Category Archives: Russia

National Security State Censoring of Anti-Imperialist Voices

The US rulers use many tools to disrupt and disorganize the anti-war and anti-imperialist left. Three discussed here include: (1) corporate control of the news media gives them free reign to spread disinformation and fake news against foreign and domestic targets; (2) they use government and corporate foundation resources to fund and promote a compatible left to counter the anti-imperialist left; and (3) the rulers use their control of social media and internet to censor those voices.

Since 2016 their censorship of websites, Facebook pages, Twitter, and Paypal accounts has escalated alarmingly. They target those who counter the narratives the government and big business media feed us, whether it be US intervention and attempted overthrow of other governments, Covid, or stories of Russian interference.

With the Ukraine war, the US government and corporate media immense propaganda power has been directed against Russia and intensified on an overwhelming scale.

As the US empire began the Cold War soon after the end of World War II, with the rise of McCarthyism (which predated Joe McCarthy), news manipulation and suppression often fell under the control of the CIA’s Operation Mockingbird. The corporate media followed CIA directions in representing the interests of the US rulers. The CIA secretly funded and managed a wide range of front groups and individuals to counter what the US rulers considered its enemies. It encouraged those on the left who opposed actually existing socialism, seeking to foster splits in the left to undermine the communist and build the non-communist left.

Significant liberal and left figures who worked with the CIA included Gloria Steinem, key feminist leader, Herbert Marcuse, considered a Marxist intellectual, Walter Reuther, president of the United Auto Workers Union (1946-1970), David Dubinsky, president of the International Ladies Garment Workers Union (1932-1966). The CIA collaborated with Baynard Rustin, Socialist Party leader and close associate of Martin Luther King, with Norman Thomas and Michael Harrington, who became the fathers of the third campist (“neither Washington nor Moscow”) Democratic Socialists of America (DSA). Likewise, Carl Gershman, a founder of Social Democrats, USA, and later founding director (1983-2021) of the CIA front National Endowment for Democracy (NED).

Through  the Congress for Cultural Freedom, the CIA underwrote the publishing of leftist critics, such as Leszek Kolakowski and Milovan Djilas’ book The New Class. The CIA aided the “Western Marxism” of the Frankfurt School, which included Theodore Adorno and Max Horkheimer, former director of New School of Social Research, also subsidized by the Rockefeller Foundation.

Corporate foundations, such as the Rockefeller, Ford, Open Society, and Tides foundations, among many others, funneled CIA money to progressive causes. The Cultural Cold War (pp. 134-5) noted that from 1963-66, nearly half the grants by 164 foundations in the field of international activities involved CIA money. The Ford Foundation continues as one of the main financers of progressive groups in the US; for instance, both Open Society and Ford foundations have heavily funded Black Lives Matter.

The CIA is regarded as a ruthless organization overthrowing democratic governments that US corporations considered a threat to their profits. While true, overlooked is “gentler” CIA work: underwriting and encouraging a compatible left, one which looks to forces in the Democratic Party for political leadership. This third camp left provides an alternative to an anti-imperialist or a communist left, and yet appears progressive enough to lure radicalizing youth, activists and intelligentsia. This cunning CIA strategy has fostered confusion, dissension, and divisions among these sections of the population.

These secret US government and CIA operations have been detailed in The Mighty Wurlitzer: How the CIA Played America, Finks: How the C.I.A. Tricked the World’s Best Writers, The Cultural Cold War, and AFL-CIO’s Secret War against Developing Country Workers: Solidarity or Sabotage?

In 1977 Carl Bernstein revealed CIA interconnections with the big business media. More than 400 journalists collaborated with the CIA, with the consent of their media bosses. Working in a propaganda alliance with the CIA included: CBS, ABC, NBC, Time, Newsweek, New York Times, Associated Press, Reuters, United Press International, Miami Herald, Saturday Evening Post and New York Herald Tribune. The New York Times still sends stories to US government for pre-publication approval, while CNN and others now employ national security state figures as “analysts.”

Reuters, BBC, and Bellingcat operate similarly, participating in covert British government funded disinformation programs to “weaken” Russia. This involves collaboration with the Counter Disinformation & Media Development section of the British Foreign Office.

The CIA pays journalists in Germany, France, Britain, Australia and New Zealand to plant fake news. Udo Ulfkotte, a former editor at Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, one of the largest German newspapers, showed how the CIA controls German media in Presstitutes: Embedded in the Pay of the CIA. Ulfkotte said the CIA had him plant fake stories in his paper, such as Libyan President Gaddafi building poison gas factories in 2011.

The CIA was closely involved with the long defunct National Students Association and with the trade union leadership. The AFL-CIO’s American Institute of Free Labor Development, received funding from USAID, the State Department, and NED to undermine militant union movements overseas and help foment murderous coups, as against President Allende of Chile (1973) and Brazil (1964), as well as defended the rule of their masters at home. This continues with the AFL-CIO Solidarity Center, which receives $30 million a year from NED.

The CIA created publishing houses, such as Praeger Press, and used other companies such as John Wiley Publishing Company, Scribner’s, Ballantine Books, and Putnam to publish its books. It set up several political and literary journals such as Partisan Review. This CIA publishing amounted to over one thousand books, mostly geared to a liberal-left audience, seeking to bolster a third camp left, and undermine solidarity with the once powerful world communist movement.

That mission largely accomplished years ago, today the national security state works to undermine the anti-imperialist left and build up a left inclined towards the “lesser evil” Democratic Party.

Recent US Government and Media Thought Control Measures

CIA use of corporate media to undermine perceived threats to the national security state escalated with Obama signing NDAA 2017, which lifted formalistic restrictions on security state agencies feeding fake news directly to the US population. The Countering Disinformation and Propaganda Act in the NDAA, which went into effect in the early stages of Russiagate, created a central government propaganda organ:

to counter active measures by the Russian Federation to exert covert influence over peoples and governments (with the role of the Russian Federation hidden or not acknowledged publicly) through front groups, covert broadcasting, media manipulation, disinformation or forgeries, funding agents of influence, incitement, offensive counterintelligence, assassinations, or terrorist acts. The committee shall expose falsehoods, agents of influence, corruption, human rights abuses, terrorism, and assassinations carried out by the security services or political elites of the Russian Federation or their proxies.

Glen Ford observed:

Every category listed [above], except assassinations and terror, is actually a code word for political speech that can, and will, be used to target those engaged in ‘undermining faith in American democracy’ — such as Black Agenda Report and other left publications defamed as ‘fake news’ outlets by the Washington Post [article on PropOrNot].

This Disinformation and Propaganda Act created the innocuously named Global Engagement Center, operated by the State Department, Pentagon, USAID, the Broadcasting Board of Governors [renamed US Agency for Global Media], the Director of National Intelligence, and other spy agencies. This Center oversees production of fake news supporting US imperial interests, focused primarily against Russia and China (such as Uyghur genocide and Russiagate), but also against Nicaragua, Venezuela, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Syria, and others. Verifiable reports exposing US regime change operations and disinformation are often outright censored or labeled pro-Russian or pro-Chinese propaganda.

The Global Engagement Center finances journalists, NGOs, think tanks, and media outlets on board with campaigns to vilify non-corporate media reporting as spreaders of foreign government disinformation. This may shed light on the origins of smears that opponents of the US regime change against Syria or in Ukraine are Putinists, Assadists, tankies, Stalinists, part of a red-brown alliance.

National security state propaganda against Russia surged after it aided Syria in thwarting the US-Saudi war against the Assad government. It reached levels of hysteria with the fabricated Russiagate stories designed to sabotage the 2016 Trump presidential campaign. Seymour Hersh disclosed that the widely covered news of Russian hacking of DNC computers in 2016 was CIA disinformation. Hersh confirmed from FBI sources that Hillary Clinton’s emails were taken by Seth Rich and offered to Wikileaks for money, and that the fake news story of Russian hacking was initiated by CIA head John Brennan. However, exposures of the Clinton-neocon-national security state Russiagate fake news were themselves written off as disinformation concocted by pro-Russian operators.

An example of Global Engagement Center work may be a recent smear against anti-imperialists as agents of Russia appeared in The Daily Beast. It targets Lee Camp, Max Blumenthal, Ben Norton, and others: “propaganda peddlers rake in cash and followers at the expense of the truth and oppressed people in Ukraine, Xinjiang, and Syria” because of their accurate reporting that goes against the US propaganda line.

Other articles may indicate this government Disinformation Center use of the third camp left in the tradition of Operation Mongoose. George Monbiot’s article in The Guardian fit the billing:

We must confront Russian propaganda – even when it comes from those we respect – The grim truth is that for years, a small part of the ‘anti-imperialist’ left has been recycling Vladimir Putin’s falsehoods.

Louis Proyect crusaded for Syria regime change, and against those opposing the US war on the country as being part of a “red-brown alliance.” Proyect often relied on British Foreign Office funded Bellingcat for his articles, writing, “The Bellingcat website is perhaps the only place where you can find fact-based reporting on chemical attacks in Syria.” Proyect defended “Syrian revolution” “socialist” Anand Gopal, of the International Security Program at the New America Foundation, funded by the State Department and corporate foundations, and run by Anne-Marie Slaughter, former State Department official.

Democracy Now, which also repeatedly relied on Anand Gopal as a news source, has long received foundation money, and we see the self-censoring effect this has on its former excellent anti-war journalism degenerating into compatible leftism.

Another product of this government-corporate aid for this Democratic Party “lesser evil” left may be NACLA’s articles smearing the Nicaraguan government. NACLA Board Chair Program Director is Thomas Kruse of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund. In 2018, NACLA, New York DSA, and Haymarket Books hosted anti-Sandinista youth activists while on a tour paid for by right-wing Freedom House.

In These Times, which receives hundreds of thousands in foundation money, ran similar articles smearing socialist Cuba. It claimed Cuba was “the Western Hemisphere’s most undemocratic government” – not Bolsonaro’s Brazil, Chile with its police who blinded pro-democracy protesters, not Colombia’s death squad supporting government, nor Honduras’ former coup regime, or Haiti’s hated rulers.

Haymarket Books, which produces many third camp left books, receives Democratic Party aligned think tank and nonprofit money via the pass through Center for Economic Research and Social Change. The Grayzone reported that the DSA, Jacobin Magazine, and Haymarket sponsored Socialism conference featured NED and State Department funded regime-change activists.

Jacobin editor Bhaskar Sunkara is former vice-chair of the Democratic Party’s reform oriented DSA. In 2017 the Jacobin Foundation received a $100,000 grant from the Annenberg Foundation, set up by billionaire publisher and Nixon administration U.S. Ambassador to Great Britain Walter Annenberg.

This milieu includes New York’s Left Forum, and the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation, underwritten by the German government.

Bob Feldman revealed corporate financing for the Institute of Policy Studies, The Nation, In These Times, NACLA, Middle East Research & Information Project (MERIP), Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR), Progressive, Mother Jones, AlterNet, Institute for Public Accuracy, among others.

The US Chamber of Commerce discovered that foundations gave $106 million to workers centers between 2013-2016, and concluded that the worker center movement was “a creature of the progressive foundations that encouraged and supported it.”

These are but a few examples of US ruling class financing of anti anti-imperialist leftists, an effective means to channel and organize the left milieu into an opposition that poses no real threat to their control.

An essential characteristic of this milieu is looking to the Democratic Party as a lesser evil ally.

Alexander Cockburn  pointed out the dangers of this financing back in 2010:

The financial clout of the “non-profit” foundations, tax-exempt bodies formed by rich people to dispense their wealth according to political taste… Much of the “progressive sector” in America owes its financial survival – salaries, office accommodation etc — to the annual disbursements of these foundations which cease abruptly at the first manifestation of radical heterodoxy. In the other words, most of the progressive sector is an extrusion of the dominant corporate world, just as are the academies, similarly dependent on corporate endowments.”

Right after Trump’s surprise 2016 election win, the Washington Post cranked up the anti-Russia McCarthyism by introducing PropOrNot. ProporNot’s catalog of supposed Putin-controlled outlets sought to resurrect the witchhunts of the Red Scare era,  when 6.6 million people were investigated just between 1947-1952. The PropOrNot blacklist includes some of the most alternative and anti-war news sites on the web, including Anti-war.com, Black Agenda Report, Truthdig, Naked Capitalism, Consortium News, Truthout, Lew Rockwell.com, Global Research, Unz.com, Zero Hedge, and many others.

PropOrNot asserted 200 websites were “Russian propaganda outlets.” No evidence was offered. PropOrNot refused to reveal who they were or their funding. Alan Mcleod recently uncovered: “A scan of PropOrNot’s website showed that it was controlled by The Interpreter, a magazine of which [Michael] Weiss is editor-in-chief…[a] senior fellow of NATO think tank The Atlantic Council.” The Atlantic Council itself is financed by the US government and Middle Eastern dictatorships, weapons manufacturers Raytheon, Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin, Wall Street banks such as Goldman Sachs; and petrochemical giants like BP and Chevron. Mcleod concluded, “Thus, claims of a huge [foreign] state propaganda campaign were themselves state propaganda.”

Soon after PropOrNot, the German Marshall Fund, largely financed by the US government, concocted Hamilton 68: A New Tool to Track Russian Disinformation on Twitter. This identifies supposed “accounts that are involved in promoting Russian influence and disinformation goals.” Daniel McAdams of Ron Paul Liberty Report noted, “They are using US and other government money in an effort to eliminate any news organization or individual who deviates from the official neocon foreign policy line on Russia, Syria, Ukraine, etc.”

This year, the Department of Homeland Security presented a new censorship and disinformation organ, allegedly to combat pro-Russian fake news, the Disinformation Governance Board. As the Countering Disinformation and Propaganda Act and PropOrNot showed, what challenges US national security state narratives is often labeled Russian disinformation. Glenn Greenwald forewarned, “The purpose of empowering the Department of Homeland Security to decree what is and is not “disinformation” is to bestow all government assertions with a pretense of authoritative expertise and official sanction and, conversely, to officially decree dissent from government claims to be false and deceitful.”

The national security state, which lied about Russiagate, lied about National Security Agency’s 24/7 spying on the US population, lied about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, plans to decide what is true and false, and enforce that on big business and alternative media outlets.

Thus, the CIA’s secret Operation Mongoose, devoted to encouraging hostility to actually existing socialism among the left, has morphed into official, public US government McCarthyite agencies directed at shutting down or smearing outlets and activism opposing the US empire and its wars.

What Corporate Social Media instruments are targeting which anti-war outlets?

This joint US government corporate media censorship has become an increasingly open attack. Paypal has allied itself with the Zionist Anti-Defamation League to “fight extremism and hate through the financial industry and across at-risk communities… with policymakers and law enforcement.”

Twitter has shut down many political accounts, even possessed the power to suppress the President of the United States’ account. In 2020, Twitter deleted 170,000 accounts “spreading geopolitical narratives favorable to the Communist Party of China,” and in 2021, it deleted hundreds of accounts for “undermining faith in the NATO alliance and its stability.” The company has hired a number of FBI officers for this censorship work. Twitter executive for Middle East is British Army ‘psyops’ soldier Gordon MacMillan of the 77th Brigade, which uses social media platforms such as Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook to conduct “information warfare.”

Google and Youtube executives team up with government spy agencies to censor anti-imperialist voices. Google’s “Project Owl,” designed to eradicate “fake news,” employed “algorithmic updates to surface more authoritative [compatible] content” and downgrade “offensive” [anti-imperialist] material. As a result, traffic dropped off to websites such as Mint Press News, Alternet, Global Research, Consortium News, liberal-left Common Dreams and Truthout.

