On Washington's Ukrainian Fiasco: "Who Is The Real Problem Here?"

Tyler Durden's picture

Submitted by David Stockman via Contra Corner blog,

In just 800 words Pat Buchanan exposes the sheer juvenile delinquency embodied in Washington’s current Ukrainian fiasco. He accomplishes this by reminding us of the sober restraint that governed the actions of American Presidents from FDR to Eisenhower, Reagan and Bush I with respect to Eastern Europe during far more perilous times.

In a word, as much as they abhorred the brutal Soviet repression of the Hungarian uprising in 1956, the Prague Spring in 1968 and the solidarity movement in Poland in the early 1980s, among many other such incidents, they did not threaten war for one simple reason: These unfortunate episodes did not further endanger America’s national security. Instead, in different ways each of these Presidents searched for avenues of engagement with the often disagreeable and belligearent leaders of the Soviet Empire because they “felt that America could not remain isolated from the rulers of the world’s largest nation”.

Accordingly, during the entire span from 1933, when FDR recognized the Soviet Union, until 1991, when it ended, the US never once claimed Ukraine’s independence was part of its foreign policy agenda or a vital national security interest. Why in the world, therefore, should we be meddling in the backyard of a far less threatening Russia today?

More importantly, if Ike could invite Khrushchev to tour America and pow-wow with him at Camp David after the suppression of the Hungarian freedom fighters and his bluster over Berlin, what in the world is Obama doing attempting to demonize Putin and make him an international pariah? The fact is, Crimea had been part of Russia for 200 years, and the Donbas had been its Russian-speaking coal, steel and industrial heartland since the time of Stalin.

Putin’s disagreements with the Ukrainian nationalists who took over Kiev during the Washington inspired overthrow of its constitutionally-elected government in February are his legitimate geo-political business, but have nothing to do with our national security. And whatever his considerable faults, Putin is no totalitarian menace even remotely in the same league as his Soviet predecessors. In that regard, Hillary Clinton’s sophomoric comparison of him to Hitler is downright preposterous.

At the heart of the matter is the War Party’s desire to punish Putin for pushing back against American interventionism in Syria, Iran, Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East. For that Washington has now ensnared itself in an ancient ethnic struggle that has roiled Russia’s borders for centuries; and has landed smack in the middle of an attempt by Kiev’s nationalists to violently maintain the “territorial integrity” of a nation who’s boundaries have been meandering all over the map since the middle ages.

In that context, Senator John McCain’s call to arm the ruffians, opportunists, oligarchs and neo-fascists who took power in a street level coup in Kiev is downright lunatic. It causes Buchanan to ask, “Who is the real problem here?”

The answer is that it’s not Putin, and that conclusion comes from a brilliant partisan scholar of 20th century foreign policy who is no left-wing pacifist.


By Pat Buchanan (via Anti-war)

In 1933, the Holodomor was playing out in Ukraine.

After the “kulaks,” the independent farmers, had been liquidated in the forced collectivization of Soviet agriculture, a genocidal famine was imposed on Ukraine through seizure of her food production.

Estimates of the dead range from two to nine million souls.

Walter Duranty of the New York Times, who called reports of the famine “malignant propaganda,” won a Pulitzer for his mendacity.

In November 1933, during the Holodomor, the greatest liberal of them all, FDR, invited Foreign Minister Maxim Litvinov to receive official U.S. recognition of his master Stalin’s murderous regime.

On August 1, 1991, just four months before Ukraine declared its independence of Russia, George H. W. Bush warned Kiev’s legislature:

“Americans will not support those who seek independence in order to replace a far-off tyranny with a local despotism. They will not aid those who promote a suicidal nationalism based upon ethnic hatred.”

In short, Ukraine’s independence was never part of America’s agenda. From 1933 to 1991, it was never a U.S. vital interest. Bush I was against it.

When then did this issue of whose flag flies over Donetsk or Crimea become so crucial that we would arm Ukrainians to fight Russian-backed rebels and consider giving a NATO war guarantee to Kiev, potentially bringing us to war with a nuclear-armed Russia?

From FDR on, U.S. presidents have felt that America could not remain isolated from the rulers of the world’s largest nation.

Ike invited Khrushchev to tour the USA after he had drowned the Hungarian Revolution in blood. After Khrushchev put missiles in Cuba, JFK was soon calling for a new detente at American University.

Within weeks of Warsaw Pact armies crushing the Prague Spring in August 1968, LBJ was seeking a summit with Premier Alexei Kosygin.

