Category Archives: Militarism

US Marine Press Takes on Hothouse Earth

America loves its military. It should because it’s the most expensive defense force of all time. $778B was allocated for defense spending in 2022. China comes in a distant second at $229B.

All of which prompts a provocative question: What if the Marine Corps publishes a landmark study that claims recipients of the US government defense budget are collectively responsible for accelerating the danger of climate change to very dangerous levels, in fact, to unlivable levels?

As of June 2022, that’s precisely what’s happened.

The world’s militaries, intelligence agencies, foreign affairs strategies, and think tanks are unwittingly advancing the hyperthreat, which is an acceleration of climate and environmental change leading to Hothouse Earth. This startling information is explained in detail in an eye-opening analysis in which hyperthreat is the primary subject, to wit:1

The analysis is published in two parts in the Journal of Advanced Military Studies and by the US Marine Corps University Press, which is a professional university of the US Marine Corps located in Quantico, Virginia, listing the analysis as: “An Introduction to PLAN E.”

The publications contain the following clause: The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author. They do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Marine Corps University, the U.S. Marine Corps, the Department of the Navy, or the U.S. government.

Publishing an article is ordinarily consistent with some level of tacit approval of its general tenor, especially when the article points an accusing finger at the publishing entities’ main source of existence. That’s tacit approval, in spades. Further to the point, by all appearances, the military seems to want Boulton’s thesis in the public domain as a wake up call and more likely as a brilliant strategy going forward.

The analyst/author Elizabeth G. Boulton, PhD (Australian National University) and MA of Climate Policy (University of Melbourne) is a former army major in the Australian Defence Force, serving in East Timor (1999) and Iraq (2004) and undertaking logistics work in Ghana, Nigeria, and Sudan, and a lead research officer at army headquarters.

All quotations within this article come from Boulton’s article or from the following synopsis of the article:2

A key finding in the landmark study, which applies war theory and military strategy to the dynamics of the climate and ecological crises, states that activities of military and intelligent agencies are: “Accelerating the likelihood of triggering a worst-case ‘Hothouse Earth’ scenario that would make the planet ‘unlivable for most species.”

That’s a very powerful statement that’s seldom found outside of spirited scientific analyses. Yet, it is lodged within the heartbeat of the US Marine Corps, a tacit endorsement that’s desperately needed for the political establishment to get the hint, hello out there, all is not well. For decades now Congress has handled climate change like a hot potato. That’s an amateurish way to approach an existential threat.

Moreover, and even more damning, the study argues that various agencies of government “have become the biggest danger to planetary security, in effect, working to accelerate the ‘hyperthreat’ of climate and environmental change.”

According to the study: “The hyperthreat impact is an unprecedented combination of rapid global warming and the unraveling of Earth’s ecological systems.” Of heightened concern, the study warns that the hyperthreat’s most dangerous course of action is provoking cascading tipping elements thereby accelerating a transition to: “Hothouse Earth state uninhabitable for most species.”

That statement has strong endorsements throughout the world of science, to wit: “In 2019, Ripple and colleagues (2020) warned of untold suffering and declared a climate emergency together with more than 11,000 scientist signatories from 153 countries. They presented graphs of planetary vital signs indicating very troubling trends, along with little progress by humanity to address climate change. On the basis of these data and scientists’ moral obligation to ‘clearly warn humanity of any catastrophic threat,’ they called for transformative change.”3

Timeline for Action

The Boulton study places a timeline on taking action in order to prevent a worst case scenario: “Without concerted global action between 2022 and 2025, the most dangerous course of action is also the most likely course of action.”

Failure to address the danger within the 2022-25 timeline with proactive real time actual policies is explained in war terms: “The hyperthreat has ‘war-like destructive capabilities’ that make it hard to recognize the enormity of its destructive impacts or ‘who is responsible for its hostile actions.’ This is a phenomenon that humanity has never encountered before.”

The study identifies the difficult-to-grasp and stealthy nature of the hyperthreat by focusing on the main centre of gravity, which is its freedom of movement via invisibility and unknowability and human hesitancy to respond: “Human activity that fuels the hyperthreat is (1) often legal (2) has social license or (3) is understood as legitimate business or security activity; its contribution to slow violence is often obscured.”

For example, legitimate activity includes plans to exploit fossil fuel and natural ecological resources at rates and scales that exceed safe planetary boundaries: “Indeed, while declaring all manner of ‘net zero’ commitments, oil and gas firms continue to plan vast fossil fuel production projects. If executed, these would drive climate change beyond internationally-agreed temperature limits, leading to potentially catastrophic impacts.

The world’s biggest oil and gas companies are projected to spend $932 billion by the end of 2030 developing new oil and gas fields, according to a new analysis of Rystad Energy, data by Global Witness and Oil Change International… And by the end of 2040, this figure grows to an even more staggering $1.5 trillion.”4

But, what if that same $1.5T was spent on renewables and mitigation measures, e.g., retrofitting buildings to maximum energy efficiency or sustainable public transportation or enhancing carbon sinks?

As for coal, China is now building or planning to build in China and elsewhere in the world new coal plants amounting to 176 gigawatts of coal capacity, enough to power 123 million homes. 5

Additionally: 6

“By seeking to protect the existing fossil fuel system, humanity’s security agencies are in effect working for the enemy.”  Yet, this is not intentional behavior, rather, it’s the effect of national security institutions entangled within the status quo. It’s normal operational behavior.

Further clarification by Boulton: “After the Second World War, military strategy traditionally involved securing resources and protecting supply chains – all considered crucial to post-war rebuilding and prosperity narratives. But it is now clear that this very system, which military and security strategies are designed to support, is the primary driver of global insecurity.”

In a twisted manner, the very resources regarded as good and critical for functioning of the global system now threaten all forms of planetary life. “By applying economic, diplomatic, military, and other tools of force and power to participate in the ‘race for what’s left’ of Earth’s resources, humanity is unwittingly aiding the hyperthreat.”

Plan E

Dr. Boulton has elaborate plans to head off the biggest threat of all time, including a radical transformation of security paradigms. The next 8 years are pivotal. Defense resources need to develop a “whole of society approach, bringing into the fold numerous civilian capabilities to leverage Earth’s entire human population as an asset.”

The list of recommendations is beyond the scope of this article, but a couple of ideas follow herein:

For a full explanation, the link to Dr. Boulton’s article in the Journal of Advanced Military Studies, Marine Corps University Press go to: https://muse.jhu.edu/article/857233

One idea is establishment of a Global Climate Emergency Peace Treaty from 2022 to 2030 to allow nations to focus on the emergency hyper-response.

Another idea is to use international diplomacy to create a new, neutral, rules-based governing architecture for the world based on “ecological survival and safe Earth requirements… For this, we need to reimagine the role of great powers in the world, realigning geopolitical security with the overarching aim of containing the hyperthreat.”

Dr Boulton explores how ecological thinking can be used to reinvent traditional political institutions. Multilateralism should become ecomultilateralism to facilitate cooperation on caring for ecosystems and disaster response. “Earth citizenship’ could allow nations to mobilise the world’s 18 million work-ready forcibly displaced people in hyper-response work.”

In essence, “Plan E or a Grand Strategy for the Twenty-first Century Era of Entangled Security and Hyperthreats” utilizes a transdisciplinary approach to the idea of framing climate and environmental change as a new type of threat, a hyperthreat and when properly framed: “This approach contrasts to prior literature and longstanding geopolitical discourse that identify the risks of taking a securitization approach.” Instead, the author argues that it is now riskier not to consider climate and environmental change within a mainstream geopolitical and nation-state security strategy.

Dr. Boulton’s detailed analysis, combined with a generous layout of how to tackle the issue, is perhaps one of the finest approaches extant, bringing together a well-reasoned all-in all-together approach of forces to defeat a monster by the same forces that bred and fed the monster at its inception.

The Boulton thesis is an extraordinarily important statement of facts about the invisibility and difficultly of identifying risks that, in point of fact, are normal operating behavior inbred into the socio-economic fabric of late stage capitalism which, according to the Boulton thesis, can be detoured and maybe even defeated but only by well-directed powerful universal action commencing this decade.

But, the window for achievement is narrow.

Postscript: The US Supreme Court has declared war against the EPA by hampering, effectively eliminating, public policy to control polluting fossil fuels. This dangerous ruling effectively pokes a stick in the eye of military security concerns about Hothouse Earth by its own military and tens of thousands of scientists throughout the world, as the US takes one more gigantic step backwards into an era known as the Wild West when rugged individualism ruled the domain with guns blazing.

