Category Archives: US Military

How Different Classes in Russia Feel About Yankeedom, China and Europe: More Letters from Russia

Dear Barbara,

I hope that my email finds you and Bruce in good health and doing fine.

I will try to answer your interesting questions, please note that my answers are from my personal point of view, it is built on daily observations, readings, talking to different people, and even watching tv now and then, with no pretenses whatsoever.

How would you characterize the class structure in Russia in terms of upper class, upper-middle class, middle class, and working class?

The super-rich and oligarchs: This thin social layer is an entity by itself, it owns assets and shares in the big companies, banks and financial institutions. There is an uneasy peace between them and the government that regularly gathers them and “politely” reminds them of their social responsibilities and where their riches came from. They are at the present untouchable due to the fact that some of them are on boards of companies belonging to the state or near persons holding high positions in the government. That is when the political situation becomes corruptible.

The upper-middle class include the upper echelons of the government bureaucracy, the top management of companies, banks and financial institutions and people holding valuable assets (immovable and moveable). There is very little upward movement, the danger of moving downwards exists.

The middle class: mostly concentrated in the cities, professionals, engineers, teachers, doctors, small lawyers, office workers, shop owners, and small businessmen.  This is a relatively new class for Russia. Dynamic with porous boundaries, the danger of slipping to its lower level is higher than making a leap into its higher level or to the upper-middle class.

The working class is the most interesting and complex class. The classic working class person is in the military industrial complex, metallurgy, auto industry, oil and gas, power generation, and all types of transportation.  The upper classes make a point of a pretense of treating them well which includes salaries, perks and bonuses. Construction is a big part of the economy. Skilled workers are mainly Russians or citizens of the Russian Federation. There is a big part of the low skill jobs that are done by migrants from republics of what once was the Soviet Union. Their numbers are significant, including, janitors and, delivery workers.  They mostly do not integrate and hold on to their religion (mostly Muslim). Some of them are involved in misdemeanors and crimes, which are blown up and generalized to a whole nation or region. This is a sharp weapon in the hands of the authorities, pitting the migrants against locals. There is much more to be said but I will leave it for other occasions.

How do the different classes feel about “The Oligarchs” (billionaires in Russia) – do they think they deserve what they have?

I am afraid that my reply to this question is going to be a short one because there are no ambiguities or subtleties. Once again in my opinion it is not just a matter of class but a nearly unanimous negative attitude, especially from the working and middle classes and even from some of the upper classes. The Communists and left are just itching to nationalize some industries or at least have a better tax law. Fortunately, the majority of the people see the oligarchs as acquiring their fortunes like in Gustave Myers book History of Great American Fortunes as not having earned it.

What’s the range of differences in how the Russian people see the American people?

The range is narrow, and it does not depend on class.  Rather, it depends on age and the change in subtle things like music, art, and clothing.  I think that the average Russian attitude is negative, this is especially true for people older than 25 years. It is also a reaction to the US and western policies in demonizing and humiliating the Russian people. A western person a priori thinks that he is superior, and this not only on official state levels but in the mentality of the ordinary person. It is ubiquitous in art, literature, and Hollywood. From Harry Truman to Joe Biden nothing much has changed.

The Russian reaction was predictable, I am now mentioning daily stuff – not high politics or economics. It all started by making fun of the Americans and their ignorance about the history and geography of Russia, as well as their traditions and literature. Allow me to tell you one of the more famous stories of a well-known comedian (Mikhail Zadornov) who passed away not so long ago.

A Russian is traveling to the US to visit his friend, at the customs when they open his suitcase, they find a bunch of small branches (around 50 cm) tied together. The inspectors immediately are very suspicious. The Russian tries to explain that these branches are for the Sauna where they dip them in water and lightly hit each other (this is the Russian way and Sauna for some is like a religion, they can talk endlessly about which trees should be chosen for the best smell). The inspector’s eyes become like saucers. “This guy is not only a narcotic maniac, he is also sadomasochistic.”

I am not being flippant. I just want to show that ignorance and prejudice from nuclear policy to sauna lead us to making stupid decisions.

At the present the majority of the Russians, as a reaction to all the Russophobia, sanctions against any kind of activity, from industry and science to art and sport have really stiffened their stance against Americans. There is a set of people, belonging to the TV, cinema as well as some economists, and sports celebrities who are pro-western, which is not exactly pro American.  Anyway, many of them have left Russia after the beginning of the conflict with Ukraine. I should point out that in a real capitalistic society, a filmmaker or a painter is on his own in making his life. In Russia the majority receive help from the government on a regular basis. It is especially galling to the Russian taxpayer, who thinks his money is being wasted on someone who curses his country.

The Russians reacted coolly to the departure of US brands of fast food and clothes. This left many Americans wondering. Russia is not what it was in the 1990s. This is a different time. Russians now bring up their children not to eat fast food and drink soda pop (not always successfully), just like any sane parent in the US would do.

How do the different classes in Russia feel about China?

I do not think it is just a matter of classes. Defining how the Russians feel about China should be according to a number of factors that would include class. At the present there are two more or less evident trends. The first trend is supported by the state, the left, Communists and some of the nationalists who support strong ties with China on many levels. The Russians want to be sure that the Chinese have their backs through the Chinese Silk Road project and the Russian oil and gas supply to China. The liberals and pro-westerners try to find fault in any Chinese initiative.

However, all that being said, there is the human, psychological factor that broadly affects a significant number of Russians. There are cases when it is definitive and that is race. Many Russians, as most Europeans, cannot easily rid themselves of their racism that appeared after the disintegration of the Soviet Union. They see themselves as superior and have been taken in by the western propaganda. The ignorance and prejudice regarding Russia about China is colossal in dimension.  Culture and humanitarian sciences are Eurocentric. The Yellow Peril of the early 20th century is alive and well. Anti-Chinese propagandists love to bring up the border conflict that took place in 1969 between the Soviet Union and China.

The Russian Far East regions have a special relationship with China. There are some that welcome trade and financial possibilities while others are afraid that they would swamp their region and take it over. The Chinese buy unprocessed Russian timber from Siberia, and some of the local producers are eager to do this because they get paid in US dollars. The government frowns upon this, and a lot of commotion is raised. Despite their racism, the upper-class businessman is still eager to do business with China. The average man is wary and cautious. It is only the incomprehensible, myopic, bone-headed American foreign policy that is driving Russians to overcome their racism and have more sympathy for the Chinese.

How do the different classes feel about the European continent around the natural gas issue?

Soviet gas reached Germany in 1973 and each side signed a contract for 20 years, after lengthy negotiations. The German side noted that in spite of the different ideologies, all the procedures were very business-like. Since then, the Soviet, and afterwards the Russian supply of gas continued more or less smoothly to Germany and most European countries as well. Countries that have natural resources to sell as a policy diversify their routes of outlet. Just by taking a look at any modern map of gas or pipelines of nearly every producing country one can notice that. Therefore, Russia’s Nord Stream gas pipelines were logical and legitimate, especially if your pipeline passes through territory that is unstable.

The prevailing opinion about Europeans and gas supply has been formed by the fact that Europe has blocked Russian assets that are counted in hundreds of billion dollars, besides stopping the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline. The Russians took a step from their side, dividing the countries that they were supplying with gas into “friendly” and “unfriendly”. The friendly would continue to pay in US dollars or euros while the unfriendly that had blocked Russian assets would pay in Russian rubles. Although the contracts were in US dollars, Russia decided that blocking their assets was a force majeure clause, and they therefore took this step to defend their interests. It is not so much a class issue as it is an issue that affects nearly the whole nation. The majority of the Russians are fed up with Europe, with the gas issue and all the holier-than-thou attitude of nations filled up to their elbows in the blood of the people of the Third World as well.

With affection and respect

HCE

First published at Socialist Planning Beyond Capitalism

The post How Different Classes in Russia Feel About Yankeedom, China and Europe: More Letters from Russia first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Sick and Sicker, Dumb and Dumber, Rich and Richer

Quote — “The US will likely end up supplying Ukraine with Switchblade loitering munitions. The system poses a real threat. Nevertheless, the Russian military will likely use the tactics we saw in Syria to neutralize this threat.” (Southfront)

And, well, it is tax time, and these beasts of a nation — Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians, MSM — they rally around the military offensive murdering complex for, well, billions thrown at the Nazi regime of Ukraine. And I have to pay more taxes on my subpar wages? Give me a few of those drones, please! Billions of dollars thrown at the most corrupt and evil of them all (well, there are many evil ones, so see this as hyperbole). One contract with this outfit, AeroVironment. Looking into that company, I find its current president to be an interesting man:

Wikipedia — Nawabi is an Afghan sub clan mega Barakzai the majority of this clan played an important role during the Barakzai dynasty – such as Ismail Khan Nawabi.

