Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

The murder continues

July 21, 2014



Downsizing the number of Palestinians all over historic Palestine is still the Zionist vision. In Gaza, its implementation takes its most inhuman form.

Ilan Pappe, Israeli historian

Watching the unconscionable siege of Gaza, the pummeling of a civilian population,a penned up people, 1.7 million, hemmed in  on every side at the mercy of sophisticated missiles one wonders how long  the world can tolerate such a callous war crime. The tally Sunday night:

368 Palestinians killed, of whom 299 are civilians, Including 84 children and 43 women, and 2,340 others wounded, mostly civilians, Including 679 children and 478 women; 389 houses targeted and destroyed and hundreds of others extensively damaged, thousands of Palestinian civilians forcibly displaced. Sewage,water and power grids destroyed

Here we have a civilian populace with no army to defend itself at the mercy of lethal hi-tech murder and we have to listen the glib justification of military commanders in perfect English defend the indefensible and legitimate such indiscriminate bombing. Israel is not to blame. It is all Hamas’s fault.

F-16 fighters  and drones  descend   on these “pathetic ducks in a barrel”. They have no bomb shelters, literally nowhere to run or hide in an overcrowded urban center. They cannot leave; all exits are barred. They have no Iron Dome anti missile system.

It is all Hamas’s fault.

The pathetic home-made rockets are simply the crazed behaviour  of an oppressed people encased  in steel. They are the furious howl of a people without hope. This response has simply given israel another chance at “the incremental genocide”(Pappe) Goliath is waging on David.

And all we hear from the craven John Kerry and Barack Obama, “Israel has a right to defend itself.”

And the US keeps sending $3 billion a year as settlements  grow and more  Palestinian  land is eaten up and international law is defied.

US elections are on the horizon and money easily trumps cheap Palestinian blood.

On July 19 several Nobel laureates, public intellectuals  and cultural workers signed an open letter in the Guardian

Among the Nobelists were   Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Adolfo Peres Esquivel, Jody Williams, Mairead Maguire, Rigoberta Menchú and Betty Williams.

Other well known signatories included:
Alice Walker, Writer,

Brian Eno, Composer/musician, UK

Chris Hedges , Journalist, Pulitzer Prize 2002, US

Frei Betto, Liberation theologian, Brazil

Hilary Rose, Academic,

Ilan Pappe, Historian, author, Israel

Ismail Coovadia, former South African Ambassador to Israel

Joao Felicio, President of ITUC, Brazil

John Berger, artist, UK
John Dugard, Former ICJ judge, South Africa

John Pilger, journalist and filmmaker , Australia

Judith Butler, Academic, philosopher,

Ken Loach, Filmmaker, UK

Michael Ondaatje, Author, Canada/Sri Lanka

Mike Leigh, writer and director, UK

Noam Chomsky, Academic, author, US

Nurit Peled, Academic, Israel

Paola Bacchetta, Academic, US

Richard Falk, Former UN Special Rapporteur on Occupied Palestinian Territories,

Roger Waters, Musician, UK

Ronnie Kasrils, Former minister in Mandela’s gov’t, South Africa

One wonders where is the prophetic voice of religion.

No context: Robert Fisk and Ilan Pappe

July 15, 2014

Any text without a context is a pretext.
Jesse Jackson

Downsizing the number of Palestinians all over historic Palestine is still the Zionist vision. In Gaza, its implementation takes its most inhuman form.
Ilan Pappe, Israeli historian

As in prior posts I stated that one must begin before “What would you do if rockets were fired at you.’ and “israel has a right to defend itself” propaganda, The problem here is a lack of context, a lamentable lack of historical knowledge. As for the Hamas rocketry civilized people reject such tactics, Though none have died from these hopelessly inadequate weapons of war, ordinary people should not live with fear and the sound of sirens.
But all the tribalist and talking heads need to back up and contextualize the situation. Whoever is firing the rockets (Hamas) is not a monster. He is a human being like all of us. What drives such a suicidal response? What has happened to such a person to such bizarre behaviour? His violence is violence 2, a response to the relentless structural violence that American Jewish activist Daniel Sitarski alluded to in his brilliant spoof of the ADL’s clumsy cartoon, one which has no context



