Oliver Stone's Ukraine: Coming Soon to a Cinema Near You

January 31, 2015
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Oliver Stone's Ukraine: Coming Soon to a Cinema Near You

In the month since Oliver Stone made public his intent to produce a long documentary film on Ukraine he has not provided any more details about how exactly he will treat his subject. Indeed, he seems to have disappeared. Ukrainian prosecutors wanting to interrogate him as to the whereabouts of Victor Ianukovich can’t locate him.
Mr Stone, however, did post a reference on January 26 on his web-site to an article that he recommended to his readers as “great analysis” by one Robert Parry: https://consortiumnews.com/2015/01/06/nyt-still-pretends-no-coup-in-ukra... and https://consortiumnews.com/2015/01/24/nyt-is-lost-in-its-ukraine-propaga.... This analysis presumably reflects his own view and how his planned film about Ukraine will present events. Mr. Parry’s account, accordingly, deserves attention from those concerned about the prospect of an American director producing a film reflecting the views of the Putin dictatorship.

Robert Parry is a journalist who worked for Newsweek that now has his own web site. As of this January it has a an average google rank of 126 958. Parry’s publications shows him to be among those leftists obsessed with anti- Americanism and blind to any other imperialism. He seems uninterested in any evil in the world that cannot be linked to the US government or corporations.

Parry’s explanation of events in Ukraine, one evidently shared by Stone, boils down to the claim that Ianukovich was deposed in an illegal coup organized by the CIA. “The Maidan uprising was urged on by American neocons, including Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland, who passed out cookies at the Maidan and told Ukrainian business leaders that the United States had invested $5 billion in their ‘European aspirations.' In the weeks before the coup, according to an intercepted phone call, Nuland discussed with U.S. Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt who should lead the future regime. Nuland said her choice was Arseniy Yatsenyuk.”

There is some truth in Parry’s account but it is hardly “great analysis” and one-sided to the extreme. Parry notes involved American persons and institutions. He does not note FSB or GRU involvement, or what Russia’s counterparts to the US neo-cons like Dugin, Gundaev, Sechin, Surkov or Glazeev, said about or did in Ukraine. Much concerned about “US financed political programs in Ukraine,” Parry makes no mention of Russian financed political programs. Bemoaning unwarranted US interference in Ukrainian affairs, he makes no mention of unwarranted Kremlin interference. As a leftist Parry is very critical of foreign policy interests of the American ruling class – which he does not associate with the strategic interests of the country. He does not apply that same standard to the foreign policy interests of the Russian ruling class which, apparently, in his opinion do reflect “Russia’s strategic interests.” Finally, Parry seems to think that CIA involvement, overshadows and nullifies the social and national causes of the dissatisfaction that brought millions into the streets in 2013.

Parry’s “great analysis” is a mirror image of right-wing Republican analysis that claim KGB/FSB involvement in Latin America or Africa or Asia overshadows and nullifies the dissatisfaction that brings millions into streets there. Using current academic jargon, both analyses deny constructive justifiable “agency to subalterns.” Thus, Ukrainians appear only where Parry writes about “Kiev in the hands of rabid right wing politicians” and the prospect of “thousands of ethnic Russians in Ukraine being slaughtered.” In short, Parry applies double standards. Latin Americans or Asians who reject US-Corporate hegemony are celebrated and supported as freedom fighters while eastern Europeans who reject Russian domination are condemned as extremists and nazis.

Parry seemingly knows nothing about Russian rule over Ukraine before 1991 – let alone the role of Russian intelligence agencies in controlling it before and after that date. He writes that the US made a “brazen bid to get Ukraine to repudiate its long time relationship with Russia.” What is “brazen” about one great power ruling class pursuing its interests against those of another great power ruling class on the territories of weaker peoples is unclear. Is it the “bid” itself, or great powers using foreign peoples as pawns? Parry also is either oblivious to or consciously ignores the relationship of the “bid” to what he chooses to refer to as a “long term relationship.” Was the US “bid” similar to Russian “brazen bids” to have Vietnam repudiate its “longtime relationship” to France, or Venezuala its “longtime relationship” to America? Were bids by revolutionary France to get the Irish to repudiate their “long relationship” to Britain, or wartime Japan to get India repudiate its “long relationship” to Britain, or, of Victorian Britain to get Greeks to repudiate their “longtime relationship” to the Ottomans “brazen."?

Parry writes about the “political will of the Crimean people” so as to avoid mentioning the native Tatar population, how they became a minority in their native territory, and, why this historically Muslim territory has a Russian majority. In an article about Ukraine Parry includes historical reference to 200 000 Guatemalans dead as a result of American intervention but not to how many Ukrainians, or Tatars, died in the wake of Russian interventions into their countries. He refers to Ukrainian para-military forces but not to Russian paramilitary forces. If Stone uses this kind of “great analysis” as source material for his planned documentary film he is surely bound to win at least one of Russia’s 8 film awards -- if Putin is still in power when it appears.

Fifty years ago journalists often revealed similar ignorance, double standards, and lapses about Ukraine and eastern Europe. Then, misrepresentation was somewhat understandable given the lack of any serious English-language literature on this part of the world outside the major university libraries. This is no longer the case and no one misrepresenting Ukrainian issues today can plead ignorance due to lack of information. Those who distrust Wikipedia can today walk into any big bookstore and buy a still readily available paperback History of Ukraine (with long bibliography including items on the Tatars) by Paul Magocsi published in 2010 as well as specialist monographs.

After reading Parry, one might speculate that if he were not just a “small –l” leftist anti-Americanist Russophile, but a “big-l” leftist anti-imperialist Marxist, he would not waste time explaining how persons belonging to the ruling class of one country supposedly conspired to overthrow a person belonging to the ruling class in another. If Parry knew history as well as he knew the official Kremlin account of events in 2014 Kyiv, the biggest show of “people power” since the Occupy Movement, he would focus instead on how that massive popular uprising overthrew the particularly predatory and rapacious “oligarch” version of neo liberal capitalism presided over by Ianukovich. From such a truly radical perspective Parry would not quibble over whether or not his fall was a “coup.” This issue would be a trivial matter of “bourgeois legalism” – simply a form of inter-capitalist imperial rivalry. Parry would also realize that, just as the very visible presence of anarchists in the Occupy Movement did not make it anarchist , the presence of rightist extremists at the Maidan did not make it fascist. Furthermore, in so far as the new Ukrainian “national bourgeois capitalist” government promises to weaken and speed the demise of Putin’s “imperialist bourgeois capitalist” government, Parry would support rather than condemn it. If Parry were a Marxist who knew his history, and not simply an anti-Americanist Russophile, he could readily present the events of 2014 as Ukraine’s much belated “bourgeois revolution” – the one that did not happen in 1848 and failed in 1917.

Whether either Robert Parry or Oliver Stone will bother to read anything on Ukraine that might lead them to dispense with their double standards or question their anti-Americanist preconceptions, however, remains to be seen. It also remains to be seen whether Oliver Stone makes a film that explores Russian FSB/GRU alongside US CIA involvement in Ukraine and explains that Ukraine’s Ukrainian Tatar Jewish and Russian citizens no more want to be dominated by Russia or pro Russian dictators, than Latin Americans want to be dominated by America or pro American dictators.

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Pavlo Senchyna's picture
Pavlo Senchyna April 24, 2015, 09:49 am

“Foul is Fair: A Reply to Stephen Velychenko “



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