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2014-02-23 10:43 by Karl Denninger
in International , 303 references Ignore this thread
On The Ukranian Situation *

I have refrained from commenting on the Ukraine situation for a while now because it's really far more complex internally than it first appears, and it serves nobody's interest to render commentary that's half-baked.

But now, it appears, it's time.

First, let's not bury the lede and get to the bottom line: Once again we have a demonstration that government exists only with the consent of the governed, and when that falls the government either modifies its position or it is replaced.

The only question that remains at that point is how it is replaced.  One would hope that happens peacefully.  Sadly, that is unfortunately too often not the case.

Ukraine is a major energy pipeline route both for itself and into eastern Europe for natural gas originating in Russia.  There have been many spats over threats to turn off the gas, particularly into Ukraine, over payment and pricing disputes over the years.  While most in the West have ignored this you can be certain that a freezing Ukranian in the middle of winter isn't going to ignore that sort of thing at all.  That's one contributing factor here, but hardly the whole story.  It's complicated by the fact that natural gas, unlike oil, cannot be easily shipped by other than pipeline and as such supplies and prices are inherently a regional thing.

Obama, for his part, is rattling his saber, but that's immaterial and I'm sure the Ukranians know that.  The United States not only has no skin in this game it has no means of exerting influence of materiality.  This is really about a government that lost the confidence of its people, who in turn demanded that the government change -- now.

Note carefully that until Friday Parliament supported Yanukovych.  Then the President fled Kiev for an Eastern city, and last night his plane was denied departure clearance, presumably intending to leave the country.  Yanukovych has since disappeared and it's not hard to figure out why.  

Parliament, in a full 180-degree about face, has changed its mind and both voted to remove him and set new elections for May.  Simply put the members of Parliament recognized (correctly-so) that they were about to lose consent of the governed and be held personally accountable by the people -- who were not going to stand down.

As with many nations there are divided desires.  The Eastern part of the country is closely tied to Russia.  The Western areas want closer integration with the EU.  In the end the attempt to force one side to accede to the other's desires led to the people saying "nuts!" and deciding that government was going to leave one way or another in the immediate sense.

What do we take from this nation of 46 million people?  The same thing we should have recognized from the start, and that every government should always keep in mind: Government only exists with the consent of the governed, and when that consent is lost government will change.

The only remaining question at that instant in time is whether the change will be peaceful, and that is under the exclusive control of the existing government apparatus.  It can either choose to bow to the will of the people through peaceful process or it will be excised through less-than-peaceful means.

Ukraine's government decided to employ snipers to try to "put down" the protests in an attempt to deny the demanded change by force of arms.  What they got instead was emboldened protests, despite shooting a fair number of protesters.  Yanukovych correctly surmised that he was going to be held personally to account for each of those sniped protesters, and now we have a Parliament that undoubtedly switched sides largely in an attempt to keep it from being held personally responsible as well.

The former Prime Minster, who had previously been jailed in what certainly looked like a political prosecution at the time, has emerged as having apparent public support and is further evidence that what was desired in Ukraine by the people was not anarchy, as so many propose to be the case -- it was change in the government.

Are the United States and Russia involved in stoking the fire over there?  Probably.  Can I prove it?  No, but I don't need to, and neither does anyone else.  The simple fact of the matter is that both of our nations have a history of interference in places we don't belong, but the Russians at least have the plausible argument of a neighboring nation that could generate a refugee crisis or threaten their energy sales.  Never mind that Russia's view of a "peace deal" means surrendering arms, which no free people should ever do under any circumstance.  Put them down, yes, but surrender them no, for those arms are the only guarantee that whatever got the people mad enough to rise in the first place will not be repeated. In this regard Russia's interference has little excuse other than trying to suppress the people in favor of policies their government likes.

The United States, on the other hand, has no excuse for interference at all.

It would be nice if governments around the world recognized that when consent fails this is the inevitable outcome, and that such conflicts always resolve in the people. Recognition of this fact, incidentally, was explicitly laid forth in The Declaration of Independence.  

Cessation of pushing people beyond the point that they choose to risk death, whether by taxation and privation or simple raw abuse of power, would be nice but history says that governments in general are incapable of accepting this reality.  Governmental blindness in this regard tends to continue right up until the noose is in front of them, at which point those in power scamper in a puerile attempt to avoid having it put around their necks.  Parliament's abrupt reversal is just the latest exhibit in this sad saga of governments writ large through the centuries.

Will both our government in the United States and others around the world learn from this rather than have to repeat it?

I can and will pray for that, but I doubt my prayers will be answered.

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Amgrace
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Awesome post. Shared with my circle.

One heads up in paragraph 6:

"Obama, for his part, is rattling his saber, but that's immaterial and I'm sure the Ukranians know that. The United States not only has no skin in this game it has means of exerting influence of materiality."

I believe you meant to say "...it has NO means of exerting..."

correct?


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Stonedog
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Karl - very well said...

my own opinion is that the BEST case scenario will be the ceding of Eastern Ukraine into Russia and letting Western Ukraine remain independent.