After excoriating Moscow for the downing of KAL 007 in 1983, that old Cold Warrior Ronald Reagan was fishing for a summit meeting.

The point: Every president from FDR through George H. W. Bush, even after collisions with Moscow far more serious than this clash over Ukraine, sought to re-engage the men in the Kremlin.

Whatever we thought of the Soviet dictators who blockaded Berlin, enslaved Eastern Europe, put rockets in Cuba and armed Arabs to attack Israel, Ike, JFK, LBJ, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan and Bush 1 all sought to engage Russia’s rulers.

Avoidance of a catastrophic war demanded engagement.

How then can we explain the clamor of today’s U.S. foreign policy elite to confront, isolate, and cripple Russia, and make of Putin a moral and political leper with whom honorable statesmen can never deal?

What has Putin done to rival the forced famine in Ukraine that starved to death millions, the slaughter of the Hungarian rebels or the Warsaw Pact’s crushing of Czechoslovakia?

In Ukraine, Putin responded to a U.S.-backed coup, which ousted a democratically elected political ally of Russia, with a bloodless seizure of the pro-Russian Crimea where Moscow has berthed its Black Sea fleet since the 18th century. This is routine Big Power geopolitics.

And though Putin put an army on Ukraine’s border, he did not order it to invade or occupy Luhansk or Donetsk. Does this really look like a drive to reassemble either the Russian Empire of the Romanovs or the Soviet Empire of Stalin that reached to the Elbe?

As for the downing of the Malaysian airliner, Putin did not order that. Sen. John Cornyn says U.S. intelligence has not yet provided any “smoking gun” that ties the missile-firing to Russia.

Intel intercepts seem to indicate that Ukrainian rebels thought they had hit an Antonov military transport plane.

Yet, today, the leading foreign policy voice of the Republican Party, Sen. John McCain, calls Obama’s White House “cowardly” for not arming the Ukrainians to fight the Russian-backed separatists.

But suppose Putin responded to the arrival of U.S. weapons in Kiev by occupying Eastern Ukraine. What would we do then?

John Bolton has the answer: Bring Ukraine into NATO.

Translation: The U.S. and NATO should go to war with Russia, if necessary, over Luhansk, Donetsk and Crimea, though no U.S. president has ever thought Ukraine itself was worth a war with Russia.

What motivates Putin seems simple and understandable. He wants the respect due a world power. He sees himself as protector of the Russians left behind in his “near abroad.” He relishes playing Big Power politics. History is full of such men.

He allows U.S. overflights to Afghanistan, cooperates in the P5+1 on Iran, helped us rid Syria of chemical weapons, launches our astronauts into orbit, collaborates in the war on terror and disagrees on Crimea and Syria.

But what motivates those on our side who seek every opportunity to restart the Cold War?

Is it not a desperate desire to appear once again Churchillian, once again heroic, once again relevant, as they saw themselves in the Cold War that ended so long ago?

Who is the real problem here?

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q99x2's picture

Globalize all oil and gas private and corpororate holdings and make all the citizens of the world beneficiaries.

Buck Johnson's picture

They need a war in order to give a reason for the US and the western economies going to crap.



Dutti's picture

I can't believe I'm in full agreement with Pat Buchanan.

cowdiddly's picture

Ill bet McShitstain is about to have an anyresum. He can't wait to get the chance for someone to blow up a bigger aircraft carrier than he did to remove his name from the record books.

DeadFred's picture

It sounded good until the take-home message. The purpose of this is to look like Churchill???? No, the reason for this is the dollar is dying and they either want cover for its demise or a Hail Mary attempt to save it. I'm undecided about what I think they are trying but it's certainly not to look statesmanlike.

magnetosphere's picture

uhh churchill destroyed the british pound

August's picture

And, FWIW, the British Empire.

Buchanan's Churchill, Hitler and the Unnecessary War is definitely worth the read.

Latina Lover's picture

Of course the Ukraine situation is not a strategic threat to national security..... this  is about the USSA dismembering a perceived challenger (Russia) and stealing her resources.

This is nothing more than good ol' 19th Century imperialism, USSA redux.


Davalicious's picture

Churchill carried on an illegal correspondence with FDR with a view to pushing UK and US to war. When patriots uncovered the plot the PM (Chamberlain) was deposed and thousands of patriots jailed. Churchill had received $$$$$ from the anti nazi league. Remember "Judea declares war on Germany" in 1933?

You can find the story online in "the nameless war" and "from admiral to cabin boy".


We face the same enemy today. 

