Journalist Ted Snider discusses his article “Ukraine and Twenty-First Century Coups;” the formula for overthrowing elected governments with “democratic” street protests backed by Western powers; and the silent coups in Honduras, Paraguay, and (probably) Ukraine.
All right welcome back to the show, I’m Scott Horton, this is my show. We’re here from 3-5 Eastern time, Monday – Friday on the Liberty Express.
Our next guest today is Ted Snider he’s been writing lately forÂ www.antiwar.com, a lot of good ones there and this one is Ukraine and Twenty-First Century Coups.
Scott Horton (SH):Â Welcome back to the show Ted, how are you doing?
Ted Snider (TS):Â Hi Scott, I’m doing great, thanks for having me back on the show
SH:Â Very good to have you here, first of all why don’t you start with the same place you start in the article, with a little bit of background about this American pattern —the great successes if you can call them that -Â Â the short term successes anyway, of the CIA in overthrowing other people’s Governments short of Iraq style invasion regime change here?
TS:Â Right. So what I have been looking at Scott is what seems to me to be a paradigm shift in coups since Obama became President. By their nature, coups are secret, by nature a coup is a secret way of removing a Government but it seems that under the Obama administration coups have became so secret that they’re not even recognized to have happened.
So, in the third quarter of the twentieth century, from the 1950’s, 1960’s and 1970’s, you get coups in places like Iran and Guatemala and Chile, but they were seen to be coups because they end withÂ tanks on the streets and gunshots and violent change of Government.
What seems to be happening under Obama is that we’re getting these changes of Government but rather than tanks being used as weapons, it’s like democracy is being welded as a weapon because the coups look like constitutional democratic things that happen in Parliaments. So they’re not even seen to as have happened until you look more closely at the patterns and see that these democratic coups, are actually coups in the disguise of democracy.
SH: So in other words, say in Iran in 1953 you had the CIA rent these mobs to create chaos in order to make the case that Mossadegh couldn’t control the chaos. In this case, it’s, but then when the Shah comes back, you can tell that that was basically an excuse -as you say, the tanks come out and he’s got to use the iron hand to stay in power and all of that, that in these cases what they’re doing, is they’re whipping up the crowds and then just pretending that this is the majority, they deserve the power that they’re getting, even if they’re the people that lost the last election.
TS: So I think Scott, two things are happening here – one of them we talked about on your last show because it was especially relevant in Egypt at the time, and now the second one is becoming relevant because of Ukraine. So what you had in 1953 in Iran and in 1954 in Guatemala is the American hand getting mobs in the street, looking like disorder, like Government has lost control and that justifies the domestic military stepping in and restoring order, where there was the appearance of none.
So it starts off as y’know as covert, but it ends up as overt, it ends up visible. So then what you get now is you get this idea that you can get these mobs in the street, and all these changes lately that we’re seeing in Venezuela and Iran, Brazil, Turkey, Egypt, Ukraine, they all have these mass protests on the street but if you look closely the numbers in the street, the people in the street, they’re the same people that lost in the polls.
And one of the features of democracy is its the majority or the largest minority and not the unanimity that gets the choose the Government, so if you have a Government losing, if the Government wins an election the losing side has 40% of the vote – that is too small to elect a Government but it is a massive number of people on the street. In the polls you’re silent, but the noise that that number can make on the street makes it look like a huge social democratic movement.
So we get these huge movements of people who are really just the same people that lost at the polls, trying to achieve on the street what they couldn’t achieve in the polls. Then one of three things happen: Either the domestic military steps in and restores order, that is what happened in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s. At the end of the twentieth century you get this new model, Noam Chomsky called it ‘Humanitarian Imperialism’, Diana Johnstone wrote about it in her book on Yugoslavia ‘Fools Crusade’, she says it came up in Yugoslavia.
You get this realization that any minority group who lost in the polls, don’t have the strength to win an election, don’t have the strength to get their own military on their side so they can’t change the Government through elections or military, they have to create another situation to invite another military – an outside military to come in.
So what you do is you create the appearance of a humanitarian crisis and that justifies America or NATO coming in on the grounds of humanitarian crisis – we saw that in Kosovo, and the Ukraine, we’ve seen that attempted in Syria and Libya, you’re seeing a similar thing being tried in Venezuela today, so that is the second way.
