Observations on the week so far …

16 Mar

Let me pick out five happenings.

  • “Partygate” be damned. The Economist beats a path to 10 Downing Street for the sagacities of that great statesman, Boris – more-lives-than-a-cat – Johnson, on a European response to the Russian bear. With Britain “the framework nation”.
  • Forced last week to admit to US bioweaponry facilities in Ukraine, the Washington spin machine turns the whole thing on its head. Its dialling up of dire warnings of an imminent chemical attack by Russia has those of us not fully lost to media induced amnesia fearing another milestone in America’s long record – from the Operation Northwoods proposal through the actuality of the Tonkin Incident to implausible accusations (Assad having nothing to gain and much to lose) re Khan Shaykhun and Douma – of false flag attacks. Directly, or by jihadist proxy
  • Iraq war veteran Tulsi Gabbard is called a traitor by US senator and 2012 presidential candidate Mitt Romney, a man described by Glenn Greenwald as the:

four-time-draft-dodging, son-of-a-rich-politician, investment-banker Republican who skipped the Vietnam War after protesting in favor of it, opting instead to send other Americans to fight and die, and then justified the fact that all five of his sons avoided military service on the grounds that helping him get elected was their “service”

  • Britain’s Supreme Court has denied Julian Assange’s appeal. The question of whether or not he is extradited to stand trial in the USA on espionage charges now rests with our deeply authoritarian Home Secretary, Priti Patel. His lawyers have four weeks to prepare arguments to put to her.
  • I am locked out of my Facebook account.

*

In granting the prime minister space to strut the airwaves in his favourite costume, BoJo the Churchillian,  the Economist piece houses this gem:

Mr Putin’s long essay on Russia and Ukraine last summer—“that 5,000-word turg-athon”, as Mr Johnson describes it—suggests that he grossly miscalculated Ukraine’s sense of nationhood and its will to resist. Mr Johnson remembers being struck that “these people are definitely going to fight,” as he weighed up the Kremlin’s calculus, recalling an earlier trip to Kyiv when he visited a bar studded with machine guns, and pictures of martyrs at Maidan Nezalezhnosti, or Independence Square, the locus of the country’s revolution against a pro-Russian president in 2014. In invading anyway, Mr Putin has made “an absolutely catastrophic mistake…worse than a crime,” says Mr Johnson. “We haven’t seen anything like this in our continent for 80 years.”

Thus is the US orchestrated ouster of a democratically elected president, Viktor Yanukovych, to install a string of regimes either in bed with or in thrall to Nazis – virulently antisemitic and, in a nation 30-40% ethnic Russian, violently Russophobic – recast as a victory for democracy.

We bought the notion of Putin the aggressor after media lies of omission over Russia’s security concerns, their legitimacy acknowledged by senior politicians (Kissinger for one 1 ) and scholars (John Mearsheimer and Russia expert Stephen Cohen), infantilised our perceptions of a nation reduced now to a grossly distorted focus on one man: “the new Hitler”.

And just as we bought and shared that childish but frightening falsehood, so do we buy another: of gallant Ukraine, the grip of its small but powerful Nazi tendency airbrushed out, standing up to the Russian bully. Why? Because the likes of Guardian and BBC, CNN and NYT, their systemic inability 2 to prioritise truth over power never more blatant than in times of war, have primed us to do so.

Given this, and that in his Economist briefing Johnson makes great play of John Bull’s ability to act speedily (unencumbered – pace  Tony Blair and Iraq – by any real check on the executive, least of all by Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition) here’s what I said ten months ago:

I can think of no more cogent argument for insisting that Western democracy is ninety-five percent bogus than that (a) democracy implies consent, (b) consent is meaningless if not informed, and (c) informed consent implies truly independent media. That last we do not have when they are [as Noam Chomsky reminds us] “large corporations selling privileged audiences to other large corporations”.

With this in mind, is it really your beautifully democratic choice that our nuclear armed leaders continue to up the ante against another nuclear armed nation with its back to the wall? Bearing in mind that, as Caitlin Johnstone noted the other day, it takes but little effort to establish the purpose as being:

 geared toward collapsing Russia to help secure US unipolar domination of this planet.

