Category Archives: lies

Russia-Ukraine war: George Bush’s admission of his crimes in Iraq was no “gaffe”

It was apparently a “gaffe” of the kind we had forgotten since George W Bush stepped down from the US presidency in early 2009. During a speech in Dallas last week, he momentarily confused Russian President Vladimir Putin’s current war of aggression against Ukraine and his own war of aggression against Iraq in 2003.

Bush observed that a lack of checks and balances in Russia had allowed “one man to launch a wholly unjustified and brutal invasion of Iraq… I mean, Ukraine. Iraq too. Anyway… I’m 75.”

It sounded like another “Bushism” – a verbal slip-up – for which the 43rd president was famous. Just like the time he boasted that people “misunderestimated” him, or when he warned that America’s enemies “never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people – and neither do we”.

Maybe that explains why his audience laughed. Or maybe not, given how uncomfortable the laughter sounded.

Bush certainly wanted his mistake to be seen as yet another slip-up, which is why he hurriedly blamed it on his age. The senility defence doubtless sounds a lot more plausible at a time when the incumbent president, Joe Biden, regularly loses track of what he is saying and even where he is.

The western media, in so far as it has bothered to report Bush’s speech, has laughed along nervously too. It has milked the incident largely for comic effect: “Look, we can laugh at ourselves – unlike that narcissist Russian monster, Putin.”

The BBC accorded Bush’s comment status as a down-page brief news item. Those that gave it more attention preferred to term it a “gaffe” or an amusing “Freudian slip”.

‘Putin apologists’

But the focus on the humour of the moment is actually part of the media’s continuing war on our understanding of recent history. It is intended to deflect us, the audience, from thinking about the real significance of Bush’s “gaffe”.

The only reason the media is now so belatedly connecting – if very indirectly – “a wholly unjustified and brutal invasion” of Ukraine and what happened in Iraq is because of Bush’s mistake.

Had it not happened, the establishment media would have continued to ignore any such comparison. And those trying to raise it would continue to be dismissed as conspiracy theorists or as apologists for Putin.

The implication of what Bush said – even for those mockingly characterising it in Freudian terms – is that he and his co-conspirator, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, are war criminals and that they should be on trial at the Hague for invading and occupying Iraq.

Everything the current US administration is saying against Putin, and every punishment meted out on Russia and ordinary Russians, can be turned around and directed at the United States and Britain.

Should the US not be under severe economic sanctions from the “civilised world” for what it did to Iraq? Should its sportspeople not be banned from international events? Should its billionaires not be hunted down and stripped of their assets? And should the works of its long-dead writers, artists and composers not be shunned by polite society?

And yet, the western establishment media are proposing none of the above. They are not calling for Blair and Bush to be tried for war crimes. Meanwhile, they echo western leaders in labelling what Russia is doing in Ukraine as genocide and labelling Putin as an evil madman.

The western media are as uncomfortable taking Bush’s speech at face value as his audience was. And for good reason.

That is because the media are equally implicated in US and UK crimes in Iraq. They never seriously questioned the ludicrous “weapons of mass destruction” justification for the invasion. They never debated whether the “Shock and Awe” bombing campaign of Baghdad was genocidal.

And, of course, they never described either Bush or Blair as madmen and megalomaniacs and never accused them of waging a war of imperialism – or one for oil – in invading Iraq. In fact, both continue to be treated by the media as respected elder statesmen.

During Trump’s presidency, leading journalists waxed nostalgic for the days of Bush, apparently unconcerned that he had used his own presidency to launch a war of aggression – the “supreme international crime”.

And Blair continues to be sought out by the British and US media for his opinions on domestic and world affairs. He is even listened to deferentially when he opines on Ukraine.

Pre-emption excuse

But this is not simply about a failure to acknowledge the recent historical record. Bush’s invasion of Iraq is deeply tied to Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. And for that reason, if no other, the western media ought to have been driving home from the outset the parallels between the two – as Bush has now done in error.

That would have provided the geopolitical context for understanding – without necessarily justifying – Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the West’s role in provoking it. Which is precisely why the media have worked so hard to ignore those parallels.

In invading Iraq, Bush and Blair created a precedent that powerful states could redefine their attack on another state as “pre-emptive” – as defensive rather than aggressive – and thereby justify the military invasion in violation of the laws of war.

Bush and Blair falsely claimed both that Iraq threatened the West with weapons of mass destruction and that its secular leader, Saddam Hussein, had cultivated ties with the extreme Islamists of al-Qaeda that carried out the 9/11 attacks on the US. These pretexts ranged from the entirely unsubstantiated to the downright preposterous.

Putin has argued – more plausibly – that Russia had to take pre-emptive action against covert efforts by a US-led Nato to expand its military sphere of influence right up to Russia’s borders. Russia feared that, left unchecked, the US and Nato were preparing to absorb Ukraine by stealth.

But how does that qualify Russia’s invasion as defensive? The Kremlin’s fears were chiefly twofold.

First, it could have paved the way for Nato stationing missiles minutes away from Moscow, eroding any principle of mutual deterrence.

And second, Nato’s incorporation of Ukraine would have drawn the western military alliance directly into Ukraine’s civil war in the eastern Donbass region. That is where Ukrainian forces, including neo-Nazi elements like the Azov Brigade, have been pitted in a bloody fight against ethnic Russian communities.

In this view, absent a Russian invasion, Nato could have become an active participant in propping up Ukrainian ultra-nationalists killing ethnic Russians – as the West is now effectively doing through its arming of Ukraine to the tune of more than $40bn.

Even if one discounts Russia’s concerns, Moscow clearly has a greater strategic interest invested in what its neighbour Ukraine is doing on their shared border than Washington ever had in Iraq, many thousands of miles away.

Proxy wars

Even more relevant, given the West’s failure to acknowledge, let alone address, Bush and Blair’s crimes committed in Iraq, is Russia’s suspicion that US foreign policy is unchanged two decades on. On what basis would Moscow believe that Washington is any less aggressive or power-hungry than it was when it launched its invasion of Iraq?

The western media continue to refer to the US attack on Iraq, and the subsequent bloody years of occupation, as variously a “mistake”, a “misadventure” and a “blunder”. But surely it does not look that way to Moscow, all the more so given that Washington followed its invasion of Iraq with a series of proxy wars against other Middle Eastern and North African states such as Libya, Syria and Yemen.

To Russia, the attack on Iraq looks more like a stepping stone in a continuum of wars the US has waged over decades for “full-spectrum dominance” and to eradicate competitors for control of the planet’s resources.

With that as the context, Moscow might have reasonably imagined that the US and its Nato allies were eager for yet another proxy war, this time using Ukraine as the battlefield. Recent comments from Biden administration officials, such as Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin, noting that Washington’s tens of billions of dollars in military aid to Kyiv is intended to “weaken Russia”, can only accentuate such fears.

Back in March, Leon Panetta, a former US secretary of defence and the CIA director under Barack Obama, who is in a position to speak more freely than serving officials, observed that Washington was waging “a proxy war with Russia, whether we say so or not”.

He predicted where US policy would head next, noting that the aim would be “to provide as much military aid as necessary”. Diplomacy has been a glaringly low priority for Washington.

Barely concealed from public view is a desire in the US and its allies for another regime change operation – this time in Russia – rather than end the war and the suffering of Ukrainians.

Butcher versus blunderer

Last week, the New York Times very belatedly turned down the war rhetoric a notch and called on the Biden administration to advance negotiations. Even so, its assessment of where the blame lay for Ukraine’s destruction was unambiguous: “Mr Putin will go down in history as a butcher.”

But have Bush or Blair gone down in history as butchers? They most certainly haven’t. And the reason is that the western media have been complicit in rehabilitating their images, presenting them as statesmen who “blundered” – with the implication that good people blunder when they fail to take account of how entrenched the evil of everyone else in the world is.

A butcher versus a pair of blunderers.

This false distinction means western leaders and western publics continue to evade responsibility for western crimes in Iraq and elsewhere.

That was why in late February – in reference to Ukraine – a TV journalist could suggest to Condoleezza Rice, who was one of the architects of the illegal war of aggression on Iraq as Bush’s national security adviser: “When you invade a sovereign nation, that is a war crime.” The journalist apparently did not consider for a moment that it was not just Putin who was a war criminal but the very woman she was sitting opposite.

It was also why Rice could nod solemnly and agree with a straight face that Putin’s invasion of Ukraine was “against every principle of international law and international order – and that’s why throwing the book at them [Russia] now in terms of economic sanctions and punishments is a part of it”.

But a West that has refused to come to terms with its role in committing the “supreme international crime” of invading Iraq, and has been supporting systematic crimes against the sovereignty of other states such as Yemen, Libya and Syria, cannot sit in judgment on Russia. And further, it should not be trying to take the high ground by meddling in the war in Ukraine.

If we took the implications of Bush’s comment seriously, rather than treating it as a “gaffe” and viewing the Iraq invasion as a “blunder”, we might be in a position to speak with moral authority instead of flaunting – once again – our hypocrisy.

First published in Middle East Eye

The post Russia-Ukraine war: George Bush’s admission of his crimes in Iraq was no “gaffe” first appeared on Dissident Voice.

The Subtleties of Anti-Russia Leftist Rhetoric

While the so-called liberal and conservative corporate mainstream media – all stenographers for the intelligence agencies – pour forth the most blatant propaganda about Russia and Ukraine that is so conspicuous that it is comedic if it weren’t so dangerous, the self-depicted cognoscenti also ingest subtler messages, often from the alternative media.

A woman I know, and who knows my sociological analyses of propaganda, contacted me to tell me there was an excellent article about the war in Ukraine at The Intercept, an on-line publication funded by billionaire Pierre Omidyar I have long considered a leading example of much deceptive reporting wherein truth is mixed with falsehoods to convey a “liberal” narrative that fundamentally supports the ruling elites while seeming to oppose them.  This, of course, is nothing new since it’s been the modus operandi of all corporate media in their own ideological and disingenuous ways, such as The New York Times, CBS, the Washington Post, the New York Daily News, Fox News, CNN, NBC, etc. for a very long time.

Nevertheless, out of respect for her judgment and knowing how deeply she feels for all suffering people, I read the article.  Written by Alice Speri, its title sounded ambiguous – “The Left in Europe Confronts NATO’s Resurgence After Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine” – until I saw the subtitle that begins with these words: “Russia’s brutal invasion complicates…”  But I read on.  By the fourth paragraph, it became clear where this article was going.  Speri writes that “In Ukraine, by contrast [with Iraq], it was Russia that had staged an illegal, unprovoked invasion, and U.S.-led support to Ukraine was understood by many as crucial to stave off even worse atrocities than those the Russian military had already committed.” [my emphasis]

While ostensibly about European anti-war and anti-NATO activists caught on the horns of a dilemma, the piece goes on to assert that although US/NATO was guilty of wrongful expansion over many years, Russia has been an aggressor in Ukraine and Georgia and is guilty of terrible war crimes, etc.

There is not a word about the U.S. engineered coup in 2014, the CIA and Pentagon backed mercenaries in Ukraine, or its support for the neo-Nazi Azov Battalion and Ukraine’s years of attacks on the Donbass where many thousands have been killed.  It is assumed these actions are not criminal or provocative.  And there is this:

The uncertain response of Europe’s peace activists is both a reflection of a brutal, unprovoked invasion that stunned the world and of an anti-war movement that has grown smaller and more marginalized over the years. The left in both Europe and the U.S. have struggled to respond to a wave of support for Ukraine that is at cross purposes with a decades long effort to untangle Europe from a U.S.-led military alliance. [my emphasis]

In other words, the article, couched in anti-war rhetoric, was anti-Russia propaganda.  When I told my friend my analysis, she refused to discuss it and got angry with me, as if I therefore were a proponent of war  I have found this is a common response.

This got me thinking again about why people so often miss the untruths lying within articles that are in many parts truthful and accurate.  I notice this constantly.  They are like little seeds slipped in as if no one will notice; they work their magic nearly unconsciously.  Few do notice them, for they are often imperceptible.  But they have their effects and are cumulative and are far more powerful over time than blatant statements that will turn people off, especially those who think propaganda doesn’t work on them.  This is the power of successful propaganda, whether purposeful  or not.  It particularly works well on “intellectual” and highly schooled people.

For example, in a recent printed  interview, Noam Chomsky, after being introduced as a modern day Galileo, Newton, and Descartes rolled into one, talks about propaganda, its history, Edward Bernays, Walter Lippman, etc.  What he says is historically accurate and informative for anyone not knowing this history.  He speaks wisely of U.S. media propaganda concerning its unprovoked war against Iraq and he accurately calls the war in Ukraine “provoked.”  And then, concerning the war in Ukraine, he drops this startling statement:

I don’t think there are ‘significant lies’ in war reporting. The U.S. media are generally doing a highly creditable job in reporting Russian crimes in Ukraine. That’s valuable, just as it’s valuable that international investigations are underway in preparation for possible war crimes trials.

