Matt Connolly's Views on Boston, the Nation and the World

Emphasizing Criminal Justice and Politics

Originally dedicated to the vagaries of matters involving Whitey Bulger and the FBI but now expanded into more general topics.

Matt Connolly's Views on Boston, the Nation and the World - Emphasizing Criminal Justice and Politics

History’s Redux: The Impotent Western Response to Pure Evil

Ukraine with the bearThe United States expressed its outrage at the actions of Ukrainian President  Victor F. Yanukovich’s dastardly double-dealings when he unleashed lethal methods against his own people including using snipers to gun down peaceful protesters. Secretary of State John Kerry said he felt “anger and anguish” at the violence in Ukraine. Mr. Kerry noted: “the United States has already begun implementing sanctions through travel bans on Ukrainians responsible for the violence.”  

Yesterday it is estimated that over 100 demonstrators were murdered by Mr. Yanukovich’s forces. The total number who have been murdered to date must be over 200. These are mostly young Ukrainians who seek only one thing, a future. That future they believe lies in the West and not as Mr. Yanukovic imagines back as part of the Russian gulag-like system of nations.

Anne Applebaum wrote about the desires of the Ukrainian people in the Washington Post. She noted that what is occurring: “is a deep, fundamental disagreement about the nature of the state, the country’s international allegiances, its legal system, its economy, its future.” 

Basically, a people who have lived under the Russian/Soviet yoke are fighting to keep themselves from again being swallowed up by the Russians. They now fight because as Eric Hoffer noted in his classic book “The True Believer” they have seen there is a better life to be had outside Russia’s strangling embrace.

While the United States and the European nations knit together ideas for travel bans and other sanctions on Ukrainian leaders Kyiv burns and those on the front lines hoping to keep their nation free die at the hands of their own government.

Understand one thing, Yanukovich forfeited any right to govern Ukraine when he authorized the murder of his own people. He is no different than the other butcher Bashar al-Assad of Syria. Yanukovich became a criminal when he authorized those murders. Democracy is murdered when an elected leader murders his people to hold his office. Now, for Yanukovich, like Assad,  his one hope is to ensconce himself into Vladimir Putin’s covetous arms.

And that brings me to the folly of the Western response. We are directing our ire at the wrong people. It is the Russians who are behind the actions being taken in Kyiv. Today we see that when the European ministers went to Kyiv looking for a way to stop the violence, Yanukovich asked the Russians to also have someone there to support him.

There is little doubt that any real concessions by Yanukovich are impossible because  as noted in the prior article “if signed and implemented, the deal would be a setback for Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has made tying Ukraine into a Moscow-led Eurasian Union a cornerstone of his efforts to reunite as much as possible of the former Soviet Union.”

One has to go back to 1947 to really get a grasp of the Putin regime. George Orwell wrote a short preface to the Ukrainian translation of a book called “Kolghosp Tvaryn” which we know as “Animal Farm.”  In it he says two things that are right on point with today’s happenings. First he said his experience with the Communist movement which he sets out in the preface “taught me how easily totalitarian propaganda can control the opinion of enlightened people in democratic countries.” We see that now happening with the Ukrainian demonstrators being likened to Nazis, or terrorists and being blamed for the violence, although the numbers of demonstrators murdered should give lie to the Russian lies.

Orwell also noted: “Up to 1939, and even later, the majority of English people were incapable of assessing the true nature of the Nazi régime in Germany, and now, with the Soviet régime, they are still to a large extent under the same sort of illusion.”  We should add to that the Putin regime.

Has anyone thought of Jesse Owens over the last week or so. I ask that because as best I can tell, there have been only two Olympics that have been identified by the ruler of the nation where the Olympics occurred. Owens participated in the first, Hitler’s Olympics, and we now have a second, Putin’s Olympics. That alone tells us about the nature of the man now running Russia and directing the slaughter in Ukraine?

When Hitler gobbled up parts of Europe the leaders of the Western nations wrung their hands in dismay unwilling to take firm steps early on that may have thwarted his desire for war and never shown us the horrors of the Holocaust. Here again we see Western weakness in the face of aggression as Russia attempts to seize Ukraine. George Santayana reminded us: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

Punishing the Ukrainian leaders by sanctions is like punishing the soldier for carrying out the orders of his superior and letting the superior off. The only sanctions that will be effective are those directed at the people truly responsible for the murders: Putin and his cronies. It is time to stop closing our eyes to those behind these horrors.

