In the defense of democracy outlawing opposition

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has framed his country’s war against Russia as a battle for democracy itself. In a carefully choreographed address to US Congress on March 16, Zelensky stated, “Right now, the destiny of our country is being decided. The destiny of our people, whether Ukrainians will be free, whether they will be able to preserve their democracy.”

US corporate media has responded by showering Zelensky with fawning press, driving a campaign for his nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize and inspiring a flamboyant musical tribute to himself and the Ukrainian military during the 2022 Grammy awards ceremony on April 3.

Western media has looked the other way, however, as Zelensky and top officials in his administration have sanctioned a campaign of kidnapping, torture, and assassination of local Ukrainian lawmakers accused of collaborating with Russia. Several mayors and other Ukrainian officials have been killed since the outbreak of war, many reportedly by Ukrainian state agents after engaging in de-escalation talks with Russia.

“There is one less traitor in Ukraine,” Internal Affairs Ministry advisor Anton Geraschenko stated in endorsement of the murder of a Ukrainian mayor accused of collaborating with

— source | Max Blumenthal, Esha Krishnaswamy | Apr 17, 2022

Nullius in verba

Give War A Chance

A month after Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, blood seems to be rushing to all the wrong places across the Commentariat, which has begun in earnest the predictable process of asking the public to dismiss fears of nuclear combat. Headlines of the “We’ll take those odds” variety are springing up everywhere, from the Seattle Times (“Atrocities change the nuclear weapons calculus”) to Radio Free Europe (“Former NATO Commander Says Western Fears Of Nuclear War Are Preventing A Proper Response To Putin”) to Fox (which had on Sean Penn, of all people, to say to Sean Hannity, “Countries that have nuclear weapons can remain intimidated to use them, and we’re seeing that now with our own country”). This is fast becoming a bipartisan consensus. Check out Republican Adam Kinzinger’s recent comment:

Most of us look back at 9/11 and wish we’d tried to narrow the scope of the problem, not expand it in grandiose ways and make it the central fact of the lives of every person on the planet. We were told right away that 9/11 meant so much more than a policing problem, that instead of a few nut-jobs slipping through the net, bin Laden’s Twin Tower attacks heralded an inevitable, and desirable, Final Battle between new and old worlds. We’re going through something similar now. The pundit excitement over the final clash between “Democracy and Autocracy” perhaps being at hand reminds me exactly of the open praying for signs of the Apocalypse I once heard among the Rapture-ready flock of pastor John Hagee in San Antonio.

We saw a ton of this thinking after 9/11. World-domination advocates who’d been laughed out of meetings for years were taken seriously overnight. Rigid with jingoistic fervor,

— source | Matt Taibbi | Apr 12, 2022

Nullius in verba

Russia’s War Against Ukraine Has Accelerated the Doomsday Clock

On the current military situation, there are two radically different stories. The familiar one is provided by Ukraine’s military intelligence head, Gen. Kyrylo Budanov: Russia’s attempt to overthrow the Ukrainian government has failed, so Russia is now retreating to the occupied south and east of the country, the Donbas region and the eastern Azov sea coast, planning a “Korean scenario.”

The head of the Main Operational Directorate of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, Col. Gen. Sergey Rudskoy, tells a very different story (as of March 25): a rendition of George W. Bush’s “Mission Accomplished” in Iraq, though without the dramatic trappings:

The main goal of the “special military operation” was to defend the Donbass People’s Republic from the genocidal assaults of Ukrainian Nazis over the past eight years. Since Ukraine rejected diplomacy, it was necessary to extend the operation to “demilitarization and denazification” of Ukraine, destroying military targets with great care to spare civilians. The main goals have been efficiently achieved exactly according to plan. What remains is the full “liberation of Donbass.”

Two tales, same ending, which I presume is accurate.

The West, quite plausibly, adopts the former story. That is, it adopts the story that tells us that Russia is incapable of conquering cities a few miles from its border that are

— source | Mar 30, 2022

Nullius in verba

US Military Escalation Against Russia Would Have No Victors

Noam Chomsky: Before turning to the question, we should settle a few facts that are uncontestable. The most crucial one is that the Russian invasion of Ukraine is a major war crime, ranking alongside the U.S. invasion of Iraq and the Hitler-Stalin invasion of Poland in September 1939, to take only two salient examples. It always makes sense to seek explanations, but there is no justification, no extenuation.

Turning now to the question, there are plenty of supremely confident outpourings about Putin’s mind. The usual story is that he is caught up in paranoid fantasies, acting alone, surrounded by groveling courtiers of the kind familiar here in what’s left of the Republican Party traipsing to Mar-a-Lago for the Leader’s blessing.

