Author Archives: RomanInUkraine

Many hippie protesters weren’t against war, they wanted the Viet Cong / NVA to win!

“During the Vietnam war on the campus of the University of Wisconsin in Madison, Wisconsin, many of the protestors were against the war NOT on general principles but simply because they were on the side of the Viet Cong. I should know. I was there. What the left dislikes is not war so much as losing.” ~Kenneth Allen Hopf

“Every country should have a cyber war”: What Estonia learned from Russian hacking

In just over two decades, Estonia has become one of the world’s most digitally innovative and efficient countries. In fact, Estonians conduct all their civic responsibilities online. Offices and paper forms have become obsolete as state-issued digital identities allow all citizens to carry out any financial or government transaction from their laptops or cellphones. And that gives them an edge when it comes to cybersecurity.

Estonia’s journey down the digital road has been astonishingly fast. When it gained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, it had almost no money and few natural resources. But it did have one advantage: It was the designated center for software and computer production for the USSR. After achieving independence, the country had a pool of tech expertise for them to build on.

During these early years of independence, Estonia needed to create the means for a new economy. And it wasn’t going to be easy. The country’s tiny population of just 1.3 million is spread over a relatively vast countryside. Outside the capital Tallinn, there’s an average of just four people per square kilometer. The new government didn’t have the resources to extend government offices or banking facilities to small towns and villages, so it decided to encourage self-service, and spread internet access across the country in order to do so.

To achieve this, the government set up an investment group to build computer networking and infrastructure. By 1997, almost every school was connected to the internet, and by 2004, 300 wifi access points had been established, bringing the internet even to small villages—and mostly for free.

But this was just laying the groundwork. Estonia’s biggest turning point was 10 years ago, when the country came under sustained cyberattack.

In 2007, Estonia was in the middle of a political fight with Moscow over plans to remove a Soviet war memorial from a park in Tallinn. Suddenly, it was hit with three weeks of D-DoS (distributed denial of service) attacks. When this happens, multiple sources send multiple online requests, flooding a service or system and making it unable to function. It’s the digital equivalent of crowding an entrance to a building so that no one can come in or out.

As a result, the internet shut down as websites were bombarded with traffic. Russia denied any involvement, but Estonia didn’t believe it.

“War is the continuation of policy by other means,” Estonian president Kersti Kaljulaid told a NATO cyber-conference in Tallinn in June 2017. “Ten years on, it is clear that the decision made by Estonia not to withdraw but stay and fight for the security of our cyberspace was indeed the right one.”

The attacks made Estonia more determined than ever to develop its digital economy and make it safe from future attacks. “I think every country should have a cyber war,” says Taavi Kotka, the government’s former chief information officer. “Citizens get knowledge about what an attack means, about how phishing works, how D-DoS works, and they start to understand and live with that. People aren’t afraid if they know they can survive something. It’s the same thing as electricity going off: Okay, it’s an inconvenience, but you know how to deal with it.”

A Wake-up Call for Ukraine’s Civil Society

Civil Society after Euromaidan: What Went Right?

Ukraine paid a high price to restore its democracy in 2013. The scope of innovation and civic engagement at the 2013 Euromadan was truly unprecedented. There are at least four areas where civil society achieved particularly strong results:

1. Ukraine experienced a remarkable growth of nationwide volunteer groups that provide humanitarian support and social assistance to the victims of the war in Donbas and other populations at risk. Volunteers became the most trusted group in Ukrainian society (replacing the church).[8]

2. Civil society groups influenced the post-Euromaidan reform process. The largest and most visible reform network – the Reanimation Package of Reforms (RPR) – is comprised of 80 NGOs, 22 reform groups and 300 experts, who develop, promote, and in some cases even implement judicial, anticorruption and economic changes.

3. Anticorruption initiatives became much more systemic and institutionalized. NGOs continuously monitored the process of constructing two major anticorruption agencies, the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU) and the National Agency for the Prevention of Corruption (NAPC). Under public pressure, the government launched a publicly available online system for tracking the declared assets of politicians, civil servants, and judges.