Assad murders Syrians with Putin’s help. Will the Ukrainian people suffer the same fate and become another Syria with Putin pulling the strings. Until our leaders fail to deal with the true cause of the Ukrainian troubles the best we can look forward to is a Kremlin inspired massacre.

Mr Obama should know the U.S. must take the lead with actions and not words. The Ukrainians desiring freedom turn their eyes westward to him. Will he call Putin out? Unless he does he will forever be stained with this pusillanimity.

 

 

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  • norwood born says:

    I have not read your blog for a while and commented on anything even longer. I was reading a recent post which I think had a record 78 comments. You do not owe some whacko who may or may not be an fbi agent so much of your time. Massachusetts has been having a brutal winter I hope you take some time and go down to red sox spring training. the fbi and state police will be there when you get back. all of these people posting do not seem to realize who else but you ever took the time to ever do a blog like this?. I found I do not want to read every day because you get sucked into it. anyways you can proud of your lifetimes work and this blog and best regards to you,

    February 22, 2014 at 7:19 pm
    • mtc9393 says:

      Norwood:

      Good to hear from you. You’ll be happy to know that I’ve been out of Massachusetts for a couple of months sunning myself in Florida. Probably will go over to Fort Meyers to see what’s going on. Don’t blame you for not reading all the time, I find I’m of the same disposition but would like to be more diligent. Appreciate the nice words and you’ll always be one of my favorite commenters since you were one of the first. Enjoy your weather.

      February 23, 2014 at 9:52 pm
  • william says:

    Matt, the protesters have won and effectuated a relatively bloodless coup d’état, with 77 deaths. New elections in May 2014 will determine Ukraine’s future. Let’s hope it’s peaceful and not reactionary, like what happened in France in 1789, when a reign of Terror followed the people’s coup.

    2. From Today’s web pages: “Yanukovich said he would not resign or leave the country, and called decisions by parliament “illegal”.
    “The events witnessed by our country and the whole world are an example of a coup d’état,” he said, comparing it to the rise of the Nazis to power in Germany in the 1930s. He said he had come under fire. “My car was shot at. I am not afraid. I feel sorrow for my country,” he told UBR television.
    Despite his defiance, the dismantling of his authority seemed all but complete with his cabinet promising a transition to a new government, the police declaring themselves behind the protesters and his jailed arch adversary expected to go free.
    Among a series of acts aimed at removing his government, parliament voted to free jailed former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko. Her daughter said Tymoshenko was already free under Ukrainian law but still in the hospital where she has been held for treatment.”

    2. More from Today’s news: Western diplomats from the United States and NATO are “rushing” to the Ukraine to “assist” in implementing the new agreement: It seems the Opposition always has been in close contact with Western supporters.

    3. Many news outlets, too numerous to cite, have given Putin the credit for bringing about the agreement between the Government and the Opposition. Putin and O’Bama apparently have been in phone contact, agreeing to mutually assist and ensure the Agreement and Early Elections are effectuated.

    4. I hope we don’t see a repeat of Egypt, where the majority elects one guy then the disgruntled minority effects a coup. In fact, isn’t that what has just happened in the Ukraine?

    5. When Bush broke his promise “Read my lips; no new taxes” and Clinton broke his promise, “No middle class tax increases”, the American people didn’t riot, but waited for the next election to throw them out. Let’s hope regularized elections return to rule Ukraine. Let’s hope we’ve seen the last of mob rule, rule by riot, and the last of promise-breaking politicians.

    Conclusion: Pro-western Ukrainians throughout the World are celebrating a great coup and great victory. Time will tell whether Ukraine will be as successful as Poland on the road to democracy. 2. The U.S. should continue to strive to make allies of both Ukraine and Russia.

    February 22, 2014 at 2:09 pm
    • mtc9393 says:

      William:

      1. No looting, people keeping the peace, yes, a peaceful throwing out of office a corrupt person trying to put the Ukrainians under the Russian yoke. It’s not over yet. Your friend Putin is insisting on a role in Ukraine’s future. He can’t grasp it that the revolt was because he was going to have such a role. Hopefully he won’t invade although some say he already has forces in the area (see one of Elmer’s comments) and the way the US is talking it looks like he’s thinking of doing it.
      2. I don’t understand you quoting Yanukovych. He’s a corrupt liar. Haven’t you seen how he’s been living? He’s probably in Moscow now planning his return with Putin. A dreadful man who murdered his own people.
      3. The people of Ukraine have said clearly they want the freedoms of the West. They revolted so that they would not go back under Russian domination.
      4. You keep looking for analogies for what happened in Ukraine. What happend there was unique. It has no similarities to Egypt. The protests came about when the people realized they were going to be treated like the Russian people under Putin. They want freedom This is their second revolution in ten years or so. The corrupt officials under Yanukovych hoped to take it from them.
      5. How can you compare a tax increase with the loss of freedom? There was no mob rule or rule by riot. For three months the young and old, timid and brave, the heavy weight champion and Olympians, stood in the cold asking that they not become Russian vassals. This was a unique example of bravery by citizens who were constantly harrassed and who stood their ground month after month peacefully. How can you call it mob rule or rule by riot. The only ones calling it that are the Russians who as we know have a wonderful free press.

      Ukraine will be successful as long as the Russians under Putin let it become a country willing to go its own way.

      February 23, 2014 at 10:05 pm
  • elmer says:

    http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2014/02/20/ukraine-protests-truce-eu-leaders/5634235/

    President Viktor Yanukovych said police were not armed and “all measures to stop bloodshed and confrontation are being taken.” But an Associated Press cameraman said government snipers could be seen firing at crowds of protesters.

    February 21, 2014 at 1:52 pm
    • mtc9393 says:

      Elmer:

      I appreciate your posts today with the information on the sites people can visit to verify what is happening. Thanks.

      February 21, 2014 at 6:28 pm
  • william says:

    Matt, my opposing points of view: Have you considered that snipers may be justified to defend the police who are confronting violent protesters who are shooting at or otherwise attacking police with lethal weapons? This week 11 police have been killed by protestors’ gunfire and 28 wounded by protesters’ gunfire; many others have been injured by the “peaceful protesters” use of petrol bombs, Molotov cocktails, catapults, stones, bricks, pipes, clubs, etc. The “peaceful protesters” have caused millions of dollars in property damage. 2. When is force justified? This isn’t a case of Ireland’s Bloody Sunday, soldiers shooting unarmed civilians. The Ukrainian protesters have armed themselves with pistols, rifles and shotguns, and are firing at police. 3. For how long did US authorities allow protesters to occupy and hold public places? There are reasonable time limits for protests—reasonable time, place and manner restrictions on free speech. When protesters turn violent or destructive they are no longer engaging in peaceful expression. Please see pictures. http://www.businessinsider.com/ukraine-protest-pictures-2014-2 Conclusions: 1. Yanukovich is not Assad; Putin is not Hitler; those are strained comparisons. Putin helped us in Syria, Iran and with the Boston terrorists; Russia and Ukraine both should be treated and respected as modern Western countries. The gulags are gone. End the cold-war jingoism. End the anti-Russian rhetoric. Treat Russian and Urkaine as allies. 2. The US-Nato allies are also “interfering in” Ukrainian politics and attempting to persuade Ukrainian politicians to adopt more pro-western positions. Of course, Russia wants Ukraine to be more pro-Russian. 3. Hopefully there is a quick peaceful solution to the Ukrainian crises and peacemakers may prevail. I’ve read again today of another concession from Yanukavich, conceding some powers and bringing members of the opposition into the government. Give peace a chance! The last thing we need is planes, tanks and war hawks. Don’t listen to the neo-cons nor to the neo-liberal imperialists.

    February 21, 2014 at 1:17 pm
    • mtc9393 says:

      William:
      I guess the best answer to your comment is to refer you to the articles today that suggest Ukraine’s parliament, most of the demonstrators, the Western envoys, and even Yanukovic have signed an agreement to stop the bloodshed. There is one party that refuses to do so and is expected to work assiduously in undermining any peace deal: that is Russia, yes, the Russia of Vladimir Putin.
      Your comment fails to take into account the reasons for the demonstrations which I pointed out were to prevent Ukraine from being delivered into bondage to Russia. The demonstrators aren’t the types who protest things in America, get arrested with plastic hand cuffs, and immediately released upon arrival at the police station; nor are the vacuous Occupation Wall Street people who if they had a grievance no one understood it and whose nice weather demonstrations quickly became silly affairs with more street people and drug users hanging around the camp outs.
      The protests in Ukraine are by people who had already experience the brutal hand of Russia and did not again want to be subject to it. Unless you understand the reasons for the protests, which I tried to explain, you’ll not grasp what is happening.
      Of course this is not Derry’s Bloody Sunday. It is much worse. It is not foreign forces (the British) firing upon the locals (Irish peace protesters) but Ukrainians murdering Ukrainians. It is not 14 dead on account of the shootings on one day; it is up to two hundred dead at the latest count in many days of killing. It is not a total of 26 protesters who were shot but thousands. The great majority, upwards of 95% of those injured were peaceful protesters. Few of the protesters have armed themselves and you cannot smear all by the actions of a few who are not under the control of others whereas the police are under control and act according to orders.
      You equate the 11 police killed and 26 wounded with the slaughter of the protestors who have been fired upon by snipers from government buildings. Sure the police have the right to defend themselves but when they instigate the shooting they must expect a response from some; even though those the numbers of those who have fought back is miniscule when compared to the government’s fire power.
      Yanukovich like Assad turned the fire power of the state upon protesters. Assad found himself in a real civil war and responded brutally like his father did; Yanukovich responded to a peaceful protest by a steady round of kidnapping, beatings, killings which culminated in his recent attacks. They are more alike than different.
      As for Putin being like Hitler, I just pointed out that it takes a certain type of person to steal the Olympics name so that the game is named after him. Putin is the major sponsor of Assad; his help for us in Syria was keeping us from a mindless response to Assad’s use of chemical weapons. Putin is supplying arms and assistance to Assad who continues to brutalize his people. Putin has done little to help us in Iran. He is a man who has completely suppressed dissent in Russia. His country has no free press, free elections, or free speech. Why should such a man be respected in the West when he has deprived his people of those right that make life bearable. Not recognizing the man for what he is and recognizing what he has done to his country suggest the correctness of Orwell’s observation.
      It is absurd to suggest the US/Nato allies are interfering in Ukrainian politics. It is the Ukrainian people who have asked for their help. As I said, they have experienced life under the Russians and are willing to die to avoid going back into that situation. That is what the demonstrations are about. They are already pro-western and were so without any action on our part. It is the Russians, as I noted earlier, that want to enslave them again. That’s what the whole thing is about which is the wishes of most Ukrainians to be free and Russia’s desire to keep them in servitude. Russia doesn’t want Ukraine to be more pro-Russia; it wants Ukraine back into a subservient position as it was since 1917 when the Soviets invaded it. This is shown by its obstructionist acts to prevent the settling of the demonstrations.
      I’m at a loss to understand that you find any merit in anything Putin does. He is not an ally of the United States. He is intent on undermining our positions wherever he can. He is a creature of the Soviet Union who, as I’ve noted before, has spoken openly about what a tragedy happened when it the broke up.
      I also want peace in Ukraine but I don’t believe the cost of that peace has to be the prison of Russia. The war hawks now reside in the people around Yanukovich and Putin, nowhere else. Yanukovich’s position is so out of the mainstream of Ukrainian thought that his Parliament has voted to strip him of his powers while Putin is urging him to declare a state of emergency and call out the army. My solution, a peaceful one, is for the West to target Putin and his cronies for sanctions. They are the ones who still want to murder the protesters.

      February 21, 2014 at 6:27 pm
  • elmer says:

    The wealthiest thug thief in Ukraine lands his private jet in England – and is greeted by chants. Akhmetov owns the most expensive apartment in Londongrad. Pinchuk, another oligarch, has a hugely expensive mansion in Londongrad.

    Video and story here:

    http://world.maidanua.org/2014/hundreds-of-people-gathered-today-as-the-news-spread-that-rinat-akhmetovs-private-plane-had-landed-in-farnborough-england

    February 21, 2014 at 10:53 am
  • elmer says:

    The Ukrainian parliament voted to return to the 2004 Constitution, which has a balance between the president and parliament, by a vote of 386 out of 397 present (total seats – 450 – many of the rats have flown out of the county by chartered jet). It was a plenary session. 10 did not vote, and 1 abstained. video here:

    http://tsn.ua/politika/rada-pid-opleski-uhvalila-povernennya-do-konstituciyi-2004-335877.html

    report about captured police here – they are poorly equipped, and are set up as fodder, snipers on the rooftops are armed. There was an old sovok tactic which sent poorly armed troops to the front, to be used as fodder, with “sweepers” armed with guns, behind, to act as enforcers.

    The police are also poorly informed. Story is here with pictures:

    http://www.kyivpost.com/multimedia/photo/soldiers-of-internal-troops-near-verkhovna-rada-337247.html

    February 21, 2014 at 10:40 am
  • elmer says:

    As Yanukonvikt was meeting with the foreign ministers of Germany , France and Poland on Thursday, he interrupted the meeting to place a call – to Putler.

