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How the Russian Public Sees Events in Ukraine Today

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 13/05/2022 - 10:00pm in

People who give interviews and speak about a catastrophe in Russia project something into the future, and do not describe what is happening right now. The situation is very different in different cities and even different institutions. In Saint Petersburg and Moscow, you have more freedom than, for example, in Kazan....

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The West prepared to let Ukraine horror drag on

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 29/04/2022 - 2:35pm in

Millions around the world are watching events unfold in Ukraine with horror. Thousands dead, millions displaced, cities razed.

Russia should halt its invasion and withdraw its troops. But Western leaders are showing no interest in stopping the war.

Earlier, Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky proposed that Ukraine would not join the NATO military alliance, which could have provided the basis for a ceasefire.

But instead of leaping at the opportunity, our leaders made it clear that they want the war to go on.

White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan put it bluntly, telling a US television host: “Our policy is unequivocal that we will do whatever we can to help Ukraine succeed …

“What we want to see is a free and independent Ukraine, a weakened and isolated Russia, and a stronger, more unified, more determined West,” he added. “We believe that all three of those objectives are in sight.”

It’s a reminder that this is a proxy conflict pitting the US and its allies against Russia, with the Ukrainian people as victims of the rivalry between the two imperialist power blocks.

The US wants to exhaust Russia, whose economy is already modest: fractionally bigger than Australia’s but with six times the population.

This would allow the US to reassert its dominance over Europe and send a message to its main global rival, China, that it can still call the shots—a point Scott Morrison has also been keen to make.

The likelihood that previously neutral Sweden and Finland will join the NATO military alliance is a boost for this strategy.

Specific

Following Russia’s withdrawal from around the capital Kyiv, Zelensky is now arguing that, with Western arms, Ukraine can win. He has withdrawn the idea of Ukraine staying out of NATO.

Hours before meeting US secretary of state Antony Blinken and US defence secretary Lloyd Austin in Kyiv during Orthodox Easter, Zelensky declared: “We are expecting not just presents or some kind of cakes, we are expecting specific things and specific weapons.”

For its part, Russia now plans to annex the eastern and southern provinces of Ukraine, creating a land corridor to the Russian minority territory of Transnistria in Moldova.

The West’s verbal aggression has been backed by a massive flow of armaments.

In Kyiv, Blinken and Austin announced almost $1 billion in military financing for Ukraine and 15 allies.

This is on top of eight instalments of military aid provided by the US since Russia invaded two months ago at a cost of $4.7 billion.

Initially, the US provided items such as anti-tank missiles, rifles and ammunition, worried about provoking Russia by arming Ukraine too heavily.

Ian Brzezinski, a former head of NATO policy at the Pentagon, told the Financial Times that the US was now providing heavy weapons. “It is a very clear and profound shift.”

Recent US support includes 72 howitzers, 72 armoured vehicles to tow them, 144,000 rounds of ammunition and more than 120 drones.

Britain has already sent 4800 anti-tank missiles and plans to send another 6000.

And Australia has been quick to add to this, most recently sending 20 Bushmaster armoured vehicles—organised in days while flood victims in NSW and Queensland were left without support.

Resistance

The US and its allies want to avoid direct conflict with Russia, which is why they have refused to implement a no-fly zone or send forces to Ukraine (although Britain now has military trainers on the ground).

But the West will continue to arm Ukraine even as the war drags on for potentially months or years.

If our rulers have no interest in stopping the war, it makes resistance to the warmongers by workers even more important.

Airport workers in Italy refused to load a cargo plane when they discovered that “humanitarian aid” for Ukraine consisted of weapons, ammunition and explosives.

As their union put it: “We strongly denounce this real fraud, which cynically uses the ‘humanitarian’ cover to continue to fuel the war in Ukraine.”

In Belarus, which neighbours Ukraine and whose dictator is a Russian ally, rail workers sabotaged signalling equipment to prevent the transport of military supplies.

In Greece, rail workers refused to transport US tanks destined for Ukraine from the northern port of Alexandroupoli.

Their union declared: “No participation of our country in military conflicts in Ukraine, which are committed in the interests of the few at the expense of the peoples.”

The likes of Biden and Morrison accept death and destruction as the necessary cost of maintaining military and economic power.

To stop the war, we need to build a movement that rejects the Russian invasion but is also completely opposed to the NATO war machine and its Australian ally that are fuelling it.

By David Glanz

The post The West prepared to let Ukraine horror drag on appeared first on Solidarity Online.

How We Stand Up to Putin and Stop Climate CatastropheHow do we...

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 25/04/2022 - 6:30am in

How We Stand Up to Putin and Stop Climate Catastrophe
How do we stand up to Putin and avert a climate catastrophe at the same time?

Quitting our addiction to fossil fuels. Here’s how we get there.

In response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the West has snapped a series of sanctions into place.

Russia is the world’s second largest crude oil exporter and the primary source of global natural gas. Regardless of the short-term effects on our pocketbooks, over the longer term we need to transition to renewable energies if we have any hope of keeping the earth habitable, and freeing our economy from the influence of geopolitical foes.

This is where carbon dividends come in. 

******

Btw, if you’d like my daily analyses, commentary, and drawings, please subscribe to my free newsletter: robertreich.substack.com

******

It works like this. We put a hard cap on the amount of carbon we allow into the economy. Permits up to this cap would be issued, and energy companies could buy them in quarterly auctions. At every mine, refinery, and port of entry, these companies would have to use a permit for every ton of carbon dioxide that would be released into the atmosphere once that fuel is burned. 

When they run out of permits, they cannot extract or import any more carbon-polluting fuel. 

To keep the climate from rising 1.5 degrees celsius above pre-industrial levels – the goal of the Paris Climate Accord – we need to slash emissions by roughly 90%. Accomplishing this by 2050 would demand reductions of 7.5% per year.
Currently we’re decreasing at a rate of 1.2% per year

With a carbon cap, in order to ensure we meet our goals, we could simply decrease the amount of permits issued by 7.5% every year. 

But how would we do that without Americans getting clobbered by higher prices at the gas pump? That’s where the carbon dividends come in. The revenue from selling the permits will be distributed back to the public as direct payments, no strings attached. 

For the majority of middle class and poorer Americans, the dividend will more than cover any increase in fuel prices, and they’ll come out ahead. The people who produce the most carbon emissions are by and large wealthy, and can afford the hike in prices. 

The earth’s capacity to absorb carbon is a natural resource, one we should share equally, instead of giving the wealthy and oil profiteers free reign.
Plus, everyone benefits from a cleaner planet. 

One study found that a quarter million premature deaths would be prevented over the next 20 years in the United States with a carbon fee and dividend program.

I know what you’re thinking right about now. Sounds nice, Bob. But it’ll never happen. Don’t be so sure! The idea is notably popular across the political spectrum. 

Carbon dividends were first proposed in 2009 in a bipartisan bill, and subsequent plans have come from both Republicans and Democrats

And there’s already precedent for parts of this program. Since 2009, the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative has capped and sold carbon permits to power companies in 11 Northeastern states. It is boosting their economies and has proven politically resilient. 

And in Alaska, every resident receives between $1,000 and $2,000 annually from the Alaska Permanent Fund, which invests the state’s oil royalties. Over 80% of Alaskans say it improves their quality of life. 

We treat gas prices as something out of our control, giving dangerous amounts of power to petro-states like Russia – with alarming consequences. By weaning ourselves from gas dependence, we’d gain relief from dirty air that kills millions globally; relief from the constant hemorrhage of government subsidies for fossil fuels and from wars for oil; and, above all, relief from the ongoing destruction of the earth’s climate. 

None of this is impossible. 

The best way to contain Russia, and build a sustainable future, is with a carbon dividend.

How Much Are We Prepared To Sacrifice To Help The US Win A Propaganda War Against Putin?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 16/04/2022 - 10:58pm in

Listen to a reading of this article:

https://medium.com/media/66afcadf82e6ecd44146080102cc8f33/href

There’s a very important question that we all need to be asking ourselves at this point in history, and that question is as follows: how much are we as a society willing to sacrifice so that the US government can win a propaganda war against Vladimir Putin?

