Saturday, December 14, 2013

The Ukraine

Senator John McCain is on his way to The Ukraine, which means its time to ask why.

Street protests in The Ukraine have been going on for two weeks. According to the mass media they are about the Ukrainian government's decision to halt plans to join the European Union.

It's Russia, we are told, holding the Ukraine back. Russia buys a large percentage of its food from The Ukraine, a former Soviet republic that is also rich in minerals, and is trying to prevent Ukraine from orienting itself to the West. At 46 million people, Ukraine is the largest former Soviet Republic that hasn't joined the EU or NATO. 

The US and its allies, of course, would love to get the Ukraine out of the Russian sphere of influence. There are plenty of old Cold Warriors, like John McCain, in US ruling circles who see Russia as a threat to US interests and global dominance.

And in large part The Ukraine is more of a struggle between the US and Russia, but it's Capitalism that provides the primary motivation for bringing the Ukraine into the clutches of the EU and its free market, free trade ideology.

There are two things at play in The Ukraine. One is an ongoing power struggle between the two main political factions. Both are corrupt and both represents the interests of wealthy elites. Both are made up of Ukrainians who were the beneficiaries when the nation's public assets were sold off and divvied up after the breakup of the Soviet Union. One, represented by President Viktor Yanukovych, represents the old guard, who stand to make more money if Russia remains as Ukraine's main trading partner. The other, surrounding people like jailed darling of the West and former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko, stand to profit more by European integration.

The Ukrainian People

The other part of the story, that the media is ignorant of or is ignoring, is what European Union membership would mean to the people of Ukraine. You might ask that of the people of Greece or Spain, or of Ireland or Portugal who have seen their economies bled dry by financial elites in London and Berlin who dictate the EU's laws and policies, which essentially amount to Reagonomics on steroids.

You can also ask the working classes of England and Germany. Those are the two EU countries whose economies are supposed to be doing OK, but it's not the people of England and Germany who are doing OK. It's like in the US. Those countries' national incomes are booming while working peoples' living standards are in a slow downward spiral.

Germany used to be the crown jewel of the Capitalist world. Its working class had a higher living standard than we did here, in the 1960s and 70s. No more. It has quickly become a low wage country, and its famed social safety net has been nearly demolished. Its advantage in wealth comes now from the East German part of the country and its Soviet era, highly educated, highly trained workforce that was integrated at low wages and provided a tremendous boost to the country's productivity, and didn't complain about wages when they started going down in western half of the country because they were already low.

EU membership does nothing for working people. What EU membership will mean for the Ukrainian people is that The Ukraine will be the next country to be bled dry by European bankers, industrialists and financiers, who names you don't see in the papers but who dictate the policies of the Angela Merkels and David Camerons we read about.


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