JESSICA DESVARIEUX, TRNN PRODUCER: Welcome to The Real News Network. I’m Jessica Desvarieux in Baltimore. And welcome to this edition of The Hudson Report.
Now joining us is Michael Hudson. He is a distinguished research professor of economics at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. His two newest books are The Bubble and Beyond and Finance Capitalism and Its Discontents.
Thanks for joining us, Michael.
MICHAEL HUDSON, PROF. ECONOMICS, UMKC: Thank you, Jessica.
DESVARIEUX: So, Micheal, what are you tracking this week?
HUDSON: The big news is all about the Ukraine. And it’s about the events that happened in the shootings on February 20. Late last week, the German television program ARD Monitor, which is sort of their version of 60 Minutes here, had an investigative report of the shootings in Maidan, and what they found out is that contrary to what President Obama is saying, contrary to what the U.S. authorities are saying, that the shooting was done by the U.S.-backed Svoboda Party and the protesters themselves, the snipers and the bullets all came from the Hotel Ukrayina, which was the center of where the protests were going, and the snipers on the hotel were shooting not only at the demonstrators, but also were shooting at their own–at the police and the demonstrators to try to create chaos. They’ve spoken to the doctors, who said that all of the bullets and all of the wounded people came from the same set of guns. They’ve talked to reporters who were embedded with the demonstrators, the anti-Russian forces, and they all say yes. All the witnesses are in agreement: the shots came from the Hotel Ukrayina. The hotel was completely under the control of the protesters, and it was the government that did it.
So what happened was that after the coup d’état, what they call the new provisional government put a member of the Svoboda Party, the right-wing terrorist party, in charge of the investigation. And the relatives of the victims who were shot are saying that the government is refusing to show them the autopsies, they’re refusing to share the information with their doctors, they’re cold-shouldering them, and that what is happening is a coverup. It’s very much like the film Z about the Greek colonels trying to blame the murder of the leader on the protesters, rather than on themselves.
Now, the real question that the German data has is: why, if all of this is front-page news in Germany, front-page news in Russia–the Russian TV have been showing their footage, showing the sniping–why would President Obama directly lie to the American people? This is the equivalent of Bush’s weapons of mass destruction. Why would Obama say the Russians are doing the shooting in the Ukraine that’s justified all of this anti-Russian furor? And why wouldn’t he say the people that we have been backing with $5 billion for the last five or ten years, our own people, are doing the shooting, we are telling them to doing the shooting, we are behind them, and we’re the ones who are the separatists?
What has happened is that the Western Ukraine, the U.S. part, are the separatists trying to break up the Ukraine, in keeping, pretty much, with what Brzezinski advised in his book some years ago when he said breaking Ukraine off from Russia would be the equivalent of blocking any Russian potential military power.
Now, the only American who’s spoken up against this was, last Friday, very quickly, President Carter. And Jimmy Carter said in an interview with Salon he’s very worried. He says, quote, “The rest of the world, almost unanimously, looks at America as the No. 1 warmonger. That we revert to armed conflict almost at the drop of a hat–and quite often it’s not only desired by the leaders of our country, but it’s also supported by the people of America.”
Now, the next day in The Financial Times they did an interview with Singapore’s prime minister, Lee. And the prime minister, Lee, said, I think you–to the Financial Times interviewer, “I think you should have thought of that before encouraging the demonstrators on the Maidan.” I think some people–meaning the U.S.–didn’t think through all the consequences. Can you take responsibility for the consequences? And when it comes to grief, will you be there? You can’t be there, since you have so many other interests to protect.
So what foreign leaders are saying: look what American’s doing. This is what it did in the Hungarian Revolution in 1956, and again with the Czechs in 1968. It encourages foreign groups to fight against the Russians, promises support, and then it just leaves them hanging.
The Ukrainians in the East are–the Russian-speakers, are very worried, because the separatists in the West, the American-backed separatists, have already begun to cut off water to Crimea, saying, well, you’re not going to get the water, we’re going to starve you out. They’ve already come and gone into Eastern Ukraine. They’ve closed down the Russian-speaking TV stations, saying, if you’re trying to defend against the IMF and the eurozone austerity plan that we have, if you’re disagreeing with austerity, if you’re disagreeing for our removing the gas subsidy and making you–razing your rights, we’re accusing you of separatism. They’ve begun to arrest protesters against austerity. They’ve sent in assassination squads to begin killing the people who are protesting the Western-backed austerity plans for the Ukrainians.