  1. “Plan E: A Grand Strategy for the Twenty-first Century Era of Entangled Security and Hyperthreats” by Elizabeth G. Boulton, PhD, Publisher – Journal of Advanced Military Studies, Vol. 13, No. 1, 2022.
  2. “Defence Agencies ‘Accelerating’ Risk of ‘Hothouse Earth’, US Military Study Warns”, David Spratt, Climate Code Red, June 27, 2022.
  3. “World Scientists’ Warning of a Climate Emergency 2021”, BioScience, Oxford Academic, September 9, 2021.
  4. “World’s Biggest Fossil Fuel Firms Projected to Spend Almost a Trillion Dollars on New Oil and Gas Fields by 2030”, Global Witness and Oil Change International, April 12, 2022.
  5. New Scientist, April 26, 2022
  6. “India Expected to Commission 10 Thermal Coal Power Plants in 2022-23, add 7,010 MW.” S&P Global Commodity Insights, June 3, 2022.
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Severodonetsk: Deciphering News of the War in Ukraine

Unless the Ukrainians have a decisive victory or a Russian advance is too great to hide, news of the war follows a pattern of headlines:

Russians shell dozens of Ukrainian towns in the Donbas

Casualties rise as Russia makes incremental gains in east

From the New York Times “The ruined industrial city in eastern Ukraine fell after months of Russian bombardment and weeks of urban combat. Like Mariupol, it became emblematic of the savagery of the war.”

Read similar articles and learn the content rarely follows the headline. Search Google and try to find images of a ruined and severely shelled Severodonetsk. Well, here is one. Take this headline from WION – World Is One News with global headquarters in New Delhi.

Satellite images reveal widespread destruction in Ukrainian industrial city of Sievierodonetsk

“High-resolution images collected by Maxar Technologies over a period of 24 hours on Monday show damaged buildings from artillery shelling in downtown Severodonetsk and around a hospital. From a hole in the roof, to charred buildings, the images showcase how the area has been laid waste by constant shelling.”

Note: Several online media published the exact same display of images and commentary.

Well, let’s see. Here is the first image.

Satellite image shows destroyed buildings in Rubizhne, Ukraine, near Sievierodonetsk.

Oh, not Sievierodonetsk, but a village near Sievierodonetsk.

This same photo has appeared under other headlines, such as: The Washington Post, Severodonetsk defenders holding out under merciless shelling, mayor says

“Severodonetsk, an industrial hub, is key to Russia’s plan as its fall would open up the route to Kramatorsk, the main city of Donetsk. At least 70 per cent of Severodonetsk is reported to be under Russian control, though the Ukrainian forces are fighting back. Ukraine repelling Russian attacks. The regional governor, Serhiy Haidai said tough street battles were continuing with varying degrees of success. ‘The situation constantly changes, but the Ukrainians are repelling attacks,’ he said.”

Next image.

A 40-meter crater can be seen next to destroyed buildings.

Evidently, this is not the industrial city of Sievierodonetsk.

“Sievierodonetsk important for Putin. Russia seeks victory in Sievierodonetsk, which would give it full control of Luhansk province. When Vladimir Putin began his invasion on 24 February, he pledged to “liberate” the parts of Donetsk and Luhansk where were in separatist hands.”

Next image.

This image shows a field peppered with craters caused by artillery, northwest of Slovyansk

“Russian forces have been focused for weeks on seizing Sievierodonetsk, which was home to some 106,000 people before Moscow invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, but the Luhansk region’s governor said Ukrainian forces would not surrender the city.:

Next image.

This image shows active artillery shelling in the town of Bogorodichne, Ukraine, northwest of Slovyansk

Where are photos of Sievierodonetsk?

“Widespread destruction (of Sievierodonetsk?)”

O.K.

This satellite image shows damaged buildings around a hospital in Sievierodonetsk, Ukraine

Wait a second!

(1) Where is the widespread destruction? I only see one possible bomb hit. Other dark spots are shadows.

(2) Is that really a hospital? The Red Cross is on top of vegetation. Has it been photoshopped? Note there is no parking lot nor cars parked by the “hospital.” Don’t people work there or visit?

CNN published the same image under the headline, “At least 2 hospitals hit by military strikes in Severodonetsk and Rubizhne, new satellite images show.” Does the image show a bombed hospital?

There must be some images of this heavily shelled Severodonetsk. Googled “heavily shelled Severodonetsk.”

Came up with the same previous image provided by Maxar Technologies, which showed destroyed buildings in Rubizhne, Ukraine near Severodonetsk. All other images were those of smoke rising over Severodonetsk. None of the images showed damage to the city.

Smoke rises during shelling of the city of Severodonetsk in eastern Ukraine on May 21

Tried YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tuC7zqWtEpw, which featured a video of Ukraine: images of shelling over Severodonetsk | AFP

The YouTube video showed only some noise and smoke, no extensive damages

Washington Post

“Ukrainian soldiers in Severodonetsk, the eastern city under continuous Russian bombardment, are holding their positions despite relentless shelling, and troops are “doing their utmost to defend the city,” its mayor, Oleksandr Stryuk, said Tuesday. The satellite images show fields full of artillery craters, city blocks reduced to rubble and a 130-foot bomb scar.

The Ukrainian government has said that about 90 percent of the buildings are destroyed.”

Press on the link The satellite images show and it will return to the articles – no images, that’s right, no images, and no “about 90 percent of the buildings are destroyed. ”

Conclusion

Western media, which tends to always degrade its adversaries, as long as they continue to be adversaries — Russia, China, Iran. Gaddafi Libya and not the post-Gaddafi Libya — report a one-sided view of the war. Other media, attempting to capture audience, sensationalize catastrophes. Obtaining credible reports of the war in Ukraine requires shuffling through several accounts and piecing them together to make a logical analysis. Undoubtedly, Severodonetsk suffered from shelling and had some serious, but not extensive damage. The Russians encircled the city, destroyed the bridges, and then entered the city, which the Ukraine army was not equipped to defend. After two weeks of retreating within the city, the remnants of the Ukrainian army left.

The post Severodonetsk: Deciphering News of the War in Ukraine first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Troops on the Ground Prove Canada is at War with Russia

Canada is at war with Russia. But the government doesn’t want to talk about it.

On Saturday the New York Times reported that Canadian special forces are part of a NATO network providing weapons and training to Ukrainian forces. The elite troops are also in the country gathering intelligence on Russian operations.

The Department of National Defence refused Ottawa Citizen military reporter David Pugliese’s request for comment on the US paper’s revelations. But in late January Global News and CTV reported that the usually highly secretive special forces were sent to Ukraine. (Canadian special forces have been dispatched secretly to many war zones.)

Alongside special forces, an unknown number of former Canadian troops have been fighting in Ukraine. There have been a bevy of stories about Canadians traveling to Ukraine to join the fight and organizers initially claimed over 500 individuals joined while the Russian government recently estimated that 600 Canadians were fighting there (Both the Canadian organizers and Moscow would have reasons to inflate the numbers). Early on, Foreign Minister Mélanie Joly and Defence Minister Anita Anand both encouraged Canadians to join the fight, which may have violated Canada’s Foreign Enlistment Act.

Top commanders have also joined the war. After more than 30 years in the Canadian Forces lieutenant-general Trevor Cadieu retired on April 5 (amidst a rape investigation) and was in Ukraine days later. At one-point Cadieu was favoured to lead the Canadian Forces.

On Saturday a number of media outlets reported that former Chief of the Defence Staff Rick Hillier is heading a strategic advisory group supporting and advising Ukraine’s Territorial Defence Force. The mandate of the Hillier led council is to equip Ukraine’s 100,000-member volunteer reserve force.

Over the past four months Ottawa has delivered or allocated over $600 million in weapons to Ukraine. They’ve sent 20,000 artillery shells, 4,500 M72 rocket launchers, 7,500 hand grenades, a hundred Carl-Gustaf M2 anti-tank weapons, thousands of rounds of ammunition, light armoured vehicles and other arms to fight Russia.

Canada has also adopted an unprecedented sanctions regime on Russia. According to Politico, Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland led the international charge to freeze over $300 billion in Russian Central Bank assets. Ottawa is also leading the international campaign to seize Russian assets and give them to Ukraine.

Ottawa has offered more than two billion dollars in direct assistance to the Ukrainian government since the start of the year. Under the auspices of the International Monetary Fund Canada instigated the multi-donor Administered Account for Ukraine. A sizable share of Canada’s assistance has gone to prosecuting the war.

Ottawa has also put up millions of dollars for the International Criminal Court to investigate Russian officials and has labeled Russia’s war a “genocide”. Canadian officials have repeatedly described the conflict as a fight for freedom while openly spurning peace negotiations.

The past four months of fighting should be viewed — at least in part — as an escalation in a eight years US/UK/Canada proxy war with Russia. Canadians greatly assisted Ukrainian forces fighting in a conflict that saw 14,000 killed in the Donbas before Russia’s illegal invasion.