*

On the new warnings of a chemical attack in Ukraine by Evil Putin, I advise a closer look at war crimes claimed by Washington & Co, crimes for which varying degrees of evidence suggest the real perps are those pointing the accusatory finger. I’ve supplied a few starters with the links in that second bullet point above.

*

On Mitt Romney’s disgraceful but far from exceptional use of the T-word against Tulsi Gabbard, let me be clear. I’m not applauding Gabbard’s part in that monumental war crime which began in March 2003 and is not yet over. I’m merely noting the venomous culture which now prevails in the Western world, the Empire Hub in particular, in which such a man can level such a charge at such a woman and not be laughed off Capitol Hill.

Glenn Greenwald recalls that the slave owners who wrote the US Constitution, mindful of how so grave a charge could be abused, defined treason in narrowly specific terms as:

the only crime explicitly defined and limited by the Founders because they sought “to guard against prosecutions to silence political opposition.” The danger anticipated by the Founders was that “treason” would expand to include any opposition to Government policy, which the Bill of Rights enshrines as an inviolable right of U.S. citizenship, not turn it into a capital crime.

He then takes a tour of a post 9/11 McCarthyism in which the T-charge is wheeled out with a frequency that should frighten us all. (I saw an American pal apply it to Trump, in the context of the ludicrous and evidence defiant propaganda blitz that was Russiagate.)

Glenn Greenwald observes with some irony that:

it does seem advisable to expect people who cheer U.S. wars and demand that others and their children fight and die in them — such as Hillary, and Mitt Romney— to think twice before accusing those who volunteered to fight in them of being agents of a foreign power. Such caution — based on the recognition that “traitors” to the U.S. are unlikely to volunteer to risk their lives for the U.S. — doesn’t seem  much to ask.

So what did Lt Colonel Tulsi Gabbard say or do to earn draft-dodger Romney’s wrath?

she echoed twenty years of statements by U.S. officials and scholars across the spectrum by arguing that NATO expansion up to the Russian borders was genuinely threatening to Moscow; thus, she argued, the U.S. and NATO, to avert a horrific war, should formalize its intent not to offer NATO membership to the country occupying the most sensitive and vulnerable part of the border with Russia.

Just what the Founding Fathers had in mind in their definition of Treason! But worry not. The US of A may be an oligarchic duopoly run by and for the super rich but it remains, when all is said and done, the world’s greatest exporter of democracy and open society values. Just ask the deliriously grateful peoples of Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya – and what is now the poorest country in Europe, post Maidan Ukraine.

*

A search of this site using the term, “Julian”, will show I’ve covered this travesty of ‘open society’ justice at length. But ridicule is so often a precursor of greater evil, priming the public for worse to come by denying the victim’s humanity. Given this, consider the role of a newspaper deeply implicated in this brave man’s ordeal. First as a false and craven friend, second by abetting the war criminals in power as it led the way in said ridicule. See my post back in November, a short open letter to Guardian Media Group.

*

I’ll be posting separately, once I get a little more info on why I’ve lost my access to the world’s biggest social media platform: run for the enrichment of oligarch Mark Elliot Zuckerberg; with an unspoken part of the deal being that the likes of me don’t gain too much of an audience.

* * *

  1. On Kissinger too I issue a disclaimer. I don’t endorse a man I see as a war criminal. I don’t even agree with all he says in the article I’ve linked to. Mine is a different point: that the mediocrities who may well take us into WW3 do not have the support even of the Beltway’s many reactionary – but in their own way thoughtful – elements.
  2. While I often say media corruption is systemic, rooted as deeply in a business model of advertising dependency as in oligarchic ownership, I leave room for individually corrupt journalists and editors. Indeed, the systemic and personal aspects of said corruption aren’t easily disentangled. Least of all in reporters entrusted with war coverage. See the 2015 lecture on Bought Journalists – one part whistleblowing, one part confessional – by Udo Ulfkotte.

15 Replies to “Observations on the week so far …

  1. Best of luck trying to get back onto facebook. I’ve been unable to post on my GETTR account since Monday 7th March following a series of factual posts, with links, videos and still photographs, the previous afternoon highlighting Ukrainian neo-nazi’s and their atrocities.

