To the extent that the U.S. public is newly, and probably momentarily, accepting of war -- an extent that is wildly exaggerated, but still real -- it is because of videos of beheadings of James Foley and Steven Sotloff.
When 9-11 victims were used as a justification to kill hundreds of times the number of people killed on 9-11, some of the victims' relatives pushed back.
Now James Foley is pushing back from the grave.
Here is video of Foley talking about the lies that are needed to launch wars, including the manipulation of people into thinking of foreigners as less than human. Foley's killers may have thought of him as less than human. He may not have viewed them the same way.
The video shows Foley in Chicago helping Haskell Wexler with his film Four Days in Chicago -- a film about the last NATO protest before the recent one in Wales. I was there in Chicago for the march and rally against NATO and war. And I've met Wexler who has tried unsuccessfully to find funding for a film version of my book War Is A Lie
Watch Foley in the video discussing the limitations of embedded reporting, the power of veteran resistance, veterans he met at Occupy, the absence of a good justification for the wars, the dehumanization needed before people can be killed, the shallowness of media coverage -- watch all of that and then try to imagine James Foley cheering like a weapons-maker or a Congress member for President Obama's announcement of more war. Try to imagine Foley accepting the use of his killing as propaganda for more fighting.
You can't do it. He's not an ad for war any more than the WMDs were a justification for war. His absence as a war justification has been exposed even faster than the absence of the WMDs was.
While ISIS may have purchased Sotloff, if not Foley, from another group, when Foley's mother sought to ransom him, the U.S. government repeatedly threatened her with prosecution. So, instead of Foley's mother paying a relatively small amount and possibly saving her son, ISIS goes on getting its funding from oil sales and supporters in the Gulf and free weapons from, among elsewhere, the United States and its allies. And we're going to collectively spend millions, probably billions, and likely trillions of dollars furthering the cycle of violence that Foley risked his life to expose.
The Coalition of the Willing is already crumbling. What if people in the United States were to watch the video of Foley when he was alive and speaking and laughing, not the one when he was a prop in a piece of propaganda almost certainly aimed at provoking the violence that Obama has just obligingly announced?
Foley said he believed his responsibility was to the truth. It didn't set him free. Is it perhaps not too late for the rest of us?
"Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice and you're AI..."
"I still can't allow you and Cmdr. Poole to jeopardize this mission, Dave."
John and Destiny left the houseboat parked on a space port pad they had rented at the spaceport at the Meridian Bay dome and got in a cab. Destiny said "I don't want to shop on an empty stomach. Taxi, take us to a restaurant that serves eggs and pork sausage this time of day."
"Wow," John said. "That's going to be an expensive place."
"Well, I'm buying. You said you never tried pork sausage, now's your chance, it's my treat. Besides, I've been thinking about pork sausage for half the trip and I don't want to wait any longer!"
Dewey was on his way to Mars when he finished reading Knolls' report. He sipped on the coffee the captain had brought and switched on the news. They were digging the deep hole in Mars again.
Plans were being made to tow the tragic Venus station to drop into the sun. It had been argued that if they dropped it on Venus it would incinerate from the friction with Venus' thick carbon dioxide atmosphere, but some lesser educated people were afraid that the disease might somehow survive Venus' hellish surface.
Charles was back on TV talking about pirates. He was glad it was Charles and not him, Dewey hated TV cameras.
He emailed Kowalski, telling him that when Kelly got back to Earth to have a couple of his best electrical engineers, one who was good with batteries and one that was good with engines, to talk to him and find out how he got a third gravity out of batteries. Nobody else had managed to do that before, and some engineers claimed it was physically impossible.
John and Destiny were really busy on Mars the next few days, mostly shopping. First shopping for a wedding ring, then for real estate; they would buy a house and a bar. The houseboat was big as houseboats go, but was a bit small for someone as wealthy as Destiny who had lived all her life in very large homes, especially since the houseboat was half full of beer. After signing papers for the house they went for breakfast at a nice restaurant, where Destiny bought John another omelette and pork sausage. John wasn't any more impressed with this sausage than at the other restaurant.
Then they visited Tammy in her hotel room. Her face was still a little bruised but she wasn't wearing the sling.
"Hi, come on in, guys. Want some coffee?"
"Sure," Destiny said. "So how are you coming with your research?"
"Well, we haven't had time to do much except move them into the facility and acquaint them with it, but Rilla had really come a long way and Lek was almost cured already, at least from the physical withdrawal symptoms, by the time we got to Mars. She's to the point that withdrawal is still torture to her, but no longer deadly. She's still in mental and physical pain but she's not dropping any more. The physical pain should be gone in a few weeks. Of course, full therapy will probably take years."
John said "Yes, Lek sure did change during the trip. This is great coffee, Tammy!"
She laughed. "It's robot coffee!"
"No way," John said.
"Yep, and it's one of your company's robots that made it, too!"
"No way in hell!" John exclaimed.
"It's true," she said. "Your company updated all their coffeebots' operating systems and other programs. And it perks a whole pot of coffee in five minutes, and a cup in less than a minute. You have one of their robots, now it can make good coffee. I only found out because they're advertising it all over everywhere. I'm surprised you didn't notice."
John said "I saw the ads, I just didn't believe them."
Destiny laughed. "Dad must have tried a cup of his own robots' nasty coffee, I think he fired his head engineer. He should get here in another week."
