Ukraine Proves the U.S. Isn’t Serious About the Conversation

I’ve put off writing about Ukraine because foreign policy is not my specialty.  However I think I can write about its effect on the conversation.  When I said we need several generations to straighten things out, I assumed that we would start by correcting fundamental assumptions.  At the time, we were still in the depths of the Great Recession and it seemed like a good opportunity for reflection.  But the way things are going, new problems are being created as we speak.  In my opinion, America’s continuing pursuit of questionable goals abroad is the anti-conversation.  

When I said that our problems aren’t entirely the fault of any one country or administration, or individual, I didn’t mean to imply that everything is okay. I still think our entire premise is false. First we would have to agree that the system is dysfunctional.  The next step would be to figure out why it isn’t working.  Instead, decision makers in the U.S. are behaving as though they know what’s best for everyone else, and they are willing act on that conviction to the point of changing the world irrevocably.  

It seems to me the United States is the odd man out in Ukraine because of its questionable motives.  U.S. Officials say they are concerned for Ukraine’s people.  Or maybe it isn’t accurate to speak of the United States, because the hawks seem to have taken over on Ukraine.  They are still using an old playbook on Russia that never really played very well when it was new.

In addition to not having the interests of Ukraine at heart, some people in the U.S. don’t have the interests of the EU at heart.  The U.S. has been conflicted about the EU, maybe since its creation, but definitely since the presidency of G.W. Bush.  British economist and Eurosceptic Bernard Connolly, was the chief economist at AIG during the presidency of G.W. Bush.  Back in 2003 he wrote that it was the intention of France and Germany to bring Russia into an anti-American New Soviet Union. [ref]Connolly, Bernard. Old vs. New Europe–And America. International Economy, Spring 2003. Available: http://www.international-economy.com/TIE_Sp03_Connolly.pdf[/ref] It would be interesting to know if his influence explains Bush’s rhetoric about France before the Iraq War.  

More recently, we have the Heritage Foundation warning that Ukraine’s decision will recreate the geography of the Soviet Union and the Russian Empire.  [ref]Ariel Cohen, Ph.D., Why the U.S. Should Support Ukraine’s Participation in Free Trade Agreements with Europe. The Heritage Foundation. Oct. 21. 2013. Available: http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2013/10/why-the-us-should-support-ukraines-association-and-free-trade-agreements-with-europe[/ref] Of course, Heritage failed to mention that the world’s other contender for Empire is the United States.  But that’s not accurate either.  It’s the same neoconservative faction that never seems to learn from its mistakes.

A paper by Brookings Institute was more even handed, saying it would be best if the EU dealt with Ukraine, since Russia would object to U.S. involvement.  Judging by Victoria Nuland’s expletive for the EU, that body hasn’t been carrying its weight, but Ukraine’s signing of the AA wouldn’t really have helped the EU all that much.  [ref]Pifer, Steven. The U.S. Approach to Ukraine in Turmoil. Brookings, Dec. 26, 2013. Available: http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2013/10/why-the-us-should-support-ukraines-association-and-free-trade-agreements-with-europe[/ref]

There is an eerie panel discussion in February’s Harper’s in which representatives of France, the United States and Great Britain suddenly begin talking as though it would be better if the EU would just go away.  Germany’s Ulrike Guérot and New York University’s Christiane Lemke were alone in arguing that the EU needs more time to work out its problems.[ref]How Germany Reconquered Europe: The euro and its discontents. Harper’s Forum, February 2014. Available: harpers.org[/ref]

I agree that the EU should be given time to iron out its problems.  This is consistent with the long view of the conversation.  Therefore, I object to panelist James K. Gailbraith’s claim that the EU doesn’t have time to create a unified Federal democracy. (There were two addition panelists from the UK and France who were not mentioned in this post: John N. Gray and Emmanuel Todd.)  

Yes, change can be scary, but that’s no reason to give up.  It’s worrisome that no one in this panel saw fit to mention the primary reason for the creation of the EU: France’s desire to balance the power of the Soviet Union and the United States.  No wonder the power-hungry faction in the U.S. would like to see it go.  