4. Euromaidan ushered in a new type of political organization: membership-based political parties detached from oligarchic funding. These civil society-based political forces, like Democratic Alliance, Power of the People, Civic Movement “Khvylya” (the wave), and Mikheil Saakashvili’s The New Forces Movement, engage well-educated Ukrainians and focus on anti-corruption.

What Went Wrong (Again)?

The human toll of the Euromaidan was so high that most find the current cynical restoration of the old system truly incomprehensible. As Novoe Vremya editor Vitaliy Sych wrote: “I thought that after the killing of 100 people on the Maidan, after the deaths of thousands of people in the East, Ukraine would never be the same, and that politicians would understand the level of responsibility and the importance of the moment. But we still witness corruption, schemes, and political deals at the highest level.”[9] However, the incomprehensible is unfolding before our eyes. Ukraine’s political class once again patiently waited for the revolutionary fervor to pass before starting its “sweet counter-revolution”.[10]

The first warning light for Ukraine’s civil society should have been the “business as usual” approach of Ukraine’s NGO community. While volunteers emerged as the most trusted group in Ukraine after the Euromaidan, the NGO leaders continued to prioritize relations with Western donors over engaging with its citizens, even the passionate army of volunteers.

Certain NGOs resumed working with Ukraine’s financial elites. Ihor Kolomoisky, Viktor Pinchuk and other oligarchs started employing financial, media, and political resources to promote various activists and NGOs. The oligarchs predicted, correctly, that their support would buy a certain amount of influence and protection. Social scientist Mikhail Minakov observed, “In 2014…oligarchic groups recognized the functionality of civil society organizations and attempted to use them—sometimes through coercion—either to increase their rents or to defend their existing power and property.”[11]

In many ways the cultural codes of Ukraine’s top NGOs mirror the patron-client nature of the country’s oligarchic power structures: many Kyiv-based NGOs operate in a rather closed network of people who have been friends for a long time, who have a long history of cooperating with one another, and who built clientelistic networks either with government representatives or international donors.

Consider the Reanimation Package of Reforms (RPR) group. Donors rewarded RPR for its effectiveness and success in advocating post-Euromaidan reforms. From 2015-17, it received millions of dollars in support from Ukraine’s key donors: USAID, Pact, the Swedish SIDA, the International Renaissance Foundation (IRF), UNDP, and the EU Delegation to Ukraine. Although RPR is officially comprised of 80 NGOs, all Western funding has been channeled through a select group of NGOs—such as the Center for Democracy and Rule of Law (more than 70 percent of total funding), Centre UA and the Ukrainian Center for Independent Political Research – all of which were already longtime recipients of foreign aid.[12]

The funding flow not only created conflict between recipient and non-recipient groups—it created something of a “warm bath” effect for the recipients. RPR turned its focus on donor reports and applications, rather then sustaining and growing citizen participation. RPR’s office, opened in 2014 with zero donor funding, looked like a beehive of civic activism. Today, the drive is gone and bureaucracy prevails over innovation. When asked what made him most proud of the network, Artem Mirhorodkyi, chief of RPR’s secretariat, responded he was “particularly glad that RPR’s reform bulletins were received and read by all foreign embassies and foreign organizations.”

Over time, results-oriented activists started leaving the network. As Viktor Griza, a former member of RPR’s group on cultural reform, told me: “RPR grew into a club of beneficiaries [vygodopoluchateli]. Many RPR activists only use the RPR ‘brand’ to boost their personal capital – to meet foreign diplomats, get media opportunities, get invited to international conferences, or win prestigious fellowships in the United States. For some, RPR is a ticket to power corridors, where they can make friends with government officials or politicians and maybe get elected to the Verkhovna Rada during the next election.”

The stagnation in Ukraine’s NGO community was matched only by the ambition of many civic leaders to take advantage of their newfound influence. In 2013 Ukraine’s activists represented a potent and vigorous force. Authorities were forced to reckon with activist power and cooperate with its leaders on reforms. This opened a window of opportunity for Euromaidan leaders to go into politics, and many took advantage of the opportunity to convert their standing into attractive parliamentary or governmental positions. As a consequence, the leaders on the street failed to form a united political force to run for parliament in 2015. Instead, they allowed the country’s old elites to split their ranks and co-opt them into different political projects.

