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Pawns In A Deadly, Grotesque Geopolitical Game

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Pawns In A Deadly, Grotesque Geopolitical Game

by David McWilliams

Ukraine, Gaza, Iran, Isis, Syria and Turkey are all just pawns in a grotesque geopolitical game. All sides have their narratives. But in all cases, innocents must die.

Children Killed On MH17

When an airliner is blown out of the sky by people who want part of their country to break away, it’s time to actually take things seriously. This isn’t just some country. We are talking about Russia here and its southern border with Ukraine. The West (and that includes us) will now demand that the Russians disown their out-of-control compatriots in Ukraine. We will be treated to experts suggesting that this is evidence of the war mongering of the Russians, the instability of Putin and the need for Ukraine to move towards the EU with haste.

I am writing this morning from the Balkans and as a result, have been listening to different interpretations of what has been going on globally. Many of these views are more understanding of the Russian interpretation than the western one. Over the years, having spent some time in Russia, I have been aware of the very different ways the Russians and the West view the same events.


When seen from the Russian perspective, Ukraine is just another example of the gradual but definitive encroachment of the West into all things Russian. Russia and Ukraine are not different cultures. They are part of the same broader Russian/Slavic family. Our narrative is that the Russians are happy to keep Ukraine unstable and that what happened to the Malaysian airliner was the risk Russia was running by arming the separatists with sophisticated weapons.

Seen from the Russian side, it isn’t the Russians who are doing the destabilising but the Americans.

For them, the Americans arming and financially supporting an opposition in Ukraine would be like the Scottish Nationalists being financed by Russia. How do you think London and Washington would react to that? How do you think they’d react to the idea of a Russian puppet running an independent Scottish state from Edinburgh?

This is how close Ukraine is to Russia.

Now when you think about it in those terms, do you think Putin will back down and do what the West wants him to do?

Many in Russia believe that ultimately Ukraine is simply a pawn to keep Germany away from Russia. They believe that the only real alliance in Europe is one between an energy-rich Russia and an energy-impoverished Germany, between a technology and manufacturing-rich Germany and a manufacturing-poor Russia. These Russians regard an alliance with Germany as the logical geopolitical relationship for Europe in the first half of the 21st century. They regard the EU as a relic of the 20th century, necessary to protect western Europe under the umbrella of Nato both from itself and ultimately from the Red Army. With this threat gone, many Russian strategists argue that an alliance between Russia and Germany is going to happen.

Such a coalition would terrify America because it would mean that America would no longer be a player in Europe. This is why America heightens the fears of those who would have most to lose in such an alliance – such as Poland. Therefore Poland gets all the best American military equipment, gets the US investment and regular US pats on the back. By destabilising Ukraine, the Americans can heighten the regional angst of the Poles and also line the Germans up against the Russians in defence of a Ukrainian state, which is little more than an IMF supplicant propped up by IMF/EU loans to cover the day-to-day pilfering of its home grown kleptocracy.

Again when seen from Moscow, further south on the other side of the Black Sea, America is happy to allow its ally, prime minister Erdogan, in Turkey to tear up the Turkish constitution, jail opposition politicians and questioning journalists, and allow him to do the very thing that they scolded Putin for doing, staying in power by jumping from prime minister to president and back.

While Erdogan makes a mockery of Ataturk’s Turkish republican values, America sells Turkey the finest military hardware because Turkey promises to put manners on Russia’s ally in the region, Assad in Syria. Furthermore, the Turks and the Persians have hated each other for millenniums, so a strong Turkey keeps Russia’s other ally, Iran, in check.

America’s other ally in the region, Saudi Arabia, lends its support to al-Qaeda and its various Sunni offshoots such as Isis in Iraq, revealing that America is either very capable of playing both sides or is terribly out of its depth in the region. All the while, America’s biggest ally in the region, Israel, pulverises Gaza, but Gaza itself is held by Iran’s ally Hamas and thus is a pawn in Iran’s regional game.

Hamas were out of favour with Iran for not backing Assad in Syria at the beginning, but now with Assad securely in power after an unbelievable 150,000 people have been killed in Syria, Hamas has to cozy up to Iran again. The Hamas embrace of Iran was made more urgent by the eclipse of the Muslim Brotherhood, the Qatari-financed movement in Cairo, which is now on the run.

This grotesque geopolitical chessboard, where each conflict can be seen as a proxy war for something else is the kaleidoscope through which the world is seen from Moscow and Washington and indeed the other capitals of major world players from Beijing to London.

All sides have their narratives, allies and interests. All desperately want to remain in control and are happy to turn a blind eye to the atrocities committed by their allies. In all cases, innocents are killed.

