Had ‘Freed’ Canada
The U.S. government defined events in Ukraine as a
“pro-democracy” revolution battling “Russian
aggression” — at least as far as the world’s
mainstream media was concerned. But what if the
script were flipped, asks Joe Lauria.
By Joe Lauria
May 07, 2016 "Information
- As the United States plans to move thousands of
NATO troops to Russia’s borders and continues to
bolster a fiercely anti-Russian regime in
neighboring Ukraine, the official line in Washington
and its subservient corporate media is that
beneficent America is simply seeking to curtail
Moscow’s “aggression.” But the U.S. government and
media might look at things quite differently if the
shoe were on the other foot.
instance, would the U.S. reaction be if Russia
instead had supported the violent overthrow of, say,
Canada’s government and assisted the new Ottawa
regime’s “anti-terrorist operations” against a few
rebellious “pro-American” provinces, including one
that voted 96 percent in a referendum to reject the
new Russian-backed authorities and attach itself to
If the U.S.
government tried to help these embattled
“pro-American” Canadians – and protect the breakaway
province against the Russian-installed regime –
would Washington see itself as the “aggressor” or as
simply helping people resist anti-democratic
repression? Would it view Russian troop movements to
the U.S. border as a way to stop an American
“invasion” or rather an act of “aggression” and
provocation by Russia against the United States?
playing out this hypothetical scenario, let’s look
at the actual scene in Ukraine today as opposed to
the gross distortion of reality fed the American
people by the U.S. mainstream media the past two
years. The reality is not the State Department’s
fable of a pro-democracy “revolution” cleaning up
corruption and putting Ukrainian people first.
In the real
world instead, extreme right-wing nationalists took
control of a popular protest by mostly western
Ukrainians to spearhead a violent coup that
succeeded on Feb. 22, 2014, in overthrowing
President Viktor Yanukovych, a man whom I
interviewed in 2013 after he had been democratically
chosen in an election certified by the Organization
for Security and Cooperation in Europe.
the U.S. role in the coup came in a leaked telephone
conversation several weeks earlier between U.S.
Assistant Secretary of State for European and
Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland, and Geoffrey Pyatt,
the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine. In the conversation,
Nuland and Pyatt discussed how the U.S. could
“midwife” the unconstitutional change of government
and they rated which Ukrainian politicians should be
put in charge, with Nuland declaring “Yats is the
guy,” a reference to Arseniy Yatsenyuk.
As for the
European Union’s less aggressive approach to the
Ukraine situation, Nuland declared: “Fuck the E.U.”
Nevertheless, after the coup, Western governments
denied there ever was a coup, peddling the line that
Yanukovych simply “ran away,” as though he woke up
one morning and decided he didn’t want to be
on Feb. 21, to contain the mounting violence,
Yanukovych signed a European-brokered deal to reduce
his powers and to hold early elections. But the next
day, as right-wing street-fighters overran
government buildings, Yanukovych fled for his life –
and the West moved quickly to consolidate a new
government under anti-Russian politicians, including
Nuland’s choice—Yats as prime minister. (Yatsenyuk
remained prime minister until last month when he
resigned amid complaints that his stewardship had
been disastrous for the Ukrainian people.)
vast majority of Yanukovych’s support came from the
ethnically Russian eastern half of the country, some
Yanukovych backers rose up to challenge the
legitimacy of the coup regime and to defend
Ukraine’s democratic process.
West portrayed this resistance as a
Russian-instigated rebellion against the newly
minted and U.S.-certified “legitimate” government
that then launched a violent repression of eastern
Ukrainians who were deemed “terrorists.”
supported the resisters with weapons, money and some
volunteers, the West accused Russia of an “invasion”
and “aggression” in the east. But there has never
been satellite imagery or other proof of this
alleged full-scale Russian “invasion.”
midst of the Kiev “anti-terrorist” offensive in the
east, on July 17, 2014, a Malaysian commercial
airliner, Flight MH-17, was shot out of the sky,
killing all 298 people on board. The United States,
again offering no proof, immediately blamed Russia.
past year, the fighting has been largely contained
after Russian, Ukrainian and European leaders
negotiated the Minsk
Accords, though they are far from being
implemented and widespread violence could break out
again at any time.
the entire crisis the United States has insisted its
motives are pure, including its
new plans for deploying some 4,000 NATO troops,
including about half American, on Russia’s Eastern
European borders north of Ukraine.
