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Comment Archives: Stories: News & Opinion: Columns

Re: “Facts, fiction, and Ukraine

To Martin J.

Your thoughtful, knowledgeable comments here encourage me to ask if you
would consider joining a panel on Ukraine that Rochester Against War
(RAW) plans to hold in the near future. We already have confirmed a UR professor as a panelist and are seeking a panelist from the local Ukrainian-American community.

RAW has organized many such events during the past decade, in order
to offer public discussion of critical issues not adequately debated
in mainstream media. The complexity of the Ukraine crisis, ignored by
mainstream media, is a case in point.

I am the author of this City piece and a co-founder of RAW over a decade ago. Please contact me at dougdnoble@gmail.com. Thanks. Doug Noble

Posted by DOUG N on 06/02/2014 at 10:12 AM

Re: “Facts, fiction, and Ukraine

All the back and forth from various state press agencies aside, there are a handful of facts about Ukraine that are pretty clear.

There was a democracy in Ukraine with a democratically elected President - that he was corrupt, and his govt inefficient and largely unliked by many simply means they are no different from most governments across the globe.

While most of the Maidan protesters simply wanted a better life and felt Yanukovitch was sacrificing a great opportunity, the elements that escalated the conflict to a deadly one were absolutely neo-Nazi and hard right. The photos don't lie, plenty of neo-nazi symbols on the barricades and adorning the riot shields and garb of the anti-govt combatants. Far right leaders were rewarded with several high level posts in the current govt, also not propaganda. The resignation of many regional elected officials associated with the ousted Part of Regions, by threat of a hammer or bat to the head, also not propaganda.

What Yanukovitch ultimately wound up sacrificing was a continuity of legitimate govt by not responding with enough force when the protests turned into a violent coup attempt (pics of law enforcement being hit with firebombs also not propaganda). If the capital of Ukraine had been in Donetsk or even Odessa, it never would have blown up the way it did. Keep in mind the wretched hypocrisy of the EU and USA, threatening all manner of consequences if Yanukovitch used force to restore order when folks were burning people and government buildings, yet they rubber stamp use of artillery and air support on people who aren't threatening anyone and whose only initial demand was a referendum on greater autonomy. If only they weren't sitting on a sizable shale gas formation, or dealing with a legitimate, accountable government, they might have gotten somewhere.

Voters across the country and primarily across the East had the legitimate expression of their political will flushed down the toilet. It was many weeks of buildup and requests to the coup imposed government for a referendum on Federalization before the E Ukraine residents started to take political matters into their own hands. I cannot fathom how the democratic political will of these people can be so casually disregarded as Russian manipulation, yet the product of a violent overthrow can be immediately accepted as the legitimate voice of the entire country's will. Note, the coup imposed government was quick to accept an EU deal with no legitimate mandate - what cannot be done democratically, the EU, IMF, USA is always ready to accept on the decree of a self-imposed government - send in the CIA and assorted psyops and military advisers to safeguard the investment!

This is tied in to the delay of the "interim" government in responding to the Eastern region backlash - they had to import troops and recruit a "National Guard" from hard right activists in the Western parts of the country, the locals wouldn't shoot at their fellow citizens. These can only be called paramilitaries, and their arrival on the scene was punctuated by a willingness to use force where unquestionably, dialogue would have sufficed.

Another fact - Yanukovitch and Putin weren't good buddies. The EU integration deal was scrapped because it wasn't a good deal for Ukraine's economy or banking sector aside from the agricultural sector(read the details and how it would have worked when the rubber hit the road). To top it off, it would have trashed the export potential of the only consistently functional industrial region of the country, the Eastern third. Yanukovitch might have done a better job of explaining this to his countrymen, but likely wouldn't have helped. The EU deal is all about access to Ukraine's natural resources, much like the recent Colombian trade deal with the US, it has nothing to do with democracy or a beneficial outcome for the majority of Ukraine's citizens.

