Archive for Ukraine

Ron Paul: What Does The US Government Want in Ukraine?

data=VLHX1wd2Cgu8wR6jwyh-km8JBWAkEzU4,ASWA9xT640ikUa1SD750pfpnD84jAZbzLQ-cOPDCaXc0ylcgdxpWUIy9-N6V_k5vTtLwNaB7jcAtgnZzZ-VMW43zoTKaUrvciDIq2wjmlJr4AvXMT5P2O9mb9c57eA19SqWXY8PJJ6mhilw4226d6NagIGqUkUd-PCYd-Q_MhlalqAKJ5BKKAfter reviving conscription, killing protestors in Odessa, and seizing ballots in eastern Ukraine, agents of the Ukrainian state now denounce organizers of the plebiscite in eastern Ukraine as “terrorists.”

“The farce, which terrorists call the referendum, is nothing more than propaganda to cover up murders, kidnappings, violence and other serious crimes,” Ukraine’s acting President Oleksandr Turchynov said in a statement.

Gee, sounds legit. Or, it may just be yet another case of a state throwing a temper tantrum any time a group of citizens try to determine their political future for themselves through decentralization or secession. Even if the separatists are guilty of serious crimes, the full extent of their crimes is surely tiny when compared to those of the Ukrainian state (and virtually all states).  Read More→

Ron Paul: Aid to Ukraine Is a Bad Deal For All

3134323442_52a9009ce7_oBy Ron Paul

 

Last week Congress overwhelmingly passed a bill approving a billion dollars in aid to Ukraine and more sanctions on Russia. The bill will likely receive the president’s signature within days. If you think this is the last time US citizens will have their money sent to Ukraine, you should think again. This is only the beginning.

This $1 billion for Ukraine is a rip-off for the America taxpayer, but it is also a bad deal for Ukrainians. Not a single needy Ukrainian will see a penny of this money, as it will be used to bail out international banks who hold Ukrainian government debt. According to the terms of the International Monetary Fund (IMF)-designed plan for Ukraine, life is about to get much more difficult for average Ukrainians. The government will freeze some wage increases, significantly raise taxes, and increase energy prices by a considerable margin.

But the bankers will get paid and the IMF will get control over the Ukrainian economy.

The bill also authorizes more US taxpayer money for government-funded “democracy promotion” NGOs, and more money to broadcast US government propaganda into Ukraine via Radio Free Europe and Voice of America. It also includes some saber-rattling, directing the US Secretary of State to “provide enhanced security cooperation with Central and Eastern European NATO member states.”

The US has been “promoting democracy” in Ukraine for more than ten years now, but it doesn’t seem to have done much good. Recently a democratically-elected government was overthrown by violent protestors. That is the opposite of democracy, where governments are changed by free and fair elections. What is shocking is that the US government and its NGOs were on the side of the protestors! If we really cared about democracy we would not have taken either side, as it is none of our business.

Washington does not want to talk about its own actions that led to the coup, instead focusing on attacking the Russian reaction to US-instigated unrest next door to them. So the new bill passed by Congress will expand sanctions against Russia for its role in backing a referendum in Crimea, where most of the population voted to join Russia. The US, which has participated in the forced change of borders in Serbia and elsewhere, suddenly declares that international borders cannot be challenged in Ukraine.

Those of us who are less than gung-ho about sanctions, manipulating elections, and sending our troops overseas are criticized as somehow being unpatriotic. It happened before when so many of us were opposed to the Iraq war, the US attack on Libya, and elsewhere. And it is happening again to those of us not eager to get in another cold — or hot — war with Russia over a small peninsula that means absolutely nothing to the US or its security.

I would argue that real patriotism is defending this country and making sure that our freedoms are not undermined here. Unfortunately, while so many are focused on freedoms in Crimea and Ukraine, the US Congress is set to pass an NSA “reform” bill that will force private companies to retain our personal data and make it even easier for the NSA to spy on the rest of us. We need to refocus our priorities toward promoting liberty in the United States!

[The Ron Paul Institute]

Another Bailout of Lenders, This Time in Ukraine

National Bank of Ukraine

National Bank of Ukraine

By Michael S. Rozeff 

The IMF is lending $18 billion to Ukraine’s government, so that it can pay one small part of its huge debts. The money will go to the lenders, which include banks, mainly in Europe, and other investors in Ukraine’s bonds. This will not stem Ukraine’s economic decline. The IMF’s price includes higher taxes, which will make it worse.