In the blink of an eye, Chomsky says something so incredibly untrue that unless one thinks of him as a modern day Galileo, which many do, it may pass as true and you will smoothly move on to the next paragraph.  Yet it is a statement so false as to be laughable.  The media propaganda concerning events in Ukraine has been so blatantly false and ridiculous that a careful reader will stop suddenly and think: Did he just say that?

So now Chomsky views the media, such as The New York Times and its ilk, that he has correctly castigated for propagandizing for the U.S. in Iraq and East Timor, to use two examples, is doing “a highly creditable job in reporting Russian crimes in Ukraine,” as if suddenly they were no longer spokespeople for the CIA and U.S. disinformation.  And he says this when we are in the midst of the greatest propaganda blitz since WW I, with its censorship, Disinformation Governance Board, de-platforming of dissidents, etc., that border on a parody of Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four. 

Even slicker is his casual assertion that the media are doing a good job reporting Russia’s war crimes after he earlier has said this about propaganda:

So it continues. Particularly in the more free societies, where means of state violence have been constrained by popular activism, it is of great importance to devise methods of manufacturing consent, and to ensure that they are internalized, becoming as invisible as the air we breathe, particularly in articulate educated circles. Imposing war-myths is a regular feature of these enterprises.

This is simply masterful.  Explain what propaganda is at its best and how you oppose it and then drop a soupçon of it into your analysis.  And while he is at it, Chomsky makes sure to praise Chris Hedges, one of his followers, who has himself recently wrote an article – The Age of Self-Delusion – that also contains valid points appealing to those sick of wars, but which also contains the following words:

Putin’s revanchism is matched by our own.

The disorganization, ineptitude, and low morale of the Russian army conscripts, along with the repeated intelligence failures by the Russian high command, apparently convinced Russia would roll over Ukraine in a few days, exposes the lie that Russia is a global menace.

‘The Russian bear has effectively defanged itself,’ historian Andrew Bacevich writes.

But this is not a truth the war makers impart to the public. Russia must be inflated to become a global menace, despite nine weeks of humiliating military failures. [my emphasis]

Russia’s revanchism?  Where?  Revanchism?  What lost territory has the U.S. ever waged war to recover?  Iraq, Syria, Cuba, Vietnam, Yugoslavia, etc.?  The U.S.’s history is a history not of revanchism but of imperial conquest, of seizing or controlling territory, while Russia’s war in Ukraine is clearly an act of self-defense after years of U.S./NATO/Ukraine provocations and threats, which Hedges recognizes.  “Nine weeks of humiliating military failures”? – when they control a large section of eastern and southern Ukraine, including the Donbass.  But his false message is subtly woven, like Chomsky’s, into sentences that are true.

“But this is not a truth the war makers impart to the public.”  No, it is exactly what the media spokespeople for the war makers – i.e. The New York Times (Hedges former employer, which he never fails to mention and for whom he covered the Clinton administration’s savage destruction of Yugoslavia), CNN, Fox News, The Washington Post, the New York Post, etc. impart to the public every day for their masters.  Headlines that read how Russia, while allegedly committing daily war crimes, is failing in its war aims and that the mythic hero Zelensky is leading Ukrainians to victory.  Words to the effect that “The Russian bear has effectively defanged itself” presented as fact.

Yes, they do inflate the Russian monster myth, only to then puncture it with the myth of David defeating Goliath.

But being in the business of mind games (too much consistency leads to clarity and gives the game away), one can expect them to scramble their messages on an ongoing basis to serve the U.S. agenda in Ukraine and further NATO expansion in the undeclared war with Russia, for which the Ukrainian people will be sacrificed.

Orwell called it “doublethink”:

Doublethink lies at the very heart of Ingsoc, since the essential act of the Party is to use conscious deception while retaining the firmness of purpose that goes with complete honesty.To tell deliberate lies while genuinely believing in them, to forget any fact that has become inconvenient, and then, when it becomes necessary again, to draw it back from oblivion for just so long as it is needed, to deny the existence of objective reality and all the while to take account of the reality one denies – all this is indispensably necessary….with the lie always one step ahead of the truth.

Revealing while concealing and interjecting inoculating shots of untruths that will only get cursory attention from their readers, the writers mentioned here and others have great appeal for the left intelligentsia.  For people who basically worship those they have imbued with infallibility and genius, it is very hard to read all sentences carefully and smell a skunk.  The subterfuge is often very adroit and appeals to readers’ sense of outrage at what happened in the past – e.g. the George W. Bush administration’s lies about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

Chomsky, of course, is the leader of the pack, and his followers are legion, including Hedges.  For decades they have been either avoiding or supporting the official versions of the assassinations of JFK and RFK, the attacks of September 11, 2001 that led directly to the war on terror and so many wars of aggression,and the recent Covid-19 propaganda with its devastating lockdowns and crackdowns on civil liberties.  They are far from historical amnesiacs, of course, but obviously consider these foundational events of no importance, for otherwise they would have addressed them.  If you expect them to explain, you will be waiting a long time.

In a recent article – How the organized Left got Covid wrong, learned to love lockdowns and lost its mind: an autopsy – Christian Parenti writes this about Chomsky:

Almost the entire left intelligentsia has remained psychically stuck in March 2020. Its members have applauded the new biosecurity repression and calumniated as liars, grifters, and fascists any and all who dissented. Typically, they did so without even engaging evidence and while shirking public debate. Among the most visible in this has been Noam Chomsky, the self-described anarcho-syndicalist who called for the unvaccinated to “remove themselves from society,” and suggested that they should be allowed to go hungry if they refuse to submit.

Parenti’s critique of the left’s response (not just Chomsky’s and Hedges’) to Covid also applies to those foundational events mentioned above, which raises deeper questions about the CIA’s and NSA’s penetration  of the media in general, a subject beyond the scope of this analysis.

For those, like the liberal woman who referred me to The Intercept article, who would no doubt say of what I have written here: Why are you picking on leftists? my reply is quite simple.

The right-wing and the neocons are obvious in their pernicious agendas; nothing is really hidden; therefore they can and should be opposed. But many leftists serve two masters and are far subtler. Ostensibly on the side of regular people and opposed to imperialism and the predations of the elites at home and abroad, they are often tricksters of beguiling rhetoric that their followers miss. Rhetoric that indirectly fuels the wars they say they oppose.

Smelling skunks is not as obvious as it might seem.  Being nocturnal, they come forth when most are sleeping.

The post The Subtleties of Anti-Russia Leftist Rhetoric first appeared on Dissident Voice.

The persecution of Julian Assange

The British home secretary, Priti Patel, will decide this month whether Julian Assange is to be extradited to the United States, where he faces a sentence of up to 175 years – served most likely in strict, 24-hour isolation in a US super-max jail.

He has already spent three years in similarly harsh conditions in London’s high-security Belmarsh prison.

The 18 charges laid against Assange in the US relate to the publication by WikiLeaks in 2010 of leaked official documents, many of them showing that the US and UK were responsible for war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan. No one has been brought to justice for those crimes.

Instead, the US has defined Assange’s journalism as espionage – and by implication asserted a right to seize any journalist in the world who takes on the US national security state – and in a series of extradition hearings, the British courts have given their blessing.

The lengthy proceedings against Assange have been carried out in courtrooms with tightly restricted access and in circumstances that have repeatedly denied journalists the ability to cover the case properly.

Despite the grave implications for a free press and democratic accountability, however, Assange’s plight has provoked little more than a flicker of concern from much of the western media.

Few observers appear to be in any doubt that Patel will sign off on the US extradition order – least of all Nils Melzer, a law professor, and a United Nations’ special rapporteur.

In his role as the UN’s expert on torture, Melzer has made it his job since 2019 to scrutinise not only Assange’s treatment during his 12 years of increasing confinement – overseen by the UK courts – but also the extent to which due process and the rule of law have been followed in pursuing the WikiLeaks founder.

Melzer has distilled his detailed research into a new book, The Trial of Julian Assange, that provides a shocking account of rampant lawlessness by the main states involved – Britain, Sweden, the US, and Ecuador. It also documents a sophisticated campaign of misinformation and character assassination to obscure those misdeeds.

The result, Melzer concludes, has been a relentless assault not only on Assange’s fundamental rights but his physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing that Melzer classifies as psychological torture.

The UN rapporteur argues that the UK has invested far too much money and muscle in securing Assange’s prosecution on behalf of the US, and has too pressing a need itself to deter others from following Assange’s path in exposing western crimes, to risk letting Assange walk free.

It has instead participated in a wide-ranging legal charade to obscure the political nature of Assange’s incarceration. And in doing so, it has systematically ridden roughshod over the rule of law.

Melzer believes Assange’s case is so important because it sets a precedent to erode the most basic liberties the rest of us take for granted. He opens the book with a quote from Otto Gritschneder, a German lawyer who observed up close the rise of the Nazis, “those who sleep in a democracy will wake up in a dictatorship”.

Back to the wall

Melzer has raised his voice because he believes that in the Assange case any residual institutional checks and balances on state power, especially those of the US, have been subdued.

He points out that even the prominent human rights group Amnesty International has avoided characterising Assange as a “prisoner of conscience”, despite his meeting all the criteria, with the group apparently fearful of a backlash from funders (p. 81).

He notes too that, aside from the UN’s Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, comprising expert law professors, the UN itself has largely ignored the abuses of Assange’s rights (p. 3). In large part, that is because even states like Russia and China are reluctant to turn Assange’s political persecution into a stick with which to beat the West – as might otherwise have been expected.

The reason, Melzer observes, is that WikiLeaks’ model of journalism demands greater accountability and transparency from all states. With Ecuador’s belated abandonment of Assange, he appears to be utterly at the mercy of the world’s main superpower.

Instead, Melzer argues, Britain and the US have cleared the way to vilify Assange and incrementally disappear him under the pretense of a series of legal proceedings. That has been made possible only because of complicity from prosecutors and the judiciary, who are pursuing the path of least resistance in silencing Assange and the cause he represents.

It is what Melzer terms an official “policy of small compromises” – with dramatic consequences (pp. 250-1).

His 330-page book is so packed with examples of abuses of due process – at the legal, prosecutorial, and judicial levels – that it is impossible to summarise even a tiny fraction of them.

However, the UN rapporteur refuses to label this as a conspiracy – if only because to do so would be to indict himself as part of it. He admits that when Assange’s lawyers first contacted him for help in 2018, arguing that the conditions of Assange’s incarceration amounted to torture, he ignored their pleas.

As he now recognises, he too had been influenced by the demonisation of Assange, despite his long professional and academic training to recognise techniques of perception management and political persecution.

“To me, like most people around the world, he was just a rapist, hacker, spy, and narcissist,” he says (p. 10).

It was only later when Melzer finally agreed to examine the effects of Assange’s long-term confinement on his health – and found the British authorities obstructing his investigation at every turn and openly deceiving him – that he probed deeper. When he started to pick at the legal narratives around Assange, the threads quickly unravelled.

He points to the risks of speaking up – a price he has experienced firsthand – that have kept others silent.

“With my uncompromising stance, I put not only my credibility at risk, but also my career and, potentially, even my personal safety… Now, I suddenly found myself with my back to the wall, defending human rights and the rule of law against the very democracies which I had always considered to be my closest allies in the fight against torture. It was a steep and painful learning curve” (p. 97).

He adds regretfully: “I had inadvertently become a dissident within the system itself” (p. 269).

Subversion of law

The web of complex cases that have ensnared the WikiLeaks founder – and kept him incarcerated – have included an entirely unproductive, decade-long sexual assault investigation by Sweden; an extended detention over a bail infraction that occurred after Assange was granted asylum by Ecuador from political extradition to the US; and the secret convening of a grand jury in the US, followed by endless hearings and appeals in the UK to extradite him as part of the very political persecution he warned of.

The goal throughout, says Melzer, has not been to expedite Assange’s prosecution – that would have risked exposing the absence of evidence against him in both the Swedish and US cases. Rather it has been to trap Assange in an interminable process of non-prosecution while he is imprisoned in ever-more draconian conditions and the public turned against him.

What appeared – at least to onlookers – to be the upholding of the law in Sweden, Britain and the US was the exact reverse: its repeated subversion. The failure to follow basic legal procedures was so consistent, argues Melzer, that it cannot be viewed as simply a series of unfortunate mistakes.

It aims at the “systematic persecution, silencing and destruction of an inconvenient political dissident” (p. 93).

Assange, in Melzer’s view, is not just a political prisoner. He is one whose life is being put in severe danger from relentless abuses that accord with the definition of psychological torture.