Barack Obama told the U.N. General Assembly last
year that the U.S. had no economic interests in
Ukraine. But former State Department official
Natalie Jaresko served as Ukraine’s finance minister
until recently and Vice President Joe Biden’s son
sits on the board of a major Ukrainian company. U.S.
investment also has increased since the coup.
Yanukovych’s overthrow occurred after he chose a
Russian economic plan rather than sign an
association agreement with the European Union, which
Ukrainian economic analysts warned would cost the
country $160 billion in lost trade with Russia.
plan would also have opened Ukraine to Western
neoliberal economic strategies designed to exploit
the country for the benefit of Western capital and
local oligarchs (one of whom, Petro Poroshenko,
emerged as the new president).
Turning the Tables
American readers better understand what has
transpired in Ukraine, it may be useful to see what
it would be like if the tables were turned. What
would the story be like if Russia played the role of
the U.S. and Canada the role of Ukraine? Most
Americans would not be pleased.
reverse scenario, the world’s mainstream media would
follow Moscow’s line and present the story as a U.S.
“invasion” of Canada. The media would explain the
movement of Russian troops to the U.S. border as
nothing more than a peaceful step to deter U.S.
Americans might see matters differently, siding with
the breakaway Maritime provinces resisting the
Moscow-engineered violent coup d’etat in Ottawa. In
this scenario, Prince Edwards Islanders would have
voted by over 90 percent to secede from the
pro-Russian regime in Ottawa and join the United
States, as Crimea did in the case of Ukraine. People
in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick – stressing their
close historic ties to America – also would make
clear their desire not to be violently absorbed by
the Ottawa coup regime.
alternative scenario, Moscow would condemn Prince
Edwards Island’s referendum as a “sham” and vow
never to accept its “illegal” secession. The popular
resistance in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick would be
denounced as “terrorism” justifying a brutal
military crackdown by Russian-backed Canadian
federal troops dispatched to crush the dissent. In
this “anti-terrorist operation” against the
breakaway region, residential areas would be shelled
killing thousands of civilians and devastating towns
endeavor, the Canadian army would be joined by
Russian-supported neo-fascist battalions that had
played a crucial role in the overthrow of the
Canadian government. In the Maritime city of
Halifax, these extremists would
burn alive at least 40 pro-U.S. civilians who
took refugee in a trade union building. The new
government in Ottawa would make no effort to protect
the victims, nor conduct a serious investigation to
punish the perpetrators.
Ignoring a Leak
proof that Russia was behind the overthrow of the
elected Canadian prime minister would be revealed in
conversation between Moscow’s foreign ministry
chief of the North America department and the
Russian ambassador to Canada.
to a transcript of
the leaked conversation, the Moscow-based official
would discuss who the new Canadian leaders should be
several weeks before the coup took place. Russia
would launch the coup when Canada decided to take a
loan package from the U.S.-based International
Monetary Fund that had fewer strings attached than a
loan from Russia.
ally in Beijing would be reluctant to back the coup.
But this would seem to be of little concern to
Moscow’s man who is heard on the tape saying, “Fuck
China.” Although this conversation would be posted
on YouTube, its contents and import would be largely
ignored by the global mainstream media, which would
insist there was no coup in Ottawa.
before the coup, the Russian foreign ministry
official would be filmed visiting protesters camped
out in Parliament Square in Ottawa demanding the
ouster of the prime minister. The Russian official
give out cakes to the demonstrators.
ministers of Russian-allied Belarus and Cuba would
also march with the protesters through the streets
of Ottawa against the government. The world’s
mainstream media would portray these demands for an
unconstitutional change of government as an act of
“democracy” and a desire to end “corruption.”