Canada played a significant role in arming and training the Ukrainian military long before Russia’s brutal February 24 invasion. The federal government spent $900 million to train Ukrainian forces following the Canadian-backed overthrow of elected President Viktor Yanukovych in 2014. Between April 2015 and February 2022 Canadian troops — rotated every six months — trained 33,346 Ukrainian soldiers as part of Operation UNIFIER. Canadian military trainers helped restore Ukraine’s “decrepit” army prompting former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko to dub former Canadian defence minister Jason Kenney “the godfather of the modern Ukrainian army” due to his role in instigating Operation Unifier.

UNIFIER reinforced Ukrainian forces fighting in the east and enabled Kyiv to avoid its commitments under the Minsk II peace accord, which was overseen by France and Germany in February 2015. When UNIFIER was launched the Russian Embassy in Ottawa released a statement labeling the mission a “deplorable” move “to assist the military buildup playing into the hands of ‘party of war in Kiev’”, which was their pejorative description for Poroshenko’s government.

Prior to the February 24 Russian invasion, the US and UK had also spent billions of dollars training and arming the Ukrainian military. The CIA ran a secret training program in Ukraine and over the past four months the agency has helped direct Ukrainian war efforts. Over the past few months, the US, UK and other NATO states have plowed tens of billions of dollars of weaponry into the country.

While more details on the scope of Western involvement will likely emerge in the coming months and years, there is enough information in the public record to conclude that Canada’s indeed at war in Ukraine. Further escalation is likely, particularly with Lithuania’s recent blockade of the Russian territory of Kalingrad. The 700 Canadian troops leading a NATO mission in Latvia will be on the frontline if fighting spreads to the Baltic states.

Despite facts on the ground, there’s been no vote in Parliament about whether it’s a good idea for Canada to go to war with a nuclear armed state.

The post Troops on the Ground Prove Canada is at War with Russia first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Out with the Old, In with the New

The shifting baseline syndrome requires today’s people disavowing things written 10 years ago, even five years ago, but those books, articles, whitepapers and radio broadcasts are actually ahead of their time . . .

And what is that expiration date for good, sound, righteous news and writing and broadcasting?

I see more and more young people, and older ones, relying on up-to-the-minute news and up-to-the-minute authors to set the stage of their own personal collapse. Who do you need to hear, watch and rarely debate to help frame collapse?

Analysis paralysis, climate change fatigue, and, alas, the insanity of echo chambers and the constrant high pitched whine of the mainstream news, the mainstream thinkers and all the handlers of us, including the gatekeepers, those are today’s diseases, much more than mental malaise.

This is the groundhog day show, when people today think they are in the know because of some piece of ProPublica, investigative new or news feature, because of another hundredth documentary consumed in a year, and all the noise coming from these script readers and yellers and scammers we call the mainstream media.

For instance, how do we feed out kids, get our roads fixed, live healthy, and pull down the system, end the system, with stories like this?

Meet the Billionaire and Rising GOP Mega-Donor Who’s Gaming the Tax System

Susquehanna founder and TikTok investor Jeff Yass has avoided $1 billion in taxes while largely escaping public scrutiny. He’s now pouring his money into campaigns to cut taxes and support election deniers.

by Justin Elliott, Jesse Eisinger, Paul Kiel, Jeff Ernsthausen and Doris Burke

There is no difference between Tucker or Rachel. They are in it for the money, the accumulation of power, and the attention. Narcissim, and neglecting context and history and mutliple points of view, definitely defining characteristics of this day and age.

And so many wagons are circling, so many lobbies running the America citizen into the ground. So much is broken and wrong about the way the USA operates, that we are at the point of living in a world of thirty five adult, full-grown clowns coming out of the VW Bug or compact car.

I have these conversations daily about how much the average person has abandoned sanity or any faith or confidence in systems meant for The People, meant as entitlements for WE The People. That the pigs of commerce are gouging Americans on every leveL, that the housing crisis is more crises, that all those bombs and bullets and balistics are shipping to the Zionist Zelensky, that all of that is happening, but, oh, my, what to do about it?

We have insane people in positions of power, positions of middling influence, and then, of course, policy makers are in the pockets of the millionaires and billionaires, and then, we are at a point where, say, the community where I reside, Waldport and Newport, the dam holding our water source is crumbling and any action on it has to wait until the lottery numbers come in. Casino capitalism. Money for infrastructure gained through gaming the system, through gambling addiction.

Newport City Council approved $600,000 from federal relief funds for design tasks to replace the Big Creek dams, keeping the project moving while the city awaits state lottery bond funds and hopes for a much larger contribution from the federal government.

Last year, the Oregon Legislature approved a budget with $14 million appropriated for design and replacement of the earthen Big Creek dams, which are vulnerable to failure from relatively minor seismic event and showing signs of internal seepage. Those funds would bring the city through the design process and might contribute some to initial construction. (Source)

The incredible darkness of their lies, all of them, until here we are, stuck in a loop with Pig Trump and Pig Biden and all the Pigs of Politics.

How much money is funneled into the so-called Pentagon?

Really, how dependent is this country, USA, on the military machines? Military is everything — logistics, air, water, land, space, burgers  and buttons, and trillions of dollars spent to prop up the welfare queens and kings of profiteering. War mercenaries, and profit players.

And what is this new green economy? What is this divestment from hydrocarbons? Americans and many in the Woke UK and EU, they live in a make-believe world, fully Disneyfied. Absolutely stupid greenies in terms of how things are made — think steel and aluminum and concrete and, well, embedded energy and life-cycles of products all embedded in oil!

Oh the headlines:

Tryzub: The National Revolution Fantasized by Ukranian Nationalists

‘Ukraine Fatigue’ Intensifies as Sanctions Boomerang Ravages Western Economies

Western Media and Politicians Prefer to Ignore the Truth about Civilians Killed in Donetsk Shelling

Southern Ukraine is the Priority in NATO’s Planning

Most African Countries Support Russia

The Ukraine Crisis Will Be the END of NATO

I have no mercy or compassion in me for a society that will crush people, and then penalize them for not being able to stand up under the weight.

— Malcolm X, , 1925-1965

So here we are: young people have no idea how the old days were the days of now, where solutions to the many problems were in the hands of communities, with farming, arts, communitarian spirit, sharing economy, mutual aid, rebuffing all those powers, all those instruments of suppression and oppression. The good old days were never put into play to the point of mass movements to oust the purveyors of pain, from militaries, to the government, to the corporation.

The good old ways, that is, those that embodied a spirit of honor and sharing, what the the Iroquois Great Law of Peace was about: a constitution that established a democracy between five Iroquois-speaking tribes—the Seneca, Cayuga, Oneida, Onondaga, and Mohawk. This group of five nations, called the Iroquois Confederacy, was established around 1450.

Making decisions now that will affect seven generations out originated with the Iroquois – Great Law of the Iroquois – which holds appropriate to think seven generations ahead (about 525 years into the future, which is counted by multiplying the 75 years of an average human lifespan by 7) and decide whether the decisions they make today would benefit those unborn generations.

In 1744, the Onondaga leader Canassatego gave a speech urging the contentious 13 colonies to unite, as the Iroquois had at the signing of the Treaty of Lancaster. This cultural exchange inspired the English colonist Benjamin Franklin to print Canassatego’s speech.

“We heartily recommend Union and a good Agreement between you our Brethren,” Canassatego had said. “Never disagree, but preserve a strict Friendship for one another, and thereby you, as well as we, will become the stronger. Our wise Forefathers established Union and Amity between the Five Nations; this has made us formidable; this has given us great Weight and Authority with our neighboring Nations. We are a powerful Confederacy; and, by your observing the same Methods our wise Forefathers have taken, you will acquire fresh Strength and Power; therefore whatever befalls you, never fall out one with another.”

He used a metaphor that many arrows cannot be broken as easily as one. This inspired the bundle of 13 arrows held by an eagle in the Great Seal of the United States. (source)

The Great Seal of the United States ca. 1917 - 1919

Their constitution, recorded and kept alive on a two row wampum belt, held many concepts familiar to United States citizens today.

Iroquois Confederacy and the Great Law of Peace United States Constitution
Restricts members from holding more than one office in the Confederacy. Article I, Section 6, Clause 2, also known as the Ineligibility Clause or the Emoluments Clause bars members of serving members of Congress from holding offices established by the federal government, while also baring members of the executive branch or judicial branch from serving in the U.S. House or Senate.
Outlines processes to remove leaders within the Confederacy Article II, Section 4 reads “The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and the conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other High Crimes and Misdemeanors.”
Designates two branches of legislature with procedures for passing laws Article I, Section 1, or the Vesting Clauses, read “All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.” It goes on to outline their legislative powers.
Delineates who has the power to declare war Article I, Section 8, Clause 11, also known as the War Powers Clause, gives Congress the power, “To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water;”
Creates a balance of power between the Iroquois Confederacy and individual tribes The differing duties assigned to the three branches of the U.S. Government: Legislative (Congress), Executive (President), and Judicial (Supreme Court) act to balance and separate power in government.