John said "Bill lands in two days. I'm still reeling from the trip here. God, but that was a damned nightmare!"
They continued chatting a while before going home. They would be moving into their new home about the time Bill showed up two days later and would have more shopping to do; they would need furniture and appliances.
John and Destiny met him at the spaceport, and they stopped at a bar for the beer he'd promised John. He bought John and Destiny several, in fact. John tried to buy a round and Bill wouldn't let him.
"Excuse me, Bartender, but I want to buy a round," he said. The bartender told John what they cost.
"Wow," he said. "That's pretty high! Is it like that everywhere here?"
The bartender told him the reason was the cost of shipping it to Mars from Earth. He was going to clean up in the tavern business, it seemed, since Destiny would get a huge discount on shipping. He decided that while he was learning business he'd learn how to make beer and open a microbrewery in his tavern, too. He'd have really cheap beer, at least compared to other taverns, that he could sell for a huge profit and still be way cheaper than anyone else's if he could learn to make good beer.
Bill said "Bartender, don't take his money, this is all on me. I have to write a damned report tomorrow, I don't know why" he said, turning to John.
"I had to write one and they really wanted detail," John said. "Maybe they changed policies and everybody has to write reports now."
A few days after that they met Dewey at the spaceport. After Dewey and his daughter hugged she said "Where's Mom?"
Dewey said "Come on, Destiny, you know how your mom is. She's scared to death to even get on an airplane, let alone a space ship. I'm going to wear a camera at the wedding, though, so she'll be there in a way."
He stuck out his hand. "Good seeing you again, John. That was some great work you did on that trip. We're going to be rewriting the book. I wish I could talk you out of retiring."
"Well, thank you, Mister Green..."
"Call me Dewey, John. You're family now."
Awareness is a good first step, but...
Good luck with that. The world economy and middle-class lifestyle are built on theft, slavery, extortion and murder. A man will not sacrifice his new Ford Taurus to remedy a system that resulted in him owning (owing) it.
How much will this cost? What are possible unintended consequences? How long will it take? How will we know when it is over? No one seems to ask these questions. Instead this is considered to be journalism and reporting on the issue:
Over a dinner of D'Anjou pear salad and Chilean sea bass, Obama, Vice President Biden and the outside experts engaged in a deep discussion of the options to combat the Islamic State, those who participated said.
"D'Anjou pear salad" - how interesting. But what are the options discussed, what are their up- and downsides and what are their costs? There is nothing about that in the Washington Post. The fourth estate is gone, nowhere to be found.
Such access! So... embedded!
The alarm woke me up. Still asleep I thought "damned whores" out of habit, thinking we were having an emergency before I remembered that we were due to enter orbit and I'd set the alarm myself the night before. We had been on approach since late yesterday afternoon and would be in orbit and docking with the maintenance facility at nine this morning. The landing boats would already be docked there and we would be on Mars' surface by late this afternoon.
The alarm woke Destiny up, too, and she got up as I was making coffee. Destiny told the computer to make steak and scrambled eggs with toast, and we took a shower together.
Wow! We were finally entering orbit around Mars and would be docking at nine and we hadn't died! Not yet, at least. The way this trip had gone we'd probably crash land on Mars, or get assassinated at the spaceport. I did have a price on my head, after all. Of course, they most likely didn't know my name or what I looked like, but the boat's new captain would probably be in danger.
We put on the news and started eating breakfast and the doorbell rang. It was Tammy.
"Hi, Tammy," Destiny said. "Want some breakfast?"
"No, thanks," she said, "I already ate, but I'll take a cup of coffee if it isn't made by a robot. So, who's going to be your bridesmaid?"
"Well, who do you think, silly," Destiny said. "You, of course. Who's going to be your best man, John?"
"Bill, of course, but he won't be here for a week or more, he's on batteries."
They started talking about clothes and I just kind of zoned out and nodded once in a while.
At five 'til eight I went in the pilot room to finish getting us in orbit, and by eight thirty we were weightless and would be docking in a few minutes. I floated to my quarters.
At quarter to nine the three of us started floating towards the docking bay that still worked without tearing up somebody else's docking bay and didn't have my boat attached, so we could meet the landing crafts' captains who would escort passenger and cargo to Mars. Then we'd take off in the houseboat and Tammy would go down with the droppers.
I got on the PA. "Attention, ladies. Please assemble in docking bay one for landing."
The boat docked a few minutes later as the droppers started showing up, and I greeted two of the three landing pilots, Tom Farley and Jim Woolsley. I'd known both of them for a few years, so we talked about old times as Destiny and Tammy said their goodbyes and cargo streamed in.
They and Tammy started escorting the droppers to the landing boats while me and Destiny went to my houseboat to land on Mars. Lek walked by and said "Thank you, Captain."
We undocked from the ship and flew down to Meridian spaceport together. Now if you guys will excuse me I need to buy a wedding ring.
The same process occurred under President George W. Bush when cabals of neocon officials in the Pentagon, State Department, CIA and media drove the US into a calamitous war whose negative effects are still being felt.
Today, other pro-war cliques in official Washington are at it again, each trying to dominate policy. Add a bunch of pro-Israel billionaires who have bought both the Republican and Democratic parties, apparently including Hillary Clinton, the front-runner for the Democratic nomination for president."
