Is Anybody Telling The American People About The War?
That image above is from this animated speculative account of how World War III could begin in Ukraine.
Take a look at this headline now leading CNN's website:
The answer is, "Probably not, for now." Uh-huh. We'll see.
Meanwhile, did you see this news from eight days ago?:
The Pentagon will keep several thousand American troops in southeast Romania for at least nine more months, closer to the war in neighboring Ukraine than any other U.S. Army unit, officials said on Saturday.
Over the last year, the sprawling Mihail Kogalniceanu Air Base, just a seven-minute rocket flight across the Black Sea from where Russian forces have settled in Crimea, has become a training hub for NATO forces in southeast Europe. The forces would be a first line of defense should Russia invade further west.
There are around 4,000 U.S. soldiers with the 101st Airborne Division who have been stationed at the air base since last summer, including small groups of troops that frequently train right on Romania’s border with Ukraine. Before that, there was a smaller contingent from the 82nd Airborne that was sent as part of a quick-response force after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February.
The 101st Airborne Division troops will leave in the next two months, and officials said they would be replaced by a different brigade from the 101st Division, which is based at Fort Campbell, Ky.
A month ago, the Russian foreign minister said that the West "is at war" with Russia. That's how they see it. Last week, Hungarian PM Viktor Orban said this is a fact -- a fact he decries, because he has been pushing for a negotiated end to the hostilities before the fighting spreads out of control. His belief seems to be that the West is deluding itself about what it's doing, and marching the world towards catastrophe. He got in trouble with the Ukrainian government for telling visiting journalists and others that the Russians have wrecked Ukraine. Well:
Here's what the fictional Cardinal Richelieu told Spengler in his imagined conversation with the wily French strategist last summer:
The cardinal chortled. “Now, my naïve friend, Putin commands Chechen shock troops in Ukraine. Putin understands ‘the systematic exploitation of time as the deadliest of all weapons.’ Ukraine was hollow before the war began. It had one of the world’s lowest birth rates, and its birth rate will fall even farther. Twelve million Ukrainians, fully half the able-bodied population of working age, left before the war started. Another five million have fled. As Russian artillery pounds Ukraine’s cities, more will flee. How many will return? Large parts of Ukraine will fall into ruin. Centuries of Ruthenian resentment against Russian overlords encrusted over the centuries will be consumed in a few weeks of war, and in its place, there will be nothing but a dull sense of horror.”
As of last April -- nine months ago! -- 30 percent of Ukraine's infrastructure had been destroyed by the Russians, according to the Ukrainian government. More recently, the Kyiv government estimated that total destruction to Ukraine's economy by the war to be $700 billion. A Brookings report in December said:
Putin’s war has been calamitous for Ukraine. The precise number of military and civilians casualties is unknown but substantial. The Office of the U.N. Commissioner for Human Rights estimated that, as of the end of October, some 6,500 Ukrainian civilians had been killed and another 10,000 injured. Those numbers almost certainly understate the reality. U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley on November 10 put the number of civilian dead at 40,000 and indicated that some 100,000 Ukrainian soldiers had been killed or wounded (Milley gave a similar number for Russian casualties, a topic addressed later in this paper).
In addition, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees placed the number of Ukrainians who have sought refuge outside of Ukraine at more than 7.8 million as of November 8. As of mid-November, the Russian attacks had caused an estimated 6.5 million more to become internally displaced persons within Ukraine.
Besides the human losses, the war has caused immense material damage. Estimates of the costs of rebuilding Ukraine run from $349 billion to $750 billion, and those appraisals date back to the summer. Finding those funds will not be easy, particularly as the war has resulted in a significant contraction of the Ukrainian economy; the World Bank expects the country’s gross domestic product to shrink by 35% this year.
It is very difficult to imagine what "winning" would look like for either Russia or Ukraine in this situation. And the big Russian spring offensive is coming.
Note well this recent Foreign Affairs piece about the warnings the late US diplomat George Kennan, the great man of Russian affairs, gave over the decades to the US Government not to involve itself in conflict between Ukraine and Russia. Excerpt from the essay:
Since the Cold War, however, the United States’ military frontier has advanced much farther eastward. Regardless of how Russia’s brutal war in Ukraine ends, the United States has committed itself to sustaining a robust military presence on Russia’s doorstep. If alive today, Kennan would note the danger of cornering the Russians to the point where they might lash out. He would also gesture toward the United States’ multiple problems at home and wonder how this exposed presence in Eastern Europe accorded with the long-term foreign and domestic interests of the American people.
In the best possible pie-in-the-sky outcome for the US, the Russians would be pushed out of Ukraine. What then? Ukraine becomes not only a destroyed country that will have to be rebuilt by the West (read: mostly the American people), and will then have to become a permanent garrison state on the Russian border. We will never, ever have peace with Russia as long as we occupy Ukraine. Whatever else happens in the world, Russia will be our eternal enemy. This is in our interest how?
The thing I worry about most of all, though, is NATO being dragged into the war. I read the US print media online, but I don't see the electronic media. It is my strong impression that the American people are largely clueless about the maelstrom into which their leaders are taking them. They are clueless because our media have decided that there is one correct position on the war. In 2002, the year the United States prepared for war on Iraq, it was not easy to oppose the war, but there were plenty of antiwar voices to be heard, if not (alas) heeded. Today? Now that the liberal establishment (political and media) have found a war it can support, there doesn't seem to be much discussion or debate at all about the wisdom of our intervention. What are the American people going to say when they wake up one day and American soldiers have crossed the border into Ukraine and are fighting a shooting war with Russians? Have the American people forgotten that the Cold War might have ended, but both we and the Russians still have nuclear weapons?
