Ukrainians Continue Being Fucking Badass (and Appelbaum, Greenwald, US “soft power”)

First of all, watching Wikileaks and immediate supporters continues to be an interesting exercise. In the context of John Kerry telling Putin it’s wrong to do what America did in Iraq, Jacob Appelbaum opined that — get this — the loss of American soft power is “heartbreaking.”[1]

Evidently he sees Team America World Police as an ideal vehicle for “positive social change.”

Take note, those of you who would trust the guy’s recommendations on security! For better or worse, US “soft power” is utterly dependent on that country’s ability to spy on you. If they can’t watch you wank, they can’t steer their “opinion shaping” campaigns.

In this context it’s interesting to note that I’ve heard another prominent member of the Tor project — who shall remain nameless —
defend the morality of the NSA’s operations on the grounds that “they’re just listening, SIGINT doesn’t really hurt anybody.” This was in comparison with e.g the CIA’s methods and said outburst took place before Snowden, but still.

My opinion? When Appelbaum talks about the US having lost ‘any semblance of moral authority’ for one or two generations as a result of the Iraq pretext — evidently somebody never learned about the Gulf of Tonkin in school!

While I agree it’s heartbreaking all those innocent Iraqi and Vietnamese (and…) people had to die, it’s probably a good thing for everyone to periodically remind themselves that the United States is a country just like every other. The US government pursues its interests, just as Russia and China and the UK and North Korea do. (I have no love for the Russian or Chinese governments, but I’m glad they exist to provide a counterbalance and a place for guys like Snowden to hang out.)

As to people who would blind themselves to this reality and see any government (or organization in general, really) as motivated by anything but its own interests — go read John le Carre’s Russia House. As an activist you’re a danger to yourself and others until you do.

(While there are lower-level “true believers” on staff who can present a misleading impression, at the end of the day projects like Tor are allowed — note I did not say funded — because someone has calculated they serve the government’s interests more than they hurt them. [I suggest not meditating too long on the implications of this, it may cause you to lose sleep.]

The same is true of most US government democracy-building efforts, which always seem to produce governments which subtly kowtow to US interests long into the future… as if they had been ‘rootkitted at the factory.’)

Glenn Greenwald has done an admirable job of well, making my point in his coverage of a Russia Today host speaking out against the Russian invasion of Ukraine.[2]

Anyway, on to the good stuff.

The Ukrainians are turning out to be extraordinarily good at SIGINT, and its applications to propaganda.

It’s one thing to intercept local communications from Yanukovych. OK, so maybe they got the crypto keys from the local spy agency (which has proven a willingness to help out protesters before).

But this time… they wiretapped Putin!

According to the Ukrainian State Executive Service, Ukrainian forces managed to intercept the following conversation between Putin and the Russian commander in Crimea [3]:

“Why aren’t [the Ukrainians] shooting?’

‘They just aren’t.”

‘But how do you behave? Do you provoke them?’

‘Yes, we provoke them’

‘Do you remain defiant?’

‘Yes, we are defiant, but they aren’t shooting.’

‘Why aren’t they shooting?’

‘I don’t know why, but they don’t’

(In other words, there is a provocation going on to make sure there is a first (shot), and that it’s started on the Ukrainian side. As soon as the first one starts, the big unrest will start.)

‘So, why aren’t they shooting? What do they say?’

‘They simply openly tell us to buzz off.’

But the Ukrainians didn’t stop there, either. They sent about 100 soldiers (unarmed) and a team of international news media with cameras… marching onto those soldiers’ air base, now occupied by “not Russian” troops.

The resulting video is perhaps the most brilliant piece of propaganda I’ve seen in the whole Ukraine affair so far. Either the Ukrainian military is a lot cleverer than anybody’s realized, or someone’s been giving them some excellent advice: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cCNwQKhgo7M

[1] https://twitter.com/ioerror/status/440211418428616704
[2] https://firstlook.org/theintercept/2014/03/04/rt-host-abby-martin-condemns-russian-incursion-crimea-rt/
[3] http://www.kyivpost.com/content/ukraine/tense-standoff-at-military-airfield-in-sevastopol-338323.html

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