William Pfaff is the author of The Irony of Manifest Destiny, published in June 2010 by Walker and Company (New York) -- his tenth and culminating work on international politics and the American destiny. He describes the neglected sources and unforeseen consequences of the tragedy towards which the nation's current effort to remake the world to fit America's measure is leading. His previous books and his articles in The New York Review of Books, The New Yorker, and his syndicated newspaper column, featured for a quarter century in the globally read International Herald Tribune, have made him one of America's most respected and internationally influential interpreters of world affairs.   [Read more...]
His latest article

Doing Stupid Stuff in the Ukraine

Paris, September 10, 2014 --It seems evident that Barack Obama today still does not understand how much he owes to President Petro Poroshenko of Ukraine. If he did, and if the cease-fire and negotiation terms Mr. Poroshenko has signed with the country’s pro-Russian insurgents in the Southeast of his country and their friends in Moscow continue to hold, he would thank the Ukrainian president for an invaluable gift of peace to Americans and NATO, as well as to his own countrymen.

President Obama said not long ago that his foreign policy principle was “not doing stupid stuff.” At about the same time his State Department and CIA were conspicuously guiding and supporting a coup d’état in Ukraine that was the exact contradiction to the Obama policy statement. The Ukrainian Parliament’s first post-coup act was to pass a resolution outlawing the use of the Russian language in Ukraine, which is the native language of more than a fifth of the population of a country that has always been intimately involved in the history, religion and culture of the Russian nation. Nothing could have been more stupid.

The result of that coup has been a civil struggle inside Ukraine, pitting a significant fraction of Ukraine’s Russian-speakers, semi-clandestinely backed by Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, against the nation’s majority.

The Obama administration instantly reacted with a full-blast Cold War propaganda campaign identifying this uprising of Russian-language militants as an Hitlerian invasion of Ukraine which must immediately be repulsed by the patriots of Ukraine, backed by NATO, the United States, and the European Union (itself implicated in the February coup, and even having its own candidate to replace the totally disreputable but properly elected president of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych — who had grabbed the last plane out of Kiev).

The American Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs, Victoria Nuland, was on the scene in Kiev to witness the coup, and — for God’s sake! — pass out cookies to the militants who had been organized to carry out this violent uprising. Everyone now knows of her phone call to the American ambassador to Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt, in which she dismissed with an obscenity the European Union and its candidate, and identified the (successful) American candidate to lead the post-revolt government.

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