Wikipedia censors articles on its website, as Ben Norton notes:

The CIA, FBI, New York Police Department, Vatican, and fossil fuel colossus BP, to name just a few, have all been caught directly editing Wikipedia articles.

A minor player,  NewsGuard, “partners” with the State Department and Pentagon to tag websites that deviate from the establishment line.

Facebook relies on PropOrNot’s Atlantic Council to combat reporting contrary to the US government line. Facebook later announced it would further fight “fake news” by partnering with two propaganda organizations sponsored by the US government: the National Democratic Institute (NDI) and the International Republican Institute (IRI). The NDI was chaired by former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, while Senator John McCain was the longtime IRI chair.

Just as The Mighty Wurlitzer, The Cultural Cold War, and Bernstein’s The CIA and the Media showed with the big business print media, we are witnessing an integration of social media companies into the national security state.

Who have been censored by this corporate media and social media integration with the national security state? 

Like with any censored book list, national security state targets provide a Who’s Who of what we should be reading and watching: The Grayzone, TeleSur,  Venezuelanalysis, Lee Camp, By Any Means Necessary, Caleb Maupin, Syria Solidarity Movement, Consortium News, Mint Press News, Abby Martin, Chris Hedges, CGTN and other Chinese media, George Galloway, Pepe Escobar, Scott Ritter, ASB Military News, RT America, Strategic Culture Foundation, One World Press, SouthFront, Gonzalo Lira, Oriental Review, Revolutionary Black Network, Sputnik News, Ron Paul’s Liberty Report.  Youtube warns us of watching Oliver Stone’s Ukraine on Fire. Journalists who have collaborated with a Russian media outlet are now dubbed “affiliated with the Russian government.”

The FBI directly shut down American Herald Tribune and Iran’s Press TV. RT and Sputnik are already shut down in Europe. PropOrNot listing of 200 media sites catalogs for us what the national security state doesn’t want us to read, listen to, know, or think.

Since the beginning of the first Cold War, there has been a continuous CIA-national security state operation to neutralize, marginalize, and create disunity among its opponents, often with the collaboration of the left that consider the Democratic Party a lesser evil. This strategy includes extensive foundation financing of leftist outlets and NGOs in order to tame them.

Therefore, it is mistaken to fault the US left for its weakness. The CIA and the foundations have been key players in covertly manipulating opposition to US imperial rule, in part by strengthening the left soft on the Democrats to undermine any working class or anti-US empire challenge. To date, this national security state mission has also shown considerable success.

The problems of building a working class left-wing partly results from the US rulers’ decades long campaign to disrupt the movement. This involves not just imprisoning and killing activists, such as Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, or the Black Panthers, but also big business media marketing disinformation as news, their funding of a compatible left, and the present social media and internet censorship of anti-imperialist voices. Rebuilding an anti-war and working class left wing requires us to directly address and navigate through this maze ruling class sabotage has created.

The post National Security State Censoring of Anti-Imperialist Voices first appeared on Dissident Voice.

British “watchdog” journalists unmasked as lap dogs for the security state

Events of the past few days suggest British journalism – the so-called Fourth Estate – is not what it purports to be: a watchdog monitoring the centers of state power. It is quite the opposite.

The pretensions of the establishment media took a severe battering this month as the defamation trial of Guardian columnist Carole Cadwalladr reached its conclusion and the hacked emails of Paul Mason, a long-time stalwart of the BBC, Channel 4 and the Guardian, were published online.

Both of these celebrated journalists have found themselves outed as recruits – in their differing ways – to a covert information war being waged by Western intelligence agencies.

Had they been honest about it, that collusion might not matter so much. After all, few journalists are as neutral or as dispassionate as the profession likes to pretend. But along with many of their colleagues, Cadwalladr and Mason have broken what should be a core principle of journalism: transparency.

The role of serious journalists is to bring matters of import into the public space for debate and scrutiny. Journalists thinking critically aspire to hold those who wield power – primarily state agencies – to account on the principle that, without scrutiny, power quickly corrupts.

The purpose of real journalism – as opposed to the gossip, entertainment and national-security stenography that usually passes for journalism – is to hit up, not down.

And yet, both of these journalists, we now know, were actively colluding, or seeking to collude, with state actors who prefer to operate in the shadows, out of sight. Both journalists were coopted to advance the aims of the intelligence services.

And worse, each of them either sought to become a conduit for, or actively assist in, covert smear campaigns run by Western intelligence services against other journalists.

What they were doing – along with so many other establishment journalists – is the very antithesis of journalism. They were helping to conceal the operation of power to make it harder to scrutinize. And not only that. In the process, they were trying to weaken already marginalized journalists fighting to hold state power to account.

Russian collusion?

Cadwalladr’s cooperation with the intelligence services has been highlighted only because of a court case. She was sued for defamation by Arron Banks, a businessman and major donor to the successful Brexit campaign for Britain to leave the European Union.

In a kind of transatlantic extension of the Russiagate hysteria in the United States following Donald Trump’s election as president in 2016, Cadwalladr accused Banks of lying about his ties to the Russian state. According to the court, she also suggested he broke election funding laws by receiving Russian money in the run-up to the Brexit vote, also in 2016.

That year serves as a kind of ground zero for liberals fearful about the future of “Western democracy” – supposedly under threat from modern “barbarians at the gate,” such as Russia and China – and about the ability of Western states to defend their primacy through neo-colonial wars of aggression around the globe.

The implication is Russia masterminded a double subversion in 2016: on one side of the Atlantic, Trump was elected US president; and, on the other, Britons were gulled into shooting themselves in the foot – and undermining Europe – by voting to leave the EU.

Faced with the court case, Cadwalladr could not support her allegations against Banks as true. Nonetheless, the judge ruled against Banks’ libel action, on the basis that the claims had not sufficiently harmed his reputation.

The judge also decided, perversely in a British defamation action, that Cadwalladr had “reasonable grounds” to publish claims that Banks received “sweetheart deals” from Russia, even though “she had seen no evidence he had entered into any such deals.” An investigation by the National Crime Agency ultimately found no evidence either.

So given those circumstances, what was the basis for her accusations against Banks?

Cadwalladr’s journalistic modus operandi, in her long-running efforts to suggest widespread Russian meddling in British politics, is highlighted in her witness statement to the court.

In it, she refers to another of her Russiagate-style stories: one from 2017 that tried to connect the Kremlin with Nigel Farage, a former pro-Brexit politician with the UKIP Party and close associate of Banks, and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who has been a political prisoner in the UK for more than a decade.

At that time, Assange was confined to a single room in the Ecuadorian Embassy after its government offered him political asylum. He had sought sanctuary there, fearing he would be extradited to the US following publication by WikiLeaks of revelations that the US and UK had committed war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan.

WikiLeaks had also deeply embarrassed the CIA by following up with the publication of leaked documents, known as Vault 7, exposing the agency’s own crimes.

Last week the UK’s Home Secretary, Priti Patel, approved the very extradition to the US that Assange feared and that drove him into the Ecuadorian embassy. Once in the US, he faces up to 175 years in complete isolation in a supermax jail.

Assassination plot

We now know, courtesy of a Yahoo News investigation, that through 2017 the CIA hatched various schemes either to assassinate Assange or to kidnap him in one of its illegal “extraordinary rendition” operations, so he could be permanently locked up in the US, out of public view.

We can surmise that the CIA also believed it needed to prepare the ground for such a rogue operation by bringing the public on board. According to Yahoo’s investigation, the CIA believed Assange’s seizure might require a gun battle on the streets of London.

It was at this point, it seems, that Cadwalladr and the Guardian were encouraged to add their own weight to the cause of further turning public opinion against Assange.

According to her witness statement, “a confidential source in [the] US” suggested – at the very time the CIA was mulling over these various plots – that she write about a supposed visit by Farage to Assange in the embassy. The story ran in the Guardian under the headline “When Nigel Farage met Julian Assange.”

In the article, Cadwalladr offers a strong hint as to who had been treating her as a confidant: the one source mentioned in the piece is “a highly placed contact with links to US intelligence”. In other words, the CIA almost certainly fed her the agency’s angle on the story.

In the piece, Cadwalladr threads together her and the CIA’s claims of “a political alignment between WikiLeaks’ ideology, UKIP’s ideology and Trump’s ideology”. Behind the scenes, she suggests, was the hidden hand of the Kremlin, guiding them all in a malign plot to fatally undermine British democracy.

She quotes her “highly placed contact” claiming that Farage and Assange’s alleged face-to-face meeting was necessary to pass information of their nefarious plot “in ways and places that cannot be monitored”.

Except of course, as her “highly placed contact” knew – and as we now know, thanks to exposes by the Grayzone website – that was a lie. In tandem with its plot to kill or kidnap Assange, the CIA illegally installed cameras inside, as well as outside, the embassy. His every move in the embassy was monitored – even in the toilet block.

The reality was that the CIA was bugging and videoing Assange’s every conversation in the embassy, even the face-to-face ones. If the CIA actually had a recording of Assange and Farage meeting and discussing a Kremlin-inspired plot, it would have found a way to make it public by now.

Far more plausible is what Farage and WikiLeaks say: that such a meeting never happened. Farage visited the embassy to try to interview Assange for his LBC radio show but was denied access. That can be easily confirmed because by then the Ecuadorian embassy was allying with the US and refusing Assange any contact with visitors apart from his lawyers.

Nonetheless, Cadwalladr concludes:In the perfect storm of fake news, disinformation and social media in which we now live, WikiLeaks is, in many ways, the swirling vortex at the centre of everything.”

‘Swirling vortex’

The Farage-Assange meeting story shows how the CIA and Cadwalladr’s agendas perfectly coincided in their very own “swirling vortex” of fake news and disinformation.

She wanted to tie the Brexit campaign to Russia and suggest that anyone who wished to challenge the liberal pieties that provide cover for the crimes committed by Western states must necessarily belong to a network of conspirators, on the left and the right, masterminded from Moscow.

The CIA and other Western intelligence agencies, meanwhile, wanted to deepen the public’s impression that Assange was a Kremlin agent – and that WikiLeaks’ exposure of the crimes committed by those same agencies was not in the public interest but actually an assault on Western democracy.

Assange’s character assassination had already been largely achieved with the American public in the Russiagate campaign in the US. The intelligence services, along with the Democratic Party leadership, had crafted a narrative designed to obscure WikiLeaks’ revelations of election-fixing by Hillary Clinton’s camp in 2016 to prevent Bernie Sanders from winning the party’s presidential nomination. Instead they refocused the public’s attention on evidence-free claims that Russia had “hacked” the emails.

For Cadwalladr and the CIA, the fake-news story of Farage meeting Assange could be spun as further proof that both the “far left” and “far right” were colluding with Russia. Their message was clear: only centrists – and the national security state – could be trusted to defend democracy.

Fabricated story

Cadwalladr’s smearing of Assange is entirely of a piece with the vilification campaign of WikiLeaks led by liberal media outlets to which she belongs. Her paper, the Guardian, has had Assange in its sights since its falling out with him over their joint publication of the Iraq and Afghanistan war logs in 2010.

A year after Cadwalladr’s smear piece, the Guardian would continue its cooperation with the intelligence services’ demonization of Assange by running an equally fabricated story – this time about a senior aide of Trump’s, Paul Manafort, and various unidentified “Russians” secretly meeting Assange in the embassy.

The story was so improbable it was ridiculed even at the time of publication. Again, the CIA’s illegal spying operation inside and outside the embassy meant there was no way Manafort or any “Russians” could have secretly visited Assange without those meetings being recorded. Nonetheless, the Guardian has never retracted the smear.

One of the authors of the article, Luke Harding, has been at the forefront of both the Guardian’s Russiagate claims and its efforts to defame Assange. In doing so, he appears to have relied heavily on Western intelligence services for his stories and has proven incapable of defending them when challenged.

Harding, like the Guardian, has an added investment in discrediting Assange. He and a Guardian colleague, David Leigh, published a Guardian-imprint book that included a secret password to a WikiLeaks’ cache of leaked documents, thereby providing security services around the world with access to the material.

The CIA’s claim that the release of those documents endangered its informants – a claim that even US officials have been forced to concede is not true – has been laid at Assange’s door to vilify him and justify his imprisonment. But if anyone is to blame, it is not Assange but Harding, Leigh and the Guardian.

Effort to deplatform

The case of Paul Mason, who worked for many years as a senior BBC journalist, is even more revealing. Emails passed to the Grayzone website show the veteran, self-described “left-wing” journalist secretly conspiring with figures aligned with British intelligence services to build a network of journalists and academics to smear and censor independent media outlets that challenge the narratives of the Western intelligence agencies.

Mason’s concerns about left-wing influence on public opinion have intensified the more he has faced criticism from the left over his demands for fervent, uncritical support of NATO and as he has lobbied for greater Western interference in Ukraine. Both are aims he shares with Western intelligence services.

Along with the establishment media, Mason has called for sending advanced weaponry to Kyiv, likely to raise the death toll on both sides of the war and risk a nuclear confrontation between the West and Russia.

In the published emails, Mason suggests the harming and “relentless deplatforming” of independent investigative media sites – such as the Grayzone, Consortium News and Mint Press – that host non-establishment journalists. He and his correspondents also debate whether to include Declassified UK and OpenDemocracy. One of his co-conspirators suggests a “full nuclear legal to squeeze them financially.”

Mason himself proposes starving these websites of income by secretly pressuring Paypal to stop readers from being able to make donations to support their work.

It should be noted that, in the wake of Mason’s correspondence,  PayPal did indeed launch just such a crackdown, including against Consortium News and MintPress, after earlier targeting WikiLeaks.

Mason’s email correspondents include two figures intimately tied to British intelligence: Amil Khan is described by the Grayzone as “a shadowy intelligence contractor” with ties to the UK’s National Security Council. He founded Valent Projects, establishing his credentials in a dirty propaganda war in support of head-chopping jihadist groups trying to bring down the Russian-supported Syrian government.

Clandestine ‘clusters’

The other intelligence operative is someone Mason refers to as a “friend”: Andy Pryce, the head of the Foreign Office’s shadowy Counter Disinformation and Media Development (CDMD) unit, founded in 2016 to “counter-strike against Russian propaganda”. Mason and Pryce spend much of their correspondence discussing when to meet up in London pubs for a drink, according to the Grayzone.

The Foreign Office managed to keep the CDMD unit’s existence secret for two years. The UK government has refused to disclose basic information about the CDMD on grounds of national security, although it is now known that it is overseen by the National Security Council.

The CDMD’s existence came to light because of leaks about another covert information warfare operation, the Integrity Initiative.

Notably, the Integrity Initiative was run on the basis of clandestine “clusters,” in North America and Europe, of journalists, academics, politicians and security officials advancing narratives shared with Western intelligence agencies to discredit Russia, China, Julian Assange, and Jeremy Corbyn, the former, left-wing leader of the Labor Party.

Cadwalladr was named in the British cluster, along with other prominent journalists: David Aaronovitch and Dominic Kennedy of the Times; the Guardian’s Natalie Nougayrede and Paul Canning; Jonathan Marcus of the BBC; the Financial Times’ Neil Buckley; the Economist’s Edward Lucas; and Sky News’ Deborah Haynes.