This is the “incremental genocide” the brilliant Israeli historian Ilan Pappe refers to. “ This context should be insisted upon, since the Israeli propaganda machine attempts again and again to narrate its policies as out of context and turns the pretext it found for every new wave of destruction into the main justification for another spree of indiscriminate slaughter in the killing fields of Palestine.”

Globe and Mail:
”The PMO says Harper reiterated Canada’s steadfast support for Israel and its right to defend itself against terror attacks. Both leaders agreed that Hamas must end its targeted attacks on Israeli citizens.”


Harper is a political naif, am amnesiac with no sense of history or apparent empathy for Palestinian life.



Acknowledged as the pre-eminent Middle East journalist Robert Fisk attempted to school the Harpers of this world in a column on July 9



OK, so by this afternoon, the exchange rate of death in two days was 40-0 in favour of Israel. But now for the Gaza story you won’t be hearing from anyone else in the next few hours.


It’s about land. The Israelis of Sederot are coming under rocket fire from the Palestinians of Gaza and now the Palestinians are getting their comeuppance. Sure. But wait, how come all those Palestinians – all 1.5 million – are crammed into Gaza in the first place? Well, their families once lived, didn’t they, in what is now called Israel? And got chucked out – or fled for their lives – when the Israeli state was created.

And – a drawing in of breath is now perhaps required – the people who lived in Sederot in early 1948 were not Israelis, but Palestinian Arabs. Their village was called Huj. Nor were they enemies of Israel. Two years earlier, these same Arabs had actually hidden Jewish Haganah fighters from the British Army. But when the Israeli army turned up at Huj on 31 May 1948, they expelled all the Arab villagers – to the Gaza Strip! Refugees, they became. David Ben Gurion (Israel’s first Prime Minister) called it an “unjust and unjustified action”. Too bad. The  Palestinians of Huj were never allowed back.

And today, well over 6,000 descendants of the Palestinians from Huj – now Sederot – live in the squalor of Gaza, among the “terrorists” Israel is claiming to destroy and who are shooting at what was Huj. Interesting story.
And same again for Israel’s right to self-defence. We heard it again today. What if the people of London were being rocketed like the people of Israel? Wouldn’t they strike back? Well yes, but we Brits don’t have more than a million former inhabitants of the UK cooped up in refugee camps over a few square miles around Hastings.

The last time this specious argument was used was in 2008, when Israel invaded Gaza and killed at least 1,100 Palestinians (exchange rate: 1,100 to 13). What if Dublin was under rocket attack, the Israeli ambassador asked then? But the UK town of Crossmaglen in Northern Ireland was under rocket attack from the Irish Republic in the 1970s – yet the RAF didn’t bomb Dublin in retaliation, killing Irish women and children. In Canada in 2008, Israel’s supporters were making the same fraudulent point. What if the people of Vancouver or Toronto or Montreal were being rocket-attacked from the suburbs of their own cities? How would they feel? But the Canadians haven’t pushed the original inhabitants of Canadian territory into refugee camps.


Jesuit educated Neanderthal

June 16, 2014


The world is burning and these two leaders are laughing.


Australian PM Tony Abbott last week in Ottawa


Christopher Hume wrote this in the Star today


Unlike most world leaders — if that’s the right term — these two want to be frank; they will do nothing to stop global warming, they proudly declared, if it might hurt the economy. Not one dollar, certainly not one job, shall be lost in the fight to control climate change, the gravest issue we face today.