Such torture depends on its victim being intimidated, isolated, humiliated, and subjected to arbitrary decisions (p. 74). Melzer clarifies that the consequences of such torture not only break down the mental and emotional coping mechanisms of victims but over time have very tangible physical consequences too.

Melzer explains the so-called “Mandela Rules” – named after the long-jailed black resistance leader Nelson Mandela, who helped bring down South African apartheid – that limit the use of extreme forms of solitary confinement.

In Assange’s case, however, “this form of ill-treatment very quickly became the status quo” in Belmarsh, even though Assange was a “non-violent inmate posing no threat to anyone”. As his health deteriorated, prison authorities isolated him further, professedly for his own safety. As a result, Melzer concludes, Assange’s “silencing and abuse could be perpetuated indefinitely, all under the guise of concern for his health” (pp. 88-9).

The rapporteur observes that he would not be fulfilling his UN mandate if he failed to protest not only Assange’s torture but the fact that he is being tortured to protect those who committed torture and other war crimes exposed in the Iraq and Afghanistan logs published by WikiLeaks. They continue to escape justice with the active connivance of the same state authorities seeking to destroy Assange (p. 95).

With his long experience of handling torture cases around the world, Melzer suggests that Assange has great reserves of inner strength that have kept him alive, if increasingly frail and physically ill. Assange has lost a great deal of weight, is regularly confused and disorientated, and has suffered a minor stroke in Belmarsh.

Many of the rest of us, the reader is left to infer, might well have succumbed by now to a lethal heart attack or stroke, or have committed suicide.

A further troubling implication hangs over the book: that this is the ultimate ambition of those persecuting him. The current extradition hearings can be spun out indefinitely, with appeals right up to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, keeping Assange out of view all that time, further damaging his health, and providing a stronger deterrent effect on whistleblowers and other journalists.

This is a win-win, notes Melzer. If Assange’s mental health breaks down entirely, he can be locked away in a psychiatric institution. And if he dies, that would finally solve the inconvenience of sustaining the legal charade that has been needed to keep him silenced and out of view for so long (p. 322).

Sweden’s charade

Melzer spends much of the book reconstructing the 2010 accusations of sexual assault against Assange in Sweden. He does this not to discredit the two women involved – in fact, he argues that the Swedish legal system failed them as much as it did Assange – but because that case set the stage for the campaign to paint Assange as a rapist, narcissist, and fugitive from justice.

The US might never have been able to launch its overtly political persecution of Assange had he not already been turned into a popular hate figure over the Sweden case. His demonisation was needed – as well as his disappearance from view – to smooth the path to redefining national security journalism as espionage.

Melzer’s meticulous examination of the case – assisted by his fluency in Swedish – reveals something that the mainstream media coverage has ignored: Swedish prosecutors never had the semblance of a case against Assange, and apparently never the slightest intention to move the investigation beyond the initial taking of witness statements.

Nonetheless, as Melzer observes, it became “the longest ‘preliminary investigation’ in Swedish history” (p. 103).

The first prosecutor to examine the case, in 2010, immediately dropped the investigation, saying, “there is no suspicion of a crime” (p. 133).

When the case was finally wrapped up in 2019, many months before the statute of limitations was reached, a third prosecutor observed simply that “it cannot be assumed that further inquiries will change the evidential situation in any significant manner” (p. 261).

Couched in lawyerly language, that was an admission that interviewing Assange would not lead to any charges. The preceding nine years had been a legal charade.

But in those intervening years, the illusion of a credible case was so well sustained that major newspapers, including Britain’s The Guardian newspaper, repeatedly referred to “rape charges” against Assange, even though he had never been charged with anything.

More significantly, as Melzer keeps pointing out, the allegations against Assange were so clearly unsustainable that the Swedish authorities never sought to seriously investigate them. To do so would have instantly exposed their futility.

Instead, Assange was trapped. For the seven years that he was given asylum in Ecuador’s London embassy, Swedish prosecutors refused to follow normal procedures and interview him where he was, in person or via computer, to resolve the case. But the same prosecutors also refused to issue standard reassurances that he would not be extradited onwards to the US, which would have made his asylum in the embassy unnecessary.

In this way, Melzer argues “the rape suspect narrative could be perpetuated indefinitely without ever coming before a court. Publicly, this deliberately manufactured outcome could conveniently be blamed on Assange, by accusing him of having evaded justice” (p. 254).

Neutrality dropped

Ultimately, the success of the Swedish case in vilifying Assange derived from the fact that it was driven by a narrative almost impossible to question without appearing to belittle the two women at its centre.

But the rape narrative was not the women’s. It was effectively imposed on the case – and on them – by elements within the Swedish establishment, echoed by the Swedish media. Melzer hazards a guess as to why the chance to discredit Assange was seized on so aggressively.

After the fall of the Soviet Union, Swedish leaders dropped the country’s historic position of neutrality and threw their hand in with the US and the global “war on terror”. Stockholm was quickly integrated into the western security and intelligence community (p. 102).

All of that was put in jeopardy as Assange began eyeing Sweden as a new base for WikiLeaks, attracted by its constitutional protections for publishers.

In fact, he was in Sweden for precisely that reason in the run-up to WikiLeaks’ publication of the Iraq and Afghanistan war logs. It must have been only too obvious to the Swedish establishment that any move to headquarter WikiLeaks there risked setting Stockholm on a collision course with Washington (p. 159).

This, Melzer argues, is the context that helps to explain an astonishingly hasty decision by the police to notify the public prosecutor of a rape investigation against Assange minutes after a woman referred to only as “S” first spoke to a police officer in a central Stockholm station.

In fact, S and another woman, “A”, had not intended to make any allegation against Assange. After learning he had had sex with them in quick succession, they wanted him to take an HIV test. They thought approaching the police would force his hand (p. 115). The police had other ideas.

The irregularities in the handling of the case are so numerous, Melzer spends the best part of 100 pages documenting them. The women’s testimonies were not recorded, transcribed verbatim, or witnessed by a second officer. They were summarised.

The same, deeply flawed procedure – one that made it impossible to tell whether leading questions influenced their testimony or whether significant information was excluded – was employed during the interviews of witnesses friendly to the women. Assange’s interview and those of his allies, by contrast, were recorded and transcribed verbatim (p. 132).

The reason for the women making their statements – the desire to get an HIV test from Assange – was not mentioned in the police summaries.

In the case of S, her testimony was later altered without her knowledge, in highly dubious circumstances that have never been explained (pp. 139-41). The original text is redacted so it is impossible to know what was altered.

Stranger still, a criminal report of rape was logged against Assange on the police computer system at 4.11pm, 11 minutes after the initial meeting with S and 10 minutes before a senior officer had begun interviewing S – and two and half hours before that interview would finish (pp. 119-20).

In another sign of the astounding speed of developments, Sweden’s public prosecutor had received two criminal reports against Assange from the police by 5pm, long before the interview with S had been completed. The prosecutor then immediately issued an arrest warrant against Assange before the police summary was written and without taking into account that S did not agree to sign it (p. 121).

Almost immediately, the information was leaked to the Swedish media, and within an hour of receiving the criminal reports the public prosecutor had broken protocol by confirming the details to the Swedish media (p. 126).

Secret amendments

The constant lack of transparency in the treatment of Assange by Swedish, British, US, and Ecuadorian authorities becomes a theme in Melzer’s book. Evidence is not made available under freedom of information laws, or, if it is, it is heavily redacted or only some parts are released – presumably those that do not risk undermining the official narrative.

For four years, Assange’s lawyers were denied any copies of the text messages the two Swedish women sent – on the grounds they were “classified”. The messages were also denied to the Swedish courts, even when they were deliberating on whether to extend an arrest warrant for Assange (p. 124).

It was not until nine years later those messages were made public, though Melzer notes that the index numbers show many continue to be withheld. Most notably, 12 messages sent by S from the police station – when she is known to have been unhappy at the police narrative being imposed on her – are missing. They would likely have been crucial to Assange’s defence (p. 125).

Similarly, much of the later correspondence between British and Swedish prosecutors that kept Assange trapped in the Ecuadorian embassy for years was destroyed – even while the Swedish preliminary investigation was supposedly still being pursued (p. 106).

The text messages from the women that have been released, however, suggest strongly that they felt they were being railroaded into a version of events they had not agreed to.

Slowly they relented, the texts suggest, as the juggernaut of the official narrative bore down on them, with the implied threat that if they disputed it they risked prosecution themselves for providing false testimony (p. 130).

Moments after S entered the police station, she texted a friend to say that “the police officer appears to like the idea of getting him [Assange]” (p. 117).

In a later message, she writes that it was “the police who made up the charges” (p. 129). And when the state assigns her a high-profile lawyer, she observes only that she hopes he will get her “out of this shit” (p. 136).

In a further text, she says: “I didn’t want to be part of it [the case against Assange], but now I have no choice” (p. 137).

It was on the basis of the secret amendments made to S’s testimony by the police that the first prosecutor’s decision to drop the case against Assange was overturned, and the investigation reopened (p. 141). As Melzer notes, the faint hope of launching a prosecution of Assange essentially rested on one word: whether S was “asleep”, “half-asleep” or “sleepy” when they had sex.

Melzer write that “as long as the Swedish authorities are allowed to hide behind the convenient veil of secrecy, the truth about this dubious episode may never come to light” (p. 141).

No ordinary extradition’

These and many, many other glaring irregularities in the Swedish preliminary investigation documented by Melzer are vital to decoding what comes next. Or as Melzer concludes “the authorities were not pursuing justice in this case but a completely different, purely political agenda” (p. 147).

With the investigation hanging over his head, Assange struggled to build on the momentum of the Iraq and Afghanistan logs revealing systematic war crimes committed by the US and UK.

“The involved governments had successfully snatched the spotlight directed at them by WikiLeaks, turned it around, and pointed it at Assange,” Melzer observes.

They have been doing the same ever since.

Assange was given permission to leave Sweden after the new prosecutor assigned to the case repeatedly declined to interview him a second time (pp. 153-4).

But as soon as Assange departed for London, an Interpol Red Notice was issued, another extraordinary development given its use for serious international crimes, setting the stage for the fugitive-from-justice narrative (p. 167).

A European Arrest Warrant was approved by the UK courts soon afterwards – but, again exceptionally, after the judges had reversed the express will of the British parliament that such warrants could only be issued by a “judicial authority” in the country seeking extradition not the police or a prosecutor (pp. 177- 9).

A law was passed shortly after the ruling to close that loophole and make sure no one else would suffer Assange’s fate (p. 180).

As the noose tightened around the neck not only of Assange but WikiLeaks too – the group was denied server capacity, its bank accounts were blocked, credit companies refused to process payments (p. 172) – Assange had little choice but to accept that the US was the moving force behind the scenes.

He hurried into the Ecuadorean embassy after being offered political asylum. A new chapter of the same story was about to begin.

British officials in the Crown Prosecution Service, as the few surviving emails show, were the ones bullying their Swedish counterparts to keep going with the case as Swedish interest flagged. The UK, supposedly a disinterested party, insisted behind the scenes that Assange must be required to leave the embassy – and his asylum – to be interviewed in Stockholm (p. 174).

A CPS lawyer told Swedish counterparts “don’t you dare get cold feet!” (p. 186).

As Christmas neared, the Swedish prosecutor joked about Assange being a present, “I am OK without… In fact, it would be a shock to get that one!” (p. 187).

When she discussed with the CPS Swedish doubts about continuing the case, she apologised for “ruining your weekend” (p. 188).

In yet another email, a British CPS lawyer advised “please do not think that the case is being dealt with as just another extradition request” (p. 176).

Embassy spying operation

That may explain why William Hague, the UK’s foreign secretary at the time, risked a major diplomatic incident by threatening to violate Ecuadorean sovereignty and invade the embassy to arrest Assange (p. 184).

And why Sir Alan Duncan, a UK government minister, made regular entries in his diary, later published as a book, on how he was working aggressively behind the scenes to get Assange out of the embassy (pp. 200, 209, 273, 313).

And why the British police were ready to spend £16 million of public money besieging the embassy for seven years to enforce an extradition Swedish prosecutors seemed entirely uninterested in advancing (p. 188).

Ecuador, the only country ready to offer Assange sanctuary, rapidly changed course once its popular left-wing president Rafael Correa stepped down in 2017. His successor, Lenin Moreno, came under enormous diplomatic pressure from Washington and was offered significant financial incentives to give up Assange (p. 212).

At first, this appears to have chiefly involved depriving Assange of almost all contact with the outside world, including access to the internet, and telephone and launching a media demonisation campaign that portrayed him as abusing his cat and smearing faeces on the wall (pp. 207-9).