In his emails, Mason appears to want to renew this type of work but to direct its energies more specifically at damaging independent, dissident media – with his number one target the Grayzone, which played a critical role in exposing the Integrity Initiative.

Mason’s “friend” – the CDMD’s head, Andy Pryce – “featured prominently” in documents relating to the Integrity Initiative, the Grayzone observes.

This background is not lost on Mason. He notes in his correspondence the danger that his plot to “deplatform” independent media could “end up with the same problem as Statecraft” – a reference to the Institute of Statecraft, the Integrity Initiative’s parent charity, which the Grayzone and others exposed. He cautions: “The opposition are not stupid, they can spot an info op – so the more this is designed to be organic the better.”

Pryce and Mason discuss creating an astroturf civil-society organization that would lead their “information war” as part of an operation they brand the “International Information Brigade”.

Mason suggests the suspension of the libel laws for what he calls “foreign agents” – presumably meaning that the Information Brigade would be able to defame independent journalists as Russian agents, echoing the establishment media’s treatment of Assange, without fear of legal action that would show these were evidence-free smears.

‘Putin infosphere’

Another correspondent, Emma Briant, an academic who claims to specialize in Russian disinformation, offers an insight into how she defines the presumed enemy within: those “close to WikiLeaks,” anyone “trolling Carole [Cadwalladr],” and outlets “discouraging people from reading the Guardian.”

Mason himself produces an eye-popping, self-drawn, spider’s web chart of the supposedly “pro-Putin infosphere” in the UK, embracing much of the left, including Corbyn, the Stop the War movement, as well as the Black and Muslim communities. Several media sites are mentioned, including Mint Press and Novara Media, an independent British website sympathetic to Corbyn.

Khan and Mason consider how they can help trigger a British government investigation of independent outlets so that they can be labeled as “Russian-state affiliated media” to further remove them from visibility on social media.

Mason states that the goal is to prevent the emergence of a “left anti-imperialist identity,” which, he fears, “will be attractive because liberalism doesn’t know how to counter it” – a telling admission that he believes genuine left-wing critiques of Western foreign policy cannot be dealt with through public refutation but only through secret disinformation campaigns.

He urges efforts to crack down not only on independent media and “rogue” academics but on left-wing political activism. He identifies as a particular threat Corbyn, who was earlier harmed through a series of disinformation campaigns, including entirely evidence-free claims that the Labour Party during his tenure became a hotbed of antisemitism.

Mason fears Corbyn might set up a new, independent left-wing party. It is important, Mason notes, to “quarantine” and “stigmatize” any such ideology.

In short, rather than use journalism to win the argument and the battle for public opinion, Mason wishes to use the dark arts of the security state to damage independent media, as well as dissident academics and left-wing political activism. He wants no influences on the public that are not tightly aligned with the core foreign policy goals of the national security state.

Mason’s correspondence hints at the reality behind Cadwalladr’s claim that Assange was the “swirling vortex at the centre of everything.”

Assange symbolizes that “swirling vortex” to intelligence-aligned establishment journalists only because WikiLeaks has published plenty of insider information that exposes Western claims to global moral leadership as a complete charade – and the journalists who amplify those claims as utter charlatans.

In part two, we will examine why journalists like Mason and Cadwalladr prosper in the establishment media; the long history of collusion between Western intelligence agencies and the establishment media; and how that mutually beneficial collusion is becoming ever more important to each of them.

First published in Mint Press

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Market God + Private Profits = Public Loss

All people need food, shelter and health care. In an alleged democracy, none of them need the religion of market forces governing their ability to get them. Nor do those of us temporarily comfortable while enjoying the benefits that come to a minority which does well with capitalism (as it did with slavery) but now face a choking atmosphere that no individual status or identity as glorified house negroes of slavery days will protect us since the house itself, our planet, is under deadly attack.

Brutal abuse of logic, savage assaults on morality, perverted molestations of reason; do those describe Russian military behavior in the Ukraine or western political-media market practice? Incredibly booming profits in the death industry accompany the world tour of a Ukrainian political hustler for NATO as he is treated as an international hero for escaping his country on a world go-fund-me trip to raise more weapons to assure more murder of his people with a potential bonus of hosting a late night TV show in America while the bodies are being counted.

The incredible reporting (?) of the Russian defense of its borders has it being depicted as an ugly rape of neighbors led by a comic book madman supposedly bent on building an empire by defending his nation from an imperial monster failing desperately by the day and threatening to destroy the world in a frenzy of trying to maintain its criminal domination of the market god religion. This while its own nation shows signs of crumbling with citizens lashing out at one another and losing faith in all aspects of what passes for leadership but reduced to blaming special villains and identity groups while pursuing decency and freedom for other and often the same villains and identity groups. The one most dangerous and unjust group, the incredibly rich who own and operate what passes for a democracy under thought control, are only just beginning to get the attention they have always deserved.

Low election day turnouts are an American tradition but worse than ever as divisions forced on a public taught to identify as anything but a democratic majority – while paying lip service to something called “our” democracy, which amounts to slaves claiming “our” plantation – while foreign slaughter is accompanied by homeland mass murders that reduce citizens to more fear, sorrow and anger directed at everything but the systemic breakdown and focused by media on scapegoats.

Class society is composed of all of us but we are hardly all members of the same class in a market-dominated capitalism in which rulers separate us by everything but class. Do we have testicles or vaginas? We are all human beings. Lighter skin or darker skin? We are all human beings.  But when a tiny minority among us are rich and everyone else ranges from fairly comfortable to relatively comfortable to uncomfortable to suffering severe discomfort to being ground to pulp by marketism, that defines class society, which is absolutely necessary under the market forces controlled by the rich and their servants in government, industry and media.

American dollar democracy finds 8% of us being millionaires, multi-millionaires, billionaires, and multi billionaires. The 92% majority, of course, control everything democratically. That is the definable truth if you believe deep nose-picking is a way of performing self lobotomy or that the tooth fairy is really a gay dentist. Sadly, a minority of us, including all too many voters, might as well be stuck in such a mental trap. But a growing majority sense that something is terribly wrong and that real change is necessary for humanity and not just one or another identity group’s survival is causing greater desire than ever for substantial change in the way we organize our society. Unfortunately, that desire is still under the control of the profit-making industries of division, violence, ignorance and more division.

It is possible to believe that a billionaire and a pauper are equal when shopping at the market, if one is among the nose picking tooth fairy faith. The rest of us must see the numbers which do not lie and get worse every day when it comes to what is called economic inequality. While that is the foundation of marketism which affords massive estates and riches so vast it takes several banks to hold them, hundreds of thousands of humans, whether possessing testicles, vaginas, or both, light skin, dark skin, or both, heterosexual, homosexual or both, do not have shelter, publicly beg for food and forage through garbage for clothing. This while millions of residents in a so-called democracy have no health care and more than a million die of a virus which is believed by some to have been created by one or another villainous force but hardly due to the capitalist market system which demands money for most of what is needed for survival while essentially telling those without enough money they can drop dead.

While formally educated and mentally deranged manipulators of policy are using Ukraine to affect murdering Russians and using Taiwan to encourage murder of Chinese, common sense and near universal desires for global peace are impossible to find in the mass murder market dominated and controlled by minorities at growing danger to the overwhelming majority of earth’s inhabitants. The socially diseased imperial beast calling itself a force for global peace and democracy has become a raving monster desperately in need of a truly democratic force of the American people to take control before the rest of the world, led by China, Russia and the many nations fed up with a disintegrating economic, social and political environment, have to exercise control, democratic or otherwise.

Peace is impossible while life is controlled by minority profiteers whose control of information is as menacing as its weapons making. The world outside the USA is growing restive, fed up, and beginning to tell us to bug off, as at the recent farce of an alleged meeting of Latin American countries formerly under our total domination showed. Nato countries reduced to suffering for obeying American orders to sanction Russia are being to think about banding together to sanction The USA. There has never been a greater time for real democracy in America but it won’t come about by making war on one another, which will only make the imperial situation worse. Our identity is as human beings, not sub-categories of humans with no need for food, clothing and shelter but only separate-but-allegedly-equal status slaves to a market god, and our fate is in coming together and acting as such. We need to do that in greater numbers and more quickly than ever.

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June 23 Oakland Protest Against Barbara Lee’s Vote for $40 billion to fund War in Ukraine.  Join Us.

On Thursday June 23 people will gather outside Rep Barbara Lee’s office in Oakland at 11:30 am to protest her recent vote for $40 billion for the war in Ukraine. The demonstration is called in conjunction with the International Day of Action for Peace in Ukraine called by the Peace in Ukraine Coalition.  There will be a companion demonstration on the same day in at the Northampton, MA, office of Rep. Jimmy McGovern who also voted for the murderous $40 billion, and accompanied Pelosi in her recent visit to Ukraine.

This massive funding package represents a clear escalation of the war in Ukraine by the government of the United States using the Ukrainian people as cannon fodder in a proxy war with Russia.  The funding pours fuel on the flames of that war.  It will prolong the war, resulting in thousands more Ukrainian and Russian deaths, at the very least.

And this funding is one more step in escalating and widening the scope of the war – up to and including nuclear war.

WHAT: Protest of Barbara Lee’s vote for $40 Billion for the War in Ukraine. This protest is in conjunction with a global day of action against the war, preceding the NATO summit in Madrid, called by the Peace in Ukraine Coalition.

WHERE: 1 Kaiser Plaza, Oakland, California. (Barbara Lee’s Oakland Office)

WHEN: Thursday, June 23rd at 11:30 am.

WHO: Community and AntiWar activists and organizations including Code Pink, Democratic Socialists of American (DSA), East Bay Vets for Peace, Peace in Ukraine Coalition, United Against War & Militarism.

Despite promising just two months ago to “work relentlessly toward de-escalation” of the war in Ukraine, California Congresswoman Barbara Lee voted in lockstep with every Democrat in Congress behind President Biden’s war policy.  This includes not only Barbara Lee but all the other self-styled progressives in Congress, including Bernie Sanders, AOC and the rest of the “Squad.”

Barbara Lee because of her lone vote in opposing the two decade war in Afghanistan, is held up as an icon proving that there are progressive Democratic politicians who will vote for peace.  The promise held out by Lee and her Democratic colleagues that they could be a force for peace now lies in ruins.

Why U.S. involvement in the war in Ukraine must be opposed.

One can look at the war in several ways.

If it is a war between Russia and Ukraine, then it is no business of the United States.

If one believes that it is a war by an idealistic to US to defend sovereignty and national borders, ask the people of Iraq if the US respects sovereignty – or the people of Afghanistan or Libya or Vietnam or Venezuela … the list goes on and on.

If one believes that this is a war to defend democracy, then ask the Palestinians suffering under Apartheid imposed by Israel which is supported by the US government or the people of Saudi Arabia or the many other dictatorships around the world that the US has supported.

No, this is a proxy war of the US against Russia being waged to the last Ukrainian.  If that has not been evident since the role of the US in backing the violent coup in 2014 against a duly elected Ukrainian President, then it is beyond doubt now with the declaration of Defense Secretary Austin that the goal of the US is to “weaken” Russia, the declaration of Joe Biden that Putin must not be allowed to govern and the declaration of Nancy Pelosi that the US must have total “victory” over Russia.  The Biden administration has chosen to confront another major nuclear weapons power, Russia – and that confrontation constitutes an existential threat to all of humanity.

Ukraine now wages war only to improve its bargaining power at the inevitable negotiations which will end the conflict admitted David Arakhamia, who leads Ukraine’s negotiations with Russia and is one of Volodymyr Zelensky’s closest advisers. 200-500 Ukrainian soldiers dying each day with a total of 1000 dead or wounded daily, the latest numbers given by Ukraine, simply to improve a negotiating position is a highly immoral exercise.  Ukraine has now become essentially a puppet state at the mercy of the US for arms and aid.  It is naïve beyond belief to believe that Ukraine proceeds in this immoral fashion without approval of the US – or even perhaps coercion by the US to fight on so as to save face for its patron Biden.

The Biden administration can stop the proxy war.  And we have the power to influence the Biden administration and the pols who support it.  It is our right and responsibility to exercise that power and stop this war.

Who benefits from the war and who is damaged?

Cui bono? Billions in funding for the war serves the interests of weapons manufacturers, military contractors, who pocket untold profits from the war in Ukraine.  Some of these dollars go to funding the endless proliferation of hawkish think tanks whose well paid employees show up as talking heads or op-ed writers in the mainstream media doing all in their power to convince us that “the other” is evil and that war is the answer.  These are media manikins and are ideologues driven by a desire for US world domination and therefore very dangerous

At the same time funding cannot be found for the many problems we face in the US – homelessness, inadequately funded schools, crumbling infrastructure, failure to deal adequately with climate change and now even shortages of baby formula!  Inflation in the U.S. was already running at over 7% before the conflict began due to the tragically inadequate response to Covid-19 and out of control “quantitative easing”; i.e., printing money with abandon.  But the war and sanctions have worsened the inflation which is now running at over 8%.  The average American sees this daily at the gas station and supermarket where soaring prices are now the rule.

Beyond that we must look to the entire world and especially the Global South both of which are suffering beyond belief from inflation and food shortages due to the US sanctions and the continuation of the war.  Led by India, China and nations representing the overwhelming majority of humanity, the world has refused to respect the illegal sanctions.  That leaves only the US and its European allies, former colonial powers, in supporting the US proxy war.  It is not Russia but the US that is isolated.

  • No weapons for war in Ukraine
  • No Proxy War with Russia
  • No to Nuclear War
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Paradigm for Peace Applied to Ukraine: Proposal for a Peaceful Pathway Forward (Part 2B)

Part 2B. The Violence of Ukrainian Ultranationalists

We’ve been examining how threats to life are driving much of the violence of the current crisis in Ukraine. In the last part, we discussed how threats to Russian lives posed by the US and NATO have in turn provoked Russia to take military action. In this part, we’ll look at some of the threats to life within Ukraine itself, threats that Ukrainians feel from other Ukrainians, particularly the violence of ultranationalists.

Some Ukrainians have feared for their lives and safety because of Ukrainian extreme right-wing violence, a form of violence that seems to be aggressive and clearly criminal, since the targets of its violence appear to often be unarmed and non-violent. Groups such as the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists, the Svoboda Party—which used to be named the Social-National Party, Right Sector, Azov battalion, C14, the police regiments Dnipro 1 and Dnipro 2, and the Tornado, Donbass, and Aidar battalions are all linked with fascism and far right-wing violent extremism. Andriy Parubiy, the co-founder of Svoboda and Patriot of Ukraine, whose members became the core of Azov, reportedly regularly meets with Washington DC think tanks and politicians.1

As an aside, note that some consider fascism to be left-wing, rather than right-wing. It’s true that the very word Nazi comes from the words National Socialist, and the word “socialist” implies left-wing. However, others argue that while the Nazis were socialist in name, they were not socialist in action. In fact, the first groups that Hitler attacked and imprisoned were the left-wing political groups: socialists and Communists. Typically, Communism and socialism are considered left-wing, and fascism is considered right-wing.

For purposes of this essay, while I’ll continue to call them right-wing, it doesn’t matter to me whether you want to consider them left-wing or right-wing. A simple two-dimensional left-and-right line might not even be the best way to think about political viewpoints. But most importantly, my point in calling them far-right wing is not to disparage the right wing, or to suggest that the violence of the far-right wing is due to their being on the right wing. It’s due to their being “far,” which also doesn’t necessarily mean violent either.

