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Post To Understand the Causes of Ukraine War, We MUST Look Inward
Created by John Eipper on 09/25/22 10:25 AM

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To Understand the Causes of Ukraine War, We MUST Look Inward (Cameron Sawyer, USA, 09/25/22 10:25 am)

JE wrote, in response to a post of today by Eugenio Battaglia:

"Objective observers accept that the West pushed Ukraine into provoking the Russian Bear. Yet is there any way to ‘look in the mirror' so to speak without sounding like an apologist for Putin's brutal invasion? Even if Putin is ‘only' 85% to blame for this horrific war, what does that achieve...now?"

What it achieves is the crucially important task of understanding our own mistakes, of understanding and correcting our own disastrous foreign policy. If we fail to see the current crisis in its proper context, then as a nation we will slide even faster down the road of militarism and aggression, a road which leads to our own destruction.

85% Putin's fault? Well, according to this, written by the American Enterprise Institute, which is the very architect of our foreign policy in the same way as the Federalist Society is the architect of our judicial system, the Ukraine War was a "trap" which we prepared to weaken Russia for the purpose of eliminating competition and ensuring our hegemony in the region:

Some highlights:

"Proxy wars are longstanding tools of great-power rivalry because they allow one side to bleed the other without a direct clash of arms. During the Cold War, the Soviet Union bled the US by supporting communist proxies in Korea and Vietnam.

"The US got revenge in Afghanistan and Nicaragua during the 1980s, supporting anticommunist insurgents who killed Soviet troops or destabilized Moscow's clients. America would ‘do to the Soviets what they have been doing to us,' said National Security Council official Richard Pipes. ‘At a very low cost ... we can make it very hard for them.'

"The key to the strategy is to find a committed local partner--a proxy willing to do the killing and dying--and then load it up with the arms, money and intelligence needed to inflict shattering blows on a vulnerable rival. That's just what Washington and its allies are doing to Russia today.

"Ukrainian forces are nothing if not committed; they have been willing, in many cases, to fight to the last man. [we are indeed, explicitly, fighting the Russians to the last Ukrainian]. They have proved themselves far more effective than even the US intelligence community anticipated when the invasion began. Putin's ill-conceived aggression has left Russia in a terribly exposed position, and the Kyiv government and its supporters have no intention of letting Moscow escape the trap."


In its own words, the American Enterprise Institute, where Richard Perle, the Kagan brothers, Paul Wolfowitz, and others are fellows. This is exactly what is being done--in our names, and with our tax money.

This is a geopolitical game intended to crush potential rivals by subverting their neighbors and turning client states against them. The only goal of it is hegemony. This is the official policy:

"Our first objective is to prevent the re-emergence of a new rival, either on the territory of the former Soviet Union or elsewhere, that poses a threat on the order of that posed formerly by the Soviet Union. This is a dominant consideration underlying the new regional defense strategy and requires that we endeavor to prevent any hostile power from dominating a region whose resources would, under consolidated control, be sufficient to generate global power. . .

"The US must show the leadership necessary to establish and protect a new order that holds the promise of convincing potential competitors that they need not aspire to a greater role or pursue a more aggressive posture to protect their legitimate interests. In non-defense areas, we must account sufficiently for the interests of the advanced industrial nations to discourage them from challenging our leadership or seeking to overturn the established political and economic order. We must maintain the mechanism for deterring potential competitors from even aspiring to a larger regional or global role."

Defense Planning Guidance for 1994-1999 Fiscal Years (Draft), Office of the Secretary of Defense, otherwise known as the "Wolfowitz Doctrine"; see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wolfowitz_Doctrine

On the contrary to what JE thinks--"why now?", it is exactly now that we should be thinking about all this. Because it is exactly at moments of crisis like this that self-destructive militarism uses the moment to grab the steering wheel of our foreign policy, exploiting the fear and loathing in the mood of the nation.

