Mike Whitney — CounterPunch May 5, 2014
“As the building was engulfed in flames, photos posted on Twitter showed people hanging out of windows and sitting on windowsills on several floors, possibly preparing to jump. Other images showed pro-regime elements celebrating the inferno. Some jeered on Twitter that “Colorado beetles are being roasted up in Odessa,” using a derogatory term for pro-Russian activists wearing St. George’s ribbons.”
– Mike Head, Washington responsible for fascist massacre in Odessa, World Socialist Web Site
“I think what’s happening now shows us who’s actually been orchestrating the process from the beginning. At first, the United States preferred to stay in the shadows, but now they’ve exposed themselves as the leaders of this whole process.”
– Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Members of the fascist Right Sector set fire to Odessa’s Trade Unions House on Friday killing 40 anti-coup activists who had retreated to the building to escape escalating street violence. Witnesses say that members of the Ukrainian security forces withdrew from the scene allowing the rightwing radicals to block the exits and firebomb the building forcing many to jump from open windows to the pavement below where they died on impact. The few who survived the fall were savagely beaten with clubs and chains by the nearly 300 extremist thugs who had gathered on the street. Much of the murderous provocation was caught on video including footage of the terrified occupants leaping to their deaths.
Just hours after the bloodbath took place in Odessa, President Obama praised the brutal crackdown in a joint-press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Obama announced that, “The Ukrainian government has the right and responsibility to uphold law and order within its territory.” The president made no mention of the 40 victims who were burned alive or who jumped to their death trying to escape the fire. Nor did Obama offer his condolences to the families who lost loved one’s in the Nazi-ignited blaze. Instead, the president demanded that heavier penalties be levied on Moscow for its ‘defiance’ in Crimea where people were allowed to choose their own future through a referendum. Here’s a clip from the press conference transcript:
“We are united in our determination to impose costs on Russia for its actions, including through coordinated sanctions….And as Ukrainian forces move to restore order in eastern Ukraine, it is obvious to the world that these Russian-backed groups are not peaceful protesters. They are heavily armed militants who are receiving significant support from Russia. The Ukrainian government has the right and responsibility to uphold law and order within its territory, and Russia needs to use its influence over these paramilitary groups so they disarm and stop provoking violence… if the Russian leadership does not change course, it will face increasing costs as well as growing isolation, diplomatic and economic.” (Wall Street Journal)
None of the victims of the tragedy were armed. None of them were Russian nationals. All of the people who were killed were identified as locals. There is no factual basis for Obama’s allegation that the “protestors… are heavily armed militants who are receiving significant support from Russia.” Obama’s claims are uncorroborated nonsense, fabrications and outright lies.
According to Obama, the coup government has “the right and responsibility to uphold law and order”, but (apparently) not to provide security for unarmed protestors who are burned alive by neo Nazis arsonists that perform their homicidal ritual in broad daylight while security troops look on approvingly. Do you see the flaw in Obama’s reasoning?
And what prompted Right Sector goons to stage the massacre when they had never done so before? Doesn’t that suggest that they must have gotten the green light from Kiev, which means, the attack must have been approved by Washington as well?
Is that where the bloody footprints lead; to the Oval Office?
Let’s suppose for a minute, that the White House was involved in the Odessa bloodbath. Wouldn’t that explain why the facts of the incident have not been accurately reported in any of the major media? Wouldn’t that explain why Obama failed to mention the incident in his press conference, or why the White House has not issued a statement condemning the perpetrators, or called for an independent investigation, or tried to interview any of the hundreds of eyewitnesses who saw what happened and reported the facts on Russian media?
Who authorized the attack on Odessa’s Trade Unions House? That’s what we want to know. Why did the Ukrainian Security Services withdraw and allow the fascist thugs to burn down the Zuccotti Park-like tent city in front of the building, chase the occupants into the building, painstakingly barricade the exits, and then hurl Molotov cocktails and stun grenades through the windows until the entire edifice was engulfed in flames?
Street fighting thugs don’t typically waste their time barricading exits unless it is part of a plan, a plan to create a big-enough incident to change the narrative of what is going on in the country.
But how does “changing the narrative” benefit Washington?
Well, just think of 9-11, for example: a “Pearl Harbor-type event” that changed all the rules and created the rational for curtailed civil liberties, authoritarian rule and perpetual war. Someone benefited from those changes, didn’t they?
Indeed. But how does that apply Ukraine and the Odessa tragedy?
Let’s say that Obama and his neocon advisors wanted to conceal what they’re really up to. Let’s say they felt they needed an excuse to justify NATO expansion, to block further EU-Russian economic integration, and to transform Ukraine into an anarchic, ungovernable failed state controlled by external powers. Let’s say Obama’s goals are not really altruistic after all, that he doesn’t really give a damn about democracy or freedom; that the real motive is the “pivot to Asia”, the dismemberment of the Russian Federation, the seizing of vital resources, and the control of China’s growth. So how does one achieve those goals without hoodwinking the public?
They don’t. Hoodwinking the public is an essential part any aggressive, imperialistic strategy, which is why western media has been embedded into the US Command Structure. The roll of propaganda is critical to the shaping of public opinion, garnering support for unpopular wars and policies, concealing the crimes of crooked politicians and outlaw corporatists, and diverting attention from the illicit, expansionist marauding of the Imperial state. In this case, Obama would rather propagate the fictitious narrative of an impending civil war then let people know what his real objectives are. The Odessa massacre fits perfectly into this strategy.
