Yanukovich and Kabbah 320

My old boss Mark Lyall Grant, UK Ambassador to the United Nations, is a deeply unpleasant man.  But he was quite right to dismiss Russia’s legal pretext for invading Ukraine on the basis of an invitation letter from ex-President Yanukovich.

The problem is Mark Lyall Grant is the last person in world to have moral authority to do this, as he was directly involved in drafting an invitation letter from ex-President Kabbah of Sierra Leone inviting Britain to invade Sierra Leone, which Britain then did.  Mark Lyall Grant said at the UN yesterday about Yanukovich that:  “We are talking about a former leader who abandoned his office, his capital and his country, whose corrupt governance brought his country to the brink of economic ruin”.  Exactly the same things could have been said about Kabbah, whose government had been massively corrupt – and was again when restored, and who issued his invitation to invade from a five star hotel in London after living in exile in Guinea.

The unspeakable horrors of the Sierra Leonean civil war have led to a lazy mainstream media accepting Sierra Leone as the “good” invasion.  But the civil wars in Liberia and Sierra Leone were not a spontaneous outbreak of human evil, they were caused by the massive corruption of ruling coastal elites in both Sierra Leone and neighbouring Liberia, compared to the appalling poverty and lack of basic services and education for those in the hinterland.  It is one of the ironies of history that the elites were the descendants of slaves returned with the very best of intentions by the US and UK, educated and given much charitable provision, who controlled the state and then set to exploiting the hinterland tribes ruthlessly from the “hut wars” of the 1880’s on.  The eruption of massive scale diamond mining from the 1960’s on escalated levels of corruption, warlordism and violence and almost continual military rule.  Laudable attempts to foster democracy did nothing to lessen corruption.  The dreadful atrocities of the RUF and Kamajors were a result of the tribal eruption that ensued.

What the British invasion did was simply to put the old corrupt elite safely back in place, and make the minerals secure for western interests.  Even more valuable than the diamonds is Sierra Leone’s rutile mine, the world’s single most profitable mine.  Following the British invasion guess who suddenly became a director of that mine? Valerie Amos, who was one of the ministers who authorized the invasion, and is now at the UN in charge of pushing for war in Syria.

I always opposed the doctrine of “liberal intervention” and still do.  But those who invented “the right to protect” were stupid enough to believe that they would forever be the only military power strong enough to seize assets in other countries.  For the historian, the “right to protect” and “liberal intervention” are precisely the same as excuses given for imperial grabs throughout the millennia.

Invading another territory is wrong when the British do it, and it is wrong when the Russians do it.  It is quite simply untrue that ethnic Russians were under threat in the Ukraine.  International law always recognizes and deals with the government actually in power in the country.  If ousted leaders are accepted as having in the right to call in freeing invasion to restore them, the world would be in a state of perpetual war.

Plainly Russian actions are illegal.  They do have an agreed right to station forces in Crimea.  It is impossible to tell at the moment if the agreed numbers have been exceeded, but the Russian production of Yanukovich’s letter would certainly appear to indicate that.  But Russian actions in blocking roads and blockading Ukrainian military bases on Ukrainian soil are plainly illegal.

Russia is behaving as what it is, an imperialist thug.  The British and the United States indeed lack any moral authority to make such a statement.  But I do not suffer from that handicap, and nor do you.



PS The story of my Sierra Leone involvement is in my book The Catholic Orangemen of Togo.  This is available for free download in a number of places around the web, including here.



320 thoughts on “Yanukovich and Kabbah

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  • technicolour

    In the case of the fake snipers in Venezuela, there was a clearly democratic hero – Chavez – being set up by clearly corrupt & ruthless demagogues. The US were, to no-one’s surprise, supporting the latter.

    How does this have any relevance to Ukraine? And if anyone’s about to say ‘well, it shows what the US are capable of’ please don’t. I am all too aware of what the US and UK governments are capable of!

  • technicolour

    Two more takes on Ukraine. I have never been to Ukraine and know nothing about Ukraine and am not endorsing these links in any way, you understand. But it seems clear that quite a few people here know an awful lot about it, so they might like to comment.

    NB If anyone is capable of producing a little flow chart outlining the chief participants and the time line of events that would be extremely helpful.

    1) http://wearechange.org/leaked-phone-call-kiev-snipers-hired-us-backed-opposition/

    2)It’s all about fracking (and GM)


  • ESLO

    “We witnessed Putin’s games corrupted”

    Guess who was the last political leader who gave his name to the Olympic Games.

    Clue he didn’t give a role to his mistress in lighting the flame.

  • ESLO

    John Goss

    Why do you thing we are all of a sudden being presented with all these recordings of bugged telephone calls and various conspiracy theories. Clue: the answer to the question is one that distinguishes between “useful idiots ” and “fellow travellers”.