Left-wing violence and left-wing dictatorships, such as that of a Communist totalitarian dictatorship, and right-wing violence and right-wing dictatorships, such as life under Chile’s Pinochet, are both horrendous, and they both violate the principles of left-wing and right-wing individuals who do not believe in such violence, dictatorship, or totalitarianism. Violence and aggression should be addressed with caring and concern and without bias, whether it is far-left wing or far-right wing. The deeper point is to address these groups, their aggressive ideas, their violence, and also their fears and grievances, no matter which side of the political spectrum they fall.

Perhaps in addition to the left-right horizontal line it would be more meaningful and purposeful to also draw a vertical line running through it and extending from cooperative, egalitarian non-violence at the top to dominating, hierarchical violence at the bottom so that there are four quadrants. Hopefully, whether we’re left or right, we can aim for the top.

It’s important to note that not all people in these groups are neo-Nazis, and perhaps some have views that are distinct in significant ways. Most or all of these groups do not formally embrace Nazi ideology. In fact, members of these groups have often vociferously denied that they are neo-Nazis. The label only angers them, and they explain that they are Ukrainian nationalists. At the same time, many of the groups do include some neo-Nazis in their membership. For example, in 2015 a spokesperson for the Azov battalion stated that 10 to 20 percent Azov’s recruits were neo-Nazis. The Svoboda Party supposedly expelled its neo-Nazi members when it was trying to transform its image and changed its name from the Social National Party to the Svoboda (Freedom) Party in 2018.

Perhaps a better term than neo-Nazi for these groups would be fascists, since Nazis are more specifically associated with Hitler’s Third Reich and perhaps many of these far-right-wing Ukrainians care much more about Ukraine than Hitler. An excellent article about the defining beliefs and fears of fascists is written by Dan Tamir, “When Jews Praised Mussolini and Supported Nazis: Meet Israel’s First Fascists.” 2 The article lists these defining characteristics of fascism: conviction of superiority of one’s group, a feeling of victimhood, feeling justified to commit any form of revenge, subjugation of the individual to the group, and belief in the supreme leader as having extraordinary, even divine or supernatural powers. Many also would include as a characteristic a repulsion to left-wing policies. While fascist beliefs are intolerant, ruthless, and violent, they appear to be goaded simultaneously by convictions of superiority and by fears and convictions of victimhood.

Not mentioned in the article is the idea that fascist governments are defined by some as existing when a strong, undemocratic tie exists between government and big business, so that government and businesses collaborate in harmful ways to serve each other’s purposes. To my knowledge, such collaboration is not something that’s being promoted by Ukraine’s far-right-wing violent extremists who seem extremely angered by the stealing, dishonesty, and corruption within government and the disproportionate power of oligarchs within the nation.

Many articles refer to Ukrainians’ violent far-right wing simply as ultranationalists, and this may be the best term for them, a type of extreme nationalism that includes violence and hatred towards those who are not of their ethnicity. But again, I don’t have access to any type of survey of these groups, and I don’t know whether they all look down on others or not. Most of all, it’s important to listen to the particulars of their beliefs. It would be a disservice to smear an entire group with the ideas and actions of its most violent and intolerant members, who may not even be representative of the entire group. In fact, in situations of conflict, this tactic, called pathological stereotyping, of defining and perceiving an entire group by the most repulsive behaviors and actions of unrepresentative members, is a tactic that only heightens misunderstanding and places harmony and reconciliation even farther out of reach. Of course, just because a group isn’t neo-Nazi doesn’t mean it’s harmless, non-violent, and just. It could be highly prejudiced, fascist, and violent whether it’s neo-Nazi or not.

With regard to US foreign policy, it’s critical to understand that US weapons and funding are helping, either intentionally or unintentionally, to support the behaviors of these violent Ukrainian extremists. It’s reportedly difficult to keep US aid and weapons from ending up in the hands of these groups. Yet these groups are not representative of the Ukrainian population as a whole. The Svoboda Party, for example, won 10 percent of the vote in 2015, and that was much more than it had ever gained. 3 In supporting these groups more than others, therefore, US policymakers can hardly say they’re supporting democracy within Ukraine. In fact, it’s impossible to help one side kill another side in a foreign nation’s civil war and call that assistance democratic and supportive of that nation’s population. Democracy involves caring equally for all, not obliterating the side you disagree with. For this reason, Biden’s sending weapons to Ukraine is an extremely undemocratic gesture. US policymakers try to make it seem democratic, as if the other side of the civil war is really a bunch of Russian puppets. But that’s not the truth of it.

With regard to the dangers from these groups in Ukraine, several articles, especially Lev Golinkin’s highly informative article in The Nation, provide much evidence. 4 Human rights groups, including Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and the UN, have reported and condemned rising far-right-wing paramilitary violence in Ukraine, including attacks on women’s rights marches, the LGBTQ community, and several attacks on the Romani (Gypsies), who were also the primary target of Hitler’s Nazis in terms of percentage of the ethnic group destroyed.5

The UN has accused the Azov regiment of violating international humanitarian law.5 Azov’s infliction of rape and torture in the Donbas region of Donetsk and Lugansk is documented for the years 2015–2016.6  Yet right-wing extremists from several nations on three continents, including the United States, have travelled to Ukraine to join with Azov. 7

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In 2018, the far-right group C14 drove away a Romani community, chased Romani women and children, and burned down their tents. A few months later, using batons and other weapons, they attacked a Romani community, injured several, and killed one young Romani man. C14 was originally the youth wing of the Svoboda party. The seven suspects in the murderous attack were aged 16 and 17. 8 

The UN insisted that Kiev cease persecution of the Romani, but months later, a human rights group reported that C14, in collaboration with Kiev’s police, was allegedly intimidating the Romani. Well prior to the 2014 coup, the BBC reported that Svoboda Party activists attacked and sprayed tear gas at a gay rights rally in Kiev. The party also was calling for a requirement that passports specify the holder’s ethnicity. 9  

Meanwhile, at the start of the civil war in 2014, the Aidar battalion, referred to as a neo-Nazi battalion, fired weapons at a monastery and held 300 monks and other civilians hostage.  10   Amnesty International has documented cases of abuse it states were committed by Aidar in 2014 and are classified as war crimes, including extorting money, abducting, and beating Ukrainians suspected of collaborating with pro-Russian Ukrainians. Aidar’s leader himself honestly admitted, “‘I don’t deny people were looting there (in eastern Ukraine).’” The Tornado battalion, as well, was accused by Ukraine’s government of including about 40 members who have criminal records, though the types and severity of the crimes committed are not stated. The 2015 article states that eight members had been accused of crimes including rape, forcing captives to rape another man, murder, and smuggling.11    

As Medea Benjamin and Nicolas J. S. Davies of Code Pink explain, the extreme right-wing Svoboda (Freedom) Party played a major role in Ukraine’s 2014 coup. The peaceful protests against the administration of President Viktor Yanukovich turned into violence, thanks to the armed behavior of the extreme right-wing Right Sector. 12 Russ Bellant, who has written about the ties of right-wing Nazi-collaborating Eastern European immigrants with US Republican Party campaigns since the 1950s, has stated that the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists, an intolerant, violent organization from the 1920s that backed the all-Ukrainian 14th Waffen SS Division during WWII, is behind the Svoboda Party, a party supported by the US government and a party that was a force within the 2014 coup. 13 

In stating the reasons for Russia’s invasion, Putin referred to this violence and to the war crimes of Ukrainian extremists, but US media makers called his grievances phony. Putin referred to the inhumane blockades which prevented Russia’s humanitarian aid from reaching Donetsk and Lugansk. Russia also claimed that Kiev cut off utilities, including water, to the republics. Again, US politicians and their obedient media makers dismissed these fears as phony.

This denial of Putin’s and Russia’s fears is the same callous, dehumanizing disrespect for another’s fears and the same denial of suffering, assault, and violence that has been present towards the victims of other forms of US prejudice, including prejudice against women, Native Americans, Asian Americans, and African Americans, as well as less-recognized forms of prejudice within our systems and institutions against the rights and dignity of children, employees, and the non-wealthy.

A truly evolved society is one which can recognize its own prejudices, not merely in hindsight, but in the present, when groupthink and mainstream media are at their zenith in applauding prejudice, and particularly in times of conflict when prejudice is harnessed and fueled to justify violence and injustice against certain people deemed evil, dangerous, and morally inferior. When people truly think someone else is dangerous and malicious, prejudice, itself dangerous, suddenly seems moral and is allowed to grow like cancer, disguised as good but actually taking over one’s cells.

While US policy and media makers have been busy drowning truth in the stew of their prejudice, in 2014, Amnesty International accused the Dnipro-1 battalion of war crimes, including the use of starvation of civilians as a weapon of warfare. Amnesty also accused Dnipro-1 of blocking humanitarian aid. An Amnesty International official also described as a war crime the actions of the Dnipro, Aidar, and Donbas battalions in blocking food and clothing to Donetsk and Lugansk, regions where more than half the people depend upon food aid. Golinkin reports that six months after this accusation, US Senator John McCain visited Ukraine and praised Dnipro-1. 14  Articles from German and British news sites reported on Ukraine’s attacks in 2014 that damaged a power plant in Donetsk, thus cutting off access to water, and on Ukraine’s cutting off the electricity supply and funding to the republics in 2017.15 

In addition to the blockades of food, water, electricity, and humanitarian aid, and in addition to the physical attacks, abuse also comes in the form of symbolism. The use of Nazi symbolism, such as swastikas and swastika-like symbols, has been on the rise—Golinkin refers to an “explosion” of swastiskas. Statues and streets have been dedicated to Ukrainians connected with the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists who massacred thousands of Jews and Poles and collaborated with Nazis during WWII. Right Sector, who formed the most militarized parts of the 2014 coup, included demonstrators who wore anti-Semitic symbols. At the same time, Jewish Holocaust memorials, Jewish centers, and Jewish cemeteries have been vandalized and at least one synagogue was firebombed.

Verbal abuse against minorities has also escalated. Golinkin reports that torchlight marches celebrating Nazi collaborators have become a routine feature under the post-coup Ukrainian government. In a march in 2017 honoring Stepan Bandera, the former leader of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists, thousands chanted, “Jews out!” Other forms of verbal abuse, such as by right-wing members of parliament, have been coarse, vulgar, and threatening towards minorities such as Jews and Russians. A politician, Golinkin reports, regretted that Hitler hadn’t annihilated the Jews completely. These remarks and these statements of goals are made without repercussions.

Hatred against Russia has become venomous amongst far right-wing extremists. One article reported that a Ukrainian man was attacked simply for speaking Russian. In 2015, Reuters quoted a member of the St. Mary’s battalion who stated that he’d like to create a Christian “Taliban” to reclaim eastern Ukraine and Crimea. “‘I would like Ukraine to lead the crusades. . . .Our mission is not only to kick out the occupiers, but also revenge. Moscow must burn.’”

In 2012, the European Parliament passed a resolution asking Kiev not to associate with the Svoboda Party due to its racist, xenophobic, and anti-Semitic views. But after the 2014 coup, Svoboda Party members were appointed to about one-quarter of the Cabinet positions in the interim government. One Svoboda Party member even assaulted a Ukrainian state TV station merely for broadcasting a speech given by Putin. In 2014, NBC reported that the party’s goals listed on its website included preserving Ukraine’s national identity, protecting Ukraine’s “living space”—the lingo used by Hitler, and criminalizing any displays of “Ukrainophobia.” 16 In other words, it’s okay to be fearful or even hateful and violent towards Russians, Jews, feminists, and gays, but it’s not cool to be fearful, hateful, or violent towards heterosexual male ethnic Ukrainians.

Israel itself has publicly requested Kiev to stop the epidemic of anti-Semitism. In 2018, the World Jewish Congress, the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, and 57 members of the US Congress denounced this Nazi glorification and anti-Semitism emanating from Kiev. Golinkin reports that, while many Ukrainian Jewish leaders supported the anti-corruption protests in 2014, 41 Ukrainian Jewish leaders have since condemned the growth of anti-Semitism. 17

The connections between violent far-right extremists, including neo-Nazis, and Ukraine’s government and legal apparatus are disturbing. Neo-Nazis work in Ukraine’s police, national guard, and military, which is said to be the reason why far-right-wing violence in the streets is given impunity. The Azov battalion was incorporated into Ukraine’s National Guard in 2014 to become the Azov regiment. Shortly after the 2014 coup, the US began equipping and training Ukraine’s National Police, which is under the jurisdiction of Ukraine’s Ministry of the Interior, a cabinet post given to Vadim Troya, a veteran of Azov and Patriot of Ukraine.  18 Volunteer battalions have received some of their weapons from Ukraine’s Defense Ministry and others from oligarchs. Al-Jazeera’s article states that Petro Poroshenko, Ukraine’s president at the time, praised Azov when it was integrated into the National Guard in 2014 as “our best warriors.”

Yet, while the post-coup Ukrainian government seems to have directly supported these groups and has also been accused by human rights organizations of ignoring their violence, at the same time, at least back in 2015, the post-coup Ukrainian government itself saw many of these volunteer unofficial battalions or certain criminal members within them as problematic. The Reuters article from 2015 pointed out that President Poroshenko stated that these illegal groups must disarm because they’re threatening to make the country even more unstable than it already is. He also stated that groups could not be both politically involved in government and also militant; they could only be one or the other, presumably because militant vigilantism in Ukraine is allowed only in order to support Ukraine’s police and protect the Ukrainian population as a whole, not a particular political party.

The Ukrainian Minister of the Interior and Ukraine’s military prosecutor were both intent on weeding out the criminal elements within these volunteer battalions and prosecuting them for crimes. However, as the article from 2015 reveals, hostility has occurred between these far-right wing groups and the Ukrainian government and police. Extremists are angered that the revolution of 2014 has still not been completed and that corruption still exists. They’ve also been angered by the government’s attempt to dismantle them. Right Sector and the police even had a shoot-out. Far-right-wing extremists poured manure in front of the office of Ukraine’s military prosecutor.  19 

While the Ukrainian government is accused of collaborating with neo-Nazis by bringing the Azov regiment into military service, it’s possible that this was part of an attempt to control Azov. The 2015 Reuters article states that the Ukraine government, in an effort to bring Aidar and other volunteer battalions under control, ordered Aidar to reform into the 24th assault battalion as part of Ukraine’s official forces. In 2015, Aidar members were lighting tires on fire in front of Ukraine’s Department of the Interior in protest of government attempts to disband them. Therefore, incorporating them into official forces may have been an attempt to disempower their criminal elements while empowering their non-criminal elements. 20 Even Poroshenko’s praise could have been intended to be aimed at the non-criminal aspects of Azov, as a way of helping them to feel proud of being a part of the official forces and more inclined to stay non-criminal.

Clearly, ultranationalist violence has been an enormous, complicated problem for many in Ukraine. Since US media is so one-dimensional and narrow in scope, it’s not clear that US weapon shipments are something that most Ukrainian leaders would even advocate, given the consequences of building up the violent capabilities of far-right-wing extremists. Nonetheless, with brazen falseness and stuffing its ears to Putin’s, Israel’s, Ukrainian civilians’, and the Ukrainian government’s severe concerns, with callousness that denies the suffering of victims of neo-Nazi and other far-right-wing violence, American “experts” deny the whole problem by first inflating these accusations of neo-Nazism and far-right-wing extremist violence into an accusation that the entire government of Ukraine is neo-Nazi, and then by rejecting that accusation as ridiculous.

