A blog by the magazine's editors and contributors


The fog of being well-informed about Ukraine

The sniper shootings in Kiev's Maiden Square led to charges that President Yanukovich had ordered the killings. Putin dened the charges on behalf of Yanukovich. Now a YouTube Video has the Foreign Minister of Estonia telling Catherine Ashton of the EU that the snipers shot both the police and the opposition. What to conclude? The medical doctor who was the source of the FM's story denies it; she attended the wounded and does not know who shot them. The YouTube video has gone viral.

In the meantime, our own media asks, "Who in D.C. is to blame for Ukraine?"

  • Obama? He let Assad Syria cross a red line! 
  • GWBush? He invaded Iraq!
  • Lindsay Graham: "It all started with Benghazi." Or when the South lost the Civil War.
  • John McCain accused the Intelligence Services but attacked SOD Chuck Hagel who happened to be sitting there trying to testify about defense cuts.
  • Paul Ryan declared it was Putin.

In Kiev, C.J. Chivers, the NYTimes reporter who knows about Kalashnikovs and men at war interviewed the Opposition groups still occupying  Maidan in Kiev, including members of the Right Sector (often described as ultra-nationalist and anti-Semitic). According to their pr guy: "The Right Sector hoped to win enough votes in elections in May to become a formal party. Until then, he said, its ranks would remain on the square. He also said that the group was wary that Russia could portray any further actions by its members as the work of fascists, so its leaders forbade members from traveling to Ukraine’s east." 

Those fascists? Trying to conceal their real goals!!

There is Henry Kissinger sounding sensible (good old Henry!): "We should seek reconciliation, not the domination of a faction. Russia and the West, and least of all the various factions in Ukraine, have not acted on this principle. Each has made the situation worse. Russia would not be able to impose a military solution without isolating itself at a time when many of its borders are already precarious. For the West, the demonization of Vladimir Putin is not a policy; it is an alibi for the absence of one." Washington Post.

About the Author

Margaret O'Brien Steinfels, a former editor of Commonweal, writes frequently in these pages and blogs at dotCommonweal.



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Yes, this time Kissinger is making  more sense than the others.  The situation is terribly complex --  there is no one person or group at fault.  A goodly amount of the blame seems fixed deep in history, and the past isn't dead.. 

Ann, you speak for me; thank you.  I can only hope Obama and Putin read Kissinger's piece. 

I saw Kissinger on Charlie Rose last night. I know the critiques of each of them and certainly K. 's policies and actions in thee 20th century included much that is contemptible. Still, in listening to him before I even read this, I was struck by some of his wisdom and common senmse (amis some still rather different opinions and more than a little post-ego), I thought. Perhaps an old dog had learned something.

Worthwhile to read some of the other opinions cited on teh Kissinger column. ZB's suggestions make me glad he is not advising the President.

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