The name Nawabi is borrowed from the Arabic, being the honorific plural of Naib or “deputy”. The name Nawab is mostly used among South Asians. In Bengal it is pronounced Nowab. The English adjective nawabi (from the Urdu word nawwābī) describes anything associated with a nawab.

He says AeroVironment is a great place to work because: “There is no place like AeroVironment where a group of honorable, smart, and hardworking people can make such a big and positive impact on our lives and society. I am excited and honored to lead such a team in order to help all of our 3 stakeholders Proceed with Certainty.”

Wahid Nawabi

Chairman, President & Chief Executive Officer

Yes, the face of the military murdering complex is a smile, a wink, and even a diversity statement validation.

As President and Chief Executive Officer at AEROVIRONMENT INC, Wahid Nawabi made $2,524,773 in total compensation. Of this total $632,319 was received as a salary, $535,513 was received as a bonus, $0 was received in stock options, $1,333,024 was awarded as stock and $23,917 came from other types of compensation. This information is according to proxy statements filed for the 2021 fiscal year. President and Chief Executive Officer. AEROVIRONMENT INC

So, the wink and a nod, all those stock options, all of that base pay, all of it, all predicated on, hmm, contracts. Yes, US GI Joe fed contracts. And, well, a contract is a contract, whether Mario Puzo is writing about it, or if one of the slick female heads of the war complex companies is drafting and signing it. This is one company, which I have previously discussed in general and specifically is really not just one in Santa’s Serial Murder workshops, but one represents dozens of companies (contracted) relying on those contracts for these drones with payloads: wires, optics, diodes, motherboards, paint, metal, gears, etc. Kamikaze drones, what a lovely thing to be proud of, and this company is just one of thousands that makes money off of blood.

The officials told the outlet that the White House is currently considering supplying Ukraine with Switchblades, as part of a new package of military aid. However, they noted that no decisions on the matter have been made, yet.

There are two available variants of the loitering munition, the Switchblade 300 and the 600. The 300 was designed to target personnel and unarmored vehicles. It has a range of 10 kilometers and an endurance of 10 minutes. The larger 600 was designed to destroy armored vehicles, like battle tanks. This version has a range of 80 kilometers and an endurance of up to 20 minutes. (source)

Please, kind reader, look at these people — the website of their team: Aerovironment. For me, they are scary people, for sure, in that they are the paper-pushers and state college grads from engineering programs; they are the marketers, the CPAs and the HR folk. These are what I have faced my entire life teaching — people who have no reservation about making money selling drugs that kill (Big Pharma) or booze that kills or anything that kills, both human or environment. Look at their biographies on the “About Us” page above. This is the banality of evil, and I am afraid, that evil is much much deeper engrained than Hannah Arendt could have conjured up because there is no “great war,” no great global war against Nazis and fascists, as in WWII. It’s all transactional, money for blood, weapons ‘r us!

Under conditions of tyranny it is far easier to act than to think.

— Hannah Arendt, The Human Condition, 1958

I’m not sure she was thinking of the pure structural/sanctions-led/financial tyranny of capitalism, that soft tyranny of western consumerism, the constant inverted tyranny in a world where most First World folk eat, drink, sleep oil. A world that is run by business men and business women, under the umbrella of the Deep State and government thugs. I do not think she was in the know around how pernicious the marketing of lies and evil doing was under the guidance of a fellow Jew, Edward (Freud) Bernays. But she was onto something, for sure:

In an ever-changing, incomprehensible world the masses had reached the point where they would, at the same time, believe everything and nothing, think that everything was possible and that nothing was true. … Mass propaganda discovered that its audience was ready at all times to believe the worst, no matter how absurd, and did not particularly object to being deceived because it held every statement to be a lie anyhow. The totalitarian mass leaders based their propaganda on the correct psychological assumption that, under such conditions, one could make people believe the most fantastic statements one day, and trust that if the next day they were given irrefutable proof of their falsehood, they would take refuge in cynicism; instead of deserting the leaders who had lied to them, they would protest that they had known all along that the statement was a lie and would admire the leaders for their superior tactical cleverness.”

― Hannah ArendtThe Origins of Totalitarianism, 1951

You see, the totalitarianism is in the marketing of these spoils of war, and the war minders, and the war industry. Look at this company’s founder, Paul MacCready. Check him out on Wikipedia — Paul B. MacCready Jr. (September 25, 1925 – August 28, 2007) was an American aeronautical engineer. He was the founder of AeroVironment and the designer of the human-powered aircraft that won the first Kremer prize. He devoted his life to developing more efficient transportation vehicles that could “do more with less.”

In so many ways, MacCready represents the best and the brightest of his generation, the hope for mankind, the genius of the American System producing tools of war, tools of profit. He represents the undying American work ethic, with only the heavens (err, he said sky, as he was an avowed atheist) as his limit.

That is it, really — the biography of a military industrial complex tool of death, all started in the twinkle of a 15-year-old MacCready’s eye when he was designing planes and gliders in 1940. Now? Every sort of munition and payload delivered in the fuselages of those toys. Heck, why not drone-carrying bugs injected or engineered with viruses?

CNBC 3/16/2022: “Stocks making the biggest moves midday: Alibaba, AeroVironment, Boeing and more”. Again, success at the start of the trading and the end of the day bell on Wall Street! Get US taxpayer contract in the millions, and see you stock rise rise rise like sour dough bread,

Dark Side of Delivery: The Growing Threat of Bioweapon Dissemination by Drones —

The post Sick and Sicker, Dumb and Dumber, Rich and Richer first appeared on Dissident Voice.

The Blunt Economic, Mental, Spiritual Ravages of the Millionaires

Oh, you can pull a million images and a million news briefs from the Internet to illustrate the powerful and their stupidity and their absolute disdain for the rest of us.

Kamala Harris laughs after question on Ukrainian refugees

She laughs when asked about refugees, this time, from Ukraine. She is laughing about being in either the west or east flank in Poland. She doesn’t know for sure. This is the blunt end of a hammer. They all may be woke and full of civet-feces coffee and gourmet bacon-laced canopies, but they are still blunt ends of the stick. Look, she’s a multimillionaire, so they have a million and one excuses to go with their greenbacks. (Here, one source, RT, banned, on her “gaffs”!)

They all are —  those old policy makers, those politicians, those diplomats — mulimillionaires. They are the blunt end of the protection rackets for the super rich and billionaire class. However, even multimillionaires can, with a pronouncement, a flip of the hand, jigger of the computer mouse, they can say, “We deem all Russian things off limits.” Imagine the power, and then those countries like China, so-called all powerful, accepting some of the sanctions, for now. USA is one tough hombre.

This is serious stuff — read Whitney’s, “Twice in a Century: Russia Faces a War of Annihilation”!

So, then, the $5.5 a gallon for gasoline. Again, the multimillionaires, the Greta “I Am Aspergers” Thornberg’s, they can all applaud the hurt locker their leaders are unleashing on the common folk (Russians), and we know Greta’s parents are, well, they are Swedish millionaires (with a small “m”). Actors! Whew!

Wheat prices, doubling? Electricity, doubling? Food shortages and food tripling? That is, doubling and tripling of the price of these items. When you are a multimillionaire like Biden or Harris, Nuland or Kagen (even DoD Generals are millionaires), and when your pay is a taxpayer-dredged paycheck, and when you have an all-expenses-paid suite of benefits, and when you have insider trader information, and when you have full-spectrum health care, and when you have accountants, CPAs, financial advisors in the backrooms assisting you, this doubling of foodstuffs, this dollar or two/three more for a gallon of gasoline, well, that’s a laughing matter. . . for THEM. I’ve heard many a multimillionaire Mainstream Media Press Hoaxes telling you and telling me and telling all those home health workers and slave wage workers that we have to suck it up, that is, this is the small small price to pay in order to liberate (send billions in terrorist-headed small and large arms) Ukraine for capitalism, well, they call it PayDay Democracy with a big “d” for Dollar.  When you are making these funny jokes and imbecilic comments, as we hear from Harris on down the line of Georgetown-Harvard-Stanford-Yale grads, and yet there still will be no pitchforks and gallows for you, and, alas, that small price to pay for mainstreet USA and pensioner USA, well, well, they can still have a very fine and fun life in their multimillionaire dollar homes . . . . It is the sacrifice they take, letting us know, we should sacrifice, and yet we will consume their junk, gobble up their celebrity feces, wait with bated breath for their words and deeds to be announced on MDM, as they continue with their fun lives, no matter if the gallon goes to $5 or $7 or $10 a gallon.