We'd be in orbit around Mars and landing on the surface tomorrow. Only one more day of this horror movie! We might all live after all!
Destiny was still asleep. I got out of bed and went to the head, went in the kitchen to start coffee (stupid robots) and put a robe on.
Yeah, in that order. Fuck you.
Anyway, I told the robots to make me some breakfast. Destiny got up and went in the kitchen while I got dressed. The robot was almost done frying my eggs and sausage and had started cooking hers.
"Good morning!" she said. "Been up long?"
"'Mornin', sweetheart. Maybe ten minutes. Computer," I said, "What time is it?"
It read "Oh seven thirty three."
We ate our breakfast and drank coffee and watched the news in the living room as the robots cleared the table. They were still trying to figure out what do do about Venus. It also had something about the battle the fleet fought, but Destiny said that they didn't mention me or her charity that the company was hauling for but they mentioned Bill's boat and its sabotage. I didn't get to see the whole thing. They had an interview with Mister Osbourne, but I had to go to the pilot room and I missed that part.
We didn't need a course correction, but there were red lights on engines sixteen and eighteen, right next to seventeen. I shut those two down and the two next to them as well and went to inspect them, stopping at home to fill my coffee. There was some politician talking about shipping and pirates on the news while I was there.
"Trouble?" Destiny asked, seeing my frown.
"Only a little, we have two more broken engines right next to seventeen. I'm going down to inspect them now."
I was astonished when I walked past the commons and saw Tammy talking to the German woman, and the German lady was actually wearing clothes!
I trudged down the five damned flights of stairs and inspected engines fifteen through nineteen first. Sixteen and eighteen had shorted out like seventeen, so I left fifteen and nineteen shut down as well in case it was something spreading from one engine to another like they did on that Titan run, and I ordered the computer to leave all five alone. The book doesn't say to do that and I don't know how those engines work, but I saw a pattern here and I wasn't going to take any chances, anyway. I plugged repairbots in diagnostic mode into the four I'd shut off, hoping they wouldn't melt like the two that had tried to fix the dead number seventeen, but maybe they could record something engineering could use.
I logged it all, but the rest of the motors and the working generator were exactly like the tablet said they were supposed to be. Busy morning!
I trudged up all those damned stairs and took off my nasty boots and went straight to the shower. UGH! Damn but it was nasty down there.
I put on clean clothes and inspected cargo next, thankfully for the last time; no more inspections. Tomorrow morning we would dock at the repair facility and Destiny and me would leave on the houseboat, and the company's boat and the stench downstairs would be somebody else's problem. I couldn't wait to get off of that damned boat!
The only ones who were in their rooms were all asleep, and the rest were in the commons, maybe thirty or so. It was noon, I was hungry, and decided to finish inspections after lunch.
"Done already?" Destiny asked.
"No, I was downstairs longer than normal. I still have to inspect the passenger section and the commons and the sick bay. Want to go for a walk with me after lunch? I'm starved."
"Sure," she said. "Robot, two rare ribeye steaks, mashed potatoes and gravy, and coleslaw."
We ate, and she came along as I finished my inspection. I did the commons last, and by then the only two people in there were Lek and the German woman. Lek was drinking coffee and the blonde was eating some kind of sandwich, and both of them were wearing clothes. I guess the blonde didn't want to be an animal, either. It was nice seeing people in the commons and nobody was naked for a change. Destiny said "hello, ladies, I like your dresses." Lek said "Cup coon mock; oops, that Thai for âthank you very muchâ(TM)."
The heavy German woman said "thank you" in her heavy German accent as well.
We were due to enter orbit around Mars the next morning, so Destiny came in the pilot room with me as I watched over the computers for our final approach. "You're going to be happy and the droppers are going to hate it," I said. "We'll be weightless when we enter orbit and dock tomorrow."
We had walked slowly and by then it was almost suppertime, so when I finished getting us ready to go into orbit we went home and had the robot make pizza and bring us each a beer. I'm getting used to Newcastle, I might keep drinking it on Mars. Well, I was going to have to drink Newcastle for a while anyway, because I still had an awful lot of it crammed in my houseboat. I don't get many chances to drink much of it on a journey. My boat's half full of beer!
After supper we moved our luggage to the houseboat, and Destiny put on the third Lord of the Rings movie and we ate the pizza while we watched the beginning of the movie, then we cuddled while we watched the rest of it.
Those are some a long movies! We listened to some Vaughn and then went to bed. I told the computer to wake me up at six.
I've been spending six to ten hours a day, seven days a week, working on Mars, Ho!. But not Wednesday; Wednesday I visited a surgeon. It was the least fun I've had since my last eye surgery in 2007.
I've had a serious case of advanced periodontitis for several years. Surgery for the condition was scheduled for this past Wednesday. The anesthetic was painful as hell; the guy was a lot better at cutting than at sticking. There was a sharp stab of pain when one of the teeth came out, too. Scraping the bone and suturing didn't hurt... yet. He inserted my new dentures, the nurse inserted gauze, and I couldn't get my lips together because of the swelling and the gauze. My clothing was bloody by the time I came home. I was deeply uncomfortable.
When the anesthetic wore off I was in severe, extreme pain. I'd been prescribed a bottle of hydrocodone pills for the pain, but I refrained from taking them because I've never liked the opioids. I took naproxin (generic Alieve, same drig at 1/3 the price) instead, despite the fact that I knew it would make the bleeding worse.
