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paranoid theory of the week :: is the west helping neo-nazis take over the ukraine?

maybe the azov battalion soldiers are just big death in june fans
back in ye olden days of my youth, we had something called the cold war. it was a battle between the beatific united states and the evil empire of the soviet union for the souls of everyone in the goddamned world and it was fought on every front, on every continent. [although both sides were careful to keep actual violent conflicts at a safe distance from their doorstep.] then, in the late eighties and early nineties, the soviet union collapsed under its own weight [no, it wasn't reagan, so deal with it] and all their former allies and imperialist holdings drifted away to form their own nations and everything was wonderful and there was no political strife ever again. the end.

just kidding. like star wars, things really got kicked off with "a new beginning", which was what happened after soviet-style communism had been wiped from the map. in the wake of authoritarian collapse, tensions that had been held in check by brute force, notably in the former states of yugoslavia, quite literally started exploding. the united states and nato elbowed their way in and tried to pick up as many of the spoils as possible to serve as their allies and as new stations for their military, while russia was busy solving her own host of problems. in recent years, however, russia has taken on greater and greater prominence in world affairs, largely because they have been critical of perceived u.s. expansionism. they've served as a rallying point for those who wish to resist the american influence and now, all of a sudden, it feels like the cold war never went away.

one of the most bitterly fought battles has been over the future of the ukraine. we already touched on this in a world wide wednesdays post that looked at the issues in the current ukrainian conflict. but this week, i came across an article that alleged there was an angle that i might have missed in my analysis: something that really does sound like it came straight from the cold war playbook...

the theory ::

western [nato] powers are providing weapons and training to a fascist group in the ukraine in order to instal a fascist dictatorship

svoboda leader oleh tyahnybok, looking not at all fascist
the story ::

during the cold war, the u.s. and the soviet union fought largely through proxy states, where they exerted undue control over the local government, who would then receive extensive military aid to maintain order and quell dissent. the argument now is that the u.s. is hellbent on installing a pro-western government in kiev, even if it means getting in bed with another in a long line of repressive dictatorships. as a result, the u.s. has trained and armed a fascist group within the ukrainian military and backed their affiliated politicians, whose views should be anathema to a country that purports to believe in freedom. the end game is to have a puppet regime in place that is answerable to the united states and, more dangerously, to the central intelligence agency.

the originator ::

would you believe the mainstream media? stories about the troubling views of some of the pro-nationalist rebels in the ukraine have been vetted by aired in many of the most respected news sources in the world. where there is room for the debate is in the interpretation of the aforementioned end game: is the united states trying to establish a client state with a neo-fascist government? are they legitimately naive about the beliefs of their allies? do they think that the ukrainian far right are too marginal to occupy any position of real power?

the believers ::

depends on how far you take the theory. those who allege that there is a full-on conspiracy afoot include sources that tend to embrace conspiracies in general, such as 21st century wire, who have collected a large number of articles in their ukraine archive. also, pro-russian sites, or russia-positive sites like russia insider have evinced a suspicion about western motives. much of the russian administration, including president vladimir putin, seem to be on board, which is hardly surprising.

however, many more moderate people and news organisations agree that at least some of the story is true.

john mccain and tyahnybok, on good terms
the bad guys ::

the united states government and the central intelligence agency

the evidence ::

there is plentiful evidence in plain sight that the united states has made some dubious choices about who to support in the battle for the eastern ukraine. the associated press [reprinted by the washington post] nonchalantly reported that the united states would help train the ukrainian national guard, including the ultra-right azov battalion. britain's the guardian had a piece that showed that this group were planning for a fascist dictatorship in the wake of an imminent government collapse. salon magazine detailed some uncomfortably friendly relations between high-profile american political figures and the racist/ nationalist svoboda party. and amnesty international has called on the ukrainian government to crack down on the ukrainian radical democratic party and its leader, who are accused of kidnapping and torturing political opponents. [nothing has come of that, and considering that the ukrainian government has been known to honour nazi collaborators as war heroes, it doesn't seem likely that anything will.]

where the theory breaks down is in connecting the united states, or any western power, with a plot to instal a government made up of the fascist parties and their military allies. given all that has been documented, we're asked to take a leap of faith that this is evidence of a greater plan. and hey, that's not the craziest thing you're going to hear this weekend. because history tells us that the united states has done this nearly countless times before. [i highly recommend william blum's insightful, infuriating and superbly well-researched book killing hope, which is the bible of american intervention.] if you knew that your spouse had cheated in all their previous relationships and you saw that he or she was suddenly spending lots of time away from home with unconvincing explanations of where they were, would you find it difficult to believe that he or she was being unfaithful to you?

a friendly chat with the ukrainian radical democratic party
but that's not proof.

what's worth considering if you're leaning towards the takeover plot end of things is that the ultra-right in the ukraine would make terrible allies for the united states, because they're opposed to pan-europeanism [much like other right-wing parties], which the neo-liberal u.s. supports. they're also deeply anti-semitic, which would be a major issue between america and her staunchest ally, israel. the views of the most controversial ukrainian players are well-known and it would be nigh on impossible for the u.s. to back them up as a government.

the likelihood :: 7/10

the majority of the claims put forward are demonstrably true- practically undisputed, although those who support arming and training ukrainian nationalists tend to downplay the influence of the right wing. and it's not a great stretch, based on past behaviour patterns, to think that america would seek to influence future elections, even if it stops short of backing a fascist takeover.    

more likely is the idea that the united states is offering money, arms and assistance in the hopes that it simply stymies the russians, with the understanding that things will just sort themselves out in the long run. it's the same sort of plan they followed when they worked alongside anti-soviet rebels in afghanistan. because that worked out so well for everybody.

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