The third way if your not creating this look of the minority in the polls being the minority in the street is this model of making it look like the constitutional shufflings of Parliament. So you make a coup look like something that just happened in the Parliament. So I think the first time we saw this under Obama was in Honduras. So in Honduras you get Zelaya elected as President. He gets kidnapped, whisked out at gunpoint, and flown out.
What happens then, is after he’s kidnapped in this coup you get the Supreme Court declaring his actions unconstitutional and you get the Congress voting to removing him, so it looks all very constitutional – in fact it’s not and US Embassy cables show that they knew full well that this was a coup, the cables say – and the cable by the way was called, if you have any doubt, the US Embassy cable was called ‘Open and Shut The Case Of The Honduran Coup.’ So this is an almost comic lack of subtlety that they clearly thought that nobody would see.
In it they say there is no doubt the Supreme Court and Congress conspired an illegal coup so they knew about it.
SH: By the way, this is just a small footnote,Â and sorry to interrupt, but isn’t it the case that Obama at the time said, ‘Hey you can’t do that’, and Hillary Clinton said, ‘Yeah you can,’ and then Obama backed down. Â And then it was Hillary Clinton and her friend Lanny Davis was on, working for the coup guys or something like that right?
TS: Yeah, State Department and The White House had different messages on this. They never did officiallyÂ call it a coup, they never withdrew their ambassador, they never suspended the funding, they recognized the coup Government, they pressured the organization of the American states to recognize the coup Government. The guys that were involved in this were the same guys that were involved in the 2002 Venezuelan coup.
So this was a coup, but what it looked like was the Supreme Court was saying that what Zelaya was doing was unconstitutional. Zelaya introduced a plebiscite. He was asking the Hondurans:
‘Do you want a new constitution?’
One of the questions on the constitution was going to be: ‘Should a President be allowed to stand for a second term?’
What happened is the opposition said Â that what Zelaya didÂ was that he said he was going to stand for a second term. The court said that was illegal. The Congress voted, they whisked him out.
So to the world this looks like, the Supreme Court saying what you’re doing is wrong, the Congress voting him out, but in fact, what looks like a Parliamentary thing, is a set up coup.
SH: Well that is sort of the Chile model from the Allende coup right?
TS: Yeah, with Allende though you eventually do get, y’know violence in the streets and stuff – something that’s seen more. So Honduras is totally subtle, no one notices that this is a coup right? And then shortly, later in Paraguay, so we’re still in Latin America, you get exact same thing happen. In fact people call this one a Parliamentary coup. So what you get in Paraguay is the same thing, you get a President there, you get this skirmish over disputed lands where a number of people get killed.
The opposition blames it on the Government and they charge him with doing that and then what they do is they give him 24 hours to prepare a defense, they give him two hours on the floor of the Parliament to defend, they vote against him and kick him out, but it looks like Parliament right?
It looks like a guy talking in Parliament; it looks like Parliament voting him out. What you don’t see is that the charges against him a completely illegitimate and again we get American Embassy cables, sayingÂ they are fully aware on this – that they’re aware of what they callÂ ‘capitalizing on Lugo’s missteps’. They talk about a plan to impeach him, quote, ‘legally but on spurious grounds. ‘
So you get this whole sort of thing again, thatÂ it looks like Parliament but it’s really a coup. And then again you get all the South American states not recognizing this Government. OAS (Organization of American States)Â kicks them out, but you get the Americans recognizing the coup Government and pressuring to get them back in.
So again you see this Parliamentary move with the US recognizing the Government, getting them back into international bodies, but it’s not a Parliamentary move, it’s something that the cables show that they know full well it was a coup, that is completely spurious grounds so we get these models where you’re evicting Governments under the guise of the shuffling of Parliament but what you’ve really got is a coup.
What I’m looking at with this paper that I just did withÂ www.antiwar.comÂ is that perhaps this is what is happening in Ukraine – that we see again something that looks Parliamentary but could be a coup and in order to establish that you would have to establish two things.
One is that it was actually a coup,that it looked Parliamentary but it was actually a coup. The second thing you would have to establish is that at least in part there is an American hand behind this. So what I’m looking at in the paper, you know, Ukraine and Twenty-First Century Coups is, is there evidence that what looked like a change in the configuration of Parliament was actually a coup, and in part, can an American hand be found behind this coup? Does it look like Honduras and Paraguay?
