What the West wouldn’t do for Ukraine

Jan 28th, 2014 | By | Category: News

In his State of the Union address yesterday President Barack Obama said:

“Our alliance with Europe remains the strongest the world has ever known. From Tunisia to Burma, we’re supporting those who are willing to do the hard work of building democracy. In Ukraine, we stand for the principle that all people have the right to express themselves freely and peacefully and to have a say in their country’s future.”

What the West must do for Ukraine is a recent piece in the New York Times co authored by US diplomats. Two of them had been former US ambassadors to Ukraine.

They make five suggestions for the coordinated message from Washington and Europe

One of these former ambassadors, William B. Taylor Jr. had been one of the recipients of a letter calling for US support for Maidan activists. It went also to the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, where at the time Joe Biden and Barack Obama were members, drawing their attention to the need to support civic activists and human rights leaders.

It opened with these words:

“Honorable Ladies and Gentlemen:

I am writing to you to request your support in advancing critical relief for Ukrainian citizens – with first focus on children in state care, the worst result of Ukraine’s political machinations. This is mentioned in some detail in “A Marshall Plan for Ukraine” referenced at the end of this document. I will fill in some gaps here.

It ended

“We are grossly underfunded in favor of missiles, bombs, and ordnance, which is about 100% backwards. Now, with even the US Pentagon stating that they’ve learned their lesson in Iraq and realize (so says top US general in Iraq ten days or so ago) that winning hearts and minds is the best option, I and others shall continue to think positive and look for aid budgets and funding spigots to be opened much more for people and NGOs in silos, foxholes and trenches, insisting on better than ordnance, and who understand things and how to fix them. We can do that. We can even do it cost-effectively and with far better efficiency than the ordnance route. Welcome to our brave new world. Except it’s not so new: learn to love and respect each other first, especially the weakest, most defenseless, most voiceless among us, then figure out the rest. There aren’t other more important things to do first. This message has been around for at least two thousand years. How difficult is it for us to understand?”

After delivery to Ukraine’s govenment The ‘Marshall Plan’ for Ukraine was published in two parts in a prominent web magazine in August 2007 and concluded

“The program will be based in eastern Ukraine, in Kharkiv, and will serve as a leading light and example for eastern Ukraine as well as all of Ukraine. Civil society is action, proof, clear examples demonstrated and carried out with the involvement and intelligence of Ukraine’s citizens who are Ukraine’s great reservoir for hope, prosperity, safety, and security. Nothing less than an opportunity to become actively, positively engaged in their own, their families’, and their neighbors’ well-being and improvement of social standards is needed.

It is proposed that the United States of America be actively engaged in supporting this project, financially and any other way possible. Ukraine has clearly demonstrated common will for democracy. Ukraine has also unilaterally taken the first critical step to fulfill this program, thus clearly demonstrating initiative and commitment to participation required in the original Marshall Plan sixty years ago. The US side is presumably attempting to foster democracy in another country, which never expressed much interest and shows little real interest now. That of course is Iraq, where recent estimates indicate a cost of $1.5 billion per week.

That same amount of money, spread over five years instead of one week, would more than cover the investment cost of the initial components of this project, and allow a reserve fund for creating new projects as Ukraine’s intelligentsia invents them in the Center for Social Enterprise. It is proposed that Ukraine and the US provide equal portions of this amount. Ukraine is certainly able to provide that level of funding, given that projects are designed with the same fiscal discipline employed in the traditional business sector. That means they pay for themselves, one way or another.

Project funding should be placed as a social-benefit fund under oversight of an independent board of directors, particularly including representatives from grassroots level Ukraine citizens action groups, networks, and human rights leaders.

This program provides for near-term social relief for Ukraine’s neediest citizens, most particularly children who normally have least possible influence and no public voice. Over a few years time, the net cost financially is zero. Every component is designed to become financially solvent, through mechanisms of cost-savings and shared revenue with other components. One component, Internet, provides essential communications infrastructure as well as a cash surplus to be used to offset any lingering costs of other components such as childcare, and otherwise goes to a permanent social benefit fund under oversight of the aforementioned independent, citizens-based non-government board of directors.

Any number of other social enterprises can be created. Furthermore, any number of existing for-profit enterprises are entirely free to contribute any percentage of profits they wish to increase the proposed initial $1.5 billion social investment fund. If for example the total fund comes to $3 billion, that amount would generate at least $300 million per year in a hryvnia deposit accounts at any one of several major Ukrainian banks, to provide ongoing funding to continue to create and expand social enterprises.

This strategy places adequate funding for social benefit under control and management independent of government and the very obvious vicissitudes and conflicts inherent therein.

