Impeachment could backfire disastrously on those promoting it, especially if it prompts a reexamination of US relations with both Ukraine and Russia. From David Stockman at antiwar.com:
This is part 3 of the two-part article run Friday
It’s beginning to seem like an assault by the Zulu army of American politics – they just never stop coming.
We are referring to the Russophobic neocon Deep Staters who have trooped before Adam’s Schiff Show to pillory POTUS for daring to look into the Ukrainian stench that engulfs the Imperial City – a rank odor that is owing to their own arrogant meddling in the the internal affairs of that woebegone country.
This time it was Dr. Fiona Hill who sanctimoniously advised the House committee that there is nothing to see on the Ukraine front that involved any legitimate matter of state; it was just the Donald and his tinfoil hat chums jeopardizing the serious business of protecting the national security by injecting electioneering into relations with Ukraine.
She warned Republicans that legitimizing an unsubstantiated theory that Kyiv undertook a concerted campaign to interfere in the election – a claim the president pushed repeatedly for Ukraine to investigate – played into Russia’s hands.
“In the course of this investigation,” Dr. Hill testified before the House Intelligence Committee’s impeachment hearings, “I would ask that you please not promote politically driven falsehoods that so clearly advance Russian interests.”
Folks, we are getting just plain sick and tired of this drumbeat of lies, misdirection and smug condescension by Washington payrollers like Fiona Hill. No Ukrainian interference in the 2016 US election?
Exactly what hay wagon does she think we fell off from?
Or better still, ask Paul Manafort who will spend his golden years in the Big House owing to an August 2016 leak to the New York Times about an alleged “black book” which recorded payments he had received from his work as an advisor to the Ukrainian political party of former president Yanakovych. As we have seen, the latter had been removed from office by a Washington instigated coup in February 2014.
By its own admission, this story came from the Ukrainian government and the purpose was clear as a bell: Namely, to undermine the Trump presidential campaign and force Manafort out of his months-old role as campaign chairman – a role that had finally brought some professional management to the Donald’s helter-skelter campaign for the nation’s highest office.
In the event, this well-timed bombshell worked, and in short order Manafort resigned, leaving the disheveled Trump campaign in the lurch:
…… government investigators examining secret records have found Manafort’s name, as well as companies he sought business with, as they try to untangle a corrupt network they say was used to loot Ukrainian assets and influence elections during the administration of Mr. Manafort’s main client, former President Viktor F. Yanukovych.
Handwritten ledgers show $12.7 million in undisclosed cash payments designated for Mr. Manafort from Mr. Yanukovych’s pro-Russian political party from 2007 to 2012, according to Ukraine’s newly formed National Anti-Corruption Bureau. Investigators assert that the disbursements were part of an illegal off-the-books system whose recipients also included election officials.
In addition, criminal prosecutors are investigating a group of offshore shell companies….. Among the hundreds of murky transactions these companies engaged in was an $18 million deal to sell Ukrainian cable television assets to a partnership put together by Mr. Manafort and a Russian oligarch, Oleg Deripaska, a close ally of President Vladimir V. Putin.
Mr. Manafort’s involvement with moneyed interests in Russia and Ukraine had previously come to light. But as American relationships there become a rising issue in the presidential campaign – from Mr. Trump’s favorable statements about Mr. Putin and his annexation of Crimea to the suspected Russian hacking of Democrats’ emails – an examination of Mr. Manafort’s activities offers new details of how he mixed politics and business out of public view and benefited from powerful interests now under scrutiny by the new government in Kiev.
The bolded lines in the NYT story above tell you exactly where this was coming from. The National Anti-Corruption Bureau had been set up by an outfit called “AntAC”, which was jointly funded by George Soros and the Obama State Department. And there can be little doubt that the Donald’s accurate view at the time – that Crimea’s reunification with Mother Russia after a 60 year hiatus which had been ordered by the former Soviet Union’s Presidium – was unwelcome in Kiev and among the Washington puppeteers who had put it in power.
For want of doubt that the Poroshenko government was in the tank for Hillary Clinton, the liberal rag called Politico spilled the beans a few months later. In a January 11, 2017 story it revealed that the Ukrainian government had pulled out all the stops attempting to help Clinton, whose protégés at the State Department had been the masterminds of the coup which put them in office. Thus, Politico concluded,
Donald Trump wasn’t the only presidential candidate whose campaign was boosted by officials of a former Soviet bloc country.