SH: Well and of course, well, okay first of all, we’re about to have to take a break, so I want to save the evidence, I want to let you go down the list of evidence and make your case. It brings up of course the question now, the current crisis, the apparent secession of Crimea, which I guess is in progress but it looks like they’re going to leave Ukraine and rejoin Russia.
The Russian Parliament has already agreed to take them back, I think, I don’t know, I mean it’s not a done deal yet but I think they having a plebiscite in Crimea in a few weeks or something. So, and I mean this is a really big deal the way this has played out, there’s some real risk of a civil war inside Ukraine, or maybe the violent splitting of the country and of course America and Russia are at the highest alert type of face off, that they have been in since the end of the Soviet Union. Not that I’m trying to be too alarmist and say, ‘Oh we’re on the verge of nuclear war, ‘ or anything but it is, it is a big stupid fight. That I disapprove of.
And I think most people would prefer, in fact the polls are saying that what, 14% of the American people are saying that they think it’s our responsibility to determine outcomes in Ukraine, one way or the other -militarily or otherwise, but …so for people who aren’t following the news that closely, this is not just an academic exercise about how the CIA and the NED get things done in the world, but it’s also a lesson in consequences and possible very severe mass extinction type threatening consequences at play, so …and also
I guess this was what I was going to say, that responsibility is kind of a vague concept, it’s a matter of quality not quantity, y’know, there’s no real scale of 1-10, so of course there is always going to be like you talked about, losers of the last election, but who really are from there and who probably have, after all if they live under a Government, they must have some real grievances about how their Government is forcing them to live, and so it’s not to diminish the right of people to overthrow their Government or the will of real Ukrainians to do so but, we do have to point out which states have the real power in the world, and can really make these happens or not…
I’m sorry for talking so long, we’re going to take this break, then it’s your turn when we get back….
It’s Ted Snider,Â www.antiwar.comÂ today
SH: All right y’all welcome back to the show, I’m Scott Horton, this is the Scott Horton show. Everybody knows George Washington was just the sock puppet of the French – getting their regime change, humiliating the British there at Yorktown. Anyway, I don’t know these things are all a matter of perspective and all that ”¦..
Ted Snider has written this article: Ukraine andÂ Twenty-First Century Coups, it’s atÂ www.antiwar.comÂ today and do you have any comment about, either one – the danger we are in because of this that I was going on and on about, or two – any point to make about degrees of responsibility about western intervention in Ukraine as it coincides with the wishes of the people on the street, which ever faction is there?
TS: You know I think the thing is when you look at the wishes of the people in the street, you’ve got to look at the idea of you know Yanukovich getting elected in 2010 by an election that was considered fair by international observers and then you look at, are the people in the street saying something different than the people in the polls, has there been a change?
If there’s been a change right, then maybe there would be a change of election or a change or Government, but the thing is, all the polls that have been taken both by Americans, by the British, by the Ukrainians, the polls show that when you ask people who they wanted to go with, the Economic Union with Russia or the Economic Union with Europe, the numbers are exactly the same as the numbers in 2010. They’re split.
So what looks like this change, it wasn’t a change right? So it doesn’t change the electoral results, it doesn’t over turn it. It was this illusion of this call for change but the people asking for change were the same people that lost. So, is there a responsibility to go in and protect, or correct some kind of imbalance or change? – the thing is there wasn’t a change. So then you look at, if there wasn’t a change, then how did this happen?
Was it a coup and was there US involvement? And that is I think, where you want to look at the evidence – and ask was this really not a change in public opinion? But was this really a coup that was assisted or orchestrated from outside because we changed what we wantedÂ in the Ukraine, not thatÂ UkrainiansÂ changedÂ what they wanted in theÂ Ukraine.
SH: Right okay. So now let’s go through the evidence here because I think it’s really important going forward, of course the media narrative for any foreign policy crisis is alway that history began yesterday and you don’t need to understand the context of any of this.
So this show is supposed to be the antidote for that, so as we go forward I think it’s important, I think this is your motivation for writing this article. Let’s go ahead and make sure we’ve got all the best evidence we have so far at least in one place. If people want to refute it that’s great, let them try. But make the case for what all is known about American intervention in this regime change in Ukraine.