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Truthseeker
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Finally! A thoughtful piece extolling the facts of a complicated situation. I have been appalled at the historically bereft arguments being circulated by ostensibly educated commentators who ignore basic facts. This is a situation to be watched carefully, and engaged by us not at all.

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Generalmalaise
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... hopefully the crisis in Venezuela ends with a replacement of the present government.

I think western nations should be involved in Venezuela at least in vocal support of democracy.

in the Venezuela case I do not think the "will of the governed" is necessarily possible. It only takes a small percentage to dominate if they are willing to kill the opposition and can keep the opposition fragmented. Iran 2009 is a good example.
Kylafoon
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The amazing thing to me is that the Ukraines
were able to accomplish this with "pitchforks
and torches". NPR this past week was reporting
about the snipers and that the "peasants" were
fighting back with bats and knives - no guns.

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Tickerguy
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If you piss off enough people to the point that they're willing to die to put a stop to whatever you're doing you've gone too far.

That's the point of the article General, and it appears you missed it.

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Tickerguy
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Quote:
The amazing thing to me is that the Ukraines
were able to accomplish this with "pitchforks
and torches". NPR this past week was reporting
about the snipers and that the "peasants" were
fighting back with bats and knives - no guns.

That's not amazing at all.

It is in fact historical reality, despite technological superiority.

The pincer move is that in order to exercise it government has to be willing to mow down people by the literal millions, and as soon as that starts any remaining support they had among the people disappears in a puff of smoke.

The reason is simple -- it is inevitable that among the dead will be relatives and friends of those who, prior to that point, supported the government.

The more people they kill the greater the defection rate.

"Kill everything that moves" sounds great but it doesn't work when the government inevitably must rely on the people at-large to produce so it is able to tax and thus subsist itself. The larger the government's "take" from the people as a percentage of the economy the more-true this is.

Our government, for example, would instantaneously collapse were it to start shooting people in such a mass action, as productive activity would almost-instantly cease and with it bond sales would go to zero overnight.

The consequence of that would be an immediate fiscal collapse.

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Bagbalm
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In contrast to other recent riots in a number of countries the last time I heard a number the death toll between rioters and police stood about even.
That indicated a seriousness and resolve that undoubtedly got the attention of parliament. Police are not accustomed to suffering that level of casualties and once the police would no longer act - which was becoming a problem - then they would have the choice of sending in the military and blowing it up into a full scale civil war or fleeing as the President did. Even the military wasn't solidly on their side so it was the smart thing to do.
Now we'll see if the Russians send in the tanks after the Olympics are over and it won't be as big a PR disaster.
Tickerguy
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Resolve is always the issue. If the people have it then government changes and the only question is the method.

It comes back to the same thing at the end of the day: Governments all exist only with the consent of the governed.

The day that changes and the people no longer consent and mean what they say when they say no the only remaining question is the means by which the change will be implemented.

The WISE choice is through peaceful process but that's decision is NOT up to the people -- it's up to the government alone.

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Stop consenting and it is forced to stop. Always.
No violence required.
Generalmalaise
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no I didn't miss it and I think the article is good. not definitive but good.

it is like if one tries hard enough one succeeds and we know that isn't true (usually spoken by the one who succeeded) I am not saying one should not try, but trying doesn't mean success.

if that were true then Iran would have toppled it's government in 2009 and Cuba would have chased out the brothers decades ago.

cheers
Tickerguy
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I didn't say you always succeed. Nothing is ever assured.

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No violence required.
Malabar
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When it comes to geo-political and military matters I always check Col. Pat Lang's views. He was the former head of all human intelligence at the DIA and has been incredibly prescient on issues from Iraqi WMD (not) to what is really going in Syria.

http://turcopolier.typepad.com/

he has some excellent analysis with the historical and cultural context in Ukraine. The situation is far more complex with a lot of history that goes back to the dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian empire. During WWII groups in western Ukraine who are descendants of Austrian province of Galicia allied themselves with the Nazis, while the eastern & southern Ukrainians are mostly Russian descendants and speak Russian. The core of the current protest movement are followers of fascist groups from the west of Ukraine. Yanukovich was supported by oligarchs in the east and ran a very corrupt government.

Current Ukraine is an artifact of post-WWII border creation. This is primarily a conflict of people from different regions who have always been in conflict instigated by the great powers. Think conflict between the Serbs, Croats, etc as Yugoslovia broke up. The danger is a civil war with the big powers supporting their proxies in a border country to Russia.
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...my point is that the premiss of the "will of the governed" is not the always the case. our western governments are hardly doing the "will of the governed" and I do appreciate that there comes a breaking point which we haven't yet reached. But when has any communist government had more then a minority support.

never.

I should add that the people of Ukraine have a working knowledge of communism that the west never learned. It is clear because anyone who even voted once for obama do not appreciate communism for all it's horror or it's methods.

Tickerguy
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Oh on the contrary.