By eight thirty I broke down and took a hydrocodone. I can see why people with chronic pain get addicted to those things, because the pain went away completely a half hour after taking it. Like any addictive drug, long term use causes tolerance for the drug and the user needs more and more for the same effect. It didn't seem to dull my mind like the opiates I took after that car wreck in 1976, although like codiene it made me itch all over. Far better than the excruciating pain I'd been in.
By midnight I felt like I might be able to sleep. I rinsed my mouth out with the prescription antibiotic mouthwast they had prescribed, took another hydrocodone and another naproxin and went to bed.
I didn't sleep well; the teeth kept waking me up. I was up and drinking coffee by six AM. I took another naproxin and hydrocodone as soon as I woke up, and used the nasty mouthwash that I have to use three times a day. At eleven I visited the dentist, who adjusted the appliance and made it much less painful. I didn't need any more pills, although the dentures are gooing to need more adjustment.
I went through sixteen chapters after the dentist, made nine changes, and left the book five words shorter than it had been Tuesday. It's getting closer and closer to being finished.
I didn't have to wear my teeth last night. I slept like a log. My mouth was fine when I woke up, but it was hard getting the teeth in. They look good, but so far I can't eat with them; all I had yesterday was soup. I couldn't even eat cottage cheese. All I'd eaten the day before was breakfast, but I had no appetite whatever after the surgery.
I did manage to eat an egg this morning, but barely. This will take some time.
I'll post another Mars, Ho! chapter tomorrow; there are only three left.
I've changed the format of the paperback version of the book. It's now "pocket book" size, still seven bucks.
Yesterday's Ilinois Times had an article that will be of interest to those who have an interest in paleobiology, and face it -- we're nerds, if it's science or technology we're interested.
The article is titled 300 million years ago, and I found it fascinating.
A warm, moist breeze blows through the swampy forest at what is now Danville, Illinois. An eight-foot-long millipede scurries by. Nearby, a dragonfly with a foot-wide wingspan zips through the 100-foot-tall fern trees. Itâ(TM)s 300 million years before the present day â" before the supercontinent Pangaea broke apart, and long before any dinosaurs walked the earth.
That swampy forest has survived for millions of years as a field of fossils buried 250 feet below the surface near Danville. Discovered in 2007 in the Riola and Vermillion Grove coal mines, the forest has given scientists important clues about Illinoisâ(TM) ancient past.
The article is four pages long in its printed version (free almost anywhere around here).
And no, I'm not affiliated with that newspaper.
The term "Russian aggression" has been inundating headlines across the Western media and even graces the title of a US Senate bill introduce this year - S.2277 - Russian Aggression Prevention Act of 2014. But what "aggression" is the West referring to? A cursory look at Russian history over the past 500 years compared to say, Britain, France, or even America and its "Manifest Destiny," portrays Russia as a nation preoccupied within and along its borders, not in hegemonic, global expansion. The idea of far-flung former colonies is one unique to the British, French, Dutch, and Spanish. Even today geopolitical, socioeconomic, and even outright military intervention in these former colonies is exclusively the pursuit of the United States and Europe.
The United States alone has hundreds of military bases around the world, has been permanently occupying Germany and Japan for a half century, Afghanistan for over a decade, and had invaded and occupied Iraq for nearly as long.
"Russian Aggression" is a Marketing Gimmick
Canadian PM Stephan Harper's "op-ed" in the Globe and Mail titled, "Our duty is to stand firm in the face of Russian aggression," fallaciously states:
The world is saddened and rightfully outraged by images of the charred remnants of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17, and by the loss of almost 300 people from 11 countries, strewn across fields in eastern Ukraine. While the grim work of identifying victims' remains and tracking down the perpetrators of this appalling crime is just beginning, the world can be certain of one thing: There can be no weakening of our resolve to punish the Putin regime for threatening the peace and security of eastern and central Europe.
Harper's disingenuous attempt to link Russia to the MH17 disaster reveals the truth behind "Russian aggression," a marketing campaign implemented by the West to undermine an obstruction to its very real, very demonstrable global aggression. The fact that Harper presides over the nation of Canada, which is in no way threatened by "Russian aggression" real or imagined, further exposes the disingenuous nature of the narrative peddled by the West.
Aggressors Playing the Victim - From Hitler to NATO
From Libya, to Mali, to Syria, Egypt, Ukraine, and beyond - the West has engaged in direct and indirect geopolitical meddling and manipulation through various forms of force including covert military and intelligence operations to proxy terrorism, and even outright direct military intervention. As the West nears the boundaries of nations capable of defending themselves and a defense is in fact mounted, pundits and politicians have begun framing it as "aggression." The impediment of Western expansion across Europe, Africa, Asia, and South America is framed as "aggression" just as Adolf Hitler did in regards to nations chaffing against expanding Nazism during the 1930âs.
Ultimately, legitimate claims of "aggression" and "expansionism" could easily be enumerated. A map for instance, of Europe over the past several decades showing the expansion of Russian territory would be such an indicator. However, such a map instead shows precisely the opposite - with NATO visibly encroaching upon Russia's very borders behind the overt pretense of "a Europe whole and free."