Ukrainian government officials tried to help Hillary Clinton and undermine Trump by publicly questioning his fitness for office. They also disseminated documents implicating a top Trump aide in corruption and suggested they were investigating the matter, only to back away after the election. And they helped Clinton’s allies research damaging information on Trump and his advisers, a Politico investigation found.
…President Petro Poroshenko’s administration, along with the Ukrainian Embassy in Washington, insists that Ukraine stayed neutral in the race…..
But Politico’s investigation found evidence of Ukrainian government involvement in the race that appears to strain diplomatic protocol dictating that governments refrain from engaging in one another’s elections.
While it’s not uncommon for outside operatives to serve as intermediaries between governments and reporters, one of the more damaging Russia-related stories for the Trump campaign – and certainly for Manafort – can be traced more directly to the Ukrainian government.
Documents released by an independent Ukrainian government agency – and publicized by a parliamentarian – appeared to show $12.7 million in cash payments that were earmarked for Manafort by the Russia-aligned party of the deposed former president, Yanukovych.
The New York Times, in the August story revealing the ledgers’ existence, reported that the payments earmarked for Manafort were “a focus” of an investigation by Ukrainian anti-corruption officials, while CNN reported days later that the FBI was pursuing an overlapping inquiry.
Yet Fiona Hill sat before a House committee and under oath insisted that all of the above was a Trumpian conspiracy theory, thereby reminding us that the neocon Russophobes are so unhinged that they are prepared to lie at the drop of a hat to keep their false narrative about the Russian Threat and Putin’s “invasion” of Ukraine alive.
Needless to say, Fiona Hill is among the worst of the neocon warmongers, and has made a specialty of demonizing Russia and propagating over and over flat out lies about what happened in Kiev during 2014 and after. Thus, in one recent attack she claimed,
Russia today poses a greater foreign policy and security challenge to the United States and its Western allies than at any time since the height of the Cold War. Its annexation of Crimea, war in Ukraine’s Donbas region, and military intervention in Syria have upended Western calculations from Eastern Europe to the Middle East. Russia’s intervention in Syria, in particular, is a stark reminder that Russia is a multi-regional power…..
There is not a single true assertion in that quotation, of course, but we cite it for a very particular reason. Shifty Schiff & his impeachment tribunal have brought in Hill – and Lt. Colonel Vindman, Ambassador Taylor, George Kent and Tim Morrison previously – in order to created an echo chamber.
That’s right. The Dems are parroting the neocon lies – whether they believe them or not – in order to propagate the impression that the Donald is undermining national security in his effort to take a different posture on Russia and Ukraine, and is actually bordering on treason.
Thus, Adam Schiff repeated the false neocon narrative virtually word for word at the opening of the public hearings:
“In 2014, Russia invaded a United States ally, Ukraine, to reverse that nation’s embrace of the West, and to fulfill Vladimir Putin’s desire to rebuild a Russian empire.”
That’s pure rubbish. It’s based on the Big Lie that the overwhelming vote of the Russian population of Crimea in March 2014 was done at the gun point of the Russian Army. And that event, in turn, is the lynch-pin of the hoary canard that Putin is seeking to rebuild the Soviet Empire.
So it is necessary to review the truth once again about how Russian Crimea had been temporarily appended to the Ukrainian SSR during Soviet times.
The allegedly “occupied” territory of Crimea, in fact, was actually purchased from the Ottomans by Catherine the Great in 1783, thereby satisfying the longstanding quest of the Russian Czars for a warm-water port. Over the ages Sevastopol then emerged as a great naval base at the strategic tip of the Crimean peninsula, where it became home to the mighty Black Sea Fleet of the Czars and then the Soviet Union, too.
For the next 171 years Crimea was an integral part of Russia (until 1954). That span exceeds the 170 years that have elapsed since California was annexed by a similar thrust of “Manifest Destiny” on this continent, thereby providing, incidentally, the United States Navy with its own warm-water port in San Diego.
While no foreign forces subsequently invaded the California coasts, it was most definitely not Ukrainian and Polish rifles, artillery and blood which famously annihilated The Charge Of The Light Brigade at the Crimean city of Balaclava in 1854; they were Russians defending the homeland from Turks, French and Brits.