So-called US “experts” persist in “educating” Americans by uttering with unwarranted confidence the simple-minded argument that it’s impossible for Ukraine’s government to be neo-Nazi or to collaborate with neo-Nazis because Ukraine’s President Zelenskiy is Jewish. Infographics, which repetitively derides Russia and Putin with relish throughout the program, mocks Putin’s accusation of neo-Nazism within Ukraine’s government by stating that the idea of a Jewish president leading a Nazi government is “not only blatantly false…but ridiculous.” The tone of the narrator is meant to assure us that Infographics has accurately explained Putin’s concerns and validly denied its foundations.21

Other US “experts” and scholars also dismiss neo-Nazism, claiming it is no more a problem in Ukraine than in other nations. They seem to forget that the neo-Nazis and other far-right extremists in Ukraine are being armed with US and NATO heavy weaponry to fight on the front lines in Donetsk and Lugansk. Moreover, Ukraine is the only nation in the world with a neo-Nazi formation in its armed forces.22

And if neo-Nazism has no more power in Ukraine than any other nation, then why were Ukraine and the US the only two nations that voted against the Feb. 2022 UN resolution to condemn the glorification of Nazism? In his July 2021 essay, Putin points out that Ukraine has repeatedly voted against past attempts to pass this resolution. In 2022, the resolution was passed with 130 nations voting in favor, 51—including the entire EU—abstaining, and only 2 voting against it: Ukraine and the US.23 The US supported its decision by falsely claiming that the resolution was a thinly veiled attempt by Russia to serve as fraudulent cover for its actions in Ukraine. This denial of neo-Nazi violence, vandalism, and symbolic, verbal, and physical abuse is maddening. Perhaps US policymakers should speak with the human rights groups and the victims of assault, rape, and robbery that have condemned neo-Nazi violence in Ukraine.

With its typical spineless sense of morality, the US government briefly forbade US support and training to Azov in 2015 but then lifted the ban in 2016, under some sort of unknown pressure from the Pentagon.24 (US foreign policy is always made by this “pressure,” not by informed, cooperative thought and discussion.) The very presence of the Azov battalion on the front lines of war in Donetsk and Lugansk is yet one more factor that provoked Russia to invade Ukraine to protect Ukrainians from horror.

Nonetheless, with a sense of logic matching its sense of morality, US policymakers decided that Azov, whose violent presence was helping attract a Russian invasion, wasn’t so bad after all since it was fighting the invading Russians. Of course, perhaps US policymaker logic is the same as US National Security Adviser Brzezinski’s logic in 1979: arming the mujahideen in Afghanistan is a great idea because it will provoke the Soviets to invade and get mired in their own “Vietnam.” 25

It seems US policymakers are going to extremes to both support neo-Nazism and other forms of far-right-wing violence and also to deny its existence as a significant force in Ukraine, a behavior so peculiar that it deserves more attention. The use of President Zelenskiy’s Jewish ethnicity as “proof” of the lack of neo-Nazism as a force in Ukraine’s government and society is illogical on many levels. Of course, it’s understandable that Americans equate Nazism solely with anti-Semitism, since that’s pretty much all that’s emphasized in the US. We certainly don’t learn about Hitler’s viciousness towards socialists, Communists, the Romani, and Slavs in general—such knowledge would not have been conducive to fueling American Cold War anti-Soviet fear and hatred. And we certainly don’t learn about Jewish fascism as it exists in the form of Jewish Revisionism.

Beginning in the 1920s, Jewish Revisionists, perhaps psychologically traumatized by their own family backgrounds experiencing pogroms in Eastern Europe, believed in the necessity of the ruthless use of force to achieve their goals of Israeli statehood. Ironically, Jewish Revisionists admired Hitler and sought to collaborate with the Axis powers to rid themselves of Britain’s attempts to equitably manage and remedy the fact that enormous numbers of impoverished Arabs were not only being economically threatened by rising Jewish immigration but were being pushed out of Palestine.

So while Britain was attacking Nazi Germany which was slaughtering Jews, the Jewish Revisionists’ Irgun, at one point led by future Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin, and the Stern Gang, at one point led by future Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir, launched terrorist campaigns against British personnel and Arab civilians.  26 The Irgun was a political predecessor of today’s Likud party in Israel, strongly supported by US policymakers who, in turn, receive financial contributions from pro-Likud lobbyists of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). 27

Ukraine’s President Zelenskiy is not necessarily fascist. He could simply be under pressure to cooperate with the extreme right-wing. But the point in mentioning this aside about Jewish fascists in Israel is to prove even further that this US “expert” claim that a Jewish president cannot exist or even collaborate with neo-Nazis within the same government is false.

So you have to wonder, if this US expert claim is false, what else is false? And why are Americans making up false stories? Is their argument against Russia and against Putin too shaky to stand on its own without lies?

Ukrainian fears for life from attack by far-right-wing violent extremists—both before and after the 2014 coup—are valid fears that deserve attention, not denial. At the same time, as we follow the Paradigm for Peace model which entails seeking to understand and analyze the Defensive and Aggressive Roots of Violence on all sides of conflict, we must also learn whether these far-right groups, including neo-Nazis, have feared for their own lives and safety.

One of the worst things to do to people is simply to condemn them without even trying to understand their fears and their point of view. It’s also poor human relations to condemn an entire group based upon the worst behavior of its members, if those members’ actions are not representative of the group’s typical behavior. We need to learn whether these ultranationalist groups hold legitimate grievances or even certain legitimate aspects of grievances that should be addressed.

For example, why do these groups attack the Romani? Is it possible that any members of these groups have been threatened in major or minor ways by the Romani? Were ultranationalists’ lives threatened? Or property? Or feelings? If so, were the offending Romani acting typically for Romani, or were they more poorly behaved than most? If so, why should an entire camp be attacked? To what extent are attacks on Romani simply a way for ultranationalists to fulfill certain psychological needs that are otherwise unmet? Such as needs for identity and superiority? Can we talk about this?

For those grievances that prove to be largely illegitimate, irrational, or immoral, we need to figure out which forces and circumstances in culture created those perspectives, for these people, while inflicting suffering upon others, seem to be suffering in their own way. So much rage and hate must be difficult to endure. And be sure not to confuse sending weapons to these groups with solving these groups’ problems, for the weapons are not solving their problems and are only making them capable of worse crimes, which will, in turn, make their cause and their very existence appear even more illegitimate.

In her work, Women of the Klan, Kathleen Blee shows how Ku Klux Klan members in the 1920s truly thought of themselves as good people. It’s important to understand this and find out why. Highly-prejudiced, violent extremist groups such as the KKK do have underlying fears, not necessarily about their lives, but often about their economic security, values and morality in society, their social standing in society, and their personal value.28) They tend to irrationally blame their problems on entire categories of people of certain ethnic groups, religions, or socioeconomic classes other than their own. Without excusing or supporting right-wing or left-wing extremists’ violence and callous hatred, we’ve got to listen to their fears and see if they possess certain legitimate grievances that can be alleviated or simply irrational fears that also need to be addressed.

In order to understand why right-wing Ukrainians honor Ukrainians who collaborated with Nazis during WWII and massacred thousands of Jews and Poles, we might also try to understand the rational and irrational fears of those WWII Ukrainians, such as the all-Ukrainian SS unit, who committed the murders. Is it possible that these Ukrainians felt, correctly or not, that their lives were endangered by Jews and Poles? If so, to what extent was this feeling a result merely of propaganda?

In the course of my research and writing, I’ve run the Paradigm for Peace model through the circumstances of Nazi Germany, and it’s easy to see that German Nazism emerged from severe threats to life, power, wealth, land, love, worth, and respect from WWI, the Treaty of Versailles, the Great Depression, and unequal international relationships of power, wealth, and trade. Nazi views about Jews and Communists and German convictions that Hitler was a man of peace fighting on the defense against aggressors, resulted from heavy, lengthy doses of propaganda.29 Not only that, US banks, law firms, and businesses directly helped build up Hitler’s arsenal.30 To what extent were Ukrainian Nazi collaborators during WWII and to what extent are ultranationalist Ukrainians today experiencing these same types of threats, these same types of propaganda, and these same types of access to weapons? To what extent are Americans?

Obviously, the point is not to understand to the point of agreeing that Jews and Poles should be murdered or that certain people are inferior. The point is to discover how these extremists have felt threatened, even if only psychologically, even if only as the result of propaganda, in order to help them feel physically, emotionally, socially, and psychologically safe without having to resort to violence or injustice, in order to help prevent people from ever experiencing such fears and frustrations and from ever feeling the need to respond to fears and frustrations so violently. As repulsive as it might seem to various people to try to understand neo-Nazis, or Russians, or US policymakers, it’s critical not to exclude any group from our efforts to understand fears and hopes and the forces in society that have shaped these minds.

While all fears cannot be remedied in conflict resolution and cooperative negotiation, especially since some may originate in the physical and emotional insecurities of childhood dynamics, school and community dynamics, or personal biologies, and while perfect understanding and harmony is impossible, these efforts, unlike weapon-corporation-sponsored efforts and good-guy-killing-evil-guy efforts, could actually move us forward instead of backward. Moreover, if some American, Ukrainian, or Russian fears are more irrational and are rooted, not in actual current threatening circumstances, but rather more deeply in the stress, trauma, threats, frustrations, or alienation of childhood or community dynamics, in the skewed information developed by propaganda, or in the skewed mentalities festering within certain organizational cultures, such an analysis can point to the need for reforms in societies’ priorities and traditions of human relations to help humans grow and develop with much more social and emotional security, caring, and friendship and with respect for the truth as something to seek, not contort.

  1. Lev Golinkin, “Neo-Nazis and the Far Right Are on the March in Ukraine,” The Nation, February 22, 2019.
  2. Dan Tamir, “When Jews Praised Mussolini and Supported Nazis: Meet Israel’s First Fascists“, Haaretz, July 20, 2019.
  3. David Stern, “Svoboda: The Rise of Ukraine’s Ultra-Nationalists,” December 26, 2012, BBC.
  4. Neo-Nazis and the Far Right Are on the March in Ukraine,” The Nation, February 22, 2019.
  5. Lev Golinkin, “Neo-Nazis and the Far Right Are on the March in Ukraine,” The Nation, February 22, 2019.
  6. Al Jazeera, “Profile: Who Are Ukraine’s Far Right Azov Regiment?” March 1, 2022.
  7. See Lev Golinkin, “Neo-Nazis and the Far Right Are on the March in Ukraine,” The Nation, February 22, 2019; Josh Cohen, “Commentary: Ukraine’s Neo-Nazi Problem,” Reuters, March. 19, 2018; Olga Sukharveskaya, “How Ukraine’s ‘Revolution of Dignity,’ Led to War, Poverty, and the Rise of the Far Right,” Russia Today; Ria Novosti, Interview with Dennis Kucinich, “NATO ‘Anachronistic Nightmare’ and Should Be Disbanded—US Politician,” April 9, 2014; Democracy Now, “Debate: Is Ukraine’s Opposition a Democratic Movement or a Force of Right-Wing Extremism?” January 30, 2014; Kirit Radia, James Gordon Meek, Lee Ferran, and Ali Weinberg, “US Contractor Greystone Denies Its ‘Mercenaries’ in Ukraine,” ABC News, April 8, 2014; and Tass, “Militia claim spotting up to 70 mercenaries of US military company Academi in east Ukraine“, April 21, 2015.
  8. BBC, “Ukraine Roma Camp Attack Leaves One Dead,” June 24, 2018.
  9. David Stern, “Svoboda: The Rise of Ukraine’s Ultra-Nationalists,” BBC, December 26, 2012.
  10. Neo-Nazi Aidar Battalion Holds 300 Locals and Monks Hostage,” Al Mayadeen, March 13, 2014.
  11. Elizabeth Piper and Sergiy Karazy, “Special Report: Ukraine Struggles to Control Maverick Battalions,” Reuters, July 29, 2015.
  12. Medea Benjamin and Nicolas J. S. Davies, “The Presence of Neo-Nazis in Ukraine”, Fair Observer, March 11, 2022.
  13. Paul H. Rosenberg, “Seven Decades of Nazi Collaboration: America’s Dirty Little Ukraine Secret,” Interview with Russ Bellant, Foreign Policy in Focus, March 18, 2014,
  14. Lev Golinkin, The Nation.
  15. Russia Today, “War in Ukraine Started 8 Years Ago, Russia Is Now Ending It—Moscow,” February 24, 2022, BBC; “Ukraine Crisis: Donetsk without Water after Shelling,” November 19, 2014; DW, “Ukraine Cuts Electricity to Rebel Areas, Russian Steps In,” April 15, 2017.
  16. NBC News, “Analysis: US Cozies Up to Kiev Government Including Far Right,” March 30, 2014.
  17. Lev Golinkin, “Neo-Nazis and the Far Right Are on the March in Ukraine,” Nation, February 22, 2019.
  18. Golinkin, “Neo-Nazis and the Far Right Are on the March in Ukraine,
  19. Elizabeth Piper and Sergiy Karazy, “Special Report: Ukraine Struggles to Control Maverick Battalions.
  20. Piper and Karazy, “Special Report: Ukraine Struggles to Control Maverick Battalions,” Reuters, July 29, 2015.
  21. Infographic Show, “Russia’s Big Problem with Ukraine,” April 8, 2022.
  22. Lev Golinkin, “Neo-Nazis and the Far Right Are on the March in Ukraine.
  23. Countercurrents, “US and Ukraine, Only Two Countries Vote against UN Resolution Condemning Nazism,” December 17, 2021.
  24. Al Jazeera, “Profile: Who Are Ukraine’s Far Right Azov Regiment?
  25. Bill Van Auken, “Zbigniew Brzezinski, Architect of the Catastrophe in Afghanistan, Dead at 89,” World Socialist Web Site, May 29, 2017; and Nick Turse, The Case for Withdrawal from Afghanistan (New York: Verso, 2010); and Chalmers Johnson. “Abolish the CIA!” 31-32; and David N. Gibbs, “The Brzezinski Interview with Le Nouvel Observateur (1998),” Translated by William Blum and David N. Gibbs.
  26. William Cleveland, A History of the Modern Middle East, 3rd ed. (Boulder, CO: Westview, 2004), 262-63.
  27. M. J. Rosenberg, “This Is How AIPAC Really Works,” The Nation, February 14, 2019; and Connie Bruck
  28. Kathleen M. Blee, Women of the Klan: Racism and Gender in the 1920s, (Berkeley and Los Angeles: Univ. of California, 1992
  29. Ian Kershaw, The “Hitler Myth”: Image and Reality in the Third Reich (Oxford: Oxford University, 1987).
  30. Christopher Simpson, The Splendid Blond Beast: Money, Law, and Genocide in the Twentieth Century (New York: Grove Press, 1993), 48, 63-65; and Stephen Kinzer, The Brothers: John Foster Dulles, Allen Dulles, and Their Secret World War” (New York: St. Martin’s Griffin, 2013), 38-39, 50-51.
The post Paradigm for Peace Applied to Ukraine: Proposal for a Peaceful Pathway Forward (Part 2B) first appeared on Dissident Voice.

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.

The Food Shortage Solution in Your Own Backyard

While the global food systems we depend on come under increasing strain, there’s a solution to the growing crisis that most Americans can find in their own backyards–or front lawns.