TS: Okay so we have two things. First we have to look at, was it a coup? Â Or was it just parliament? The second is, if it was a coup, was America or Europe involved.
SH: And we got to look at the clock, we got nine minutes
TS: Yeah we have nine minutes, so I’ll move fast
You know this is the heart of the idea. Was it a coup? Â It happens in three stages, the first thing you have is that security forces decide to stop protecting Government buildings and they allow the protestors to come in to the building to take over the Government building.
Now that you’ve got the men there you’ve got an opposition that wants to change the Government. So they seize upon timing.
SH: So it was the Parliament that was the boss of the security forces, is that right?
TS: Well it’s complicated y’know.Â Â A couple of things happen, one is you get this sort of Yanukovich agreed that he would share power, move elections forward and pull back security, and he got the mob taking advantage of that.
There was also Victoria Nuland having a meeting with the wealthiest of the Ukraine oligarchs and telling them that, ‘If you violently oppose the people in the street, if you oppose them, we’re not just going to sanction Ukraine, we’re going to sanction you – Ukrainian business.’ So the guy that funds Yanukovich’s party is threatened not to let the security police block anybody.
So, is there a connection there? I don’t know, the timing is good. They pull back, the mobs get in to the Parliament. At the time it happened, the very moment it happened, most of the MP”s for the Eastern and Southern Ukraine, and they’re the ones would side with Yanukovich, they’re not there because they’re at a Congress of politicians in another part of Ukraine.
So when all these votes happened to kick Yanukovich out, his supporters weren’t there to cast their ballots, but what you do have is these sort of fascist thugs that have come in off from the street,from y’knowÂ Sloboda, and they’re walking in, and so Yanukovich and his supporters, they’re fleeing for their lives and the third thing that happens, is with that kind of intimidation you get these votes happening – replacing the President, replacing the Parliament, so it looks like Parliamentary votes right?
But the guys who would vote against it, either were not there or were chased out – the police stopped protecting it, people come in. It’s actually a coup. And then because we’re running it of time – and then you look quickly at you know, how was this contributed to from the outside?
One of the really interesting things is that I think the west set the triggers that set this thing going, because this is always presented as Yanukovich abandoned an economic union with Europe – and sided instead with an economic union with Russia.
What no one tells us is that it was the states in/and Europe that told Ukraine, ‘You’ve got to pick one or the other’, they said you know, ‘If you pick Europe you can’t deal with Russia’. Putin didn’t do that. Putin told them that, ‘There is no reason you can’t have both of us helping you’, so the West sets these terms that, ‘You’ve got to choose one or the other, Europe or Russia’, and then they make it impossible to choose Europe because the deal has such stringent austerity measures that it would crush Ukraine’s economy.
The second thing which doesn’t get talked about at all, is that it also included what they called security policies that subordinated Ukraine to NATO. Â So first they say pick Europe or Russia, but if you pick Europe, austerity measures are going to collapse you, and you’ve got to be subordinated to a NATO – ‘so pick Europe or Russia but you can’t pick Europe’.
So it forces Yanukovich to pick Russia so he can’t choose the West, he picks Russia and that sets the stage for the protest. So now you have a protest in the street. The next thing you do is you protect and you nurture the protest.
SH: So either they are brilliantly MachiavellianÂ or they are completely ridiculously stupid?
TS: You know I don’t think this one was stupid. I think they knew they had a country divided and whichever one Yanukovich picked, the other side was going to be really upset. So they set the stage to make the side they wanted upset, and then immediately America is on the ground supporting the protest.
John McCain is there whipping them up, Victoria Nuland is there whipping them up. You provide cover to the protest on the street, by criticizing, not the people who are throwing Molotov cocktails and violently trying to change the democratic Government. You criticize the Government for trying to stop this violent coup in the streets.
You give legitimacy to the protest, then the next thing you do is you find out that we have been financing the protest. The National Endowment for Democracy is funding 65 organizations inside the Ukraine. Victoria Nuland boasted to the Ukrainian Federation Conference that the States have given five billion dollars in assistance to these pro-democracy movements in Ukraine.
So you trigger the protest, you protect the protests, you give it legitimacy, you finance it, and then we get this intercepted phone message from Victoria Nuland that the sensationalist Western media just focuses on her vocabulary y’know – ‘Oh no she said a dirty word’, – and what they miss is this plotting to decide who is going to be in. And the guy they picked, Yatsenyuk, is indeed in.
But the most important line was Victoria Nuland telling the ambassador of the Ukraine is that the West needs to quote, ‘ Midwife this thing’, and you know, in my article I called that a metaphorical admission of America’s role in the coup, where as they’re mid-wifing it. And at one point she even says in it that Biden’s willing to do the midwifery so,
SH: Well she says ‘glue it’ too, we gotta glue this thing together
TS: Yeah they talk about needing the UN to ‘glue it’ to get Europe out. You know this key line is this admission that we’re ‘mid-wifing’ the coup – we’ve picked the guy we want in and so what we get is this evidence that it really did look like there had been a shift in the Parliament, and it really did look like Yanukovich’s guys had come over to the other side and had voted him out,Â but in fact it wasn’t that, it wasn’t a vote at all for the reasons I gave earlier.
And then we see there is very much an American hand in it, admitting to ‘mid-wifing’ it, at least in part financing it, backing it up in the streets, providing it cover, and what you get is a situation that looks exactly like what we saw in Honduras and Paraguay and that’s the focus of the article, y’know, I’m not just saying something about Ukraine, I’m saying there is this pattern here that we can see of this new kind of coup that looks like a shuffling in Parliament, but in fact has the hidden hand behind it – it’s a coup so subtle that it’s not even seen to be a coup, it’s seen to be democracy in action and it welds democracy as a weapon against democracy.
SH: And in this case, it really is amazing as you say, since this phone call was leaked, where some of these people, media people, they heard the whole phone call and understood what it was, I mean, after all even the most superficial coverages, why is she cursing the EU? Not because they’re on Russia’s side, she’s cursing the EU because they’re not moving fast and effectively enough in regime change in the Government in the Ukraine, simple as that.
TS: And what you get is a western media that catches on to two things. One is that Nuland swore, and the other is, ‘Look the Russians intercepted a phone call’, ironic giving everything that is going on.
SH: For crying out loud
TS: So with all of the sensationalism and the F word there is barely a western media that talked about her straight up saying, ‘We’re orchestrating this coup, here is the guy we want in, here is who we want him talking about, we need to send…’, I mean you’ve got this phoneÂ call that is an admission of a US coup in Ukraine and all the papers talk about is that Victoria Nuland swore.
SH: And listen, I think you made the most important point about the regime change here, is what you said about the sanctions – they told the billionaires there, ‘Look if you don’t forsake this guy right now, we’re going to seize your bank account’, and at that point the guys that support the Party of Regions, Yanukovich’s party, the billionaires, some of the billionaires, one faction of them anyway, or a collection of them, they decide, ‘Alright, you’ve got to go pal’, and they quit supporting him, for their end in the Parliament too, and that was really the end of that right?
SH: And that’s why I feel bad, because I’ve got people on my Facebook page saying, “No man, the people on the street really hated that guy’, and I’m going, ‘Yeah okay, but they’re not the ones who overthrew him’. You know it would be like if you had and occupy movement and then Patraeus overthrew Obama – you going to give the occupy movement credit for that, I don’t think so
TA: Yeah, and Scott, you know maybe they did hate him and none of what I’m saying is to say that Yanukovich was a good President, I mean I’m not defending him, and I’m sure some of the grievances that were there were real. But it wasn’t those grievances that escalated the coup, it wasn’t those grievances that took over on the street.
It was the maneuvering that used this shift to the Russian Union as an excuse and that shift was compelled by the West and then seized upon and other forces took over on the streets. And we see all the time, I mean we saw that in Egypt too with a movement starting as a genuine movement and then getting hijacked and used as a coup in another way and there too they tried to make it look like a democracy.
SH: Well they lose sometimes, like in Egypt, but only for about a year and a half and then they won Egypt back. They took over and hijacked the revolution in Libya and in Syria and I guess they’ll just keep moving on.
At least, here is where we are today, at least they’re not doing full scale invasions like in Iraq for now. But meanwhile the regime changes just keep rolling on and on and on.
Thank you Ted you did a great job writing about this stuff I appreciate it
TS: Thanks a lot Scott.