But, then, think of granny. Think of her meds going up-up-up! The foodstuffs going up-up-up. And if she has a leak under her sink, or if she has a puddle of mud outside the door along the pathway out gushing into her basement . . .  and if she has a car that needs some new used tires and spark plugs . . . and if she needs to visit friends once in a while one-way in that vehicle, say, 120 miles one way (she lives in a rural abode) . . .  and if she has a cat that needs teeth pulled . . .  and if she dares thinks about seeing an ailing sister across the country via a plane, oh, well, let’s laugh at the pain she is now under. You know how much a plane ticket is? That’s the laughing break-point for granny. From podunk town Oregon to Virginia, or Florida: do the math on what a Roundtrip ticket sets granny back. But then these left/right politicians and woke/woodern corporate leaders can say, “Suck it up. It’s only $5 a gallon for gas. Look what those blonde and blue eyed ones in the Ukraine are suffering. Suck it up for a Ukraine refugee” (recall: eat all those spuds and green beans cuz a kid in China is starving . . . .!)

Let’s have a great laughing circle jerk as sanctions kill, and lies and mass incompetence murder people, and massive war profiteering wounds both humanity and townships, and where massive Covid-19 profiteering creates lingering death and long-term mental instability. As massive stock trading on those futures and those offensive weapons companies grow grow grow, while the Kamala Harrises of the world, really, get into the cackling mood on any number of topics for which she knows nothing, we are the sufferers.  All those multimillionaire laughing hyenas, and I see Hillary and Bill are at it again with their continuing criminal enterprise, the Clinton Foundation!

Hyena Facts - Animal Facts Encyclopedia

Let’s hear about Elon Musk’s latest creepy surrogate childbirth. Let’s hear about this $1 million here and that $20 million there shoved down some redneck university football coach’s mouth while the college students are under another load of debt.

Fans shocked by Elon Musk and Grimes' new baby boy's unusual name | HELLO!

Let’s laugh it all off, the reality of this war, or that incursion, this sanction/that sanction, or that weaponized economic movement toward more of the gilded laughing class, that Hyena Laughing Multimillionaire Chorus. We can have Stephen Colbert help us laugh. Where’s Jon Leibowitz Stewart and Sean Penn when we need them? We need their multimillionaire advice, ASAP, and their laughs! “It’s only a few bucks more for a gallon of gas . . .  deal with it,” old Colbert chortled.

Imagine, all those months and years The Putin warned against all that EU-Nato-UK-USA aggressive shit coming to Russia’s borders. All those times he petitioned, nyet, nyet, nyet!

Shifting now to make an analogy — Now, interestingly, I have been involved in a SWAT killing, that is, one of our clients — homeless veteran — had a suicidal moment alone, in his truck, with a handgun. Roads cordoned off. Everything around the Portland Salvation Army’s facility lock-downed. News at Six and Headlines at Ten there. Massive police armed presence. Armored trucks and gun turret vehicle, and then, of course, all guns drawn and three nifty SEAL trained snipers.

They gave him two and a half hours to get his shit together, and then, bam, 13 shots, seven to the body. He was handcuffed and lived. He was by himself. Suicide Not By Cops.

Or, just yesterday, in the rural community where I scratch out sanity:  “Police shoot, kill suspect after alleged bomb threat during standoff

Bomb-Threat

Another two-hour standoff. And, then, bullets to the head. Imagine that. I have been around cops most of my life, and I was a city and rural reporter, newspapers, that is, and covered the cop beats — local, feds, military, county. I have interviewed FBI, and I have been in some K9 units for both city and military cops. The bottom line is — there is absolutely a one in a million chance someone who threatens cops in a standoff in his car yelling “bomb, bomb, bomb” has a bomb. Absolutely Zero chance, really. Lots of TV shows and Netflix series, aside.

So, Putin gives the world, the EU, the UK-USA-Five Eyes, Nato, what, a month, a year, several years, eight years warning about needing those missiles and other weapons off of Ukraine’s soil?

Nothing like the Monroe Doctrine, which states that there shall be no military or no nothing allowed in the Western Hemisphere, err, in the US’s Neighborhood; i.e., backyard!

That old soft shoe — survival of the fittest or most riches or best placed bribes. That loving spoonful, here, all those pensioners, all those with multiple chronic illnesses, all those people in housing that is falling apart, all those loans hobbling folk. Choices between medications, or food. This is the country, man, USA, this is it for the epitome of exceptionalism.

Those $57 billion in loans the other laughing hyena, Zelensky the Comic, that’s what he wants forgiven. Laughing, while demanding more weaponry, more billions. That’s the jig is up game when you are a testing lab (country) for GMOs, drugs, and, well, bioweapons.

Putin's provocations are met with ridicule in Ukraine | TheHill

It’s funny stuff, the billions he has in Costa Rica (maybe) and the mansion in Florida ($28 million valued). These are laughing matters, and VP Harris is just one in a long line of laughers in the multimillionaire category; or for those in the billionaire’s “mile high screw the hundreds of millions of us club,” the laughing is incredible, cowboy hats and all!

See the source image

This is serious, and no laughing matter, unless you are Nuland and Biden and Harris and the US’s spy agents: “Documents expose US biological experiments on allied soldiers in Ukraine and Georgia” by Dilyana Gaytandzhieva! Ahh, that funny “fake news.” Now, Colbert, let’s all line up and laugh!

Again, granny and the kiddos. When I was working as a reporter in Southern Arizona, I did a couple of pieces on the O’Malley Clan — a group of people, many in the same family, who would take their panel trucks and pick-up trucks and go to trailer parks and low income housing tracts and get old people to pay for roofing, for gutter work, for all sorts of things that the O’Malley Clan said needed fixing. Then, up on the roof, and a five gallon white can of paint later, leaky roof fixed. A cool $800 cash for a $75 five gallon of roof sealant. This is the style of the American who sees PT Barnum as a god, that sucker born every second, man oh man, that god.

Of course, States Attorney General had some squads trying to break up those O’Malley rings, but imagine, now 42 years later, and the amount of pure scam, pure fraud, pure bilking, pure rip-off, pure lying and chronic cheating that have cascaded into the American culture.

The amount of multiple millions stolen from granny and from kiddo is out the roof, out of the sky. And those Laughing Politicians and All Those Amazing Celebrities, all of them, just rah-rahing the sanctions, the price of oil going up up up, all the strain and weathering on common people who can’t afford what’s going on in their Circle Jerks.

The blame is on capitalism, on predatory and casino capitalism. The Gilded Agers, the deep state, all those Eichmann’s making money with the blood of granny and kiddo on their hands.

The laughing all the way to their offshore banks — and then, well, DeltaCron will be coming to a neighborhood around Halloween.

Those bioweapons, man:

Every day, every moment of these scams, these false flags, this depravity of Empire USA, all of those things, shit, it is, as McGovern and Mearsheimer and Matlock say, this is not a done deal, MSM.

Those chickens have come home to roost and roost and crap and crap:

A revealing Portside article of Feb. 14 describes how 36 American states either have or are seeking to pass laws that censor the teaching of both local and national history so as to tell a traditional, Eurocentric story. This effort seeks to deny the demonstrable facts about the role racism has played in shaping social and economic development since the nation’s inception. Against this trend, 17 U.S. states have moved to officially expand their history and social studies curriculum to make it more racially and class inclusive.

We should state clearly that the teaching of such a culturally approved official history has always been pursued in the United States, and is indeed not just an American tactic. It is a ubiquitous practice in much of the world. As public education evolved in the American colonies during the 19th century, it had specific goals: (1) to make the young as literate and skilled as necessary for an evolving capitalist economy and (2) to teach political loyalty. If in this effort there was any reference to or concern for “the truth,” it was allegedly to be represented by the daily repetition of the Lord’s Prayer and the Pledge of Allegiance.  — Lawrence Davidson

[ The “En L’An 2000,” or “Life in Year 2000” by Jean-Marc Côté depicts the futuristic culturization of humanity. (Françoise Foliot , Wikimédia France, Paris, CC BY-SA 4.0) ]

But, again, it’s the old lady down the lane. The man and child living in their RV, and it is the person just trying to live out a life with few things having no one willing to come out and saw up the downed tree and patch the hole in the side of the house. Little homes with roof bids at $20,000!

Those lovely places, Israel, now Ukraine, where money is stuffed, again, down those Hyenas’ mouths while the land here is more and more susceptible to waves, winds, rising oceans, inundation.

Pacific Northwest coastal communities are at risk from earthquakes, including “The Really Big One”, tsunamis, sea level rise, landslides, erosion, and increased precipitation. Stretching from Cape Mendocino, California through Oregon and Washington to Vancouver Island, Canada, these Cascadia communities are calling for “a coordinated research agenda among universities, governmental agencies, NGOs, and others” to help them achieve resilience to these coastal hazards. (Event, March 16) 

Yet, here we are, the war, the Putin, after how many years stating that EU-UK-USA-Five Eyes-Nato to stand down.

Pity the Nation

Pity the nation whose people are sheep
And whose shepherds mislead them…
Pity the nation oh pity the people
Who allow their rights to erode
and their freedoms to be washed away

– Lawrence Ferlinghetti, 2007

Scott Ritter:

I see the same template in play again today when it comes to the difficult topic of Russia. Like every issue of importance, the Russian-Ukraine conflict has two sides to its story. The humanitarian tragedy that has befallen the citizens of Ukraine is perhaps the greatest argument one can offer up in opposition to the Russian military incursion. But was there surely a viable diplomatic off ramp available which could have avoided this horrific situation?