At the same time, the CIA worked with the embassy’s security firm to launch a sophisticated, covert spying operation of Assange and all his visitors, including his doctors and lawyers (p. 200). We now know that the CIA was also considering plans to kidnap or assassinate Assange (p. 218).

Finally in April 2019, having stripped Assange of his citizenship and asylum – in flagrant violation of international and Ecuadorean law – Quito let the British police seize him (p. 213).

He was dragged into the daylight, his first public appearance in many months, looking unshaven and unkempt – a “demented looking gnome“, as a long-time Guardian columnist called him.

In fact, Assange’s image had been carefully managed to alienate the watching world. Embassy staff had confiscated his shaving and grooming kit months earlier.

Meanwhile, Assange’s personal belongings, his computer, and documents were seized and transferred not to his family or lawyers, or even the British authorities, but to the US – the real author of this drama (p. 214).

That move, and the fact that the CIA had spied on Assange’s conversations with his lawyers inside the embassy, should have sufficiently polluted any legal proceedings against Assange to require that he walk free.

But the rule of law, as Melzer keeps noting, has never seemed to matter in Assange’s case.

Quite the reverse, in fact. Assange was immediately taken to a London police station where a new arrest warrant was issued for his extradition to the US.

The same afternoon Assange appeared before a court for half an hour, with no time to prepare a defence, to be tried for a seven-year-old bail violation over his being granted asylum in the embassy (p. 48).

He was sentenced to 50 weeks – almost the maximum possible – in Belmarsh high-security prison, where he has been ever since.

Apparently, it occurred neither to the British courts nor to the media that the reason Assange had violated his bail conditions was precisely to avoid the political extradition to the US he was faced with as soon as he was forced out of the embassy.

‘Living in a tyranny’

Much of the rest of Melzer’s book documents in disturbing detail what he calls the current “Anglo-American show trial”: the endless procedural abuses Assange has faced over the past three years as British judges have failed to prevent what Melzer argues should be seen as not just one but a raft of glaring miscarriages of justice.

Not least, extradition on political grounds is expressly forbidden under Britain’s extradition treaty with the US (pp. 178-80, 294-5). But yet again the law counts for nothing when it applies to Assange.

The decision on extradition now rests with Patel, the hawkish home secretary who previously had to resign from the government for secret dealings with a foreign power, Israel, and is behind the government’s current draconian plan to ship asylum seekers to Rwanda, almost certainly in violation of the UN Refugee Convention.

Melzer has repeatedly complained to the UK, the US, Sweden, and Ecuador about the many procedural abuses in Assange’s case, as well as the psychological torture he has been subjected to. All four, the UN rapporteur points out, have either stonewalled or treated his inquiries with open contempt (pp. 235-44).

Assange can never hope to get a fair trial in the US, Melzer notes. First, politicians from across the spectrum, including the last two US presidents, have publicly damned Assange as a spy, terrorist, or traitor and many have suggested he deserves death (p. 216-7).

And, second, because he would be tried in the notorious “espionage court” in Alexandria, Virginia, located in the heart of the US intelligence and security establishment, without public or press access (pp. 220-2).

No jury there would be sympathetic to what Assange did in exposing their community’s crimes. Or as Melzer observes: “Assange would get a secret state-security trial very similar to those conducted in dictatorships” (p. 223).

And once in the US, Assange would likely never be seen again, under “special administrative measures” (SAMs) that would keep him in total isolation 24-hours-a-day (pp. 227-9). Melzer calls SAMs “another fraudulent label for torture”.

Melzer’s book is not just a documentation of the persecution of one dissident. He notes that Washington has been meting out abuses on all dissidents, including most famously the whistleblowers Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden.

Assange’s case is so important, Melzer argues, because it marks the moment when western states not only target those working within the system who blow the whistle that breaks their confidentiality contracts, but those outside it too – those like journalists and publishers whose very role in a democratic society is to act as a watchdog on power.

If we do nothing, Melzer’s book warns, we will wake up to find the world transformed. Or as he concludes: “Once telling the truth has become a crime, we will all be living in a tyranny” (p. 331).

The Trial of Julian Assange by Nils Melzer is published by Verso.

First published by Middle East Eye

The post The persecution of Julian Assange first appeared on Dissident Voice.

US/NATO Wants War With Russia

Here is a speech Vladimir Putin DID NOT make — at least in this specific language — to the Russian people just before initiating the special military operations in Ukraine:

“It is my responsibility as the president to warn our citizens of secret, swift, and extraordinary buildup of US/NATO missiles — in an area well known to have a special and historical relationship to Russia and the nations of our hemisphere, in violation of American assurances, and in defiance of treaties and our own policies — this sudden, clandestine decision to station strategic weapons on our borders — is a deliberately provocative and unjustified change in the status quo which cannot be accepted by this country.”

Does this have a familiar feel to it?

Here is the speech which President John F. Kennedy DID MAKE to the American people on October 22, 1962, when he warned of:

… a secret, swift, and extraordinary buildup of Communist missiles — in an area well known to have a special and historical relationship to the United States and the nations of the Western Hemisphere, in violation of Soviet assurances, and in defiance of American and hemispheric policy — this sudden, clandestine decision to station strategic weapons for the first time outside of Soviet soil — is a deliberately provocative and unjustified change in the status quo which cannot be accepted by this country.

The Cuban Missile Crisis which resulted from the discovery of this military escalation by the Soviets, almost resulted in a world war and nuclear annihilation.

The tables have rotated 180º. Now it is the US which is putting the survival of humankind at risk, escalating the conflict in Ukraine by dumping more and more weapons into the conflict zone, demonizing Putin and everything Russian, apparently urging the Ukrainians to avoid a negotiated peace and to fight to the bitter end.

Do not for a moment forget . . .

There were solutions in place to prevent the entire Ukrainian situation from evolving into the terrifying mess we now see. First, there was the Minsk II Agreement of February 12, 2015, signed by Ukraine, guaranteed by France, Germany and Russia. It was ignored by Ukraine, never implemented. There is speculation that it was the US which prompted the stonewalling. Then, December of 2020, Russia itself proposed very concrete steps, as draft treaties, that could be taken to defuse the tensions and guarantee greater security for all of Europe and the world. These were formally submitted to both the US and NATO in writing. They were dismissed. Now with the conflict in full swing, Russia has repeatedly made clear its current position on ending this. What the Russians is demand is no different than what Kennedy demanded of the USSR. This has also been flatly rejected.

From the outset of the crisis, Russia has been maligned, vilified, rejected, canceled, viciously attacked at every opportunity for merely wanting the assurances and concrete reductions to the threat posed by NATO and the US on its borders, just as JFK laid out subsequent to his announcement of Soviet missiles in Cuba.

(As a revealing aside, the comprehensive scale of the vilification and attempted isolation of Russia across the planet, even in spheres completely unrelated to politics — dance, sports, art, music, cultural exchange programs, space exploration, pet shows — could not have been spontaneous. Any multi-layered attack of this scale had to have been in the works for some time. At least, that’s how I see it.)

So . . .

What conclusion can we draw from all of this? What message are we actually hearing from Biden, Blinken, Stoltenberg, Johnson, Scholz, Macron, and the rest of the US puppets around the world?

I can see only one: US/NATO wants war with RussiaWhich frankly, hardly comes as a surprise. From documents, white papers, policy statements, speeches by officials in the State Department and various administrations along the way, all easily accessed by just looking, the dismemberment of Russia and looting its vast and varied natural resources has been on the agenda for at least three decades.

Yes, folks . . .

It’s war. Not liberation. Not freedom and democracy. It’s war.

Please correct me if I’m wrong.

The post US/NATO Wants War With Russia first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Russia, Ukraine, and the USA: Trapped in a Cultural Script

Compassion for Ukrainians victimized by Russia’s violence demonstrates that human hearts care. However, beneath the visible current of compassion there’s an alarming, dangerous dynamic at play.

What’s hair-raising about this crisis is not only the violence but the fact that US political leaders and media makers are not recognizing positive and negative motivations on both sides of conflict. Instead, they’re deliberately creating an inaccurate good vs. evil storyline, a storyline that ignites unwarranted, dangerous feelings of self-righteous hatred against Russia.

The US perpetually perceives its role in conflict as that of a heroic rescuer or innocent victim upholding humanity and freedom against evil persecutors. However, 245 years of US history reveal that this perception is fiction, a psychological construct. Psychological analysts Muriel James and Dorothy Jongeward called the persecutor, victim, and rescuer scenario a “cultural script.”

Examination of 245 years of US history reveals that the perception of always being a good guy fighting evil is fiction, a psychological construct. In fact, good and bad, truths and lies invariably exist on both sides of conflict.

Nonetheless, to deceive others and perhaps themselves, US policymakers’ pattern of relentlessly legitimating their violence, deadly sanctions, and foreign coups by denying the validity of enemy grievances, hiding their own greed and aggressive motives, refusing to cooperatively negotiate, concealing enemy negotiation offers, fabricating lies, omitting significant facts, using false pretexts, and overlooking the disastrous results of a pseudo-religious faith in the problem-solving magic of weapons is so predictable that it’s hard to decide whether it’s more enraging, pathetic, boring, or nauseating.

Consider one persecutor-victim-hero drama that began in 1979. President Jimmy Carter, livid over the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, claimed it was “the greatest threat to peace since the Second World War.” Actually, Afghanistan’s Marxist government, which had been trying to reform the extreme, unjust inequalities of wealth and land ownership in Afghanistan, had requested Soviet assistance against insurgents, but the USSR, the “evil persecutor,” didn’t want to send troops. When the Soviets finally complied, they explained it was because of secret US involvement in Afghanistan. The world called the Soviets liars.

Two decades later US National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski admitted that Carter had begun aiding the insurgent mujahideen—the “heroes”—six months prior to the entry of the persecutors, the Soviets. A delighted Brzezinski knew this could provoke the Soviets to invade and get mired in their own “Vietnam.” Convinced of Soviet evil and mujahideen goodness, US policymakers ignored that the mujahideen skinned Soviet POWs alive.

And now we’re to believe that weapon shipments and sanctions are needed for the US to help rescue Ukraine from “evil” Russia.

The first step in convincing the world to believe the script’s good vs. evil dynamics is to depict Russia as the persecutor who’s motivated, not by fear, but by evil. No problem! Simply label Putin as paranoid and discount Russian fears as ludicrous: NATO’s expansion into Slavic lands, NATO—Ukraine military collaboration, US missile bases in eastern Europe, anti-Russian policies and prejudice in Ukraine, neo-Nazi violence in Ukraine, neo-Nazis and ultranationalists in Ukraine’s police, military, and government, the manipulation of Ukraine by Western profit-seekers, and Western economic and political conquest—likely of Russia itself.

The next step is to paint the US as a heroic rescuer motivated purely by integrity and compassion. Simple! Muffle up all greed-related motives for antagonizing Russia: US weapon industry profits, NATO’s agenda for bases on the Black Sea, IMF goals, ExxonMobil’s coveting Black Sea fossil fuel deposits, and Biden’s connections with Ukraine’s largest natural gas corporation. Then, conceal US hopes to dominate the global energy trade, maintain the dollar as the international energy trade currency, displace Russia from Europe’s gas market, shut down Nord Stream 2, and export fracked liquefied natural gas to Europe via Ukraine.

Also ignored are the biases and aims of those social and business circles who are forever dictating US foreign policy according to their pecuniary priorities and uncooperative, control-oriented habits of international relations. President Biden’s administration, for example, includes many members of the Alliance for Securing Democracy—with an advisory board that combines neoconservatives with liberal hawks, Albright Stonebridge Group—with its interest in Russian business acquisitions, and the Center for a New American Security (CNAS).

CNAS, whose donors include multiple weapon corporations, the European Union, US Department of Defense, Finland’s Defense Ministry, Amazon, Google, and ExxonMobil, was formerly led by President Biden’s current Undersecretary of State Victoria Nuland, whose husband, Robert Kagan, co-founded the conquest-seeking neoconservative Project for the New American Century. Yet we’re to assume that donors’ priorities aren’t skewing foreign policy in dysfunctional ways.

With Russia’s fears dismissed and US greed disguised, the good vs. evil script is further strengthened by permitting only shallow public analysis. For example, how do we know that Russia wasn’t deliberately provoked so that the ulterior goals of certain American social circles could be advanced under the guise of nobly responding to Russia’s aggression? The topic isn’t permitted into discussion.

Another topic given quarter-inch deep analysis is Biden’s seemingly fair-minded declaration that each nation has the right to choose alliances. It’s an unusual statement coming from a “you’re with us or against us” nation that has punished or ousted national leaders who refused to sever alliances with the USSR or Cuba.