The last time it happened was after 9/11. The Iraq War was a project which had been on the designing board for years before 9/11. It took the World Trade Center attacks to paralyze the American people's power of critical thought, and unleash this plan on the world, in what General Wesley Clark called a "foreign policy coup." This is a must see: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TY2DKzastu8 . In the days after 9/11, that project was actually expanded to a plan to attack seven countries in five years. See the video.

In exactly the same way that today, we are being asked to not "look in the mirror," not question our own policies, because we should be focusing exclusively on the evil of Putin, we were then being asked not to question an aggressive invasion in Iraq and several other aggressive uses of American military power--because of the evil of bin Laden and Islamic terrorists.

Another really telling statement of Wesley Clark from the video:

"[Wolfowitz, in 1991] said--‘But one thing we did learn, we learned that we can use our military in the Middle East and the Soviets won't stop us. We've got about 5 or 10 years to clean up those old Soviet client regimes, Syria, Iran, Iraq, before the next great superpower comes on to challenge us.'. . .

"[Clark] You mean the purpose of the military is to start wars? And change governments? It's not to deter conflict? We're going to invade countries?. . ."

In the days and months following 9/11, the Western media almost completely shut down any questioning of the war hysteria. A study showed that only 3% of US media sources questioned the war, and that official voices--current and former employees of the US government--accounted for 63% of all sources cited in the US media about the Iraq War. In the UK, it was even worse, with 95% of all news sources quoted in UK media being government sources. See: https://fair.org/extra/amplifying-officials-squelching-dissent/ Journalists who held anti-war opinion, who questioned the what turned out to be lies about Iraqi WMDs, were deplatformed, fired, and had their careers ruined, like the Pulitzer Prize-winning war correspondent Chris Hedges who was the New York Times Middle East Bureau Chief for 15 years.

The same thing is happening during this crisis, including the censorship, which is supercharged by modern technology, and if we don't wake up, we will get the same result as we did after 9/11--a fresh empowerment of militarism and warmongering, and a fresh drive towards Benign Global Hegemony, and another 20 years of US-initiated wars of aggression unquestioned by the Western press, with contrary views vigorously censored. It is a matter of survival or not for our own civilization. As the great philosopher of history Arnold Toynbee said--"Militarism has been by far the commonest cause of the breakdown of civilizations. The single art of war makes progress at the expense of all the arts of peace." https://books.google.com/books?id=IbJ-31LPvyoC&pg=PA273

That is why we must not sweep under the rug, as JE proposes we do, our own role in starting the Ukraine War--just because we are not the only evil force on the world stage. Our machinations, provocations, setting "traps" for Russia, do not justify Putin's evil. But neither does Putin's evil, justify our own. Furthermore: we can't save Russia from Putin. But we might save ourselves from our own leaders, who are leading us to ruin, if we wake up and do something about it.

See also this: "Ukraine and the Politics of Permanent War", Chris Hedges


JE comments:  Cameron, I was trying to ask the question of how we can look "inward" about the causes of this war without sounding like apologists for Putin.  Your comments have always been careful to stress Putin's evil, but one suspects that many critics of the Western role in goading Ukraine (not you, I stress) are secretly, or not so secretly, hoping for a total Russian victory.

On the other hand...what might a Ukrainian victory look like?  At the very least, we'll be looking at a generation of a destroyed state, with very little available other than weaponry.  What we will not have is stability.

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  • Basic Principles of War Propaganda (Cameron Sawyer, USA 09/27/22 8:36 AM)
    JE asked, in response to my post of Septemer 25th: "Cameron, I was trying to ask the question of how we can look ‘inward' about the causes of the Ukraine war without sounding like apologists for Putin. Your comments have always been careful to stress Putin's evil, but one suspects that many critics of the Western role in goading Ukraine (not you, I stress) are secretly, or not so secretly, hoping for a total Russian victory."