There are several possible recipes for reviving Ukraine’s economy. One of them is to mimic the German miracle. Ludwig Erhard understood how to do it. See here and here and here.

Another avenue is to repudiate the debt and start over again with sound policies that basically disallow the government from borrowing anything except perhaps seasonal borrowing against that year’s tax receipts, to be cleaned up for at least one month each year so that there’d be a no-debt period.

As a general rule, no government should ever borrow anything on a permanent basis. Allowing that is to allow a government to spend now and tax future generations. Clearly it has a huge incentive to do exactly that if it can borrow in anything but seasonal debt. One state after another then gets into the situation of either excessive debt or a depreciating currency or both.

One of the more amazing things about the world at present is that the major robberies accomplished by its states are done right out in the open and celebrated. Furthermore, institutions like the IMF that fail time and again, even report their failures in great detail before repeating them anew. For example, the IMF has a 51-page report explaining its failures in its Greek loan program.

Another amazing thing is that people like Erhard are ignored. Here is a government official who has succeeded in creating an economic miracle in Germany and who has explained how he succeeded in lucid prose. Any country’s government can imitate what he did, but they do not. And the IMF is an added inducement to ignore appropriate policies that encourage economic growth.

More: LewRockwell.com, March 27, 2014

Ron Paul, Richard Cobden, and the Risks of Opposing War

Ukraine conflictRyan McMaken writes in today’s Mises Daily: 

For those who can remember the lead up to the Iraq War in 2003, this should all feel like déjà vu since many at that time, including some libertarians, claimed that opponents of invasion were “pro-Saddam Hussein” for pointing out that Iraq clearly had no weapons of mass destruction, and that his secular regime was probably preferable to the murderous Islamist oligarchy that has replaced it.

Paul remains in good company with the likes of Cobden, H.L. Mencken, William Graham Sumner, and virtually the entire membership of the American Anti-Imperialist League, including Edward Atkinson who encouraged American soldiers in the Philippines to mutiny. These were radical principled opponents of militarism who opposed government violence at great risk to themselves and their reputations. Some modern American libertarians, on the other hand, well out of reach of the Russian state, would rather spend their time stating what everyone already knows: Russia is not a libertarian paradise.

 

Ron Paul in ‘USA Today’

From his column in today’s USA Today:

Critics point to the Russian “occupation” of Crimea as evidence that no fair vote could have taken place. Where were these people when an election held in an Iraq occupied by U.S. troops was called a “triumph of democracy”?

Perhaps the U.S. officials who supported the unconstitutional overthrow of Ukraine’s government should refocus their energies on learning our own Constitution, which does not allow the U.S. government to overthrow governments overseas or send a billion dollars to bail out Ukraine and its international creditors.

Though the Obama administration has applied some minimal sanctions on selected Russian and Crimean individuals, neither the U.S. nor the EU can afford significant sanctions against Russia. Global trade provides too much economic benefit to both sides.

Ron Paul Interviewed in ‘The Guardian’ About Crimea

Here, Ron Paul discusses Crimean secession:

“That is our how our country was started,” he said. “It was the right of self-determination, and voting, and asking and even fighting for it, and seceding. Of course libertarians were delighted with the secession of the various countries and units of government away from the Soviet Union, so yes, we want the people to make the decisions.”

US Foreign Interventions Help Putin

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By Andrew P. Napolitano

What happens when the United States government participates meaningfully in toppling foreign governments in the name of spreading democracy? That behavior usually results in unintended consequences and often produces disasters.

When the United States invaded Iraq in 2003, initially to search for weapons of mass destruction that we now know the Bush administration knew did not exist there, and eventually for regime change, the U.S. succeeded in changing profoundly the Iraqi government. But in the process, we lost 4,500 American troops, suffered 45,000 substantial injuries, borrowed and spent and have not paid back more than $2 trillion, caused the deaths of 650,000 Iraqis, displaced 2.5 million Iraqis, and unleashed into Iraq our public enemy, al-Qaida. Al-Qaida was not in Iraq before we invaded. Today, it controls one-third of that now unstable country.