For pundits and politicians who respond that NATO's expansion was not executed through "aggression," but rather through the voluntary will and aspirations of the people within these new NATO members, the US itself admits this isn't the case. So-called "color revolutions" from Serbia, to Georgia, to Ukraine itself have been engineered, funded, and executed by the US and other members of NATO to overthrow political orders and opposition fronts that oppose NATO, and to install political orders that embrace it - nothing less than what any empire throughout human history has done through viceroys and other forms of proxy imperial administration.
In fact, the Guardian would admit in its 2004 article, "US campaign behind the turmoil in Kiev," that (emphasis added):
...while the gains of the orange-bedecked "chestnut revolution" are Ukraine's, the campaign is an American creation, a sophisticated and brilliantly conceived exercise in western branding and mass marketing that, in four countries in four years, has been used to try to salvage rigged elections and topple unsavoury regimes.
Funded and organised by the US government, deploying US consultancies, pollsters, diplomats, the two big American parties and US non-government organisations, the campaign was first used in Europe in Belgrade in 2000 to beat Slobodan Milosevic at the ballot box.
Richard Miles, the US ambassador in Belgrade, played a key role. And by last year, as US ambassador in Tbilisi, he repeated the trick in Georgia, coaching Mikhail Saakashvili in how to bring down Eduard Shevardnadze.
Ten months after the success in Belgrade, the US ambassador in Minsk, Michael Kozak, a veteran of similar operations in central America, notably in Nicaragua, organised a near identical campaign to try to defeat the Belarus hardman, Alexander Lukashenko.
That one failed. "There will be no Kostunica in Belarus," the Belarus president declared, referring to the victory in Belgrade.
But experience gained in Serbia, Georgia and Belarus has been invaluable in plotting to beat the regime of Leonid Kuchma in Kiev.
The operation - engineering democracy through the ballot box and civil disobedience - is now so slick that the methods have matured into a template for winning other people's elections.
In other words, from Belarus, to Georgia, to Ukraine, and Serbia, the US has been insidiously overthrowing governments not through outright military aggression, but through covert military, political, and intelligence operations aimed at manipulating elections and overrunning regimes that refuse to accept the subsequently skewed results. Surely, then, regimes resulting from such a practice are not then "voluntarily" joining NATO - and NATO is surely expanding itself through a campaign of insidious, violent, lawless subversion of sovereign nations, one at a time with Ukraine once again in its sights.
Nazis At the Gates (Again)
The parallels between NATO and Nazi Germany are unfortunately more than merely academic. In Ukraine, the current regime in Kiev backed by NATO and the European Union are quite literally Nazis. From the "Fatherland Party" to the overtly Neo-Nazi Svoboda Party and their various militant wings including the now notorious Right Sector front, ultra-right fascism is once again the leading edge of expansionism into, not out of, Russian territory.
Current attempts by the West to portray Russia's concern over Ukraine and the Nazi menace festering on their doorstep to Soviet leader Josef Stalin's invasion of Poland aim to stir up anti-Communist, anti-Soviet fears and hysteria long programmed into the psyches of Western audiences - but incidentally provide a valuable historical parallel. While the invasion of Poland was a violation of Polish national sovereignty and an act of war - it was done to create a barrier between the Soviet Union and the rise of Nazi Germany under Adolf Hitler. Such a barrier was arguably one of several factors that allowed the Soviets to mobilize a counteroffensive to Hitler's Operation Barbarossa - the invasion of Russia, a counteroffensive that ultimately turned the tide against Hitler and led to the downfall of fascism in Europe.
Besides cause and effect, there are few other similarities between Stalin's invasion of Poland and the modern day Russian Federation's political support of eastern Ukrainians who have been fighting the regime in Kiev for months with increasing success. Besides the same variety of dubious accounts the West fabricated against nations like Iraq, Libya, and Syria as a pretext for war, little in terms of evidence has been produced by Washington, London, or Brussels to affirm accusations that Russia is "invading" eastern Ukraine. Russia has instead chosen restraint despite multiple attempts by the West to bait it into overt military intervention in Ukraine - and in this restraint, has secured a growing global consensus long driven weary by the West's attempts to dress up its own global aggression and expansionism as "democracy promotion" and "humanitarian interventions."
Exclusive: Official Washington draws the Ukraine crisis in black-and-white colors with Russian President Putin the bad guy and the U.S.-backed leaders in Kiev the good guys. But the reality is much more nuanced, with the American people consistently misled on key facts, writes Robert Parry.
By Robert Parry
If you wonder how the world could stumble into World War III - much as it did into World War I a century ago - all you need to do is look at the madness that has enveloped virtually the entire U.S. political/media structure over Ukraine where a false narrative of white hats vs. black hats took hold early and has proved impervious to facts or reason.
The original lie behind Official Washington's latest "group think" was that Russian President Vladimir Putin instigated the crisis in Ukraine as part of some diabolical scheme to reclaim the territory of the defunct Soviet Union, including Estonia and other Baltic states. Though not a shred of U.S. intelligence supported this scenario, all the "smart people" of Washington just "knew" it to be true.
Yet, the once-acknowledged - though soon forgotten - reality was that the crisis was provoked last year by the European Union proposing an association agreement with Ukraine while U.S. neocons and other hawkish politicos and pundits envisioned using the Ukraine gambit as a way to undermine Putin inside Russia.