Let me explain.

One severely under-discussed aspect of the latest round of escalations in Silicon Valley censorship which began at the start of the Ukraine war is the fact that it’s an entirely unprecedented order of censorship protocol. While it might look similar to all the other waves of social media purges and new categories of banned content that we’ve been experiencing since it became mainstream doctrine after the 2016 US election that tech platforms need to strictly regulate online speech, the justifications for it have taken a drastic deviation from established patterns.

What sets this new censorship escalation apart from its predecessors is that this time nobody’s pretending that it’s being done in the interests of the people. With the censorship of racists the argument was that they were inciting hate crimes and racial harassment. With the censorship of Alex Jones and QAnon the argument was that they were inciting violence. With the censorship of Covid skeptics the argument was that they were promoting misinformation that could be deadly. Even with the censorship of the Hunter Biden laptop story it was argued that there was a need to protect election integrity from disinformation of potentially foreign origin.

With censorship relating to the Ukraine war there is no argument that it’s being done to help the people. There is no case to be made that letting people say wrong things about this war kills Ukrainians, Americans, or anyone else. There is no case to be made that disputing claims about Russian war crimes will damage America’s democratic processes. It’s just, “Well we can’t have people saying wrong things about a war, can we?”

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Ask a properly brainwashed liberal why they support the censorship of someone who disputes US narratives about Russian war crimes in Bucha or Mariupol and they’ll probably tell you something like “Well, it’s disinformation!” or “Because it’s propaganda!” or “How much is Putin paying you??” But what they won’t be able to do is articulate exactly what specific harm is being done by such speech in the same way that they could when defending the censorship of Covid skeptics or the factions responsible for last year’s riot in the Capitol building.

The one argument you’ll get, if you really press the issue, is that the United States is in a propaganda war with Russia, and it is in our society’s interests for our media institutions to help the United States win that propaganda war. Cold wars are fought between nuclear powers because hot warfare would risk annihilating both nations, leaving only other forms of war like psychological warfare available. There’s no argument that this new escalation in censorship saves lives or protects elections, but there is an argument that it can help facilitate the long-term cold war agendas of the United States.

But what does that mean exactly? It means if we accept this argument we’re knowingly consenting to a situation where all the major news outlets, websites and apps that people look to for information about the world are geared not toward telling us true things about reality, but toward beating Vladimir Putin in some weird psywar. It means abandoning any ambitions of being a truth-based civilization that is guided by facts, and instead accepting an existence as a propaganda-based civilization geared toward making sure we all think thoughts that hurt Moscow’s long-term strategic interests.

And it’s just absolutely freakish that this is a decision that has already been made for us, without any public discussion as to whether or not that’s the kind of society we want to live in. They jumped right from “We’re censoring speech to protect you from violence and viruses” to “We’re censoring speech to help our government conduct information warfare against a foreign adversary.” Without skipping a beat.

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The consent-manufacturing class has helped pave the way for this smooth transition with their relentless and ongoing calls for more and more censorship, and for years we’ve been seeing signs that they view it as their duty to help facilitate an information war against Russia.

Back in 2018 we saw a BBC reporter admonish a former high-ranking British navy official for speculating that the alleged chemical weapons attack in Douma, Syria was a false flag, a claim we now have mountains of evidence is likely true thanks to whistleblowers from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. The reason the reporter gave for her objection to those comments was that “we’re in an information war with Russia.”

“Given that we’re in an information war with Russia on so many fronts, do you think perhaps it’s inadvisable to be stating this so publicly given your position and your profile? Isn’t there a danger that you’re muddying the waters?” the BBC’s Annita McVeigh asked Admiral Alan West after his comments.

We saw a similar indication in the mass media a few weeks later in an interview with former Green Party candidate Jill Stein, who was admonished by CNN’s Chris Cuomo for highlighting the completely uncontroversial fact that the US is an extremely egregious offender when it comes to interferences in foreign elections.

“You know, that would be the case for Russia to make, not from the American perspective,” Cuomo said in response to Stein’s entirely accurate remarks. “Of course, there’s hypocrisy involved, lots of different big state actors do lots of things that they may not want people to know about. But let Russia say that the United States did it to us, and here’s how they did it, so this is fair play.”

Which is the same as saying, “Forget what’s factually true. Don’t say true things that might help Russian interests. That’s Russia’s job. Our job here on CNN is to say things that hurt Russian interests.

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We can trace the mainstreaming of the idea that it’s the western media’s job to manipulate information in the public interest, rather than simply tell the truth, back to Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential win. In what was arguably the most significant political moment in the US since 9/11 and its aftermath, the consent-manufacturing class came to the decision that Trump’s election wasn’t a failure of status quo politics but a failure of information control.

In October 2020 during the Hunter Biden laptop scandal The Spectator‘s Stephen L Miller described how the consensus formed among the mainstream press since Clinton’s 2016 loss that it was their moral duty to hide facts from the public which might lead to Trump’s re-election.

“For almost four years now, journalists have shamed their colleagues and themselves over what I will call the ‘but her emails’ dilemma,” Miller writes. “Those who reported dutifully on the ill-timed federal investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private server and spillage of classified information have been cast out and shunted away from the journalist cool kids’ table. Focusing so much on what was, at the time, a considerable scandal, has been written off by many in the media as a blunder. They believe their friends and colleagues helped put Trump in the White House by focusing on a nothing-burger of a Clinton scandal when they should have been highlighting Trump’s foibles. It’s an error no journalist wants to repeat.”

Once “journalists” accepted that their most important job is not to tell the truth but to keep people from thinking bad thoughts about the status quo political system, it was inevitable that they’d start enthusiastically cheerleading for more internet censorship. They see it as their duty, which is why now the leading proponents of online censorship are corporate media reporters.

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But it shouldn’t be this way. There’s no legitimate reason for the Silicon Valley proxies of the most powerful government on earth to be censoring people for disagreeing with that government about a war, yet this is exactly what’s happening and it’s happening more and more. It should alarm us all that it’s becoming increasingly acceptable to silence people not because they’re circulating dangerous disinfo, nor even because they’re saying things that are in any way false, but solely because they are saying things which undermine the US infowar.

People should absolutely be allowed to say things which disagree with the most powerful empire in history about a war. They should even be allowed to say brazenly false things about that war, because otherwise only the powerful will be allowed to say brazenly false things about it.

Free speech is important not because it’s nice to be able to say what you want, but because the free flow of ideas and information creates a check on the powerful. It gives people the ability to hold the powerful to account. Which is exactly why the powerful work to eliminate it.

We should see it as a huge, huge problem that so much of the world has been herded onto these giant monopolistic speech platforms that conduct censorship in complete alignment with the mightiest power structure in the world. This is the exact opposite of putting a check on power.

How much are we as a society willing to give up for the US government and its allies to win a propaganda war against Putin? Are we willing to commit to being a civilization for which the primary consideration with any piece of data is not whether or not it’s true, but whether it helps undermine Russia?

This is a conversation which should already have been going on in mainstream circles for some time now, but it never even started. Let’s start it.

_________________________________

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Yes It’s A Proxy War: Notes From The Edge Of The Narrative Matrix

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 27/03/2022 - 3:15am in

Tags 

War, Russia, USA, Putin

Listen to a reading of this article:

https://medium.com/media/dd74d56471eafda9ddc94a4687f8859e/href

To be clear, evidence is mounting that this is a proxy war deliberately instigated and perpetuated by the US empire with the goal of ousting Putin. Which means that, despite all the narrative window dressing and spin, this war is just more US regime change interventionism.

Saddam Hussein was not a nice person, and he did bad things. This doesn’t change the fact that Bush’s regime change war was a tremendous evil which unleashed unforgivable horrors, and that it was done because Saddam became inconvenient for the US empire. The same is happening here.

As a result of deliberately provoking this war, the US empire has:

  • Manufactured international consent for unprecedented economic warfare geared toward ousting Putin
  • Drawn Moscow into another Afghanistan-like military quagmire
  • Guaranteed immense profits for the war industry
  • Cut in on Russia’s fossil fuel business
  • Made Europe further subservient to US interests

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People say “This is not a proxy war! How dare you call this a proxy war?”