In 2010, President Obama decided he no longer liked America’s favorite Middle Eastern dictator, President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, even though he and his four immediate predecessors gave the Mubarak government about $4 billion annually. So our agents fomented revolution in the streets while Obama suggested openly that it was time for Mubarak to leave office. Then the hoped-for and promised free elections took place, and avowed enemy of the West and Islamic fanatic Mohammed Morsi became the first popularly elected president in Egyptian history. Then the U.S. decided it did not want him in power no matter the lawfulness and moral legitimacy of his election, and so the Obama administration encouraged a military coup.

Morsi was arrested by his own military commanders and is currently on trial for permitting his soldiers under those same commanders to kill nine people who were resisting the coup, even though the American-backed military plotters — who now rule Egypt and are prosecuting Morsi — have killed thousands of Egyptian civilians who attempted to resist the removal of Morsi from office. The result is a military dictatorship and murderous resistance far more odious than in the Mubarak years.

And in Ukraine in 2004, the Bush administration fomented the so-called Orange Revolution. This, too, was done by our diplomats and intelligence community, whose agents agitated demonstrators in the streets and liberally distributed American dollars to them. This resulted in a free election, which resulted in subsequent free elections, until the most recent of those produced a president who — as an ex-communist — was more drawn to Russia than to the U.S. or Europe.

When the Ukraine government needed cash and Russia offered it a better deal than the European Union, our imperial diplomats and lawless intelligence gurus were embarrassed. So, the U.S. fomented another revolution in the streets of Kiev. One of our diplomats, Victoria Nuland, acknowledged as much in a tapped and taped (complete with expletives) and eventually viral cellphone conversation. Then, Viktor Yanukovich, the popularly and lawfully elected Ukraine president, was toppled and fled to Moscow. The new unelected Ukraine president has received American recognition and help. Earlier this week, the U.S. offered him $1 billion in immediate cash.

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The President’s Foreign Policy: Speak Loudly and Carry a Small Stick

-Getting_em_up-_at_U.S.Naval_Training_Camp,_Seattle,_Washington._Webster_&_Stevens._-_NARA_-_533698.tifAt the beginning of the twentieth century, President Teddy Roosevelt’s foreign policy was, “Speak softly and carry a big stick.” At the beginning of the twenty-first, President Obama’s policy appears to the the opposite: “Speak loudly and carry a small stick.”

President Obama threatened Syria not to step over a “red line” by using chemical weapons or they would face serious repercussions, but they did, without the serious repercussions. He threatened Iran if they continued their nuclear enrichment programs, but they continue as we ease sanctions on them. More recently, he warned Putin “there would be costs for any military intervention in Ukraine,” but realistically, what could he do? Everybody can see it’s big talk with no stick to back it up.

Meanwhile, Putin has indicated a retreat in Ukraine, not because of the big talk from Obama, but because Russia’s hand was slapped by the response of markets. Russian stocks fell by 12% after Russian military forces moved into the Ukraine, and the ruble took a serious hit as well. The reaction of the market had a bigger effect on Putin’s aggression than Obama’s small stick.

The discipline of the market in international affairs is not new to Russia. The Berlin Wall fell, and the Soviet Union dissolved, not because of the military might of the Cold War nations, but because of the economic strength of capitalism compared to socialism.

Because our Cold War adversaries are increasingly a part of the global economy, markets generate repercussions to belligerent actions beyond those of any prudent political responses.

I don’t expect the Russians to pull out of the Ukraine. They are still occupying a part of the Republic of Georgia after having invaded there in 2008. What I’m saying is that any moderation of Russian policy there is more directed by the market’s response rather than any international political response.

I am not too concerned about President Obama’s actual policy responses. The small stick is OK with me, and we can see in Iraq and Afghanistan what can go wrong when we try to play the role of the world’s policeman. The problem is the “speaking loudly” part, because it costs our president, and our country, some credibility when people know the president won’t follow through on his big talk.

Mises Explains the Ukraine Conundrum

Tory_Refugees_by_Howard_Pyle

Loyalists exiled by American revolutionaries

Obviously, Mises could not anticipate the specific conflict now at work in the Ukraine, but here we see the sorts of conflics we have witnessed time and time again within multiethnic countries, in two or more groups fight over control of the central state which enables one ethnic or linguistic group the ability to crush another.