To examine that question, however, one must be able and willing to engage in a fact-based discussion of Russian motives. The main problem with this approach is that the narrative which would emerge is not convenient for those who espouse the Western dogma of “Putinism,” based as it is on the irrational proclivities and geopolitical appetite of one man — Vladimir Putin.

The issue of NATO expansion and the threat it posed to Russian national security is dismissed with the throw-away notion that NATO is a defensive alliance and as such could pose no threat to Russia or its leader. The issue of the presence of the cancer of neo-Nazi ideology in the heart of the Ukrainian government and national identity is countered with the “fact” that Ukraine’s current president is himself a Jew. The eight-year suffering of the Russian-speaking citizens of the Donbass, who lived and died under the incessant bombardment brought on by the Ukrainian military, is simply ignored as if it never happened. (Scott Ritter is a former U.S. Marine Corps intelligence officer who served in the former Soviet Union implementing arms control treaties, in the Persian Gulf during Operation Desert Storm, and in Iraq overseeing the disarmament of WMD.)

Wow! A picture says a million words from 100 million misinformed people:

 

Putin Russiagate Feature

But then, this fellow, Larry Summers, what a poster we can make for him, USA felon on multiple crimes: Larry Summers is something else. He loves to say women cannot be great scholars in math and sciences.

See the source image

Max Blumenthal on Twitter: “Larry Summers – who presided over the demolition and plundering of Russia’s economy in the 1990’s and pushed policies that led to the US financial crash – says Americans need to suffer higher gas & food prices and inflation ‘as the price of fighting tyranny.'”

A new book claims that the Obama White House is a boys’ club marred by rampant infighting that has hindered the administration’s economic policy and left top female advisers feeling excluded from key conversations.

Confidence Men: Wall Street, Washington, and the Education of a President, by journalist Ron Suskind due out next Tuesday, details the rivalries among Obama’s top economic advisers, Larry Summers, former chairman of the National Economic Council, and Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner. It describes constant second-guessing by Summers, now at Harvard, who was seen by others as “imperious and heavy-handed” in his decision-making.

In an excerpt obtained by The Post, a female senior aide to President Obama called the White House a hostile environment for women.

“This place would be in court for a hostile workplace,” former White House communications director Anita Dunn is quoted as saying. “Because it actually fit all of the classic legal requirements for a genuinely hostile workplace to women.” (source)

This seems like the poster plastered around town, no, or is Word Press now in the employ of the censors? Maybe we can put a question mark behind, “8 Real Threats to Humanity?” Does that work better?

See the source image

The post The Blunt Economic, Mental, Spiritual Ravages of the Millionaires first appeared on Dissident Voice.

On the Edge of a Nuclear Abyss

Two days after Russia attacked Ukraine and the day before Vladimir Putin put Russia on nuclear alert, I wrote a little article whose first sentence was: “Not wanting to sound hyperbolic, but I am starting to conclude that the nuclear madmen running the U.S./NATO New Cold War they started decades ago are itching to start a nuclear war with Russia.”

It was an intuition based on my knowledge of U.S./Russia history, including the U.S engineered coup in Ukraine in 2014, and a reading of current events.  I refer to it as intuition, yet it is based on a lifetime’s study and teaching of political sociology and writing against war.  I am not a Russian scholar, simply a writer with a sociological, historical, and artistic imagination, although my first graduate academic study in the late 1960s was a thesis on nuclear weapons and why they might be someday used again.

It no longer sounds hyperbolic to me that madmen in the declining U.S. Empire might resort, like rats in a sinking ship, to first strike use of nuclear weapons, which is official U.S. policy.  My stomach is churning at the thought, despite what most experts say: that the chances of a nuclear war are slight.  And despite what others say about the Ukraine war: that it is an intentional diversion from the Covid propaganda and the Great Reset (although I agree it achieves that goal).

My gut tells me no; it is very real, sui generis, and very, very dangerous now.

The eminent scholar Michel Chossudovsky of Global Research agrees that we are very close to the unthinkable.  In a recent historical analysis of U.S.-Russia relations and nuclear weapons, he writes the following before quoting Vladimir Putin’s recent statement on the matter. “Vladimir Putin’s statement on February 21st, 2022 was a response to U.S. threats to use nuclear weapons on a preemptive basis against Russia, despite Joe Biden’s “reassurance” that the U.S. would not be resorting to ‘A first strike’ nuclear attack against an enemy of America”:

Let me [Putin] explain that U.S. strategic planning documents contain the possibility of a so-called preemptive strike against enemy missile systems. And who is the main enemy for the U.S. and NATO? We know that too. It’s Russia. In NATO documents, our country is officially and directly declared the main threat to North Atlantic security. And Ukraine will serve as a forward springboard for the strike.1

Putin is absolutely correct.  It is why he put Russia’s nuclear forces on full alert.   Only those ignorant of history, which sadly includes most U.S. Americans, don’t know this.

I believe that today we are in the greatest danger of a nuclear war since the Cuban Missile Crisis of October 1962, something I vividly remember as a teenager.  The same feelings return.  Dread.  Anxiety.  Breathlessness.  I do not think these feelings are misplaced nor they are simply an emotional response. I try to continue writing on other projects that I have started but feel stymied.  The possibility of nuclear war, whether intentional or accidental, obsesses me.

In order to grasp this stomach-churning possibility within the context of Ukraine, we need to put aside all talk of morality, rights, international law, and think in terms of great power politics as John Mearsheimer has so clearly articulated.  As he says, when a great power feels its existence is threatened, might makes right. You simply can’t understand world politics without thinking at this level.  Doing so does not mean justifying the use of might; it is a means of clarifying the causes of wars, which start long before the first shots are fired.

In the present crisis over Ukraine, Russia clearly feels existentially threatened by U.S./NATO military moves in Ukraine and in eastern Europe where they have positioned missiles that can be very quickly converted to nuclear and are within a few minutes range of Russia. (And, of course, there are U.S./NATO nuclear missiles throughout western and southern Europe.)  Vladimir Putin has been talking about this for many years and is factually correct.  He has reiterated that this is unacceptable to Russia and must stop. He has pushed for negotiations to end this situation.

The United States, despite its own Monroe Doctrine that prohibits another great power from putting weapons or military forces close to its borders, has blocked its ears and kept upping the ante, provoking Russian fears. This fact is not in dispute but is shrugged off by U.S./NATO as of little consequence.  Such an attitude is pure provocation as anyone with a smidgen of historical awareness knows.

The world was very lucky sixty years ago this October when JFK and Nikita Khrushchev negotiated the end of the Cuban Missile Crisis before the world was incinerated.  Kennedy, of course, was intensely pressured by the military and CIA to bomb Cuba, but he resisted.  He also rejected the insane military desire to nuke the Soviet Union, calling such people crazy; at a National Security Council meeting on September 12, 1963, when the Joint Chiefs of Staff presented a report about a nuclear first strike against the Soviet Union which they wanted for that fall, he said, “Preemption is not possible for us.”

Such leadership, together with the nuclear test ban treaty he negotiated with the USSR that month, inter alia (such treaties have now been abrogated by the U.S. government), assured his assassination organized by the CIA.  These days, the U.S. is led by deluded men who espouse a nuclear first strike policy, which tells one all one needs to know about the danger the world is in. The U.S. has been very sick with Russia hatred for a long time.

After the terror of the Cuban Missile Crisis, many more people took the threat of nuclear war seriously.  Today very few do.  It has receded into the ”unimaginable.” In 1962, however, as James W. Douglass writes in JFK and the Unspeakable:

Kennedy saw that, at least outside Washington, D.C., people were living with a deeper awareness of the ultimate choice they faced.  Nuclear weapons were real.  So, too, was the prospect of peace.  Shocked by the Cuban Missile Crisis into recognizing a real choice, people preferred peace to annihilation.

Today the reality of nuclear annihilation has receded into unconsciousness. This despite the recent statements by U.S. generals and the U.S. Ukrainian puppet Zelensky about nuclear weapons and their use that have extremely inflamed Russia’s fears, which clearly is intentional. The game is to have some officials say it and then deny it while having a policy that contradicts your denial.  Keep pushing the envelope is U.S. policy.  Obama-Biden reigned over the U.S. 2014 coup in Ukraine, Trump increased weapon sales to Ukraine in 2017, and Biden has picked up the baton from his partner (not his enemy) in this most deadly game.  It is a bi-partisan Cold War 2, getting very hot.  And it is the reason why Russia, its back to the wall, attacked Ukraine.  It is obvious that this is exactly what the U.S. wanted or it would have acted very differently in the lead up to this tragedy.  All the current wringing of hands is pure hypocrisy, the nihilism of a nuclear power never for one moment threatened but whose designs were calculated to threaten Russia at its borders.

