Back before February 4, weeks before the most violent crackdown that killed protestors that led to Viktor Yanukovych’s ouster, Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland and US Ambassador to Ukraine had a conversation about how to divvy up power between 3 opposition figures in a post-Yanukovych Ukraine. Nuland deemed “Yats” the necessary post-Yanukovych leader.
Nuland: [Breaks in] I think Yats is the guy who’s got the economic experience, the governing experience. He’s the… what he needs is Klitsch and Tyahnybok on the outside. He needs to be talking to them four times a week, you know. I just think Klitsch going in… he’s going to be at that level working for Yatseniuk, it’s just not going to work.
Pyatt: Yeah, no, I think that’s right. OK. Good. Do you want us to set up a call with him as the next step?
Thursday, Yatseniuk was appointed Prime Minister. (Update: See this Forbes piece on Yatseniuk.)
On Monday, Mark Ames wrote a piece explaining why “Everything You Know about Ukraine Is Wrong.” In it, he treated claims about two main groups involved in Ukraine’s uprising: the general protestors, and the far right.
Of the general protestors, he says,
In fact, the people who are protesting or supporting the protesters are first and foremost sick of their shitty lives in a shitty country they want to make better—a country where their fates are controlled by a tiny handful of nihilistic oligarchs and Kremlin overlords, and their political frontmen. It’s first and foremost a desire to gain some control over their fate.
Of the far right, he says,
They’re definitely real, they’re a powerful minority in the anti-Yanukovych campaign—I’d say the neo-fascsists from Svoboda and Pravy Sektor are probably the vanguard of the movement, the ones who pushed it harder than anyone. Anyone who ignores the role of the neo-fascists (or ultranationalists, take your pick) is lying or ignorant, just as anyone who claims that Yanukovych answered only to Putin doesn’t know what they’re talking about. The front-center role of Svoboda and the neo-fascists in this revolution as opposed to the Orange Revolution is, I think, due to fact that the more smiley-face/respectable neoliberal politicians can’t rally the same fanatical support they did a decade ago. [my emphasis]
I generally agree with this: there is abundant reason for protestors, of their own accord and with full agency, to want to change the status quo. And that’s what has been going on for months. A big change to the status quo going forward is probably not going to happen, because the existing offerings on all sides are all pretty crummy. And there is a concerning faction — the loud violent one, which therefore played an outsized role in Yanukovych’s ouster — that espouses troubling far-right politics.
Sunday, partly because of real legal questions about Yanukovych’s ouster, partly because some of the tactics we’re seeing in Ukraine seem to have ties to those we saw in Syria, and partly because of a 20-month old twitter conversation with Adam Colligan involving Paraguay laid out here, I tweeted, “There’s quite a bit of evidence of coup-ness. Q is how many levels deep interference from both sides is,” though I said we don’t really know what went on yet. Later in the conversation I suggested this part of the invitation for all parties to sow instability arose because American power is waning. “Of course, part of it is just that Pax America is spinning out, trying to sustain itself.”
As Colligan laid out, our conversation existed in the context of a long-ago conversation we had about the potential role of parliaments in “coups.” Nowhere did I get into specifics about who I believed to behind any coup (though later I suggested John Brennan might one day rival Allen Dulles for the number of coups he pulls off; I actually think he might instead rival him for coups attempted, not coups successfully pulled off). But in any case, we were talking about very recent events — still in the last week, which is part of the reason I said we probably don’t know everything there is to know yet, in the context of violence that led to Yanukovych’s ouster.
Ames took that one tweet — “There’s quite a bit of evidence of coup-ness. Q is how many levels deep interference from both sides is” — and my reference to Pax Americana and used it as a hook for this piece. Here’s how he uses those tweets:
Marcy Wheeler, who is the new site’s “senior policy analyst,” speculated that the Ukraine revolution was likely a “coup” engineered by “deep” forces on behalf of “Pax Americana”:
“There’s quite a bit of evidence of coup-ness. Q is how many levels deep interference from both sides is.”
These are serious claims. So serious that I decided to investigate them. And what I found was shocking.
Wheeler is partly correct. Pando has confirmed that the American government – in the form of the US Agency for International Development (USAID) – played a major role in funding opposition groups prior to the revolution. Moreover, a large percentage of the rest of the funding to those same groups came from a US billionaire who has previously worked closely with US government agencies to further his own business interests. This was by no means a US-backed “coup,” but clear evidence shows that US investment was a force multiplier for many of the groups involved in overthrowing Yanukovych.
But that’s not the shocking part.
What’s shocking is the name of the billionaire who co-invested with the US government (or as Wheeler put it: the “
dark deep force” acting on behalf of “Pax Americana”).
Step out of the shadows…. Wheeler’s boss, Pierre Omidyar.
Yes, in the annals of independent media, this might be the strangest twist ever: According to financial disclosures and reports seen by Pando, the founder and publisher of Glenn Greenwald’s government-bashing blog,“The Intercept,” co-invested with the US government to help fund regime change in Ukraine.
Now, Ames apparently couldn’t even cut and paste competently because he added “force” inside quotation marks attributed to me, and in the original reference used “dark” instead of “deep,” all of which played a key rhetorical role in giving his claims their “
dark deep” tinge. (In several tweets, Ames’ editor Paul Carr assured me he thought Ames’ citations of me were fair.)
Cue Hollywood villain music: Bum bum bum!
But let’s look at what Pando claims it has proven: It claims it has presented (1) clear evidence that (2) US (and Omidyar’s) investment was a “force multiplier” (3) for “many” of the groups “involved” in overthrowing Yanukovych. It also says Omidyar (4) “co-invested with the US government” (5) “to fund regime change.”