Oh, those old ways, no? Ignored: Native American democratic principles focus on the creation of strong kinship bonds that promote leadership in which honor is not earned by material gain but by service to others. Read again — honor not earned by material gain but service to others.

Imagine that tattoo on the foreheads of these evil politicians.

Check out my old stuff, long form interviews, over the radio. Here, on my Word Press site:

Yes, old stuff I uploaded, and, who the hell listens to old radio shows in this day and age? Who would care about my own education during these 56 minute episodes? People like authors, scientists, food experts, activists, etc.?

Check it out — Tipping Points: Voices from the Edge, Spokane, low power community radio! Here, my preamble. Note that I am not a greenie weenie, and I have always doubted the sustainability arena, the New Urbanism crap, all of that, really, since all of what I have learned in courses and certifications and degrees is that CAPITALISM is the bulldozer and the media manipulator of any possible bottom up way to solve myriad of problems, not just tied to resource piracy, biopiray, land grabs, resource thefts, pollution-pollution-pollution, toxicity-toxicity-toxicity.

Podcast list — Paul’s radio show from the mid-2000s. Ironically, poets, thinkers, scientists, community engagement experts, and book authors talked to me with an open mind. I engaged in exchanges of ideas. I was not a stenographer, and yes, I do jump in and have my own spin or take on things. I, of course, have changed my way toward enlightenment compared to the period of 2001 – 2011 I was in Spokane, writing, creating columns, teaching, and involved in activism. I am more grounded in my socialism and my communism. Working anywhere in the USA, Amerikkka, means covering up or masking one’s true self. Capitalism is a form of totalitarianism, and fascism in its own way. I have witnessed colonization of formerly independent thinkers, then a hive mentality take over and then just Plain Jane Stockholm Syndrome seeping into the collective, at large, especially within Democratic Party supporters. Academics. Woke folk. Et al. Enjoy these people, these historic and cutting edge long-form radio conversations!

Note: Realize that the greenie weenies, the Green New Deal (not for nature and people) proponents, the end of fossil fuel folk, all those liberals in the liberal managerial class, please, realize, that I was up against them. For this radio station, this low power community radio station, I had back-stabbers and retrogrades. If you realize the value of this body of work, in a span of two years (and I did work for a living, since this was a gratis gig), then you might understand where I am now, listening to and observing the rot, smelling the putridity, and all the monetizing of some really bad show. Good ones, too, thank goodness, supported me, but I was already deeply victimized by cancel culture. Some of the worse are the compliant ones, the herd, those that call themselves green and organic. However, many of those types hated my show, hated my work, and, well, many loved the work, but those are not the pied piper types. It’s the haters who come out from their dirty sheets at night like an army of bedbugs.

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The Lethality of Washington’s Global Monroe Doctrine

LeRoy Clarke (Trinidad and Tobago), Now, 1970.

This past week, as part of its policy to dominate the American hemisphere, the United States government organised the 9th Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles. US President Joe Biden made it clear early on that three countries in the hemisphere (Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela) would not be invited to the event, claiming that they are not democracies. At the same time, Biden was reportedly planning an upcoming visit to Saudi Arabia – a self-described theocracy. Mexico’s President Andrés Manuel López Obrador questioned the legitimacy of Biden’s exclusionary stance, and so Mexico, Bolivia, and Honduras refused to come to the event. As it turned out, the summit was a fiasco.

Down the road, over a hundred organisations hosted a People’s Summit for Democracy, where thousands of people from across the hemisphere gathered to celebrate the actual democratic spirit which emerges from the struggles of peasants and workers, students and feminists, and all the people who are excluded from the gaze of the powerful. At this gathering, the presidents of Cuba and Venezuela joined in online to celebrate this festival of democracy and to condemn the weaponisation of democratic ideals by the United States and its allies.

Next year, 2023, will be the bicentennial of the Monroe Doctrine, when the US asserted its hegemony over the American hemisphere. The malign spirit of the Monroe Doctrine not only continues but has now been extended by the US government into a kind of Global Monroe Doctrine. In order to assert this preposterous claim on the entire planet, the United States has pursued a policy to ‘weaken’ what it sees as ‘near peer rivals’, namely China and Russia.

Philip Guston (Canada), Blackboard, 1969.

In July, Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research – along with Monthly Review and No Cold War – will produce a booklet on the reckless military escalation by the US government against those whom it sees as its adversaries – mainly China and Russia. This booklet will include essays by John Bellamy Foster, editor of Monthly Review, Deborah Veneziale, a journalist based in Italy, and John Ross, a member of the No Cold War collective. In the vein of that booklet, which will be announced in this newsletter, No Cold War has also produced briefing no. 3, Is the United States Preparing for War with Russia and China?, on Washington’s sabre-rattling and alarming march toward nuclear primacy.

The war in Ukraine demonstrates a qualitative escalation of the United States’ willingness to use military force. In recent decades, the US launched wars on developing countries such as Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and Serbia. In these campaigns, the US knew it enjoyed overwhelming military superiority and that there was no risk of a nuclear retaliation. However, in threatening to bring Ukraine into the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), the US was prepared to risk crossing what it knew to be the ‘red lines’ of the nuclear armed state of Russia. This raises two questions: why has the US undertaken this escalation, and how far is the US now prepared to go in the use of military force against not only the Global South but major powers such as China or Russia?

Using Military Force to Compensate for Economic Decline

The answer to ‘why’ is clear: the US has lost in peaceful economic competition to developing countries in general and China in particular. According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), in 2016 China overtook the US as the world’s largest economy. As of 2021, China accounted for 19% of the global economy, compared to the US at 16%. This gap is only growing wider, and, by 2027, the IMF projects that China’s economy will outsize the US by nearly 30%. However, the US has maintained unrivalled global military supremacy – its military expenditure is larger than the next nine highest spending countries combined. Seeking to maintain unipolar global dominance, the US is increasingly substituting peaceful economic competition with military force.

Ikeda Manabu (Japan), Meltdown, 2013.

A good starting point to understand this strategic shift in US policy is the speech given by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on 26 May 2022. In it, Blinken openly admitted that the US does not seek military equality with other states, but military supremacy, particularly with respect to China: ‘President Biden has instructed the Department of Defense to hold China as its pacing challenge, to ensure that our military stays ahead’. However, with nuclear armed states such as China or Russia, military supremacy necessitates achieving nuclear supremacy – an escalation above and beyond the current war in Ukraine.

The Pursuit of Nuclear Primacy

Since the beginning of the 21st century, the US has systematically withdrawn from key treaties limiting the threat of use of nuclear weapons: in 2002, the US unilaterally exited  from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty; in 2019, the US abandoned the Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty; and, in 2020, the US withdrew from the Open Skies Treaty. Abandoning these treaties strengthened the US’ ability to seek nuclear supremacy.

Natalia Goncharova (Russia), Angels Throwing Stones on the City, 1911.

The ultimate aim of this US policy is to acquire ‘first strike’ capacity against Russia and China – the ability to inflict damage with a first use of nuclear weapons against Russia or China to the extent that it effectively prevents retaliation. As John Bellamy Foster has noted in a comprehensive study of this US nuclear build up, even in the case of Russia – which possesses the world’s most advanced non-US nuclear arsenal – this would ‘deny Moscow a viable second-strike option, effectively eliminating its nuclear deterrent altogether, through “decapitation”’. In reality, the fallout and threat of nuclear winter from such a strike would threaten the entire world.

This policy of nuclear primacy has long been pursued by certain circles within Washington. In 2006, it was argued in the leading US foreign policy journal Foreign Affairs that ‘It will probably soon be possible for the United States to destroy the long-range nuclear arsenals of Russia or China with a first strike’.  Contrary to these hopes, the US has not yet been able to achieve a first strike capacity, but this is due to development of hypersonic missiles and other weapons by Russia and China – not a change in US policy.

From its attacks on Global South countries to its increased willingness to go to war with a great power such as Russia to attempting to gain first strike nuclear capacity, the logic behind the escalation of US militarism is clear: the United States is increasingly employing military force to compensate for its economic decline. In this extremely dangerous period, it is vital for humanity that all progressive forces unite to meet this great threat.

Shefa Salem (Libya), KASKA, Dance of War, 2020.

In 1991, when the Soviet Union collapsed and the Global South remained gripped by a never-ending debt crisis, the United States bombed Iraq despite entreaties from the Iraqi government for a negotiated agreement. During that bombing, the Libyan writer Ahmad Ibrahim al-Faqih penned a lyrical poem, ‘Nafaq Tudiuhu Imra Wahida’ (‘A Tunnel Lit by a Woman’), in which he sang, ‘A time has passed, and another time has not come and will never come’. Gloom defined the moment.