We’ve certainly seen similar conflicts in the United States (sometimes along ethnic lines and sometimes not), and we see it today in the Ukraine. Anywhere a strong state exists, different factions will battle to control that state. As Mises noted, as long as states exist, the only way to deal with this reality is to lessen the need and desire to control the central state, and this is done by making the state weak.

In Liberalism (1929),  Mises wrote:

Modern imperialism is distinguished from the expansionist tendencies of the absolute principalities by the fact that its moving spirits are not the members of the ruling dynasty, nor even of the nobility, the bureaucracy, or the officers’ corps of the army bent on personal enrichment and aggrandizement by plundering the resources of conquered territories, but the mass of the people, who look upon it as the most appropriate means for the preservation of national independence. In the complex network of antiliberal policies, which have so far expanded the functions of the state as to leave hardly any field of human activity free of government interference, it is futile to hope for even a moderately satisfactory solution of the political problems of the areas in which members of several nationalities live side by side. If the government of these territories is not conducted along completely liberal lines, there can be no question of even an approach to equality of rights in the treatment of the various national groups.There can then be only rulers and those ruled. The only choice is whether one will be hammer or anvil. Thus, the striving, for as strong a national state as possible, one that can extend its control to all territories of mixed nationality, becomes an indispensable requirement of national self-preservation. [Emphasis added.]

Ron Paul: Leave Ukraine Alone

Flag_colorsby Ron Paul

Last week Ukraine saw its worst violence since the break-up of the Soviet Union over 20 years ago. Protesters occupying the main square in the capitol city, Kiev, clashed with police leaving many protesters and police dead and many more wounded. It is an ongoing tragedy and it looks like there is no end in sight.

The current conflict stems from a divide between western Ukraine, which seeks a closer association with the European Union, and the eastern part of the country, which has closer historic ties to Russia.

The usual interventionists in the US have long meddled in the internal affairs of Ukraine. In 2003 it was US government money that helped finance the Orange Revolution, as US-funded NGOs favoring one political group over the other were able to change the regime. These same people have not given up on Ukraine. They keep pushing their own agenda for Ukraine behind the scenes, even as they ridicule anyone who claims US involvement.

A recent leaked telephone conversation between two senior government officials made it clear that not only was the US involved in the Ukrainian unrest, the US was actually seeking to determine who should make up the next Ukrainian government!

Senator John McCain, who has made several trips to Ukraine recently to meet with the opposition, wrote last week that the US must stand up to support the territorial integrity of Ukraine, including Crimea.

Why are US government officials so eager to tell the Ukrainians what they should do? Has anyone bothered to ask the Ukrainians? What if might help alleviate the ongoing violence and bloodshed if the Ukrainians decide to re-make the country as a looser confederation of regions rather than one tightly controlled by a central government? Perhaps Ukraine engaged in peaceful trade with countries both to the west and east would benefit all sides. But outside powers seem to be fighting a proxy war, with Ukraine suffering the most because of it.

If you asked most Americans how they feel, my bet is that you would discover they are sick and tired of the US government getting involved in every crisis that arises. Certainly the American people want none of of this intervention in Ukraine. They understand, as recent polls have shown, that our interventionist foreign policy is only creating more enemies overseas. And they also understand that we are out of money. We could not afford to be the policemen of world even if we wanted to be.

And I bet if we asked the Ukrainians, a vast majority of them would prefer that the US — and Russia and the European Union — stay out their affairs and respect their sovereignty. Is it so difficult to understand why people resent being lectured and bribed by foreign governments? All we need to do is put ourselves in the place of the Ukrainians and ask ourselves how we would feel if we were in the middle of a tug-of-war between a very strong Canada on one side and a very strong Mexico on the other. We would resent it as well. So let’s keep our hands off of Ukraine and let them solve their own problems!

[Via the FREE Foundation]

Ron Paul: Ukraine Should Split into Smaller Counties

In this video, Ron Paul notes what is obvious to any actual libertarian: US intervention in Ukraine is a horrible idea. But at 2:45 he also notes that it would probably be prudent for the Ukrainians to pursue a policy of “separation” into smaller units of government. In this case, of course, the logical thing do would be to decentralize into one at least pro-Western country and at least one pro-Russian country. Or, as Paul notes here, another option is to create a “confederation” with two or more autonomous areas of Ukraine that can govern themselves internally in each region while still formally part of Ukraine.

Either way, decentralization and confederation is always preferable to civil war.