That pained smile Harper adopts when forced to explain his most indefensible actions to a room full of doubters was much in evidence Monday when the two PMs showered the benefit of their wisdom upon ungrateful media hordes. The difference between us and them, we were reminded, is that other nations are hypocrites and we’re not. We’re upfront about it — the environment is not our issue. Other leaders may say they care; but they don’t.


Well, actually, some do care. But not Canada or Australia. Why should we? Just because Oz is burning up and beset with drought. Just because two-thirds of Australians will be diagnosed with skin cancer by the time they reach 70. Just because Canada was the only country of 27 studied by the Centre for Global Development whose record on the environment actually got worse last year. Just because the tarsands are synonymous with greed, environmental degradation and, in Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s word, “filth.”


A friend in Australia, a female religious wrote me about Abbott in these terms:


We have the most disgusting prime minister – Catholic, arch conservative and without a heart or empathy.  Tony Abbott – went to Jesuit school. Recently the whole of the senior class wrote him an open letter bewailing his betrayal of Jesuit ideals and principles.  Made no difference as I think he believes he is chosen by God and so infallible (sound familiar?)


One would ask how does a man Jesuit-educated escape with his moral compass awry? What happened on the way to the top job? Did money corrupt him? What well is he drinking from?


There is room for differences of opinion among Christians but guys like this and the Ayn Rand loving Paul Ryan the Republican VP candidate in the last  US election seem lost and disconnected from a sacramental orientation.


The beautiful thing about both Abbott and Ryan is that both men’s views were repudiated very forcefully by their Catholic contemporaries.

Ontario goes Liberal

June 13, 2014



So Ontario goes Liberal.

Not too surprising given the options.

Tim Hudak is Mike Harris redivivus, anti-union, a scary return to slash and burn, a trashing of the commons. Married to Deb Hutton and pals of Leslie Noble and Tom Long. Google them and be frightened.

Imagine running a campaign based on firing 100,000 human beings as those fired do not have families, children. He brought up far right policies from the US—not a good idea.

Andrea Horwath sadly tilting to the populist right, no big ideas, nibbling away on the fringe to titillate middle class voters. No great support for the poor, minimum wage. Very sad, a betrayal of traditional NDP values. She forced an election, now losing the voice she had in a minority government. NDP needs to get back to its roots. A resignation should be forthcoming.

People like Kathleen Wynne. They separated her from Dalton McGuinty. Very bright, compassionate and progressive.

For Christians check out where the pain is in the province and see how people voted.

Look at the capital Toronto where suffering shows itself—new immigrants struggling, a poor transportation system, a place where gays can live with dignity, where most of First Nations live off the reservation, where the poor are visible, where citizens have been suffering under an incompetent far right Tory mayor, where the world in all its diversity gathers…not a Conservative seat.

Why? Tim Hudak and Mike Harris are not Conservatives like Bill Davis was-rational, reasonable, committed to gradual not revolutionary change.



People are waking up to this fact. Maybe the Tories will.

Netanyahu plays the pope

May 27, 2014



Can you believe this guy, the chutzpah—telling the pope “Jesus spoke Hebrew.”


First of all so what? What has this got to do with the ongoing oppression of Palestine?

Does he mean to imply that Israel owns all of Palestine  because Jesus was a Jew?


Secondly, the pope corrected him and told him, “No, he spoke Aramaic’.


Imagine the nerve of this guy playing silly semantic games with Pope Francis, the man who dared to pray at the awful apartheid Wall which has stolen 10% of Palestinian land.



The Israeli general Moshe Dayan spoke candidly about this dispossession on 1969.

We came to this country which was already populated by Arabs and we are establishing a Hebrew, that is a Jewish state there. In considerable areas of the country (the total area was about 6 percent — ) we bought the lands from the Arabs (or more properly, from their feudal overlords –), Jewish villages were built in the place of Arab villages. You do not know even know the names of these Arab villages, and I do not blame you, because these geography books no longer exist; not only do the books not exist, the Arab villages are not there either. Nahalal (Dayan’s own village) arose in the place of Mahalul, Gevat — in the place of Jibra, (Kibbutz) Sarid — in the place of Haneifs and Kefar Yehosua — in the place of Tell Shaman. There is not one place built in this country that did not have a former Arab population.
The expelled Palestinian population were the descendants of the apostles. When the expulsion ended in 1948, 800,000 people had been uprooted and 531 villages destroyed.