    I did receive an email reply from someone who signed themselves as ‘Berney’ (yeah! I know, talk about extracting the urine) on the 8th and 9th. Since then, zilch, despite submitting daily help forms via the platform.

    Its not difficult to figure out what’s going on here and how blatant it is – having experienced this nonsense with the Guardian on several occasions some years back and seen the way in which SM censors non Official Narrative content.

    Whilst this piece by Chris hedges on counterpunch provides a chilling overview of the present moment, which seems to be heading rapidly towards a position in which one Sarajevo/Gavrilo Princip could tip literally everything over the precipice :

    https://www.counterpunch.org/2022/03/15/waltzing-toward-armageddon-with-the-merchants-of-death/

    This is a recipe for global war. History, as well as all the conflicts I covered as a war correspondent, have demonstrated that when military posturing begins, it often takes little to set the funeral pyre alight. One mistake. One overreach. One military gamble too many. One too many provocations. One act of desperation.

    …….there are other dimensions to this at multiple levels. The off the scale censorship and propaganda levels suggest Greenwald’s argument about the US treason charge being dependent on a ‘formal’ declaration of war may not be all that sound.

    It seems surprising that following the video in which he pulled apart The Official Narrative (TON) on bio-labs that Greenwald does not seem to have made the same obvious connection here.

    For sure, de jure there is no ‘formal’ state of war: De facto, well, that’s another matter and an example of the flexible nature of ‘plausible deniability.’ Economic war; proxy war; propaganda war; censorship war; and more exists – and has done for some time. What we are witnessing is a rapidly escalating exponential increase in those de facto wars which, as history has demonstrated ends only one way.

    In this instance the point is that regardless of reality, evidence and facts these are dangerous times for anyone straying outside TON.

    A few days back the Skwawkbox blog did a piece about a warning by a LP NEC member about private emails which could result in LP members being disciplined for expressing the ‘wrong’ view on anything.

    Which generated an ironic chuckle given the recent piece by Caitlin Johnstone (got it right this time!):

    https://caitlinjohnstone.com/2022/03/08/australian-government-sanctions-people-for-sharing-unauthorized-thoughts/

    about her own Government imposing sanctions on people sharing the ‘wrong’ facts. Presumably it can’t be long before Henry Kissinger, William Burns, John Mearsheimer and others who expressed the same ‘wrong’ facts find themselves on the Australian Government’s naughty step.

    Though, having long observed the total absence of any kind of consistency from this mindset the chances are that the only person likely to get sanctioned from the list will be a posthumous one against Stephen Cohen.

    The level on indignation expressed over this by the Skwawkbox, compared to the larger scale attacks taking place outside the LP against any deviation from TON, lacked a sense of perspective.

    The process at the heart of this – the rapidly increasing tendency to find ever more extreme ways in which to sanction and punish anyone who fails to enthusiastically parrot The Official Narrative (TON), whatever that Narrative happens to be at any one time, as though they were an outlaw with no due process rights whatsoever – is far from limited to the LP.

    The Australian Government sanctions on dissidence comes hot on the heels of the Canadians – who, as previously observed, last month permanently froze the bank accounts of anyone and everyone who made even the tiniest donation to last months Trucker protest.

    And, as Greenwald observes, not to be outdone the US has gone one better by declaring anyone not adhering to Today’ s Official Narrative – even if they were parroting Yesterday’s Official Narrative (YON) – as “treasonous.’ A allegation which carries the death penalty.

    As we all know, according to the doctrine of Rebecca Long-Bailey, when one is faced with an allegation defending that allegation is not an option and one should accept guilt and the sanction/punishment which goes with it (don’t you just love the cardboard cutout left).

    Entertaining as it is to see a Vietnam draft dodger openly accuse a Iraq veteran who is currently a serving Lance Colonel in the military Reserves of ‘Treason’ all this does beg the question as to how far down the rabbit hole this Cancel Culture is going to go in the present generated climate?

    Back in the 1980’s the comedian Rowan Atkinson, as part of a popular comedy sketch show on terrestrial TV called ‘Not The Nine O’clock News’, starred in one sketch in which he played a world weary police inspector interviewing an over enthusiastic constable who was prone to arresting people in the street for the most ridiculous reasons. Mainly to do with possession of certain physical characteristics.