Today, we are in very dangerous times. And yet, the despondency of al-Faqih does not define our sensibility. The mood has altered. There is a belief in a world beyond imperialism, a mood that is not only evident in countries such as Cuba and China, but equally in India and Japan, as well as amongst the hard-working people who would like our collective attention to be focused on the actual dilemmas of humanity and not on the ugliness of war and domination.

The post The Lethality of Washington’s Global Monroe Doctrine first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Everything Is a Weapon

Have you ever wondered who’s pulling the strings? … Anything we touch is a weapon. We can deceive, persuade, change, influence, inspire. We come in many forms. We are everywhere.
— U.S. Army Psychological Operations recruitment video

The U.S. government is waging psychological warfare on the American people.

No, this is not a conspiracy theory.

Psychological warfare, according to the Rand Corporation, “involves the planned use of propaganda and other psychological operations to influence the opinions, emotions, attitudes, and behavior of opposition groups.”

For years now, the government has been bombarding the citizenry with propaganda campaigns and psychological operations aimed at keeping us compliant, easily controlled and supportive of the police state’s various efforts abroad and domestically.

The government is so confident in its Orwellian powers of manipulation that it’s taken to bragging about them. Just recently, for example, the U.S. Army’s 4th Psychological Operations Group, the branch of the military responsible for psychological warfare, released a recruiting video that touts its efforts to pull the strings, turn everything they touch into a weapon, be everywhere, deceive, persuade, change, influence, and inspire.

This is the danger that lurks in plain sight.

Of the many weapons in the government’s vast arsenal, psychological warfare may be the most devastating in terms of the long-term consequences.

As the military journal Task and Purpose explains, “Psychological warfare is all about influencing governments, people of power, and everyday citizens… PSYOP soldiers’ key missions are to influence ‘emotions, notices, reasoning, and behavior of foreign governments and citizens,’ ‘deliberately deceive’ enemy forces, advise governments, and provide communications for disaster relief and rescue efforts.”

Yet don’t be fooled into thinking these psyops (psychological operations) campaigns are only aimed at foreign enemies. The government has made clear in word and deed that “we the people” are domestic enemies to be targeted, tracked, manipulated, micromanaged, surveilled, viewed as suspects, and treated as if our fundamental rights are mere privileges that can be easily discarded.

Aided and abetted by technological advances and scientific experimentation, the government has been subjecting the American people to “apple-pie propaganda” for the better part of the last century.

Consider some of the ways in which the government continues to wage psychological warfare on a largely unsuspecting citizenry.

Weaponizing violence. With alarming regularity, the nation continues to be subjected to spates of violence that terrorizes the public, destabilizes the country’s ecosystem, and gives the government greater justifications to crack down, lock down, and institute even more authoritarian policies for the so-called sake of national security without many objections from the citizenry.

Weaponizing surveillance, pre-crime and pre-thought campaigns. Surveillance, digital stalking and the data mining of the American people add up to a society in which there’s little room for indiscretions, imperfections, or acts of independence. When the government sees all and knows all and has an abundance of laws to render even the most seemingly upstanding citizen a criminal and lawbreaker, then the old adage that you’ve got nothing to worry about if you’ve got nothing to hide no longer applies. Add pre-crime programs into the mix with government agencies and corporations working in tandem to determine who is a potential danger and spin a sticky spider-web of threat assessments, behavioral sensing warnings, flagged “words,” and “suspicious” activity reports using automated eyes and ears, social media, behavior sensing software, and citizen spies, and you having the makings for a perfect dystopian nightmare. The government’s war on crime has now veered into the realm of social media and technological entrapment, with government agents adopting fake social media identities and AI-created profile pictures in order to surveil, target and capture potential suspects.

Weaponizing digital currencies, social media scores and censorship. Tech giants, working with the government, have been meting out their own version of social justice by way of digital tyranny and corporate censorship, muzzling whomever they want, whenever they want, on whatever pretext they want in the absence of any real due process, review or appeal. Unfortunately, digital censorship is just the beginning. Digital currencies (which can be used as “a tool for government surveillance of citizens and control over their financial transactions”), combined with social media scores and surveillance capitalism create a litmus test to determine who is worthy enough to be part of society and punish individuals for moral lapses and social transgressions (and reward them for adhering to government-sanctioned behavior). In China, millions of individuals and businesses, blacklisted as “unworthy” based on social media credit scores that grade them based on whether they are “good” citizens, have been banned from accessing financial markets, buying real estate or travelling by air or train.

Weaponizing compliance. Even the most well-intentioned government law or program can be—and has been—perverted, corrupted and used to advance illegitimate purposes once profit and power are added to the equation. The war on terror, the war on drugs, the war on COVID-19, the war on illegal immigration, asset forfeiture schemes, road safety schemes, school safety schemes, eminent domain: all of these programs started out as legitimate responses to pressing concerns and have since become weapons of compliance and control in the police state’s hands.

Weaponizing entertainment. For the past century, the Department of Defense’s Entertainment Media Office has provided Hollywood with equipment, personnel and technical expertise at taxpayer expense. In exchange, the military industrial complex has gotten a starring role in such blockbusters as Top Gun and its rebooted sequel Top Gun: Maverick, which translates to free advertising for the war hawks, recruitment of foot soldiers for the military empire, patriotic fervor by the taxpayers who have to foot the bill for the nation’s endless wars, and Hollywood visionaries working to churn out dystopian thrillers that make the war machine appear relevant, heroic and necessary. As Elmer Davis, a CBS broadcaster who was appointed the head of the Office of War Information, observed, “The easiest way to inject a propaganda idea into most people’s minds is to let it go through the medium of an entertainment picture when they do not realize that they are being propagandized.”

Weaponizing behavioral science and nudging. Apart from the overt dangers posed by a government that feels justified and empowered to spy on its people and use its ever-expanding arsenal of weapons and technology to monitor and control them, there’s also the covert dangers associated with a government empowered to use these same technologies to influence behaviors en masse and control the populace. In fact, it was President Obama who issued an executive order directing federal agencies to use “behavioral science” methods to minimize bureaucracy and influence the way people respond to government programs. It’s a short hop, skip and a jump from a behavioral program that tries to influence how people respond to paperwork to a government program that tries to shape the public’s views about other, more consequential matters. Thus, increasingly, governments around the world—including in the United States—are relying on “nudge units” to steer citizens in the direction the powers-that-be want them to go, while preserving the appearance of free will.

Weaponizing desensitization campaigns aimed at lulling us into a false sense of security. The events of recent years—the invasive surveillance, the extremism reports, the civil unrest, the protests, the shootings, the bombings, the military exercises and active shooter drills, the lockdowns, the color-coded alerts and threat assessments, the fusion centers, the transformation of local police into extensions of the military, the distribution of military equipment and weapons to local police forces, the government databases containing the names of dissidents and potential troublemakers—have conspired to acclimate the populace to accept a police state willingly, even gratefully.

Weaponizing fear and paranoia. The language of fear is spoken effectively by politicians on both sides of the aisle, shouted by media pundits from their cable TV pulpits, marketed by corporations, and codified into bureaucratic laws that do little to make our lives safer or more secure. Fear, as history shows, is the method most often used by politicians to increase the power of government and control a populace, dividing the people into factions, and persuading them to see each other as the enemy. This Machiavellian scheme has so ensnared the nation that few Americans even realize they are being manipulated into adopting an “us” against “them” mindset. Instead, fueled with fear and loathing for phantom opponents, they agree to pour millions of dollars and resources into political elections, militarized police, spy technology and endless wars, hoping for a guarantee of safety that never comes. All the while, those in power—bought and paid for by lobbyists and corporations—move their costly agendas forward, and “we the suckers” get saddled with the tax bills and subjected to pat downs, police raids and round-the-clock surveillance.

Weaponizing genetics. Not only does fear grease the wheels of the transition to fascism by cultivating fearful, controlled, pacified, cowed citizens, but it also embeds itself in our very DNA so that we pass on our fear and compliance to our offspring. It’s called epigenetic inheritance, the transmission through DNA of traumatic experiences. For example, neuroscientists observed that fear can travel through generations of mice DNA. As the Washington Post reports, “Studies on humans suggest that children and grandchildren may have felt the epigenetic impact of such traumatic events such as famine, the Holocaust and the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.”

Weaponizing the future. With greater frequency, the government has been issuing warnings about the dire need to prepare for the dystopian future that awaits us. For instance, the Pentagon training video, “Megacities: Urban Future, the Emerging Complexity,” predicts that by 2030 (coincidentally, the same year that society begins to achieve singularity with the metaverse) the military would be called on to use armed forces to solve future domestic political and social problems. What they’re really talking about is martial law, packaged as a well-meaning and overriding concern for the nation’s security. The chilling five-minute training video paints an ominous picture of the future bedeviled by “criminal networks,” “substandard infrastructure,” “religious and ethnic tensions,” “impoverishment, slums,” “open landfills, over-burdened sewers,” a “growing mass of unemployed,” and an urban landscape in which the prosperous economic elite must be protected from the impoverishment of the have nots. “We the people” are the have-nots.

