“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Neocons’ Ukraine-Syria-Iran Gambit
March 19, 2014 

Exclusive: The Ukraine crisis – in part stirred up by U.S. neocons – has damaged prospects for peace not only on Russia’s borders but in two Middle East hotspots, Syria and Iran, which may have been exactly the point.

By Robert Parry

You might think that policymakers with so many bloody fiascos on their résumés as the U.S. neocons, including the catastrophic Iraq War, would admit their incompetence and return home to sell insurance or maybe work in a fast-food restaurant. Anything but directing the geopolitical decisions of the world’s leading superpower.

But Official Washington’s neocons are nothing if not relentless and resilient. They are also well-funded and well-connected. So they won’t do the honorable thing and disappear. They keep hatching new schemes and strategies to keep the world stirred up and to keep their vision of world domination – and particularly “regime change” in the Middle East – alive.

Sen. John McCain appearing with Ukrainian rightist, Oleh Tyahnybok at a rally in Kiev.
Now, the neocons have stoked a confrontation over Ukraine, involving two nuclear-armed states, the United States and Russia. But – even if nuclear weapons don’t come into play – the neocons have succeeded in estranging U.S. President Barack Obama from Russian President Vladimir Putin and sabotaging the pair’s crucial cooperation on Iran and Syria, which may have been the point all along.

Though the Ukraine crisis has roots going back decades, the chronology of the recent uprising — and the neocon interest in it – meshes neatly with neocon fury over Obama and Putin working together to avert a U.S. military strike against Syria last summer and then brokering an interim nuclear agreement with Iran last fall that effectively took a U.S. bombing campaign against Iran off the table.


With those two top Israeli priorities – U.S. military attacks on Syria and Iran – sidetracked, the American neocons began activating their influential media and political networks to counteract the Obama-Putin teamwork. The neocon wedge to splinter Obama away from Putin was driven into Ukraine.

Operating out of neocon enclaves in the U.S. State Department and at U.S.-funded non-governmental organizations, led by the National Endowment for Democracy, neocon operatives targeted Ukraine even before the recent political unrest began shaking apart the country’s fragile ethnic and ideological cohesion.

Last September, as the prospects for a U.S. military strike against Syria were fading thanks to Putin, NED president Carl Gershman, who is something of a neocon paymaster controlling more than $100 million in congressionally approved funding each year, took to the pages of the neocon-flagship Washington Post and wrote that Ukraine was now “the biggest prize.”

Carl Gershman
But Gershman added that Ukraine was really only an interim step to an even bigger prize, the removal of the strong-willed and independent-minded Putin, who, Gershman added, “may find himself on the losing end not just in the near abroad [i.e. Ukraine] but within Russia itself.” In other words, the new hope was for “regime change” in Kiev and Moscow.

Putin had made himself a major annoyance in Neocon World, particularly with his diplomacy on Syria that defused a crisis over a Sarin attack outside Damascus on Aug. 21, 2013. Despite the attack’s mysterious origins – and the absence of any clear evidence proving the Syrian government’s guilt – the U.S. State Department and the U.S. news media rushed to the judgment that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad did it.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad
Politicians and pundits baited Obama with claims that Assad had brazenly crossed Obama’s “red line” by using chemical weapons and that U.S. “credibility” now demanded military retaliation. A longtime Israeli/neocon goal, “regime change” in Syria, seemed within reach.

But Putin brokered a deal in which Assad agreed to surrender Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal (even as he continued to deny any role in the Sarin attack). The arrangement was a huge letdown for the neocons and Israeli officials who had been drooling over the prospect that a U.S. bombing campaign would bring Assad to his knees and deliver a strategic blow against Iran, Israel’s current chief enemy.

Putin then further offended the neocons and the Israeli government by helping to facilitate an interim nuclear deal with Iran, making another neocon/Israeli priority, a U.S. war against Iran, less likely.

Putting Putin in Play

So, the troublesome Putin had to be put in play. And, NED’s Gershman was quick to note a key Russian vulnerability, neighboring Ukraine, where a democratically elected but corrupt president, Viktor Yanukovych, was struggling with a terrible economy and weighing whether to accept a European aid offer, which came with many austerity strings attached, or work out a more generous deal with Russia.

There was already a strong U.S.-organized political/media apparatus in place for destabilizing Ukraine’s government. Gershman’s NED had 65 projects operating in the country – training “activists,” supporting “journalists” and organizing business groups, according to its latest report. (NED was created in 1983 to do in relative openness what the CIA had long done in secret, nurture pro-U.S. operatives under the umbrella of “promoting democracy.”)