And the portrait of the Russian “hero” hanging in Putin’s office is that of Czar Nicholas I – whose brutal 30-year reign brought the Russian Empire to its historical zenith. Yet despite his cruelty, Nicholas I is revered in Russian hagiography as the defender of Crimea, even as he lost the 1850s war to the Ottomans and Europeans.
At the end of the day, security of its historic port in Crimea is Russia’s Red Line, not Washington’s. Unlike today’s feather-headed Washington pols, even the enfeebled Franklin Roosevelt at least knew that he was in Soviet Russia when he made port in the Crimean city of Yalta in February 1945.
Maneuvering to cement his control of the Kremlin in the intrigue-ridden struggle for succession after Stalin’s death a few years later, Nikita Khrushchev allegedly spent 15 minutes reviewing his “gift” of Crimea to his subalterns in Kiev.
As it happened, therefore, Crimea became part of the Ukraine only by writ of one of the most vicious and reprehensible states in human history – the former Soviet Union:
On April 26, 1954. The decree of the Presidium of the USSR Supreme Soviettransferring the Crimea Oblast from the Russian SFSR to the Ukrainian SSR…..Taking into account the integral character of the economy, the territorial proximity and the close economic and cultural ties between the Crimea Province and the Ukrainian SSR….
That’s right. Washington’s hypocritical and tendentious accusations against Russia’s re-absorption of Crimea imply that the dead-hand of the Soviet presidium must be defended at all costs – as if the security of North Dakota depended upon it!
In fact, the brouhaha about “returning” Crimea is a naked case of the hegemonic arrogance that has overtaken Imperial Washington since the 1991 Soviet demise.
After all, during the long decades of the Cold War, the West did nothing to liberate the “captive nation” of Ukraine – with or without the Crimean appendage bestowed upon it in 1954. Nor did it draw any red lines in the mid-1990’s when a financially desperate Ukraine rented back Sevastopol and the strategic redoubts of the Crimea to an equally pauperized Russia.
In short, in the era before we got our Pacific port in 1848, and even during the 170-year interval since then, America’s national security has depended not one whit on the status of Russian-speaking Crimea. That the local population has now chosen fealty to the Grand Thief in Moscow over the ruffians and rabble who have seized Kiev amounts to a giant: So what!
The truth is, when it comes to Ukraine there really isn’t that much there, there. Its boundaries have been morphing for centuries among the quarreling tribes, peoples, potentates, Patriarchs and pretenders of a small region that is none of Washington’s damn business..
Still, it was this final aggressive drive of Washington and NATO into the internal affairs of Russia’s historic neighbor and vassal, Ukraine, that largely accounts for the demonization of Putin. Likewise, it is virtually the entire source of the false claim that Russia has aggressive, expansionist designs on the former Warsaw Pact states in the Baltics, Poland and beyond.
The latter is a nonsensical fabrication. In fact, it was the neocon meddlers from Washington who crushed Ukraine’s last semblance of civil governance when they enabled ultra-nationalists and crypto-Nazis to gain government positions after the February 2014 putsch.
As we indicated above, in one fell swoop that inexcusable stupidity reopened Ukraine’s blood-soaked modern history. The latter incepted with Stalin’s re-population of the eastern Donbas region with “reliable” Russian workers after his genocidal liquidation of the kulaks in the early 1930s.
It was subsequently exacerbated by the large-scale collaboration by Ukrainian nationalists in the west with the Nazi Wehrmacht as it laid waste to Poles, Jews, gypsies and other “undesirables” on its way to Stalingrad in 1942-43. Thereafter followed an equal and opposite spree of barbaric revenge as the victorious Red Army marched back through Ukraine on its way to Berlin.
So it may be fairly asked. What beltway lame brains did not chance to understand that Washington’s triggering of “regime change” in Kiev would reopen this entire bloody history of sectarian and political strife?
Moreover, once they had opened Pandora’s box, why was it so hard to see that an outright partition of Ukraine with autonomy for the Donbas and Crimea, or even accession to the Russian state from which these communities had originated, would have been a perfectly reasonable resolution?
Certainly that would have been far preferable to dragging all of Europe into the lunacy of the current anti-Putin sanctions and embroiling the Ukrainian factions in a suicidal civil war. The alleged Russian threat to Europe, therefore, was manufactured in Imperial Washington, not the Kremlin.