Nuland’s leaked tapes from 2014 (which mention Biden and National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan) and a US record of instigating coups indicate that Americans were likely involved in promoting the bloody 2014 coup of Ukraine’s pro-Russian President Yanukovich to install anti-Russian leadership agreeable to European Union and NATO ties. So does Biden’s “right to choose alliances” proclamation apply to nations before a US-approved coup or only afterwards?

Another enraging example of shallow analysis is the opinion falsely parroted by US “experts” that Putin’s 2021 essay, “On the Historical Unity of Russia and Ukraine,” lays bare Putin’s imperialist vision for Ukraine and his lack of recognition of Ukraine’s sovereignty and borders. Whether the experts are deliberately lying or lack reading comprehension skills, their claim is false and, given the self-righteous hatred their claim generates, utterly irresponsible.

Nowhere in the essay does Putin speak of conquering Ukraine or refusing to recognize Ukraine’s sovereignty. Putin specifically describes the relationship between the US and Canada as the type of relationship Russia seeks with Ukraine. When he speaks of “unity,” he’s not speaking of dissolving Ukraine’s political sovereignty. He’s speaking of cultural and historical ties between the two nations.

Putin’s description of the Bolsheviks’ creation of borders never suggests that he’s doing away with them. It’s possible he’s implying that Donetsk, Lugansk, and certainly Crimea have large Russian populations and do not necessarily belong in Ukraine, especially if Ukraine’s post-coup government is harboring neo-Nazism and installing language and indigenous people policies of a deliberate anti-Russian nature. Note that Ukraine and the US are the only two nations in the UN to vote against the recent resolution to condemn the glorification of Nazism.

Of course, US policymakers are not uncomfortable with Nazism and, following WWII, employed one thousand Nazis to spy on Russia. And it was US banks and companies such as Ford, General Motors, and du Pont that opportunistically helped fund Hitler’s war arsenal. Even in 1973, the US worked with pro-Nazi collaborators and US corporate funds to plant protests, propaganda, economic sabotage, and violence that climaxed in the CIA’ s horrific 9/11/73 coup of Chile’s Salvador Allende. It’s not surprising that in 2014, Russian news sources claimed that US private military contractors were training right-wing Ukrainian extremists.

In his essay, Putin clearly states his wish to negotiate with Ukraine, but not with Ukrainian leaders who are mere representatives of Western profiteers eager to use Ukraine’s land and resources for their own benefit. But, of course, US commentators either ignore the statement or, forgetting US history, discount Putin’s fears of Western profiteering as conspiracy theory.

Double standards also fortify the script. Russia’s invasions are motivated by belligerence, never legitimate fears, while US invasions are motivated by legitimate fears, never belligerence. Same behavior, different judgment.

Headlines scream of savage Russian war crimes. TV reporters interview sobbing Ukrainians. Yet US, NATO, and Ukrainian war crimes are barely publicized, their victims ignored. Same actions, different judgment. To learn about US war crimes and Afghan and Iraqi suffering, you’ve got to read investigative reporters’ books.

American groupthink, inflated by its self-righteous role in the script, and seeming to borrow from middle-school social dynamics, jeers and smears President Putin’s every word as absurd and staged. But we’re to trust Biden as honest, unstaged, unconcealing. No proof is needed. Just faith in the script.

Putin’s wish to protect Donetsk and Lugansk, self-declared republics since 2014, and end Kiev’s 8-year war that has killed 14,000 is automatically mocked as false pretext for conquest. Yet US wishes to protect Ukraine from Russia are trusted as caring, without ulterior design. The role of private military contractors, NATO, and the US in escalating civil war and provoking Russia by arming Ukraine with billions in weapons since 2014 rather than committing to non-violently resolve Ukraine’s internal conflict remains shamefully unassessed.

The consequences of belief in this drama? The US habitually uses exaggerated fears of evil enemies as false justification for colossal military budgets, NATO expansion, more military bases, troops, weapons, and nukes—all of which pour gasoline on the world tinderbox of tension, drain desperately-needed funding, and fail to resolve conflict.

If evil is equated with enemies, it becomes deceptively simple for “heroes” to champion goodness: bomb enemies into submission, impose deadly sanctions, strangulate funding, send weapons, engineer coups. But none of these methods nurture goodness. The truth is, those convinced they’re fighting evil are frequently blinded to the immorality and injustice of their own actions against people who aren’t so evil after all.

The good vs. evil script is also unjust because it enables the “innocent” to get away with all they’ve done to exacerbate conflict. The script can even enable the “innocent,” including Biden administration neoconservatives and liberal hawks, to slickly seize power, resources, and markets from those deemed evil.

US leaders’ promotion of this good vs. evil storyline appears compassionate, but it isn’t against killing. It isn’t about justice. It’s about pushing a script that provides pretext on the part of those proclaiming their own goodness to inflict injustice and violence against Russia and Putin, already verbally crucified by a mob of liars. It’s about solidifying our allegiance to US policymakers’ decisions about whom we should kill and whom we should cry for. Yet policymakers step beyond Constitutional grounds when they use their power to turn our hearts on and off, to bait us to hate some and love others to serve their greed for Mid-Eastern, Ukrainian, and Russian wealth.

We’ve got to scrap the script and view conflict impartially. We deserve accurate, sophisticated information about conflict, not propaganda that teaches us to hate. We need full truth to help us ground irrational fears of bad guys, cure the sickness of greed, and offer caring and friendship, not just for those falsely deemed innocent and heroic, but for all of us, with 360 of empathy, all the way around the world.

• View all six videos here:  https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCuNEw9-1OIk-CwU-5vAElcg

• Read the entire essay at Countercurrents

• This article was first published at TRANSCEND Media Service

The post Russia, Ukraine, and the USA: Trapped in a Cultural Script first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Oliver Stone Documents the Past to Illuminate the Present

The timing of the March 2022 release of this digital streaming documentary could not be more auspicious.  For anyone wanting to understand how we arrived at a new Cold War with the second Irish-Catholic Democratic president in U.S. history, Joseph Biden, spewing belligerent absurdities about Ukraine, Russia, and Vladimir Putin, and leading a charge toward a World War III that could easily turn nuclear, the aggregated factual details in this series of why President John F. Kennedy was assassinated by the CIA and its minions is essential history that illuminates current events.

While Kennedy was the last U.S. president to genuinely seek peace at the cost of his life, his successors have all been lackeys in love with war and in full awareness  that the promotion of war and the military industrial complex were at the top of their job description.  They have gladly served the god of war and ravaged countries around the world with the glee of sadists and madmen.  Pusillanimous in the extreme, they have sought the presidency knowing they would never oppose the gunmen in the shadows who demanded their obedience.  They heard the message from the streets of Dallas loud and clear and followed orders as required.

Their long history of provocations against Russia in Eastern Europe and Ukraine that has resulted in the current Russian attack on Ukraine is a most frightening case in point.  While Kennedy embraced dialogue and negotiations that recognized the humanity and validity of other countries leaders’ viewpoints – e.g. Nikita Khrushchev, Fidel Castro, et al. – and was cognizant, as he said, that genuine peace had to exclude a Pax Americana, his replacements have demanded U.S. dominance and the growth of empire.

It is therefore essential to understand why JFK was assassinated by the U.S. national security state; it is a fundamental requisite for piercing the miasma of lies that have been used over the decades to conceal the true nature of U.S. foreign policy and intense anti-Russia hatred.

JFK: Destiny Betrayed, a four-hour, four-part follow-up to Oliver Stone’s two hour feature film JFK Revisited: Through the Looking Glass (11/22/21), does precisely that.  While JFK Revisited is by the nature of its shorter and undivided length a better film as film, JFK: Destiny Betrayed is the deeper history lesson because of its more extensive documentation.  It is largely based on the scriptwriter, James DiEugenio’s masterful book, Destiny Betrayed: JFK, Cuba, and the Garrison Case, which draws on hundreds of thousands of documents released by the Assassination Records Review Board, which was formed as a result of Oliver Stone’s 1991 film, JFK.  As such, the book, and the new film, hoist the U.S. government by its own petard, and thus the film’s powerful indictment can only be dismissed by ignoramuses, propagandists, or sensibilities too tender to accept factual truth.  At an Orwellian time when “fictionalized documentaries” are being promoted, and the difference between fact and fiction is being scrambled to scramble brains, that, regrettably, may be many people.  But for anyone who takes history and facts seriously, this is a dazzling and deeply disturbing film whose implications are enormous.

It is divided into four parts, each approximately an hour.  This allows the viewer to space out their viewing to allow each section to sink in.  I think this is a good idea, for there is much to comprehend, especially for one not well-versed in this history.

Chapter One opens with an emphatic point: Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. tells how his father immediately suspected that the CIA was involved in the murder of President Kennedy and that when the Warren Commission Report (WC) was released he didn’t believe it.  The WC had been pushed by people such as Eugene Rostow, Joseph Alsop, et al., no friends to Kennedy; was controlled by Allen Dulles, the CIA Director whom Kennedy had fired following the Bay of Pigs treachery; and was promoted by The New York Times upon its release with the claim that the commission’s conclusion that Lee Harvey Oswald killed the president was supported by all its documents when, in fact, those documents were not released for many months following.  Thus the N.Y. Times lied to serve the coverup as it has done ever since. This was typical of mainstream media then and now.

The first part of the documentary informs the viewer of many such lies of commission and omission:

  • That the CIA lied to Kennedy about the Bay of Pigs.
  • That Allen Dulles never told the Warren Commission that the CIA had tried repeatedly to kill Fidel Castro.
  • That the CIA lied to JFK about its attempts to assassinate French President Charles De Gaulle.
  • That the CIA lied to him about the assassination of the Congolese Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba, another Kennedy ally.
  • That the CIA lied to Robert Kennedy when he learned of its attempts to assassinate Castro by telling him they had stopped when they had not.

Lies piled upon lies on every side.

Sandwiched between, in a deft placement that says “try to lie about this,” is the Zapruder film that graphically refutes the lie that the president was not shot from the front; it confirms witness testimony that the kill shot came from the right front and a large back portion of the back of his head was blown out by a gunman who wasn’t Oswald.  Presto: a conspiracy.

And then the viewer learns how years later the Church Committee Hearings uncovered many more lies.  How Jack Ruby, who killed Oswald, was a confidential FBI informer; how, contrary to press lies, JFK never authorized the plots to assassinate Castro, etc.

And when the lies became more known, The House Select Committee on Assassinations (1979) sealed half-a-million records until 2029, many of which were only released due to Oliver Stone’s 1991 film.  Still, in 2022 records are still being held back against the law.

Chapter Two opens with the absurd deceptions involving Kennedy’s autopsy.  Brief but powerful and a preliminary introduction to an extensive analysis in Chapter 3, this section presents evidence that doctors were pressured to lie about the frontal wounds, that Captain James Humes, the doctor in charge of the autopsy, had never done a gunshot autopsy and was part of the coverup – literally with JFK’s head, that the president’s personal doctor, George Burkley, disappeared crucial evidence, etc.

Then, in a creative switch used throughout the four parts, we learn some more of why Kennedy was killed.  How as a young U.S. Representatives in 1951 he went to Vietnam with his brother Robert and became convinced that the French war there was wrong and also unwinnable, and that Vietnam should be free of colonial domination.  How years later as a Senator he spoke out against Secretary of State John Foster Dulles’ advice to use nuclear weapons at Diên Bên Phù to help the beleaguered French (one of many times he opposed the use of nuclear weapons).  How he gave a famous Senate speech in 1957 opposing colonialism and was attacked by both parties for it.  How he supported the non-aligned nations movement, including Sukarno in Indonesia and many leaders throughout Africa.

Then we are returned to Dallas and the assassination where we learn about the conflicting number of shots, the “magic bullet that allegedly and comically was claimed to have created seven wounds in Kennedy and Gov. John Connally, the failure of the chain of custody for the bullets, and the various anomalies associated with Oswald’s alleged rifle that are revealed with multiple photos.  A viewer’s ears would no doubt particularly perk up when learning that the rifle the government says Oswald used that he ordered through mail order under the alias A. Hidell and was sent to his post office box registered under the name Lee Oswald, could not be picked up by Oswald since it was sent to the name Hidell.  And so… ?

Before moving on to the third section, I would like to note the book-like quality of this streaming film documentary.  The sections are called chapters and its title and much of its contents are taken from DiEugenio’s book.  So you could say it is similar to a novel that is converted into a screenplay, but in this case it is a carefully sourced and researched non-fiction (I prefer the word “fact”) book with fifty-four pages of notes.  Watching it is like reading a book in that the viewer needs to slowly evaluate not only the narrative drive of the presentation but also the quality of the filmed notes that buttress the telling from beginning to end.  As one who has read the book very carefully two times, always noting sources, and as one who has researched, written about, and taught university courses on the JFK and other political assassinations, I can attest to the solidity of the film’s sources.  I can think of none that are not accurate.  Like the earlier JFK Revisited: Through the Looking Glass, the collaboration between Stone, a filmmaker of genius, and DiEugenio, a supremely talented researcher, has produced two remarkable films, slightly different in style and substance, but achieving the same clarification of purpose: Factual truth about who killed President Kennedy and why, and why it matters today.