Pouring billions of dollars worth of weaponry into a foreign nation to be used by CIA-trained fighters with the direct ongoing assistance of US military intelligence is in fact the exact thing that a proxy war is. That is what those words mean.

If the Ukraine war is not a proxy war, then there has never been a proxy war.

“So you think Ukraine should just GIVE Putin the Donbas and Crimea and neutrality, to end a war that Putin started??”

No I think Ukraine should sacrifice rivers of blood serving as US proxy cannon fodder for years to drain Moscow while you sit at home eating Pop Tarts and tweeting.

I definitely think every single Ukrainian man, woman and child should be sacrificed to this US proxy war for geostrategic dominance rather than yield some Russian-speaking parts of eastern Ukraine who want to be part of Russia anyway. Only a Putin-loving monster would disagree.

The only humanitarian position is to continue the US plan to flood the nation with just enough weapons to bleed Russia without actually winning for years to subvert Moscow in the grand chessboard maneuverings of a few sociopaths in Washington.

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Any Ukrainian mother who wouldn’t sacrifice her son for the remote chance of future NATO membership and control over Crimea just loves Putin and thinks Putin is awesome and is a Putler apologist.

I don’t care how many Ukrainian lives must be thrown into the gears of the imperial war machine to accomplish this. Sacrifice every one of them down to the last screaming baby, because I #StandWithUkraine until the next stylish hashtag and profile pic filter come along.

There’d be a lot more credibility for the argument that Russia has no right to any “sphere of influence” — even over the presence of hostile military alliances directly on its border — if the US didn’t command a “sphere of influence” that looks like this:

NATO is a “sphere of influence”. It’s an extension of US imperial power. One of many.

You don’t get to unilaterally create a global dynamic and then cry when other countries respond accordingly. It’s like the US making international law meaningless by continually flouting it with zero consequences and then claiming another country violated international law.

People who say “What so Russia should just get to dictate whether its neighbors can join NATO and the EU??” without addressing US hegemony are either truly ignorant of US hegemony, willfully ignorant of US hegemony, or supportive of US hegemony. There are no other options. And there really is no way to address it in a way that makes Russia’s position look unreasonable. It’s simply not legitimate to claim Moscow has no right to even the slightest degree of any sphere of influence while the US empire exerts a sphere of influence the size of Earth.

Very supportive of Biden’s not-deliberately-obliterating-all-terrestrial-life-in-a-thermonuclear-holocaust policy but strongly opposed to his continually-escalating-cold-war-and-proxy-war-tensions-in-ways-that-could-easily-inadvertently-spark-a-thermonuclear-holocaust policy.

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I still have less than zero respect for the claim that I need to spend more time criticizing Putin, as though the nonstop criticisms of every single one of the most powerful government and media institutions in the western world is not enough. I have no influence over Putin. What I do have some small degree of influence over is the western society that is cheerleading a proxy war which all evidence says is actively being prolonged by the western empire to bleed Russia at the expense of Ukrainian lives.

Saying “Well Putin could just end his war!” is about as useful a contribution to the conversation as saying “Well Ukrainians could just sprout wings and fly to another country!” We have the same amount of control over both those things. I focus my efforts where they can do most good.

Demanding that we criticize Putin and the western powers who provoked and sustain this war equally, or anywhere near equally, is an absurd position. As badly as my empire loyalist detractors want it to be true, I don’t actually have an audience with Vladimir Putin. I have a western audience.

People are going to get poorer and see their quality of life diminishing as a result of the US empire’s economic war with Russia. Our civilization has an illness. We’re like a patient wasting away as cancer spreads throughout our body. And the US empire is the malignant tumor.

_____________________________

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Putin and Trump Have Convinced me I was Wrong about the 21st Century

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 14/03/2022 - 7:59am in

I used to believe several things about the twenty-first century that Putin’s invasion of Ukraine and...

The West’s Hands in Ukraine Are as Bloody as Putin’s

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 11/03/2022 - 2:39am in

ANALYSIS – There is a discursive nervous tic all over social media at the moment, including from prominent journalists such as Guardian columnist George Monbiot. The demand is that everyone not only “condemn” Russian president Vladimir Putin for invading Ukraine, but do so without qualification. 

Any reluctance to submit is considered certain proof that the person is a Putin apologist or a Kremlin bot, and that their views on everything under the sun – especially their criticisms of equivalent Western war crimes – can be safely ignored.

 

How convenient for all those Western leaders who have committed war crimes at least as bad as Russia’s current ones.

I have repeatedly described Russia’s invasion as illegal; I have regularly called Putin a war criminal (you may not have noticed but I just did it again in the two preceding paragraphs); and I have consistently compared Putin’s deeds to the very worst actions taken by the West over the past two decades. But none of that is enough. More is always needed.

The demand for unequivocal denunciation is a strange, if common, one and suggests that those insisting on it are being dishonest – if only with themselves. The function of the demand is not to clarify whether any particular piece of information or an argument is credible; it is intended purely as a “gotcha” meme. 

 

I don’t remember an insistence that anyone condemn Tony Blair or George W. Bush for the invasion of Iraq in 2003 before they could be heard or taken seriously. Or that they denounce the U.S.-backed overthrow of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi that plunged that country into murderous chaos. Or that they deplore the West’s material support for Saudi Arabia’s slaughter of Yemen’s population, including Britain’s sale of planes, bombs and training to Riyadh. Or that they criticize the West’s backing of head-chopping jihadists in Syria (who coincidentally now appear to be drifting into Ukraine to become our allies again). Or that they decry decades of Western support for Israel as it has disappeared the Palestinian people.

 

And those are things for which we – meaning Westerners – are directly responsible. We elected the politicians who caused this unquantifiable suffering. Those bombs were ours. We ought to be clamoring for our leaders to be dragged to The Hague to be tried for war crimes.

By contrast, we – meaning Westerners – are not responsible for Putin or his actions. I cannot vote him out of office. Nothing I say will make him alter course. And worse, anything I do say against him or Russia simply amplifies the mindless chorus of self-righteous Western commentary intended to cast stones at Russia’s warmongers while leaving our own home-grown warmongers in place. 

 

Westerners denouncing Putin won’t make compromise and peace more likely. It will make it less likely. Russians need to be highlighting Putin’s crimes as best they can to drive him to the negotiating table, while we need to be doing the same to our leaders to push them to the same table. As long as our attention is on Putin and his crimes, it is not on our leaders and their crimes.

 

Fog of war
Ukraine NED Feature photo

Ukrainians attend a rally in central Kiev, Ukraine, Feb. 12, 2022, during a protest against the potential escalation of the tension between Russia and Ukraine. Efrem Lukatsky | AP

Those who insist it is quite possible to denounce both Putin and Western leaders at the same time are precisely the people who have been so half-hearted in holding our own leaders to account. 

Monbiot, let us note, has not used a single one of his weekly columns at The Guardian to highlight the years-long plight of Julian Assange, locked away in a British dungeon for revealing U.S. and U.K. war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan. This is the gravest attack on a free press in living memory, and yet Monbiot used his most recent column to attack Assange supporters, like veteran journalist John Pilger, for not being voluble enough in denouncing Putin.

Those who require unequivocal condemnation of Putin insist that now – in the midst of a war – is not the time to be sowing doubt or undermining morale in the rightness of “our” cause. (A small giveaway that they think of this as a Western, not Ukrainian, war with Russia.)

Again conveniently, that is precisely the message Western leaders want to send too – just ask Britain’s prime minister, Boris Johnson, whose “partygate” scandal is now a distant memory as he seeks to evoke Churchillian gravitas in facing off with Russia. Instead, the parties in the British parliament put aside their very superficial differences this week as the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, rallied them with a “historic address.”

What, really, is the point of demanding Westerners denounce Putin unequivocally when the entire Western media and political class is directing our gaze exclusively at Russia’s crimes precisely so Westerners don’t look at equivalent Western crimes?

The truth is that, in power politics, unequivocal denunciations are for politicians and diplomats – and virtue-signalers. Condemnations may be emotionally satisfying, but the rest of us can put our energies to far better use. 