    It is a fundamental principle of war propaganda, a classical form of manipulation, to create a false dichotomy between "us" and "them"; between "with us" or "against us." Thus promoters of our proxy war against Russia do everything, employ every rhetorical, emotional, propagandistic device available, to make us think that their actions are above any criticism, lest we be thought to be "apologists for Putin," and thus on the side of evil.

    Mankind has been doing this since time immemorial, only it seems that people have become more gullible in recent years. Remember when critics of the war in Vietnam were smeared as "Commie stooges"? Either you support everything we are doing there--Agent Orange, Rolling Thunder, everything--or else you are a Communist. Or the Iraq War--either you support smashing the country, killing a million people, changing the regime, or you are an apologist for Islamic terrorists (and by the time of the Iraq War, the great bulk of the US press carried exactly that line; serious degradation from the time of the Vietnam War, when contrary points of view were widely available).

    It is a false dichotomy--a classical logical fallacy--to claim that it's either one or the other. Of course it's absolutely possible to be both against Communism and against the Vietnam War; just like it's possible to be both against Islamic terrorism and against the Iraq War (which as it turns out didn't even have anything to do with Islamic terrorism). In exactly the same way, it is entirely possible to be against Russian aggression and be against US meddling in the region, and against all of the evil things the US did to create and prolong the conflict in Ukraine, notwithstanding what our propagandists, with their manipulative false dichotomies, would have you believe.

    Let's freshen up our knowledge of the basic principles of war propaganda, shall we?

    1.  We don't want war, we are only defending ourselves!

    2.  Our adversary is solely responsible for this war!

    3.  Our adversary's leader is inherently evil and resembles the devil

    4.  We are defending a noble cause, not our particular interests!

    5.  The enemy is purposefully committing atrocities; if we are making mistakes this happens without intention

    6.  The enemy makes use of illegal weapons

    7.  We suffer few losses, the enemy's losses are considerable

    8.  Recognized intellectuals and artists support our cause

    9.  Our cause is sacred ["moral clarity"]

    10.  Whoever casts doubt on our propaganda helps the enemy and is a traitor

    Morelli's classic formulation: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Basic_Principles_of_War_Propaganda

    Sound familiar? This is of course the whole narrative of the Ukraine War in the US press, distilled to 10 points, and the same applies to the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Yugoslavia, Libya, etc. etc. In every case, according to every point, these are lies and deceptions served with a large portion of moral outrage. JE's "How can we look inward without sounding like apologists for Putin" flows directly from Point 10--why in the world would "looking inward" make anyone an "apologist for Putin"? By what logic does Putin's (undeniable) badness, make our actions good? Absolutely none, of course, except for the 10th Principle of War Propaganda, which is not logic at all, but manipulation of our opinions. It would be worthwhile to analyze the other 9 points as they apply here--they all apply to our narratives about the war! But I'll save that for another post.

    Another very relevant source on this is an important article from the Washington Post.  How the Post has changed! From the 1980s, accessible here: https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/opinions/1988/09/04/reagans-pro-contra-propaganda-machine/42d256fc-9d93-4174-b629-06d91f9124c6/ , entitled "Reagan's Pro-Contra Propaganda Machine." This is the playbook for all of this:

    "The propaganda operation's goal for Central America was to paint the Contras--in Reagan's famous phrases--as ‘the moral equivalent of the Founding Fathers' and Sandinista-ruled Nicaragua as ‘a totalitarian dungeon.' This did not merely reflect Reagan's fondness for simplistic explanations; it was an explicit propaganda strategy. In a July 1986 memo that could be a summary for the entire campaign, Raymond said, ‘in the specific case of Nica[ragua], concentrate on gluing black hats on the Sandinistas and white hats on UNO [the contras' United Nicaraguan Opposition].'

    "In a war fought on both sides by ‘gray hats,' the strategy meant distorting the factual record by exaggerating Sandinista offenses while concealing those of the Contras. Journalists, human-rights investigators, law-enforcement officials and members of Congress who uncovered the facts thus threatened the desired public relations image."

