‘Obama defending legitimacy of Ukraine’s election signals the bankruptcy of US foreign policy’
Eric Draitser is an independent geopolitical analyst based in New York City and the founder of StopImperialism.com. He is a regular contributor to RT, Counterpunch, New Eastern Outlook, Press TV, and many other news outlets. Visit StopImperialism.com for all his work.
RT:President Barack Obama has recently met with Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko. Why do you think Petro Poroshenko has received such high praise from the American leader?
Eric Draitser: Of course I don’t agree, but what primarily I don’t agree with is the fact that the Ukrainian people actually made this choice. This is simply a rhetorical flourish from the US President because he and his administration, his team, understand very well that many millions of people in Ukraine did not even participate in the vote, certainly not in the eastern regions where voter turnout was dismally low. Poroshenko didn’t even retain the support of many in the so-called base of the Maidan, in the west and regions around Kiev. So what Obama is attempting to do is to provide legitimacy to this new so-called president in Ukraine by appearing with him, by making these very positive statements about him in preparation for what is undoubtedly going to be a very serious questioning of US policy in Ukraine as they stand behind a regime that is committing undoubtedly to war crimes in the east of the country. And this is really an important point that people need to stress. This is a collective punishment of the civilian population in the east of Ukraine, and Poroshenko and his administration is initiating that and of course the US Administration is standing by his side.
RT:The so-called anti-terrorist operation in the East has left dozens if not hundreds of civilians dead. Is that the democracy that Obama is talking about?
ED: Yes indeed. This illustrates the unmitigated hypocrisy of US foreign policy, particularly in light of the fact that he is praising these elections when he and his administration demonized the elections in Syria which are far more representative of the population of that country where you actually had hundreds of thousands people turning out to the polls, huge support for President Assad, but these elections are considered “a farce”, “travesty of democracy” according to the US. While in Ukraine, where you had an actual farcical elections, where you didn’t have good voter turnout and where was conducted amid a climate of punishment of the civilian population, this is somehow democracy. Again, the hypocritical position of Washington is something that we have come to expect from Obama and his predecessors, but the level to which they have taken it and the belligerent rhetoric against Russia and anyone who stands in the way of US policy is really a new low for Washington.
RT:Regarding Kiev's military campaign in the East, Washington reiterates that Kiev's actions are restraint and professional. Do you agree?
ED: Indeed restraint, as we see civilian bodies lying in the streets, as we see the continuing assault on the peaceful population, and again, we should remember that when we look at the casualty figures in the east, the majority of the people that are being killed are the civilians. Of course the comparison that we can make with Syria again illustrates the US hypocrisy. President Assad, they say, is a “butcher”, “war criminal” because of his attempt to restore order in his country amidst the civil war. Somehow in Ukraine the situation is vastly different, and the government has the authority to quell any uprising. The hypocrisy is palpable but you also see the weakness of US foreign policy here. When the US has to send its President to convey legitimacy upon the so-called elected official in the so-called civil war that we have in Ukraine, it tells you the bankruptcy of US foreign policy.
RT:President Obama has vowed to stand by Ukraine, following a proposal to train Ukrainian security officers. What would it mean for Ukrainian crisis?
ED: It is going to mean prolonging the conflict. This is an important point because the US and its European partners and NATO generally do not want to see a peaceful political solution in the east of Ukraine or in Ukraine generally because that means that they would have to accept a tragic failure of their own policy, whereas the east of the country would gain some degree of independence or at least some level of autonomy within a federalized system where their rights will be respected and where they will be able to maintain close and productive relations, economic and otherwise, with Russia. That is a death plot to the US policy which sought to dislodge Ukraine from Russia’s sphere of influence and to use it as a lever against Russia in its geopolitical agenda. By prolonging this conflict what it actually is doing is preventing any negotiations, preventing a political solution, and thereby buttressing their own position. Of course that would be considered a war crime in most parts of the world.
RT:We have heard very little comment from Washington about this growing civilian death toll in the conflict. Moreover, mass media and various politicians are calling civilians “terrorists”. Why is that?
ED: Because these are Washington puppets, Washington is a patron. Because it is Washington that created the coup in Ukraine, it’s Washington that instigated the violence by providing its tacit and overt support to neo-Nazi factions, to the Right Sector and to the others. Because it is Washington that destabilized the situation and so Washington not only needs to confirm legitimacy upon Poroshenko. Washington needs to continue this conflict and it needs to do it within the context and the rhetoric of the democracy because that is the only way the Obama Administration can sell from their marketing and PR prospective this unmitigated disaster in Ukraine to the American people. People around the world should realize that most Americans want nothing to do with the conflict in Ukraine; most Americans want nothing to do with wars anywhere around the world. So [it's] the policy that has come out of Washington, they have to mold public opinion around the policies rather than molding the policies around public opinion.
RT:The US says that Poroshenko is a really democratic president who has a good chance of starting dialogue with the East and stopping the ongoing violence.Though it is well known that Poroshenko is an oligarch and Ukrainians were actively protesting against oligarchy back in February. So it is ok to make statements about democratic President chosen by a minority of the country amidst a civil war?
ED: It’s not a fair point; it’s a disingenuous point because they of course know very well that Poroshenko is intimately involved in the clique that took control of Ukraine in 2004, as a part of the Yushchenko Administration under which the ties with Russia deteriorated significantly. This is somebody who has made a fortune not only as a confectionary king but someone who was deeply and intimately involved in a massive corruption under Yushchenko and under Timoshenko. He is very much part of the same political machine and so to say that it was somehow a “wise choice” by the Ukrainian people shows not only the disingenuousness of the US policy, it also shows the weakness of the US position in Ukraine where they believe that neither Timoshenko, nor anybody else, not Poroshenko, will be able to restore order and to push US, NATO agenda. So they have to present Poroshenko as some kind of guardian of democracy where even people in Ukraine and even those who might have supported Poroshenko know that to be at outright lie.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.