that Islam must now be ready to be just a religion like others in the country. Otherwise, the present and future unity and religious harmony in our nation will continue to be seriously jeopardised.
“This is mainly a northern problem and this largely for historical reasons. At least until recently, Muslims in the middle belt and especially the Southwest, have lived comfortably with their brothers and sisters of Christian faith, without seeking special attention or status.”
The above is an excerpt from a memo of Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) to the delegates of the National Conference. The part of the CBCN memo I was privy to was free from offensive, irresponsible conspiracy theories and wild allegations that we are familiar with in the usually reckless and “agberoish” public statements from the leadership of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN).
Haven said that, We must now respectfully disagree with the esteemed Catholic Bishops, as Nigeria Muslims we see things radically differently from them.
Since colonial days, there has been what appears to be a consistent systematic attempt to force Christianity down the throat of Muslims. This is more evident in the southern part of the country where thousands of Muslim Children seeking formal education were coerced into Christianity for many decades before and after independence. Muslim children, in the region today, are still molested by their Christian principals and teachers, they are made mockery of, the Prophet of Islam is insulted at will and young Muslimah are beaten and sent out of school because they choose to wear the Islamic veil which is a compulsory requirement for Muslim women.
In work places these intolerant behaviour by Christians goes unabated. Several Muslim female Nurses and judicial staffs have lost their jobs in federal and state owned establishments in recent times just because they insist on using the Islamic veil. Apparently, their Christian bosses could not stand the sight of a Muslim woman on Hijab. Higher institutions, particularly law faculties and nursing schools has become battle ground for Muslim female students that want to exercise their fundamental human right to practice their religion by using the Islamic veil and their Christian teachers who insist they dress like Christians. Nursing Students, Nurses and health workers suffer the worst form of maltreatment and humiliation from their Christian bosses and teachers. Muslim immigrant minority communities in Britain are treated better than Muslims in the hands of Christians in Nigeria.
About three years ago, a university authority in River State demolished a student makeshift Mosque in the school campus, this they did after denying the Muslim Students’ authorisation to erect a place of worship within the campus. Officials of the school came, on that fateful Friday, with some machete wading shirtless thugs and bulldozer[s] and they levelled the Mosque to rubble. The Muslim students were prevented from removing from the building their personal belongings which included laptops, books, certificates and other valuables. When they attempted taking pictures with their mobile phones, the mobile phones where confiscated, those who attempted to protest in anger where immediately arrested. Christian fellowships have allocated and makeshift places of worship within the campus, but Muslim Students still observe their prayers five times everyday outside after three years.
The unjust practices of the practitioners of Christianity in Nigeria are so obvious that even a blind can see it crystal clearly. While selecting delegates to the national conference, they selected pastors and Bishops to represent the South-West, a region with arguably more Muslims than any other religion; they did not even have the decency to pick two Muslims in the fifteen man delegation. The North-Central that include Muslim majority states like Kwara, Niger Kogi, Nassarawa and Taraba had just four Muslims delegates and eleven Christians. We do not know of a Muslim in the delegation South-East and South-South. In the Muslim dominated North-East and North-West Christian minority communities where represent in their delegations.
Undoubtedly, it is Christians that should be admonished to let Muslims exist in the space called Nigeria. Muslims have made lots of un-reciprocated sacrifices for Christians in the country. Saturday and Sunday were given as public holiday because Christians could not decide which among the two should be sabbat, yet Christians could not tolerate a Hausa word in Arabic inscription in the Nigeria currency, they had it removed. Nigeria Christians could not even tolerant Islamic banking that operates even in a Christian country like Britain, they raised hell when it was introduced as if there was a law that compared them to bank with it. For joining the Organisation of Islamic Countries OIC, Nigeria had to recognise the racist/apartheid entity of Israel just to please Christians, our honour as Muslims had to be sacrificed so that Christians will be happy.
The summary of the Bishops proposal is that they want the North to abandon the little that is left from our pre-colonial heritage (Shari’ah) for the pleasure of Christianity. While we are asking for our rights to be respected, they want us to give away the little that we have left. The respected Bishops and so many Nigeria Christians see nothing wrong in Muslims being subjected to common law which is Christian law. They fail to acknowledge the reality that the religion of Muslims is Islam and not Christianity and that the law of Muslims is the Shari’ah and not common law.