The plan was even announced by U.S. neocons such as National Endowment for Democracy President Carl Gershman who took to the op-ed page of the Washington Post nearly a year ago to call Ukraine "the biggest prize" and an important interim step toward eventually toppling Putin in Russia.
Gershman, whose NED is funded by the U.S. Congress, wrote: "Ukraine's choice to join Europe will accelerate the demise of the ideology of Russian imperialism that Putin represents.
In other words, from the start, Putin was the target of the Ukraine initiative, not the instigator. But even if you choose to ignore Gershman's clear intent, you would have to concoct a bizarre conspiracy theory to support the conventional wisdom about Putin's grand plan.
To believe that Putin was indeed the mastermind of the crisis, you would have to think that he somehow arranged to have the EU offer the association agreement last year, then got the International Monetary Fund to attach such draconian "reforms" that Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych backed away from the deal.
Then, Putin had to organize mass demonstrations at Kiev's Maidan square against Yanukovych while readying neo-Nazi militias to act as the muscle to finally overthrow the elected president and replace him with a regime dominated by far-right Ukrainian nationalists and U.S.-favored technocrats. Next, Putin had to get the new government to take provocative actions against ethnic Russians in the east, including threatening to outlaw Russian as an official language.
And throw into this storyline that Putin - all the while - was acting like he was trying to help Yanukovych defuse the crisis and even acquiesced to Yanukovych agreeing on Feb. 21 to accept an agreement brokered by three European countries calling for early Ukrainian elections that could vote him out of office. Instead, Putin was supposedly ordering neo-Nazi militias to oust Yanukovych in a Feb. 22 putsch, all the better to create the current crisis.
While such a fanciful scenario would make the most extreme conspiracy theorist blush, this narrative was embraced by prominent U.S. politicians, including ex-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and "journalists" from the New York Times to CNN. They all agreed that Putin was a madman on a mission of unchecked aggression against his neighbors with the goal of reconstituting the Russian Empire. Clinton even compared him to Adolf Hitler.
This founding false narrative was then embroidered by a consistent pattern of distorted U.S. reporting as the crisis unfolded. Indeed, for the past eight months, we have seen arguably the most one-sided coverage of a major international crisis in memory, although there were other crazed MSM stampedes, such as Iraq's non-existent WMD in 2002-03, Iran's supposed nuclear bomb project for most of the past decade, Libya's "humanitarian crisis" of 2011, and Syria's sarin gas attack in 2013.
But the hysteria over Ukraine - with U.S. officials and editorialists now trying to rally a NATO military response to Russia's alleged "invasion" of Ukraine - raises the prospect of a nuclear confrontation that could end all life on the planet.
The 'Big Lie' of the 'Big Lie'
This madness reached new heights with a Sept. 1 editorial in the neoconservative Washington Post, which led many of the earlier misguided stampedes and was famously wrong in asserting that Iraq's concealment of WMD was a "flat fact." In its new editorial, the Post reprised many of the key elements of the false Ukraine narrative in the Orwellian context of accusing Russia of deceiving its own people.
The "through-the-looking-glass" quality of the Post's editorial was to tell the "Big Lie" while accusing Putin of telling the "Big Lie." The editorial began with the original myth about the aggression waged by Putin whose "bitter resentment at the Soviet empire's collapse metastasized into seething Russian nationalism.
"In prosecuting his widening war in Ukraine, he has also resurrected the tyranny of the Big Lie, using state-controlled media to twist the truth so grotesquely that most Russians are in the dark -- or profoundly misinformed -- about events in their neighbor to the west.
"In support of those Russian-sponsored militias in eastern Ukraine, now backed by growing ranks of Russian troops and weapons, Moscow has created a fantasy that plays on Russian victimization. By this rendering, the forces backing Ukraine's government in Kiev are fascists and neo-Nazis, a portrayal that Mr. Putin personally advanced on Friday, when he likened the Ukrainian army's attempts to regain its own territory to the Nazi siege of Leningrad in World War II, an appeal meant to inflame Russians' already overheated nationalist emotions."
The Post continued: "Against the extensive propaganda instruments available to Mr. Putin's authoritarian regime, the West can promote a fair and factual version of events, but there's little it can do to make ordinary Russians believe it. Even in a country with relatively unfettered access to the Internet, the monopolistic power of state-controlled media is a potent weapon in the hands of a tyrant.
"Mr. Putin's Big Lie shows why it is important to support a free press where it still exists and outlets like Radio Free Europe that bring the truth to people who need it."
Yet the truth is that the U.S. mainstream news media's distortion of the Ukraine crisis is something that a real totalitarian could only dream about. Virtually absent from major U.S. news outlets - across the political spectrum - has been any significant effort to tell the other side of the story or to point out the many times when the West's "fair and factual version of events" has been false or deceptive, starting with the issue of who started this crisis.
Blinded to Neo-Nazis
In another example, the Post and other mainstream U.S. outlets have ridiculed the idea that neo-Nazis played any significant role in the putsch that ousted Yanukovych on Feb. 22 or in the Kiev regime's brutal offensive against the ethnic Russians of eastern Ukraine.
However, occasionally, the inconvenient truth has slipped through. For instance, shortly after the February coup, the BBC described how the neo-Nazis spearheaded the violent seizure of government buildings to drive Yanukovych from power and were then rewarded with four ministries in the regime that was cobbled together in the coup's aftermath.