Chapter Three is perhaps the most devastating of the four.  Much of it is spent on showing the evil treachery involved in the autopsy of the president at Bethesda Naval Hospital that is central to the coverup of the truth. This coverup was carried out within the higher reaches of the government, and its only purpose could be to protect the killers within that government.  It is very hard to stomach such truth, but it is necessary.

Only one person was present both at Parkland Hospital in Dallas and at the autopsy: Dr. George Burkley, JFK’s White House physician.  Deeply involved in the coverup, Burkley changed his statements from inadvertent truth to falsehoods like a jumping bean, finally firmly supporting the lies of Dr. Humes, who performed the autopsy under the direction of military/intelligence higher-ups and then incredibly destroyed his notes.  Burkley also backed the lies of those others involved in replacing Kennedy’s brain with another, and then patching up the back of his head to conceal his large wound in order to deny the fatal head shot came from the front.  He supported Robert Knudsen, the White House photographer who took photos of JFK’s fraudulently repaired head. All these men conspired to cover up the truth by literally covering up of the hole in the back of the president’s head.  This was betrayal of the highest order.  Treachery close to home.

Yet to learn in detail that Kennedy’s brain was replaced and that his badly damaged brain is missing is matched in depravity with learning that JFK’s arch-enemy, General Curtis LeMay, made sure to quickly return from Canada to attend the autopsy where he sat with others in bleachers, puffing a cigar as Kennedy was cut up and patched like a show piece.  As Kennedy’s most belligerent foe and the real life Dr. Strangelove, one who hated the president and who advocated dropping nuclear weapons on Cuba, Vietnam, the Soviet Union, and using terrorism against the American people to blame on Cuba (Operation Northwoods) – all emphatically repudiated by JFK who thought such suggestions insane and evil – the image of the sadistic LeMay in the autopsy room is haunting.

This chapter also tells us of a National Security Meeting on July 20, 1961 when Allen Dulles and the military urged Kennedy to do a first-strike nuclear attack on the Soviet Union, one of many such attempts that the president rebuffed without hesitation.  Watching this, one cannot help thinking of what is taking place with President Biden, unlike Kennedy, a lifetime war hawk and clearly not in his right mind.  We have been warned.

The concluding chapter is “Fingerprints of Intelligence” and confirms what the first three parts make obvious: that the CIA and its minions killed their own president to prevent him from seeking peace and reconciliation in a world on the edge of nuclear destruction.  We learn all about the CIA’s running of Oswald as a false defector to the Soviet Union and a patsy in JFK’s murder.  We learn how the agency lied repeatedly about its connections to him.  We learn about parallel plots to assassinate Kennedy in Chicago and Tampa with fall guys similar to Oswald waiting in the wings.  We learn how Lyndon Johnson changed Kennedy’s policies in Vietnam, Indonesia, the Congo, etc. immediately after his death and how the military industrial complex won the day.

Oliver Stone tells us this.  And he tells us JFK’s ghost won’t rest.

This documentary makes that clear, but ghosts only have a way of sometimes disturbing consciences when they also know the facts.  JFK: Destiny Betrayed has all the facts one needs to rile one’s conscience, if one watches it, and if one can see through today’s repetition of history as the old Cold War has become the new old Cold War and betrayal rules the day as the CIA has been rehabilitated through insidious propaganda, as if nothing happened in 1963, or it doesn’t matter.

Yet nothing could be more untrue.

Ukraine is no anomaly; it fits the propaganda neatly. President Biden’s 813 billion dollar military budget request does likewise.  As the film makes clear, President John F. Kennedy was killed by the national security state for seeking peace, while our leaders are seeking war.  It’s still the same old story.  The warfare state rules.  That has not changed from the day John Kennedy died.

The only thing that can possibly change is people’s knowledge of the truth and how that can change their consciences to oppose the war promoters.  This film can do the former.  As for the latter, only time will tell.

JFK: Destiny Betrayed is a powerful corrective to the historical amnesia that has settled over the United States.  It is an incandescent example of how the marriage of film and scholarship can produce popular history at its best.  For anyone who wants to understand the new Cold War that is verging on going nuclear, this film is  essential viewing.

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War Crimes, Mental Molestation and Language Rape

The incredible market for human slaughter called war existed thousands of years ago but it was a corner grocery store compared to the multi-trillion dollar moral sewer that represents modern mass murder. Part of what enables imperial and even lesser powers to slaughter at will is a rule book drawn up long ago when there might have been a possibility to just have military personnel chopping one another to bits while leaving the general populace out of the bloodletting. That certainly ended before the 20th century but what has transpired since then and up to the present is, to cite a couple of over-used therefore recognizable labels, a genocidal holocaust that has burned, bombed, shot, stabbed, smothered and shattered bodies, reducing humans to unrecognizable bloody pulp by the hundreds of millions.

The hideous reality of war and its public relations and adverting departments that allegedly inform us about it has people accepting its horror as some sort of natural occurrence like sunset, tides, weather, rather than seeing it as caused by ruling powers battling over their wealth struggles which reduce humanity to commit mass murder under the pretense of it being the natural order of things. Further, rules have been drawn by upper class educated folks with doctoral degrees legalizing mass murder who teach us just what is the proper way to bash in skulls, burn people to death and rape and murder in a supposedly civilized way.

The alleged morality of humans accepting one form of insanely hysterical murder as long as it adheres to a guidebook on the proper form of slaughter should make us all grateful there is no judgmental, vindictive old testament deity or we’d all have been destroyed after the second world war let alone after our profitable feasts of death since then when we’ve murdered even more.

This closely guarded secret that humanity suffers in wars but only when rationalizations of bloody filth called “war crimes” are committed is currently being used and abused in a form of language, thought and moral degeneracy that may finally end when human consciousness, especially American, rejects the degenerate advertising and public relations blitz posing as reporting to blame Russians for what is called by language perverts their “war crime” against the Ukrainian government. Said government is a product of a U.S. financed insurrection that dumped an elected president who favored Russia for a western political pimp favoring market forces, which include some modern Nazis.

While he has become a celebrity among morals free political employees of ruling power by informing everyone to send him weapons so that there can be more bloodshed of the loving, violence free western kind, the western world has increased military spending to record breaking figures. Our rulers, media employee shepherds, see to it that our population is reduced to sheep as much of the world is angrier than ever at the machinations of the warfare business though you’d never know it if all you had was the western media called a free press. They create mentally brutalized souls into paying hundreds of dollars for taco-pizza-burgers and calling it free food.

While Ukrainians have been dying by the thousands for the past eight years, subject to a US/NATO financed and controlled assault, Americans and the west have known absolutely nothing of what was going on and not until Russian retaliation have we heard repeated use of words like brutal, savage, slaughter and worse, to condemn what under normal American circumstances would be called a form of legal police action to purify the world and see to it that peace, love and tranquility would prevail as we slaughtered. Maybe after everyone was dead?

A nation that leads all others in conducting wars against weaker countries and murdering hundreds of thousands, at the least, and millions, at the worst, is not only bellowing murderous nonsense but manipulating good, well meaning people into swallowing editorial garbage that has some decent folks almost ready to pawn their pets to send money to suffering Ukrainians. Even worse, some perverted by venomous outpourings of what would be called vicious hate speech if conducted by anyone else, are ready to accept the potential of nuclear war in order to stop the horrible slaughter which mostly exists between the ears and comes out of the mouths of our thought police working overtime for our ruling powers.

A recent story headlined a murderous, bloody, brutal assault by Russians, which had killed two people at the time the story was filed. Sadly but horrendously over-stated in a nation which kills 4-5 Americans every hour in our private transport system of undeclared road wars to get us to work, shop, school, and conduct other freedom loving democratic economic action. This while the sanctions against Russia are causing serious economic pain the world over, including to Americans, while military spending and the mass murder business that is the backbone of our incredibly gross national product is growing faster and more dangerously and fossil fuel interests profit more than ever as environmental destruction proceeds at a more menacing pace.

This assault on reason, combined with the rape of language and the reduction of public consciousness to the level of a nation of insects, is really only an update of what has been going on for more than 100 years concerning Russia. The assault on that nation began in 1917 when the Russian revolution threatened capitalism, its global center then as now in the United States. America immediately invaded along with a group of its future lapdogs which eventually became NATO after the Second World War. The idea of a return to humanity’s roots by building a society based on communal cooperation rather than competitive actions which created wonderful benefits for some but only by reducing others to dreadful lives was too much for fanatics of the fundamentalist church of capital.

Our primitive communistic survival in the days before we destroyed hunter-gatherer people meant that when the hunt was successful, everyone ate meat and when it wasn’t, everyone ate what was gathered. This was thousands of years before vegan diets and anti-meat worship among good people who comfortably house 136 million pets in a nation where more than 500,000 humans are without shelter. The pet business was good for more than 104 billion in 2020, a mass of economic clout but still chump change compared to the 778 billion for war, which involves 750 American bases in 80 foreign countries for something calling itself “defense”. This protected folks like George Floyd from the brutal, savage, bloodthirsty fiend Putin, but was totally helpless to defend him from a few Americans with badges.

A communist ideal which held that a thousand people and a thousand loaves of bread should mean a loaf of bread for everyone sickened rich capitalists who insisted that some should get ten loaves each and the rest be damned, which is the gross foundation dressed in economic jargon that would make a house of prostitution a citadel of love. Capital said that just as sex workers made a decent living by using their private parts to make private profits for their pimps, workers of all kinds could live comfortably if they just did their jobs and didn’t ask any questions. Their media saw to it that unquestioners became everyday people.

The social seeds planted by people like Marx and Engels in the 19th century came to fruition early in the 20th in Russia, and the vicious assault on that nation began, then as now, from its headquarters in America. After 70 years of continuous physical and mental assault finally helped cause a breakdown of the Soviet Union and a return to capitalism, that was still not enough and the U.S. and its imperial lackeys kept up the war and its present experience which threatens the worst outcome for humanity. This will hopefully not only bring China and Russia closer but the people of the USA and global humanity together to transcend the danger by helping to end the degeneracy of warfare and create peace via the end of an imperial crusade to further enrich billionaires and their upper class servants while increasing mass poverty and the environmental threat to us all.

With daily by the minute assaults on consciousness reducing other wise good people to hateful idiocy demanding death for the savage Putin and evil Russians, there is glee among the perverted political economic leadership of the war business. They number a tiny group with power supposedly democratic while they brainwash people into believing autocracy – a term most hardly understand – is in charge everywhere but where it exists; in what we have been taught to believe is the free world. Benign (?) America billionaires become malevolently evil (ominous background music) Russian oligarchs, according to our mind shapers who neglect to point out they keep their wealth in the same banks – mostly American or at least using American dollars – to perform as charming space travelers or deranged killers, depending on national origin.

This perverse market freedom continues to mean imperial abuse by one nation, ours, while taxpayers absorb a debt of 30 trillion dollars paying for the empire which is bringing us all closer to a point at which we will have little time left as a human race. We need to begin acting like one very soon. That means far more than waving a Ukrainian flag and sending paychecks to the pimps of war, but no longer accepting their crimes against nature and beginning to act like what we are: a human race badly in need of global democracy to stop all wars, not just those we are told are the wrong way to butcher humans, and begin life. That calls for the end of the post World War II domination of the American empire and this present horror is hopefully a sign that it will be so. We need to turn off the anti-social media that insure further private profit and ultimate public loss and turn on humanity’s original instinct for cooperation. And hurry.

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President Joe Biden seeks to Destroy Russia and Punish the Russian People

Who, really, is the War Criminal?

So what does President Joe Biden want the sanctions imposed on Russia to do? Think back to the 1990s and what the US-NATO imposed no-fly zone and sanctions did to the people of Iraq?  The results were almost 1 million Iraqis dead, according to the website GlobalIssues.org.

Over at truthout.org, Jake Batinga reported that President Joe Biden strongly supported those sanctions as a US Senator and recently has turned a blind eye to the humanitarian crisis unfolding in Afghanistan:

Senator Biden strongly supported the sanctions and advocated for even more aggressive policies toward Iraq. Biden was not then, and is not now, known for his humanitarian impulses or dovish foreign policy stances.

Batinga also notes that:

More Afghans are poised to die from US sanctions over the next few months alone than have died at the hands of the Taliban and US military forces over the last 20 years combined — by a significant margin. Yet, as journalist Murtaza Hussain recently wrote, US establishment politicians and intellectuals who decried the humanitarian crisis during the fall of Kabul are seemingly unbothered by imminent mass starvation, imposed by us.