The end goal of these mind control campaigns—packaged in the guise of the greater good—is to see how far the American people will allow the government to go in re-shaping the country in the image of a totalitarian police state.

The facts speak for themselves.

Whatever else it may be—a danger, a menace, a threat—the U.S. government is certainly not looking out for our best interests, nor is it in any way a friend to freedom.

When the government views itself as superior to the citizenry, when it no longer operates for the benefit of the people, when the people are no longer able to peacefully reform their government, when government officials cease to act like public servants, when elected officials no longer represent the will of the people, when the government routinely violates the rights of the people and perpetrates more violence against the citizenry than the criminal class, when government spending is unaccountable and unaccounted for, when the judiciary act as courts of order rather than justice, and when the government is no longer bound by the laws of the Constitution, then you no longer have a government “of the people, by the people and for the people.”

What we have is a government of wolves.

Our backs are against the proverbial wall.

“We the people”—who think, who reason, who take a stand, who resist, who demand to be treated with dignity and care, who believe in freedom and justice for all—have become undervalued citizens of a totalitarian state that views people as expendable once they have outgrown their usefulness to the State.

Brace yourselves.

As I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People and in its fictional counterpart The Erik Blair Diaries, “we the people” have become enemies of the Deep State.

The post Everything Is a Weapon first appeared on Dissident Voice.

It’s Showtime in Ukraine!

Let our bleeding proxy negotiate a settlement, NOW.

Since early January, the corporate media have been proving their loyalty and their usefulness to the US foreign policy establishment. With faultless show-business efficiency, they manufactured an international political superstar, at least in Europe and the English speaking world. Vladimir Zelensky appeared on media screens, seemingly everywhere, including a turn on the 2022 Grammy Awards extravaganza.

Sad but resolute Ukrainian refugees became fodder for a blend of news and entertainment that firmly established, in our hearts and minds, who were the Good Guys and who were the Evil Monsters.

And we were encouraged to see that, sooner or later, the Ukrainian Good Guys were going to prevail over the brutal Russian fiends.

But lately there have been some tiny cracks in the wall of totalitarian perception management. And now ….

It’s time. It’s time to recognize the reality. It’s time for our bleeding proxy-warrior Ukraine to negotiate with Russia, in good faith, before it loses everything.

Right off the bat, many readers will exclaim, “You can’t negotiate with Russia! The Russians are guilty of unprovoked and unjustified aggression.”

Unprovoked and unjustified. Like an ancient Greek theatrical chorus, the corporate media have repeated that line until, now, it’s stuck permanently in our synapses. An ear worm, like a catchy melody.

I’d ask those media-addled opponents of diplomacy to imagine, just for a moment, a hypothetical situation: First, make sure you have a complete grasp of the drama’s exposition, the entire, contrived, set of circumstances which the President of Russia was facing on February 24, 2022.

Remember that the clever script writers of the US foreign policy elite had employed their best calculated, cold-blooded cunning to devise the perfect diplomatic double-bind for the drama’s Russian villain. (And, of course, they had choreographed their NATO dance line, to give their “diplomacy” the illusion of legitimacy.)

Now, ask yourself whether any American President, facing a comparable dramatic conflict, would have acted differently?

Or pretend, for a moment, that Winston Churchill, hero of numerous epic films, is, through the magic of your imagination, the President of the Russian Federation. Do you have any doubt that Churchill would have stoutly refused to bow down and appease the US/NATO leadership arrayed against him?

Azov Battalion fighters with Nazi flag (WikiCommons)

A second consideration, on the subject of Russia’s trustworthiness as a negotiating partner: The Western powers and their media mouthpieces have contemptuously dismissed Russia’s stated goal of de-Nazifying Ukraine. Western propaganda would have us believe that there is no serious neo-Nazi, ultra-nationalist threat whatsoever in Ukraine.

To the contrary, a little research reveals that the threat is very real. I’m talking about ferocious, far-right fanatics, who are heavily armed, highly trained, strongly motivated and fiercely disciplined. Their electoral base is small, but that doesn’t matter. In the media-fiction of Ukrainian democracy, with oligarchs pulling many of the strings, the ability to mobilize real-life violence is a powerful tool.

And we should remember that the US and NATO have been deeply involved in arming and training these forces, since 2014, making them an even more formidable part of Ukraine’s governing power structure. This arming and training took place off-stage, to be played out for an audience only when the time was right — when Russian tanks crossed the Belarus-Ukraine border, and the well-rehearsed Ukrainian military was unleashed, causing awesome, real-world damage and death.

Not every Ukrainian soldier is a neo-Nazi or a hard-right ethnic cleanser. But I believe it’s fair to say that those elements are the spine of the Ukrainian military. Without them, I doubt that the media-touted under-dog’s esprit de corps would be nearly as robust.

Let’s do an exercise in make-believe. Take the insurgents who stormed the US Capitol on January 6, 2021. As a theatrical event, the staging was a mess. It barely deserved to be called a riot. But that mob of actors was not lacking in motivation. Or raw talent. They clearly believed that their dramatic enactment was real. We in the audience were mesmerized and then relieved, when the play came to a sputtering end.

Now, picture the actors in that mob again. The Justice Department estimates their number to have been between 2,000 and 2,500. In your mind’s eye, multiply them by twenty-five (40,000 to 50,000).

Now, arm them. Train them hard. Organize them into squads, platoons, companies, battalions and brigades. Enforce strict discipline. Motivate them with a continued sense of ethnic superiority.

This little exercise of the dramatist’s imagination, “based upon” our home-grown January 6, should give you some idea of the ultra-right’s strength and influence within the Ukraine power structure.1

The Russians are very serious about confronting Nazis and ethnic supremacists in that country which sits right on their border. In Vladimir Putin’s February 21st speech to the Russian people, he was not using Ukrainian neo-Nazis as a flimsy pretext in a cheap melodrama.

The people of Ukraine don’t need any more media spot-lighting. Their plight doesn’t need more daily dramatizing presented as “news.” Ukrainian civilians need a permanent cease-fire. So let the talks begin. And please, remember: We are in no position to judge the sincerity of Russian negotiators, in potential talks, aimed at a peaceful settlement of this bloody conflict. In the fog of war, you never know what might happen until the diplomatic actors take the stage and begin their dialogue. The old cliche applies: You never know until you try.

The real blockage to peace talks is a triumphalist and misguided NATO and its Godfather in Washington. The US and NATO are going for broke. They are demanding that Ukraine fight on, bleeding and dying, until the US, NATO and their proxy achieve a decisive victory over Russian forces.

Furthermore, if Zelensky and his foreign policy team decide to negotiate, before they lose even more territory, they risk the wrath of the neo-Nazi, ultra-nationalists who permeate their military and police forces. They will not survive without the Godfather’s protection.

(See this article in the Kyiv Post, about veteran Ukrainian Donbas fighters confronting Zelensky, warning him, in 2019, NOT to seek peace in the Donbas. This dramatic verbal clash occurred just after his landslide election victory, playing the rôle of “peace candidate.”)

It’s time. It’s time for President Biden to assume the rôle of statesman. His NATO minions cannot object if Biden tells the government and the people of Ukraine that more billions of dollars worth of weapons will not secure a final battlefield victory over the Russians. Ukraine’s railroads, which are the means of delivering those weapons to frontline fighters, have been severely damaged by Russian air and missile strikes. And the less effective means of transport, heavy trucks, face the obstacle of damaged roads and many destroyed bridges. And finally, as the war grinds on in the Donbas theatre, Ukraine will have fewer and fewer seasoned soldiers to operate the new, more complicated weapons.

Unless Biden steps in, Ukrainians face, at best, a long, bloody stalemate, which Russia is better prepared to endure. (So far, Russia’s leaders have not called for a nation-wide, general mobilization.) Total victory for Ukraine is a cruel pipe-dream.

Biden must come clean with Americans and Ukrainians. The two real geopolitical combatants in this war are Russia and the United States. Ukraine is the USA’s tragic, foolish proxy — our poorly prepared understudy. That’s not stage blood we’re seeing on MSNB-CNN. Ukrainians are bleeding and dying while Biden & Co. prolong the agony in a vicious quest to punish and weaken Russia.

That is no way to ensure future peace. Talk. Now.