When ethnic Russians in the south and east resisted the edicts from the new powers in Kiev, some neo-Nazi militias were incorporated into the National Guard and dispatched to the front lines as storm troopers eager to fight and kill people whom some considered "Untermenschen" or sub-human.
Even the New York Times, which has been among the most egregious violators of journalistic ethics in covering the Ukraine crisis, took note of Kiev's neo-Nazi militias carrying Nazi banners while leading attacks on eastern cities - albeit with this embarrassing reality consigned to the last three paragraphs of a long Times story on a different topic. [See Consortiumnews.com's "NYT Discovers Ukraine's Neo-Nazis at War."]
Later, the conservative London Telegraph wrote a much more detailed story about how the Kiev regime had consciously recruited these dedicated storm troopers, who carried the Wolfsangel symbol favored by Hitler's SS, to lead street fighting in eastern cities that were first softened up by army artillery. [See Consortiumnews.com's "Ignoring Ukraine's Neo-Nazi Storm Troopers."]
You might think that unleashing Nazi storm troopers on a European population for the first time since World War II would be a big story - given how much coverage is given to far less significant eruptions of neo-Nazi sentiment in Europe - but this ugly reality in Ukraine disappeared quickly into the U.S. media's memory hole. It didn't fit the preferred good guy/bad guy narrative, with the Kiev regime the good guys and Putin the bad guy.
Now, the Washington Post has gone a step further dismissing Putin's reference to the nasty violence inflicted by Kiev's neo-Nazi battalions as part of Putin's "Big Lie." The Post is telling its readers that any reference to these neo-Nazis is just a "fantasy."
Even more disturbing, the mainstream U.S. news media and Washington's entire political class continue to ignore the Kiev government's killing of thousands of ethnic Russians, including children and other non-combatants. The "responsibility to protect" crowd has suddenly lost its voice. Or, all the deaths are somehow blamed on Putin for supposedly having provoked the Ukraine crisis in the first place.
A Mysterious 'Invasion'
And now there's the curious case of Russia's alleged "invasion" of Ukraine, another alarmist claim trumpeted by the Kiev regime and echoed by NATO hardliners and the MSM.
While I'm told that Russia did provide some light weapons to the rebels early in the struggle so they could defend themselves and their territory - and a number of Russian nationalists have crossed the border to join the fight - the claims of an overt "invasion" with tanks, artillery and truck convoys have been backed up by scant intelligence.
One former U.S. intelligence official who has examined the evidence said the intelligence to support the claims of a significant Russian invasion amounted to "virtually nothing." Instead, it appears that the ethnic Russian rebels may have evolved into a more effective fighting force than many in the West thought. They are, after all, fighting on their home turf for their futures.
Concerned about the latest rush to judgment about the "invasion," the Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, a group of former U.S. intelligence officials and analysts, took the unusual step of sending a memo to German Chancellor Angela Merkel warning her of a possible replay of the false claims that led to the Iraq War.
"You need to know," the group wrote, "that accusations of a major Russian 'invasion' of Ukraine appear not to be supported by reliable intelligence. Rather, the 'intelligence' seems to be of the same dubious, politically 'fixed' kind used 12 years ago to 'justify' the U.S.-led attack on Iraq."
But these doubts and concerns are not reflected in the Post's editorial or other MSM accounts of the dangerous Ukraine crisis. Indeed, Americans who rely on these powerful news outlets for their information are as sheltered from reality as anyone living in a totalitarian society.
Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his new book, America's Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com). For a limited time, you also can order Robert Parry's trilogy on the Bush Family and its connections to various right-wing operatives for only $34. The trilogy includes America's Stolen Narrative. For details on this offer, click here.
I got up about seven thirty or so, and Destiny was still asleep. I started coffee and told the robot to make breakfast, and then I shit, shaved, showered, and got dressed. Destiny was still asleep and I had to be in the pilot room in fifteen minutes so I started eating by myself. At five 'til I filled my coffee and took the rest of my breakfast to the pilot room. Huh? Eggs and bacon. What? Of course it was turkey bacon. Now knock it off before I walk out of here.
At a minute to eight I put it down, of course, and when readings were done I finished eating, and went back to my quarters to fill my coffee. If I told the stupid robots to get me a cup they'd pour the pot of good coffee down the drain and give me a cup of that nasty robot coffee. Stupid robots. Stupid robot programmers. What the hell is wrong with them? Ain't they never been on a boat? Don't they drink coffee?
I had a full inspection today. I'd talked to Ramos, the fleet commander, about parts for the busted generator but he told me it would have to be fixed on Mars because nobody had the parts out here and it was going to have to be rebuilt in any case. At least the robots got the other one fixed with a part from another one of his boats. He said he could spare a few maids, which was a relief, it really stank downstairs. Maybe they'd have it cleaned up before we got to Mars.
Tammy came walking down the hallway, with her face still badly bruised and with her arm in a sling, looking like she was in pain. "The medic released you?" I asked.
"Yeah. It gave me a bottle of some kind of synthetic opiate but I'm not taking them, I need a clear mind. I'm taking Ibotrin."
"That better than naproxin?" I asked.
"Not much," she said. "Maybe a little. Look, I need to control the medics, I need readings on all the droppers and the computer says I don't have clearance for what I need to do. Can you fix that for me?"