A confluence of crises—lockdowns and business closures, mandates and worker shortages, supply chain disruptions and inflation, sanctions and war—have compounded to trigger food shortages; and we have been warned that they may last longer than the food stored in our pantries. What to do?

Jim Gale, founder of Food Forest Abundance, pointed out in a recent interview with Del Bigtree that in the United States there are 40 million acres of lawn. Lawns are the most destructive monoculture on the planet, absorbing more resources and pesticides than any other crop, without providing any yield. If we were to turn 30% of that lawn into permaculture-based food gardens, says Gale, we could be food self-sufficient without relying on imports or chemicals.

Permaculture is a gardening technique that “uses the inherent qualities of plants and animals combined with the natural characteristics of landscapes and structures to produce a life-supporting system for city and country, using the smallest practical area.”

Russian families have shown the possibilities, using permaculture methods on simple cottage gardens or allotments called dachas. As Dr. Leon Sharashkin, a Russian translator and editor with a PhD in forestry from the University of Missouri, explains:

Essentially, what Russian gardeners do is demonstrate that gardeners can feed the world – and you do not need any GMOs, industrial farms, or any other technological gimmicks to guarantee everybody’s got enough food to eat. Bear in mind that Russia only has 110 days of growing season per year – so in the US, for example, gardeners’ output could be substantially greater. Today, however, the area taken up by lawns in the US is two times greater than that of Russia’s gardens – and it produces nothing but a multi-billion-dollar lawn care industry.

The Dacha Model

Dachas are small wooden houses on a small plot of land, typically just 600 meters (656 yards) in size. In Soviet Russia, they were allocated free of charge on the theory that the land belonged to the people. They were given to many public servants; and families not given a dacha could get access to a plot of land in an allotment association, where they could grow vegetables, visit regularly to tend their kitchen gardens and gather crops.

Dachas were originally used mainly as country vacation getaways. But in the 1990s, they evolved from a place of rest into a major means of survival. That was when the Russian economy suffered from what journalist Anne Williamson called in congressional testimony the “rape of Russia.” The economy was destroyed and then plundered by financial oligarchs, who swooped in to buy assets at fire sale prices.

Stripped of other resources, Russian families turned to their dachas to grow food. Dr. Sharaskin observed that the share of food gardening in national agriculture increased from 32% in 1990 to over 50% by 2000. In 2004, food gardens accounted for 51% of the total agricultural output of the Russian Federation – greater than the contribution of the whole electric power generation industry; greater than all of the forestry, wood-processing and pulp and paper industries; and significantly greater than the coal, natural gas and oil refining industries taken together.

Dachas are now a codified right of Russian citizens. In 2003, the government signed the Private Garden Plot Act into law, granting citizens free plots of land ranging from 1 to 3 hectares each. (A hectare is about 2.5 acres.) Dr. Sharaskin opined in 2009 that “with 35 million families (70% of Russia’s population) … producing more than 40% of Russia’s agricultural output, this is in all likelihood the most extensive microscale food production practice in any industrially developed nation.”

In a 2014 article titled “Dacha Gardens—Russia’s Amazing Model for Urban Agriculture”, Sara Pool wrote that Russia obtains “over 50% agricultural products from family garden plots. The backyard gardening model uses around 3% arable land, and accounts for roughly 92% of all Russian potatoes, 87% of all fruit, 77% vegetables, and 59% all Russian meat according to the Russian Federal State Statistic Service.”

Our Beautiful but Toxic and Wasteful Green Lawns

Rather than dachas, we in the West have pristine green lawns, which not only produce no food but involve chemical and mechanical maintenance that is a major contributor to water and air pollution. Lawns are the single largest irrigated crop in the U.S., covering nearly 32 million acres. This is a problem particularly in the western U.S. states, which are currently suffering from reduced food production due to drought. Data compiled by Urban Plantations from the EPA, the Public Policy Institute of California, and the Alliance for Water Efficiency suggests that gardens use 66% less water than lawns. In the U.S., fruits and vegetables are grown on only about 10 million acres. In theory, then, if the space occupied by American lawns were converted to food gardens, the country could produce four times as many fruits and vegetables as it does now.

study from NASA scientists in collaboration with researchers in the Mountain West estimated that American lawns cover an area that is about the size of Texas and is three times larger than that used for any other irrigated crop in the United States.  The study was not, however, about the growth of lawns but about their impact on the environment and water resources. It found that “maintaining a well-manicured lawn uses up to 900 liters of water per person per day and reduces [carbon] sequestration effectiveness by up to 35 percent by adding emissions from fertilization and the operation of mowing equipment.” To combat water and pollution problems, some cities have advocated abandoning the great green lawn in favor of vegetable gardens, local native plants, meadows or just letting the grass die. But well-manicured lawns are an established U.S. cultural tradition; and some municipalities have banned front-yard gardens as not meeting neighborhood standards of aesthetics.  Some homeowners, however, have fought back. Florida ended up passing a law in July 2019 that prohibits towns from banning edible gardens for aesthetic reasons; and in California, a bill was passed in 2014 that allows yard use for “personal agriculture” (defined as “use of land where an individual cultivates edible plant crops for personal use or donation”). As noted in a Los Angeles Times op-ed:

The Legislature recognized that lawn care is resource intensive, with lawns being the largest irrigated crop in the United States offering no nutritional gain. Finding that 30% to 60% of residential water is used for watering lawns, the Legislature believes these resources could be allocated to more productive activities, including growing food, thus increasing access to healthy options for low-income individuals.

Despite how large they loom in the American imagination, immaculate green lawns maintained by pesticides, herbicides and electric lawnmowers are a relatively recent cultural phenomenon in the United States. In the 1930s, chemicals were not recommended. Weeds were controlled either by pulling them by hand or by keeping chickens. Chemical use became popular only after World War II, and it has grown significantly since. According to the EPA, close to 80 million U.S. households spray 90 million pounds of pesticides and herbicides on their lawns each year. A 1999 study by the United States Geological Survey found that 99% of urban water streams contain pesticides, which pollute our drinking water and create serious health risks for wildlife, pets, and humans. Among other disorders, these chemicals are correlated with an increased risk of cancers, nervous system disorders, and a seven-fold increased risk of childhood leukemia.

That’s just the pollution in our water supply. Other problems with our lawn fetish are air and noise pollution generated by gas-powered lawn and garden equipment. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that this equipment is responsible for 5% of U.S. air pollution. Americans use about 800 million gallons of gas per year just mowing their lawns.

Yet even people who recognize the downsides of lawnmowers and chemicals continue to use them, under pressure to keep up appearances for the sake of the neighborhood. That cultural bias could change, however, in the face of serious food shortages. And while yards left to dirt and weeds may be unsightly, well-maintained permaculture gardens are aesthetically appealing without the use of chemicals or mowing. Here are a couple of examples, the first of a dacha and the second of a Pennsylvania community garden:

[Stephen Scott / Small Farmers’ Journal]

[Neighborhood Gardens Trust]

Homegrown Food: Organic, Non-GMO, and No Fossil Fuels Required

Local garden farming does not need chemical fertilizers or gas-guzzling machinery to thrive, as the Russian dacha farmers demonstrated.  Dr. Sharashkin wrote in his 2008 doctoral thesis:

[T]he Soviet government had the policy of allowing dacha gardening only on marginal, unproductive, or overexploited lands that could not be used in state-run agriculture. And it is on exactly these lands that gardeners have consistently been producing large crops of vegetables and fruits ever since private gardens were re-authorized in 1941.… [M]ost of the gardeners grow their produce without chemical fertilizers.

When the practice [of industrial chemical use] subsided in the 1990s as the output of collective farming dwindled and was replaced by household production, significant abatement of environmental pollution with agrochemicals (especially that of watersheds) was observed. [Emphasis added.]

Most of Russia’s garden produce is grown not only without agrochemicals but without genetically modified seeds, which were banned in Russia in 2016. As Mitchel Cohen reports in Covert Action Magazine, some GMO use has crept back in, but a bill for a full ban on the cultivation of genetically modified crops is currently making its way through the Duma (the ruling Russian assembly).

Growing your own food conserves petroleum resources not only because it requires no tractors or other machinery but because it needn’t be hauled over long distances in trucks, trains or ships. Food travels 1,500 miles on average before it gets to your dinner table, and nutrients are lost in the process. Families who cannot afford the healthy but pricey organic food in the supermarket can grow their own.

Prof. Sharaskin noted that gardens also have psychological benefits. He cited studies showing that personal interaction with plants can reduce stress, fear and fatigue, and can lower blood pressure and muscle tension. Gardening also reconnects us with our neighbors and the earth. Sharaskin quotes Leo Tolstoy:

One of the first and universally acknowledged preconditions for happiness is living in close contact with nature, i.e., living under the open sky, in the light of the sun, in the fresh air; interacting with the earth, plants, and animals.

From Crisis to Opportunity

Today, people in the West are undergoing something similar to the “rape of Russia” at the hands of financial oligarchs. Oligarchical giants like BlackRock and Blackstone come to mind, along with “the Davos crowd” – that exclusive cartel of international bankers, big businessmen, media, and politicians meeting annually at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland.

WEF founder Klaus Schwab has declared the current confluence of crises to be “a rare but narrow window of opportunity to reflect, reimagine, and reset our world.” It is also a rare but narrow opportunity for us, the disenfranchised, to reclaim our plundered assets and the power to issue our own money, upgrading the economy in the service of the people and reimagining food systems and our own patches of land, however small.

For food sustainability, we can take a lesson from the successful Russian dachas by forming our own family and community food gardens. Russia has also seen the burgeoning growth of eco-villages – subsistence communities made up of multiple family cottages, typically including community areas with a school, clinic, theater, and festival grounds. Forming self-sufficient communities and “going local” is a popular movement in the West today as well.

A corollary is the independent cryptocurrency movement. We can combine these two movements to fund our local food gardens with food-backed community currencies or cryptocurrencies. Crypto “coins” bought now would act like forward contracts, serving as an advance against future productivity, redeemable at harvest time in agricultural produce. That subject will be explored in a follow-up article, coming shortly.

The post The Food Shortage Solution in Your Own Backyard first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Imperialism Cannot Solve Our Problems

In learning more about the Poor People’s Campaign Moral March on Washington set for June 18th, I came across this statement by Bishop William Barber, the campaign’s national co-chair:

Republicans say poverty is just a personal failure. And Democrats too often talk about the working class and those trying to make it into the middle class but refuse to talk expressly about poverty. Our debates are locked in struggles around and about trickle-down concepts of neoliberalism, and middle-class considerations.

He concluded that the country’s refusal to address poverty is “the basic moral contradiction” of our time.

I have to admit that I initially bristled at the idea of a “moral contradiction” because, as a non-religious person, that language sometimes raises red flags for me. But I began to think about how Marxists talk about the concept of contradiction.

What is a contradiction? All social phenomena contain contradictions. Contradictions aren’t simply accidents but essential features of what those objects are. For example, the U.S. is a society that describes itself as free and touts its wealth but is plagued by the poison of white supremacy and male supremacy. The constitutional system grants due process, but cops kill and beat thousands of people each year. It has 142 million people living in dire poverty or one paycheck, one health crisis, or one disaster away from financial desperation. More than 52 million workers earn less than $15 per hour and often can’t meet their basic needs.

U.S. leaders and capitalists brag about advanced technology, such as medical technology and knowledge. Still, they couldn’t prevent the loss of 1 million lives from COVID or 100,000 opioid overdose deaths, or 46,000 deaths from guns. We wring our hands while little change takes place. We wonder why we never see these things coming and constantly react only after so many people have been harmed.

Political leaders boast about an advanced educational system but cannot provide it free or at a reasonable cost to the mass of working-class people. Decades-long debt peonage is the best choice we have. As illiteracy grows and workers score poorly on tests that measure competence with mathematics and language, politicians cut school and university budgets.

These are essential contradictions that define the U.S. as a social formation. They aren’t just bad choices made by an otherwise just society.

This reality shapes how I read Barber’s comments. “Moral contradiction” causes one of the major political parties to demand the state control women’s bodies by banning safe abortions claiming the human rights of unborn fetuses. But then, the next day, it votes as a bloc against immediate steps to remedy a baby formula shortage. A baby formula shortage! They will demand pregnant women register themselves to track births and punish abortions but refuse to consider gun registration. The Republicans and fascists built a morally bankrupt political platform. But the moral contradictions of the capitalist market economy, which they cherish even above life itself, are central pillars of the whole system. Abortion, gun violence, and baby formula are just the most recent plain examples.

Contradictions

Why do we care about contradictions like this? Social systems change and develop based on how social and class forces address these contradictions and turn a system into a new substance. Many capitalists and their sympathizers see contradictions as mere inconsistencies or glitches. Reformers want to fix these glitches and bring our “values” back into alignment with our actions. Or, they want to mend these problems by creating philanthropic or socially innovative programs that help out the poor but leave the system intact.

Billionaires and fascists have different ideas about resolving contradictions. Think of Elon Musk’s recent embrace of the Republican Party and its fascist platform. He is mad that the government continues to investigate his suspicious financial activities, and he is afraid unions will weaken his absolute power in his companies. He wants state power that he can personally bend to his will to help him get over his emotional problems. He wants more power to resolve contradictions through coercion and legal force.

Imperialism uses war to resolve contradictions. Consider the U.S. government’s drive to perpetuate or expand the war in Ukraine. It manufactures images of Russian human rights abuses—some of which are undoubtedly true. But the U.S. record of torture, mass killings, destroying civilians, racist mass incarceration, assassinations, political interventions, and hybrid wars on a global scale, in just the past two decades, embarrass even people like Henry Kissinger, among the vilest of abusers. George W. Bush’s recent verbal slip wasn’t just a gaffe.

Though immoral, these aren’t simply moral inconsistencies. They are contradictions that comprise the structure of U.S. capitalism and its political system. Its capitalist class, on the whole, believes that it must maintain these structural forms of power if the U.S. is to keep its hegemonic position in the imperialist world system. In simple terms, these contradictions make the U.S. what it is as a country. This structure drives us from war crisis to economic crisis to health crisis and back all the way around again. So far, our only means of psychological survival has been self-induced amnesia. Forgetting, like self-medication, eases the pain of this moral contradiction, which I believe most of us feel very deeply.

Barber’s terminology about moral contradiction is essential. And amnesia is no longer a practical solution. However, working-class power transformed into social power could be the basis for an answer.

Imperialist world system

In the present world system, five fundamental contradictions are interconnected and reveal moral bankruptcy, logical inconsistencies, and anti-human tendencies that make capitalism what it is:

  • a world imperialist system that denies to most humans their national aspirations
  • worldwide poverty that denies human dignity on a scale of billions
  • deepening rates of exploitation that spark frequent crises of overproduction
  • global socialization of labor vs. the anarchy of national systems that rely on the capitalist market economy
  • excess capitalist production without rational planning for the survival of humanity and the planet.

What is a world system? World system is not a conspiratorial term, nor does it refer to “globalism” or the “deep state” or any mystifying right-wing concepts about evil hordes of racial others dominating the U.S. or Europeans. Those racist and anti-Semitic theories drive right-wing capitalist agendas and fascist violence.