Now, already in today’s news you have Ukrainians in Western Ukraine saying, wait a minute, our jobs, to the extent that we’re working for factories and industry–we make real cars for Russia, we make inputs to Russian armaments for the airplanes, for the other things–our market is in Russia. We’ve tried to sell to Germany. We’re not able to sell to Germany. Andrew Jack in today’s Financial Timeshas an article on that, that there’s already very low living standards in the Eastern Ukraine. Their only hope is to keep employment. Their only means of employment is to sell to Russia. And now they’re being forced into a condition to say, look, either you separate, or we’ll separate and leave you.
Putin has continually said he has no desire at all for Russia to take part of the Eastern Ukraine. And the reason is quite simple. It’s been simple for the last 20 years. Ukraine is not really very self-supporting. It’s a burden to whoever takes it. Russia doesn’t want the burden of supporting the Ukraine. So Putin has asked for a meeting with the Europeans and the Americans to talk about a federal Ukraine, sort of a loose federation where each region will have its own autonomy and all the three regions will agree not to have atom bombs right on their border.
What President Obama said over the weekend was, we will only have a meeting if you surrender, Russia, to us, if you agree not to charge Ukraine for gas, if you agree to give them gas for nothing at all, without getting paid for gas month after month. You have to promise to keep giving all of Ukraine gas. You have to give them the money so they can buy our arms to fight against you.
And the president has just–Obama, has just sent naval vessels with atomic weapons into the Black Sea, threatening Putin to wipe out Russia in 20 minutes. He’s threatening World War III. Europeans are scared stiff about this because they know that they’ll be the first recipients of a Russian retaliation.
Why is America rattling this? It’s as if Obama is channeling Dick Cheney. Why is he not telling the American people, look, we’ve backed opponents to Russia and I’m afraid they’ve got out of hand, we’re really very sorry that they’ve been shooting innocent civilians, we’re sorry they’re sorry acting illegally, we’re sorry they’re kleptocrats, we’re sorry they have closed all other Russian-speaking TV stations, we’re sorry that they’re–you know, this is bad behavior, this is not democracy, what we want to back is democracy?
But he’s not saying that. He’s saying, not only are we backing the right-wingers, but we told Putin that there’s no–don’t even bother coming to a meeting with us unless you give Ukraine gas for nothing. Well, Putin gave a speech in Russia saying that Russia is the only country that actually gives to the Ukraine, that is actually giving them gas. He says that the West has been encouraging him, egging them on, but hasn’t been giving given them any money at all.
Now Germany’s worried–and that’s why it was the German television station that did this investigative report–Germany’s worried because it gets its gas over a pipeline that runs through the Ukraine. And the Ukrainians’ Svoboda Party, the party in charge of investigating the Maidan massacre, is saying, we’re going to blow up the pipelines to Russia, because what we want to do is prevent Russia from getting the foreign exchange by selling its gas that it would use to build up its military power.
So someone in the neocon administration here in America has said, look, if we can just stop Russia from getting export payments for its gas, it won’t have enough money for militarization and we’ll win the Cold War. This is the coup de grace, as Brzezinski wrote in his book before. And this is crazy. The Russians say, well, it’s true that Ukraine is making a lot of our arms, that we’re importing it from them, but we can replicate the factories here. It’ll cost us a little more money, but we have unemployment in Russia. We’re going to have to actually build up our own industry. And we’re obviously thinking very quickly of how much we can export to China, Iran. They’re immediately making a rapprochement with Iran. They’re now questioning whether they’re going to let the Americans withdraw from Afghanistan through Russia by saying, wait a minute, if you just moved naval vessels with atomic weapons right into the Black Sea, threatening, you know, to bomb us, we’re not going to let your army come into Russia from Afghanistan, because you may just keep on coming. This is crazy.
This is what the whole world is talking about, and there’s a total news blackout here. Now, normally there’s only a news blackout like that if there’s something very serious going on. I can see Obama is worried about how is he going to go down in history coming off like George Bush with his weapons of mass destruction line, but we may not have more, in a couple of days, of history left if he continues along this path. It’s like the Tom Lehrer song, so long, mommy, I’m off to drop the bomby, I’ll be home when the war is over, a couple of hours from now. That’s the kind of danger that we’re in. And it’s as if the Americans said, well, it’s all about freedom fighters trying to defend themselves against the Russian bear, where it’s really a case of America trying to goad Russia into acting intemperately. So the question is: where are we going to go from here?
DESVARIEUX: Alright. Michael Hudson, thank you so much for joining us.
HUDSON: Thank you, Jessica.
DESVARIEUX: And thank you for joining us on The Real News Network.