Hope and change blasted and gone. What to do?
Remember the girl who wanted lacy undies rather than the shapeless grey scratchy polyester bloomers that the puritanical Putin orders all his female subjects to wear? Although, come to think of it, given gas prices, gas shortages and gas thefts, something warm, no matter how unattractive, might be more practical for a Ukrainian girl today than frilly bits of silk. Well, anyway, apparently she, Olga Znachkova, is trying to get work in Russia. Things didn't work out for her – or for millions of other Ukrainian girls – quite the way they were advertised, did they? (Of course, she's an actress and it is more than possible that she was hired for the job as was I'm a Ukrainian. But we can still feel for her letdown, can't we?)
But spare a thought for another Maidan Girl – the Baker herself. What must she be thinking? She did the cookie thing in December 2013 and helped manufacture the new Ukrainian government over the next couple of months. What was she hoping for?
A smooth overthrow of Yanukovych followed by a smooth transition to her hand picked government; the smooth acquiescence of the whole country; an economy that you could pretend was smoothly improving; smooth reductions of corruption perceptions (remember Saakashvili and the traffic police? Something like that); a smoothly quiescent Moscow; smooth US Navy port visits in Sevastopol; smooth track into NATO; Joe Biden's son smoothly getting rich on fracking. A victory for the US, good return on the $5 billion investment and a BIG loss for Russia. Smooooooth. All done and dusted long before today.
Instead, she manufactured another neocon disaster with nothing smooth about it at all. The US Navy won't be visiting Sevastopol. When even Saakashvili says it will be years to get back to the pre-Maidan numbers, you know there is no pretending away the economic catastrophe. Russia is not cowed; it is cutting itself loose from the West. The Russia-China alliance, the worst possible outcome for US power, tightens day by day (speaking of port visits, I don't think she had Chinese warships visiting Novorossiysk in mind). Ukraine will not be fast tracked into NATO. It is torn apart in war. The present government's popularity ratings are rock bottom. The useful actors of the Maidan riots threaten to overthrow the government. The allies hold to the task but it takes ever more effort on Washington's part. The sanctions against Russia probably cost Europe more than Russia: Russia can find new importers or make its own but the EU can't find new markets. The US military is nervous about the prospects of a real war with Russia. The people who live in NATO states – as opposed to their suborned rulers and media outlets – have little enthusiasm for the endless cataclysm (and even less as the outcome of the neocon catastrophes in Libya and Syria arrive for extended visits in their countries). And it can only get worse. Well, on the bright side, Pussy Riot did humiliate a fictional Russian President. And Joe Biden's son would be getting rich in the fracking business in Ukraine, if there were any fracking business left. Not much, is it?
Nuland still dreams, and never more than in her testimony six months ago: "even as Ukraine began building a peaceful, democratic, independent nation across 93% of its territory, Crimea and parts of eastern Ukraine suffered a reign of terror." Peaceful, democratic, independent (you, Dear Reader, are invited to Google the contemporary reality of these concepts). But the reality is different. While the Western media usually obediently types out the script it is given, every now and again something leaks through the barrier. Three recent examples: Demoralised Ukraine troops start to lose faith in Kiev, Kiev forced to fight its own fascist militia and Ukraine Is Too Corrupt for Debt Deal to Work.
Personally, I don't think there was a Plan B. (By the way, has any one of the neocon foreign policy catastrophes of recent years had a follow-up plan or any – even fleeting – consideration of the consequences? I believe that ISIS is another outcome of neocon insouciance and I am gratified to see that the former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency agrees.) One has to comprehend how profoundly ignorant Obama and his circle are about Russia: just a year ago we heard "But I do think it’s important to keep perspective. Russia doesn’t make anything. Immigrants aren’t rushing to Moscow in search of opportunity. The life expectancy of the Russian male is around 60 years old. The population is shrinking." No big deal, nothing to worry about unless "nuclear weapons are back in the discussion of foreign policy". (Which, a year later, as it happens, they are). The Obama team has many other misconceptions. No wonder Nuland expected this feeble, failing semi state – this "gas station masquerading as a country" – to roll over.
So I don't think there was a follow-up plan – the lacy undies and the naval base were a done deal, so to speak; all that was lacking was the completion of Plan A. (Here's an interesting post from someone who did think about the consequences. Eighteen months ago. A lot more perceptive than anything out of Washington, don't you think?)
I would go so far to suggest that the utter collapse of the dreams of Znachkova and Nuland and the lack of an alternative plan drives the increasing shrill statements and themes in the Western MSM. This was not supposed to happen: Nuland & Co, thinking it was weak, fragile and powerless, expected Russia to back down; it was all supposed to be completely over by August 2015. All they can do is to repeat themselves over and over again.
Hope louder! Russia, of course, has always been doomed (here's Time in 1927) and it was altogether finished in 2001, but it seems that the intensity of the doom saying has been stepped up as if wishing so made it so. Has an ‘open society’ doomed Russia to fail? (September 2012); Russia Is Doomed (March 2014); Why Putin’s Adventure in Ukraine Is Doomed (April 2014); Putin's Nationalism and Expansion Strategy Is Doomed to Fail (September 2014); Sorry, Putin. Russia’s economy is doomed (December 2014); Remember Russia? It’s still doomed (January 2015); Morgan Stanley thinks Russia’s doomed (February 2015). Shout louder! they can't hear you in Moscow.
More threats and futile gestures! "Dragoon ride"; "A message to Russia" in Bulgaria – 4 tanks, 3 guns and 6 recce vehicles (!); "unacceptable to the international community". It's no wonder that some US military leaders are starting to get nervous.
More sanctions! A half century of sanctions didn't bend Cuba but they will bend Russia – just one more round and Putin will come crashing down.
More hysterical assertions! Umpteen thousand Russian troops in or near Ukraine! MH17 tribunal! Another invasion of Ukraine strangely unobserved by the gigantic American intelligence apparatus! More submarines in Sweden! Dangerous air activities near NATO warships peacefully sailing in the Black Sea or Baltic Sea! Santa Claus! Giant hogweed! Corbyn! Brutal goat deaths! Nasty thoughts! Manufacturing slowdowns! Putin's crazy!
Back in 2013 Olga and Vicky could taste it, wear it, phone it, see it. Where are the lacy undies? Why isn't the US Navy in Sevastopol?