As for Netanyahu,”the slick talking basso profundo ideologue” as Max Blumenthal called him in Goliath, Israel has plumbed the depths of serious statecraft. Like ariel sharon,Netanyahu has always been a proponent of “All of this land is ours.” he will say anything and do anything to augment this plan of disaster.


Blumenthal who recently appeared in Toronto like many others sees through the “American accented marketing agent…the self-proclaimed master of hasbara (Official BS)the explainer extraordinaire who could obliterate inconvenient truths about occupation and war crimes with emotionally potent talking points. He once told Likud activists, “It doesn’t matter if justice is on your side. You have to depict your position as just.”

Blumenthal describes the crafty manipulation of conservative pundit George will who was totally taken in by Netanyahu. The latter showed Will a small signet stone found near the western Wall that was 2,800 years old. It had the seal of of a Jewish official. His name Netanyahu.” Wow! The Netanyahus go back 2800 years to the ancient biblical land.

The only trouble was Netanyahu’s grandfather Nathan Milikovsky had changed his name when he emigrated from Lithuania to Palestine.

And now Jesus spoke Hebrew.

Avi Shlaim the brilliant new historian who left Israel to teach at Oxford has the last word here on Netanyahu, ”the destroyer of dreams, the man of the undivided Land of Israel but not of peaceful co-existence, the underminer of the Oslo accords, the man who gave the right wing settlers free rein to harm,harass and heap humiliations on on the long-suffering population of the occupied territories, a man whose ideological makeup militated against trading land for peace, and finally the man who betrayed the legacy of the founder of the movement by spurning the offer of peace with the Palestinians...” (The Iron Wall, p.606)


Breaking the silence in Israel

May 23, 2014



In Israel a few years several of us met with some very brave soldiers of the Israeli Defense Force. Yehuda Shaul, an Orthodox Jew from Toronto stood out in his eloquent presentation. In brief, they simply could not stand the daily humiliation visited on Palestinians in the Occupied Territories. Most of the abuse still remains hidden from the innocent eyes of North Americans. These soldiers did something about it. They collected hundreds of testimonies from soldiers who protected the thugs in the settlements who with virtual impunity harass school children and rip out olive trees by the hundreds of thousands.


When they posted the fruits of their justice efforts in Tel Aviv it caused shock waves among Israelis who wanted to believe in “the purity of arms”, the morality of the IDF so loudly trumpeted by the state. These brutal acts were not “the exceptions” of a “few bad apples” but the daily norms of Occupation.

images-1 images


On Friday, June 6th 2014, Breaking the Silence will commemorate its 10 year anniversary and 47 years since the beginning of the Israeli Occupation of the territories.

In a one-of-a-kind event, the veterans with a conscience plan to honor the decade of witnessing by reading out soldier testimony for 10 straight hours. That day, hundreds of public figures, politicians, scholars, artists, journalists, musicians, soldiers, and ordinary citizens alike will participate in a nonstop 10-hour public reading of the  testimonies. There will be no performances, no speeches, just person after person breaking their silence about the harsh reality of day-to-day life in the Occupied Territories.

Since the founding in 2004, nearly 1000 soldiers have provided Breaking the Silence with testimony about their military service. this story has been erased from public life and mired in secrecy, with soldiers largely choosing to keep their families, communities and the entire Israeli society in the dark about what they have to do in order to maintain military occupation over another people.

The soldiers are inviting the Tel Aviv public to become part of the event because in their words “ we believe that the moral and social price we pay for this reality is unbearable.”