A final thought when comparing propaganda from various state sources, one would be hard pressed to find a more consistently dishonest source of information than the US State Dept, anywhere in the world. Generally speaking if one is interested in the truth you can start with an assumption the State Dept is lying and work backward trying to prove otherwise - is frequently impossible. If one simply waits a few months even the mainstream media will eventually have to publish the truth regarding their overheated falsehoods ...in a trickle on page 5 or 6.

Posted by Martin J on 06/02/2014 at 9:26 AM

Re: “Facts, fiction, and Ukraine

I am an American that just returned from Russia because the non-profit I was working for was shut down. I have two graduate degrees related to the study of the former Soviet Union and have spent nearly five years there.

The assertions that the US frequently misled and even lied to Russia regarding NATO enlargement are largely true. We have engaged in an extremely flawed and often disingenuous policy towards Russia since 1991.

That said, where is your evidence that the US was paying people to protest in Kyiv? I know hundreds of western-minded people who participated in the protests in the last year in Ukraine (by the way I speak Ukrainian, have published articles on national identity in Ukraine, and have been to Crimea and Donetsk) and none of them were on the US payroll. That is a Kremlin assertion. People protested because they were not having their needs served by a corrupt and inept government. And to deny that Russia is not getting involved in developments in Eastern Ukraine would make one wonder if you're not on the Kremlin's payroll. As someone that consumes Russian news media on a daily basis (both official and opposition) it's obvious that Russia is very involved. Of course, they are not sending ground troops, but don't deny that there are thousands of troops amassed at the border (a message in and of itself), communications, and encouragement. And never mind the many Russian citizens that have crossed the border to get things rolling in Eastern Ukraine.

This statement is absurd:

"Much of the unrest in eastern Ukraine was driven by fear over austerity measures threatened by the pro-Western government. This in part was why in Crimea, people voted overwhelmingly to return to Russia, although the US still blames Moscow's aggression for this voluntary annexation."

I was in Russia the whole time. I don't know where you get this information from. I don't even think anyone would agree with you here, neither anti-Russian Americans, pro-European Ukrainians, Russian nationalists, or residents of Donetsk.

I would love to debate you, but please spend a few years learning about what's going on there first. This analysis is nearly as bad as the US government's.

3 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by Peredelkino on 05/25/2014 at 8:05 PM

Re: “Facts, fiction, and Ukraine

Mr. Noble's open affection for soviet style communism/socialism is on full display here. He is in disbelief that his beloved communism/socialism is being exposed worldwide for the inhumane fraud that it is. So what does mr. Noble do as a response? He fails at attempting to slander and discredit the ukranian people struggling to free themselves from it. Pathetic.

3 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by mika on 05/23/2014 at 7:29 PM

Re: “Facts, fiction, and Ukraine

The article is not based on "inconvenient facts", like the author puts it, but on the Russian propaganda pieces. The author displays a pro-Russian, anti-Ukrainian, anti-American and anti-Western point of view. He is lucky to live in the U.S. and not Russia - where such article criticizing the Russian government would not be published and would cost him his freedom.

6 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by The Patriot on 05/23/2014 at 11:35 AM

Re: “Facts, fiction, and Ukraine

The author in his anti-war activism not only repeats all the cliches of the kremlin propaganda, but even goes beyond it.
Not even Kremlin takes the recent farce in eastern Ukraine seriously enough to call it "referenda" without quotation marks.
I do not agree with some of my Ukrainian friends, who are fast to blame the author of being a payed pro-kremlin mouthpiece.
But I blame him of being lazy and naive, and as a consequence - immoral.
Mr. Noble,
You get your information from only one source just because it fits your ideology so well. If only you spent some time researching the readily available information from Ukraine you wouldn't call the Russian aggression "alleged". You would repeat the myth about thousands of payed Maidan activists. To make a long story short, you wouldn't write this piece. Maybe, you would write another one - about the striking differences between the belligerent conduct of the American administration in 2003 and the indecisive conduct of the current administration.

I am a former Russian citizen. It is hard for me to see that my home country became a fascist state, an aggressor. People who do not see it fall into two major categories: those who are not really interested in what is going on there, and those who get their information about Russia and the world from Russian TV.
It looks like you belong to both categories.