So, when Yanukovych opted for Russia’s more generous $15 billion aid package, the roof fell in on him. In a speech to Ukrainian business leaders last December, Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs, Victoria Nuland, a neocon holdover and the wife of prominent neocon Robert Kagan, reminded the group that the U.S. had invested $5 billion in Ukraine’s “European aspirations.”

Victoria Nuland
Robert Kagan
Then, urged on by Nuland and neocon Sen. John McCain, protests in the capital of Kiev turned increasingly violent with neo-Nazi militias moving to the fore. Unidentified snipers opened fire on protesters and police, touching off fiery clashes that killed some 80 people (including about a dozen police officers).

On Feb. 21, in a desperate attempt to tamp down the violence, Yanukovych signed an agreement brokered by European countries. He agreed to surrender many of his powers, to hold early elections (so he could be voted out of office), and pull back the police. That last step, however, opened the way for the neo-Nazi militias to overrun government buildings and force Yanukovych to flee for his life.

With these modern-day storm troopers controlling key buildings – and brutalizing Yanukovych supporters – a  rump Ukrainian parliament voted, in an extra-constitutional fashion, to remove Yanukovych from office. This coup-installed regime, with far-right parties controlling four ministries including defense, received immediate U.S. and European Union recognition as Ukraine’s “legitimate” government.

This is Oleh Tyahnybok,
 he has claimed a "Moscow-Jewish mafia" rule Ukraine and that
 "Germans, Kikes and other scum" want to "take away our Ukrainian state."
 As remarkable – and newsworthy – as it was that a government on the European continent included Nazis in the executive branch for the first time since World War II, the U.S. news media performed as it did before the Iraq War and during various other international crises. It essentially presented the neocon-preferred narrative and treated the presence of the neo-Nazis as some kind of urban legend.

Virtually across the board, from Fox News to MSNBC, from the Washington Post to the New York Times, the U.S. press corps fell in line, painting Yanukovych and Putin as the “black-hat” villains and the coup regime as the “white-hat” good guys, which required, of course, whiting out the neo-Nazi “brown shirts.”

Neocon Expediency

Some neocon defenders have challenged my reporting that U.S. neocons played a significant role in the Ukrainian putsch. One argument is that the neocons, who regard the U.S.-Israeli bond as inviolable, would not knowingly collaborate with neo-Nazis given the history of the Holocaust (and indeed the role of Ukrainian Nazi collaborators in extermination campaigns against Poles and Jews).

But the neocons have frequently struck alliances of convenience with some of the most unsavory – and indeed anti-Semitic – forces on earth, dating back to the Reagan administration and its collaboration with Latin American “death squad” regimes, including work with the World Anti-Communist League that included not only neo-Nazis but aging real Nazis.

Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah
More recently in Syria, U.S. neocons (and Israeli leaders) are so focused on ousting Assad, an ally of hated Iran, that they have cooperated with Saudi Arabia’s Sunni monarchy (known for its gross anti-Semitism). Israeli officials have even expressed a preference for Saudi-backed Sunni extremists winning in Syria if that is the only way to get rid of Assad and hurt his allies in Iran and Lebanon’s Hezbollah.

Last September, Israel’s Ambassador to the United States Michael Oren told the Jerusalem Post that Israel so wanted Assad out and his Iranian backers weakened, that Israel would accept al-Qaeda operatives taking power in Syria.
Michael Oren  

“The greatest danger to Israel is by the strategic arc that extends from Tehran, to Damascus to Beirut. And we saw the Assad regime as the keystone in that arc,” Oren said in the interview.
“We always wanted Bashar Assad to go,  we always preferred the bad guys who weren’t backed by Iran to the bad guys who were backed by Iran.”

Oren said that was Israel’s view even if the other “bad guys” were affiliated with al-Qaeda.

Oren, who was Israel’s point man in dealing with Official Washington’s neocons, is considered very close to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and reflects his views. For decades, U.S. neocons have supported Netanyahu and his hardline Likud Party, including as strategists on his 1996 campaign for prime minister when neocons such as Richard Perle and Douglas Feith developed the original “regime change” strategy. [For details, see’s “The Mysterious Why of the Iraq War.”]