How many Canadian newspapers will cover this event?

How many Canadian rabbis will speak to this?

Money or democracy

April 10, 2014


American democracy has come to this.
Last weekend a bunch of Republican hopefuls appeared before the ultra Zionist billionaire Las Vegas gamer Sheldon Adelson and in cringe-inducing acts of self-abasement proved their bona fides to the pro-Israeli hawk.
Imagine the scene, grown men summoned to Adelson’s Venetian Hotel to plead their case to the Republican Jewish Coalition which is wholly owned by the casino magnate.
Why not? Adelson and his wife gave $93 million to Republican PAC’s last year.
The notorious union buster of Wisconsin, Scott Walker brought up his father’s trip to Israel and get this, he actually put a menorah next to his Christmas tree. Wow how ecumenical. Walker also told Adelson that his Matthew’s name actually comes from the Hebrew. Double wow.
The worst beggar however was governor Chris Christie of New Jersey. In a spectacular gaffe in the eyes of Adelson, Christie actually referred to the Occupied Territories, a stupendous blunder in the eyes of the uber-Zionists. Of course, Christie had to beg forgiveness for this piece of candor.
In a scathing piece in the New York Times David Firestone said what needed to be said:
The ability of one man and his money to engender so much bootlicking among serious candidates, which ought to be frightening, has now become commonplace. Why talk directly to voters when you can get a billionaire to help you manipulate them with a barrage of false television ads, as the Koch brothers are doing with Republican Senate candidates around the country.
These Republican hacks should heed a great Jewish American, Justice Louis Brandeis:
We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can’t have both.


Africa and Israel

April 3, 2014


Benjamin Netanyahu, Israeli PM refused to attend Nelson Mandela’s funeral. The reasons given were laughable and were even mocked in the Israeli press. A deeper story however emerged: Israel’s unflagging support for the apartheid regime. Israel had long been a proxy for US arms sales to the scorned regime. Africans saw clearly that Israel was a branch of imperialist Europe. Israel openly supported Portugal’s domination of Angola, Mozambique and Guinea-Bissau. But it was in South Africa the increasingly isolated colonial oppressor that Israel showed her true colours.
Not only did Israel support the apartheid regime with Uzis and tanks but in 1962 she was on the receiving end of a ten ton shipment of uranium which fueled their still-denied nuclear program. Israel also trained the forces of reaction in Angola as she did later in Guatemala, Salvador and Nicaragua. No love lost in Central America either for Israel.
In 1976 South African PM Vorster a fierce segregationist signed a military pact with Israel which sold patrol boats, missiles, counterinsurgency weaponry and electronic surveillance which Israel now peddles around the world. They are experts in penning up and monitoring oppressed populations as the recent history in Palestine has proven.
In 1981 the fanatic Arab hater Ariel Sharon sold Kfir jets, howitzers etc to the apartheid regime. 30 years ago the aforementioned Vorster understood and stated that israel now had its own apartheid regime. Today’s popular description of contemporary israel has a long history.
The biggest thug and looter of his own people Joseph Mobutu in Zaire (now Democratic Republic of the Congo) was an Israeli proxy who was trained there. Israel became Mobutu’s chief arms supplier. This is a man who probably stole more money than any African dictator in history. No matter as former Israeli PM , himself an ex-terrorist Yitzhak Shamir said, “We’ll sell to anybody.”
Netanyahu was wise to stay away from the funeral of Africa’s greatest symbol of freedom Nelson Mandela. Africans have long memories. Americans have none.

Roger Water’s story

March 23, 2014

Never againIn a piece for Roger Waters wrote a moving commentary why he has strongly supported the BDS Movement in Israel/Palestine.