7 likes, 2 dislikes
Posted by Semion Kiriakidi on 05/21/2014 at 10:44 PM

Re: “Facts, fiction, and Ukraine

As an American of Ukrainian descent, I'm not picking sides, I'm just praying for peace.

5 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by Roman Divezur on 05/21/2014 at 9:07 PM

Re: “Facts, fiction, and Ukraine

Here is better explanation about fascism in Ukraine:

http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2014/mar/20/fascism-russia-and-ukraine/?insrc=rel

4 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by Mary on 05/21/2014 at 3:28 PM

Re: “Facts, fiction, and Ukraine

Author doesn’t say anything regarding memorandum signed in 1994 in Budapest:

The Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances is a political agreement signed in Budapest, Hungary on 5 December 1994, providing security assurances by its signatories relating to Ukraine's accession to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. The Memorandum was originally signed by three nuclear powers, the Russian Federation, the United States of America, and the United Kingdom. China and France gave somewhat weaker individual assurances in separate documents.

The memorandum included security assurances against threats or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of Ukraine as well as those of Belarus and Kazakhstan. As a result Ukraine gave up the world's third largest nuclear weapons stockpile between 1994 and 1996.

Following the 2014 Crimean crisis, the U.S., Canada and the U.K. all separately stated that Russian involvement is in breach of its obligations to Ukraine under the Budapest Memorandum, and in clear violation of Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity.

6 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by Vlad SlavaUkraini on 05/21/2014 at 3:09 PM

Re: “Facts, fiction, and Ukraine

as an american,i do beleive that we have a trustworthy government,but its no secret that there is no honest politician.when bush jr was in office he declared war with saddam and other supposed iraqi terrorists,because he wanted the american government to police the world. 9/11 was a trick by government agents to pin something on these supposed terrorists,when they had nothing to do with any attack on us,the boston marathon bombing was similar to this trick to further plant something on fake terrorists.politics is a game of the best liar and there is a winner....the president of the united states

1 like, 7 dislikes
Posted by Drake365 on 05/21/2014 at 9:36 AM

Re: “The high-risk stakes in Crimea and Ukraine

To his credit, President Obama today flatly and forcefully debunked Putin's pathetic attempts to equate his seizure of Crimea with the allied liberation of Iraq.

1 like, 0 dislikes
Posted by b.d.g. on 03/26/2014 at 7:48 PM

Re: “The high-risk stakes in Crimea and Ukraine

So the argument is that everyone should talk it out rather than beginning a war involving the two largest military powers in the world? Groundbreaking conclusion. Also you condemned Hillary for comparing Russian actions to Hitler's, then say that she was right. We can't condemn polititians for lying constantly, and then condemn them for telling the truth. And FINALLY it comes to light that the the Nazis invaded the nations of Europe because Woodrow said it was cool.

Posted by Jeff on 03/21/2014 at 7:50 AM

Re: “The high-risk stakes in Crimea and Ukraine

Crimea and Kosovo are not in the same moral universe — nor are the other situations the author cites remotely comparable.

Iraq, for example, was liberated precisely because the vaunted "international system" proved itself incapable of dealing with a psychotic despot like Saddam Hussein.

3 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by b.d.g. on 03/20/2014 at 10:58 PM

Re: “The high-risk stakes in Crimea and Ukraine

While I agree that the US's (and Europe's) response to the crisis has been ill conceived, your defense of the people of Crimea's right to self-determination seems a bit naive. How can their cries for self-determination be taken seriously when only a slim majority of their citizens are ethnic Russians and when this cry of freedom suddenly rang out when Crimea was full of Russian troops. I'm sure the Tatars and the Ukrainians who live there don't feel the same way.

2 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by Michael Osadciw on 03/20/2014 at 9:33 AM

Re: “The real solution to Rochester's poverty

And if the minimum wage had kept up with productivity (a good definition of "wealth creation") then the minimum wage would be at $22 hour at this point.

Meanwhile, the ratio of (American) CEO salaries to average worker salaries, 1980: 44:1; 1990: 91:1; today, somewhere in the 200 - 300 to 1 ratio.