For most of us, the better course would be to blow away the immediate fog of war and instead analyze our – meaning the West’s – role in the unfolding events. 

 

NATO insurance policy
Azov | Ukraine

Volunteers with the right-wing paramilitary Azov National Corps stand to attention less than a month before the country’s presidential vole during a march along the main street in Kiev, Ukraine, March 2, 2019. /Efrem Lukatsky | AP

Even a cursory glance shows that the West’s hands are not clean in Ukraine. Not at all. The meddling – and hypocrisy – have occurred in two stages, first from politicians and then from the media.

 

It was the choices made by Western politicians that provoked the invasion. (What’s coming next is an explanation, not a justification, of those developments, for those who need such things spelled out clearly). 

Russian troops are in Ukraine not because Putin is “Hitler,” “mad,” or a “megalomaniac” – though, again, the invasion makes him a war criminal in the same mold as Tony Blair and George W. Bush. Russian troops are there because he and his officials judged the West to be acting malevolently and in bad faith in their dealings with Ukraine. 

The Putin as “madman” or “Hitler” script deflects attention away from the very obvious fact that Western leaders wilfully played fast and loose with the security of Ukraine and the safety of its population.

 

The West encouraged Ukrainians to believe that they would soon fall under NATO’s security umbrella, when in fact the West had no intention of protecting them, as is now only too evident. Ukrainians were led to believe that the more Russia’s posture turned belligerent towards Ukraine the more likely NATO would be to come to Ukraine’s rescue and act as its savior. 

Which, of course, incentivized the Ukrainian government to keep poking the Russian bear in the expectation that Kyiv would have a NATO insurance policy up its sleeve. It didn’t. It never did, as current events show. 

 

The reason Boris Johnson lost no time in rebuffing the emotional pressure levied by a Ukrainian journalist at a recent press conference to impose a no-fly zone over Ukraine is that even he understands that such a policy would be suicidal against a nuclear power like Russia. Shooting down Russian jets would likely plunge us into a rerun of the Cuban missile crisis of 1962. 

But on the back of NATO’s deception, recent Ukrainian leaders confidently fomented ethnic nationalism at home and thereby themselves played a dangerous game of chicken with their superpower neighbor. 

That included coddling anti-Russian fascists at home and stoking a related civil war in the Donbas region by its ultra-nationalist allies against the Russian ethnic community living there as a way to drag NATO directly into the conflict. 

For those who accuse anyone who points out the long-running influence of ultra-nationalist groups in Ukraine of being Putin trolls, this 2017 video from The Guardian – a newspaper now reflexively dismissive of all criticism of Ukraine – showing a neo-Nazi summer camp for Ukrainian children, may make for uncomfortable viewing. The Azov Brigade fascists running it, as well as other like-minded groups, have been effortlessly incorporated into the Ukrainian military the West is arming:

 

President Zelenskyy hasn’t abandoned his pre-invasion intransigence. He has entrenched, calling for Ukraine to be armed with nuclear missiles and for NATO to either impose a no-fly zone over Ukraine or give Ukraine the planes to enforce such a zone itself.  

That Zelenskyy wants NATO to bail him out, especially after NATO was responsible for enticing him into the current confrontation with Russia, is hardly surprising. But the degree to which the Western media have pushed Zelenskyy’s line means a strong majority of the U.S. public now favor Kyiv’s course of action, even though it would likely trigger a World War III between nuclear powers. 

 

 

Suicidal narrative
Ukraine Russia Feaeture photo

A man inspects the damage at a building in Kiev, Ukraine, Feb. 25, 2022. Emilio Morenatti | AP

How in thrall Westerners are to this media-confected, suicidal narrative can be gauged by the number of armchair warriors in the West accusing anyone taking a more cautious approach of not only being Putin apologists but of denying the Ukrainian people their “sovereign right” to join NATO and fall under its protection.

 

But NATO membership isn’t a sovereign right. And it shouldn’t be viewed as some kind of glorified neighborhood-watch scheme. NATO is a military club. States qualify to join if the other members agree they want to commit to protecting that state. 

If NATO members don’t have the ability or will to defend another state, as is the case with Ukraine, then it is a crime to pretend they do – for the very reasons the events unfolding now demonstrate. In fact, it is not just any ordinary crime, it is a crime against humanity.

Every death in the current war – Ukrainian and Russian – could almost certainly have been averted had the U.S. and its NATO allies not led Ukraine up the garden path. Had Ukrainians not believed that with enough pressure they could force NATO’s hand in their favor, they would have had to accommodate Russian concerns well before any invasion, such as by committing to neutrality. 

Russia would have had no grounds – or pretexts, depending on how you wish to look at it – to invade. The media’s “madman” and “Hitler” scripts are needed now to turn reality on its head, suggesting that Putin would have invaded whatever actions NATO and Ukraine took. 

But if that is not true – and there is no evidence it is – then the blood of the victims of this war is most certainly on the West’s hands, just as it is in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Gaza, Yemen and elsewhere.

 

Media hypocrisy

The second hypocrisy is the current one being peddled by the Western media. They want to flaunt a bogus moral concern about the suffering of Ukrainians under attack from Russia that they never show towards the victims of Western bombs and missiles. 

 

Terrible as the suffering of Ukrainians is, two weeks into the invasion, it is still a pale shadow of the decades of suffering of Palestinians in Gaza or of Yemenis under Saudi planes and bombs supplied by the West. The prioritization of one over the other needs explaining.

Social media warriors – much less sophisticated than the corporate media – readily rationalize this lack of interest in the West’s victims by dismissing them as “terrorists,” or by blaming them for living under “terrorist regimes,” or by simply insisting that they are further removed from us, as though Britons and Americans somehow feel more of a natural affinity with Ukrainians than with Syrians or Palestinians, or with Russians. (We don’t unless the corporate media keeps insisting such a bond exists.)

If that strategy fails, it is on to the next one, arguing that any effort to point out the utter hypocrisy of the Western media and its entirely hollow concern for Ukrainians – rather than for Ukraine, as a pawn on the West’s colonial chessboard – is so-called “whataboutery.” 

It is bad enough that such reasoning is rooted in a profound racism that counts white Europeans as worthy victims and brown or Black victims as “collateral damage” of supposed Western peace-making. 

But actually the rot runs far deeper. It is not just racism at work in the special treatment of Ukraine’s suffering over that of Iraqis or Yemenis or Palestinians. That could be solved through education and awareness-raising.

 

No, the Western media’s identification with Ukraine – and consequently the public’s identification with its plight – is based on Ukraine’s usefulness to the Western imperial project. Which is exactly what got us into this mess in the first place.

 

Adult musical chairs

In truth, a straight line runs between the West’s treatment of Iraq and its treatment of Ukraine. 

In Iraq, the U.S. and its allies sought to reorder the chessboard by intensifying their grip over oil as Western capitalism began running up against ever-depleting stores of cheap and easily accessible fossil fuels and the climate emergency made capitalism’s endless profit-making model ever more precarious. 

 

But though the chess analogy for Western foreign policymaking dates back to at least the nineteenth century, it may now be inadequate to explain what we have seen taking place over the past couple of decades. 

More accurately, Washington’s planners see the world largely in terms of a high-stakes version of the children’s party game, musical chairs. As the chairs disappear, it is ever more important to make sure you, rather than your enemies, grab the last seats. 

The main enemies on the global stage – if you sit in Washington – are Russia and China. The tools you need at your disposal are not just wits, as in chess, but muscle, as in a very adult, survival-of-the-fittest version of musical chairs. 

That has required the U.S. and its allies to ever more aggressively isolate Russia and China, trying to sow divisions, and make each feel threatened and isolated. Which, as Moscow and Beijing more clearly understand Washington’s strategy, has driven these two unlikely partners into each other’s arms. 

 

The rest of us have to decide which of the biggest children we want to ally with as the chairs keep disappearing and the game gets ever more vicious.

 

Proxy war of attrition
 Khalil Ashawi/Reuters)

Members of the al Qaeda affiliated al-Nusra Front gesture as they drive in a convoy touring villages in the southern countryside of Syria’s Idlib province, December, 2014. Khalil Ashawi | Reuters

Back in Ukraine, meanwhile, the U.S. and its NATO allies appear to be doing what they can to drag out the war for as long as possible. 