The media propaganda against Russia and Putin is the most extreme and extensive propaganda in my lifetime.  Patrick Lawrence has astutely examined this in a recent essay, where he writes the same is true for him:

Many people of many different ages have remarked in recent days that they cannot recall in their lifetimes a more pervasive, suffocating barrage of propaganda than what has engulfed us since the months that preceded Russia’s intervention. In my case it has come to supersede the worst of what I remember from the Cold War decades.

“Engulfed” is an appropriate word.  Lawrence rightly points to this propaganda as cognitive warfare directed at the U.S. population (and the rest of the world) and notes its connection to the January 2021 final draft of a “diabolic” NATO study called “Cognitive Warfare.”  He quotes it thus: “The brain will be the battlefield of the 21st century.” . . . “Humans are the contested domain. Cognitive warfare’s objective is to make everyone a weapon.”

This cognitive warfare, however, has a longer history in cutting edge science.  For each successive decade beginning with the 1990s and a declaration from President (and ex-Director of the CIA) George H. W. Bush that the 1990s would be the Decade of Brain Research, presidents have announced additional decades-long projects involving the brain, with 2000-2010 being the Decade of Behavior Project, followed by mapping of the brain, artificial intelligence, etc. all organized and funded through the Office of Science and Technology Project (OSTP) and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).  This medical, military, and scientific research has been part of a long range plan to extend MK-Ultra’s mind control to the population at large under the cover of medical science, and it has been simultaneously connected to the development and funding of the pharmaceutical industries research and development of new brain-altering drugs.  RFK, Jr. has documented the CIA’s extensive connection to germ and mind research and promotion in his book, The Real Anthony Fauci: Bill Gates, Big Pharma, and the Global War on Democracy and Public Health.  It is why his book is banned from the mainstream media, who do the prime work of cognitive warfare for the government.  To put it clearly: these media are the CIA.  And the issue of U.S. bio-weapons research and development is central to these many matters, including in Ukraine.

In other words, the cognitive warfare we are now being subjected to has many tentacles connected to much more than today’s fanatical anti-Russian propaganda over Ukraine.  All the U.S. wars of aggression have been promoted under its aegis, as have the lies about the attacks of September 11, 2001, the economic warfare by the elites, the COVID crisis, etc.  It’s one piece.

Take, for example, a book written in 2010 by David Ray Griffin, a renown theologian who has written more than a dozen books about 9/11.  The book is Cognitive Infiltration: An Obama Appointee’s Plan to Undermine the 9/11 Conspiracy TheoryIt is a critique of law professor Cass Sunstein, appointed by Obama to be the Administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs.  Sunstein had written an article with a plan for the government to prevent the spread of anti-government “conspiracy theories” in which he promoted the use of anonymous government agents to use secret “cognitive infiltration” of these groups in order to break them up; to use media plants to disparage their arguments.  He was particularly referring to those who questioned the official 9/11 narrative but his point obviously extended much further.  He was working in the tradition of the great propagandists.  Griffin took a scalpel to this call for cognitive warfare and was, of course, a victim of it as well.  Sunstein has since worked for the World Health Organization (WHO) on COVID psychological responses and other COVID committees.  It’s all one piece.

Sunstein’s wife is Samantha Power, Obama’s Ambassador to the United Nations and war hawk extraordinaire.  She gleefully promoted the U.S. destruction of Libya under the appellation of the “responsibility to protect,”  a “humane” cover for imperialism.  Now she is Biden’s Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), an arm of the CIA throughout the world.  It’s all one piece.

The merry-go-round goes round and round.

I have gone off on this slight tangent to emphasize how vast and interconnected are the players and groups on Team Cognitive Warfare.  They have been leading the league for quite some time and are hoping their game plan against Team Russia will keep them there.  So far they are winning, as Patrick Lawrence says:

Look at what has become of us. Most Americans seem to approve of these things, or at least are unstirred to object. We have lost all sense of decency, of ordinary morality, of proportion. Can anyone listen to the din of the past couple of weeks without wondering if we have made of ourselves a nation of grotesques?

It is common to observe that in war the enemy is always dehumanized. We are now face to face with another reality: Those who dehumanize others dehumanize themselves more profoundly.

Perhaps people are too ignorant to see through the propaganda. To have some group to hate is always “uplifting.” But we are all responsible for the consequences of our actions, even when those actions are just buying the propaganda and hating those one is told to hate. It is very hard to accept that the leaders of your own country commit and contemplate unspeakable evil deeds and that they wish to control your mind. To contemplate that they might once again use nuclear weapons is unspeakable but necessary if we are to prevent it.

I hope my fears are unfounded.  I agree with Gilbert Doctorow that the Ukraine-Russia war separates the sheep from the goats, that there is no middle ground.  This is not to celebrate war and the death of innocent people, but it does demand placing the blame squarely where it belongs and not trying to have it both ways.  People like him, John Mearsheimer, the late badly missed Stephen Cohen, Ray McGovern, Scott Ritter, Pepe Escobar, Patrick Lawrence, Jack Matlock, Ted Postol, et al. are all cutting through the propaganda and delivering truth in opposition to all the lies.  They go gentile with fears of nuclear war, however, as if it is somewhat possible but highly unlikely, as if their deepest thoughts are unspeakable, for to utter them would be an act of despondency.

The consensus of the experts tends to be that the U.S. wishes to draw the Russians into a long protracted guerrilla war along the lines of its secret use of mujahideen in Afghanistan in 1979 and after. There is evidence that this is already happening. But I think the U.S. strategists know that the Russians are too smart for that; that they have learned their lesson; and that they will withdraw once they feel they have accomplished their goals. Therefore, from the U.S./NATO perspective, time is reasonably short and they must act quickly, perhaps by doing a false flag operation that will justify a drastic response, or upping the tempo in some other way that would seem to justify the use of nuclear weapons, perhaps tactical at first.

I appreciate the input of the Russia experts I mentioned above.  Their expertise dwarfs mine, but I disagree. Perhaps I am an excitable sort; perhaps I am one of those Patrick Lawrence refers to, quoting Carl Jung, as too emotional and therefore incapable of clear thinking. (I will leave the issue of this long held but erroneous western philosophical belief in the division of emotions and thoughts for another day.)  Perhaps I can’t see the obvious that a nuclear war will profit no one  and therefore it cannot happen. Yet Ted Postol, MIT professor of technology and international security, while perhaps agreeing that an intentional nuclear war is very unlikely, has been warning of an accidental one for many years.  He is surely right on that score and well worth listening to.

But either way, I am sorry to say, perhaps because my perspective is that of a generalist, not an expert, and my thinking is informed by art as much as social science and history, my antennae picks up a very disturbing message. A voice tells me that the danger is very, very real today.  It says:

Beware, we are on the edge of a nuclear abyss.

  1. Putin Speech, February 21, 2022, emphasis added
The post On the Edge of a Nuclear Abyss first appeared on Dissident Voice.

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.

When Did the Ukraine War Begin?

Viewing the Ukraine war as starting with the current Russian invasion leads to very different conclusions than if you consider that the starting point of this war was the 2014 US-orchestrated coup in Ukraine. The coup, which had elements of an authentic popular revolt, has been used by outside powers to pursue geopolitical ends.

The conception that the war started on February 24 of this year is like viewing the “invasion” by the US and its allies of Normandy in June 1944 against the “sovereign” and “democratic” Vichy French as the start of World War II. Never mind that the Vichy government was a puppet of the Nazis; that the opportunities to negotiate had long been rejected; that the war had been raging for years; and that the only option for stopping the Nazis was militarily.

The US imperial army

NATO, it should be understood, is an army in the service of the US empire. Viewing it simply as an alliance of nominally sovereign entities obscures that it is commanded as a tool of US foreign policy in its stated quest of world dominion; that is, “full spectrum dominance.” The “alliance” members must fully integrate their militaries under that command along with purchasing US war equipment and offering up their own citizens as troops.

After the implosion of the Soviet Union and the supposed end of the first cold war, instead of NATO being disbanded, the opposite occurred. There was no “peace dividend” and no honoring of the promise that NATO would not expand any further. Instead, NATO stampeded east towards the borders of the Russian Federation adding fourteen new members of former USSR republics and allies.

Even before the 2014 coup, the US’s fateful decision in 2006 to draw Ukraine into NATO posed an existential threat to Russia. By December 2021, according to “realpolitik” international relations scholar John Mearsheimer, a US-armed Ukraine had become a de facto member of NATO, crossing a red line for Russia. Mearsheimer concludes, “the west bears primary responsibility for what is happening today.”

Failure of peaceful negotiations

Speaking before the UN on March 2, the Venezuelan representative identified the breach of the Minsk Protocols, with the encouragement of the US, as the precursor of the present crisis in Ukraine.