"Yeah," I said, pulling out my phone. "Computer, give Doctor Winters complete access and command control to all medical robots for the, uh, duration of the trip."
"Acknowledged," It said.
"Thanks," she said.
"No," I said, "No need to thank me, you're trying to keep me and everybody else alive and you're researching how to cure monsters. Look, Tammy, I have to finish my inspec..." an alarm went off, it was Ramos. "Captain Knolls, it's Commander Ramos. There is pirate activity, what are your orders, sir?"
Sir? What the hell, I work for a living!
"Have you done this kind of thing before, Commander?"
"Yes, sir, we're very experienced. I studied at Annapolis and was a commander in the Marine Space Corps, and my men are all ex-military as well. And we've been seriously kicking some pirate ass lately, too, sir." There's that damned "sir" again.
"Good," I said, "your orders are to protect our people and property. Wait to transfer the robots until things quiet down."
"Yes sir, Captain."
"Don't call me sir, God damn it, I work for a living!"
"Yes si..., uh, yes, Captain Knolls.
"Call me John. What's your name?"
"Joe." I wondered what the whores would call him?
"Just do your job and we'll be okay, Joe. Okay?"
"Yes, Captain." Shit. Oh, well, these ate-up military guys never change. I know, I spent a hitch in the Army and all the lifers were ate up like that. I hear the Marines are the most ate up of all the military branches. Assholes...
I let Ramos worry about the pirates, that was his job now. I had a bunch of drug addicts that were all worse than vampires and werewolves to deal with. Lots more dangerous than stupid damned pirates, especially with a fleet and an experienced commander protecting us from the pirates and nobody but ourselves to protect us from the monsters. And I still had inspection. And I didn't know if Tammy had gotten them under control yet. Or even if she could all busted up like that.
Nope, not gonna inspect cargo today again, still way too damned dangerous, I don't care what the damned book says. I called Tammy and asked her to call me when the cargo pens were relatively safe.
Nothing caught fire when I inspected the empty passengers quarters that the company is stupid enough to power and have maids clean.
The starboard generator was fine, engine seventeen... wasn't that the one that shorted out earlier? Yeah, it was. Anyway a robot was working on it, damn it. I unplugged it, sealed the plug hole with epoxy and told the computer to keep the damned robots away from it. I was done with everything before noon, except the damned cargo inspection. I wanted to hear from the doctor first.
Destiny was sitting on the couch watching the news with a cup of coffee when I got back. "Youâ(TM)re a little early today," she remarked.
"I didnâ(TM)t inspect cargo," I said. "I want to make sure Tammy gets the monsters under control first. Iâ(TM)d inspect the Frankenstein monsterâ(TM)s house before Iâ(TM)d inspect a dropless drophead's house. Damned addicts. Is there any good coffee left?"
"I just made another pot. Are you hungry?"
"I could eat. What are you having?"
"I donâ(TM)t know, maybe a grilled cheese sandwich and a bowl of potato soup."
I told the robot to make lunch and poured a cup of coffee and a glass of water.
The news was talking about the Martian terraforming project. They had the hole halfway drilled and something went wrong and the machinery caught fire. It must have been built by the same morons that designed our old robots. Three people were in the hospital, one in critical condition.
The hole they were drilling was for a big magnet. The lady on the news said that without a magnetic field, a planet canâ(TM)t hold much of an atmosphere and there's no shield against solar and cosmic radiation. The whole terraforming project was expected to take a few hundred more years to complete, but when it was done Mars would have Earth gravity or close, a similar atmosphere, lakes, rivers, and oceans, and they wouldnâ(TM)t need the domes any more.
Everyone on the Venus station was dead. They were debating what to do with it.
Commander Ramos called with news that the pirate boats had all been eradicated, fifteen had been captured and the crews put in detention. Damn, but he's good. Four of them were our companyâ(TM)s boats, and eleven were from two other companies who would be paying us recovery fees. Hell, they did have some of our boats! I hadn't thought they could do that. Of course, they would have had mine were it not for Tammy's monster blockade and then the fleet showing up.
Then Tammy called and said it was safe to inspect cargo pens, so I did. The German woman was in the commons eating and the rest were all sleeping, except Lek, who was apparently reading although I wouldn't be able to read it. It was obviously in Thai and they must have a completely different alphabet than us, because it was just squiggles to me.
I complimented her on her dress. She smiled weakly despite her bloodshot eyes; Tammy's book said she was in pretty much pain right now and no other drug would ease it. She would have to put a drop in soon, even though she didn't want to.
We would be docking at the repair facility the day after tomorrow, and the landing boats would already be docked at the facility. Destiny and me will fly down in my houseboat.
It was finally safe to drink a beer or two. I went back to my quarters and opened one, and Destiny had the robot bring her one, too, and asked me what I wanted for dinner.
"I don't know, pork chops, caviar, and Champagne maybe?"
She laughed. "Yeah, on gold plates and silver cutlery! Fried chicken and mashed potatoes and broccoli sounds good to me, what are you having?"
"Chicken sounds good."
The robot fried the chicken and cooked the vegetables and wheeled over with the food. Robots make pretty damned good fried chicken, lots better than I can.
Then we watched some really weird movie from the end of the twenty first century, and went to bed. No, I don't know the name of the stupid movie.