The world system names the dominant form of global integration of countries into the capitalist-imperialist system in a particular period. For example, the European slave-trade-based capitalist development, led by Spain and Portugal in the 15th and 16th centuries, the Dutch in the 17th century, and Great Britain in the 18th and 19th centuries, formed a world system based on markets in human beings as a financial basis for market and industrial capitalist development. It created a settler-colonial-slavery complex, which also drove Indigenous genocide in the Americas. It made modern capitalism possible. (Gerald Horne’s The Dawning of the Apocalypse, The Apocalypse of Settler Colonialism, The Counterrevolution of 1776, Negro Comrades of the Crown, and Confronting Black Jacobins can be read sequentially as a study of this world system. Joseph Inikori’s Africans and the Industrial Revolution in England is also an informative study of one aspect of that system.)

These kinds of global interactions gave capitalism a racial characteristic it still relies on to maintain its capacity to accumulate surplus value and recirculate it as new capital.

By the end of the 19th century, this slavery-settler system transitioned to an imperialist-colonial system. It kept critical features of the former, as settler features persisted in Southern Africa until 1994. And Canada, the U.S., and Australia continue to deny land and sovereignty to the Indigenous people who hold rightful claims. European powers, sometimes with agreement among themselves but always in fierce long-term competition, strove to conquer and dominate the entire earth.

That system collapsed during the Great Depression and subsequent global war. Fascism—the most extreme form of capitalism and imperialism—pitted Europeans against one another in unprecedented ways. Within two decades, the colonialism system followed suit.

After this unprecedented collapse of the world system, the U.S. managed to rise to the top of the heap. The debts incurred by the imperialist powers and the U.S.’s skillful management of the shift to dollarized neo-colonial control of former European colonies enabled this transition. (W. Alphaeus Hunton’s Decision in Africa and Walter Rodney’s How Europe Under Developed Africa are essential for this history of U.S./European colonialism and neo-colonialism in African countries.)

Essentially, the U.S. recreated and managed a world system that expropriated vast tons of raw resources from the colonized world to fuel its own and Europe’s redevelopment after World War II. The collapse of the colonial regimes through national liberation struggles aided by the socialist countries prompted a transition to the domination of finance capital in the neoliberal regime of structural adjustments, privatization, forced labor, and hybrid war.

That new regime successfully produced wealth and power for U.S. capitalists that one commentator characterized as the “end of history.” Meanwhile, vast billions of the human population suffered from extreme poverty, hunger, lack of health resources, rapid environmental change, disease, war, and conflict.

The end of “the end of history” came after a series of financialization crises from the late 1990s to the 2007 housing collapse, which ruined the bliss of everlasting capitalist success. The failure to conquer Iraq and Afghanistan, which sucked trillions out of the U.S. economy, further signaled U.S. decline.

Unlike the 1930s, when the U.S. political system responded to manage the contradictions through “Keynesian” economic theory and New Deal social democracy, the present system blunders along with handouts to the banks, tax cuts for billionaires, and more austerity. Today, we are at the end of 60 years of declining rates of growth that pale in comparison to China’s 8%-9% rates of growth each year for the past 40 years.

The U.S. political class frequently admits that it can’t afford the record hundreds of billions pumped into military spending and a universal health system each year. It can’t afford to buy new missile systems and quality schools and universities. It can’t provide a meaningful safety net and ensure record profits and wealth accumulation for millionaires and billionaires with low tax rates.

Even as globalization generates the socialization of labor on a world scale, the anarchy of capitalist market economies within national frames produced new internal contradictions in those ruling-class agendas. (I am indebted to Cheng Enfu’s China’s Economic Dialectic for the phrasing of this contradiction.)

This contradiction between the needs of the empire and the interests of national economic and political systems is evident in the conflict over Ukraine. Consider how deeply and violently the U.S. ruling class split over the Russia-Europe contest. Trump was willing to dump Europe for an alignment with Russia, while much of the U.S. capitalist maintains corporate ties to Western Europe. We have yet to understand how much this conflict has altered and shaped U.S. domestic politics. (And the impending internal conflict over links to China has only been kicked down the road.)

Over here

The U.S. capitalist class aspires to maintain its dominance of the imperialist world system. But this means they have to carefully manage an increasingly expensive military, intelligence apparatus, local police, and border patrol system. The institutions operate strictly for the purpose of global and domestic repression of dissent. These are the only spending priorities for which a nearly unanimous Washington consensus exists.

At the same time, however, capitalists discovered that their goal of endless higher profits had been little more than accounting schemes and fantasy for some decades. Corporate policies drove record profits with higher prices, lower wages, and benefit cuts, all aided by a significantly weakened labor movement since the 1980s. Further, accounting tricks like stock buy-backs and debt schemes made bubbles and fantasy wealth a mainstay of Wall Street chicanery.

The capitalist class’s drive to manage the top spot in the imperialist system propels deepening exploitation worldwide, and in the U.S. Initially, globalization of production made the prices of imported goods seem like a boon. But then, the loss of manufacturing jobs meant a weakened labor movement, lower pay, and more frequent cycles of simply not being able to buy things. In some communities, whole neighborhoods became ghost towns. City services vanished overnight. Workers found they needed more than one job to survive. Consumption levels dropped, producing new levels of poverty combined with new demands for higher exploitation rates.

Racist mass incarceration became a mechanism for resolving some aspects of that crisis simply by cultivating and exploiting racism to punish Black, Latinx, Indigenous, and immigrant people with imprisonments, criminalization, and mass deportations. Euro-American racial solidarity seemed to be an appropriate alternative to multi-racial working-class solidarity.

Today, the performance of racial reforms (that aren’t reforms) and openly fascistic racist doctrine (great replacement dogmas, ravings about critical race theory, book burnings, and xenophobia) stand in for actual resolutions to deepening exploitation. Philanthropy and the non-profit industrial complex take the place of systemic solutions to poverty.

The anti-war movements (2002-2008), Occupy Wall Street (2011), #BlackLivesMatter (2014-2020), and worker uprising (2020-2022) have lain bare the crisis of the political system. They have uplifted specific analyses of different aspects of these five main contradictions.

Imperialist double jeopardy

Withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan signaled the severe jeopardy of U.S. dominance of the imperialist world system. In contrast to the past, it appears unable to assert its agenda for Eastern Europe, Central Asia, the South Pacific, or even Latin America, which it had long proclaimed its “backyard.” De-dollarization combined with new military blocs appear to be steps toward sovereignty for some countries.

Will this produce a new, competing imperialist system? Will this unique situation solidify into two new geopolitical and economic blocs? Are we simply witnessing a deadly realignment of imperialist forces? Yes, to each is possible—unless we bring forward internationalist, working-class revolutionary solutions.

The U.S. intervention in Eastern Europe, specifically in Ukraine, from 2014 to the present, has centered on promoting a proxy military conflict with Russia. State Department officials recently admitted to this. However, like its invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, the results have been mixed for U.S. imperialism. It feels compelled to continue with this dangerous and deadly strategy, unfortunately.

While the most violent part of that conflict is still in its early stages, many ruling class commentators may already be crying “uncle.” The New York Times recently opined that a negotiated settlement that concedes territory inhabited by Russian-language speakers to Russia might be necessary. Further, to provide promised energy resources to European allies, the U.S. was compelled to walk back its de-humanizing sanctions regime against Cuba and Venezuela.

On the gain side, the U.S.-Europe faction has drawn more “neutral” Sweden and Finland into its orbit and extracted billions in new contracts for U.S.-based weapons makers from Germany, the U.K., and other countries. But even these gains are fraught with localized contradictions as NATO isn’t an ideologically unified bloc, and its actors hold competing and contradictory interests.

On the loss side, Russia controls vast amounts of natural gas and petroleum desperately needed in Eastern Europe. Their military power has proven to be far more robust than expected. Their restraint in this war (relative to U.S. “shock and awe” and Abu Ghraib/Guantanamo Bay-level atrocities) has proven disappointing to Western human rights watchers who regularly side with U.S. government interests.

The petroleum element of this war produces an internal domestic problem for the U.S. government. Rationed resources have driven up prices, even as oil companies look to deepen their already sizeable profits on gas-guzzling U.S. consumers. High prices are another form of deepening exploitation of workers and provoke political instability. The fascists are already exploiting this instability.

Meanwhile, the Western media and political establishments have soft-pedaled fascist movements that the U.S. has funded and used to spark international conflicts along the Ukraine-Russia border since 2014. Like a page out of the Cold War playbook, the U.S. government has supported extremists painted as “freedom fighters.” Those choices have never ended well for U.S. imperialism, even if it allows them to accomplish short-term goals. Think of the various U.S.-funded drug cartels in Central America (like Noriega’s in Panama), the mujahideen in Central Asia, the “contras” in Nicaragua, and the militarists in Chile, Indonesia, and South Korea.

End of humanity?

While the imperialist world system leaders plotted a Ukraine-Russia war, cried crocodile tears about “blonde, blue-eyed” refugees, and pumped billions of dollars into Ukraine to keep the war going. A United Nations call for immediate, urgent global attention to human-caused climate change went almost unheeded.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres stated in April 2022 that if the world continues on its present course, humans can expect new levels of suffering due to “unprecedented heatwaves, terrifying storms, widespread water shortages, and the extinction of a million species of plants and animals.” He referred to a report by the International Panel on Climate Change that showed swift and deep action is needed within the next couple of years to turn back the worst effects of the changing climate.

Few within the U.S. political class seem concerned, let alone capable of leveraging the sorts of emissions reductions needed to protect human life. Indeed, maintaining world system dominance appears to be their only operating concern.

What do we do with these contradictions? They show us that imperialism cannot cure itself. Imperialism cannot deliver human rights and dignity to the people it regularly exploits and oppresses. Capitalism cannot end racism or stop mass killers motivated by racist theories. It cannot suspend its need for racist super-exploitation or its exploitation and destruction of natural resources, like the air we breathe, water, and soil in which we plant crops.

We have no time to celebrate the failure of capitalism to solve the problems it has created.

The working class, especially its socialist and communist parties, can fight for more prominent organizations, clearer analysis, and class leadership. The socialization of labor on a global scale creates unprecedented levels of working-class power. It is the one lever with which we can move the immovable force of ruling class power and resolve the major contradictions of the present to change this world into something new. When working-class power becomes the supreme power in the world system, we have the means to win peace, avoid climate disasters, reduce exploitation, uplift the national aspirations of the world’s peoples, and bring our values into line with our actions.

The post Imperialism Cannot Solve Our Problems 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.

Paradigm for Peace Applied to Ukraine: Proposal for a Peaceful Pathway Forward (Part 2A)

Part 2A. Russian Fears for Life

In the Paradigm for Peace model, the Roots of Violence are divided into seven categories. While a few of the categories aren’t as easily divided into defensive and aggressive motivations, for the most part, we examine how each party to the conflict may be defensively motivated or aggressively motivated to inflict violence with regard to each category. For example, with regard to the category Wealth, Land, and Possessions, a person using violence to protect his home from attack has a defensive motivation to use violence. A person using violence to attack another person’s home to seize that other person’s wealth and belongings has an aggressive motivation to use violence.

Matters can get complicated, and it can sometimes be quite difficult to distinguish between defensive and aggressive. Sometimes the motivations are mixed within a single person or appear defensive or aggressive simply depending upon one’s perspective. However, without getting all harried about trying to figure out who exactly is motivated by what, it’s hugely helpful to be generally aware of these two categories of violence and to think in these terms so that we never rule out the possibility of legitimate motives in the so-called bad guys and illegitimate motives in the so-called good guys.

Most importantly, it’s crucial to have policy solutions that address both Defensive and Aggressive Roots of Violence. After all, if US foreign policymakers’ policies are always based on the assumption that terrorists, Iranians, North Koreans, left-wing Latinos, and Russians are aggressive and malicious, then US policymakers will never implement policies that help address the very real and legitimate Defensive Roots of Violence in the so-called enemies. Also, note that while Defensive Roots of Violence have legitimate motivations, the use of violence for defensive reasons isn’t necessarily legitimate, especially if there are non-violent means to protect what’s under threat.

In the condensed analysis below, I tend to spend more time writing about the Defensive Roots of Russian Violence and the Aggressive Roots of US Violence, rather than the Aggressive Roots of Russian Violence and the Defensive Roots of US Violence. This imbalance is largely due to the fact that I’m much more aware of these particular roots of violence for these nations. I’m not deliberately hiding anything to create this imbalance but am sharing what I know. This angle also helps place a counterweight to the dominant narrative in the US media that Russia is aggressive and the US and the Ukrainian government are defensive. However, please understand that in a full analysis with cooperative dialogue, equal attention should be paid to all sides’ defensive fears and all sides’ aggressive motivations.

In this essay, we’ll look at the first of seven categories: Life and Safety.

If we were creating a quick chart of the Roots of Violence, we’d list down the left side of the chart the seven categories. Across the top, we’d write in the names of the players in the external and internal conflict. We’d look at the first category, Life and Safety. How do people feel that the lives and safety of those they care about are under threat?

For example, let’s start with Russia. We’d list under Russia’s and President Vladimir Putin’s fears for life several items. NATO has expanded straight across Europe into Slavic lands and former Soviet republics. This is obviously a severe threat to Russia’s survival. After all, NATO was formed precisely to combat the USSR, and now NATO is in Poland, Romania, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. It’s as if the American Southwest seceded, allied with Mexico, and deployed missiles in Texas aimed at Washington, DC.

While those who support NATO may think of NATO’s expansion as enhancing US and European security, they fail to recognize the psychological ramifications of NATO on potential enemies: its existence topped by its expansion could easily cause physical insecurity by creating an ever-present threat to Russia. Emotional insecurity can lead to hostility, thus augmenting physical insecurity. And that, in fact, has happened with the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

This failure to sympathize with an enemy’s perspective, to be able to imagine an enemy’s feelings of being threatened, to respect the need for another’s emotional and psychological security, is the Achilles Heel of US foreign policymakers, who perpetually only think of how to control and dominate enemies. It’s the Achilles Heel because, by provoking rather than alleviating tension in the so-called enemy, US foreign policymakers actually weaken US security, weaken respect and genuine friendship for the US, and weaken the international foundations of democracy—caring equally for all. The resulting policies are also extremely costly and deadly. This is why in cooperative dialogue, or right now in this essay, it’s important for us to practice really sinking into Russia’s shoes and pretending we’re the leader of Russia, feeling these threats, and determined to protect our people.

When NATO expands, it means more than just a picture on the map of NATO covering nearly all of Europe. It means that physical weapons and military bases to potentially be used against Russia have also expanded in coverage across the continent. For example, Lockheed Martin’s Aegis Ashore Mark 41 Vehicle Land System with its SM-3 Block IIA missile interceptors has been deployed in Romania and Poland by the US through NATO. This system is capable of intercepting and destroying an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), thereby theoretically rendering ineffective Russia’s missiles and the strategy of mutual deterrence. If Russia can no longer feel safe, it will feel the need to develop more weapons and new strategies.