After the 2014 coup in Ukraine, the Minsk Protocols were an attempt at a peaceful settlement through “a ceasefire, withdrawal of heavy weapons from the front line, release of prisoners of war, constitutional reform in Ukraine granting self-government to certain areas of Donbas, and restoring control of the state border to the Ukrainian government.” Moscow, Kyiv, and the eastern separatists were all parties to the agreements.

The Russian perception of negotiations with the western alliance in the run-up to the invasion, as reported by the New York Post, was described using insensitive terminology as “like the mute with the deaf” by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on his meeting with his British counterpart. (NOTE: the NYP, even in the updated version of the article, refers to Lavrov as the “Soviet” Foreign Minister, forgetting that the USSR hasn’t been around for over 30 years.)

Following the latest round of “sweeping” US-imposed sanctions on Russia, their Foreign Ministry announced, “we have reached the line where the point of no return begins.” Such sanctions are a form of warfare as deadly as bombs.

Upsides of war for the US and the downsides for everyone else

War is a great diversion for Joe Biden, whose popularity has been slipping due to a lackluster domestic performance. The US empire has much to gain: further unifying NATO under US domination, reducing Russian economic competition in the European energy market, justifying increasing the US war budget, and facilitating sales of war material to NATO vassals.

NATO has dumped over a trillion dollars in arms and facilities into the border countries next to Russia and continues to this day to pour lethal weapons into Ukraine. The leader of Ukraine’s neo-Nazi C14 recently bragged on YouTube (while other voices are censored): “We are being given so much weaponry not because as some say ‘the west is helping us,’ not because it is best for us. But because we perform the tasks set by the west…because we have fun, we have fun killing.”

More than 14,000 people have been killed in the eastern Ukraine region of Donbas in warfare between ethnic Russians and Ukrainian regular military/right-wing paramilitaries in the eight years since the coup. The self-proclaimed People’s Republics of Donetsk and Luhansk, beleaguered enclaves in the Donbas of largely ethnic Russians, seceded from Ukraine and were recognized by Russia on February 21.

The semi-governmental (over 80% US government funded) Rand Corporation’s playbook for the US and its allies says it all: “pursue across economic, political, and military areas to stress – overextend and unbalance – Russia’s economy and armed forces and the regime’s political standing at home and abroad.”

The conflict could have ruinous consequences for the Russian Federation, according to western sources and even some people who identify as left in Russia. As a bonus for the US, according to Juan S. González, the US National Security Council’s senior director for the Western Hemisphere, the sanctions against Russia are “by design” intended to hurt Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua, all targeted by Washington for regime change. And, of course, for Ukrainians of all ethnicities there is no winning in a war.

It is difficult to think what other options Russia has to defend itself. Perhaps there are some, but surely they are slim. It should be clear that the US has continually been the aggressor even if some do not agree with the Russian response. As Phyllis Bennis with the Institute for Policy Studies argues, the US provoked this war.

Severing Russia from Europe

The peaceful integration of Russia with the rest of Europe would be a great threat to the US empire. A unified or even a cordial Europe could truly herald the end of US hegemony. The long-game geopolitical goal of preventing the unification of Europe may well be the fundamental aim of US foreign policy in that continent.

What would become of “US strategic interests” if peace were to break out in Europe, and Russia would become partners with Germany, France, and Italy? A potentially more independent Europe, including Russia, would challenge the US-dominated Atlanticist project.

The extreme hostility that the US took to the Nord Stream 2 project, which would have piped Russian natural gas under the Baltic Sea directly to Germany, went beyond the narrow economism of favoring US liquefied natural gas (LNG) suppliers. Where Washington’s earlier efforts of imposing illegal unilateral economic sanctions on its NATO ally faltered, the current conflict will surely discourage any rational and cooperative economic association of Russia with its western neighbors.

The severing of Russia from the rest of Europe is a tremendous victory for the US imperial project. This is especially the case, when there were recent moves in the direction of economic, cultural, and political exchange, which have now been reversed.

Spheres of Influence and inter-imperialist rivalry

Russia shares a 1,426-mile border with Ukraine and considers that region within its security perimeter, vital to its national security. The US, which is 5,705 miles from Ukraine, considers the world its sphere of influence. Clearly, there is a conflict of interest.

The contemporary geopolitical dynamic has evolved from the one Lenin described in 1916 in Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism, which was then characterized as one of inter-imperialist rivalry. This theory is not entirely adequate to understand today’s world dominated by a single superpower (with its European Union, British, and Japanese junior partners). Surely, national centers of capital continue to compete. But over-arching this competition is a militantly imposed unipolar pax Americana.

There is just one superpower with hundreds of foreign military bases, possession of the world’s reserve currency, and control of the SWIFT worldwide payment and transaction system. Simply reducing the conflict to one of contesting capitalists obscures the context of empire.

Further, even if one just understands the present situation as one of a clash of two imperialist camps, that does not preclude taking sides. Surely World War II was an inter-imperialist war, but that did not prevent socialists from opposing the Axis pole and supporting the allies. The US is ever more aggressively stirring up the pot, not only in Ukraine, but also Taiwan, Africa, and elsewhere.

Asymmetry of the Forces

The forces are asymmetrical in this contest. Russia and the US may have comparable nuclear arsenals, but Russia has no bases of any kind in North America compared to at least six nuclear and many more conventional bases for the US in Europe. The US military budget is 11.9 times the size of Russia’s, not to mention the war chests of Washington’s NATO allies. Similarly, the US economy is 12.5 times as large as Russia’s. Of the Fortune 500 top international corporations, only four are Russian compared to 122 from the US. Russia’s labor productivity is only 36% of the US’s. In terms of finance capital, the US has 11 of the world’s top 100 banks; Russia has one. Far from being a key exporter of capital, Russia is a leader in capital flight, in part owing to sanctions imposed by the US and its allies.

As analyst Stansfield Smith concludes, Russia “plays very little part in the quintessential imperialist activity: the export of capital to the periphery and the extraction of profit from developing countries’ labor and resources.” Russia is a target of US-led imperialism; Ukraine is caught in the crossfire.

Hypocrisy of the “international community”

If only the outrage over the Russian invasion had some ethical grounding by what is misleadingly called the “international community,” but is in reality the US and its subalterns. Biden’s touted “rules based order” is one where the US makes the rules and the rest of the world follows its orders, in contradiction to the Charter of the UN and other recognized international law.

From Cuba, journalist Ángel Guerra Cabrera laments: “our region witnessed flagrant US violations of those principles in Guatemala, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Grenada and Panama, the last three through direct invasions. Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua are current examples of a US policy that flatly denies its assertion, not to mention Puerto Rico.”

International law expert Alfred de Zayas reminds us that the so-called “international community seems to have accepted egregious violations of Art. 2(4) [of the UN Charter] by the US against Cuba, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Haiti, Nicaragua, Panama, Venezuela; by NATO countries against Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Yugoslavia; by Israel against all its Arab neighbors, including the Palestinians and Lebanese; by Saudi Arabia against Yemen; by Azerbaijan against Nagorno Karabakh, by Turkey against Cyprus, etc.”

How this war will end

Regardless of how one sides – or not – in the new cold war, it is instructive to understand the context of the conflict. This is especially so when views outside the dominant US narrative, such as those of Russian outlets Sputnik and RT that hosted US intellectuals like Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Chris Hedges, are being silenced.

This article addressed how this war began. How it will end or even if it will end is another story. The world is spiraling into a new cold war, emanating from a region formally at peace under socialism.

Expressing a view from the standpoint of the Global South, former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva commented: “we do not want to be anyone’s enemy. We are not interested, nor is the world, in a new cold war…which is for sure dragging the whole world into a conflict that could put humanity in danger.” If there is a lesson to be learned, it is that the end of endless war will come with end of the US imperial project that provoked this crisis.

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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.

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Perpetual Tyranny: Endless Wars Are the Enemy of Freedom

Of all the enemies to public liberty war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes… known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few.… No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare,

— James Madison, Political Observations, 20 April 1795

War is the enemy of freedom.

As long as America’s politicians continue to involve us in wars that bankrupt the nation, jeopardize our servicemen and women, increase the chances of terrorism and blowback domestically, and push the nation that much closer to eventual collapse, “we the people” will find ourselves in a perpetual state of tyranny.

It’s time for the U.S. government to stop policing the globe.

This latest crisis—America’s part in the showdown between Russia and the Ukraine—has conveniently followed on the heels of a long line of other crises, manufactured or otherwise, which have occurred like clockwork in order to keep Americans distracted, deluded, amused, and insulated from the government’s steady encroachments on our freedoms.

And so it continues in its Orwellian fashion.

Two years after COVID-19 shifted the world into a state of global authoritarianism, just as the people’s tolerance for heavy-handed mandates seems to have finally worn thin, we are being prepped for the next distraction and the next drain on our economy.

Yet policing the globe and waging endless wars abroad isn’t making America—or the rest of the world—any safer, it’s certainly not making America great again, and it’s undeniably digging the U.S. deeper into debt.