  1. From a report on hard right activity in Ukraine since 2014, from FreedomHouse.org:

    … [C]urrent polling data indicates that the far right has no real chance of being elected in the upcoming parliamentary and presidential elections in 2019. Similarly, despite the fact that several of these groups have real life combat experience, paramilitary structures, and even access to arms, they are not ready or able to challenge the state.
    Extremist groups are, however, aggressively trying to impose their agenda on Ukrainian society, including by using force against those with opposite political and cultural views. They are a real physical threat to left-wing, feminist, liberal, and LGBT activists, human rights defenders, as well as ethnic and religious minorities.
    In the last few months, extremist groups have become increasingly active. The most disturbing element of their recent show of force is that so far it has gone fully unpunished by the authorities. Their activities challenge the legitimacy of the state, undermine its democratic institutions, and discredit the country’s law enforcement agencies.

    Freedom House is a non-profit, majority U.S. government funded organization in Washington, D.C., that conducts research and advocacy on democracy, political freedom, and human rights.

The post It’s Showtime in Ukraine! first appeared on Dissident Voice.

“Damned Fun”: “Top Gun: Maverick” And The Military-Entertainment Complex

In 1990, Tom Cruise, star of the 1986 blockbuster, ‘Top Gun’, said:

Some people felt that “Top Gun” was a right-wing film to promote the Navy. And a lot of kids loved it. But I want the kids to know that’s not the way war is – that “Top Gun” was just an amusement park ride, a fun film with a PG-13 rating that was not supposed to be reality. That’s why I didn’t go on and make “Top Gun II” and “III” and “IV” and “V.” That would have been irresponsible.

It would indeed, and one can only admire Cruise’s honesty and selfless determination… in 1990…  not to mislead young people.

Why, then, 32 years later, would Cruise decide to appear in ‘Top Gun: Maverick’? The Daily Mail provides a clue:

The 59-year-old superstar was “only” paid $13million, although he will also earn a percentage of every dollar taken at the global box office. He made $100million for the original Mission: Impossible film – and could earn even more if Top Gun: Maverick is a box office smash.

Which it is already. Associated Press reports:

Top Gun: Maverick” has already grossed $548.6 million worldwide, making it easily one the biggest hits of Cruise’s career.

His earlier refusal to be ‘irresponsible’ was in response to claims that Cruise’s bright, shining film was, in reality, a propaganda fecalith expelled from the bowels of ‘the Military-Entertainment Complex’. Thus, director Oliver Stone, in 1998:

“Top Gun,” man – it was essentially a fascist movie. It sold the idea that war is clean, war can be won … nobody in the movie ever mentions that he just started World War Three!’

In 1986, Time magazine reported that for the cost of just $1.8 million, the US Department of Defense allowed the Top Gun producers ‘the use of Miramar Naval Air Station’ as well as ‘four aircraft carriers and about two dozen F-14 Tomcats, F-5 Tigers and A-4 Skyhawks, some flown by real-life Top Gun pilots’.

The Washington Post reports:

It’s unlikely the film could have gotten made without the Pentagon’s considerable support. A single F-14 Tomcat cost about $38 million. The total budget for “Top Gun” was $15 million.

It wasn’t Catch-22, but there was a catch: in exchange for this lavish military support, the producers agreed to let the US Department of Defense make changes to the script. The changes were substantial but trivial compared to the real issue missed by almost all ‘mainstream’ journalists; namely, that the US war machine would not have spent millions of dollars subsidising a movie unless the core themes of the story provided a powerful propaganda service to the US war machine. And such, indeed, was the case:

The film conquered the box office, as well as the hearts and minds of young Americans. Following its release, applications to become Naval Aviators reportedly jumped by 500 percent. To capitalize on the craze, some enterprising Navy recruiters even set up stands outside theaters.

Time summed it up:

The high-flying hardware turns Top Gun into a 110-minute commercial for the Navy – and it was the Navy’s cooperation that put the planes in the picture.

No surprise, then, as The Washington Post reported:

Top Gun” (1986), turned out to be so influential it set the blueprint for a new kind of corporate movie product fusing Hollywood star power with the U.S. military’s firepower. Think “Black Hawk Down,” “Transformers” or “American Sniper.”

Donald Baruch, the Pentagon’s special assistant for audio-visual media, commented that the US government ‘couldn’t buy the sort of publicity films give us’. In reality, they do, in effect, buy this publicity:

Before a producer receives military assistance for a TV or movie project, the screenplay is reviewed by officials at the Department of Defense and by each of the services involved. The Pentagon ends up rejecting many projects that come its way on the grounds that they distort military life and situations.

Movies critical of the military will be difficult to make,” says former Navy Lieut. John Semcken, who served as the liaison on Top Gun.

The War Zone website provides some details behind military backing for the new, follow-up film, ‘Top Gun: Maverick’:

The War Zone obtained the official production assistance agreements, 84 pages in total, in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to the Office of the Secretary of Defense…

The documents confirm that filming was conducted on location at Naval Base Coronado, Naval Air Station (NAS) Fallon, NAS Lemoore, Naval Air Facility (NAF) El Centro, Naval Air Weapons Station (NAWS) China Lake, and Naval Air Station (NAS) Whidbey Island. Fallon is home to the Navy’s real-life Topgun program.’

How many aircraft carriers were thrown in?

The Nimitz class aircraft carriers USS Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt were also made available. Some filming even took place inside Roosevelt’s Combat Direction Center, which is the ship’s nerve center.

The War Zone adds:

Two different agreements say that the Navy was expected to provide between four and 12 actual F/A-18 fighters for film, “dependent on availability of aircraft.” There is at least one scene in the trailers that have been released so far showing a row of these jets, including one wearing a special paint job created specifically for the movie.

In addition, the Navy was to “allow for the internal and external placement of the Production Company’s cameras on F/A-18 E/F Super Hornets and Navy helicopters with the approval of the Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR).

And:

There are some details about set construction in various locations, including the complete transformation of a hangar and squadron spaces belonging to Fleet Logistics Support Squadron 30 (VRC-30) at NAS North Island, part of Naval Base Coronado, for the movie.

While the recent, 75th Cannes film festival banned any official delegations or reporters from Russia, ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ was massively promoted. The Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky addressed the gala opening of the festival on a huge screen via a video link from Kyiv. Drawing heavily on Charlie Chaplin’s classic film, The Great Dictator (1940), Zelensky said:

If there is a dictator, if there is a war for freedom, once again, everything depends on our unity. Can cinema stay outside of this unity?

Quoting directly from Chaplin’s anti-war speech at the end of the film, Zelensky said:

In the end, hatred will disappear and dictators will die.

On The World Socialist Website, Stefan Steinberg responded:

The Ukrainian president’s duplicitous speech was then given a standing ovation by the well-heeled audience of film celebrities, super-models, media figures and critics gathered at the festival’s Grand Théâtre Lumière…

Zelensky, whose government’s promotion of unfettered free market capitalism and extreme nationalism includes full support for the notorious fascist Azov battalion, and his US-NATO backers stand for everything that Chaplin abhorred. In fact, what would a Chaplin make out of the self-satisfied rubbish about “poor, defenseless little Ukraine,” armed to the hilt and financed by the biggest imperialist robbers on the planet?

The Independent reports that the ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ film has come at just the right time:

In April, state senators were told how the US army faced a “war for talent” amid shrinking battalion numbers, echoing admissions from air force officials that its own pool of qualified candidates had fallen by half since the beginning of Covid. Things haven’t looked rosy for the navy either, which declared in February that it was 5,000 to 6,000 sailors short at sea. ..

Little wonder, then, that Uncle Sam once again welcomed Paramount Pictures with open arms for Maverick, granting director Joseph Kosinski and his crew all-access passes to highly sensitive naval facilities, including a Nimitz-class nuclear-powered aircraft carrier. World-class technicians provided cast members with top-level fighter pilot training right down to seat ejection…

Happily, press reports inform us:

The US Navy is [again] setting up “recruiting stations” in cinema foyers across America. After the first film there was a 50 per cent increase in applications to join the Navy’s fighter programme. A spokesman said: “Obviously we are hoping for the same outcome this time around.”

If any readers notice any journalists asking Tom Cruise if he still wants ‘the kids to know that’s not the way war is’, that ‘Top Gun’ is just an amusement park ride’ that is ‘not supposed to be reality’, and that it would be ‘irresponsible’ to make ‘Top Gun III’ and ‘IV’ and ‘V’ – do let us know (gro.snelaidemnull@rotide).

The Guardian’s Mark Kermode – ‘I Give Up’

Given the military involvement in both ‘Top Gun’ films and the massive impact of the first film on US military recruitment, a natural concern for anyone reviewing the new film would seem to be the role of the US military since 1986.