4 likes, 5 dislikes
Posted by Troll Whisperer on 03/05/2014 at 8:24 PM

Re: “The real solution to Rochester's poverty

We can easily go back to the dawn of the industrial revolution (a little over 200 years), when wealth creation took off although mostly for management and owners: "The unions" gave us, you know, the weekend, the end of child labor, the minimum wage, paid vacation (for workers), the 40 hour work week, workers safety and a bunch of other things that we "couldn't afford." People were killed to get us those things - in our time. Funny what the wealthiest country in history can and cannot afford. And the secret to America's post war success, 1945 - 73? A well-paid work force.

5 likes, 4 dislikes
Posted by Troll Whisperer on 03/05/2014 at 8:17 PM

Re: “The real solution to Rochester's poverty

@Tim: No, none of us was around at the dawn of humankind, but it's no mystery what the living standards were. As you may have heard, it was all nasty, brutish, and short. (Inequality, by the way, was way beyond anything we can imagine now, based as it was on survival of the fittest.)

It wasn't labor unions that lifted humankind out of its wretched condition. A billion years of union activism would never have accomplished that, because unions don't create wealth.

We can fret and whine all we want over slicing the pie, but it's neither here nor there unless the pie consistently grows faster than the population. Human advancement comes from economic growth and development, not from politics and resentment.

9 likes, 5 dislikes
Posted by b.d.g. on 03/05/2014 at 7:51 PM

Re: “The real solution to Rochester's poverty

It's pretty funny that this week in Rochester, of all weeks, there would be union bashing on these pages - this, the week it was announced the outgoing CEO of Excellus Blues received a nearly $13 million compensation and the CFO receive nearly $11 million as well. (Ever wonder why America spends twice as much as the other Western nations on health care, and we're stuck at #36 in quality?) Here is a classic example of modern American management. We have hundreds of other examples, easily, including some biggies here in Rochester. If we have ever needed more unions, it's right now. The problem isn't a well paid work force, for cryin' out loud, the problem is colossal greed and narcissism of modern American business management.

6 likes, 6 dislikes
Posted by Troll Whisperer on 03/05/2014 at 7:04 PM

Re: “The real solution to Rochester's poverty

"Poverty is hardly 'man-made', but rather is the natural condition of humankind."

B.D.G, where did you find this pearl of wisdom? You were hanging out at the dawn of humankind and have the privilege of reporting this back to us?

Crows, squirrels, and trees have a "natural condition". Humans do not. Humans create the conditions they live in. Humans create the conditions that make a few wealthy and many more poor. Bruce Popper reminds us that humans, working together in unions, have have changed their conditions and reduced inequality. We must strengthen and continue this struggle.

Unfounded statements, like the one B.D.G has made, are only distractions.

Want some empirical evidence of declining union density and increasing inequality? Check out this article:

http://economix.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/08/04/labors-decline-and-wage-inequality/?_php=true&_type=blogs&_r=0

4 likes, 9 dislikes
Posted by Tim Munier on 03/05/2014 at 3:38 PM

Re: “The real solution to Rochester's poverty

The decline of union density makes me fear for my daughters' future. In state legislatures across the country the voices of union members are often the only effective counterbalance to the conservative assault on the American working family. As union strength diminishes those 1% lobbyists face less opposition to push thru their ALEC agenda. And many times unions fight for issues aside from pocketbook and kitchen table stuff - unions ally with citizens around women's rights, immigration, tax policy, infrastructure priorities, education funding, and other issues that effect non-union citizens.

However, let's not hate on the power of government to address poverty and make this either/or. Government action can also help address poverty through a variety of fiscal and finance public policy mechanisms (besides facilitating organizing) - minimum wage, Fed policy, infrastructure investment, trade deals, safety net programs etc.

I'm dying to know which non-profit spent hundreds of thousands on anti-union consultants. I hope it isn't my agency.

11 likes, 14 dislikes
Posted by Jon Greenbaum on 03/03/2014 at 3:59 PM

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