Why giving Ukraine lethal weapons would be a massive mistake

I don’t agree with this opinion, but it’s part of the conversation. I don’t agree b/c this article over-estimates Russian military competency, and under-estimates Ukraine’s resolve.

But the result would likely be the opposite — an escalation in the conflict that would lead to further losses of Ukraine’s territory and compromise its political stability. Russia enjoys insurmountable military superiority over Ukraine. The United States should not encourage Ukraine to engage in an escalatory confrontation with Russia. Washington knows full well that Ukraine cannot prevail.

The urge to give Ukraine lethal arms — most likely in the form of anti-tank weapons — is understandable. Since 2014, the Russians have occupied and illegally annexed Crimea and sustained a separatist rebellion in Donbass that has claimed more than 10,000 lives. Moreover, Russia has engaged in these acts of aggression in order to block Ukraine’s desire to leave Moscow’s sphere of influence and join the community of Western democracies.

Under these circumstances, the United States should continue helping Ukrainians defend themselves by assisting with defense reforms and training Ukrainian forces. So why not take the next step and give Ukraine lethal weapons?

For starters, the notion that Russian President Vladimir Putin would give up his hold on Donbass if a few more Russians come home in body bags is to dramatically misread the Kremlin. Putin is a master at manipulating the Russian public, especially when it comes to the Ukraine conflict and would hardly fold his hand if Russian casualties were to increase.

On the contrary, he would likely double down, blaming the United States and Ukraine for the intensified fighting and taking steps to offset the improvement in Ukraine’s military capability.

How Theodor Adorno redefined Fascism.

How, then, did progressives in America re-define fascism and Nazism as phenomena of the right? This sleight-of-hand occurred after World War II, once fascism and Nazism were discredited with the reputation of Holocaust. Then progressives recognized it was important to cover up the leftist roots of fascism and Nazism and to move them from the left-wing column into the right-wing column.

The man most responsible for the progressive redefinition of fascism is Theodor Adorno, a German Marxist intellectual and a member of the influential Institute for Social Research, otherwise known as the Frankfurt School. The Frankfurt School scholars were leftists and most of them were refugees from Nazi Germany. Some settled in Europe; others like Adorno and Herbert Marcuse came to the United States.

Adorno’s influence in defining how fascism came to be understood in America cannot be underestimated. When he and Marcuse arrived, America had just waged war against the Nazis, and after the war Nazism became the very measure of political horror and evil. Not much was known about fascism and Nazism, outside of superficial newspaper and radio coverage. In academia and the media, there was an acknowledged curiosity about what had attracted so many people to fascism and Nazism, with its attendant anti-Semitism.

Marcuse and Adorno were Jewish, and so could be expected to know about anti-Semitism and the fate of the Jews. And they were refugees from the Nazis, so they could claim to be speaking about Nazism, as it were, “from the inside.” Their work was embraced by the American Jewish Committee, which naturally felt that these two German exiles would know precisely the nature of Nazism, fascism and anti-Semitism and how to overcome them. The two Frankfurt School scholars basically shaped what was considered anti-fascist education in the United States.

In reality, the American Jewish Committee had no idea that Adorno and Marcuse had their own agenda: not to fight fascism per se, but to promote Marxism and a leftist political agenda. Marxism and fascism are quite close; they are kindred collectivist ideologies of socialism. Their common enemy is, of course, free markets and the various institutions of the private sector, including the church and the traditional family. Marxism and fascism both sought to get rid of capitalism and remake the social order. So did Marcuse, Adorno and the Frankfurt School.

Adorno decided to repackage fascism as a form of capitalism and moral traditionalism. In effect, they reinvented fascism as a phenomenon of the political right. In this preposterous interpretation, fascism was remade into two things that real fascists despised: free markets and support for a traditional moral order. With a vengeance that appears only comic in retrospect, the Frankfurt School launched a massive program to uproot nascent fascism in the United States by making people less attached to the core economic and social institutions of American society.

The classic document in this regard is Adorno’s famous F-Scale. The F stands for fascism. Adorno outlined the scale in his 1950 book The Authoritarian Personality. The basic argument of the book was that fascism is a form of authoritarianism and that the worst manifestation of authoritarianism is self-imposed repression. Fascism develops early, Adorno argued, and we can locate it in young people’s attachments to religious superstition and conventional middle-class values about family, sex and society.