So the Americans look the other way in Gaza, while the Russians discount the killings in Aleppo. The French get all hot and bothered about Ukraine while ignoring the fact that its own troops are up to their eyes in the civil war in Chad and southern Libya. Britain lectures Russia on intervention in Ukraine while ignoring the fact that their troops are in Afghanistan.

Maybe it’s because I am in the Balkans 100 years after Gavrilo Princip killed Franz Ferdinand and kicked off a global conflict, but the unstable alliances of 2014 look equally as fragile as they did in 1914.

Sometimes when you are living through historic times you don’t realise it, but last week’s events from Ukraine to Gaza and Iraq do have a momentous feel to them.

David McWilliams is the author of Global Macro 360° which is his valuable daily guide to understanding the global economy.



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Wed, 07/23/2014 - 13:16 | 4993778 lasvegaspersona
lasvegaspersona's picture

Blue eyed kids...always a winner in the propaganda wars.

Wed, 07/23/2014 - 13:56 | 4994035 sgt_doom
sgt_doom's picture

Know Your Enemy

A few days ago, A State Department official, Marie Harf said in response to a request for American intel on the downed Malaysian Airlines flight 17 in the Ukraine in response to Russian official comments:

"We are not equally credible parties … we don't put out mass amounts of propaganda."

Marie Harf's last employer of record: the CIA.

Over the past week we witnessed Secretary of State John Kerry (that would be John Forbes Winthrop Dudley Kerry) meet with the leaders of China --- while breaking news stories told of Chinese hacking of the Pentagon and American corporations --- and acts as if he wanted to perform an oral sex act upon them?

A month or so ago, we witnessed the release of a telephone call from State Department senior official, Victoria Nuland, suggesting that the US government was culpable in the overthrow of a democratically-elected president of the Ukraine. Victoria Nuland's husband, Robert Kagan, was a founding member of Dick Cheney's favorite outfit, PNAC, or the Project for a New American Century.

Over the past few years we've witnessed former CIA guy, Richard Clark, go on and on and on about China's cyber warfare against the USA. Odd, given that both corporate America and the US government have offshored countless jobs, technology and investment to China.

We realize most Americans are too involved online with their social networking, or sports viewing, or porn viewing, etc., etc., etc., and therefore may be unaware of the details and may be confused about who the actual enemy is --- we are not.

The enemy is Wall Street and their running dog lackeys, as Hanoi Hannah used to tell us when we served in the military in Vietnam.

And curiously enough, this shootdown of the Malaysian Airlines 17 is beginning to sound more and more like another fabricated episode known as the Tonkin Gulf Incident.

Wed, 07/23/2014 - 15:07 | 4994423 shovelhead
shovelhead's picture

Dead people strewn across a crash site aren't 'fabricated'.

It might seem a bit more real if it was your family lying there.

One fact is certain. This flight was diverted from it's normal traffic route and elevation to fly over the contested region.

By whom? Who had that capability?

Wed, 07/23/2014 - 15:06 | 4994417 disabledvet
disabledvet's picture

Well...so much for the element of surprise.

Other than "Putin is a moron" what else is new?

"The real bad guys did it again"? Wow, really?

"But nobody believes us and I saw it!" Yeah, okay. I'll be calling you to defend me in my war crimes trial against the Palestinians.

This thing couldn't be scripted any better...and fiction is always more popular than fact.

Wed, 07/23/2014 - 12:31 | 4993491 ebworthen
ebworthen's picture

I place the blame for MH17 squarely on the U.S. and the E.U.

If they hadn't been meddling in the Ukraine, it wouldn't have happened.

If Russia and China got Alaska to secede from the U.S. by subverting elected representatives and installing a puppet government run by Russian oligarchs the West would be apoplectic. 

Yet somehow when the West supports the violent overthrow of Ukraine in Russia's backyard it is all Putin's fault.

Wed, 07/23/2014 - 13:51 | 4993995 hbjork1
hbjork1's picture

ebworthen, 

You sould read your history of the region back to "Peter the Great"

Peter, who was reported to be 6' 6'' tall and very energettic, became Tsar after his an older relative was killed in a revolt.  He traveled in Europe to learn and sought to bring Russia into the Europea sphere.

He needed a warm water port  so he took an army into the area that now surronds St. Petersburg(Leingrad ?, Stalangrad?), beat up the locals and started St Petersburg.  I guess The Baltic wasn't warm enogh so he then proceed to go down toward the Crimera to establish port facilities there.  It is a long supply line down to the Crimera and I guess it did not go well.  At some point the Ukranians  got him and his personal guard trapped and made a deal.  "Go away and lett us alone and we will let you live".  Russia was able to keep the St Petersburg region but could not take Crimea. 

The U. S. paid for Alaska because the Russians had war debs. 