I suggest you take a close look at how GDP in Ukraine is distributed. Who's doing the work .vs. who's not.

And incidentally, I didn't say the people are always wise. I said they always win in one form or another, even if by "winning" they destroy their own premise.

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Stop consenting and it is forced to stop. Always.
No violence required.
Generalmalaise
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I got that too. that winning doesn't mean one gets what one wants ..as in a decent government. I doubt the Ukraine will, hopefully it will be better than it was but democracy is too often just mob rule.

save me a bunk in the gulag.
Tickerguy
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What the Ukranian Parliament should do is partition the nation; those that want to go to the EU should do so. Those that do not should not. There is a reasonably-defined geographical line for that, so draw it.

The problem with this premise is that I suspect the EU would reject admission of the piece that wants in unless they can have the part that doesn't. Again a look at the GDP distribution will tell you why. Then what?

My answer is "so what?" The people have the right to choose but not force. If you have a reasonably-drawable geographic boundary between the two sides THEN DRAW IT and let the chips fall where they may. If the people on one side want to sue for re-unification down the road they can attempt that too, but only when they choose it freely -- not by force.

And this, fundamentally, is why you don't do what was done over there. Ukraine is a Frankenstein built out of WWII, basically. But there are many nations (cough-US-cough!) that are doing the same thing by unbridled immigration, legal and not and if we don't cut that crap out we're headed in the same direction the Ukraine is now dealing with.

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Civil Society requires 99%+ consent.
Stop consenting and it is forced to stop. Always.
No violence required.
Godzillaman
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"I suggest you take a close look at how GDP in Ukraine is distributed. Who's doing the work .vs. who's not."

Yep and should hit close to home.

There are types of civil war and this one looks Generational.

Old farts having the Government (which have and ONLY have 1 tool in the box) stealing from the young.

Humans and Guppies are the only animals that have children on purpose with the intention to eat them.
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Hummm... after reading the above North Korea came to mind... what the heck is wrong with the North Koreans not rising up... how long have they been held in bondage... What will it take for them to rise up and say "Give Me Liberty Or Give Me Death".

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Quote:
what the heck is wrong with the North Koreans not rising up... how long have they been held in bondage... What will it take for them to rise up and say "Give Me Liberty Or Give Me Death".

If you can understand why Stalin wasn't overthrown before World War II, I think you will understand why North Koreans haven't risen up.
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My granddaddy talkin about WW2 said "Winning aint pretty"
Elsrog
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Karl Thanks for writing about this . I have been reading daily since mid 2008 but this is my first post. I was in Kiev two weeks ago and stood on the barricade where most of the fighting occured. I was only there as a tourist and this was between battles. I was surprised how well organized and provisioned the opposition was. cords of firewood piles of tires and projectiles , barbed wire everywhere . the barricades would have made work for a bulldozer! the crew fighting were well armed and well protected just like the cops . many had wicked looking clubs !
I would expect that instead of learning that they exist only with our consent. that our fearless leaders will double down and even more quickly and forcefully squash any protests here. after all it is only reprehensible violence when someone else does it not when the U.S. does .
here is a link to a article about Victoria Nuland boasting about all the money we have spent to try to fuck things up over there . if true she is a useless cunt and should douche with a big running chainsaw! http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/02/21/i....
If i said anything wrong please keep in mind this is a first post
thanks Roger
Tickerguy
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I don't know if she's right or wrong but here's the thing -- I have absolutely no doubt at all that both Russia and the US are tampering with things over there.

It doesn't matter, really. Both are wrong in that regard as the people of the country have the right to decide their own destiny -- and their government.

Point being they have the right to that decision but also the consequences. A partition makes the most sense, frankly, but that would expose what's really going on here -- there are those who produce and those who do not. Separate those who do not from those who do and suddenly there's a big problem for the former, and they have only two choices -- die or start producing.

What's going on now is untenable; shooting people en-masse because they disagree with you doesn't work for very long. Oh sure, there are places where it APPEARS to work (e.g. N. Korea) but tell me -- how much of that country is lit up at night?

That might explain a few things eh?

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Stop consenting and it is forced to stop. Always.
No violence required.

Cyppok
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Parliament was essentially under "guard" since even the faction that is from South-East voted for 'approving' new laws under careful "protection" from 'Right-Sector' ultra nationalists. Any deputies from Party of Regions that tried to leave the Rada were caught by the mob and either dissapeared or probably beaten to death.

The first thing the Rada did after political division was banning use of Russian as official in the South-East.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-2....
"Parliament lowered the official status of the Russian language by cancelling a law brought in by Mr Yanukovych"

The country won't divide under either scenario, because everyone wants everything. If the S/E does arm it could happen but so far very slow progress on that front.

Also I am very biased on the issue in favor of S/E.
Cluelessinfl
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Kylafoon wrote..
...NPR this past week was reporting
about the snipers and that the "peasants" were
fighting back with bats and knives - no guns...

Not only did the protesters have guns, they had grenades:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DeA_GIb07....

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