    Is there any more evidence needed to see that Yanukonvikt, who is an imbecile, is taking his order from macho dupe Putler?

    The story was reported in Ukrainian Pravda and in the Polish newspaper, Gazeta Wyborcza, I can provide links if anyone wants. The Polish minister was the source of the story.

    February 21, 2014 at 9:40 am
  • elmer says:

    Matt, I hope you don’t mind this report from Ukraine:

    In the morning, (three hours ago) there was a report by the Ministry of the Interior, that a renegade group from the Maidan were in a shoot out with members of the Interior Troops near the parliament. Paul and I were walking up to the parliament and did not hear nor did we see any such activity. We walked up to parliament via Hrushevsky street but the sotni manning the barricades sent us up behind Dynamo Stadium. We walked through the park to the back of the parliament and heard no gun shots nor did we see any such skirmishes.

    The VVshnyky and militsia that were beside the parliament were armed with kalashnikovs and were there to prevent the parliament from sitting. Apparently, they were supposed to consider adopting laws to curtail presidential powers. Eventually and for unknown reasons, they left the inside of the parliament and have circled the grounds of the parliament. Many of them wanted to talk about the Olympics with us and three officers showed us various ball bearings that other members were hit with, apparently using a sling shot.

    Behind the Maryinskyj Palace was an interior ministry light armored vehicle and 13 empty buses were leaving the ground. We continued on our way to the area that was occupied by the anti-Maidan protest. They are dismantling the stage and their encampment. There were no protestors, only city employees cleaning the grounds and moving sound equipment as others disassembled the stage.

    There were approximately two thousand members of the regular interior troops that had surrounded the parliament. Every member of the interior troops had a piece of yellow tape stuck to their bullet proof vests (front and back). When asked why, they told us that it was for identification. Apparently, they are being “marked” so that a sniper can identify them as friendly, which made no sense to me, because they are clearly identifiable by their obvious uniforms. Other members had a blue tape and others had red. Readily and clearly identifiable.

    At approximately 12:30, 40 officers (colonels, lieutenants and majors) from 13 Lviv oblast county militia council (райвіддлі мвс) arrived at St. Michael’s Golden-Domed Monastery. They said they made the decision to support the Maidan and consider acting Minister Zakharchenko a war criminal, especially following the events over the last three days. Another 40 officers are expected to arrive later today and over the course of the next few days from Ivano-Frankivsk and Ternopil. They marched together with members of the Maidan Self-defense Companies through the Maidan as people cheered and sang the national anthem up to the barricade on Institutstka Street beside Hotel Ukrayina. They had an official ceremony with members of the Self-defense companies, integrating them into one unit. They Lviv officers broke into groups of 5 and are getting intelligence about the lay of the land, the number and kinds of injuries, the numbers of sotni, the location of snipers. Clearly, they are integrating into the Maidan Self-Defense, yet they are wearing the uniform of the interior ministry. They are also wearing bullet proof vests and have their side arms with them. They expect other members of the militsya to change sides.

    The officers said that they are doing this as an expression of solidarity with the ideals and purpose of the Maidan as well as a to show members of the Kyiv militisya that they too can join the Maidan without any physical repercussions. When asked about the danger of arrest that stands before them, they replied that that pales in comparison to the sacrifices that were made by members of the Maidan yesterday.

    Taping yellow tape on the back of the militsya by the parliament now makes sense. If the regime continues with their attacl, and if they still have their snipers in place, and given that there are members of the militsia in similar uniform, then the snipers will need some sort of ID to differentiate between targets.

    Channel 5 is reporting that Lviv Berkut has also arrived and will be joining the Maidan. I have not had an opportunity to confirm this.

    February 21, 2014 at 9:35 am
    • mtc9393 says:

      Elmer:

      I posted suggesting those interested come here and read your comments which as I noted before I appreciate. Keep up the good work.

      February 21, 2014 at 6:52 pm
  • Henry Barth says:

    Talking about the Russian involvement in the current Ukraine situation in the pub last night.

    One old man said “You have to remember that Russia is a country run by the Sopranos.” Wise words indeed.

    February 21, 2014 at 9:20 am
    • mtc9393 says:

      Henry:

      No truer words could have been spoken and where would one find such a laconic remark other than in an Irish pub.

      February 21, 2014 at 6:53 pm

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