In other words, Israel and its U.S. neocon supporters have been willing to collaborate with extreme right-wing and even anti-Semitic forces if that advances their key geopolitical goals, such as maneuvering the U.S. government into military confrontations with Syria and Iran.

So, while it may be fair to assume that neocons like Nuland and McCain would have preferred that the Ukraine coup had been spearheaded by militants who weren’t neo-Nazis – or, for that matter, that the Syrian rebels were not so dominated by al-Qaeda-affiliated extremists – the neocons (and their Israeli allies) see these tactical collaborations as sometimes necessary to achieve overarching strategic priorities.

And, since their current strategic necessity is to scuttle the fragile negotiations over Syria and Iran, which otherwise might negate the possibility of U.S. military strikes against those two countries, the Putin-Obama collaboration had to go.

By spurring on the violent overthrow of Ukraine’s elected president, the neocons helped touch off a cascade of events – now including Crimea’s secession from Ukraine and its annexation by Russia – that have raised tensions and provoked Western retaliation against Russia. The crisis also has made the continued Obama-Putin teamwork on Syria and Iran extremely difficult, if not impossible.

Like other neocon-engineered schemes, there will surely be much collateral damage in this latest one. For instance, if the tit-for-tat economic retaliations escalate – and Russian gas supplies are disrupted – Europe’s fragile recovery could be tipped back into recession, with harmful consequences for the U.S. economy, too.

There’s also the certainty that congressional war hawks and neocon pundits will press for increased U.S. military spending and aggressive tactics elsewhere in the world to punish Putin, meaning even less money and attention for domestic programs or deficit reduction. Obama’s “nation-building at home” will be forgotten.

But the neocons have long made it clear that their vision for the world – one of America’s “full-spectrum dominance” and “regime change” in Middle Eastern countries opposed to Israel – overrides all other national priorities. And as long as the neocons face no accountability for the havoc that they wreak, they will continue working Washington’s corridors of power, not selling insurance or flipping hamburgers.

Sexy Sarah Gun Pose in Camo Bikini


  1. Holy Macaroni!

    :) :) :) :) :) :)

    What was That?

    It sounded like a "super-aneurism." Sounded like it came from up around Ideehoe.

  2. Russia’s credit rating outlook was cut to negative from stable by Standard & Poor’s, which said the economy is threatened by Western sanctions over its annexation of Ukraine’s breakaway Crimea region.

    S&P affirmed Russia’s ranking at BBB, the second-lowest investment grade.

    “Heightened geopolitical risk and the prospect of U.S. and EU economic sanctions following Russia’s incorporation of Crimea could reduce the flow of potential investment, trigger rising capital outflows, and further weaken Russia’s already deteriorating economic performance,” S&P analysts wrote in an e-mailed note today.

    The cut came after U.S. President Barack Obama ordered financial sanctions on a wider swath of Russian officials and billionaires seen as allies to Russian President Vladimir Putin. Obama also authorized possible penalties directly targeting the economy. Russia’s intervention in the Crimean peninsula has driven relations with the West to a post-Cold War low.


  3. U.S. President Barack Obama took aim at Vladimir Putin with sanctions on a Russian oil billionaire and alleging Putin has a direct financial interest in the businessman’s energy-trading company.

    Today’s broader sanctions marked an escalation of efforts to punish Putin and his associates for Russia’s actions in Crimea. The oilman, Gunvor Group Ltd.’s co-founder Gennady Timchenko, was one of several individuals included in U.S. sanctions designed to punish Russia.

    With 2012 revenue of $93 billion, Gunvor is one of the world’s largest commodity traders, employing more than 1,600 people and sourcing crude from more than 35 countries. Run from Geneva, Timchenko, 51, and fellow billionaire Torbjorn Tornqvist created Gunvor in 2000 to handle Russian crude shipments.

    The U.S. action could make oil companies, traders and banks reluctant to do business with Gunvor, affecting billions of dollars of physical and derivative contracts. When sanctions target individuals, clients should be cautious doing business with companies they control, said Behnam Dayanim, a Washington, D.C.-based partner at law firm Paul Hastings.


  4. U.S. companies with operations in Russia should prepare for growing tensions by reviewing evacuation plans, tightening cybersecurity and being alert for a spike in anti-American sentiment, according to corporate-security analysts.

    Non-essential travel to the country should also be delayed, said Brian Michael Jenkins, senior adviser to the president of the RAND Corp., which is based in Santa Monica, California, and provides research to governments and companies.

