(N.B. This first appeared in my other blog)
The latest issue of Macleans has the usual perilously hyperventilating article about how the Ukraine, under the leadership of newly-elected President Viktor Yanukovych, is "moving away from the West and towards Russia." http://www2.macleans.ca/2010/06/17/steppe-dance-with-the-kremlin/
In particular, Macleans repeats Aurel Braun musings that "the Yanukovych presidency [is] a “victory” for Russia, noting that Ukraine has long been viewed as a “linchpin.” "
There is just one teensy-weensy problem with this. Aurel Braun, you see, is a neoconservative who recently effected a hostile takeover of a Canadian taxpayer-funded institution called Rights and Democracy.: http://www2.macleans.ca/2010/01/29/changing-a-society-one-small-step-at-a-time/
The excitement is winding down at Rights and Democracy. Last week I wrote here about the conflict between newer and longer-standing board members of the Montreal-based, federally funded rights organization. A majority on the board had been complaining about the new board chairman, Aurel Braun, since last spring. The government kept sending Braun reinforcements, in the form of newly appointed board members, throughout 2009. By the new year, Braun and his supporters had a majority on the board. Two of the old-guard board members quit in frustration at the new direction. The president of Rights and Democracy, Rémy Beauregard, was dead of a heart attack. The organization’s full-time staff circulated a letter, signed by nearly all of the employees, calling for the departure of Braun and two of his closest associates from the board."
Each side in the showdown offered a public explanation for its behaviour that had little to do with the real stakes. Braun, in careful statements to only a few selected journalists, insisted he was sticking up for “transparency” and “accountability,” even though he had fought for half a year to keep an evaluation of Beauregard’s work secret from Beauregard himself. The staff insisted there was nothing ideological about the conflict when everything about it was ideological. It was all about whether Rights and Democracy was within its mandate to give money to groups that advocated for the rights of Palestinian Arabs during the Israel-Gaza conflict.
The old guard, obviously, thought this was fine, because they did hand out the money. The new board appointees see all this talk of Palestinian Arabs’ rights as a coded attack on Israel’s right to exist. Braun told a reporter one of the groups that received a donation, B’Tselem, is Israeli “in name only.” So I looked them up. Actually almost everyone there is Israeli in citizenship, place of residency, home of the heart, what have you. "
Braun, as you can see, knows a thing or two about Machiavelli and all his works. Nowhere is this more eivdent than in his reaction to the Ukraine's "new realignment" as mentioned above. What Braun, for some reason, left out is that one of the forces behind (a less generous person would say "the puppetmaster of") President Yanukovych is none other than Paul J. Manafort, who was an campaign advisor to the über-neocon John McCain. This much is inadvertedly confirmed by the neocon newspaper of record, The Wall Street Journal: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703630404575053850989810346.html
Mr. Manafort's work for Mr. Yanukovych became an issue during John McCain's 2008 presidential run, which was at one time managed by Rick Davis, Mr. Manafort's co-owner in the lobbying firm Davis Manafort Inc. A McCain spokesman said then that Mr. Davis was on leave from his firm while he worked on the campaign and received no income from the firm. Nobody answered the telephone at Davis Manafort, in Alexandria, Va., on Monday afternoon.
Aurel Braun, in other words, knows that, whatever his public pronouncements and actions, President Yanukovych is firmly under the control of PNAC, the National Endowment for Democracy and all the other neoconservative front groups. Why then, would he make so much fuss on what is, essentially, a non-story? I am not 100% sure, but the word "Russophobia" does come to mind.
What is even more disturbing is that Macleans, which advertises itself to be, at least in part, a serious news organisation (and which is regarded as such by a good number of its readers), completely failed to pick up on this crucial link. This is disturbing because Russia is one of the four BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) bloc of developing nations. Russia, last month, superceded America as the largest exporter by volume of grain to Egypt (the world's largest grain importer.) And Russia and the other BRIC nations are set to overtake the European Union in grain production in the coming years.
Not to mention that, recently, Russia's Severstal, one of the few independent steel companies not to fall into the grip of steel magnate Lakmishi Mittal, revitalised its plant in Dearborn, Michigan.
Russia is, another words, an emerging power which has shown signs of interest in friendly relations with the West. And the neocons are bent on pushing Russia away. And Macleans is not saavy enough to pick up on their game.