To say that the geopolitical situation surrounding Ukraine is complex would be a gross understatement; it took me more than a year of constant reading and research to build the background to write about it in Creating Chaos.  And much of that background had to come from Ukrainian and Russian journalists and historians, people on the ground for years who had worked at great risk to gain a true understanding of the situation.

At its core is a story of Russia and Ukraine which is reminiscent of  America’s sovereignty efforts in both Cuba and Vietnam in the 1960’s….it has far more to do with projection of power and spheres of influence than the interests of the citizens of the nations involved.   But that’s a long story, I think I did it justice in Creating Chaos and would be happy to discuss my analysis with anyone reading that work.

My publisher was convinced enough of the significance of the work to actually send copies to all the members of the House and Senate Intelligence committees. I wish they had read the book, or had their staff do so – it would have served them well in the committee testimony they are taking this week.

Which leads me to something not being discussed nearly enough in that discourse – although the media have picked up on a bit of the story they don’t have sufficient history to expand it to showcase the incredible level of American naivety and security compromise that existed in our last couple of years in the Ukraine.

We have known for some time that the internal training for this administration’s staff has been far below the standards for recent administrations – ranging from ethics sessions to security briefings.

https://www.cnn.com/2017/03/02/politics/white-house-ethics-training/index.html

I’ve commented in earlier on the fact that the president and his senior staff have not been participating in the types of emergency response planning – including military command and control practices – which have always been important but which were enhanced and taken seriously by all administrations following 9/11.

We have also known that at the very highest level, the president has compromised all standard communications protocols with the use of private cell phones, so have his family and apparently some of his senior appointees.

https://www.politico.com/story/2018/05/21/trump-phone-security-risk-hackers-601903

And now we know from the investigation of evens in the Ukraine, that both the president and his senior staff appear to be totally clueless in regard to security – not just in the United States but in a venue that in contemporary times has become a hub for intelligence wars, much as Berlin was after World War II or Mexico City became during the early 1960’s.

The fact that those in charge of our national security could be so ill informed and negligent in their diplomatic dealings in Ukraine is truly amazing – especially since Russia has successfully used phone intercepts from the Ukraine in political warfare against American diplomatic personnel there before – with one well known public example from 1964.

If you have Creating Chaos, you will find this on pages 288-290 where I discuss the fact that Russia helped install the very sophisticated phone monitoring network now existing in both Ukraine and Russia – the SORM system developed and fielded by the Russian FSB.

In 2014 the American Ambassador and another American diplomat conducted a non-encrypted call and the call was intercepted and recorded…actually ending up on a Russian internet propaganda channel – used in the new style political warfare in Ukrainian elections.

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-26079957

https://www.pbs.org/newshour/world/leaked-u-s-phone-call-ukraine-draws-anger-russia-eu

Given the practice of targeting communications of both American diplomats and business people, it is would be safe to assume that all unsecured calls are scooped up and monitored by both Ukrainian and Russian security services.  Diplomatic communications in Ukraine are equally, and likely more, compromised than they were in Mexico City circa 1963.

Of course we knew that then, and our intelligence community knows about Ukraine now. But once again it’s clear that few in the Trump administration are listening to them or showing any respect for their warnings.

https://www.cnn.com/politics/live-news/impeachment-hearing-11-20-19/h_8b949da8bdc543e7f1ac2b9902a2f483

 

 

6 responses »

  1. Anthony M says:

    Hello

    Very much agree with your concerns.
    It’s quite striking how ‘anything goes’ when it comes to personal self interest for President Trump. The attempts to promote the fantasy around alleged Ukrainian involvement in the attack on your 2016 presidential election and the moves to launch criminal investigations of those agencies and officials who highlighted the Russian efforts in that regard could all been seen as part of the same disregard for US national interests and the rule of law when that is inconvenient from a purely personal self interest perspective. More widely, something similar, in terms of attacking the legal system and various agencies is going on in Israel and we have seen a form of that over here in the UK in some of the language used by the pro-Brexit groups and politicians (‘enemies of the people’ etc.). This is part of a global trend unfortunately. It is extremely dangerous in its implications but seems to be politically quite effective as an approach and presumably will continue to be so until something goes horribly wrong.

    In terms of the USA, the really strange mix of foreign policy decisions that have been going on, with some things which are logical (even if you don’t agree with them), sometimes aimed more at the President’s electoral base regardless of consequences and sometimes just plain bizarre, must make it very tricky for other countries to anticipate US reactions to their moves. That is potentially a rather risky situation.

  2. larryjoe2 says:

    I’m afraid its more than risky in terms of maintaining any sort of global security alliance. Trumps very recent cancellation of military security aid to Lebanon ( one of our few very long term reliable partners in the region ) as well as his gutting of the South Korean security alliance, allowing tensions to build up between South Korean and Japan have only added to the chaos within our long term relationships.

    The story is getting worse day by day as he runs our international affairs only for his personal interests….and is enabled by his party strictly for their individual political interests.

  3. paul brancato says:

    Larry. Thanks. Do you think you are well versed enough in the alternate universe Trump Giuliani Biden/Burisma/DNC theory to analyze and debunk it?