This is a long-term permanently sustainable program, the basis for “people-centered” economic development. Core focus is always on people and their needs, with neediest people having first priority – as contrasted with the eternal chase for financial profit and numbers where people, social benefit, and human well-being are often and routinely overlooked or ignored altogether. This is in keeping with the fundamental objectives of Marshall Plan: policy aimed at hunger, poverty, desperation and chaos. This is a bottom-up approach, starting with Ukraine’s poorest and most desperate citizens, rather than a “top-down” approach that might not ever benefit them. They cannot wait, particularly children. Impedance by anyone or any group of people constitutes precisely what the original Marshall Plan was dedicated to opposing. Those who suffer most, and those in greatest need, must be helped first — not secondarily, along the way or by the way.

From there, broad economic and social development can develop “upwards” concurrently with more conventional top-down approaches to economic development. Moreover, this program will not only meet initial, most critical and urgent objectives of childcare reform and poverty relief in Ukraine, it will also provide training for ever-growing numbers of specialists educated in social enterprise economic thinking with sufficient funding to put ever more well-designed projects into action as Ukrainian citizens invent them.

Due to Kharkiv National University’s international student body, education and training will be further distributed throughout the world. This is a program for the common good in Ukraine, with common ground among all political factions regardless of what differences exist otherwise. It will benefit not only Ukraine’s poorest and most vulnerable people, but also Ukraine’s overall economic development and advancement. It will further benefit the developing world as international students train in Ukraine and return for benefit of their home country.

Ukraine now stands on the brink of remarkable opportunity to emerge as an international leader in political, economic and social transformation. Nothing more than real, honest opportunity to fulfill this potential, by ordinary Ukrainian citizens, is needed for that potential to manifest and become reality. The original Marshall Plan greatly assisted Europe. Ukraine’s time has come.

Godspeed. “

The reason for this radical transparency was the threat of hijack, as Hallman noted:

“UNICEF was willfully blind to the matter because it was just too dangerous to bother to intercede  Powerful interests remained entrenched with enforcers to make it dangerous.  Jurists were correct, in my view.  It was more a mafia operation than anything else, aimed at misappropriation and laundering of large money.  That was perfectly congruent with how Ukraine operated before the revolution.  USAID wanted nothing to do with it, nor would they fund any organizations or activists who might try.  Some things could be done and some things could not be done.  Helping these children was something that could not be done.  So, I exposed it and made it the central focus and metric of Ukraine’s microeconomic development blueprint.  In that context, it was far more difficult to ignore, dismiss, or argue about.  For about six months, I really did not expect to survive.  Nevertheless, Ukraine’s government finally conceded the point and announced the opening of more than four hundred new treatment centers for children who were theretofore invisible under tight and deadly enforcement.”

“As the 60th anniversary of the Marshall Plan came around in June 2007, noise was emerging within Ukraine of a certain political boss preparing a Marshall Plan for Ukraine.  This person was a reputed mob boss — exactly the sort of entity that the original Marshall Plan meant to oppose.  It seemed most likely that whatever he came up with would be self-serving, hijacking the label ‘Marshall Plan’ and turning the whole notion on its head.  I reviewed the original Marshall Plan and realized that what I had written was, in fact, the definition and spirit of the original Marshall Plan.  Thus, in June 2007, I appended the original title with “A Marshall Plan for Ukraine.”  After some discussion among trusted colleagues over timing, I published an abbreviated version of the paper in two parts in August 2007 in the ‘analytics’ section of the Ukrainian news journal for-ua.com.”

As is well known the UK Business Secretary and EU trade commisioner of the day has a relationship with Ukraine’s oligarchs.

The proposal was also introduced to the EU Citizens consultation

At this point it’s appropriate to inject some history. The author Terry Hallman had complained to Taylor at the time of his efforts with the Tomsk Regional Initiative about the number of US agents and consequent undermining of his own credibility as an independent changemaker. Taylor had pointed out that unfortunately it’s somethingwhich comes with the territory. Later when Hallman blocked his own work on a development initiative for Crimea’s Tartars,  to prevent corruption, USAID were not best pleased since it would have put them on the ground right next to Russia’s Black Sea Fleet.

What USAID were really up to, as it would turn out, was taking ownership in partnership with The British Council and a collection of corporations, including those of Ukraine’s oligarchs.

In 2009, campaigning for the presidential election, candidate Obama promised an agency for social enterpreneurship and social innovation fund, paid for in part by ending the war in Iraq, as suggested in the ‘Marshall Plan’

In 2010 in a final attempt to protect the social mission of  our work, we applied to become partners of The British Council and introduced our proposal.

It was Terry who called on US ambassador John Teft to act in support of Yuri Lutsenko

In the final week of Terry Hallman’s life, I made contact with the US Embassy in London asking for assistance. I was told that his budget was insufficent to do anything for him. With his work hikacked he died in poverty. One of 47 million Americans without health insurance.

The British Council who had not responded to our application finally replied under pressure from our MP. It was they said open only to those who could make a financial contribution.

My advice to Ukrainians and any other Westerner that treads this path is – please don’t get taken in by the bullshit. Consider first how any government treats their own.

 

 

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