The flood of invective might be accurate, but perhaps other possibilities might be considered. Perhaps Putin meant what he and his associates have been saying loud and clear for years. It might be, for example, that, “Since Putin’s major demand is an assurance that NATO will take no further members, and specifically not Ukraine or Georgia, obviously there would have been no basis for the present crisis if there had been no expansion of the alliance following the end of the Cold War, or if the expansion had occurred in harmony with building a security structure in Europe that included Russia.” The author of these words is former U.S. ambassador to Russia, Jack Matlock, one of the few serious Russia specialists in the U.S. diplomatic corps, writing shortly before the invasion. He goes on to conclude that the crisis “can be easily resolved by the application of common

— source | Mar 1, 2022

Nullius in verba

US Push to “Reign Supreme” Stokes the Ukraine Conflict

Sometimes it’s hard to believe. One of the most significant and revealing examples is the rhetorical framework of the major internal planning document of the early Cold War years, NSC-68 of 1950, shortly after “the loss of China,” which set off a frenzy in the U.S. The document set the stage for huge expansion of the military budget. It’s worth recalling today when strains of this madness are reverberating — not for the first time; it’s perennial.

The policy recommendations of NSC-68 have been widely discussed in scholarship, though avoiding the hysterical rhetoric. It reads like a fairytale: ultimate evil confronted by absolute purity and noble idealism. On one side is the “slave state” with its “fundamental design” and inherent “compulsion” to gain “absolute authority over the rest of the world,” destroying all governments and the “structure of society” everywhere. Its ultimate evil contrasts with our sheer perfection. The “fundamental purpose” of the United States is to assure “the dignity and worth of the individual” everywhere. Its leaders are animated by “generous and constructive impulses, and the absence of covetousness in our international relations,”

— source | Feb 16, 2022

Nullius in verba

Russia Is Following the American Playbook

No country has successfully challenged the U.S. dollar’s global hegemony—until now. How did this happen and what will it mean?

Foreign critics have long chafed at the “exorbitant privilege” of the U.S. dollar as global reserve currency. The U.S. can issue this currency backed by nothing but the “full faith and credit of the United States.” Foreign governments, needing dollars, not only accept them in trade but buy U.S. securities with them, effectively funding the U.S. government and its foreign wars. But no government has been powerful enough to break that arrangement – until now. How did that happen and what will it mean for the U.S. and global economies?

The Rise and Fall of the PetroDollar

First, some history: The U.S. dollar was adopted as the global reserve currency at the Bretton Woods Conference in 1944, when the dollar was still backed by gold on global markets. The agreement was that gold and the dollar would be accepted interchangeably as global reserves, the dollars to be redeemable in gold on demand at $35 an ounce. Exchange

— source | Ellen Brown | Apr 5, 2022

Nullius in verba

How the US weaponized Ukraine against Russia

Since the US-engineered 2013-14 coup in Ukraine, American forces have taught Ukrainians, including neo-Nazi units, how to fight in urban and other civilian areas. Weaponizing Ukraine is part of Washington’s quest for what the Pentagon calls “full spectrum dominance.”

“[I]f you can learn all modalities of war, then you can be the god of war,” so said a Ukrainian artillery commander in 2016 while receiving training from the US Army.

The unnamed commander was quoted by Lt. Claire Vanderberg, a mortar platoon leader training soldiers as part of the Pentagon’s Joint Multinational Training Group-Ukraine. The training has taken place at the absurdly named International Peacekeeping and Security Center, which sits close to the border with Poland near the Ukrainian town of Yavoriv. Western media reported Russia’s recent cruise missile attack on the base, but chose not to mention what has taken place inside.

The relationship described above is a snapshot of a decades-long US-NATO effort to not only pull Ukraine from Russia’s orbit, but to actively weaponize the country against

— source | T.J. Coles | Apr 1, 2022

Nullius in verba

Israelis are in denial at parallels between their occupation and Putin’s

The shockwaves from the Russia-Ukraine war quickly reached Israel, revealing some embarrassing truths and challenging Israelis to see their country as it actually is – so very different than what they like to imagine.

It began with Foreign Minister Yair Lapid’s declaration, shortly after the war began, that Russia’s invasion was “a grave violation of the international order”. Under other circumstances, this might almost have been amusing, highlighting Israel’s longstanding lack of self-awareness of its own less attractive attributes – like a camel that can’t see its own hump.

Russia is severely flouting the international order. But what of Israel? Has any other country so blatantly and arrogantly transgressed against the international order for so many years? Is there a single decision by major international institutions concerning its affairs that Israel has not ignored or boldly violated?

How was Israel’s invasion of Lebanon in 1982, or its subsequent military occupation, any different than Russia’s invasion of Ukraine? How are Israel’s frequent incursions into

— source | Gideon Levy | 14 Mar 2022

Nullius in verba