    Today, looking back, its not so funny any more simply because this is now the norm.

    In the space of less than five years, if The Official Narrative (TON) is not coming out of your mouth, we have gone from losing your job; moved on to being driven out of academic life by a bunch of witless teenagers being manipulated by a men’s rights movement; progressed to being hounded out of political parties and activism, censored on Social Media, doxxed and cancelled by purity spiral mobs, attacked on the street for being a biological women on International Women’s Day; and are currently at the stage of freezing bank accounts of anyone designated a dissident and seriously considering the possibility of the death penalty without trial.

    We cannot be too far right now from ducking stools, burning at the stake, and herding people en masse who don’t comply over the Dover and Flamborough Cliffs.

    And, The Official Narrative (TON) with a straight and serious face claims that everyone outside the Exceptional West is “Authoritarian.”

    As Roger Daltry might say: ‘Meet the New Government, same as the Old Government.’

    • As usual you cover a lot of ground, Dave. I’ll be posting more on my own situation as I attempt to contextualise it in the drive – entirely predictable – to control social media just as, two centuries ago, Britain’s ruling class, finessing its transition from feudalist to capitalist, reined in the press – in that case through the discipline of advertising.

  2. Is Partygate still “a thing”?

    “I am locked out of my Facebook account.”

    Perhaps it’s now compulsory to be psychopathic to Russians first?

    And on the topic of strange shenanigans in the cyber-sphere, I do a periodic online spate of shopping for my 92 year old mum via ASDA. No problem up till now. But apparently due to skyrocketing credit card fraud, they have added a security code procedure that involves sending the code via text to my mum’s …..

    …. and this is an incredibly long and depressing story involving help screens which are no help, automated phone messages which have to be hurdled etc. before you get to talk to AN ACTUAL HUMAN BEING … who turns out NOT to be a native English speaker … and I am redirected to my bank which directs mum to her bank etc.

    Upshot: You can’t talk to any local service. Everything is being relayed to some inhuman floating virtual world dominated by disembodied voices, type on screens etc.

    You recall that Orwell quote about the future as a boot stamping on a human face? I see the future as isolated prisoners screaming impotently at flickering screens that never respond as their material bases dry up.

    • I see the future as isolated prisoners screaming impotently at flickering screens that never respond as their material bases dry up.

      So do I.

  3. This tendency to define other human beings by their utterances on a particular topic is not restricted to social media, or old media, or the state, or any group. It’s almost universal. It can be seen right here on this website.

    We are all guilty of defining people based on the smallest of differences on the narrowest of topics. Let’s not pretend otherwise.

    There’s a need for robust discussion and respectful argument, but that requires acceptance of differing views, and allowing ourselves to be challenged – and not just on terms we define. This is rare, and difficult. Sadly I don’t see that here.

    Everybody tends to preach to the converted. This happens in a variety of ways. By screening out the non-converts. By forcibly converting. By denying non-converts a platform. By delegitimising non-converts. By denying they exist at all. By defining non-converts as dupes or tools of those who oppose conversion. If successful this would result in a world where one view is accepted by eliminating all other views. Is this what is wanted? Is this what is needed? Is this healthy? Clearly not. Disagreement is essential for any level of truth to be uncovered.

    I am sure you agree with that last paragraph, and you would claim it is what you are saying – but it is not what you are doing.

    • I’ve allowed your comment so I can make one of my own. From now on I will assess any comment you make before deciding whether to allow it. I’ve never before seen fit to do that, despite disagreeing sharply with some views expressed below the line.

      Of multiple reasons for my coming to this decision, only one is relevant here. It is that you continue to make specious comparisons. Just as you drew a false equivalence between Russia’s response to a decades old threat on her borders with a US Empire slaughtering millions on the far side of the planet, so have you drawn one here.

      Mine is a small site. Some liken it to a salon. As such, I get to decide whom I do and do not allow a voice, and on what terms. (Which I am not obliged to make explicit, unless you wish to help me out with the costs I incur in keeping the site going.)