The Biden administration — which routinely laments human rights violations perpetrated by China, Iran, Russia, and other adversaries — is ignoring desperate pleas from humanitarian organizations and UN human rights bodies, choosing instead to maintain policies virtually guaranteed to cause mass starvation and death of civilians, especially children. Yet it is important to note, and remember, that as a matter of policy, this is not particularly new; the US has often imposed harsh economic sanctions, causing mass civilian death. A previous imposition of sanctions resulted in one of the worst humanitarian catastrophes, one largely forgotten in mainstream historical memory.

In 1990, the US imposed sanctions on Iraq through the UN following the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. These sanctions continued for more than a decade after Iraq withdrew from Kuwait, and had horrific humanitarian consequences eerily similar to the imminent mass starvation of Afghan civilians. The sanctions regime against Iraq — which began under President George H.W. Bush but was primarily administered by President Bill Clinton’s administration — froze Iraq’s foreign assets, virtually banned trade, and sharply limited imports. These sanctions crashed the Iraqi economy and blocked the import of humanitarian supplies, medicine, food, and other basic necessities, killing scores of civilians.

BRIC’s Made of Straw

The BRIC nations, Brazil, Russia, India and China have been in the news lately and for good reason. There is talk, and talk is cheap, of course, of China and Russia creating an alternative payment system to the US dollar dominated international payments system SWIFT.

Already Russia has joined China’s Cross Border Interbank Payment System as an alternative to SWIFT, along with joining China’s UnionPay credit card system which serves as an alternative to Visa and Master Card who, along with dozens of other Western country businesses (Europe, USA plus Japan and South Korea), bolted Russia’s marketplace after its military operation got started in Ukraine in late February.

India apparently is trading with Russia in a rupee, ruble swap but that seems ad hoc, at best. And there is news of Saudi Arabia cutting a deal with China to use the yuan as an exchange currency. Brazil has enough internal problems to deal with: crime, disease, Amazon deforestation.

Chinese leaders must realize that if Russia falters in Ukraine which means it is unable to liberate the Republics of Luhansk and Donetsk, gain international recognition of Crimea—and maintain territorial gains made on the coast of the Black and Azov Seas—and/or President Putin is removed from office and Russia destabilizes, the United States will chop up Russia into separate republics, steal its resources and cancel the billions in deals signed with China for oil, gas, and grains

The United States will bring the NATO military alliance to China’s doorstep and likely put on show trials in the International Criminal Court arguing that Putin and his general staff are war criminals, which would be utter nonsense given US policies and actions in Iraq, Afghanistan and Yemen.

China is trying to placate the US because it still fears US economic and military power. Its party officials probably figure that they can keep building up the People’s Liberation Army, Navy, Air Force and Strategic nuclear capability and when there is enough firepower, will be able to challenge US dominance in the Pacific. But how?

The PLA forces have no modern combat experience to speak of and their plan seems to be; well, no plan at all. They are faced with the combined forces of the USA that are building new aircraft carriers, submarines and long distance B-21 bombers, along with upgrading all three legs of its nuclear TRIAD.

Which brings us back to Russia and the economic support it needs so that Biden’s sanctions don’t end up killing a million Russians. Because that is what Biden intends and his track record on supporting sanctions is disturbingly clear. When China looks at what the USA-NATO have done to the Russian economy, they are looking at their own future.

Hypocrisy

Joe Scalice at the World Socialist Website notes the hypocrisy of the USA-NATO and the compliant MSM Western media:

The wars of aggression of Clinton, Bush, Obama and Trump contained the accumulated evil of the torture in Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo, the drone bombing of children at play, villages leveled by precision missiles and refugees drowned in the Mediterranean. Baghdad crumbled beneath the shock and awe of unstinting US bombing; Fallujah burned with white phosphorus.

The American mass media is complicit in these crimes. They never challenged the government’s assertions, but trumpeted its pretexts. They whipped up a war-frenzy in the public. Pundits who now denounce Putin were ferocious in demanding that the United States bomb civilians.

Thomas Friedman wrote in the New York Times in 1999 of the bombing of Serbia under Clinton, “It should be lights out in Belgrade: every power grid, water pipe, bridge, road and war-related factory has to be targeted… [W]e will set your country back by pulverizing you. You want 1950? We can do 1950. You want 1389? We can do 1389 too.” [Biden supported bombing Belgrade]

Biden labels Putin a war criminal in the midst of a new media hysteria. Never referring to the actions of the United States, never pausing for breath, the media pumps out the fuel for an ever-expanding war. Hubris and hypocrisy stamp every statement from Washington with an audacity perhaps unique in world history. Its hands bathed in blood up to the elbows, US empire gestures at its enemies and cries war crimes.

Tactics

Indeed, the media has capitulated to the war propaganda narrative of the Biden Administration. The US MSM relies almost exclusively on Ukrainian sources for its error filled reporting. If you are reading the New York Times or the Washington Post, you aren’t getting the full story. Pro-Russia sites like Southfront, Newsfront, War Gonzo and others tell a different story. For example, the Retroville Mall destruction on March 21 was reported in the West as a wanton and random attack on a shopping place. In fact, the below-building parking lot was home to Ukrainian military vehicles clearly shown by a set of photos that appeared on Newsfront. Residential buildings are clearly being used by the Ukrainian forces to hide their weapons or launch anti-tank attacks from apartment building roofs or top floor apartments. That’s a tactic that makes sense. The Russians know that.

You’ve got to look at all the news sources, even the ones you don’t want to view, in order to be informed about this conflict.

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The Crisis in Ukraine is a Planetary Crisis Provoked by the U.S. that Threatens Nuclear War

Let us begin a conversation in response to what currently qualifies as the most profound question, the one that needs most urgently to be addressed if we are to have any chance of understanding what we conveniently refer to as the “Ukraine crisis.” This is, more accurately, a planetary crisis—close in magnitude to the near-certainty of species extinction within the next century, but in some ways ahead of secondary catastrophes such as the obscene, raging inequality between peoples and nations unleashed by President Ronald Reagan and UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in the early 1980s, and the global conglomerations of immense corporate and plutocratic power.

Why is it, then, that the three most important power alliances of the Western and Eurasian worlds—North America, led by the United States alongside its “Trudeauesque” poodle and with the problematic connivance of Mexico’s López Obrador; the European Union and post-Brexit UK; and the Russian Federation, in wobbly alliance with China—consider it worthwhile to suffer intensification of the risks of nuclear annihilation? This, in the face of an abundance of routes available for peaceful settlement, given a minimum of goodwill and genuine humanitarian concern?

In the case of Russia, we know very well what these reasons are because Russia has told us—clearly, consistently, loudly, and transparently—for more than 15 years. First and foremost, Russia resents the West’s violation of its unmistakable and supremely important pledge to President Gorbachev in 1990 that the power of NATO would not move one further inch eastward. Secretary of State James Baker gave this commitment at least three times on February 9 that year. This was in return for Russian acquiescence to the tragic error of German reunification, paving the way for an accelerating renaissance of an aggressively militarized and potentially neo-Nazi European hegemon.

President George H. W. Bush (left) with the Soviet leader, Mikhail Gorbachev, and U.S. Secretary of State James Baker (right) in 1989. (Credit: theguardian.com)

Yet in place of the 16 members of NATO that existed in 1990, we today have 30, and Ukraine is more and more desperately knocking on the door, conceivably to be followed by Georgia, Finland and Sweden. Current U.S. President Joe Biden, whose son enjoyed a senior place on the board of Ukraine energy giant Burisma, played a key role in that process of enlargement. The U.S. and Russia possess more than 90% of the world’s nuclear weapons, around 4,000 each.

But the United States has deployed its weapons far closer to Russia than Russia has deployed weapons close to the U.S. (each power also has fleets of nuclear submarines: in 2018 the U.S. had 14, against Russia’s 12). The United States has positioned nuclear defense/offense capabilities close to Russian borders in countries such as Poland and Romania. There are between 160 and 240 U.S. atomic bombs in NATO countries, of which 50 to 90 are stored in Turkey, a NATO member. Britain (225) and France (300) have their own sizeable nuclear arsenals.

(Source: atlanticcouncil.org)

Although it is commonly presumed that a nuclear exchange would quickly move from incremental (if there is any moderation at all) to massive, assessments as to how a nuclear war would actually pan out are extremely complicated for both technological and geopolitical reasons. It is not beyond comprehension that a conflict might be confined to so-called low-yield nuclear bombs or mini-nukes. Nor is it at all certain that nuclear weapons will all work as they are supposed to (in fact, it is reasonable to presume they will not). Many uncertainties attend the newest generation of hypersonic missiles. And the functionality of so-called missile defense systems is perhaps most of all in question.

In addition, there is the issue of the weaponization of nuclear reactors, which is to say their conversion into weapons by missile or other form of strike, whether intentional or otherwise. There are 15 reactors in Ukraine, and another 123 in Europe. The U.S. has 93, Russia 38. Not least is the danger of nuclear accident, which almost certainly increases in the context of accelerating tensions between countries at least one of which possesses nuclear weapons or countries that can strike the nuclear facilities or reactors of other countries. There have been at least a dozen or so near misses since the U.S. dropped nuclear weapons on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945.

Although their deliberate use by the United States that year is the only time that nuclear weapons have actually been fired in conflict, there have been many instances in which the use of nuclear weapons has been seriously considered. Peter Kuznick and Oliver Stone, in their book The Untold History of the United States, relate several instances in which U.S. presidents have given serious consideration to their use. This featured in Winston Churchill’s Operation Unthinkable, formulated within weeks of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It contemplated a nuclear strike against Soviet Russia.

The Pentagon developed at least nine such first-strike nuclear war plans before the Soviets tested their first atomic bomb in 1949. The 1949 Dropshot plan envisaged 300 nuclear bombs and 20,000 tons of conventional bombs on 200 targets in 100 urban areas, including Moscow and Leningrad (St. Petersburg). Fortunately, the U.S. did not have sufficient weaponry for the purpose at that time.

(Source: express.co.uk)

In the United States and its allies, Russia confronts an adversary which is the only country ever to have used nuclear weapons on another, although this made little concrete difference to the outcome of the Second World War. This is also an adversary which has many times since considered using nuclear weapons again, which tolerates the acquisition of nuclear weapons by its closest allies (e.g., Britain, France, Israel) and bitterly opposes even the faintest possibility of their acquisition by its opponents (e.g., North Korea and Iran).

It is an adversary which fails to keep even its most important promises (e.g., about not allowing NATO to expand), a country which abrogates important treaties (as did Bush in abrogating the ABM treaty in 2002), and which has crowned itself as the rightful hegemon, entitled to crush any power, global or regional, that would dare challenge its hegemonic status (as in the “Wolfowitz doctrine” 1992, progenitor of the Bush doctrine in 2002 by which the U.S. entitles itself to preemptive war).

Paul Wolfowitz (Source: geopoliticsca.ru)

The U.S.’s credibility in international relations is profoundly undermined by: a long history of invasions and occupations of other powers—most egregiously, perhaps, in the case of Afghanistan 2001-2021, or that of Iraq (2003-2021), which can be counted along with many dozens of other instances since World War Two; overt and covert military interventions, with or without the consent of legitimate authorities, often reckless and cruel; fomenting of regime-change “color revolutions” as in Ukraine 2004 and 2014; and universal meddling with elections and political processes as in the activities of organizations such as Cambridge Analytica, and its parent Strategic Communications Limited, and the National Endowment for Democracy.

Not least is its equally long-established history of lying, just about everything, but particularly in matters of war. The Pentagon Papers, exposed by Daniel Ellsberg in 1971 with respect to the Vietnam War, or the so-called Afghanistan Papers, gathered into book form by Craig Whitlock in 2021, should be sufficient cause for considerable alarm in this respect.

There is a context here of a profound U.S.-led, multi-media and multi-targeted anti-Russia propaganda campaign that dates to the accession to the Russian presidency of Vladimir Putin in 1999-2000. It builds on previous relentless Cold War propaganda against the Soviet Union (which had us all thinking this titanic struggle was all about capitalism versus communism when it was really just about who could steal the most from the developing world), and on an even more distant anti-Russian campaign stretching back at least as far as the Crimean War of 1853-56—all chronicled by Gerald Sussmann, among others, in 2020.

(Source: Russia-now.com)

To this must now be added recent unfounded or presumptive anti-Russian harassment regarding an incessant and unlikely litany of all manner of accusations. These include the shooting down of MH17 in 2014; the attempted assassination of Sergei Skripal in 2018; purported collusion with Syrian President Assad over the use of chemical weapons; and, the most dramatic fable of all, alleged Russian hacking of DNC/DCCC servers and interference in the 2016 U.S. elections.