Our message to our Christian brothers and sisters is that we are not seeking special attention and status as the Bishops seems to suggest, what we want [and we will get in sha Allah one way or the other] is to be allowed to be Muslims and practice our religion which is Islam. Islam and Christianity are two different religions and should be treated as such. It is not justice to subject two different people with different moral values and way of life to a particular system without taking into cognizance their individual peculiarities.
I believe I speak for every Muslim who knows his or her worth that we refuse to continuously under the shadows of Christianity. If you want me to become a Christian, preach Christianity to me and do not force it down my throat. We will spit it out even if we I have to cough out our lungs along with it. Let us know our limits, live and allow others to live. This ought not to be difficult.
If you find this piece offensive, there is nothing I can do to help you. But if you dispute any fact therein, consider this an open invitation to write a enjoinder. Thanks.
By Justin Raimondo
May 22 2014 “ICH” – “Anti War” – It’s just a coincidence that Gen. Khalifa Hifter (sometimes spelled Hiftar) launched his Libyan coup only four days after the US deployed 200 troops to Sicily – a “crisis response team” sent at the State Department’s request. Another coincidence: US-backed Gen. Hifter lived in Washington, D.C. for decades, a few convenient miles from the CIA’s Langley headquarters.
I wrote about Hifter back in 2011, here and here, when he was a suspect in the assassination of Abdel Fatah Younes, one of Gaddafi’s generals who defected to the rebels and was appointed head of the Libyan army by the new regime. Younes’ time in office was brief, however: he was opposed by Hifter, and by theradical Islamists who were the backbone of the insurrection. Recalled to Tripoli for “inquiries” about his bona fides, he was murdered en route by an Islamist gang calling itself the “February 17 Martyrs Brigade.”
Oh, and here’s yet another coincidence: this is the same “February 17 Martyrs Brigade” hired by the US State Department to “guard” the Benghazi CIA station where Ambassador Chris Stevens was killed.
As Alice once said in Wonderland: “Curiouser and curiouser!“
The American attention span being what it is, the US public has long since lost interest in forlorn Libya: oh, they vaguely remember the US intervention in that country, but have lost track of the story since our glorious “victory” unleashed a flood of chaos. The Republicans keep harping on the Benghazi incident, and the alleged cover-up of the circumstances surrounding Ambassador Stevens’ brutal death, but they never bring up the real scandal – the American intervention itself, which paved the way for all the bloody mess that followed.
Who is Gen. Hifter, and whose game he playing?
Once one of Gaddafi’s top generals, he commanded the late dictator’s disastrous invasion of neighboring Chad and was either captured by Chadian forces, or else defected to the other side – it’s not clear what exactly occurred. In any case, from Chad he set up his National Salvation Front, described in this reportfrom the Canadian Immigration and Refugee Board (citing Le Monde Diplomatique) as “created and financed by the CIA.” The same report says he “vanished into thin air with the help of the CIA shortly after the Hissène Habré government [of Chad] was overthrown by Idriss Déby.” A 1996 Washington Post report, among other sources, says the Salvation Front’s military wing, led by Hifter, was funded and trained by the United States: they set up a base in Kenya, and many of their cadre later came to the US, where Hifter resided for two decades less than five miles from Langley.
The target of Hifter’s coup is the elected parliament and executive which, we were told in the beginning, represented a “secularist” victory at the polls in the first election, and yet somehow morphed into an Islamist majority. Hifter says he is trying to “impose order” and rein in the Islamist militias that have had free rein since the “liberation.” The US denies being behind the coup, but the key to understanding Washington’s true position is that the State Department is urging a “peaceful resolution” and telling both sides to stand down – not exactly a rebuke to Hifter.
The Libyan intervention was the first step in the Obama/Clinton administration’s grand plan to somehowco-opt the “Arab Spring” and use it as a battering ram to extend Washington’s influence in the region. After stumbling, at first, and backing Egyptian tyrant Hosni Mubarak against the Muslim Brotherhood’s rebellion in the streets, Washington dumped the dictator and started backing the “moderate” Islamist forces they thought they could control. When Libya exploded, they backed the Islamists opposing him, keeping their asset Hifter in the wings to pick up the pieces. When the inevitable occurred, and the radical Islamists started their rampage – killing Stevens and four others in the process – they were left with egg on their faces (or, rather, blood on their hands), and a burgeoning scandal that they’ve desperately tried to tamp down.