When you take all of the parties into consideration, there is no coherent, constructive, long-term justification for the destruction of Ukraine.  The United States–or those in the United States who have been promoting conflict, should cut their losses and try to patch things up, if that’s still possible. As it is, the United States is in no position to be imposing its will on anyone else.  It has work to do on itself before it’s ready to tell others what to do.   

 

Free Dorothy Lee Barnett

February 22, 2014

In this this article, I had two aims: to illustrate a principle about women and custody; and to help this woman avoid prison.  I’m still of the same mind, but I wish I hadn’t combined Barnett’s story with the source about battered women.  The source does describe what happens to women like Dorothy Lee Barnett in the courts, but it doesn’t fit Barnett’s case exactly, so I’ve deleted it. We shouldn’t demonize people who make mistakes. The culprits here are the court system and the judges, who should know better.   Family courts are influenced by the men who run Fatherhood Initiatives.  These men are also responsible.

Dorothy Lee Barnett is awaiting trial for extradition to the United States. She is charged with kidnapping her own daughter from her estranged stockbroker ex-spouse. Almost two decades ago, her ex won sole custody, even though the child was only nine months old and still nursing at the time. She felt the child was in danger, so she took her out of the country. If extradited, she faces up to 23 years in prison. I just signed the petition “US Attorney Office in Columbia: Free Dorothy Lee Barnett – Mother of Savanna Todd” on Change.org.

It’s important. Will you sign it too? Here’s the link:((http://www.change.org/en-AU/petitions/us-attorney-office-in-columbia-free-dorothy-lee-barnett-mother-of-savanna-todd))

Updated, Feb. 20, 2014:

Here’s the post of a signer of this petition, Bruce Michell of Australia:

Dorothy Lee Barnett was let down by people within the system.  During her trial she was subjected to abuse and vilification, and the judge neglected, failed and refused to file his orders into court within the mandated 30 days and in fact did not file for 75 days.  During that period, and without the signed order, Lee was unable to appeal and was effectively locked out of the legal process which should be everyone’s right to access.  The evidence accepted by the judge upon which he wrote a scathing decision was in the main, based on the uncorroborated word of the father.  She was castigated as an untruthful person for denying that she had a mental disorder and all evidence supporting her and contradicting the father, was suppressed.  There is such a gulf between the evidence and the final order, coupled with the misconduct of the judge, that the influence of the father, his attorney and the Guardian ad Litem must be considered suspect and should be the subject of a proper investigation by the authorities.

On the second visitation after the father had custody, whilst the judge had not filed the orders, the baby was injured whilst in the care of the father.  The injuries were consistent with those described by the father in his ‘autobiography’ during the hearing where he wrote that it was “OK to kick a baby in the face.”  Lee was extremely fearful for her baby given those circumstances, but could not appeal, given the lack of a signed order.  Lee waited another 6 weeks after this incident but still the judge refused to file the order.

Locked out of the legal system, fearing for the safety of her baby she obeyed the fundamental law of humankind which was to flee to safety.

These events are recorded in the chronology and the details are contained in the trial transcripts.  Lee was terrified of the power and influence of this man and remains that way today.  If he and his cohorts could influence a judge and subvert the judicial system, then the system of justice in South Carolina was corrupt and it is reasonable to question whether that power and influence still remains today.

It seems that Barry Goldstein may have been too kind when he said the family courts were making mistakes.  It seems this judge was acting deliberately.  This is his own responsibility.

Original Article:

We recognize what Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote from a Birmingham jail as sound principle because it’s in our Declaration of Independence. “…whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government…,”

In King’s words:

“One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws.” ((Martin Luther King, Jr. Letter from a Birmingham Jail. April 16, 1963, African Studies Center, University of Pennsylvania.))

Child custody law is broken, and American family courts are perpetuating injustice. Both mothers and their children suffer from this injustice, but it is the children who are in danger. Watch the video from the APN Newsdesk.((http://www.sunshinecoastdaily.com.au/news/mother-facing-years-jail-over-kidnapping-daughter/2153734/))