CCDS Members “Speak Out”

Ukraine Crisis: A Deeper Look at the Forces Involved

by Randy Shannon

The situation in the Ukraine is cause for concern. An additional cause for concern is the deliberate distortion and misrepresentation of events there by the US media. And this is a situation that calls for Americans to study some history really quickly.

What seems to have happened based on the US media is that a “revolution” against a brutal thieving government by democracy loving people has taken place. And the Russians are trying to “violate” the territorial integrity of the Ukraine.

What really happened is that Nazi sympathizers, Nationalistic, anti-Semitic, and anti-Russian forces long nurtured by the CIA and elites in the West took over a west Ukrainian city, broke into its armory and used the weapons to overthrow the Constitutional government. The President fled the capital and the country. The far right government immediately eliminated the Russian language as an official language of the state and sent armed militia into the Crimea to take over the security forces. The mayor of the capital of the Crimea and the President asked Russia to defend the regional government and the Russian people in the Ukraine.

A bit of history. The Ukraine Republic was created in 1954. The western Ukraine bordering on Europe was part of the Axis Powers during WW2. The eastern Ukraine was part of Russia. The Crimea was part of Russia. Russia agreed to cede Crimea and eastern Ukraine to make the Soviet Socialist Republic of Ukraine. The regions ceded by Russia were mostly populated by Russians, and minority Ukrainians and Tartars. Russians were guaranteed their civil and human rights in the new Soviet Socialist Republic.

The usurper government consists of a coalition of fascist, nationalists, and far rightists backed by the US and European allies. Two of the main fascist groups are the OUN (Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists) and the Svoboda Party (Social-National Party of Ukraine). The name Social-National Party of Ukraine is an intentional reference to Adolph Hitler’s National Socialist Party. The major social and cultural character of these fascist forces is hatred of Russia, Russian people, and the Russian language. The wealthy Ukrainians in the western part are descendants of the defeated Axis Powers. They have not accepted the defeat of fascism and feed this revanchist sentiment by blaming not Hitler, but Russia for their defeat. These revanchists have been nurtured by the CIA and similar forces in Europe.

The fascist-nationalist coalition has moved quickly to capture Ukraine in order to impose their economic dominance of the region. This serves two ends, first to immediately displace Russian economic interests in favor of their US patron. Also it furthers the objective of encirclement and subjugation of Russia and China by the US. The second objective was clearly mapped out by Zbigniev Brzezinski in his 1998 manual “The Grand Chessboard.” The Ukraine figures prominently in this strategy of conquest. As an aside, Pres. Obama, who must be one of the most well-read Presidents, made an interesting comment last week: “And our approach as the United States is not to see these as some Cold War chessboard in which we’re in competition with Russia.”

Based on this history it is eminently logical that the Russians living in Ukraine fear for their civil rights, if not possible violence. After all, the fascist coup was heavily armed and killed numerous police. And it is to be expected that since Russian had handed them over to Ukraine under previous peaceful conditions, that these Russians would now look to their former homeland to protect them. As an ancient culture and very old nation, Russia will act to uphold the rights and lives of its citizens, especially after having sacrificed 12 million people in WW2 to defeat the parents of today’s Ukrainian fascists. The Russian occupation of Crimea and eastern Ukraine is the only choice available now that powerful western corporations and secret agents have backed a fascist coup.

These forces are now demanding that the US and European governments support and help consolidate the coup government. As in the 1930’s anti-Russian forces are being armed, encouraged, and legitimized. The American people should demand that the threats stop and that the coup be denounced, and the coup government boycotted.

The Obama administration should call for a restitution of the Constitution of the Ukraine. The February 20th agreement between the Ukrainian government and the right wing opposition should be restored. The President of Ukraine should return to Kiev with his life protected. The elections scheduled by the fascists in May should be cancelled and the regularly scheduled elections at the end of the year reinstated.

Contact: Randolph Shannon

The Ethical Contradictions in a Greater Moral Good

(Published by FORsooth, newspaper of Louisville, Kentucky chapter of FOR [Fellowship of Reconciliation])

by Ira Grupper

U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell, Kentucky’s Republican Party incumbent, and Allison Lundergan Grimes, Democratic Party challenger, both got steamed up when a coal company announced layoffs, a few months ago. Reports James Bruggers, a Louisville Courier-Journal writer, on his blog: “Mitch McConnell blames Obama for loss of coal jobs”.