Isn’t it odd how Benghazi, a hardscrabble town with nothing much to distinguish it, has been in the news so much lately? It was supposedly the target of Gaddafi’s murderous rage, the site where he wassupposedly planning a “massacre” that necessitated the intervention of the US and its European allies – a “humanitarian disaster” that never materialized. It was then the scene of the murderous “blowback” that resulted in the first killing of an American ambassador in recent history. The latest is that it has become a battlefield on which Hifter and the pro-government Islamist militias are duking it out.
It was also said to be the site where arms were being shipped to Syrian Islamist rebels with the full knowledge and cooperation of the US government – just before Ambassador Stevens was killed. For a dusty bit of nowhere on the edge of nothingness, Benghazi sure gets around!
Libya’s future is, at best, an Egyptian-style military junta, and at worst another Somalia. As I have pointed out in this space from the very beginning, “Libya” isn’t a real country by any rational standard: it is, instead, an arbitrary construct cobbled together out of at least three historically disparate parts. This is true in the case of most African “nations,” which have been saddled with borders defined by European colonialists. Today these same colonial powers – aided and abetted by the US – are meddling at the scene of their crimes, maneuvering and scheming to get back in the business of economic exploitation and political domination.
Libya isn’t going to be a place where anything resembling progress, democracy, liberalism, or anything remotely resembling them is going to take root in the next thousand years. It is a hellhole, and will remain one, no matter how much money is spent, or how much blood is spilled – and it isn’t within the power of US policymakers to change that. We don’t belong there, and we never will. There’s just one rational policy to adopt: get out and stay out. We are making matters worse, not better, and the sooner we recognize that inescapable fact the better off we – and the long-suffering people of Libya – will be.
Justin Raimondo is the editorial director of Antiwar.com, and a senior fellow at the Randolph Bourne Institute. He is a contributing editor at The American Conservative, and writes a monthly column forChronicles. Here is the link for buying the second edition of my 1993 book, Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement, with an Introduction by Prof. George W. Carey, a Foreword by Patrick J. Buchanan, and critical essays by Scott Richert and David Gordon (ISI Books, 2008).
The little town of Ikonifin in Ola Oluwa Local government area of Osun State was thrown into an uproar when a church leader’s, Pastor Olatoke’s, ploy to “duplicate” Boko Haram in the vicinity was foiled by some sprightly youths. The ploy would have placed Muslims living in Ikonifin in a very sore light if the attempt by Pastor Olatoke was successful.
The pastor of the Baptist church Ikonifin, who is also the CAN President of Ola Oluwa Local Government, was reported to have conspired with three members of his church, Emmanuel Atanda, Pitter Oyedepo and Ogunniyi Babatope to dress like Boko Haram militants and use turban to cover their faces.
When it was around 11-12pm on Sunday, 18th May, 2014, during the church services, the three men stormed the church premises and started throwing knockouts to scare church members away.
Consequent upon this development, the worshippers took to their heels, running helter-skelter for their precious lives. Many were injured in the process. Fortunately, those men were arrested when they were trying to escape with their motorcycle by some agile youths of the community.
During the ensuing severe torture before the arrival of the police, the fake “Boko Haramites” revealed that they are members of the Baptist Church and that it was a planned deal with their pastor.
When the pastor was consulted he said it was just a drama.
The Christian Association reportedly did all possible best to bury the case but it failed as the exploit eventually leaked to the media.
Sheikh Daood Imran Molaasan, the Founder and National President of Jama’at Ta’awunil Muslimeen has called on the state government to bring the perpetrators of such malicious crime to book.
“To bury such a case, is a crime against Muslims because if the plan was successful, Muslims would have been in danger. It’s unjust until the perpetrators are brought to book; and CAN should be warned that any conspiracy against Muslims or attempt to destabilize the State of Osun will be their end, In- Sha- Allah ” he warned.