Are the American people prepared for a nuclear exchange with Russia, for the sake of extending the American empire to Russia's borders? Is anyone even talking to them about that? Or is our media all "Putin is Hitler" and "peace negotiations are Munich"?
Look at this, from one of Europe's leading liberal intellectuals:
Simple as that, ain't it? Bring Ukraine into NATO, just like George W. Bush said in 2008. Make an attack on Ukraine, which has been part of Greater Russia since forever, an attack on all of NATO. That won't be destabilizing at all, will it? /sarc
I saw that BHL tweet because Bill Kristol, one of the intellectual architects of the Iraq War, retweeted it. About the Iraq War: as US Senator, Joe Biden voted for it. Victoria Nuland spent the entire G.W. Bush administration in senior policy positions, defending the Iraq War. She was caught on a bugged phone call in Kiev in 2014 discussing US manipulation of the Color Revolution that ousted a pro-Russian elected president. Now she's Joe Biden's top diplomat in charge of the Ukraine portfolio. And hey, what about Libya? Barack Obama overthrew Muammar Qaddafi, and now Libya is a hellhole. Biden served as Obama's VP, of course, but says he argued strongly within the White House against the Libya attack. My overall point is that the same US elites who got us into the messes in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya are now marching us into a war that would be incomparably more dangerous.
Do ordinary Americans know that this is what their elites are doing?
Did you know that our leadership class has been drawing Ukraine into NATO for years now? I did not, until I read Mearsheimer. In Vienna over the weekend, I met a Hungarian in a coffee shop. He hates Viktor Orban with the heat of a thousand suns, but he told me that Orban is right about the war. This was caused by the West, he said. Our behaving so recklessly with Ukraine over the years. Look:
By now, Americans should be well aware that the government and the media -- including social media companies -- colluded by massage the Covid, and Covid vaccine, narrative. In Britain today, it was reported that the Army spied on Covid skeptics, including commentator Peter Hitchens:
Military operatives in the UK's 'information warfare' brigade were part of a sinister operation that targeted politicians and high-profile journalists who raised doubts about the official pandemic response.
They compiled dossiers on public figures such as ex-Minister David Davis, who questioned the modelling behind alarming death toll predictions, as well as journalists such as Peter Hitchens and Toby Young. Their dissenting views were then reported back to No 10.
Documents obtained by the civil liberties group Big Brother Watch, and shared exclusively with this newspaper, exposed the work of Government cells such as the Counter Disinformation Unit, based in the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, and the Rapid Response Unit in the Cabinet Office.
Do you remember how our American media refused to report on Ukraine-connected Hunter Biden's laptop, saying it was all Russian disinformation -- until long after it was no threat to Joe Biden's quest for the presidency? These are the same people massaging the war narrative to convince the American people that it's in their interest to risk nuclear war with Russia over a country many thousands of miles away from America, but right on Russia's border.
This is all weighing on my mind this weekend because I'm deep into That Hideous Strength, the concluding volume of C.S. Lewis's Space Trilogy. It's a novel about a sinister cabal of scientists and government experts manipulating the media to convince the British public to let them do works of profound evil. Lewis published that novel in 1945, but it is eerily prescient about the way bureaucratic elites work, especially how they manipulate public opinion to convince people to support things they would never support if they understood what was really going on.
This whole Ukraine business has me obsessing over how the Iraq War was sold to the American people. Did anybody learn from that? The US was humiliated in both Iraq and Afghanistan, but did anybody in the US military establishment, or anywhere else, pay a price for their failure? Does anybody ever in America today? Actually, the better historical analogy for what we're doing in Ukraine is Vietnam, where the US incrementally raised its involvement, while the government misled the American people about what it was doing. Ukraine is Vietnam sped-up, but this time, with the risk of direct military conflict with a superpower, and of nuclear war.
I know, I'm rambling. It's just so damned depressing. Here in Europe, the only national leader begging the West to find some negotiated settlement before this thing spins out of control is Viktor Orban -- and he's demonized by the Great and the Good. It's madness. And look, none of this requires saying that Putin is good and that Russia's invasion is justified. He's not. It's not. But as bad as the war has been till now, it could easily get much, much worse. Again, I ask: is anybody telling this to the American people?
UPDATE: Just saw this on Twitter:
The Guardian had seen an advance copy of a BBC documentary in which Johnson made that remark on camera. It's standard procedure for TV production companies to make copies of their films available to news organizations in advance, with the understanding that they can't write about what's in the show until it airs. That's what happened here regarding the film made by UK state television. Still, if you click on that and read the whole thread, it's a little too close for comfort to a key plot development in This Hideous Strength, in which Mark Studdock is instructed to write a couple of op-ed pieces about a riot that has yet to take place, but which his bosses at NICE are engineering to sway public opinion to their side.
BTW, another great tweet by an Australian conservative you should be following:
UPDATE.2: Oh, great:
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky stressed that his country needs long-range missiles to help combat Russian missile attacks following a blast in the Donetsk region on Saturday that killed three people.
“It would have been possible to stop this Russian terror if we could provide the appropriate missile capabilities of our military,” Zelensky said in an address posted to the president’s website on Saturday.
“Ukraine needs long-range missiles — in particular, to remove this possibility of the occupiers to place their missile launchers somewhere far from the front line and destroy Ukrainian cities with them,” he added.
Next Zelensky is going to ask for NATO troops. Then nuclear weapons. And if we don't provide them, WE ARE SURRENDERING TO HITLER!
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Don't you see where this is going? Did anybody ask you if you thought it was a good idea for the United States to fight Russia over Ukraine? If not, you had better get on the phone to your representatives in Washington.
UPDATE.3: Know your meme: