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Peter Lavelle: Donald, Hillary and Vlad – is Ukraine the “October Surprise?”

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of this site. This site does not give financial, investment or medical advice.

Western media and the political establishment, particularly in the U.S., remain obsessed with the idea Donald Trump is an agent of Vladimir Putin. At the same time, the Kiev government is equally obsessed with its endless predictions of an impending Russian invasion. Both are illusions manufactured to serve political purposes; both now have everything to do with the U.S. presidential race.

Trump is a lot of things, including some unpleasant ones, but he is hardly Putin’s “Siberian Candidate.” Last time I visited Red Square I did not notice a “Kremlin-Trump Towers.” Trump has cast doubt on some of the national security establishment’s sacred cows like NATO and deeming Russia an eternal enemy. However, fact checkers would be wise to review everything Trump has said about Russia – you will find he is remarkably in line with the Washington Consensus when it comes to American foreign policy. His greatest sin is being open-minded about some foreign policy issues and this has been made the centerpiece of the American election contest. Being open minded and questioning what is essentially “American Exceptionalism” has created an opening for Team Clinton and its media minions to wage a smear campaign against Trump that amounts to a modern form of McCarthyism. This smear campaign very likely will be taken to an even higher and more sinister level as Election Day looms.

Then there is Ukraine – the country that has been warning Russia is about to invade for the past two years, but to no avail. This is the same country that overthrew a democratically elected president with the overwhelming support of the U.S. in March 2014. Soon after the population of Crimea invoked its right of self-determination and voted to join the Russian Federation. Since then Russia has been sanctioned by the west, attempts have been made to “isolate” Russia, and basically blame all worldly woes on Vladimir Putin, including meddling to the U.S. presidential election. But Ukraine is important. Not because its economy is in tatters, not because its political class is made up of Nazis and neo-fascists, and not because it is a poster child of so-called western values. Ukraine is important; it is a tool to shore up the over-sized anachronism known as NATO and Washington’s designs to maintain its grip on Europe’s security agenda. Ukraine is also poised to play a role in the November elections. Here’s how.

Washington’s plan to pull Ukraine into the western obit in single and quick surgical operation has been an unmitigated disaster. But it was never been about Ukraine and its people. Today Ukraine is an economic basket case, a country that has little control of its borders and sovereignty, and an embarrassment for the EU. The overall strategic aim by Washington and some of its fanatical European accolades was to present Russia with a security dilemma: invade and occupy Ukraine resulting in overwhelming western opprobrium or accept a whole Ukraine in the western camp hostile to Russia. Neither scenario panned out (when was the last time Washington actually tried to pull off something on the world stage that didn’t result in catastrophe?). The result has been a stalemate. Washington can’t stand stalemates, particularly when it comes to Russia. Alas, Ukraine’s western sponsor elites still have an opportunity to pimp their country and people in service of Washington (and inflict a political body blow on the Trump campaign).

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko is said to be a very corrupt “oligarch” who has profited from his country’s extreme economic woes. He declared war against his own people in the eastern part of the country (where ethnic Russians and Russian speakers live). He likes to play the role of Ukrainian mascot when western leaders convene. He is also Washington’s man in Kiev. And he is in the position to offer some favors. I am betting he will deliver.

Since Trump is designated as Putin’s American agent, then playing the “Ukraine card” is a logical assumption for an “October Surprise.” The Trump campaign is wary of sending more military assistance to Ukraine – remember Ukraine is not a member of NATO and the situation in Ukraine in no way threatens America’s security, nor that of Europe’s. But in the world politics facts hardly get in the way of personal ambitions. Poroshenko and his government have been waging a low-level war of skirmishes and cross border attacks on Crimea and the breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine. The American public is already well conditioned to accept all of this is Russia’s fault. What is now needed and is probably being planned is a manufactured incident to make it look like Russia attacked and invaded Ukraine. The American public will be rallied with the usual mantra “something must be done” and the Trump campaign will be left flat footed, red faced, and denounced. Joe McCarthy will smile with glee from the grave.

Sounds like fiction? If it does, then you simply have not been paying attention – this is how Washington thinks and works.

Peter Lavelle is host of RT’s political debate program CrossTalk. His views may or may not reflect those of his employer.


The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of this site. This site does not give financial, investment or medical advice.

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