Professor O.O Ladipo also called on the state government to arrest the pastor who intended to launch Boko Haram in the State of Osun with the aim of putting Muslims in danger.
It is not much fun to be in Kiev these days. The revolutionary excitement is over, and hopes for new faces, the end of corruption and economic improvement have withered. The Maidan street revolt and the subsequent coup just reshuffled the same marked deck of cards, forever rotating in power.
The new acting President has been an acting prime minister, and a KGB (called “SBU” in Ukrainian) supremo. The new acting prime minister has been a foreign minister. The oligarch most likely to be “elected” President in a few days has been a foreign minister, the head of the state bank, and personal treasurer of two coups, in 2004 (installing Yushchenko) and in 2014 (installing himself). His main competitor, Mme Timoshenko, served as a prime minister for years, until electoral defeat in 2010.
These people had brought Ukraine to its present abject state. In 1991, the Ukraine was richer than Russia, today it is three times poorer because of these people’s mismanagement and theft. Now they plan an old trick: to take loans in Ukraine’s name, pocket the cash and leave the country indebted. They sell state assets to Western companies and ask for NATO to come in and protect the investment.
They play a hard game, brass knuckles and all. The Black Guard, a new SS-like armed force of the neo-nazi Right Sector, prowls the land. They arrest or kill dissidents, activists, journalists. Hundreds of American soldiers, belonging to the “private” company Academi (formerly Blackwater) are spread out in Novorossia, the pro-Russian provinces in the East and South-East. IMF–dictated reforms slashed pensions by half and doubled the housing rents. In the market, US Army rations took the place of local food.
The new Kiev regime had dropped the last pretence of democracy by expelling the Communists from the parliament. This should endear them to the US even more. Expel Communists, apply for NATO, condemn Russia, arrange a gay parade and you may do anything at all, even fry dozens of citizens alive. And so they did.
The harshest repressions were unleashed on industrial Novorossia, as its working class loathes the whole lot of oligarchs and ultra-nationalists. After the blazing inferno of Odessa and a wanton shooting on the streets of Melitopol the two rebellious provinces of Donetsk and Lugansk took up arms and declared their independence from the Kiev regime. They came under fire, but did not surrender. The other six Russian-speaking industrial provinces of Novorossia were quickly cowed. Dnepropetrovsk and Odessa were terrorised by personal army of Mr Kolomoysky; Kharkov was misled by its tricky governor. Russia did not interfere and did not support the rebellion, to the great distress of Russian nationalists in Ukraine and Russia who mutter about “betrayal”. So much for the warlike rhetoric of McCain and Brzezinski.
Putin’s respect for others’ sovereignty is exasperating. I understand this sounds like a joke, — you hear so much about Putin as a “new Hitler”. As a matter of fact, Putin had legal training before joining the Secret Service. He is a stickler for international law. His Russia has interfered with other states much less than France or England, let alone the US. I asked his senior adviser, Mr Alexei Pushkov, why Russia did not try to influence Ukrainian minds while Kiev buzzed with American and European officials. “We think it is wrong to interfere”, he replied like a good Sunday schoolboy. It is rather likely Putin’s advisors misjudged public sentiment. « The majority of Novorossia’s population does not like the new Kiev regime, but being politically passive and conservative, will submit to its rule”, they estimated. “The rebels are a small bunch of firebrands without mass support, and they can’t be relied upon”, was their view. Accordingly, Putin advised the rebels to postpone the referendum indefinitely, a polite way of saying “drop it”.
They disregarded his request with considerable sang froid and convincingly voted en masse for secession from a collapsing Ukraine. The turnout was much higher than expected, the support for the move near total. As I was told by a Kremlin insider, this development was not foreseen by Putin’s advisers.
Perhaps the advisors had read it right, but three developments had changed the voters’ minds and had sent this placid people to the barricades and the voting booths:
1. The first one was the fiery holocaust of Odessa, where the peaceful and carelessly unarmed demonstrating workers were suddenly attacked by regime’s thugs (the Ukrainian equivalent of Mubarak’s shabab) and corralled into the Trade Unions Headquarters. The building was set on fire, and the far-right pro-regime Black Guard positioned snipers to efficiently pick off would-be escapees. Some fifty, mainly elderly, Russian-speaking workers were burned alive or shot as they rushed for the windows and the doors. This dreadful event was turned into an occasion of merriment and joy by Ukrainian nationalists who referred to their slain compatriots as “fried beetles”. (It is being said that this auto-da-fé was organised by the shock troops of Jewish oligarch and strongman Kolomoysky, who coveted the port of Odessa. Despite his cuddly bear appearance, he is pugnacious and violent person, who offered ten thousand dollars for a captive Russian, dead or alive, and proposed a cool million dollars for the head of Mr Tsarev, a Member of Parliament from Donetsk.)