SF beatnik's picture

Desperate times call for desperate measures.

Cue Bucky Turgidson.

StychoKiller's picture

Right, and next you'll be calling for the Fed to be abolished!  (Keep on Truckin'!)

Duffy's picture

Buchanan - in part, he's mellowed, in part, he's turned critic of politicians that have become worse and a government that's more corrupt and out of control - all of which makes him relatively better, but he always got kind of a bad rap.

I certainly don't agree with him on much, but I have no problem saying I'd rather him as president than either Obama, Hillary, Jeb, or Rand Benedict Arnold Paul.


Basically because of his non-interventionism.  I can live with his social conservatism given he'd not be using executive orders and signing statements to get around laws.


Of course, I'd vote for most people who aren't orthodox dems or repugnicants.

LetThemEatRand's picture

"Globalize all oil and gas private and corpororate holdings and make all the citizens of the world beneficiaries."

But then it wouldn't be worth anything, because some oligarch would make sure we need to rely on some other form of energy.  

barre-de-rire's picture

you will have to.. how you motorizer drones & plaine without oil ? refresh my memory...



  • take soldiers home while you still can afford the flight price
  • stay home nicely.
  • feel free to kick mexican out of boundaries, not EU problem,
  • dont trigger something whe whole world would put stuff back on your head....you dont have the neck to support it
CrashisOptimistic's picture

You do realize the US consumes 24% of global daily oil with 4% of global population?

You ready to chop GDP by a factor of 6?

therevolutionwas's picture

So much of GDP is gov't. I would welcome that part of it.

El Vaquero's picture


You ready to chop GDP by a factor of 6?

Yes.  But in a fast pain vs slow pain sort of way.  We all know what's coming, so let us get it over with.

potato's picture

I suspect those numbers. Off the top of my head, US produces a bit over 10 million barrels, world consumption is about 110 million barrels, of which less than 15 million are from US.

CrashisOptimistic's picture

It must not have occurred to you to just FUCKING LOOK IT UP.

The US burns about 18 million bpd of crude.  The world burns about 75 mbpd of crude.  That's about 24%.

US pop is 320 million.  World pop about 7.2B.  That's about 4%.

Miles Ahead's picture

(nice rant)  Not really.  He's off by a huge factor: 20%.  US consumes 18.5m bpd from a world consumption of 92m.   I interject as that was a bit harsh to tell the guy to 'fucking look it up' in ALL CAPS and then be that much off.  After all, the guy said "off the top of my head" and his name is 'Potato'. 

All that being said, I feel your pain with all these authorities that ZH is attracting these days.  The price of popularity I guess.  Perhaps the Tylers may want to have posters submit educational qualifications in relevant fields of study or industry experience in order to be able to exceed postings greater than 25 characters… just sayin'.

In the end, yeah, he should fucking look it up.  But not all caps man; that's a bit harsh.

Miles Davis Ballads and Blues

socalbeach's picture

World consumption of oil is about 91.4 mbpd.  U.S. consumption is about 18.3 mbpd, or 20% of the total. Or using your numbers 19.5% (100 * 18 / (75+18)).

Urban Redneck's picture

If you want be a smart ass you need to be more precise (or just stick to pure CTRL-C, CTRL-P, from original sources). One could argue that world demand for oil is 91.4mbpd (as the actual IEA analysis cited your ecofreak paper does. However, that does not mean that supply (i.e. world consumption) is being met by "oil".

One could engage in a scientific argument over the definition of "oil", but there is a much simpler approach, Oil is supplied to oil refineries where value added products are manufactured and then supplied to the market for consumption. So from the cover page of the same IEA source data

Global refinery crude runs dipped below year?earlier levels in June, for the first time since October. Planned and unplanned outages, capacity rationalisation and weak margins cut runs by 0.9 mb/d on the year, to 76.8 mb/d. The 2Q14 estimate has been lowered by 0.3 mb/d, to 76.2 mb/d, while the 3Q14 forecast is unchanged, at 77.8 mb/d.

swmnguy's picture

Could we say that the US uses a lot more oil than anybody else, and wildly more adjusted for population?  After all, 89% of statistics are made up on the spot.

oddjob's picture

Exactly, but only 14% of the population know all statistics are fabricated.

socalbeach's picture

One could argue that world demand for oil is 91.5mbpd ?  Your own link says the estimate of 2014 global oil demand is 92.7 mbpd.

On the question of US oil demand, this article says it's 15.6 mbpd.