  • ESLO

    “The nationalist not only does not disapprove of atrocities committed by his own side, but he has a remarkable capacity for not even hearing about them.”

    Oh so true – but don’t you think that there might be a few Russian nationalists around. What about the lie that all those invasion troops without insignia are not Russian?

  • John Goss

    “John Goss

    Why do you think we are all of a sudden being presented with all these recordings of bugged telephone calls and various conspiracy theories. Clue: the answer to the question is one that distinguishes between “useful idiots ” and “fellow travellers”.”

    The truth is we are not all of a sudden being presented with recordings and bugged telephone calls. It has been going on for 24 hours with very little mention in the most powerful media outlets. We only got to know because of the alternative media. Why do you think that is? Clue: somebody owns our media. Who? Clue: somebody with money, who pays for what news is good for us. And yes, I know it’s the same in the Russian media.

  • Karel

    Ba’al Zevul (The Bear Shall Not Have Constantinople)

    Thanks for pointing out that the old blue eyes “Nuland (her parents were called Nudelmann,) is Jewish.” Hmm, such a nice name, nudelman and now all is lost. Why do these chameleonic Khazars always change their names?
    I would not take the “antisemitism”, ostentatively displayed by the strange bedfellows of that slippery “nudel”, all that seriously. That “Yat” has for a Russian or an Ukranian a strange name. The first name Arsenij is odd and Jaceniuk sounds like a corrupted version of Isak – Itzak . Those familiar with Polish, like our in house linguist halibabacus, may enjoy some comments on the ethnicity of this Yat. See –

    http://wiadomosci.gazeta. pl/wiadomosci/51,114871,1535e sth8275.html?i=1&v=1&obxx=15358275nship

    The newly-appointed Dnepropetrovsk governor, Igor Kolomoysky has a dual Ukrainian -Israeli citizenship, which is possibly the best evidence for the antisemitic orientation of the new masters in Kiev.

  • Habbabkuk (La vita è bella!


    Have you finally got your link right, or should we all wait a little longer?

    PS – Carneval time again! What are you disguised as this time: a braying ass or a giant-sized Italian nudel?

  • Habbabkuk (La vita è bella!

    Mr Goss

    “The truth is we are not all of a sudden being presented with recordings and bugged telephone calls. It has been going on for 24 hours”

    Mr Goss, you are timeless (if not peerless) : 24 hours is not all of a sudden.?

    What, in your book, is all of a sudden? Fifteen minutes? Two hours? Half a day?

  • Karel

    Halibaba in culo

    Well,well carnival. In case you forgot, purim will start this year on 16th March and if you have not decided yet what to do, may I suggest that you dress up like a Haman’s prick to give the more progressive part of our society something to nible on. Please write about it at a great length in your inimitable style so that we can all share the immeasurable joy of your experience.

  • Habbabkuk (La vita è bella!


    Always good to hear from you. How are you? And how’s your Italian coming along – are you past Chapter 3 yet?


    La vita è bella, life is good!

  • John Goss


    I would be interested to know what your link said. Something like “The Ukraine parliament agreed to an amnesty. The opposition was not included. It’s illegal”?

    Can you throw any light on what is happening regarding the increase in UK jets to Polish bases in the Polish newspapers? Are are they not aware in Poland?


    I’ll be back later.

  • John Goss

    Looks like I’ve got the place to myself. Good thing too before the others arrive to tell me that the jets were going to Lithuania and personnel to Poland.

  • Ba'al Zevul (Let's Nuke Russia! (Everett Mix))

    ‘Can you throw any light on what is happening regarding the increase in UK jets to Polish bases in the Polish newspapers? Are are they not aware in Poland?’

    They’re US jets (as if it made any difference!) – Lakenheath is a US base. A lot of F15 flying going on over the last three days or so. Very little activity from our own Tornadoes or Typhoons locally, though.

  • Ba'al Zevul (Let's Nuke Russia! (Everett Mix))

    ‘Arseniy’ (Arsenij) is a common Russian/Ukrainian name, Karel. I’m surprised it isn’t common in Poland too. Yatsenyuk himself indeed comes from a Jewish family – Wikipedia is still my friend – but I think this is less relevant to his Western backers (or anyone else) than his enthusiasm for global capitalism: he’s a –

    ‘Cavalier of the Order of Prince Yaroslav the Wise Fifth Class – awarded on 7 February 2008 for significant personal contribution to the integration of Ukraine into the World Trade Organization’

    Follow the money….

  • Black jelly

    Is international law for all, except for Britain and the USA? Andrew Murray replies to the Economist article, Britain and Ukraine: Fisking Stop the War.