Russia has an old Aristocracy that still lives with their "realpoiitic" .  A recent news article said that he is getting a divorce.  Perhaps he has made a move for a legacy that backfired.

Wed, 07/23/2014 - 13:17 | 4993787 lasvegaspersona
lasvegaspersona's picture

How do you know Palin WASN"T a Ruskie puppet? They live next door to each other.

Wed, 07/23/2014 - 12:41 | 4993569 dontgoforit
dontgoforit's picture

You may be right, ebworthen.  I'm not sure what to believe at this juncture.  I keep hoping some truth will be revealed, but I have doubts about it.

Wed, 07/23/2014 - 12:30 | 4993486 Comte d'herblay
Comte d'herblay's picture

Budgie Twitters has homework for me, and you:

Must read by August 31, 2014

http://vaticproject.blogspot.com/2010/02/shadow-elite-how-worlds-new-pow...

Likely not new to those who believe that Conspiracy is not a fantasy, but a genuine, prosecutable Felony;  revealing in ways heretofore written off as delusional.

 

Highly recommended.

Wed, 07/23/2014 - 12:21 | 4993426 IndianaJohn
IndianaJohn's picture

With his opening sentence McWilliams knows who downed Flight MH17. If those kids were mine, I would not send or take them to Malaysia.

Wed, 07/23/2014 - 14:05 | 4994068 RaceToTheBottom
RaceToTheBottom's picture

As someone who grew up in many foreign countries, I can say it is one of the most formative aspects of my childhood and it directly affected my future earning power.

I think that you were getting at the risk aspect, well was in CZ in 1968 when the Soviets occupied the country and I lived down the street from the Soviet camp and could hear the shooting and see the tanks, and it wasn't too bad. 

Plus it gives you a clearer view than most here at ZH about the players of the game.

Wed, 07/23/2014 - 11:47 | 4993183 Sandmann
Sandmann's picture

One of the very best articles on ZH in a long time. Very well elucidated.

Wed, 07/23/2014 - 13:34 | 4993892 Davalicious
Davalicious's picture

The author is in the service of big Koch. 

Wed, 07/23/2014 - 11:40 | 4993133 Escapedgoat
Escapedgoat's picture

"Furthermore, the Turks and the Persians have hated each other for millenniums,"

 

 

Funny that: So,! was it the Turks that arrived on the scene at about the TURN of the Mellenium? or somebody else . Because I thought that the GREEKS and the Persians were old foes not the Turks, 300 and all that.

Iranians regularly travel to Instabul for shopping. Even though they would also like to visit Greek islands, they did to Cyprus, till They succombed to the EU fascists.

As for the Greek Shipowners these days they are all ally pally with the Persians, due to the OIL shipments, not to forget the smuggling due to the international embargoes AGAINST IRAN that they helped bypass to the ire of Washington. Great fortunes were made out of this fiasco.

Wed, 07/23/2014 - 15:09 | 4994440 disabledvet
disabledvet's picture

And before that the Assyrians!

Wed, 07/23/2014 - 10:51 | 4992834 Raging Debate
Raging Debate's picture

As an American, I don't care if Germany and Russia increase trade. But multimational corporations sure do.

What is good for corporate America is good for Americans no longer applies to me or the majority of Americans.

Now that said and knowina bit how the world works you won't be seeing me buying R.E. in or near any major metro. These next six or seven years are extremely dangerous geopolitically.

Wed, 07/23/2014 - 10:30 | 4992679 Pee Wee
Pee Wee's picture

Break out the pity-party.  Clearly those are pre-terrorists.

Fascism Inkorporated doesn't give a rip about people. 

Kangaroo korporations inkorporated don't give a rip about people.

People worldwide don't give a rip about people.

Somehow, somewhere, someone is supposed to pretend-care?

Denialist syndrome is everywhere.

Wed, 07/23/2014 - 12:35 | 4993513 Comte d'herblay
Comte d'herblay's picture

Taught to me many years ago in Randy Newman's, "Political Science" class, and The Limelighters:

 

http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/randynewman/politicalscience.html

 

They're Rioting in Africa (The Merry Minuet)

 

They're Rioting in Africa (The Merry Minuet) (Sheldon Harnick) Intro: There are days in my life when everything is dreary I grow pessimistic, sad and world weary. But when I'm tearful and fearfully upset I always sing this merry little minuet: They're rioting in Africa They're starving in Spain There's hurricanes in Florida And Texas needs rain. The whole world is festering With unhappy souls The French hate the Germans, The Germans hate the Poles Italians hate Yugoslavs South Africans hate the Dutch And I don't like anybody very much But we can be grateful And thankful and proud That man's been endowed With a mushroom shaped cloud And we know for certain That some happy day Someone will set the spark off And we will all be blown away They're rioting in Africa There's strife in Iran What nature doesn't do to us Will be done by our fellow man. ----------------------------------------------------------------- We think this was done by the Kingston Trio back in the 60's. Sad to say, much of it is still true today
Wed, 07/23/2014 - 10:12 | 4992627 Ghordius
Ghordius's picture