So without spending any more time on the issue, if you use the numbers (15.6, 76.8) or (18.3, 92.7) you still come up with 20%, not 24%, for the ratio of US to global demand.

(Maybe someone can explain the big difference between the 76.8 mbpd refining figure and the 92.7 mbpd oil demand figure from UR's link.)

Urban Redneck's picture

I simply copied and pasted both sets of numbers. In regards to the other difference you mentioned:

15.9/76.8=.207 (20.7%)

Most of that would be the non-crude oil inputs that are added at the refinery, there also might some wetgas or actual biofuels (ex ethanol) but it would take lots of digging into the reporting methodology for a minimal return, so I'll be lazy and just call it all "processing gain."

JohninMK's picture

Brilliant analysis. I hope every world leader reads it.

CH1's picture

I hope every world leader reads it.

If they understood it, they wouldn't give a shit.

They don't care about you, at all. It's all for show.

therevolutionwas's picture

Nice thought.  But we know how that would end up.  Some would benefit much more than others.  I'd say free up mankind, period.  Make the state irrelevant.  It would eventually unleash a whirlwind of innovation and progress...well, that's my dream anyway.

TheReplacement's picture

Sadly, his bad idea is doable.  Your good idea is not.

TheReplacement's picture

Even Stu who has a well in his backyard that he paid for?  That doesn't seem fair.

Urban Redneck's picture

Redistribution of energy resources would teach those suffering from cranial-rectal impaction, who apparently have the wealth to post on the internet, a good lesson about the true aims of the global redistribution flow and how their role is that of a grantor (donor), not a beneficiary.

Duffy's picture

bound to get junked here Q, but all in all, that would solve a lot of problems and obviate a lot of fuckery and avoid a lot of death.


Oh, but...property rights and profits always, always come first for ideologues....



logicalman's picture


therevolutionwas's picture

Just drawin folks out.   Anarchocapitalism is the way to go.

Anusocracy's picture

Anarchy is never the solution for control freaks.

If that happened, they would have nothing to live for, no way to feel superior.

NemoDeNovo's picture

Sadly most fail to accept that we [in an odd sort of way] do live in Anarchy everyday.  I mean there is not a po-lice with you every min of th day, correct?  When you are in line at the grocery store or movie theatre you are for all intents and purposes in a state of Anarchy, but there is no shoving, pushing or choas is there?  I think we would be reasonably fine under Anarchy despite the howls of closet statist.

7.62x54r's picture

Tell ya what ...

Lets chop the US government down to 10% of its current size, 1950 levels of spending.

Then we can debate about the remaining 10%.

Duffy's picture

no it isn't.  it's a fucking adolescent theory about how thing 'ought' to be with no regard for pragmatics, let alone basic humanism (meaning - do we regard clean drinking water as something like a right, or do we say property rights trump this survival right).

Not going to debate this with you because I've seen that move before - there's alway a theoretical answer.

Not all libertarians support anarchocapitalism for reasons of libertarianism.  In fact, you assholes are a large part of why 80% of the country won't even begin to take libertarian ideas seriously, imho.

Also - borders aren't just for government control, but for protecting and defending culture and values and ethos... anarchos tend to reduce man to a one-dimensional economic being while *claiming* it's about full liberty.  Well, people should be free to say, we don't want to turn into a Latin American, or Arab country - we want a homeland as an extended clann or tribe.  Your desire to live anywhere isn't a "right" that somehow is more primordial than the "right" of others to define themselves socially and culturally.


Of course, more 'ideally' one might say, one sohuld be only a human being.  But if someone wants to be French or Dutch first - that's none of your fucking business.

All this said, I'd rather your approach than the duopoly's.

TheReplacement's picture

Suppose the UN passed a global law that forbid government.  Who exactly is going to enforce that dictat, the government?

Kirk2NCC1701's picture

"GOVERNMENT IS THE REAL PROBLEM".  Yes, in its present form and size.  The current paradigm is at its limits.

The big intellectual and simulation debates are Hierarchy vs. Network structures.  Nature can teach us a lot, for those who are willing to learn.

Which means that statist and extremist ideologues, whose status and lifestyle was acquired and is secured by the current systems, will not change for anything or anyone.  That's just human nature.  Plan accordingly.

TheReplacement's picture

Oooh nature does teach us a lot whether we are willing or not.

are we there yet's picture

Our Oligarchs, Russia’s oligarchs, and Europe’s oligarchs should get together and tell us what they want us to think.

mvsjcl's picture

Isn't that what the Bilderberg meetings are for?