Indeed, even if we were to put an end to all of the government’s military meddling and bring all of the troops home today, it would take decades to pay down the price of these wars and get the government’s creditors off our backs.

War has become a huge money-making venture, and the U.S. government, with its vast military empire, is one of its best buyers and sellers.

What most Americans—brainwashed into believing that patriotism means supporting the war machine—fail to recognize is that these ongoing wars have little to do with keeping the country safe and everything to do with propping up a military industrial complex that continues to dominate, dictate and shape almost every aspect of our lives.

Consider: We are a military culture engaged in continuous warfare. We have been a nation at war for most of our existence. We are a nation that makes a living from killing through defense contracts, weapons manufacturing and endless wars.

We are also being fed a steady diet of violence through our entertainment, news and politics.

All of the military equipment featured in blockbuster movies is provided—at taxpayer expense—in exchange for carefully placed promotional spots.

Back when I was a boy growing up in the 1950s, almost every classic sci fi movie ended with the heroic American military saving the day, whether it was battle tanks in Invaders from Mars (1953) or military roadblocks in Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956).

What I didn’t know then as a schoolboy was the extent to which the Pentagon was paying to be cast as America’s savior. By the time my own kids were growing up, it was Jerry Bruckheimer’s blockbuster film Top Guncreated with Pentagon assistance and equipment—that boosted civic pride in the military.

Now it’s my grandkids’ turn to be awed and overwhelmed by child-focused military propaganda. Don’t even get me started on the war propaganda churned out by the toymakers. Even reality TV shows have gotten in on the gig, with the Pentagon’s entertainment office helping to sell war to the American public.

It’s estimated that U.S. military intelligence agencies (including the NSA) have influenced over 1,800 movies and TV shows.

And then there are the growing number of video games, a number of which are engineered by or created for the military, which have accustomed players to interactive war play through military simulations and first-person shooter scenarios.

This is how you acclimate a population to war.

This is how you cultivate loyalty to a war machine.

This is how, to borrow from the subtitle to the 1964 film Dr. Strangelove, you teach a nation to “stop worrying and love the bomb.”

As journalist David Sirota writes for Salon:

[C]ollusion between the military and Hollywood – including allowing Pentagon officials to line edit scripts—is once again on the rise, with new television programs and movies slated to celebrate the Navy SEALs….major Hollywood directors remain more than happy to ideologically slant their films in precisely the pro-war, pro-militarist direction that the Pentagon demands in exchange for taxpayer-subsidized access to military hardware.

Why is the Pentagon (and the CIA and the government at large) so focused on using Hollywood as a propaganda machine?

To those who profit from war, it is—as Sirota recognizes—“a ‘product’ to be sold via pop culture products that sanitize war and, in the process, boost recruitment numbers…. At a time when more and more Americans are questioning the fundamental tenets of militarism (i.e., budget-busting defense expenditures, never-ending wars/occupations, etc.), military officials are desperate to turn the public opinion tide back in a pro-militarist direction — and they know pop culture is the most effective tool to achieve that goal.”

The media, eager to score higher ratings, has been equally complicit in making (real) war more palatable to the public by packaging it as TV friendly.

This is what professor Roger Stahl refers to as the representation of a “clean war”: a war “without victims, without bodies, and without suffering”:

‘Dehumanize destruction’ by extracting all human imagery from target areas … The language used to describe the clean war is as antiseptic as the pictures. Bombings are ‘air strikes.’ A future bombsite is a ‘target of opportunity.’ Unarmed areas are ‘soft targets.’ Civilians are ‘collateral damage.’ Destruction is always ‘surgical.’ By and large, the clean war wiped the humanity of civilians from the screen … Create conditions by which war appears short, abstract, sanitized and even aesthetically beautiful. Minimize any sense of death: of soldiers or civilians.

This is how you sell war to a populace that may have grown weary of endless wars: sanitize the war coverage of anything graphic or discomfiting (present a clean war), gloss over the actual numbers of soldiers and civilians killed (human cost), cast the business of killing humans in a more abstract, palatable fashion (such as a hunt), demonize one’s opponents, and make the weapons of war a source of wonder and delight.

“This obsession with weapons of war has a name: technofetishism,” explains Stahl. “Weapons appear to take on a magical aura. They become centerpieces in a cult of worship.”

“Apart from gazing at the majesty of these bombs, we were also invited to step inside these high-tech machines and take them for a spin,” said Stahl. “Or if we have the means, we can purchase one of the military vehicles on the consumer market. Not only are we invited to fantasize about being in the driver’s seat, we are routinely invited to peer through the crosshairs too. These repeated modes of imaging war cultivate new modes of perception, new relationships to the tools of state violence. In other words, we become accustomed to ‘seeing’ through the machines of war.”

In order to sell war, you have to feed the public’s appetite for entertainment.

Not satisfied with peddling its war propaganda through Hollywood, reality TV shows and embedded journalists whose reports came across as glorified promotional ads for the military, the Pentagon has also turned to sports to further advance its agenda, “tying the symbols of sports with the symbols of war.”

The military has been firmly entrenched in the nation’s sports spectacles ever since, having co-opted football, basketball, even NASCAR.

This is how you sustain the nation’s appetite for war.

No wonder entertainment violence is the hottest selling ticket at the box office. As professor Henry Giroux points out:

Popular culture not only trades in violence as entertainment, but also it delivers violence to a society addicted to a pleasure principle steeped in graphic and extreme images of human suffering, mayhem and torture.

No wonder the government continues to whet the nation’s appetite for violence and war through paid propaganda programs (seeded throughout sports entertainment, Hollywood blockbusters and video games)—what Stahl refers to as “militainment“—that glorify the military and serve as recruiting tools for America’s expanding military empire.

No wonder Americans from a very young age are being groomed to enlist as foot soldiers—even virtual ones—in America’s Army (coincidentally, that’s also the name of a first person shooter video game produced by the military). Explorer Scouts, for example, are one of the most popular recruiting tools for the military and its civilian counterparts (law enforcement, Border Patrol, and the FBI).

No wonder the United States is the number one consumer, exporter and perpetrator of violence and violent weapons in the world. Seriously, America spends more money on war than the combined military budgets of China, Russia, the United Kingdom, Japan, France, Saudi Arabia, India, Germany, Italy and Brazil. America polices the globe, with 800 military bases and troops stationed in 160 countries. Moreover, the war hawks have turned the American homeland into a quasi-battlefield with military gear, weapons and tactics. In turn, domestic police forces have become roving extensions of the military—a standing army.

We are dealing with a sophisticated, far-reaching war machine that has woven itself into the very fabric of this nation.

Clearly, our national priorities are in desperate need of an overhaul.

Eventually, all military empires fall and fail by spreading themselves too thin and spending themselves to death.

It happened in Rome: at the height of its power, even the mighty Roman Empire could not stare down a collapsing economy and a burgeoning military. Prolonged periods of war and false economic prosperity largely led to its demise.

It’s happening again.

The American Empire—with its endless wars waged by U.S. military servicepeople who have been reduced to little more than guns for hire: outsourced, stretched too thin, and deployed to far-flung places to police the globe—is approaching a breaking point.

The government is destabilizing the economy, destroying the national infrastructure through neglect and a lack of resources, and turning taxpayer dollars into blood money with its endless wars, drone strikes and mounting death tolls.

This is exactly the scenario President Dwight D. Eisenhower warned against when he cautioned the citizenry not to let the profit-driven war machine endanger our liberties or democratic processes. Eisenhower, who served as Supreme Commander of the Allied forces in Europe during World War II, was alarmed by the rise of the profit-driven war machine that, in order to perpetuate itself, would have to keep waging war.

Yet as Eisenhower recognized, the consequences of allowing the military-industrial complex to wage war, exhaust our resources and dictate our national priorities are beyond grave:

Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities. It is two electric power plants, each serving a town of 60,000 population. It is two fine, fully equipped hospitals. It is some 50 miles of concrete highway. We pay for a single fighter with a half million bushels of wheat. We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed more than 8,000 people. This, I repeat, is the best way of life to be found on the road the world has been taking. This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.

We failed to heed Eisenhower’s warning.

The illicit merger of the armaments industry and the government that Eisenhower warned against has come to represent perhaps the greatest threat to the nation today.

What we have is a confluence of factors and influences that go beyond mere comparisons to Rome. It is a union of Orwell’s 1984 with its shadowy, totalitarian government—i.e., fascism, the union of government and corporate powers—and a total surveillance state with a military empire extended throughout the world.

As I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People and in its fictional counterpart The Erik Blair Diaries, this is how tyranny rises and freedom falls.

The growth of, and reliance on, militarism as the solution for our problems both domestically and abroad bodes ill for the constitutional principles which form the basis of the American experiment in freedom.

As author Aldous Huxley warned: “Liberty cannot flourish in a country that is permanently on a war footing, or even a near-war footing. Permanent crisis justifies permanent control of everybody and everything by the agencies of the central government.”