    The Economist is the high priest of Anglo-Saxon hypocrisy – it preaches a free market for all, but backed “socialism for the banks” when the City needed a bailout. It is no more consistent on world politics – international law for all, except for Britain and the USA. In response to the recent article written by Stop the War Convenor Lindsey German (10 things to remember about the crisis in Ukraine and Crimea), an Economist blogger identified only as “JC”, decided to “Fisk” Stop the War (Britain and Ukraine: Fisking Stop the War). It was quite revealing. Here are ten things JC got wrong:

    1)“Neither Mr Cameron nor Mr Kerry ‘invaded’ Afghanistan or Iraq,” JC begins. No, but Britain and the USA did – and it was an invasion, no quotation marks are necessary. The Iraq war, like the Yugoslav one in 1999, was undertaken clearly in violation of international law, against countries making no threats to the USA or Britain, and without any UN sanction. The Economist may take a view that these bloody violations of international law are acceptable, while Putin’s so-far bloodless occupation of the Crimea is an outrage, but not many outside the snug circles of the Anglosphere elite will be found to agree. If the magazine genuinely wants a law-based world with all disputes resolved through negotiation and the United Nations, then it cannot continue to make exceptions for the likes of Bush and Blair – at least not if it wants to be taken seriously.

    2)JC’s description of Yeltsin as a “modernising” premier (he was in fact President not premier) is perhaps the most absurd contention. Under the stewardship of the inebriated Yeltsin, Russia’s economy shrank by half, its state assets were handed over to the emerging oligarchy in a corrupt privatisation process, no functioning party-political system was created and in the end Yeltsin could only be persuaded to leave office under cover of an amnesty for himself and his family for his venal crimes. His foreign policy choices also stored up immense trouble for his successors, as is being seen today. If this is modernisation, it sure makes the case for tradition.

    3)JC is most concerned to minimise the role of the Far-Right in the new Kiev government. But a leader of Svoboda, an overtly neo-nazi party which has been likened to Greece’s Golden Dawn, and which speaks of Ukraine being in the grip of “Jewish-Bolshevik”, Russians is Deputy Prime Minister. Another party member holds the top post in the legal system. Two others control ministerial portfolios – the first return of neo-nazis to government in Europe since 1945. A further far-right group, Right Front, has apparently replaced the police on the streets of Kiev. Of course, there are other less noxious forces involved, if that description fits the corrupt clique around Yulia Tymoshenko, but strain as it might, The Economist can hardly pass this new, unelected, regime in Kiev off as a Reform Club outing.

    4)The Economist deludes itself that MPs left “military action on the table against Assad”, when they voted against war last August. That seems like neo-con wishful thinking. But surely the salient point is that in rejecting a further attack on a Middle Eastern country, MPs were expressing a strong, settled and cross-party majority in the country.

    5)The Economist critic can’t understand why Lindsey German raised the matter of US use of drones against targets in Pakistan and elsewhere. Surely if the violation of national sovereignty is the matter of concern, then this is a clear example of it (which the Economist supports). And as for it being of a different order of priorities to the Crimea crisis, this says more about Economist values than anything else. Drones have killed hundreds at least, including many entirely innocent and unintended targets. Happily, Russian troops in the Crimea have killed nobody yet.

    6)On the basis of who knows what evidence, the Economist attests to “the overwhelmingly liberal attitude of most Maidan protesters”. So the police killed in the square were done to death by readings of John Stuart Mill? Even the Estonian Foreign Minister, no friend of Russia we can assume, has now been recorded telling EU Foreign Policy chief Cathy Ashton that the snipers were most likely involved with the opposition, as well as elements of the departed regime.

    7)Apparently the EU is “the antithesis of….economic stagnation”. Tell that to those enduring EU (and IMF) ordered slump in Greece, Cyprus, Portugal, Spain etc. And as for corruption, let’s revisit that issue when the EU can get its annual accounts signed off by the auditors. Don’t hold your breath.

    8)JC exercises himself to prove that John McCain, leading the hawks over Ukraine, is no neo-con. Alas, all his examples of McCain’s relative reasonableness are of considerable antiquity. For the last several years he has been leading the charge for a military response by the US to almost every crisis – Georgia most notably, Iraq, Libya, Iran. He is for sure a war-monger. As his friend, Time journalist Joe Klein wrote recently: “There was a time when John McCain was a reasonable man. It was a while back, but I remember it well.”

    9)There is, the Economist assures us, no threat to Russian-speakers in the Crimea. Then why the vote in the Kiev Rada to downgrade the official use of the Russian language. Why the introduction of a bill to decriminalise Nazi propaganda?

    10)A big power intervenes in a neighbouring state to put down a movement for democracy and support a corrupt autocracy in violation of international law, with loss of life and considerable arrests, torture and imprisonment. Oh, wait… That was Saudi Arabia invading Bahrain… And no, JC didn’t mention it.

    Source: Stop the War Coalition

    See also by Andrew Murray: Imperialism’s dilemmas over the Ukraine…

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