Moreover, the Mark 41 VLS, while allegedly intended solely for defensive purposes, could be fitted with aggressive weapons. 1 Making the weapon-imposed threat even more precarious is the fact that the Trump administration withdrew in 2018 from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, which had previously regulated land-based ballistic missiles and missile launchers. Even more ominous are the joint US-Ukrainian and NATO-Ukrainian military training in the nations and seas bordering Russia. 2

US policymakers and media makers have denied Russia’s accusations of US chemical and biological weapon intentions in Ukraine, but with US policymakers and media makers so untruthful about so many things, even the representation of Putin’s essay, and with a terrible documented record throughout the decades of US presidential administrations lying to the American people and Congress, we would be foolish simply to believe these denials on faith alone. Therefore, we should open-mindedly consider these Russian reports and predictions. Russia’s Ministry of Defense recently claimed that forces loyal to Kiev are preparing a chemical attack in eastern Ukraine. Russia has also previously warned of chemical weapons being stored in Ukraine. US policy and media makers, as they have done repeatedly and without proof, reverse Russia’s claims and state that Russia is using its claim as a pretext for its own planned chemical attack. 3

As civilians, how can we know the truth? Who’s preparing a chemical attack? Is anyone? It’s impossible for us to know. But we should understand one thing that’s based upon a long record of US government lies to the American people: there is absolutely no reason to believe US policymakers more than Russian policymakers. Just because we are Americans and each of us may be truthful does not mean that American policymakers are truthful. Our individual identities as Americans are not melded with the identities of US policymakers. They are strangers to us and we do not know them at heart.

Russia has also released documents that allegedly prove that Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, has played a significant role in providing and seeking funding for a military biological program, particularly with the labs of Black & Veatch and Metabiota, in Ukraine. According to Russia’s Defense Minister Igor Kirillov, the Pentagon issued contracts with a number of labs, including Black & Veatch, Metabiota, and CH2M Hill, for this military biological program. Investors in the program have included Hunter Biden, his investment fund Seneca Rosemont, and George Soros and his Open Society Foundation. Documents have reportedly revealed Hunter Biden’s close connections with both the labs and with the Pentagon’s Defense Threat Reduction Agency, the part of the Department of Defense engaged in the biological weapons program.

In the past, the Russian Defense Ministry has repeatedly drawn attention to the Pentagon’s military biological programs in former Soviet republics, including Ukraine. During its invasion, Russia found more than 30 biological laboratories in Ukraine, some of which may be for military purposes. In fact, Russia reports that it has found traces of a biological weapons program in the labs, which Ukraine reportedly was desperately trying to hide.4 Again, although US policymakers deny such an operation, they obviously would never admit it if it were true. And in the current climate, in which US policymakers automatically dismiss every single one of Russia’s fears as absurd, even the obviously valid ones, we cannot gauge the validity of Russia’s fears based upon US denials of their legitimacy.

In fact, a reading of “Rebuilding America’s Defenses” (2000) by Project for a New American Century is enough to be jolted into awareness of the ardent enthusiasm the neoconservative writers feel for conquering several other nations, for enhancing and preserving US hegemony, and for developing weapons including pocket-sized robots to be let loose on enemy territory, skin-patch pharmaceuticals to negate fear in US troops, and biological weapons to target specific genotypes—a recipe, perhaps, for genocide.  5

PNAC is defunct, but one of its co-founders, William Kristol, is an advisor to the Alliance for Securing Democracy, a neoconservative-liberal hawk mix of individuals that has the singular mission of thwarting, weakening, and basically destroying Putin.  PNAC’s other co-founder, Robert Kagan, is the husband of Biden’s Undersecretary of State, Victoria Nuland, infamous for the leaked tapes at the time of the 2014 Ukrainian coup. She is also the former CEO of the similarly-sounding Center for a New American Security. To deny that US policymakers have the intention to develop biological weapons seems unwise.

In the column of our chart under Russian fears, we might also include the US-built Ukrainian naval base on the Black Sea, particularly because of the US ties. We could include Russian and German news reports of the presence in 2015 of US private military contractors connected with Academi in Ukraine training far right-wing Ukrainian extremists.  6 We also might investigate whether there were further results from meetings between Ukraine’s President Zelenskiy and Erik Prince, former head of the infamous Blackwater, regarding the development of a private military contract in Ukraine. 7

Instead of dismissing these fears as “phony”—as US policymakers and media makers perpetually do—we’d recognize the validity of each of these fears. This is how kind, responsible people treat others with fears. They listen to the fears, whether rational or irrational, until they understand the other’s feelings. Then they help them address these fears. Had the tables been turned with all of these military alliances, bases, weapons, and military drills transpiring along US borders or in former US territories or states, US policymakers would have been quaking in their boots long before this. The Russians have shown remarkable restraint.

The Russians also are not stupid and, unlike Uncle Sam, they’re not prone to war. They’re very unlikely to invade anywhere unless they’re feeling severely threatened by realistic, actual threats. They know full well from experience that any invasion attempt will be severely skewed by Western propaganda to make them look bad. With that in mind, it behooves us to seriously examine Russia’s and Putin’s fears, including the threats of chemical and biological weapons, for only something severely threatening must have drawn Russia out.

If Russian fears seem rational, participants should try to create solutions to give Russians valid reasons to no longer fear. Americans can’t simply say, “Trust us.” They have to provide valid reasons not based merely upon trust. If Russian fears come across through discussion as more irrational, then participants should work together supportively to uncover the psychological reasons for these irrational fears.

In dialogue, participants would discuss these fears and really try to step into Russia’s shoes to understand why these factors are mortally threatening. Participants would ideally reverse roles, or reverse the scenario and imagine a similar situation occurring to the US in reverse, such as if Alaska seceded, allied with Russia, and deployed missile launchers aimed at Washington, DC. The goal here is understanding and empathy—not control or intimidation of the other side, and certainly not dismissal of another’s fears as absurd.

For all those foreign policymakers who believe understanding and empathizing with others’ fears—especially enemies’ fears—is not appropriate to foreign policy, I suggest you find another line of work.

In light of these Russian fears, consider that statement made by Defense Secretary Austin, who expressed his belief that the US needs to “weaken” Russia “to the degree that it can’t do the kinds of things that it has done in invading Ukraine.”8 Austin totally misses the point: Russia invaded because it felt militarily threatened and it felt Ukrainians’ lives in Donetsk and Lugansk were threatened. Russia invaded because it felt existentially threatened by expanding US and NATO domination in Eastern Europe and Ukraine and by threats to Ukrainian lives in Donetsk and Lugansk. Why make it feel even more threatened by insisting that Russia become militarily weaker? It doesn’t make sense.

US policymakers persistently demonstrate zero capacity for understanding human dynamics. Their answer to those who resent US domination is always more US domination. Is it because US foreign policymakers want to dominate so completely that no significant signs of resistance are possible? But why? Is this some misguided attempt to seek pseudo-popularity by forcing itself upon those who don’t want it? Are policymakers mistaking domination for being liked and accepted? Is this craze for domination in part the result of clumsy social skills magnified by a billion? What on Earth is going on with these people in power?

And why wasn’t Austin’s idea of weakening an improperly-behaving nation to prevent future misbehavior suggested after the US invasion of Iraq? Or Afghanistan? Or Panama, Grenada, Vietnam, and Korea? Or after the first weapon shipment to the contras in Nicaragua? After the very first US extrajudicial drone attack? After the very first CIA coup? As far as I can see, the answer is that US foreign policymakers do not support justice. They support themselves.

To continue with our chart, we should include for Putin the fear of assassination, which he likely feels. After all, the CIA and its paid foreign agents are infamous for their assassinations which they inflict with impunity, as described in several books and articles, including William Blum’s Killing Hope.  9  The venomous anti-Putin US propaganda which falsely depicts him as both cruel and stupid, the economic sabotage against Russia by means of sanctions and shutting off Nord Stream 2, the cutting off of money to Russia, and even the collaboration with neo-Nazis are all reminiscent of the CIA’s propaganda and economic war against Chile’s President Salvador Allende. With its lies and economic tactics, the CIA helped foment riots and also funded the fascist Patria y Libertad thugs to help with the 9/11/1973 coup, in which Allende was killed. Patria y Libertad also helped ensure a gory aftermath for tens of thousands of civilians of Chile. A coup in Russia is obviously hoped for by American leaders. The blatantly propagandistic program by Infographics, “Russia’s Big Problem with Ukraine,” even portrays with its paper cut-out art a group of Russian troops leveling their weapons at a man intended to be Putin.10

We should also include for Putin’s and Russia’s fears some of the ideas Putin set forth in his February 2007 Munich speech, including Putin’s disappointment that the US and NATO nations failed to ratify the newly adapted Conventional Armed Forces in Europe Treaty. The original treaty of 1987 between Russian President Gorbachev and US President Reagan was adapted in 1999 to reflect the expansion of NATO and the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact. However, only Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, and Kazakhstan signed the new treaty.

It was an important treaty for Russia because NATO had expanded to include the nations of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Slovenia, but these nations were not parties to the original treaty. After years of hoping the other nations would sign, Russia pulled out of the treaty in December 2007. If the Baltic nations on the border of Russia were not required to observe the treaty, it didn’t make sense for Russia to observe it either. Russia blamed the West for not signing. The US and NATO nations blamed Russia for not complying with certain terms. Either way, one would think that intelligent negotiators talented in integrative negotiation could have worked something out.11

In the 2007 speech, Putin also expresses the dangers of weapon proliferation, nuclear arms, weapons in space, and the hyper-use of force by the US government. Putin offered Russia’s cooperation in disarmament, 12 but instead of reciprocation, his honorable speech was instead followed by a 15-year anti-Putin campaign 13 and by the continuation of US policies of proliferating weapons, revitalizing its nuclear arsenal, preparing for weapons in space, and favoring the hyper-use of force, by US troops and private military contractors.

After really sinking into Russia’s shoes to feel these fears, we’d step out of those shoes and then step into the shoes of Americans who mortally fear Russia. Now I’ll admit right here that I don’t understand US fears, so in this essay I won’t be able to fairly represent those fears. However, in an actual cooperative dialogue, the idea is to ensure it includes people who can sincerely represent US fears, both as American civilians and as US policymakers from groups such as the Alliance for Securing Democracy. Just as we did with Russia and Putin, we’d all sink into these people’s shoes and feel their fears and sincerely try to see their logic as they do. As with Russian fears, there may not be agreement as to which fears are rational and which are irrational. However, participants will try to provide valid reasons for Americans not to mortally fear Russia, and they’d also work together to try to uncover psychological reasons for irrational fears, including decades of propaganda and social dynamics within US culture.

So we’d ask, during the decade or two prior to the Russian invasion of Ukraine and also since the invasion, have any Americans felt their lives and safety were threatened by Russia? If so, how exactly? Did Americans or other NATO members feel the need for NATO expansion in order to feel safe and sleep peacefully at night? Was there disagreement amongst NATO members? Ukraine and Russia had improved their relations in 2010, when Ukraine officially abandoned the goal of joining NATO.14  Was the abandonment of this goal threatening to Americans? Which ones? Why?

Did any Americans feel a sense of lethal danger and an urgent need to send weapons to the Ukrainian government to fight in its civil war? Do Americans feel their current fears are connected with the decades of anti-Soviet Cold War propaganda? Did they think of the USSR as malicious, belligerent, and untrustworthy then and do they think of Russia as malicious, belligerent, and untrustworthy now? What fatal scenario do some American civilians or policymakers fear could result from Russia’s actions?

Whether fears are rational or irrational, we must spend time in dialogue learning about the nature and causes of these American fears. They won’t go away just by dismissing them as absurd. And, frankly, I also don’t think they’ll go away by merely continuing an arms race, sending weapons, and devising lethal strategies for use against Russia. While weapons are one component of security, they’re not even half of what it takes to feel emotionally and psychologically secure and to actually be secure. That type of security requires—not the transfer to nations far and wide of an American form of plutocratic pseudo-democracy pinned upon elections, capitalism, privatization, globalization, and US dominance—but rather egalitarian justice, mutual understanding, and genuine friendship.

It’s not only foreigners who need these components to feel secure, it’s Americans. This is probably why US policymakers have been forever on this wild goose chase for security: they’re feeding an insatiable need for security that is insatiable precisely because they’re feeding it all the wrong food. They seek domination when what they need is friendship. They insist that others understand US goals and serve US interests, when what they really need is two-way mutual understanding and caring. They’re giving themselves junk food when what they really need are all the root vegetables of a big bowl of borsch.

Within Ukraine, we should ask Ukrainians from a range of perspectives how they felt about billions of dollars of US and NATO weapon shipments arriving since the civil war began in 2014. Did these weapons help them feel safer? Did they protect them from harm? Or did they put Ukrainians in greater danger from other Ukrainians and from Russia? Would Ukrainians be suffering now if the weapons had never been sent? Do Ukrainians feel the weapons helped resolve the problems that caused the civil war or did they make the problems worse? Did Ukrainian government members all agree that they wanted to receive US and NATO weapons? Or not? Were the weapons placed in responsible hands? What effect did US and NATO weapon shipments have on the effectiveness and strength of any formal or grassroots non-violent conflict resolution initiatives that may have been unfolding, including the Minsk Agreements?

We should also ask whether Russian weapons were sent to Donetsk and Lugansk, as the West claims. If so, how did these weapons make various Ukrainians feel with regard to their safety? Better or worse? The same set of questions we asked about US and NATO weapons should be asked about Russian weapons.

In the next part, we’ll look at threats to life within Ukraine with regard to the violence of Ukrainian ultranationalists.

Read Part 1 here

  1. Jack Detsch, “Putin’s Fixation with an Old-School US Missile Launcher,” Foreign Policy, January 12, 2022; Tass Russian News Agency, “Russia Slams US Aegis Ashore Missile Deployment in Europe as Direct Breach of INF Treaty,” November 26, 2016; and Ankit Panda, “A New US Missile Defense Test May Have Increased the Risk of Nuclear War,” Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, November 19, 2020.
  2. NATO, “NATO and Ukraine Navy Together in the Fight against Piracy,” October 30, 2013; and Reuters, “Ukraine Holds Military Drills with US Forces, NATO Allies,” September 20, 2021.
  3. Russia Today, “American Mercenaries Preparing ‘Chemical Weapon’ Incident in Eastern Ukraine, Russia Claims,” December 21, 2021; and Paul D. Shinkman, “Fears of False Flag Operation Grow as Russia Claims Ukraine Poised for Chemical Weapons Attack,” May 6, 2022.
  4. Al Mayadeen, “Russia Releases Documents in US-Funded Bio-Weapons, Hunter Biden Exposed,” March 31, 2022; and Al Mayadeen, “Russian Forces Find 30 Biological Labs in Ukraine, Possibly for Bioweapons,” March 7, 2022.
  5. Project for the New American Century (PNAC), “Rebuilding America’s Defenses: Strategy, Forces and Resources for a New Century,” Donald Kagan and Gary Schmitt, Project Co-Chairmen; Thomas Donnelly, Principal Author, (Washington, DC, 2000).
  6. Tass, “Militia Claim Spotting up to 70 Mercenaries of US Military Company Academi in East Ukraine,” April 21, 2015.
  7. Simon Shuster, “Exclusive: Documents Reveal Erik Prince’s $10 Billion Plan to Make Weapons and Create a Private Army in Ukraine,” Time, July 7, 2021.
  8. Julian Boyer, “Pentagon Chief’s Russia Remarks Show Shift in US’s Declared Aims in Ukraine,” Guardian, April 26, 2022.
  9. William Blum, Killing Hope, (London: Zed, 2014).
  10. Infographic Show, “Russia’s Big Problem with Ukraine,” April 8, 2022.
  11. Daryl Kimball, contact, “The Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty and the Adapted CFE Treaty at a Glance,” Arms Control Association, last reviewed August 2017.
  12. Vladimir Putin, Munich Security Conference, February 11, 2007.
  13. Diana Johnstone, “For Washington, War Never Ends,” Consortium News, March 16, 2022.
  14. Encyclopaedia Britannica Online, “Svoboda Party”.
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