      Facebook, by contrast, is a social media platform used by a third of the planet. As such it is, from a socialist perspective, a “common good” which should be publicly owned. Well, not everyone is a socialist, so how about a second reason your comparison is a mile wide of the mark. Zuckerberg has not just denied me a voice. I cannot access FB for information, cannot chat with friends and family – which I have hitherto been able to do on four continents. Please do not imply that my right to block out voices I see as not advancing the ‘conversation in my salon’ imposes a remotely comparable hit to your freedoms.

      Over and out. If you want to continue commenting on this site, feel free. What has changed is that any future comment will await moderation, upon which it may or may not appear. Them’s my terms. Start your own blog if you don’t like ’em!

      • Quite right Philip. Let me just add that Mr Jorovic’s comment is full of a drearily familiar pontificating judgemental blather that adopts a pseudo-intelLectual “objective” tone and which I have read so often that, from the very first line, I already know where he’s going. He raises himself up on his smugly crafted pedestal to then deliver his “devastating” blow to the mediocrities below.

        • That dreary predictability is another reason, George, though I wouldn’t have taken the line I have on that basis alone

      • When you compare your site to a salon, I realise that I would now place far more – indeed infinitely more – trust in these small sites than anything from the mainstream or indeed from any large organisation. Someone on Twitter responded to a valid point made by a “small operator” with this majestic sneer:

        So ‘breaking news’ is now a guy in front of a bookcase saying whatever he wants?!! Oh yeah let’s lap that up instead of some mainstream media?!

        I would take the guy in front of the bookcase rather than that now pathologically constrained totalitarian media any day.

  4. Doctorow’s column today – This is How the World Ends – is important, if depressing.

    Will the ongoing military conflict in Ukraine lead to a World War that quickly escalates to an end of the world scenario in nuclear exchanges? That remains unlikely, but we are clearly well on our way. It is long past debate whether the conflict is merely between two neighboring countries at the eastern fringe of the European Union. It is a full-blown proxy war between the United States of America and the Russian Federation, and it is about ending or perpetuating American global hegemony…..

    ..the Russian Federation likely has First Strike Capability, meaning that it can launch a nuclear attack first, destroy nearly all of America’s arsenals and most important population centers, disorganize or frustrate any counter attack, and rely on its well developed anti-ballistic missile defenses to ward off any of the residual U.S. capability. That was the clear objective of Putin back in 2007 when Russia was humiliated and impotent before the American hegemon. He reached that objective in 2018.

    https://gilbertdoctorow.com/

    • In the present climate the thought occurs as to whether or not such non-Official Narratives to be found from sources such as this will be around for much longer.? Such is the level on censorship of non-Official views.

      Meanwhile, this shortish video provides some worthwhile talking points:

      https://thesaker.is/gonzalo-lira-on-five-random-topics/

      Not least of which is the issue of Saudi Arabia going ‘off the reservation’ in terms of de-dollarisation and the very real potential implications of doing so.

      • Just to pick up the point about Saudi threatening to move from petrodollars, I saw a nice tweet the other day from an Indian blogger, Maitreya Bhakal:

        If Saudi Arabia starts accepting Yuan for oil sales to China, expect the Western propaganda machine to suddenly discover massive human rights abuses in the Kingdom.

        That said, given Riyadh’s form – remember how it flirted with buying Russia’s S400 system? – you can’t help wondering if it’s simply applying leverage for a better deal from Washington.

    • Thanks for this bevin. I hadn’t seen Gilbert’s post today but it echoes my own thinking and is, as you say, depressing – or shall we just say, chillingly sobering.

      I’ve picked up various chatter offering ‘insider’ explanations for why Russia acted now, including assessments of what Ukraine may or may not have been about to do. I’m in no position to assess the status of such talk but one thing is clear. Russia at the moment has the edge on missiles and other hardware. Such advantages won’t last forever and this realisation may also have influenced the decision to strike now.

      I still struggle to understand the thinking of those who, while sharing my assessment of the criminal nature of the US Empire, make sure to include a damning of “Putin” – a metonym, I guess, for Moscow decision making – in every post, tweet or FB comment on the matter. When I ask – what were Moscow’s alternatives? – I get no reply.

Leave a Reply to Dave Hansell Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published.