The Pink Floyd front man wrote movingly of a pacifist father killed in Italy in 1944.His amazing mother Mary Duncan Waters continued to be politically active against any type of oppression. She was a “peace and justice” woman who colored his world. He wrote:


After visiting Israel in 2005 and the West Bank the following year, I was deeply moved and concerned by what I saw, and determined to add my voice to those searching for an equitable and lawful solution to the problem – for both Palestinians and Jews.

Given my upbringing, I really had no choice.

In 2005, Palestinian civil society appealed to people of conscience all over the world to act where governments had failed. They asked us to join their nonviolent movement – for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) – which aims to end Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories, to secure equal rights for Palestinian citizens of Israel, and to uphold the right of Palestinian refugees to return to the cities and villages they were violently forced out of in 1948 and 1967.

After more than two decades of negotiations, the vulnerable Palestinian population still lives under occupation, while more land is taken, more illegal settlements built, and more Palestinians are imprisoned, injured or killed struggling for the right to live in dignity and peace, to raise their families, to till their land, to aspire to each and every human goal, just like the rest of us. The Palestinians’ prolonged statelessness has made them among the most vulnerable of all peoples, particularly in their diaspora where, as now in Syria, they are subject, as stateless, powerless refugees, to targeted violence, from all sides in that bloody conflict, subject to unimaginable hardship and  deprivation and, in many cases, particularly for the vulnerable young, to starvation.   Pretty straight forward, I think.

Our Man in Kyiv: Prayer on the Maidan

March 6, 2014



Ukraine is not controlled by oligarchs, even though there are some. They make their money, much historically through the likes of Yanukovich, but the economy is dominated by the middle class which is substantial here, unlike in Russia. The oligarchs do not control the economy by a long shot.

Second, the oligarchs want integration with the EU. They, at one moment, forced Yanukovich’s hand by demanding that “their men” in his party vote against him during the current revolution. The oligarchs want EU integration to modernize factories, to enter larger markets, and to stabilize Ukraine. Any of seven countries in the EU has a bigger economy than Russia and together the EU has an economy 12 times larger. Russia has no modern technology and nothing to offer other than gas and billionaires.

The oligarchs, above all, do not want closer relations with Russia. And they are for the most part from the so-called Russian-speaking region of Ukraine, To speak Russian or to be from a Russian-speaking area says nothing about your political leanings. Ethnically, the population of Kyiv is 80% Ukrainian, but due to the educational policy of the USSR which lasted 70 years there, 70% speaks Russian as a first language. Over 80% of Kyiv has always voted against Yanukovich’s party. In the latest poll, 27% of the whole country would prefer closer ties with Russia, but it is clear on closer analysis that they want closer “political” relations with Russia, not economic union. And that percentage diminishes every year.

Finally, although it was known that Yanukovich and his closest circle were stealing massively from the budget, documentary evidence now makes it clear that they stole about $10 billion each year directly from the budget. And there is other money that comes in from corrupt schemes. There was no reason for Yanukovich and his friends to flee, if they had not broken the law. There was no threat of death or violence, he was still president and had agreed to early elections. The prime minister was bringing him four bills to sign into law when they saw that he had fled with the family jewels. His security cameras show him and his guards loading vans and two helicopters with the valuables from this palace which he built for himself with government money and fleeing in the night. What he left behind in terms of documents for where money came from and to whom it went was a detailed incrimination. On this legal basis, he and about 18 others are having their accounts frozen in Europe, Canada, and the U.S.

What follows is something I wrote lately for some people. It will give you a bit of an update.

As every hour during the whole revolution there was prayer on the  Maidan, so I think prayer remains key to this whole affair in all its  aspects. It is the “exorcizing” of corrupt government and the vestiges  of Soviet mentality. This is the first stage and I would say it has worked in Ukraine, at least for the moment. It remains to be seen how well the new government will respond to popular demands. The Maidan will remain until the presidential elections in May to ensure the establishment of fair elections and quality government. They do not want control but stewardship. It is argued on the basis of the constitutions which say that the people are the supreme authority.