  4. larryjoe2 says:

    I’m not sure I am well enough versed in the whole thing but I am well versed in the part of it which purports that it was Ukraine that interfered in the American election of 2016 rather than Russia and that Ukraine did so in favor of Clinton. At least that’s what I understand it to maintain – I devote an extended amount of time and copy in Creating Chaos to what really happened from 2014-2016 and certainly I feel that material would rebut the alternate universe theory.

    Of course one of the things that confuses all of this is that there are pro-Russian oligarchic and pro-Russian cyber warfare agents in Ukraine. So you can find Ukrainians who are pro Putin and even pro-succession who acted for Russia and still do so – but that’s not “Ukraine”. I think I do a pretty good job on those differentiation in Creating Chaos as well – and it cost me a lot of time and brain cells getting my head around it.

    As to the DNC server hack, that seems to get confused with the idea that there was either an actual server in the Ukraine that was somehow there was associated with it….I really don’t understand that but as to the DNC hacking, that was very well traced out by NSA and our intel community and the origins are pretty clear.

    Biden and Burisma seem to be yet another track and all of this is confabulated in a way to muddy the waters enough to make it look like it is all interrelated so as to add to the mystery and sell a massive conspiracy, but of course that happened well after the election events themselves. Its definitely a retro theory and conspiracy construct.

    That’s the best I can do since I’ve decided not to let it eat my brain – but I promise if you do take the time to read Creating Chaos the later sections of that work will clear up several parts of it.

  5. AnthonyM says:

    I would certainly recommend Creating Chaos…as with several of your books this was a subject area I was already moderately familiar with but in each case I found you managed to bring a deeper perspective on the subject.

    It’s been interesting how little coverage the decision over military aid to Lebanon. has had over here in the UK (we are a touch distracted with our own trials and tribulations at the moment). The Lebanese case seems to be an example of US policy being heavily driven by the interests of one or other of the two key allies in the region (in this case Israel, with the other being Saudi Arabia of course). it doesn’t really seem to add up to a coherent strategy for the region beyond the obvious electoral appeal re: Israel and protecting the petro-dollar re: Saudi Arabia. Oil seems to be the thread which runs through so much of this. The big three oil producers are the USA, Saudi and Russia and whilst relations with Russia appear strained, in practice Russia has been doing very nicely out of a number of US moves in the middle east recently. I may well be reading too much into that…could well be opportunistic reaction from Russia to incoherent US policy making (probably is, actually), but I do wonder, given how Trump started off back in 2016.

    One area of the Ukraine affair I’d like to know more about, if the information exists, is why Ambassador Yovanovitch was targeted. Sounds like she was a threat to some corrupt figures and that group appear to have sold a story to Gulliani and co. as a deal to get her removed, but I’ve not seen real detail on exactly who she was a threat to and why.

    • larryjoe2 says:

      Thanks Anthony, one of my goals in the contemporary sections of Creating Chaos was to develop the evolution of Russian political action during the 21st Century and its truly stunning how quickly it changed, largely under the domination of a single individual – Putin. To some extent it has as much to do with his personality as American foreign policy does with a single individual – Trump. It’s virtually impossible to understand events in Ukraine without that context, and without understanding Putin’s successes reasserting control over the other former Soviet Republics, which gets no discussion at all these days.

      And its impossible to understand American foreign policy since there really is not a coherent strategy currently, there is simply Trump and his dual interests of political advantage and financial advantage. I see Lebanon simply as part of that but not in terms of some broader natural resource strategy, rather in terms of both political advantage (Israel and the evangelical right) and Trump financial interests (primarily Turkey and Saudi). The clue to that is what leaders he personally cultivates and that is outrageously clear.

      In contrast, Putin is nothing but strategic, at the moment focused as much on African resources as the middle east, a region Trump neither understands or would like to be involved with personally.

      As to the Ambassador in the Ukraine, actually she was not the first to be targeted, her predecessor was targeted as well – in a different fashion. To a large extent the corruption in Ukraine goes back to the jousting over its position as a key hub in Russian oil distribution to the west and Putin has consistently encouraged that corruption as a way to insert Russian objectives into Ukrainian politics. Ukraine dependency on natural gas from Russia makes them highly vulnerable to that as does their own oligarchic economic structure (with many of the those individuals most definitely pro-Russian or at a minimum committed to the status quo).

      Putin has encouraged political action against American diplomats to minimize their impact on corruption (since corruption represents a point of leverage) as well as to undercut American moves to gain resource advantage in the Ukraine. Any American Ambassador is a target for Putin’s fellow travelers but it goes beyond that, any Ambassador is a target for competing economic interests in Ukraine (some of whom definitely do not want to diminish Russian energy influence since that would cost them money) – when Giuliani entered the Ukrainian quagmire he appears to have done so on too fronts, to help Trump politically and to help himself financially. Which meant his interests and Trumps had to prevail over any independent American interests, as represented by anyone from the State Department.

      I see the Giuliani campaign against the Ambassador largely as a matter of diminishing any strategic American foreign policy and replacing it with a Trump agenda. An exercise not at all limited to Ukraine.

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