Russia has had every reason for deep distrust of the United States and its NATO and European allies. In addition, as I have chronicled elsewhere, we must take account of US/EU/NATO abetment to the illegal Euromaidan coup d’état of 2014 that was staged against a democratically elected president in 2014, just months away from scheduled elections, and whose muscle was provided by long-established Ukrainian neo-Nazi movements implicated in the assassinations of hundreds of protestors in Kiev and Odessa. To secure “legitimacy” and to stuff the coup legislature with their own people, the new leaders were obliged to ban the country’s major political parties, including the Party of the Regions and the Communist Party.

Scene from the 2014 Euromaidan coup. (Source: inquiriesjournal.com)

Terrified by the anti-Russian threats of the coup leaders, the largely pro-Russian population of Crimea (including Sebastopol, Russia’s major Black Sea port, held on long-lease from Ukraine and where Russia was entitled to maintain thousands of soldiers) voted to secede from Ukraine and to seek annexation by Russia.

In the significantly pro-Russian Donbass, citizens established the independent republics of Donetsk and Luhansk. Kiev has never deigned to negotiate directly with the republics, with its own citizens, but has instead, having lost the initial war, violently subjected residents to extensive shelling (with most of the casualties taking place in the republics) and spitefully withdrawn all social security protections.

Workers bury the dead in Slovyansk in Eastern Ukraine where mass graves were found (Source: hrw.org)

The republics did not seek annexation by Russia, nor did Russia entertain annexation. Instead, Russia negotiated the Minsk agreements through the “Normandy Round” in 2015-2016. This sought and agreed to greater autonomy for Donetsk and Luhansk within Ukraine. Unwilling or unable to combat its neo-Nazi extremists, Kiev proved unable to implement Minsk, nor did the international community, other than Russia, exert pressure on Kiev to make it happen.

It would have taken unusual credulity and naivety on the part of Russian leaders not to have concluded by 2022 that the U.S. and, with some exceptions, its NATO and EU allies, were resolutely and unforgivingly hostile to Russia.

Russia, having explored the possibility of accession to NATO in the 1990s and been rejected, resigned to the provocative continuation of NATO not just beyond the collapse of the Soviet Union—the very reason for NATO’s existence—but even beyond the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact in 1991. It has been targeted close to its borders by U.S./NATO nuclear weapons that are mockingly and ludicrously described as defenses against Iran’s (non-existent) nuclear missiles, and routinely humiliated and threatened by massive annual NATO military exercises along its borders and the Black Sea.

Members of the U.S. Marine Corps perform military exercise in (now Russian-occupied) Kherson on July 28, 2021 (Source: reuters.com)

Further, it has to listen to Ukrainian President and former clown Volodymyr Zelensky plead for speedier access of Ukraine to NATO membership (extending just days ago to a demand for the placement of nuclear weapons in Ukraine) and for a no-fly zone.

As such it could have had no reasonable hope ever to be freed of the scourge of U.S./EU/NATO salivation for the break-up of the Russian Federation and unregulated freedom for Western capital, as prelude to the Western world’s ultimate confrontation with China.

Whether Russian military exercises on the Russian side of the border with Ukraine from the end of 2021 were intended from the beginning as a platform for invasion is not clear. The invasion may have been provoked by the intensification of Ukrainian army assaults against the Donbass.

Incessant, even hysterical, U.S. warnings of a Russian invasion may themselves have provoked exactly that outcome if it seemed to Russia that the United States was determined to stage any kind of provocation that would have made it impossible for Russia to resist.

Presuming, surely correctly, that the U.S./NATO has long expected and salivated for a conflict that would provide sufficient pretext for the extermination of the Russian Federation, Russia decided on a measure of preemptive advantage at a singular moment when Russia possibly enjoys nuclear superiority over the West because of its further advance (at budgets a small fraction of those enjoyed by its adversary, whose military procurement practices are rife with corruption) of hypersonic missiles and a developing alliance with China.

Putin has indicated willingness to keep moving until Russia conquers the entire territory of Ukraine. The more he can acquire, the more he can negotiate with. At the time of writing the areas under control resemble the buffer zone created by Turkey along its border with northwestern Syria and by the U.S. along Syria’s northeastern border. This seizure of the land of a sovereign nation to add to Turkish security from what it regards as the Kurdish threat, and which it is using to hold the most extremist jihadist groups that the West and others have exploited in their efforts to destabilize the Syrian government, did not occasion the squeals of indignation from Western media that we now hear from them with regard to Ukraine.

Russian-controlled territory in Ukraine as of March 1, 2022 (Source: bbc.com)

Nor did the U.S. grab for Syria’s oil fields, and for its most fertile agricultural land, under proxy Kurdish control. And when the refugees from the U.S. wars of choice in Iraq, Syria and Libya reached the gates of Europe they were inhumanely humiliated and turned away (even allowing for a surprising measure of German generosity). Unlike whiter refugees from Ukraine into Poland and other neighbors. The oozing hypocrisy of Western self-righteousness is merely par for the course.

These considerations therefore help us to understand Russian preparedness to risk nuclear conflict. Indeed, it is possible that for Russia there is now no going back on the path to potential Armageddon. The decision to avert catastrophe has been thrown resolutely into the Western court. But what about the U.S. and its European allies? They are not in too great a hurry for the ultimate wet dream of Russian dissolution, although sooner would likely be more gratifying than later. For the moment, the conflict is well worth it, for as long as it is only Ukrainians who pay the ultimate price. Zelensky’s greatest folly has been to recklessly offer his country and its people as ground zero for World War Three.

Volodymyr Zelensky (Source: marca.com)

Short-term benefits for the West include a potential fillip to Joe Biden’s otherwise steep decline in domestic popularity. War has been the eternal answer to internal instability. It is too soon to say that the Ukraine crisis will help bridge the gulf between Democrats and Republicans, but there is a chance of some measure of healing, perhaps just enough to weaken the hold of the pro-Trump wing of the Republican Party.

This in turn could be deeply reassuring to the military-industrial complex (or, as Ray McGovern calls it, the MICIMATT—the military-industrial-congressional-intelligence-media-academic-think tank complex) whose distrust for Trump’s wavering on Putin provided fertile ground for the success of the Clinton campaign’s fabrication of the Russiagate saga.

Although Biden followed up on a shockingly incompetent withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2021—alongside signs of a final exit from Iraq and from Syria—with a multi-billion dollar increase in the military budget, he has since advocated a further increase of 8% in 2022-2023.

Since this is close to the rate of inflation, the weapons lobby will doubtless require another 4% or so, if they are being modest (unlikely), and a sharp increase in European tension will not only boost their cause for a further budget increase but will greatly incentivize the demand for weapons for years to come.

The bloated U.S. 17-agency Intelligence community and its underworld of private contractors will be delighted that, for the first time in a generation, their intelligence (on the Russian invasion, at least) has been perceived by many to be correct, and that, for the first time in a generation, it is not a U.S. war of choice that must be lied about. Such a glorious moment of self-righteousness will go far in the propaganda business. So long as Intelligence can manipulate and coopt corporate, plutocratic, mainstream media, the extent and depth of previous U.S. evils need never prove an obstacle to beating the drums for perpetual war. The mainstream media can be relied upon to foreshorten the narrative, pull in the context, focus on only one side, demonize and personalize. Intelligence will always help with fabrication of what counts as “real.”

The Ukraine crisis upends the energy markets in a way that puts even broader smiles on the faces of fossil-fuel bosses. The forced closure of Russia’s Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline from Russia to the rest of Europe will create an involuntary European appetite for (more expensive) U.S. LNG exports.

(Source: nationalworld.com)

The brunt of energy price increases will be suffered more by Europe than by the United States. Combined with growing European dependence on the U.S., the impoverishment of Europe is to the U.S.’s advantage, under the scope of the Wolfowitz doctrine, and sustains the buffer between Russia and the continental U.S. Pressure on the U.S. to return to a policy of self-sufficiency in energy will reinvigorate public tolerance for fracking and drilling, for pipelines and spills and fires (if the world is going to end in any case.).

On the downside, from a U.S. perspective, higher energy prices will boost the Russian economy and sustain its servicing of Chinese and other Asian markets, provided they can work around U.S. sanctions (they will).

Ukraine is a test of Chinese resolve in its move toward Russia, reminding it of the economic threats to Chinese interests from U.S. sanctions in countries of the Belt and Road initiative. But this will not be sufficient to shift China from what must surely be its conclusion that the United States is irredeemably wedded to the vision of a perpetually unipolar U.S. world.

In Europe, the crisis will help Conservative Prime Minister Boris Johnson escape decapitation over the embarrassment of the “Partygate” scandal. It has already enhanced President Macron’s bid to appear statesmanlike in the face of upcoming elections in April, and his ability to ward off threats from the extreme right. But mainly, the crisis will benefit Germany which, in recent years, has broken free of its punitive post-war chains not only to burnish its long-established economic primacy but to rebuild and modernize its military, and to send arms to Ukraine. The sleazy proto-fascist governments of several new East European and former Soviet Union governments will feel similarly enabled and justified.

But all these short-term outcomes notwithstanding, nobody should discount the possibility, short of a robust peace agreement, of nuclear war. If not a nuclear war, then prepare for a protracted global recession, if not depression.

The sorrowful-but-gritty public faces of Europe’s equivalent to MICIMATT—Europe’s financial, plutocratic, military and intelligence elites—are President of the European Union Ursula von der Leyen, and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. Along with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, and French President Emmanuel Macron, it will be their faces we need to first scrutinize for a heads-up as to whether, finally, there is to be a public climb-down in the face of Russia’s nuclear checkmate. For that, indeed, is what it appears to be.

• First published in CovertAction Magazine

The post The Crisis in Ukraine is a Planetary Crisis Provoked by the U.S. that Threatens Nuclear War first appeared on Dissident Voice.

What Imaginary Incubators Can Teach Us About Ukraine

(my book from 2004)

When I write or post about the blatant propaganda swirling around the situation in Ukraine, some people get angry… at me. They don’t want to accept the truth so they take my highly-researched analysis personally. In turn, some will even attack me personally. I’ve been doing this a long time so I’m used to it and it will not deter me. With such programming in mind, I’ll once again offer one of the many, many examples of what passes for “normal” in the Home of the Brave™

After being invaded by Iraq on Aug. 2, 1990, the government of Kuwait funded as many as 20 public relations, law, and lobby firms to marshal world opinion in its favor. One such firm was NYC-based Hill & Knowlton (H&K), which was paid at least $12 million to conspire with the Kuwaiti government.

As part of this effort, H&K conducted a study to discern the most effective method for garnering widespread U.S. support in the defense of Kuwait. Put more bluntly: They were hired to find the quickest-acting propaganda. In no time, the answer was clear: emphasize the atrocities (real or imagined) committed by Iraqi soldiers. Enter “Nurse Nayirah” from Kuwait (see above photo).

On Oct. 10, 1990 — without her background ever being vetted — Nayirah gave testimony to the Congressional Human Rights Caucus of the U.S. Congress. She tearfully described witnessing Iraqi troops stealing incubators from a hospital, leaving 312 babies “on the cold floor to die.” (watch below video)

In reality, “Nurse Nayirah” was the 15-year-old daughter of Saud Al-Sabah, the Kuwaiti ambassador to the United States. She was an aspiring actress and the story was an elaborate hoax. Nayirah’s false testimony was part of H&K’s well-funded conspiracy of deception.

All this came out too late to prevent mass slaughter — with no complaint from U.S. government officials, of course. For example, Brent Scowcroft, President Bush’s national security adviser at the time, claimed ignorance about the plot but admitted: “It was useful in mobilizing public opinion.”

President George H.W. Bush repeated Nayirah’s fabrication multiple times as he rounded up Congressional support for his war plans in the months following her testimony. By way of justifying their “aye” votes, 7 U.S. senators also quoted Nayirah in their own speeches. The resolution passed on Jan. 14, 1991. Two days later (after months of deadly sanctions), the coalition bombing commenced.

To accurately document the human cost in Iraq since Nayirah’s performance would require another full article. For now, I’ll leave you with findings from the London School of Economics in 2006: Between 1991 and 1998, there were an estimated 380,000 and 480,000 excess child deaths in Iraq due to the U.S.-led military actions and economic sanctions.

The cruel irony is that deceitful testimony about murdered Kuwaiti children — as part of a well-orchestrated conspiracy — directly led to innumerable Iraqi children losing their lives over the next three decades.

When attempting to unravel the behaviors of today’s ruling class, it helps to understand their actions in the past. Rather than getting angry at those who dash your red, white, and blue delusions about the US of A, do a little homework, educate yourself, and accept reality. It’s the only way anything will ever change.

The post What Imaginary Incubators Can Teach Us About Ukraine first appeared on Dissident Voice.