2. The second was the Mariupol attack on May 9, 2014. This day is commemorated as V-day in Russia and Ukraine (while the West celebrates it on May 8). The Kiev regime forbade all V-day celebrations. In Mariupol, the Black Guard attacked the peaceful and weaponless town, burning down the police headquarters and killing local policemen who had refused to suppress the festive march. Afterwards, Black Guard thugs unleashed armoured vehicles on the streets, killing citizens and destroying property.
The West did not voice any protest; Nuland and Merkel weren’t horrified by this mass murder, as they were by Yanukovich’s timid attempts to control crowds. The people of these two provinces felt abandoned; they understood that nobody was going to protect and save them but themselves, and went off to vote.
3. The third development was, bizarrely, the Eurovision jury choice of Austrian transvestite Conchita Wurst for a winner of its song contest. The sound-minded Novorossians decided they want no part of such a Europe.
Actually, the people of Europe do not want it either: it transpired that the majority of British viewers preferred a Polish duo, Donatan & Cleo, with its We Are Slavic. Donatan is half Russian, and has courted controversy in the past extolling the virtues of pan-Slavism and the achievements of the Red Army, says the Independent. The politically correct judges of the jury preferred to “celebrate tolerance”, the dominant paradigm imposed upon Europe. This is the second transvestite to win this very political contest; the first one was Israeli singer Dana International. Such obsession with re-gendering did not go down well with Russians and/or Ukrainians.
The Russians have readjusted their sights, but they do not intend to bring their troops into the two rebel republics, unless dramatic developments should force them.
Imagine: you are dressed up for a night on Broadway, but your neighbours are involved in a vicious quarrel, and you have to gun up and deal with the trouble instead of enjoying a show, and a dinner, and perhaps a date. This was Putin’s position regarding the Ukrainian turmoil.
A few months ago, Russia had made a huge effort to become, and to be seen as, a very civilised European state of the first magnitude. This was the message of the Sochi Olympic games: to re-brand, even re-invent Russia, just as Peter the Great once had, as part of the First World; an amazing country of strong European tradition, of Leo Tolstoy and Malevich, of Tchaikovsky and Diaghilev, the land of arts, of daring social reform, of technical achievements, of modernity and beyond — the Russia of Natasha Rostova riding a Sikorsky ‘copter. Putin spent $60 b to broadcast this image.
The old fox Henry Kissinger wisely said:
Putin spent $60 billion on the Olympics. They had opening and closing ceremonies, trying to show Russia as a normal progressive state. So it isn’t possible that he, three days later, would voluntarily start an assault on Ukraine. There is no doubt that… at all times he wanted Ukraine in a subordinate position. And at all times, every senior Russian that I’ve ever met, including dissidents like Solzhenitsyn and Brodsky, looked at Ukraine as part of the Russian heritage. But I don’t think he had planned to bring it to a head now.
However, Washington hawks decided to do whatever it takes to keep Russia out in the cold. They were afraid of this image of “a normal progressive state” as such Russia would render NATO irrelevant and undermine European dependence on the US. They were adamant about retaining their hegemony, shattered as it was by the Syrian confrontation. They attacked Russian positions in the Ukraine and arranged a violent coup, installing a viciously anti-Russian regime supported by football fans and neo-Nazis, paid for by Jewish oligarchs and American taxpayers. The victors banned the Russian language and prepared to void treaties with Russia regarding its Crimean naval base at Sebastopol on the Black Sea. This base was to become a great new NATO base, controlling the Black Sea and threatening Russia.
Putin had to deal quickly and so he did, by accepting the Crimean people’s request to join Russian Federation. This dealt with the immediate problem of the base, but the problem of Ukraine remained.