Putin’s invasion, while clearly illegal and  against his own oft-repeated, public statements to the contrary, is ultimately not an act of  aggression, but an act of fear. His economy is weakening and his  hoped-for “Eurasian Union” cannot succeed without Ukraine. Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Belorussia don’t offer much.

Russia has only oil and billionaires, but no diversified economy or middle class. 60% of its foreign trade is from oil and gas. 10% of its state budget comes directly from Gasprom. By contrast, Ukraine is the 7th largest producer of steel in the world, 6th largest exporter of wheat, and 3rd largest exporter of corn. It has a heavy-metals manufacturing sector: cars, tractors, weapons, and planes. It has a large middle class and a hard-working labour force, which Russia also does not have. And then there is the Black Sea coast which gives access to everything else. Russia’s armed forces are not big enough to invade Ukraine, which  is bigger than France and has 45 million people. In  Crimea, he has some support. It is home to the   Russian navy’s largest base with 25,000 troops and 380 ships. Without that, he could not have  hoped to land troops. It now seems, incredibly, that Yanukovich, whom he does not respect, convinced him to attack and that people would rise up in support of his invasion. He seems blinded by ambition. He could not possibly enter mainland Ukraine, unless  he is also blinded by desperation, which is possible. Nothing would unite  Ukraine more, and that is one thing he quickly discovered. A fair percentage of Crimeans support him, but others were  immediately demonstrating in the streets against him and ready to take up arms against his troops. It is not clear that he could hold even Crimea.

Crimea was never “Ukrainian”. Catherine the Great defeated the Muslim Turks and populated it with Russians. Krushchev united Crimea to Ukraine in 1954 to some local protest, but in the USSR everything came out of Moscow anyway. There was some local reaction in 1991 when Ukraine declared independence, but Crimea did not resist union in the end when given a special status. The Crimean Tatars are a significant group and they want nothing to do with Russia. There also many people of Russian descent who want Ukraine, as well as many Ukrainians who live there. Putin can make mischief, but little more.

The ruble is the  weakest currency among industrialized nations. When the Russian  Parliament voted to give Putin permission to invade, the currency fell by almost 10%.  When he actually did send troops, the Moscow stock exchange fell by over 10%. The expert calculation is that, in  one day, Russia lost 55 billion dollars. (Sochi cost 50 billion.) This is exactly what he did not want and cannot afford. Seven of the G8 leaders have  refused to attend the meeting he is to host in Sochi in June, unless he  turns everything around. Obama has said he would seek Russia’s exclusion  from the G8 completely. That would be unbearable for Russia.  Furthermore, demonstrations in former Soviet countries give Russians  courage to demonstrate against the huge injustices in Russia. Putin is paranoid about such demonstrations. He fears the overthrow of the system and he should. There were small sympathetic demonstrations there during the revolution in Ukraine but even more when he  invaded. Putin immediately had 300 Moscow  demonstrators arrested and many sentenced to two months. Among them were  opposition party leaders.

The broadest and most hopeful way of reading all these events is in two things. First, as I noted, the end of systemic corruption in Ukrainian government with the establishment of government for the people. This would end the vestiges of Soviet-style government, i.e., government for those in power, and against the people. Second, it would be the definitive death of the Soviet Union. Putin said in his second term as president that the greatest catastrophe of the 20th century was the collapse of the USSR. It would be hard to find anyone even in Russia who would agree. At the same time he said that “we” have learned something from the Americans: you conquer the world not by military might but by economics. To this he has dedicated almost 10 years of his life, trying to force the neighbouring countries into his Eurasian Union. The recent events make clear to him finally, that Ukraine will not be in his sphere, and that, therefore, his hopes for the Union (both Soviet and Eurasian) are dead. It remains to be seen how he will take the news, but he has already begun working with the current Ukrainian government.

Half of Ukraine is praying and fasting about all this during Lent, as they did during the revolution.

The author is a priest in the Ukraine.


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