In a speech,
the Russian foreign ministry official would remind
Canadian businessmen that Russia had spent $5
billion over the past decade to “bring democracy” to
Canada, much of that money spent training “civil
society” activists and funding anti-government
“journalists.” The use of these non-governmental
organizations to overthrow foreign governments that
stand in the way of Russia’s economic and
geo-strategic interests would have been well
documented but largely ignored by the global
recognizing the danger from these “color revolution”
strategies, the United States would move to ban Russian
NGOs from operating in the U.S., a tactic that would
be denounced by Russia as America’s rejection of
Canadian coup would take place as protesters
violently clashed with police, breaking through
barricades and killing a number of police officers.
Snipers would fire on the police and the crowd from
a nearby Parliament Square building under the
control of hardline pro-Russian extremists. But the
Russian government and the mainstream media would
blame the killings on the embattled Canadian prime
To stem the
violence, the prime minister would offer to call
early elections but instead would be driven from
office violently by the pro-Russian street gangs.
Russia and the global mainstream news media would
praise the overthrow as a great step for democracy
and would hail the pro-Russian street fighters who
had died in the coup as the “Heavenly Hundred.”
the coup, Russian lawmakers would compare President
Barack Obama to Adolf Hitler for allegedly sending
U.S. troops into the breakaway provinces to protect
the populations from violent repression, and for
accepting the pleas of the people of Prince Edward
Island to secede from this new Canada.
be widely accused of ordering an “American invasion”
and committing an act of “American aggression” in
violation of international law. But the Maritimes
would note that they had long ties to the U.S.
dating back to the American Revolution and didn’t
want to live under a new regime imposed by a faraway
would claim intelligence proving that U.S. tanks
crossed the Maine border into New Brunswick, but
would fail to make the evidence public. Russia would
also refuse to reveal satellite imagery supporting
the charge. But the claims would still be widely
accepted by the world’s mainstream news media.
part, Washington would deny it invaded but say some
American volunteers had entered the Canadian
province to join the fight, a claim met with
widespread media derision. Russia’s puppet prime
minister in Ottawa would
offer as proof of an American invasion just six
passports of U.S. soldiers found in New Brunswick.
Taking Aim at Washington
during one of the new regime’s “anti-terrorist”
offensives – a passenger jet would be shot down over
Nova Scotia killing all onboard, Russia would accuse
President Obama of being behind the outrage,
charging that the U.S. had provided the powerful
anti-aircraft missile needed to reach a plane flying
at 33,000 feet.
would refuse to release any intelligence to support
its claim, which would nevertheless be accepted by
world’s mainstream media.
shoot-down would enable Russia to rally China and
other international allies into imposing a harsh
economic boycott of America to punish it for its
“good government” to Canada and to deal with its
collapsing economy, a former Russian foreign
ministry official would be installed as Canada’s
finance minister, receiving Canadian citizenship on
day on the job.
Russia would deny that it had economic interests in
Canada, simply wanting to help the country free
itself from oppressive American domination. But
Russian agribusiness companies would
take stakes in Albertan wheat fields and the son
of Russia’s prime minister as well as other
well-connected Russians would
join the board of Canada’s largest oil
company just weeks after the coup.
ultimate aim, beginning with the imposition of the
sanctions on the U.S. economy, would appear to be a
“color revolution” in Washington, to overthrow the
U.S. government and install a Russia-friendly
would become clear from numerous statements by
Russian officials and academics. A former Russian
national security adviser would say that
the United States should be broken up into three
write that Canada would be the stepping stone to
this U.S. regime change. If the U.S. loses Canada,
he would declare, it would fail to control North
world’s mainstream media would continue to frame the
Canadian crisis as a simple case of “American
fictional scenario perhaps lays bare the absurdity
of the U.S. version of events in Ukraine.
Joe Lauria is
a veteran foreign-affairs journalist based at the
U.N. since 1990. He has written for the Boston
Globe, the London Daily Telegraph, the Johannesburg
Star, the Montreal Gazette, the Wall Street Journal
and other newspapers. He can be reached at email@example.com and
followed on Twitter at @unjoe.