The Ukraine is not a foreign entity to Russians, it is the western half of Russia. It was artificially separated from the rest in 1991, at the collapse of the USSR. The people of the two parts are interconnected by family, culture and blood ties; their economies are intricately connected. While a separate viable Ukrainian state is a possibility, an “independent” Ukrainian state hostile to Russia is not viable and can’t be tolerated by any Russian ruler. And this for military as well as for cultural reasons: if Hitler had begun the war against Russia from its present border, he would have taken Stalingrad in two days and would have destroyed Russia in a week.
A more pro-active Russian ruler would have sent troops to Kiev a long time ago. Thus did Czar Alexis when the Poles, Cossacks and Tatars argued for it in 17th century. So also did Czar Peter the Great, when the Swedes occupied it in the 18th century. So did Lenin, when the Germans set up the Protectorate of Ukraine (he called its establishment “the obscene peace”). So did Stalin, when the Germans occupied the Ukraine in 1941.
Putin still hopes to settle the problem by peaceful means, relying upon the popular support of the Ukrainian people. Actually, before the Crimean takeover, the majority of Ukrainians (and near all Novorossians) overwhelmingly supported some sort of union with Russia. Otherwise, the Kiev coup would not have been necessary. The forced Crimean takeover seriously undermined Russian appeal. The people of Ukraine did not like it. This was foreseen by the Kremlin, but they had to accept Crimea for a few reasons. Firstly, a loss of Sevastopol naval base to NATO was a too horrible of an alternative to contemplate. Secondly, the Russian people would not understand if Putin were to refuse the suit of the Crimeans.
The Washington hawks still hope to force Putin to intervene militarily, as it would give them the opportunity to isolate Russia, turn it into a monster pariah state, beef up defence spending and set Europe and Russia against each other. They do not care about Ukraine and Ukrainians, but use them as pretext to attain geopolitical goals.
The Europeans would like to fleece Ukraine; to import its men as “illegal” workers and its women as prostitutes, to strip assets, to colonise. They did it with Moldova, a little sister of Ukraine, the most miserable ex-Soviet Republic. As for Russia, the EU would not mind taking it down a notch, so they would not act so grandly. But the EU is not fervent about it. Hence, the difference in attitudes.
Putin would prefer to continue with his modernisation of Russia. The country needs it badly. The infrastructure lags twenty or thirty years behind the West. Tired by this backwardness, young Russians often prefer to move to the West, and this brain drain causes much damage to Russia while enriching the West. Even Google is a result of this brain drain, for Sergey Brin is a Russian immigrant as well. So are hundreds of thousands of Russian scientists and artists manning every Western lab, theatre and orchestra. Political liberalisation is not enough: the young people want good roads, good schools and a quality of life comparable to the West. This is what Putin intends to deliver.
He is doing a fine job of it. Moscow now has free bikes and Wi-Fi in the parks like every Western European city. Trains have been upgraded. Hundreds of thousands of apartments are being built, even more than during the Soviet era. Salaries and pensions have increased seven-to-tenfold in the past decade. Russia is still shabby, but it is on the right track. Putin wants to continue this modernisation.
As for the Ukraine and other ex-Soviet states, Putin would prefer they retain their independence, be friendly and work at a leisurely pace towards integration a la the European Union. He does not dream of a new empire. He would reject such a proposal, as it would delay his modernisation plans.
If the beastly neocons would not have forced his hand by expelling the legitimate president of Ukraine and installing their puppets, the world might have enjoyed a long spell of peace. But then the western military alliance under the US leadership would fall into abeyance, US military industries would lose out, and US hegemony would evaporate. Peace is not good for the US military and hegemony-creating media machine. So dreams of peace in our lifetime are likely to remain just dreams.
What will Putin do?
Putin will try to avoid sending in troops as long as possible. He will have to protect the two splinter provinces, but this can be done with remote support, the way the US supports the rebels in Syria, without ‘boots on the ground’. Unless serious bloodshed on a large scale should occur, Russian troops will just stand by, staring down the Black Guard and other pro-regime forces.