Alison Lundergan Grimes, not to be outdone, urged “restraint on climate rules for coal power plants,” and distanced herself from President Obama. Continues Bruggers: “There is apparently not much daylight today between Sen. Mitch McConnell and… Democratic challenger, Allison Lundergan Grimes, on the issue of Kentucky coal. Grimes…launched full-throated support of the coal industry — when James River Coal was announcing layoffs of more than 500 miners.”

Bruggers notes: “Absent from the statement was any recognition on the science of climate change or its impacts in our region or elsewhere. Or any talk of what Kentucky may need to do to adapt to climate change.”

Working class people in the United States can survive only by selling our labor power for a wage. What if that means producing napalm and phosgene and Agent Orange to burn the skin off innocent Vietnamese people, or making cigarettes which, when used as directed, can kill you, or mining coal, which poisons the atmosphere and coal miners’ lungs?

Satirist and folk singer Tom Lehrer once wrote about the former Nazi scientist who designed the V2 rocket that wreaked havoc on London, England in World War II, and who the United States government recruited to come to the United States after World War II to work for us: “Once the rockets go up/Who cares where they come down./That’s not my department,/Says Werner von Braun”.

I’ve pondered this question for decades, and I have a personal story to go with it.

In the 1970’s I was among the first group of disabled people in the United States to win a handicap-discrimination complaint under a law that preceded the ADA, the Americans With Disabilities Act.

The company I forced to hire me is a multi-national Fortune 500 corporation, with a factory here in Louisville, Kentucky at that time. This was a cigarette factory employing 4,200 workers. Well, it was all I could do to keep up with my job, what with so many corporate eyes watching me, recording every movement I made for a few months.

I worked there 24 years, so I must have been at least minimally qualified. I served 21 years as a union shop steward, and was a union delegate to the Greater Louisville Central Labor Council for eight years. I retired in 1999; the factory moved out of town maybe two years later.

But something has stuck in my proletarian craw all these years. Here was I, someone with a supposed conscience, helping manufacture a product which, when used as directed, will kill or make horribly ill its consumers.

I, of course, knew that I was selling my labor power for a wage, and that, in trying to be a good union representative, I was serving a righteous purpose. So, soon after I went to work there, and during break time, I wrote a song.

Truth be told, I had to muster the courage to show the words of this song to even a handful of my co-workers. Well, let this forum be my confessional, albeit so late in coming:
The factory I work in/Manufactures cigarettes. To us workers it’s our living,/Yet to smokers it spells death. And therein lies the problem/I have wrestled with so long: Self-interest says: make cancer sticks. But, class interest says: it’s wrong.

I do not choose to work here /For the products that are made, But to sell my labor power for/The wages that are paid. And tho I try to get coworkers/To resist the bosses’ heel, Yet, I often wonder if I’m just/Rationalizing 3 square meals.

And then when I have satisfied/Myself of higher goals: Developing class consciousness/In times trying to our souls. I wonder if I’d have worked on/Hitler’s ovens without qualm, Or Uncle Sam’s Agent Orange/Or his jellied napalm bomb.

To us tobacco workers who/Must breathe tobacco dust. Who must endure the filth and noise/Of tobacco magnate lust. Is it not enough we suffer at this/Sweatshop where we’re slaves? Must we also suffer for the/ Moral sins our bosses made?

There is no universal truth,/No total wrong or right. Just relative degrees of greed/Against which we must fight. But monumental is the profit/From that cigarette. And monumental suffering,/And pain, disease and death.

A reader has emailed me asking about the history of the AFL-CIO labor federation. This column has only so much space, but since scholarship nowadays consists of sound-bytes, here goes.

The American Federation of Labor (AFL) was founded in1886. It organized along craft lines: printers, plumbers, etc. It was relatively ineffective in winning strikes for better wages, hours and working conditions. In 1935 the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) was created. It favored industrial organizing (organizing all the workers in, say, an automobile factory). It was very effective.

In 1955, the AFL and CIO merged, forming the AFL-CIO. There have been other federations: the Knights of Labor formed prior to the AFL, and Change-to-Win (2005). A small number of unions are independent of the AFL-CIO.

The AFL-CIO has, in the last decade or more, shrunk to a shadow of its past numbers, but it is trying mightily to regain traction and membership, and programmatic influence. This sound-byte is hardly a decent explanation, but my column allows for only so many words!

Contact Ira Grupper:

– CCDS Member

– CCDS Member