The incident suggests that deep ethnic and ideological differences are brewing just below the surface ready to explode at any minute into a full-blown civil war. But are they? The number of fascists in the country is actually quite small, probably just a few thousand altogether. That’s certainly not enough to incite a civil war. But, of course, the coup government can amplify their importance by giving them a free hand to carry out their murderous rampages, just as the media can magnify their importance by portraying their barbarous behavior as a symptom of deeply-rooted ethnic antagonisms that threaten to bubble up and rip Ukrainian society apart.
And that’s what they’ve done, isn’t it? The imposter government and the media have taken the rogue actions of a small group of bloodthirsty misfits, and patched together a story of a state that is on the fast-track to disintegration.
This isn’t the first time the US has tried to pull something like this off. In 2006, the Bush administration used a similar tactic in Iraq. That’s when Samarra’s Golden Dome Mosque was blown up in an effort to change the public’s perception of the conflict from an armed struggle against foreign occupation into a civil war. Bush wanted to use psy-ops (psychological operation) to shift attention away from US causalities (from an effective Sunni-led resistance) to a fictitious religious war between Sunni and Shia. The bombing of the third most sacred shrine in Islam, was expected to provide the Pearl Harbor-type event that would make the new narrative seem credible.
The media, of course, pushed the civil war trope as expected, even though the story unraveled some years later in an investigative piece that popped up in the New York Times. Here’s a blurb from the article titled “One Year Later, Golden Mosque still in Ruins” by Marc Santora:
“A caretaker at the shrine described what happened on the day of the attack, insisting on anonymity because he was afraid that talking to an American could get him killed. The general outline of his account was confirmed by American and Iraqi officials.
The night before the explosion, he said, just before the 8 p.m. curfew on Feb. 21, 2006, on the Western calendar, men dressed in commando uniforms like those issued by the Interior Ministry entered the shrine.
The caretaker said he had been beaten, tied up and locked in a room.
Throughout the night, he said, he could hear the sound of drilling as the attackers positioned the explosives, apparently in such a way as to inflict maximum damage on the dome”. (NY Times)
Clearly, if the men were men dressed in “commando uniforms like those issued by the Interior Ministry”, then the logical place to begin an investigation would be the Interior Ministry. (which was working hand in glove with US Intelligence agencies.) But there’s never been an investigation and the caretaker has never been asked to testify about what he saw on the night of the bombing. However, if he is telling the truth, we cannot exclude the possibility that paramilitary contractors (mercenaries) or special-ops (intelligence) agents working out of the Interior Ministry may have destroyed the mosque to create the appearance of a looming civil war.
The Times also added, “What is clear is that the attack was carefully planned and calculated”.
True again. We can see from the extent of the damage that the job was carried out by demolition experts and not merely “insurgents or terrorists” with explosives. Simple forensic tests and soil samples could easily determine the composition of the explosives and point out the real perpetrators.
The Times even provides a motive for the attack: “Bad people used this incident to divide Iraq on a detestable sectarian basis.”
Precisely. The Bush administration used the incident to change the storyline from foreign occupation to civil war, thus, creating the rational for ongoing US occupation. The civil war meme provided cover for the “Salvador Option”, “the Surge”, massive ethnic cleansing, death squads, Abu Ghraib, and more than a decade of US-sponsored terror which turned Iraq into a decimated third world scrapheap incapable of providing food, water or security for its people. “Mission accomplished”.
Now it’s on to Ukraine where another set of distortions, fabrications and lies are being used to pull the wool over the public’s eyes once again. This time “Hitler” Putin is the source of all the evildoing. Forget about the State Department’s role in toppling the democratically-elected government in Kiev. Forget about the snipers who killed peaceful protestors in Maidan Square and who are tied to Washington’s junta government. Forget about CIA Director John Brennan’s visit to Kiev just hours before the first government crackdown. Forget Joe Biden’s visit to Kiev just hours before the second government crackdown. Forget that, according to a report on Sunday by AFP, that:
“Dozens of specialists from the US Central Intelligence Agency and Federal Bureau of Investigation are advising the Ukrainian government…. helping Kiev end the rebellion in the east of Ukraine and set up a functioning security structure…” (“CIA, FBI agents ‘advising Ukraine government‘: report”, AFP)
Forget that Obama hasn’t produced a shred of evidence to prove that Moscow is involved in the turmoil in the East. Forget that the United States has been at the center of every major conflagration in every part of the world for the last two decades. Forget about the 40 people who were incinerated in a conflict that is 100 percent Washington’s doing and for which Barack Obama is personally responsible. Forget all of that and just remember this one thing: “Putin is evil. Putin is Hitler. Putin is cause of everything that’s wrong in the world.” Putin. Putin. Putin. Bad. Bad. Bad.
Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, summed up the feelings of many observers who’ve followed the outrageous developments in Odessa when he said ‘the government in Kiev “bears direct responsibility, and is complicit in these criminal activities. They allowed extremists and radicals to burn unarmed people alive. And I stress that these people were unarmed … The people who justify this punitive operation… are up to their elbows in blood.” (RT)
Obama is just as guilty as anyone in Kiev. Maybe guiltier.
MIKE WHITNEY lives in Washington state. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press). Hopeless is also available in a Kindle edition. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.