In fact, in 1989 and 1990, the George H. W. Bush administration assured Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev that if he accepted German unification, the West would not seek to exploit the situation through any eastward expansion – not even by “one inch,” as then-secretary of state James Baker assured Gorbachev. But Bill Clinton reneged on that commitment, moving to expand NATO on an eastward path that eventually led right up to the Russian border.
So Robert Merry said it well in his excellent piece on the entire neocon Ukraine Scam that is being paraded before the Schiff Show.
That is, what is being desperately defended on Capitol Hill is not the rule of law, national security or fidelity to the Constitution of the United States., but a giant Neocon Lie that is needed to keep the Empire in business, and the world moving ever closer to an utterly unnecessary Cold War 2.0 between nation’s each pointing enough nuclear warheads at the other to destroy the planet.
NATO, with just 16 members in 1990, now includes 29 European states, with all of the expansion countries lying east of Germany. As this was unfolding, Russian leaders issued stern warnings about the consequences if America and the West sought to include in NATO either Ukraine or Georgia. Both are considered as fundamental to Russian security.
True, many in western Ukraine have pushed for greater ties to the West and wanted their elected president, Viktor Yanukovych, to respond favorably to Western financial blandishments. But Yanukovych, tilting toward Russia, eschewed NATO membership for Ukraine, renewed a long-term lease for the Russian Black Sea Fleet in Sevastopol, and gave official status to the Russian language. These actions eased tensions between Ukraine and Russia, but they inflamed Ukraine’s internal politics. And when Yanukovych abandoned negotiations aimed at an association and free-trade agreement with the European Union in favor of greater economic ties to Russia, pro-Western Ukrainians, including far-right provocateurs, staged street protests that ultimately brought down Yanukovych’s government. Victoria Nuland gleefully egged on the protesters. The deposed president fled to Russia.
Nuland then set about determining who would be Ukraine’s next prime minister, namely Arseniy Yatsenyuk. “Yats is our guy,” she declared to U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt. When Pyatt warned that many EU countries were uncomfortable with a Ukrainian coup, she shot back, “Fuck the EU.” She then got her man Yats into the prime minister position, demonstrating the influence that enables US meddling in foreign countries.
That’s when Putin rushed back to Moscow from the Winter Olympic Games at Sochi to protect the more Russian-oriented areas of Ukraine (the so-called Donbass in the country’s east and Crimea in the south) from being swallowed up in this new drama. He orchestrated a plebiscite in Crimea, which revealed strong sentiment for reunification with Russia (hardly the “sham referendum” described by Taylor) and sent significant military support to Donbass Ukrainians who didn’t want to be pulled westward.
The West and America have always been, and must remain, wary of Russia. Its position in the center of Eurasia – the global “heartland,” in the view of the famous British geographic scholar Halford Mackinder – renders it always a potential threat. Its vulnerability to invasion stirs in Russian leaders an inevitable hunger for protective lands. Its national temperament seems to include a natural tendency towards authoritarianism. Any sound American foreign policy must keep these things in mind.
But in the increasingly tense relationship between the Atlantic Alliance and Russia, the Alliance has been the more aggressive player – aggressive when it pushed for NATO’s eastward expansion despite promises to the contrary from the highest levels of the US government; aggressive when it turned that policy into an even more provocative plan for the encirclement of Russia; aggressive when it dangled the prospect of NATO membership for Ukraine and Georgia; aggressive when it sought to lure Ukraine out of the Russian orbit with economic incentives; aggressive when it helped foster the street coup against a duly elected Ukrainian government; and aggressive in its continued refusal to appreciate or acknowledge Russia’s legitimate geopolitical interests in its own neighborhood.
George Kent and William B. Taylor Jr., in their testimony last week, personified this aggressive outlook, designed to squeeze Russia into a geopolitical corner and trample upon its regional interests in the name of Western universalism. If that outlook continues and leads to ever greater tensions with Russia, it can’t end well.
David Stockman was a two-term Congressman from Michigan. He was also the Director of the Office of Management and Budget under President Ronald Reagan. After leaving the White House, Stockman had a 20-year career on Wall Street. He’s the author of three books, The Triumph of Politics: Why the Reagan Revolution Failed, The Great Deformation: The Corruption of Capitalism in America and TRUMPED! A Nation on the Brink of Ruin… And How to Bring It Back. He also is founder of David Stockman’s Contra Corner and David Stockman’s Bubble Finance Trader.