Putin will try to find an arrangement with the West for sharing authority, influence and economic involvement in the failed state. This can be done through federalisation, or by means of coalition government, or even partition. The Russian-speaking provinces of Novorossia are those of Kharkov (industry), Nikolayev (ship-building), Odessa (harbour), Donetsk and Lugansk (mines and industry), Dnepropetrovsk (missiles and high-tech), Zaporozhe (steel), Kherson (water for Crimea and ship-building), all of them established, built and populated by Russians. They could secede from Ukraine and form an independent Novorossia, a mid-sized state, but still bigger than some neighbouring states. This state could join the Union State of Russia and Belarus, and/or the Customs Union led by Russia. The rump Ukraine could manage as it sees fit until it decides whether or not to join its Slavic sisters in the East. Such a set up would produce two rather cohesive and homogeneous states.
Another possibility (much less likely at this moment) is a three-way division of the failed Ukraine: Novorossia, Ukraine proper, and Galicia&Volyn. In such a case, Novorossia would be strongly pro-Russian, Ukraine would be neutral, and Galicia strongly pro-Western.
The EU could accept this, but the US probably would not agree to any power-sharing in the Ukraine. In the ensuing tug-of-war, one of two winners will emerge. If Europe and the US drift apart, Russia wins. If Russia accepts a pro-Western positioning of practically all of Ukraine, the US wins. The tug-of-war could snap and cause all-out war, with many participants and a possible use of nuclear weapons. This is a game of chicken; the one with stronger nerves and less imagination will remain on the track.
Pro and Contra
It is too early to predict who will win in the forthcoming confrontation. For the Russian president, it is extremely tempting to take all of Ukraine or at least Novorossia, but it is not an easy task, and one likely to cause much hostility from the Western powers.
With Ukraine incorporated, Russian recovery from 1991 would be completed, its strength doubled, its security ensured and a grave danger removed. Russia would become great again. People would venerate Putin as Gatherer of Russian Lands.
However, Russian efforts to appear as a modern peaceful progressive state would have been wasted; it would be seen as an aggressor and expelled from international bodies. Sanctions will bite; high tech imports may be banned, as in the Soviet days. The Russian elites are reluctant to jeopardise their good life. The Russian military just recently began its modernisation and is not keen to fight yet, perhaps not for another ten years. But if they feel cornered, if NATO moves into Eastern Ukraine, they will fight all the same.
Some Russian politicians and observers believe that Ukraine is a basket case; its problems would be too expensive to fix. This assessment has a ‘sour grapes’ aftertaste, but it is widespread. An interesting new voice on the web, The Saker, promotes this view. “Let the EU and the US provide for the Ukrainians, they will come back to Mother Russia when hungry”, he says. The problem is, they will not be allowed to reconsider. The junta did not seize power violently in order to lose it at the ballot box.
Besides, Ukraine is not in such bad shape as some people claim. Yes, it would cost trillions to turn it into a Germany or France, but that’s not necessary. Ukraine can reach the Russian level of development very quickly –- in union with Russia. Under the EC-IMF-NATO, Ukraine will become a basket case, if it’s not already. The same is true for all East European ex-Soviet states: they can modestly prosper with Russia, as Belarus and Finland do, or suffer depopulation, unemployment, poverty with Europe and NATO and against Russia, vide Latvia, Hungary, Moldova, Georgia. It is in Ukrainian interests to join Russia in some framework; Ukrainians understand that; for this reason they will not be allowed to have democratic elections.
Simmering Novorossia has a potential to change the game. If Russian troops don’t come in, Novorossian rebels may beat off the Kiev offensive and embark on a counter-offensive to regain the whole of the country, despite Putin’s pacifying entreaties. Then, in a full-blown civil war, the Ukraine will hammer out its destiny.
On a personal level, Putin faces a hard choice. Russian nationalists will not forgive him if he surrenders Ukraine without a fight. The US and EU threaten the very life of the Russian president, as their sanctions are hurting Putin’s close associates, encouraging them to get rid of or even assassinate the President and improve their relations with the mighty West. War may come at any time, as it came twice during the last century – though Russia tried to avoid it both times. Putin wants to postpone it, at the very least, but not at any price.
His is not an easy choice. As Russia procrastinates, as the US doubles the risks, the world draws nearer to the nuclear abyss. Who will chicken out?
Israel Shamir can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
(Language editing by Ken Freeland)