    Executives “have to anticipate some kind of cyber-assault,” Jenkins said in an interview. And they should be aware of graffiti or other signs of “palpable increase in anti-American sentiment” and be prepared to evacuate personnel.



  5. Germany and France said the European Union won’t rush to impose economic sanctions on Russia for the annexation of Crimea, as the U.S. stepped up its measures against the Kremlin and its allies.

    Germany, which is Russia’s biggest EU trading partner, expects the 28-country bloc to expand “stage two” measures in place including travel bans and asset freezes, Chancellor Angela Merkel said before an EU summit in Brussels. It is too early to move to economic retaliation, she said.

    “There will be an expansion of what we call stage two,” Merkel said.
    “We will make very clear that in the case of further escalation we will be ready to introduce economic sanctions.”


  6. "It is absolutely not in the U.S. interest to impose sanctions on Russia,
    because who will take American astronauts to space if not us Russians?"
    Korobko asked.


  7. Hey, Jack!

    Good call on that Sarah Palin photo, she called it on the Ukraine, and your honoring her on the Libertarian is Right On!
    I don't know if it was her Facebook page that inspired you, or what, but she nailed it!

    She went on Facebook to comment on the crisis in Ukraine:

    “Yes, I could see this one from Alaska,” she wrote. “I'm usually not one to Told-Ya-So, but I did, despite my accurate prediction being derided as ‘an extremely far-fetched scenario’ by the ‘high-brow’ Foreign Policy magazine. Here’s what this ‘stupid’ ‘insipid woman’ predicted back in 2008: ‘After the Russian Army invaded the nation of Georgia, Senator Obama's reaction was one of indecision and moral equivalence, the kind of response that would only encourage Russia's Putin to invade Ukraine next.’”

    Now one could split hairs and say that Crimea, as an autonomous republic was never really fully integrated with Ukraine, and Russia did not invade the Crimea, just used the 25,000 troops that were already there by treaty. But she deserves her time in the limelight, and you've given it to her...

    Good Call and Good Form!


  8. Sorry, rat, that is not really Sarah, but a photoshopped version, but you're correct.

    She deserves all the kudos she's getting, here!

    1. Photoshopped?

      You mean, my Sarah doesn't have titties like that?

      Say it ain't so. :) :)

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  9. If Rufus wasn't slumming it'd just be the Dead Beat Dad talking to himself.

    1. And, by the way, her most famous line, she had right.

      There is a U.S. island, out there off the Westernmost tip of the Aleutians, that is, I believe, less than 20 miles from a Russian island (you can walk from one to the other when the sea is iced up.) I'm quite sure that a person with a cheap pair of binoculars could see from one to the other.

    2. Oh, there are oe folks reading than ever, the ratio of readers to comments, at an all time high.

      I don't care about the comments, I follow page views.

      On the ratio of page views to comments, the Libertarian is breaking new ground.
      Over five times the views than comments, usually it is 1.5 to 1, or less.

      Just depends on what measure of success you use.


    3. Oh, there are MORE folks reading than ever . . .


    4. Illiterate comments are worthless, anyway.

      Comments about casinos and enemas, worthless.

      Comments that are lies and derogatory, worthless.

      Better one real reader than five comments about free t-shirts


    5. The Libertarian is not a chat room, Farmer Bob.

      If you want a chat room, go find one, it is not what the Libertarian is looking to be.


    6. Yea, they have t-shirt night at the casino, a gimmick they use to get the Welfare crew in to gamble their benefits away.

    7. About this election that's coming up in November: Even a most rudimentary look will convince you that the Republicans Can Not win the majority if they lose either the Georgia race, or the Kentucky one.

      Now, if we assign McConnel a 60% chance of winning, and give the Republican nominee in Ga a 55% chance, then the chance of the Republicans winning both races is:

      0.6 X 0.55 or 0.33 (33%.)

      If you gave McConnell a 70% chance, and the Ga Pub a 60% chance, the pubs would still only have a 42% chance of carrying Both states.

      Now, if you give the pubs a 50 - 50 (0.50) chance of picking up the necessary 6 seats from the rest of the contests, you still have to multiply 0.5 X 0.42 which is 0.21 (21%.)

      Approx. 1 in 5

    8. 2 sides target Mitch McConnell in Ky. Senate race

      LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Kentucky’s Mitch McConnell is the top Republican in the Senate, making him the most visible target of both Democrats and archconservatives from around the country who see him as the face of all that is wrong with Washington.

