Stopping Russia

The rhetoric of confrontation with Russia seems to be escalating, including with the remarkable suggestion – from Mike Rogersthe chairman of the House Intelligence Committee – that the US provide “small arms and radio equipment” to Ukraine.

Encouragement for a military confrontation is not what Ukraine needs.  As Peter Boone and I have argued in a pair of recent columns for the NYT.com’s Economix blog, Ukraine needs economic reform (with a massive reduction in corruption as the top priority).   This reform requires, above all, a massive and immediate reduction in – or elimination of – corruption.

Throwing a lot of external financial assistance at Ukraine’s government, for example with a very large loan from the International Monetary Fund, is unlikely to prove helpful.  Based on recent prior experience, such lending may even prove counterproductive.

And this seems to be exactly the path that our foreign policy elite has placed us on.

This piece is cross-posted from The Baseline Scenario with permission.

4 Responses to "Stopping Russia"

  1. margsview   March 25, 2014 at 2:43 am

    I don’t know why, but too many commentaries take the view that the EU/US reforms seriously, in their intent as they are in their public declarations. It lieu of the past experiences of so-called financial aid in South America and the current record of IMF aid during the recession, no such purposeful reform should be believed. The EU has all but privatized and destroyed the financial independence of Greece for generations to come. Austerity has been a simple plan of stripping a countries tax base by decimated any given population. Many Western countries have quietly put in place ‘bail-ins’ to make taxpayers/voters pay for bank indebtedness. None of the people are responsible in any way nor have any legal precedent found causation. Now even trade deals are using ‘investor-state dispute settlements to override constitutions and regulations to make taxpayers (governments) liable for any environmental or economic domestic law passed that is viewed by foreign investors as somehow competition. It is as though taxpayers of every country will now no longer have any real ownership or voting say of their own money. Instead they are on the ‘hook’ to bailout bank speculations and guarantee corporate profits (instead of both institutions actually being productive and practicing good business. Why are so few not noticing these situations, just like they remain rather silent on the true devastating results of these constant invasions for ‘regime change’?

  2. margsview   March 25, 2014 at 3:20 am

    I am still amazed that so many experts believe that the EU/US mean to give this offer of financial assistance as genuine. The record so far proves just the opposite. Greece has been privatized to such a degree very little remains from all the publicly paid for institutions. The Greek people are devastated in such financially humiliating ways, they may not recover for generations, if at all. All of the past experiences with so-called IMF assistance has decimated country's economies (as many countries in South America can attest). And yet the EU/US makes yet another statement of assistance and the experts and media echo their promises as though events and facts have somehow been magically voided. I think the fact that loans and assistance are suggested first before anything is even considered to be done about the state of corruption in the Ukraine is more than an
    amber warning light. After all the same loan offers were made to Cyprus while rumors of corruption etc, swirled. The result in Cyprus seems as bleak for their taxpayers. If I not mistaken, Western governments have pledged money in the millions but it appears to be going to Ukrainian banks to then repay Western banks. In fact the EU has instituted 'bail-in' provisions in Europe as has the US (calling them 'safe harbors'). The only target in both cases are their taxpayers, not the indebted banks. It also seems telling that all the trade deals include a 'investor-state dispute settlement' mechanism in the form of a tribunal to override existing and potential environmental or pro domestic economic laws. Here again, government leaders may have signed but secretly their taxpayers are all on the hook for any foreign investor lawsuits. Seems people as taxpayers are globally being targeted and victimized to pay for dubious if not grossly illegal banking speculation. As for corporations these trade lawsuits are like guaranteed profits, just sue and collect. No wonder these trade deals were negotiated mostly in secret. This appears to be a global mess in the making and nonsensical as to any winners.

  3. margsview   March 25, 2014 at 3:34 am

    I am still amazed that so many experts believe that the EU/US mean to give this offer of financial assistance as genuine. The record so far proves just the opposite. Greece has been privatized to such a degree very little remains from all the publicly paid for institutions. The Greek people are devastated in such financially humiliating ways, they may not recover for generations, if at all. All of the past experiences with so-called IMF assistance has decimated country's economies (as many countries in South America can attest). And yet the EU/US makes yet another statement of assistance and the experts and media echo their promises as though events and facts have somehow been magically voided. I think the fact that loans and assistance are suggested first before anything is even considered to be done about the state of corruption in the Ukraine is more than an

  4. Long_Islander   March 25, 2014 at 3:43 pm

    Always enjoy Professor Johnson's commentary. It seems like it is easy to say "Eliminate Corruption". But how do you really stop corruption in a place where everyone has their hand out for money? How do you stop this mindset?