A really salient fact about the world since the mid-eighties, as we all know – as our newspaper front pages, echoing ‘Top Gun’ heroics, never tire of telling us – is that the US has been relentlessly bombing countries like Serbia, Panama, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Somalia and Pakistan ever since. In 2015, a study by Physicians for Global Responsibility reported:

The purpose of this investigation is to provide as realistic an estimate as possible of the total body count in the three main war zones Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan during 12 years of “war on terrorism”. An extensive review has been made of the major studies and data published on the numbers of victims in these countries… This investigation comes to the conclusion that the war has, directly or indirectly, killed around 1 million people in Iraq, 220,000 in Afghanistan and 80,000 in Pakistan, i.e. a total of around 1.3 million.

Of course, even these vast numbers omit the untold carnage inflicted by the US military between 1986-2001, and since 2015, but they do give an idea of what ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ and its admirers are actually celebrating.

In the Guardian, film critic Mark Kermode supplied a summary of the plot:

Maverick has in fact been called back to the Top Gun programme – not to fly, but to teach the “best of the best” how to blow up a uranium enrichment plant at face-melting velocity, a mission that will require not one but “two consecutive miracles”.’

As we know, ‘Real men go to Tehran’ – and Iran clearly is ‘the enemy’ here. The Independent acknowledged as much in noting that the US navy was given script approval:

This might also explain why Top Gun: Maverick never goes into detail about its villains – instead, audiences are simply informed that “the enemy” is a rogue state hellbent on uranium enrichment. Let’s assume it rhymes with “Diran”.

When Iran is bombed in real life, Westerners will cheer because they’ll think they’re watching their movie heroes annihilating The Bad Guys. When ‘the best of the best’ move on to trash the whole country, the public will have been so brainwashed, so desensitised, they will rate the ‘action’ on a par with something they saw on the silver screen. The same thing happened during the Gulf War that began in January 1991. One of us saw a spoof ‘Iraqi calendar’ behind the bar of an English pub, which showed the year ending for Iraq on January 16, the date the US-UK attack was launched.

When the state-corporate culture of a highly aggressive imperial power produces war films that deliberately blend fiction and reality, there are real-world consequences. Actual high-tech death and destruction are made to seem ‘cool’, ‘fun’ – an impact that no serious reviewer can ignore. Assuming, that is, we reject the idea that a review in a corporate viewspaper is mere ‘entertainment’ that has nothing to do with the real world it so clearly impacts. Assuming, further, that we reject the idea that we should function as passive, apolitical, amoral consumers manipulated by powerful elites who are not themselves passive or apolitical at all, but who work relentlessly to extend their influence, wealth and power.

As though spoofing, Kermode concluded his review:

Personally, I found myself powerless to resist; overawed by the “real flight” aeronautics and nail-biting sky dances, bludgeoned by the sugar-frosted glow of Cruise’s mercilessly engaging facial muscles, and shamefully brought to tears by moments of hate-yourself-for-going-with-it manipulation. In the immortal words of Abba’s Waterloo, “I was defeated, you won the war”. I give up.

Kermode gave up. In reality, the outcome of his personal ‘Waterloo’ was never in doubt. As Noam Chomsky famously told the BBC’s Andrew Marr:

… if you believed something different, you wouldn’t be sitting where you’re sitting.

Kermode’s review bowed down to an intellectually and morally castrated version of what it means to be a film critic, one that casually waves away the appalling, real-world impact of propaganda efforts like ‘Top Gun: Maverick’. It’s a version of film criticism that just happens – ‘My, my!’ – to align itself with the agenda of the consistently pro-war Guardian newspaper and wider corporate media system that makes him wealthy and famous for the back-breaking task of writing a few clever, filtered words every week.

In the Telegraph, Boris Starling managed to recall some military history:

Since then [“Top Gun”, 1986] we have had two wars in Iraq and one in Afghanistan, 9/11, Syria, and of course the current Russian invasion of Ukraine – all of which have, one way or another, dented the concept of unfettered American military might.’

Clearly, Nato’s devastation of Libya – executed with the assistance of more than a dozen US navy ships and a similar number of aircraft – never happened.

Starling’s distorted vision of history reminds us of the BBC’s unfortunate animated web article: ‘The Incredible Change The Queen Has Seen’. Reviewing major international political events since 1952, the BBC comments:

Russia invades Ukraine twice, bringing it into conflict with the West once again.

According to the BBC, then, no-one spread death and destruction in Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Indonesia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Iraq, Libya, Syria… on and on. The BBC piece concludes:

Happy Jubilee Ma’am

The fact, as we have discussed, that the West got its hands on both Iraqi and Libyan oil challenges Starling’s idea that ‘unfettered American military might’ has been ‘dented’.

In a parallel universe, a film critic might have reflected on whether the vast death toll from US wars has ‘dented’ the ethical status of films like ‘Top Gun’ and ‘Top Gun: Maverick’. Instead, Starling noticed a different problem with the new film:

But at a time when a real conflict with unimaginable casualties and featuring medieval levels of brutality is taking place on NATO’s border – a conflict into which the US is still refusing to countenance direct military intervention – Top Gun: Maverick may be construed in certain quarters as borderline tasteless.

In other words, the problem with the ‘Top Gun’ franchise is not that the US military machine has been blitzing the world before and since 1986. The problem is that, after all that good work, it is refusing to ‘countenance direct military intervention’ in Ukraine – having merely sent $60 billion in ‘aid’, most of it military – making the latest ‘Top Gun’ heroics somewhat embarrassing. This is what passes for ‘mainstream’ ethical discussion in our high-tech, neon-lit dark age.

Another piece by the Telegraph’s chief film critic, Robbie Collin, notes:

The assignment involves neutralising a uranium enrichment plant somewhere overseas, though we’re told details about the enemy regime behind it are “scarce” – as they have to be these days when you’re trying to sell a blockbuster into as many overseas markets as possible.

Presumably, any Iranians wishing to see the film will be too dumb to realise what is blindingly obvious to everyone else:

Certain military details suggest it might be Iran, but it doesn’t matter either way: the film is low on militaristic swagger, and instead focuses on Maverick’s missionary-like determination to have these youngsters not just reach their potential but surpass it, with the help of their extraordinary aircraft.

Yes, who cares? We all know it’s Iran; so what if that background awareness makes it easier for the public to applaud when Iran receives a generous dose of ‘humanitarian intervention’? Collin concluded by heaping praise on ‘this absurdly entertaining film’.

And that’s all that matters – it’s ‘entertaining’. It’s also somehow ‘low on militaristic swagger’, despite being jam-packed with gleaming warplanes, aircraft carriers and military uniforms. Needless to say, it wouldn’t have mattered how ‘absurdly entertaining’ the film was, if it had depicted Iranian or Russian pilots heroically preparing to bomb the US.

In the Independent, Geoffrey Macnab’s article did manage to reference some history, but only in the sense suggested by the title: ‘Why Tom Cruise’s latest thrill ride is a take-off of traditional Hollywood flying movies’:

These films have a poetical dimension you don’t find in conventional earthbound war movies. Their protagonists are young and courageous, performing their own ethereal, Icarus-like dances with death. They’re fighting as much against the elements as against their enemies.

Again, no concern for the front-page carnage inflicted year after year.

Also in the Independent, Clarisse Loughrey supplied the standard, faux-feminist ‘dissent’, commenting on the new film’s compassionate treatment of its male characters :

The film, unfortunately, doesn’t extend as much of a loving hand toward the women of Top Gun – neither McGillis nor Meg Ryan, who played Rooster’s mother, make any kind of return.

But this shouldn’t be allowed to spoil the party:

Again, there’ll come a time when we need to talk about why Hollywood only accepts older women who look a certain way. Until then, who can be blamed for getting swept up by a film this damned fun?

In the Daily Mail, Jan Moir noted Cruise’s fearlessness in performing his own stunts, adding:

But there is one thing this Hollywood hero is scared of – old ladies! That’s where he draws the line – at the genuine and the realistic. And that is his biggest crime of all in my book… where are the women from the 1986 original? Excuse me. Simply nowhere to be seen. Vaporised by the Hollywood Age Patrol, the girls have somehow fallen off their perch and simply ceased to be.

There is one thing that Moir, like essentially all of corporate journalism, is scared of – the dead, injured, grieving and displaced victims of the West’s endless wars of aggression. The victims are not allowed to exist or matter. They’re not allowed to spoil the celebration of this ‘damned fun’, of the state-corporate fundamentalist faith that ‘we’ are The Good Guys.

But anyway, is it really such ‘damned fun’? Somehow managing to defy the corporate hypegeist, A.O. Scott of the New York Times writes of the new film’s characters: ‘the world they inhabit is textureless and generic’, ‘the dramatic stakes seem curiously low’, the movie is ‘bland and basic’. Scott’s conclusion:

Though you may hear otherwise, “Top Gun: Maverick” is not a great movie. It is a thin, over-strenuous and sometimes very enjoyable movie.

The post “Damned Fun”: “Top Gun: Maverick” And The Military-Entertainment Complex first appeared on Dissident Voice.