      Democrats shout dysfunction while conservatives in the Tea Party movement say he is not pure enough. The sight of this powerful man zigging and zagging, with party control of the US Senate hanging in the balance, has made his race for survival the most anticipated election in the country this year.

    9. It's hard to bet against the old prick, but I think I read, somewhere, that Obama has a higher approval rating in Ky. than does Mcturtle.


    10. Mitch McConnell pushes 20-week ban

      By Steve Benen

      Those Beltway assumptions about congressional Republicans steering clear of divisive social issues? They sure were wrong.

      Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) used the anniversary of abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell’s trial to call for legislation that would ban abortions after 20 weeks.

      “It is time for America to join the ranks of most other developed nations around the world and restrict abortion at least at the point at which science tells us that unborn babies are capable of feeling pain,” McConnell said Tuesday. “Let’s take up this important pro-life legislation and send it to the president.”

      As a policy matter, 20-week abortion bans would not prevent the Gosnells of the world; they’d arguably do the opposite, forcing desperate women into the hands of dubious “doctors.”

      What’s more, as we’ve discussed before, because roughly 99% of abortions occur before 21 weeks, these later terminations often involve “rare, severe fetal abnormalities and real threats to a woman’s health.” It’s why the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists is so strongly against these conservative proposals.

      But in all likelihood, this isn’t about policy. This is about a senator worried about his red-state re-election while facing a primary challenger.


    11. Texas Gov. Rick Perry endorses Sen. Mitch McConnell's re-election bid

      LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) - Texas Gov. Rick Perry is supporting United States Senator Mitch McConnell's bid for re-election.

      Perry announced his endorsement during a Republican Party dinner at Murray State University that took place Saturday night.

      Gov. Perry said he is supporting McConnell because he believes McConnell is willing to stand up for conservative principles.

      McConnell is competing against Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes, as well as Tea Party-backed candidate Matt Bevin.

    12. This comment has been removed by the author.


    14. There are distressing signs for the Republican leader.

      The new poll found that 60 percent of Kentuckians disapprove of the powerful five-term incumbent, compared to just 32 percent who approve of his performance in the Senate.

      That’s a shade worse than the ratings registered by President Barack Obama, who lost the state by 22 points in 2012

    15. Like I said, it's hard to bet against the old sonofabitch, but he might have outrun his luck this time.

    16. The gal in Georgia has a good last name - Nunn.

      And, she's running on the ticket with a Carter, who is leading a particularly nutty asshole, Deal.

      One of these gals could win.

    17. Hell, they both could win. A bit of a longshot, though.

  10. Bill O'Reilly, he only uses one comment during his hour on FOX News.

    Farmer Bob must think tthat Bill is talking to himself.

    ja, ja, ja!

  11. The best ratio, so far ...

    Blood Flows in Ukraine seven views for every comment.
    The Canine Corps - over seven views for every comment
    Central American Surf Breaks four views for every comment
    The U.S. Cavalry's Role in Modern Horsemanship three and a half views per comment.
    Is US public opinion on Israel shifting? two and a half views per comment.

    The Editorial staff is looking for readers, not commentators.

    It is a new day at the Libertarian, new goals, a new direction.
    More market driven, more data sets, less frivolous commentary about enemas.

    If we lose a few old time commentators, those that do not want to make the transition, then we lose 'em.
    They've been steadily dropping off, anyway.

    Ms T is the prime example, a fine thread provider who was chased away by the misogynist peanut gallery.
    Melody, chased away by the misogynist commentary.

    No more of that.

    1. Ash and Quirk, neither want to put up a thread on a regular basis.
      I have never seen one thread posted by the 'Big Q'
      Ash is interested in the comments below the thread, the editorial staff is not.

      We want more threads, less comments.

      The Libertarian, love it or leave it.


    2. I have printed over a million pages of tabloid news, in my publishing career.

      There is nothing to it. Google and web provide endless content.
      We can post a new thread as easily as posting a comment on an old thread.

      And we will.

    3. Maybe, I'll ask you to show me how to do it. But, first, I must sleep. Good night. :)

  12. Looks like two losers on the first day of spring, to me.

    1. "I have printed over a million pages of tabloid news, in my publishing career."

      Gee willikers, that is impressive.

      You've typed out over a million bull shit comments here too.

      You Renaissance Dead Beat Dad, you.

    2. A million pages of tabloid news.

      Imagine !

      No wonder you are a sick fuck.