"Many in Russia believe that ultimately Ukraine is simply a pawn to keep Germany away from Russia. They believe that the only real alliance in Europe is one between an energy-rich Russia and an energy-impoverished Germany, between a technology and manufacturing-rich Germany and a manufacturing-poor Russia. These Russians regard an alliance with Germany as the logical geopolitical relationship for Europe in the first half of the 21st century. They regard the EU as a relic of the 20th century, necessary to protect western Europe under the umbrella of Nato both from itself and ultimately from the Red Army. With this threat gone, many Russian strategists argue that an alliance between Russia and Germany is going to happen."

in my understanding, this Russian view is less common than the same view among Americans (and in part Brits)

anyway, this view - and now I have to quote Mario Draghi out of context "severely misunderstands the political capital invested in..."

Germany is not going to present itself alone in any change. note how they never go alone, even in the most simplest of diplomatic moves

NATO is not the EU

and the EU, particularly the core members / the eurozone, is not going to disintegrate into pieces and parcels for the pleasure of old and new hegemons

Wed, 07/23/2014 - 15:18 | 4994505 disabledvet
disabledvet's picture

Why should the Netherlands stick around? They have more natural gas than they know what to do with.

Also there is the "slight" problem of "Germany with a capital in Berlin negotiating with Moscow and Russia." Zerohedge is clueless if they can't being up the problem wight that. Even Merkel has called Putin a "nut" which he so clearly is.

Still...this does make for good fiction. "Hapless uber munchen caught in the crossfire of two super powers! How sad! How sad!"

Wed, 07/23/2014 - 09:14 | 4992325 what's that smell
what's that smell's picture

where did zhedge dig up this mindless turd?

us, uk, and zion (and pictures of dead children killed by monster putin) good.

iran isis syria assad russia rebels iraq putin hamas turkey the toilet bad.

GoldCore greatly value David’s daily insights and in partnership with David McWilliams, are offering you a one week free trial to Global Macro 360°.

turd.

Wed, 07/23/2014 - 09:49 | 4992520 Monty Burns
Monty Burns's picture

What the fuck are you trying to say?  Would you rewrite it in English please, and maybe get some 5th grader to cross-check it.

Wed, 07/23/2014 - 09:21 | 4992356 Tall Tom
Tall Tom's picture

First it was Ukraine that sent up the Fighter Jet that killed those babies.

 

Finally...That picture of the babies got to you, didn't it?

 

Maybe there is some hope. At least, while your words were cold, it demonstrates that there is some flicker of a spirit in you. Did it remind you of your own?

 

LOOK AT IT AGAIN. Let it haunt your day.

 

And remember that you are paying for that with your tax dollars as Financial support is SUPPORT.

 

These are REAL Human Beings being killed. It makes me want to vomit.

Wed, 07/23/2014 - 15:35 | 4992719 Pee Wee
Pee Wee's picture

Killing in the name of ________.

 

Wed, 07/23/2014 - 07:56 | 4992113 Hobbleknee
Hobbleknee's picture

"Such a coalition would terrify America because it would mean that America would no longer be a player in Europe. "

America has over 65,000 troops in bases all over Europe with over 40,00 troops in Germany alone.

Wed, 07/23/2014 - 12:17 | 4993393 IndianaJohn
IndianaJohn's picture

The US troops will likely be abandoned to the countries that they are in. Some of them may be able to change their uniforms and do the jobs that Germans won't do.

Wed, 07/23/2014 - 12:35 | 4993518 dontgoforit
dontgoforit's picture

My son will be among the 40,000 U.S. troops in Germany in 90 days. 

        Damn, that picture is going to haunt me for a long time.  If those were my kids......  What a lousey thing to do.

Wed, 07/23/2014 - 13:32 | 4993881 Davalicious
Davalicious's picture

Hope your boy stays safe.

"While Erdogan makes a mockery of Ataturk’s Turkish republican values, America sells Turkey the finest military hardware because Turkey promises to put manners on Russia’s ally in the region, Assad in Syria. Furthermore, the Turks and the Persians have hated each other for millenniums, so a strong Turkey keeps Russia’s other ally, Iran, in check."

Ataturk was a jew. One of the young "Turks" went on to found the Israeli Irgun terrorist organisation. The guys plotted the genocide of armenian christians. The blow back took turkey to a war that made space for israel. There are still many Jews at the top of the turkish military which is why they serve Israel. 

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