    "Gluing white and black hats" is of course the false dichotomy we've been talking about--because the Sandinistas are bad (and I agree, by the way, that they were bad then, and are bad now!) it means the Contras are automatically good, and we are good, to support them. Whom we choose to confer white hats on of course has nothing to do with actual good and evil.  It has solely to do with our geopolitical position and the usefulness of the "white hats" to our struggle with our rivals. Remember the Mujahideen, the future Al Qaeda and Taliban, being characterized as "Freedom Fighters" and lavishly praised? The Contras being compared to the "founding fathers"?

    That's exactly what is happening today in Ukraine. Ukraine, of course, is fighting a just cause, but we are not, and no one, not even the Ukrainians, are wearing white hats. And interestingly, the same journalist of the cited Post article, Robert Parry, who almost single-handedly broke the Iran-Contra Affair story in the '80s, and was published in the Washington Post and other such outlets, and was celebrated at the time for his courageous investigative journalism, went on from there to expose the lies and propaganda behind the Iraq War. This time, however, with very different results.* In the atmosphere of censorship and war fever in the early 2000s, he was deplatformed and banned from mainstream media outlets for contradicting the pro-war narrative, just like the Pulitzer Prize winner Chris Hedges. Parry was working on and writing about our sordid acts in Ukraine when he died in 2018. See, for example: "The Ukrainian Mess That Nuland Made," https://truthout.org/articles/the-ukraine-mess-that-nuland-made/ . Parry was fighting propaganda and manipulation in the '80s and was still doing that right up to his death from cancer in 2018. There are too few of him, to the detriment of our Republic.

    Consoly León Arias wrote a wonderful post yesterday about how "Historians Glorify War," about the essential horror of war. It's a lesson and a fundamental truth which our civilization has failed to learn over the millennia, and which, in this day of nuclear weapons, will end us, if we stay on this course. We need a world where not only historians don't glorify war, but where our governments don't suffer from the delusion that they can gain in the long term from physical aggression or the physical destruction of others, from creating rivals and then contriving to destroy them directly or indirectly, from attempting to gain hegemony, from playing with war--either by instigating it directly or provoking it between others--for perceived geopolitical gain. All this leads only to war, and more war, to endless war and death and destruction. And the antidote to all of this is truth. Ordinary people never have anything to gain from war. Even dictatorships cannot wage war against the will of the whole population, so there would not be war, without war propaganda, and the glorification of force and violence, and the demonization of rivals, and the stupefaction or "zombification" (as they call it in Russia) of the population using the 10 points of war propaganda as described by Morelli.

    *The difference is that in the 1980s, the Democratic Party had not yet joined the War Party, the party of Benevolent Global Hegemony, and so were eager to use the Iran-Contra scandal to damage Reagan's government, whether or not they really cared about the evil we were doing. The desire to damage Reagan's government gave oxygen to the expose of the Iran-Contra Affair by Parry and others, and created an eager market for these views in a variety of mainstream news outlets. By the 1990s, however, both mainstream parties had joined the Party of Benevolent Global Hegemony, leaving objection to our hyperaggressive foreign policy to the far right (e.g. Pat Buchanan), far left (e.g. Noam Chomsky, and The Nation), and libertarians (e.g. Ron Paul). There is not enough support for these tendencies in our political spectrum, to give oxygen to these views in the mainstream press, which is why pro-war narratives dominate to a huge extent in the US media; see for example: https://fair.org/extra/amplifying-officials-squelching-dissent/ .

    To such an extent that anti-war points of view are almost wholly unrepresented.

    JE comments:  A powerful essay, Cameron.  I'm still under the spell of Morelli's points 2 and 3, despite my better judgment telling me to think very, very critically.  I'll grudgingly take out the adverb "solely" from point 2, but there is the nagging reality of who fired the first shot in Ukraine.  Likewise (and sorry for going Godwin here), Hitler didn't "solely" start WWII:  remember Versailles and other "humiliations." And the Japanese were mad about our meddling in their perceived sphere of influence.

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