Russia appeared initially to want a relatively short war of attrition to pacify Ukraine, forcing its nationalist government to drop aspirations to become a launch-pad for NATO weapons and impose on it instead neutrality. (Now that Russia has committed treasure and lives to the war, it will likely get greedier and want more. Reports suggest it is already demanding independence rather than autonomy for the Donbas region.)

Of course, the conclusion even Westerners would draw, if we weren’t so propagandized by the media, is that neutrality for Ukraine is inevitable – unless we are willing to risk the alternative of a World War III. Any delay in achieving neutrality for Ukraine as an outcome simply causes unnecessary death and suffering.

The U.S., by contrast, wants a long, proxy war of attrition, covertly supplying Ukrainian forces – indifferent as to whether they are nice ones or neo-Nazis – to bog Russia down in years of difficult guerrilla warfare and counter-insurgency. The bloodshed will feed the hostility (and unthinking racism) of Western publics towards Russia and Russians, providing the pretext for Washington to sustain the West’s parallel economic war on Russia. 

Ukrainians will pay the price as the US seeks to wear down Russia, just as Syrians, Libyans, Iranians, Yemenis, Venezuelans and Palestinians have paid the price as the U.S. has sought to attain the goals of its globe-spanning imperial project.

Washington understands that a weakened Russia might not have been able to save Bashar Assad’s government from the takeover of Syria by the West’s Islamic State and al-Qaeda allies there. And in the future, it is hoped, Moscow will be in no position to support others who resist Western hegemony, especially the “pariah” states of Venezuela, Iran and China.

It is a huge ambition for a tiny elite headquartered in the U.S. committed to the endless enrichment of itself by enforcing a binary thinking among Western publics that obscures the real reasons for the planet-wide crises we face. 

If it succeeds, the West’s war machine will continue trundling over the bodies of the poor and marginalized as it drives us ever faster towards ecological collapse. 

 

Jonathan Cook is a MintPress contributor. Cook won the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. His latest books are Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East (Pluto Press) and Disappearing Palestine: Israel’s Experiments in Human Despair (Zed Books). His website is www.jonathan-cook.net.

The post The West’s Hands in Ukraine Are as Bloody as Putin’s appeared first on MintPress News.

Anatol Lieven on the roots of disaster

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 08/03/2022 - 7:29am in

[Here’s an transcript of my interview with Anatol Lieven, broadcast on March 3, 2022, edited to make it read more like prose than spoken word. My comments are in square brackets.

In the 1980s and 1990s, Lieven covered the former Soviet Union, Eastern Europe and the wars in Afghanistan, Chechnya, and the southern Caucasus, for the Financial Times and the Times of London. In the 2000s, he worked at several think tanks in Washington and is now a senior research fellow at the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft. He’s also got seven books to his name, most recently Climate Change and the Nation State.

Some background on the first question. In February 1997, George Kennan, one of the architects of the Cold War policy of containment of the USSR, wrote this in the New York Times:

[E]xpanding NATO would be the most fateful error of American policy in the entire post-cold-war era. Such a decision may be expected to inflame the nationalistic, anti-Western and militaristic tendencies in Russian opinion; to have an adverse effect on the development of Russian democracy; to restore the atmosphere of the cold war to East-West relations, and to impel Russian foreign policy in directions decidedly not to our liking….. Why, with all the hopeful possibilities engendered by the end of the cold war, should East-West relations become centered on the question of who would be allied with whom and, by implication, against whom in some fanciful, totally unforeseeable and most improbable future military conflict?

In May 1998, the usually dopey Thomas Friedman did something useful by calling Kennan for a follow-up on the topic. Kennan said: “I think it is the beginning of a new cold war. I think the Russians will gradually react quite adversely… it is a tragic mistake. There was no reason for this whatsoever. No one was threatening anybody else…. We have signed up to protect a whole series of countries, even though we have neither the resources nor the intention to do so in any serious way.”

Kennan is usually credited as the lead architect of “containment,” the policy of limiting Soviet geographical and ideological influence. Soon after writing up this policy in a 1947 article in Foreign Affairs, he was marginalized by the Truman administration for not being tough enough: it wasn’t enough to contain Soviet power, it had to be rolled back.]

This war is horribly brutal, and everyone I know is a terrible state of mind over it. But it didn’t come out of nowhere. What George Kennan worried about 25 years ago has pretty much come to pass.

Exactly. Since the mid-1990s, when the issue of NATO enlargement first came up, Russian officials, Russian intellectuals, and leading Western experts, including George Kennan, the architect of containment—and myself in a small way—have all been saying that if this were extended one day to Ukraine and Georgia it would lead at best deep confrontation and at worst to war. The Yeltsin administration warned of this—this is not just a Putin thing. And over the past almost three months, before the war, the Russian government was making clear that there was a threat of war if the west did not compromise on what Russia regarded as its vital interest.

The Russian government has committed a very grave crime under international law by invading Ukraine. I think it’s also made a terrible mistake, but as you say, in international relations, one also has to take account of realities. And the reality is that Russia has always regarded keeping Ukraine out of a hostile Western Alliance as vital to Russian national security.

How much manipulation of the political scene in Ukraine has the US and other Western powers been guilty of? Are the Russians rightly concerned about that, or are they just getting carried away?

In 2014, it was obvious from funding—including by institutions that are rather comically in America called non-governmental institutions even though they’re funded by Congress like the National Endowment for Democracy—to the Ukrainian opposition made clear the West’s desire to overthrow the then-elected government of Ukraine, President Yanukovych. [The NED has deleted the records of its grants to Ukraine on its website; they’re archived here.]

And obviously there was the famous intercepted telephone conversation by Victoria Nuland, which made clear the role of the Obama administration in manipulating the formation of the next Ukrainian government. [Audio, with Sex Pistols outro music, here. Transcript, annotated with tendentious BBC commentary, here. In the call, Nuland, the Obama administration’s resident neocon, and Geoffrey Pyatt, US ambassador to Ukraine, planned the personnel of the government that would replace Yanukovych’s. The scandal of Nuland’s intemperate “fuck the EU” comment overshadowed the content of the call.]

Since then, it hasn’t been exactly a matter of covert manipulation. The west has aided Ukraine and has strongly encouraged Ukraine to try to join the Western alliance while not actually offering Ukraine anything but the vaguest possibility of membership in future. The West has funded, educated, supported, large numbers of the Ukrainian elite, but this is not covert manipulation. This is overt. You can say it is Ukraine’s development towards free market democracy, which is quite true, but it is obviously also an attempt to turn Ukraine into a Western ally. If the West, as it’s done in some other places, had supported democracy in Ukraine and economic reform but without raising the possibility of NATO membership for 12 years now, which they’ve had no intention of actually implementing—if we’d stuck to the one without introducing the other, maybe this catastrophe could have been avoided.

You said in the Prospect interview that we never had the slightest intention defending Ukraine. Was that ever expressed? Did the Ukrainians understand it? Did they not hear it? Were they not told it?

I think they must have understood it more or less, or at least sensible Ukrainians did. Because after all we’d done the same thing to Georgia in 2008, when there was this half promise of NATO membership, but when this led to war with Russia—well, actually, Georgia’s attack on the Russians in South Ossetia—America never came to Georgia’s aid. And the West didn’t come to Ukraine’s aid in 2014.

But there are problems. One is that for a long time now, ever since the 1990s, we have made membership of NATO and the European Union synonymous with belonging to Europe and that has two problems. It makes it virtually impossible for democratic reformers anywhere in Eastern Europe not to try to join the EU and NATO because they are basically branding themselves as second class Europeans or non-Europeans. So, the option, which was entirely viable in itself, of joining Finland and Austria as free market democracies, but non-aligned ones—we morally and emotionally and politically speaking closed that door.

But the second thing of course, was that by defining Europe in these terms and, and going in for this NATO rhetoric of Europe home and free, we told the Russians completely explicitly, “you are not Europeans, go away. We don’t consider you part of Europe and we’re not going to consult you about European affairs.” That is about as deep an insult to Russia as one can easily imagine. It was not going to go down well with any Russian government, let alone Putin’s.