With a straight face, Adorno produced a list of questions aimed at detecting fascist affinities. “Obedience and respect for authority are the most important virtues children should learn.” “Homosexuality is a particularly rotten form of delinquency.” “No insult to our honor should ever go unpunished.” “No matter how they act on the surface, men are interested in women for only one reason.” Basically, a yes answer to these questions showed that you were a budding fascist.

Ukraine’s Former Top Spy Goes After a New Enemy: Corruption

“At stake is survival of the country,” Nalyvaichenko said. “At stake is whether we’ll finally get rule of law and a functioning state instead of chaos, corruption, weakness, and [being] not capable to defend our territory and the country. So, at stake is the country, its independence.”

(January 2017) Josh Cohen: Ukraine made right call in opposing illegal Israeli settlements

Between fighting corruption and battling Russian troops and Russian-supported separatists in the Donbas, Ukraine has plenty on its plate already. Despite these burdens though Kyiv also got caught up in one of the final dramas of U.S. President Barack Obama’s presidency.

In an unprecedented move, the U.S. abstained from a recent U.N. Security Council Resolution (Resolution 2334) condemning Israel’s continued expansion of West Bank settlements. 2334 called on Israel to “immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory” and declared all Jewish West Bank settlements to be violations of international law. The Resolution was supported by the other fourteen members of the Security Council – including Ukraine.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded with anger, canceling the trip to Israel his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Groysman in Israel. Although a number of sources – both Israeli and Ukrainian – have battered Kyiv for supporting the Resolution, President Poroshenko made the right decision to support 2334.

First and foremost, Israeli settlements are a clear violation of international law and risk permanently ending any hopes for a two-state solution. Several hundred thousand Israeli settlers now live on the West Bank, creating a complex geographic patchwork of settlements that will eventually end all hope for creating any semblance of a contiguous Palestinian state in the West Bank. While Israel’s future is ultimately its own to decide, Kyiv’s decision on 2334 was both morally and legally correct.

Furthermore, it would be hypocritical of Kyiv to condemn Russia’s annexation of Crimea as a clear violation of international law, while simultaneously appearing to support Israel’s own ongoing international law violations. While the Kyiv-Tel Aviv relationship has blossomed since Ukrainian independence, this does not mean Israel can automatically expect Ukraine to automatically support it on every diplomatic issue the two sides confront.

UKRAINIAN REAL ESTATE: Investor guide to cross-border property financial transfers

n 2015 potential real estate investors from overseas were largely pre-occupied with the war in eastern Ukraine and the ensuing financial crisis and falling hryvnia currency. In 2016, the chief concerns of foreign investors on Kyiv’s property market often revolve around Ukraine’s hard currency controls and ways to bring money into and out of the country.

Despite the imposition of tough currency controls, foreign investment in Kyiv’s promising residential real estate market is possible with proper planning and structure. In many cases, this will include obtaining qualified legal advice to help you structure your purchase. This article outlines basic strategies to legally bring hard currency into the country to purchase Ukrainian real estate. It also explores ways to expatriate rental income for properties owned by non-residents as well as expatriating the proceeds from property sales.

I was interviewed on the Gold Newsletter about Russian Propaganda in Libertarian circles

Check it out:

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NY Times going full Communist


The A.C.L.U. Needs to Rethink Free Speech
By K-SUE PARK AUG 17, 2017


Why Women Had Better Sex Under Socialism
Kristen R. Ghodsee AUG. 12, 2017


Lenin’s Eco-Warriors
Fred Strebeigh AUG. 7, 2017

This is a vulgar, irresponsible lie, of course:


‘Make It So’: ‘Star Trek’ and Its Debt to Revolutionary Socialism
A.M. Gittlitz JULY 24, 2017


When the Harlem Renaissance Went to Communist Moscow
Jennifer Wilson AUG. 21, 2017


My Grandfather, the Secret Policeman
Jacob Mikanowski JULY 31, 2017


Socialism’s Future May Be Its Past
Bhaskar Sunkara JUNE 26, 2017