The post Perpetual Tyranny: Endless Wars Are the Enemy of Freedom first appeared on Dissident Voice.

War or Images of War?

Experienced foreign policy analysts such as Ray McGovern, Scott Ritter, and Pepe Escobar, while agreeing that the Biden administration is clearly guilty of provoking Russia over Ukraine, are divided over whether it will lead to war. All agree that Russia has no intention of invading Ukraine and that it is clearly justified in demanding safe borders by insisting U.S./NATO withdraw troops and missiles from the countries surrounding it, stop NATO’s “open door” policy, stop putting nuclear weapons in Europe, etc.

Clearly such demands are consonant with the U.S.’s own historical demands for safe borders, evidenced most clearly in the Cuban Missile Crisis of October 1962 when the world nearly suffered a nuclear war over Soviet missiles in Cuba. And equally obvious is the fact that the American posture today is hypocritical in the extreme and can only be accepted by propagandists and those ignorant of history. The Biden administration must assume that most people are ignoramuses and that its obvious belligerence and blatant propaganda will pass as some sort of defense of freedom, even when the U.S. engineered a Ukrainian coup d’état in 2014 in support of Neo-Nazis when Biden was President Obama’s vice-president.  But that was nearly eight years ago, which is an eternity in a country of amnesiacs.

Whether this U.S. persistent aggression is a propaganda charade or not, it is a most dangerous game. In December 2021, Russia claimed that the U.S. was preparing a false flag event to provoke a Russian response. This was dismissed or ignored by the western media as absurd. Recently, however, the Biden administration has been pounding the message that it is Russia that is preparing a false flag event to blame on Ukraine in order to justify a Russian invasion. The western press, led by The New York Times, CNN, The Guardian, and the Washington Post – stenographers for the CIA, British intelligence, and the Pentagon – have become more hysterical by the day pushing this lie without any evidence whatsoever. It is sardonically comical. If evidence doesn’t exist, of course, it can be manufactured, as with “weapons of mass destruction” in Iraq, etc.  It’s easy as pie. To call these media the Yellow Press is an understatement.

When Russia accuses the U.S. of using “information terrorism,” it is of course correct. For we are living in a MKULTRA mind control operation with multiple facets.  Ukraine, Covid, economic warfare, etc. – a hydra-headed monster whose goal is total control of regular people, who are treated as morons incapable of reason and the most basic logic. Toward confirming and strengthening this premise, the media provide a daily menu of mixed and contradictory messages meant to confuse, confound, and mess with people’s sense of their own ability to understand the world.

If the public is to be convinced that the Russians have started a war, it will be attempted not so much through words as through images, as Gustave Le Bon predicted long ago in his book, The Crowd: A Study of the Popular Mind.  In analyzing the “crowd mind” in 1895, he was addressing the anxiety the middle class was feeling because of popular unrest. The fear of popular unrest, such as the truckers Freedom Convoy in Canada and the Yellow Vests in France, is today a major factor in the propaganda war waged by the elite press.  Call it class warfare.

Le Bon argued that the crowd thinks in images, not words, and it is through images that the rulers can control them. Freud agreed with his basic premise that people in groups occupied an “hypnotic state,” while adding that this was also true for individuals who craved illusions. Pessimistic as it was, Le Bon’s point about the crowd thinking in images – “The image itself immediately calls up a series of other images, having no logical connection to the first” – was picked up by all the influential propagandists, including the American father of the euphemistically named “public relations” industry, Edward Bernays. Today it is all about images, still and moving ones.

Thus, one can expect to see the media using photos and film to create an emotional response in the population to convince it that Russia, not the U.S. is the villain in this standoff.  Yet again, it may not be a standoff, for it is possible that the Biden administration is really intent on war because they have become completely untethered from reality and think such a war is winnable.  Perhaps they think they can entice Russia to take their bait and do something that can be spun as an “invasion” of Ukraine. This would run counter to Russia’s longstanding, patient diplomatic efforts to resolve these matters and to convince the U.S./NATO that the unipolar era is over and now that it is a multipolar world there must be an end to the encircling of Russia with U.S./NATO troops and weapons.

We shall see. I don’t know whether there will be a major war or not, but I know how it will be managed. I’ll give you six guesses, as does The New York Times with its newly acquired word game, Wordle. The Grey Lady also knows the answer. It’s not “censor,” for that’s six not five letters and they’ve censored the words already. It’s not “slave,” for they have prohibited that word since some people might find it offensive or get the idea that censorship is used to create slaves to the lie. It is, as required, five letters and begins with the letter “I”.

Try to picture it. It’s easy if you try.

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Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua: The US-Russia Conflict Enters a New Phase

As soon as Moscow received an American response to its security demands in Ukraine, it answered indirectly by announcing greater military integration between it and three South American countries, Nicaragua, Venezuela and Cuba.

Washington’s response, on January 26, to Russia’s demands of withdrawing NATO forces from Eastern Europe and ending talks about a possible Kyiv membership in the US-led alliance, was noncommittal.

For its part, the US spoke of ‘a diplomatic path’, which will address Russian demands through ‘confidence-building measures’. For Russia, such elusive language is clearly a non-starter.

On that same day, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov announced, in front of the Duma, Russia’s parliament, that his country “has agreed with the leaders of Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua to develop partnerships in a range of areas, including stepping up military collaboration,” Russia Today reported.

The timing of this agreement was hardly coincidental, of course. The country’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov did not hesitate to link the move to the brewing Russia- NATO conflict. Russia’s strategy in South America could potentially be “involving the Russian Navy,” if the US continues to ‘provoke’ Russia. According to Ryabkov, this is Russia’s version of the “American style (of having) several options for its foreign and military policy”.

Now that the Russians are not hiding the motives behind their military engagement in South America, going as far as considering the option of sending troops to the region, Washington is being forced to seriously consider the new variable.

Though US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan denied that Russian military presence in South America was considered in recent security talks between both countries, he described the agreement between Russia and the three South American countries as unacceptable, vowing that the US would react “decisively” to such a scenario.

The truth is, that scenario has already played out in the past. When, in January 2019, the US increased its pressure on Venezuela’s President Nicolás Maduro to concede power to the US-backed Juan Guaido, a coup seemed imminent. Chaos in the streets of Caracas, and other Venezuelan cities, mass electric outages, lack of basic food and supplies, all seemed part of an orchestrated attempt at subduing Venezuela, which has for years championed a political discourse that is based on independent and well-integrated South American countries.

For weeks, Washington continued to tighten the pressure valves imposing hundreds of sanction orders against Venezuelan entities, state-run companies and individuals. This led to Caracas’ decision to sever diplomatic ties with Washington. Ultimately, Moscow stepped in, sending in March 2019 two military planes full of troops and equipment to prevent any possible attempt at overthrowing Maduro. In the following months, Russian companies poured in to help Venezuela out of its devastating crisis, instigating another US-Russia conflict, where Washington resorted to its favorite weapon, sanctions, this time against Russian oil companies.

The reason that Russia is keen on maintaining a geostrategic presence in South America is due to the fact that a stronger Russian role in that region is coveted by several countries who are desperate to loosen Washington’s grip on their economies and political institutions.

Countries like Cuba, for example, have very little trust in the US. After having some of the decades-long sanctions lifted on Havana during the Obama administration in 2016, new sanctions were imposed during the Trump administration in 2021. That lack of trust in Washington’s political mood swings makes Cuba the perfect ally for Russia. The same logic applies to other South American countries.

It is still too early to speak with certainty about the future of Russia’s military presence in South America. What is clear, though, is the fact that Russia will continue to build on its geostrategic presence in South America, which is also strengthened by the greater economic integration between China and most South American countries. Thanks to the dual US political and economic war on Moscow and Beijing, both countries have fortified their alliance like never before.

What options does this new reality leave Washington with? Not many, especially as Washington has, for years, failed to defeat Maduro in Venezuela or to sway Cuba and others to join the pro-American camp.

Much of the outcome, however, is also dependent on whether Moscow sees itself as part of a protracted geostrategic game in South America. So far, there is little evidence to suggest that Moscow is using South America as a temporary card to be exchanged, when the time comes, for US and NATO concessions in Eastern Europe. Russia is clearly digging its heels, readying itself for the long haul.

For now, Moscow’s message to Washington is that Russia has plenty of options and that it is capable of responding to US pressure with equal or greater pressure. Indeed, if Ukraine is Russia’s red line, then South America – which has fallen under US influence since the Monroe Doctrine of 1823 – is the US’s own hemispheric red line.

As the plot thickens in Eastern Europe, Russia’s move in South America promises to add a new component that would make a win-lose scenario in favor of the US and NATO nearly impossible. An alternative outcome is for the US-led alliance to recognize the momentous changes on the world’s geopolitical map, and to simply learn to live with it.

The post Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua: The US-Russia Conflict Enters a New Phase first appeared on Dissident Voice.