Putin’s goals

What are Putin’s goals here? Do we have any idea if he really believes Ukraine is a fiction, or more of a fiction than most nations are? Does he just want a buffer zone or complete absorption? What’s the endgame?

I don’t know. The, the striking thing is, I’ve been talking to quite a lot of what you might call the outer Russian establishment. They were all surprised by many aspects of this invasion. And they all said that now the decision-making circle in Russia, in the Russian government and the circle of people who Putin actually listens to has narrowed to fewer than ten people. It’s become very, very, very closed.

Putin's table

Those pictures of him at that gigantic table are capturing something aren’t they?

Yeah, and of course COVID, as many people say, has made this worse. Like US administrations in the run up to Vietnam, but much more, it seems likely that Putin has been cut off or cut himself off from accurate and objective information. If Putin and his immediate followers were so incredibly stupid as to believe that they could impose a puppet government on the whole of Ukraine, then, unless they’re blind as well as mad, they must realize that the strength of Ukrainian resistance and the display of Ukrainian unity since the war began have rendered that completely impossible. This isn’t Czechoslovakia or Hungary during the Cold War where you at least had the structures of a Communist Party to maintain Soviet domination.

You will not be able to create anything but the most grotesque, ridiculous, obvious puppet authority in Kyiv. If that’s what Putin wants, it will lack all legitimacy. It will be totally incapable of running a stable state. It will face continual protests and resistance, which will have to be put down by ruthless means. And it will necessitate the permanent presence of a Russian army to keep it in place, just like the Soviet Union or America in Afghanistan.

The war so far has clarified some things.One thing it’s clarified fight is that although NATO has imposed harsh economic sanctions, NATO will not fight for Ukraine, which of course makes the idea of Ukrainian NATO membership completely empty. Ukraine might as well give that up and sign a treaty of neutrality. But on the other hand, I think it has completely destroyed Russian plans if, if that’s what they were, to impose a puppet government.

To capture the cities in Ukraine, Russia can’t just walk in. The Ukrainians will fight back very hard, even in the Russian-speaking areas. And in the process, large parts of these cities will be destroyed, and large numbers of civilians will be killed. Well, how can you possibly set up a pro-Russian government on the basis of that? It does look as if the Russians are going to storm Kharkiv and they’re attacking Mariupol and in the south. As far as Kyiv, by far the biggest Ukrainian city, is concerned, whether Putin has made up his mind yet actually to storm it or whether he is aiming to blockade it in an effort to put pressure on the Ukrainian government to make peace on some version of Russian terms, perhaps not full Russian terms, isn’t known. We don’t know how far Russia will compromise on its terms. We’ll have to see, but I think the maximal Russian aim Ukraine, thank God, has already been defeated by the Ukrainian people and army.

How long can that go on?

This is beginning to take on aspects of Chechyna in, in 1994 to 1996, which I covered as a British journalist, or even in a way, the American occupation of Iraq. I don’t know how much the Russian army as a whole was really behind this invasion. There are suggestions that the bulk of the generals were not consulted and certainly some of them have looked extremely unhappy on television, but, when an army is in a war, particularly a war of this kind of importance to Russia, they want to win. And of course, Putin cannot leave Ukraine without the appearance of at least a limited success, or I think he would be finished. I think there would be some form of coup against him from within the regime.

So, I have this horrible feeling that if they can’t get a peace agreement, which allows them to claim a measure of success, that they will feel that they have no choice but to go on, irrespective of the destruction and the civilian casualties. I hope very much that Putin will be overthrown as a result of this, but I don’t believe that any Russian government will simply withdraw from Ukraine as a whole and give up Crimea and Donbas. So, Russia will not withdraw from Ukraine the way that the Soviet Union or America withdrew from Afghanistan. So, in the end, there will always have to be some form of negotiated solution by which Russia withdraws. My own view is we should all seek a negotiated solution now because it may be that in ten years, twenty years, we will get basically the same solution that we could have got today. The difference of course, will be tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian lives.

Brezhnev

What about the nuclear threats? I find myself being nostalgic for the Soviet leadership, which is, at least seemed rational. Is Putin so unhinged that these should be taken seriously?

No, I don’t think so. He knows, for very good reasons, that people are scared of nuclear war. In a rational world, it would be crazy, but of course we don’t live in a rational world. In the actual world it’s an obvious weapon for Russia to brandish, to frighten the West. But that doesn’t mean that he’s going to launch a nuclear attack. Nor of course are we.

What I worry about more is that if we get into a state of permanent deep tension, if we have a guerrilla war on Russia’s borders, probably overlapping into terrorism in Russia itself backed by the West, through Poland, the level of tension and the potential from clashes will be such as has not existed in Europe, between Moscow and the West, since the Berlin blockade of 1948.

And in those circumstances of heightened tension and fear on both sides, there is always the possibility of some disastrous accident or miscalculation. We really need to remember the number of times when by accident there could have a nuclear exchange during the Cold War. It came down to the wisdom and caution of one man on either side. Just because Putin is not going to deliberately fire missiles at us, doesn’t mean that the threat isn’t genuinely there.

Sanctions and discontent

What about the Western reaction? Are sanctions really that effective? And now we hear yahoos on cable TV talking about attacking the Russians or declaring no-fly zones. What about the Western reaction? How much can the West do?

I haven’t noticed that any of these people calling for no-fly zones are going to be flying US or NATO planes themselves. As far as I can see there are no pilots among them. As I’ve said again several times in recent days, chickenhawks don’t fly, they squat on the ground at a very safe distance and squawk loudly. No, sanctions are what we’ve got basically.

Plus I fear—I think this is a terrible idea by the way—I fear support for a Ukrainian insurgency against Russia. If, if of course Russia occupies areas where such an insurgency can be launched. Now as the effectiveness of these sanctions. Obviously, what the west is trying to do is to hurt Russia as badly as possible without hurting the West, and of course, in this case, particularly the Europeans who are dependent on Russia for energy imports. We’ve sanctioned everything we possibly can short of cutting off the gas and oil.

That means that Russia will still have an international revenue stream. [This was recorded on March 2. Oil and gas sanctions are coming.] But on the other hand, the sanctions that have been imposed will hit Russia very badly, and are harsher than Russia expected, particularly the sanctions against the central bank, and will lead to Russia’s isolation from at least the Western economies, except in the area of energy. In addition, the measures introduced by the West and the countermeasures introduced by Russia will hit very badly the international lifestyles of the Russian elites and especially the younger elites to which they’ve become accustomed. This doesn’t affect the inner circle around Putin. These are hard men, as they say in Ireland, and they are undoubtedly deeply patriotic, and they are very, very determined and resolute—and of course completely ruthless.

But I think it’s, it’s worth remembering that in the 1980s, as the children of the Soviet elites became aware of how much better they could live in a Westernized Russia than a Soviet Russia, that played a huge part in the fall of communism and the disintegration of the Soviet Union. If you are plugged into the wider Russian elites and listening to what they’re saying in private, and what some of them have even started to say in public, you see that they are becoming really anxious. And they understand better than the rest of the population, even the educated population, just how badly this is going to affect them. If this goes on over a long period, If the Ukrainian quagmire goes on for a long period, then I think discontent against Putin will mount very, very high.

Look, one doesn’t know. But if it mounts high enough, more likely than a revolution on the streets like in Ukraine 2014 or Georgia would be a coup from within the Putin regime, to get rid of him and some other top officials. It could be a relatively polite coup. A delegation goes to him and says, very politely, you know, we respect your record. We guarantee your property and your personal security and that of your family, but it’s time to go.

But as I’ve said, I don’t think that any Russian government that succeeds Putin will simply surrender unconditionally in Ukraine, in the sense of giving up Crimea and the Donbas and acceding to Ukrainian NATO membership and giving up any guarantees for the Russian minority in Ukraine. I find it very difficult to believe that that unless Russia collapses as a state that any Russian government will agree to that.

Now I’m very afraid that a good many people in the American security establishment do want to use this to destroy Russia as a state. That condemns us to endless warfare against Russia, with everything that would mean for the world economy. It condemns Ukraine to endless war with horrible suffering for the Ukrainian people. But also, a program of sanctions, which is openly aimed at what many Russians would see at as not just getting rid of Putin but destroying the Russian state could have the completely opposite result.

As far as the support of Russians for the regime, we just don’t know. What we do know is that similar sanctions aimed at regime change in Cuba, in Iraq, in Venezuela, in Iran, in North Korea have all failed. All of them, without exception. And so all one can say is, look, it could be different in the case of Russia, but there are no historical grounds to believe this

Putin’s power base

Who is Putin’s power base, who surrounds him? Does he have a constituency in the elite, or is it pretty much a little clique of cronies?

Putin has assembled a wider establishment, which is beholden to him in many ways, and he has tamed what remains of the old financial and economic oligarchy and gained their public support. But these people are extremely cynical and self-interested and ruthless. They will not stick with Putin if they think their own vital interests are in danger or that sticking with Putin is going to mean that their own fortunes and positions will be destroyed. The inner circle, the people who are completely beholden to Putin—or perhaps not exactly beholden to Putin but completely identify with Putin—have the same background and ideology, are a very small group of mainly ex-KGB people or linked to the KGB in various ways. And they occupy all the top positions in government, at least on the security side.

Also, they’ve been put in control of a large part of Russia’s energy economy and various other places. So there’s quite a sharp difference between this, this small inner group—they’re called the siloviki in Russian, the men of force, or as I say, the hard men—and the wider establishment. One question is whether any of this inner circle will turn against Putin. If enough of them do then it’s, it’s over for him. But on the other hand, they’re so closely associated with him, they’re so closely associated with the war, it’d be very difficult for them to do so.

Then there is the question of the Russian army. The Russian army like Soviet army before it, has never been involved in politics. And they don’t want to lose in Ukraine. But if you get an endless quagmire then at the very least they, they may start really, really pressing for a diplomatic compromise to get out of Ukraine, if, of course the Ukrainians and the West are prepared to offer a compromise.

There’s one issue that people haven’t looked at yet, but the Ukrainians are trying to call up basically all their men of military age. How many they’ll get depends on how much territory Russia conquers. It depends on how many Ukrainians flee to the west. But even so, if Ukraine calls up everybody it possibly can, it will hugely outnumber the existing Russian army in Ukraine.

Now, if the Russians in response have to call up their reservists, we’re talking about ex-conscripts who served and then went left the army and now have jobs and have families. If you start telling 28-year old Russians to leave their well-paid jobs and their children and return to fight in Ukraine, a war that they were never consulted about and where they’d been watching very demoralizing pictures of Russian Ukrainians, Russian-speaking women and children being killed—that is the moment when the Putin regime will be in really serious trouble. If it has to call up a large part of the Russian population to fight, at that point, Putin would’ve signed his political death warrant.

American delusions

Finally, we’re seeing China now stepping in possibly into a peacekeeping role.  How much of all this reflects the decline of US power or prestige. And is there anything to this talk of a Russia–China alliance?

Just as the West has not fought for Ukraine, so China has not actually officially sided with Russia on Ukraine. It abstained in the UN Security Council. It has stressed respect for international law and international sovereignty. And we don’t yet know how far China will go in supporting Russia economically. This will be very, very expensive for the Chinese. And they would also drive an extremely hard bargain in terms of redirecting Russian energy exports to China to guarantee China’s energy security. So, it seems to me that China is not actually so far trying to exploit this crisis as much as it might have.

If China would step in and broker a reasonable compromise, this will be an excellent thing, because I don’t trust the United States to do so, to be honest, given the strength of the anti-Russian agendas here and the desire of some people actually to turn this into a permanent war to destroy Russia. So, I think it would be an excellent thing if the Chinese stepped in, but I also know that the that America would do everything in its power to block a Chinese-brokered agreement.

As to the decline of American power, it is striking just how distorted the view of the world of many establishment Americans has become over the past thirty years. Even after the failure in Iraq and Afghanistan and the rise of China and the failure to pacify the Middle East and the disaster that followed the intervention in Libya, there still is this idea around that one heard so often in the 1990s and well into the 2000s that basically America can do anything anywhere.

Doug, we’re both old enough to remember before the end of the Cold War. If you think back twenty-five years, sorry, thirty-five years, if you had said to anybody and I mean anybody in a Western position of authority or any serious intellectual that the West should support a war Ukraine—not take part in it but support it—for the sake of Ukraine joining NATO theoretically and turning Ukraine into a full military ally of the west against Russia, even the hardest line Western anticommunist hawks would have laughed their heads off. They’d’ve said, “you must be mad. We don’t have the resources to do that. That will lead to actual war with Moscow. Don’t forget they have thousands of nuclear missiles. And in any case, how could this possibly be in our interest if we can take such an appalling risk and make such a commitment if, if can manage to get not just the Poles and the Czechs and the Hungarians, but to rescue the Balts from the Soviet Union and free them and turn them into Western allies. Well, this would be a magnificent, a historic, a wonderful Western victory…”

It’s rollback, right?

Yeah.

Surely people would’ve said, “you can’t be suggesting we should go further than that.” Well, now of course, we’ve spent years thinking that we could go further than that. And the result has been disaster.

An Open Letter by Russian Scientists and Science Journalists Against the War with Ukraine

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 08/03/2022 - 7:00am in

The isolation of Russia from the world amounts to a continued cultural and technological degradation of our country, with a complete lack of positive perspectives in view. The war with Ukraine is a step into nowhere....

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Revenge of the Putin-Nazis!

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 08/03/2022 - 2:36am in

And they’re back! It’s like one of those 1960s Hammer Film Productions horror-movie series with Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee … Return of the Putin-Nazis! Revenge of the Putin-Nazis! Return of the Revenge of the Bride of the Putin-Nazis! And this time they are not horsing around with stealing elections from Hillary Clinton with anti-masturbation Facebook ads. They are going straight for “Democracy’s” jugular!

Yes, that’s right, folks, Vladimir Putin, leader of the Putin-Nazis and official “Evil Dictator of the Day,” has launched a Kamikazi attack on the United Forces of Goodness (and Freedom) to provoke us into losing our temper and waging a global thermonuclear war that will wipe out the entire human species and most other forms of life on earth!

I’m referring, of course, to Putin’s inexplicable and totally unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, a totally peaceful, Nazi-free country which was just sitting there minding its non-Nazi business, singing Kumbaya, and so on, and not in any way collaborating with or being cynically used by GloboCap to menace and eventually destabilize Russia so that the GloboCap boys can get back in there and resume the Caligulan orgy of “privatization” they enjoyed throughout the 1990’s.

No, clearly, Putin has just lost his mind, and has no strategic objective whatsoever (other than the total extermination of humanity), and is just running around the Kremlin shouting “DROP THE BOMBS! EXTERMINATE THE BRUTES!” all crazy-eyed and with his face painted green like Colonel Kurtz in Apocalypse Now … because what other explanation is there?

Or … OK, sure, there are other explanations, but they’re all just “Russian disinformation” and “Putin-Nazi propaganda” disseminated by “Putin-apologizing, Trump-loving, discord-sowing racists,” “transphobic, anti-vax conspiracy theorists,” “Covid-denying domestic extremists,” and other traitorous blasphemers and heretics, who are being paid by Putin to infect us with doubt, historical knowledge, and critical thinking, because they hate us for our freedom … or whatever.

Let’s take a quick look at some of that “Russian disinformation” and “propaganda,” purely to inoculate ourselves against it. We need to be familiar with it, so we can switch off our minds and shout thought-terminating clichés and official platitudes at it whenever we encounter it on the Internet. It might be a little uncomfortable to do this, but just think of it as a Russian-propaganda “vaccine,” like an ideological mRNA fact-check booster (guaranteed to be “safe and effective”)!

OK, the first thing we need to look at, and dismiss, and deny, and pretend we never learned about, is this nonsense about “Ukrainian Nazis.” Just because Ukraine is full of neo-Nazis, and recent members of its government were neo-Nazis, and its military has neo-Nazi units (e.g., the notorious Azov Battalion), and it has a national holiday celebrating a Nazi, and government officials hang his portrait in their offices, and the military and neo-Nazi militias have been terrorizing and murdering ethnic Russians since the USA and the Forces of Goodness supported and stage-managed a “revolution” (i.e., a coup) back in 2014 with the assistance of a lot of neo-Nazis … that doesn’t mean Ukraine has a “Nazi problem.” After all, its current president is Jewish!

If a traitor mentions the Ukrainian Nazis, switch your mind off as quickly as you can and hit them with that thought-terminating cliché … “THE PRESIDENT OF THE UKRAINE IS JEWISH!” Or “EVERY COUNTRY HAS NAZIS!” That’s another good one!

The other thing we need to look at, and dismiss, and never think about again, is the role the United Forces of Goodness played in orchestrating this mess, starting with how members of the US government stage-managed that coup in 2014, and how they funded and worked with known neo-Nazis — not secret, dog-whistling, half-assed Nazis, but big fat, Jew-hating, Sieg-heiling Nazis — to foment and eventually execute it. All that, of course, is just “Russian propaganda,” despite the fact that it has been thoroughly documented, not just by the usual “conspiracy theory outlets,” but by official mouthpieces of the Forces of Goodness, like the BBC, The Nation, and even The Guardian.

If some Putin-Nazi traitor mentions these facts (or sends you links to the numerous articles documenting the 2014 coup), again, switch your mind off immediately and shout “ANCIENT HISTORY! ANCIENT HISTORY!” and then shoot yourself up with a massive “booster” of fact-checked Truth from the Forces-of-Goodness media. I recommend The Guardian and The New York Times, but if you want to go directly to the source, just follow Illia Ponomarenko of the Kyiv Independent on Twitter. I’m sure that Illia and his neo-Nazi Azov-Battalion “brothers in arms” will cleanse you of all that “disinformation” and “Putin-Nazi propaganda.”

OK, that’s enough “inoculation” for now. We don’t want to expose ourselves to too much of that stuff, or we’re liable to end up supporting the wrong Nazis.

Fortunately, the United Forces of Goodness (and Freedom) are censoring most of it anyway, and instead are feeding us sentimental stories, like the one about “the Ghost of Kyiv,” the completely fictional Ukrainian fighter pilot who shot down the entire Putin-Nazi Air Force while delivering pithy one-liners like Bruce Willis in the Die Hard films!

As The New York Times explained, fake stories like that, or the one about the Snake Island martyrs who told the Russians to “go fuck themselves,” and then were genocided by a Putin-Nazi kill squad, but then turned up alive a few days later, are not disinformation, and even if they are, it doesn’t matter, because they’re good for morale!

And that’s the important thing, after all. If we’re ever going to defeat these Putin-Nazis, and the imaginary apocalyptic plague, and Trump, and terrorism, and domestic extremism, and climate change, and racism, and whatever, we need to keep the Western masses whipped up into a perpetual state of utterly mindless, hate-drunk hysteria like an eternal episode of the Two Minutes Hate from Orwell’s 1984.

It doesn’t really matter who the masses are being told to hate this week … the Russians, the Unvaccinated, the Terrorists, the Populists, the Assad-Apologists, the Conspiracy Theorists, the Anti-Vaxxers, the Disinformationists … or whoever. In the end, there is only one enemy, the enemy of the United Forces of Goodness, the enemy of the unaccountable, supranational global-capitalist empire (or “GloboCap” as I like to call it).

This multiplicitous, Goldstein-like enemy of GloboCap is an internal enemy. GloboCap has no external enemies. It dominates the entire planet. It is one big global-capitalist world. It has been for the last 30 years or so. Most of us can’t quite get our heads around that bit of reality yet, so we still see the world as a competition between sovereign nation states, like the USA and Russia. It is not. Yes, there are still nation states, and they compete with each other (like corporations compete for advantage within the system they comprise), but the fundamental conflict of our age is a global counter-insurgency op.

What we’ve been experiencing for the last 30 years, over and over, in many different forms, is a globally hegemonic power system carrying out a “Clear and Hold” operation. GloboCap has been gradually destabilizing, restructuring, and privatizing the post-Cold-War world, first, in Eastern Europe and the Greater Middle East, and, more recently, here at home in the Western nations. For those not familiar with the term “Clear and Hold” …

“Clear and hold is a counter-insurgency strategy in which military personnel clear an area of guerrillas or other insurgents, and then keep the area clear of insurgents while winning the support of the populace for the government and its policies.”

Take a minute and think about that. Think about the last two years. Think about the last 30 years. Seriously, just as an exercise, imagine GloboCap as an occupying army and the entire world as the territory it is occupying. Imagine GloboCap establishing control, targeting and neutralizing a variety of insurgencies … any insurgency, regardless of its nature, any and all resistance to its occupation, or lack of support for its “government and policies.” It does not matter who the insurgents are … diehard communists, Islamic fundamentalists, nationalists, populists … it makes no difference. The occupation couldn’t care less what they believe in or why they’re resisting. The objective of the op is to control the territory and get the populace on board with the new “reality.”

Welcome to the new reality … a “reality” in which “history has stopped [and] nothing exists except an endless present in which the Party is always right.” Yes, I know you are sick of me quoting Orwell, but, given the circumstances, I cannot help it. Just reflect on how seamlessly GloboCap segued from the Apocalyptic Pandemic narrative back to the Putin-Nazi narrative, which had seamlessly replaced the War on Terror narrative in the Summer of 2016, and how instantly the New Normals switched from hating “the Unvaccinated” to hating the Russians, and then scold me again for quoting Orwell.

Look, I hate to disappoint Edward Norton and millions of other fanatical liberals, but the USA is not going to war with Russia, or not intentionally in any event. Russia has ballistic missiles with thermonuclear warheads on them. This isn’t a rerun of World War II. And it isn’t World War III, or the Cold War redux. That is not what is happening in the Ukraine.

What is happening in Ukraine is, Russia is not playing ball. For some reason, it does not want to be destabilized, and restructured, and privatized by GloboCap. It is acting like a sovereign nation state … which it is, and isn’t, which paradoxical fact GloboCap is trying to impress on Russia, just as countries throughout the global-capitalist empire impressed it on us for the past two years, as Trudeau impressed it on those protesters in Ottawa when he cancelled their rights and went full-fascist.

What is happening is, Russia is rebelling against GloboCap, and, unlike the other rebellious parties that GloboCap has been dealing with recently, Russia has thermonuclear weapons.

I’m not trying to tell you who to root for. Root for GloboCap if you want. I’m just urging you, before you fly over to “Kyiv” and join the fight against the Putin-Nazis, or make a jackass of yourself on the Internet shrieking for nuclear Armageddon, or fire-bomb your local Russian restaurant, or beat the crap out of some Russian-looking person, to maybe take a moment or two and try to understand what is actually going on, and who the major players actually are, and where GloboCap’s efforts to “clear and hold” the entire planet are inexorably taking us.

I know, that’s a lot to ask these days, but I can’t help thinking about all those nukes, and the fallibility of human beings, and yes, all the non-Nazi Ukrainians who are going to needlessly suffer and die while we watch the action on TV, and root for our favorite characters to win, and so on … as if it were a fucking movie.

#

CJ Hopkins
March 7, 2022

DISCLAIMER: The preceding essay is entirely the work of our in-house satirist and self-appointed political pundit, CJ Hopkins, and does not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the Consent Factory, Inc., its staff, or any of its agents, subsidiaries, or assigns. If, for whatever inexplicable reason, you appreciate Mr. Hopkins’ work and would like to support it, please go to his Substack page, or his Patreon page, or send your contribution to his PayPal account, so that maybe he’ll stop coming around our offices trying to hit our staff up for money. Alternatively, you could purchase his satirical dystopian sci-fi novel, Zone 23, or Volume I and II of his Consent Factory Essays, or any of his subversive stage plays, which won some awards in Great Britain and Australia. If you do not appreciate Mr. Hopkins’ work and would like to write him an abusive email, feel free to contact him directly.

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