Ukraine: “turning brains to soup”

10 Apr

No matter how many Ukrainians I talk to, it will still be an objective fact that the US government and western media have a well-documented history of lying about every war, and that wanting direct hot warfare between nuclear superpowers is fucking insane.

It’s amazing how many arguments I run into that essentially boil down to “Your opinion is Russian.” It’s like the word “Russian” stopped referring to a nation and its population and now refers to some sort of metaphysical quality of one’s soul, similar to the word “Satanic”.

The above is from this Saturday’s offering – When you lie it’s misinformation: when they lie it’s cool – on Caitlin Johnstone’s daily blog. Here’s another.

The most powerful empire that has ever existed, which is circling the planet with hundreds of military bases and continuously works to destroy any nation who challenges its global dominion, claims that it is in a global power struggle against “authoritarianism”.

So why do so few grasp the grotesquely Orwellian irony? There’s the old adage, attributed to Hitler, that “the bigger the lie, the more it will be believed”.  But there’s more to it than that. By and large, those most taken in by the propaganda live out their days in the heartlands of the most successful imperialist powers, 1 yet know so little of how our comforts and freedoms, now under threat as never before in my seventy years, have been paid for.

Americans are like the kids of a mafia boss who don’t know, and don’t want to know, what dad does: then wonder why someone threw a firebomb through the living room window.

William Blum

It’s not just Americans of course. In Australia, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Holland and all the other Second Tier imperialisms we are afflicted by the same childlike failure to connect our affluence to the suffering of the global south. This is not to deny that of a burgeoning precariat in the north; set now to intensify as the costs, of supporting the US Empire’s reckless bid to bog down a disobedient but nuclear armed power in Ukraine, escalate.

Nor is to say a liberal intelligentsia, for now well paid in the ‘knowledge industries’, does not suffer the same affliction in acute form. For this group, an infantile irony has become second nature: an auto-response to the few who look to evidence rather than the spells woven by a propaganda machine beautifully summarised in Harold Pinter’s 2005 Nobel acceptance speech:

The crimes of the USA have been systematic, constant, vicious, remorseless, but very few have talked about them. You have to hand it to America. It has exercised a quite clinical manipulation of power worldwide while masquerading as a force for universal good. It’s a brilliant, even witty, highly successful act of hypnosis.

And the irony of the intellectual? Try this one, cited in my reply to a comment on the previous post, which featured a former Swiss Army colonel with extensive experience in Ukraine but – his closely argued assessment clashing repeatedly with the Official Narrative – was trashed by a chap who, finding The Economist a better qualified source, went on to ask:

Is our populist, anti progressive Right, or Piers Corbyn sharing these nuggets online? Or, on reflection and perhaps more easily, am I also part of the West’s conspiracy against Putin? And Putin’s admirers, said Corbyn, Trump, Farage, Le Pen, Orban, and the delightful Kim Jong-un etc etc.

(Sarcasm, incidentally, is famously the discourse of paranoia – but equally of the belligerently ill informed. 2 And if you haven’t already done so, I urge you to read that military assessment by Colonel Baud. Meanwhile I’ve invited the author of the above comment, unknown to me but his words relayed by a mutual friend, to engage in the more factually grounded discussions here.)

Or try this one, also from Caitlin’s Saturday post:

US officials: We are circulating disinformation in an infowar against Russia.

Me: Those US officials said they’re circulating disinformation in an infowar against Russia.

Liberals: Oh yeah right Caitlin, everything’s just a big, giant conspiracy!

What Caitlin is responding to (in the first of the above three lines) is the US admission – by no means for the first time – that it tells lies. 3 Specifically here, that it lies about Ukraine. And since corporate media, for reasons given here and here, dutifully relay and recycle those lies, they become Truth. In the Orwellian sense.

Caitlin meant stuff like this from NBC:

It was an attention-grabbing assertion that made headlines around the world: U.S. officials said they had indications suggesting Russia might be preparing to use chemical agents in Ukraine.

President Joe Biden later said it publicly. But three U.S. officials told NBC News this week there is no evidence Russia has brought any chemical weapons near Ukraine. They said the U.S. released the information to deter Russia from using the banned munitions.

It’s one of a string of examples of the Biden administration’s breaking with recent precedent [!!!] by deploying declassified intelligence as part of an information war against Russia. The administration has done so even when the intelligence wasn’t rock solid, officials said, to keep Russian President Vladimir Putin off balance. Coordinated by the White House National Security Council, the unprecedented intelligence releases have been so frequent and voluminous, officials said, that intelligence agencies had to devote more staff members to work on the declassification process, scrubbing the information so it wouldn’t betray sources and methods.

Not that social media fare any better. As one expelled from Facebook (I think for posting links to my own site where relevant to a debate below a corporate media post – usually Economist, Business Insider, Wall St Journal or TFI Global) 4 I was especially appreciative of this:

Twitter consults with the US government when deciding what to censor, consults with US government-funded think tanks to determine what people see on the platform, conducts censorship in favor of US government narratives, and has the gall to label others “state-affiliated media”.

Twitter is state-affiliated media.

Lest I be seen as unduly harsh on liberals, I’ve had my biggest falling out over Ukraine with a man on the Marx-Leninist left – see my BTL exchanges with John Smith here. And it seems Caitlin has had a few run-ins of her own in that neck of the woods:

The other day a long-time lefty follower called me a bootlicker for saying the US military should not directly attack the Russian military in Ukraine. Opposing US military interventionism and World War 3 is bootlicking now. War propaganda is turning people’s brains into soup.

* * *

  1. My standard definition of modern imperialism applies – the export of monopoly capital from global north to south, and repatriation from south to north of profits.  Thus is the direct rule of colonialism largely (not completely) replaced by the indirect rule of economic and fiscal suzerainty. And of course, both forms of exploitation are underwritten by armed might which – note again the Orwellian triumph of narrative over the evidence of post WW2 history – is sold to us as “defence”.
  2. Here’s another adage: easier to fool a man than convince him he’s been fooled.
  3. Since I’m in the groove for armchair psychological observations, let me add that last night I watched the Netflix two part documentary on Jimmy Savile. To be honest the man went up in my estimation. Oops – I’d better explain myself. Even as a child I’d groaned whenever it was his stint on Top of the Pops. Murray, Freeman and Blackburn were fine by me but Savile struck me – and his later antics on Jim’ll Fix It and at Leeds and Stoke Mandeville never changed this view in adulthood – as weirdly talentless: substituting for creativity a manic energy. Last night’s viewing changed that. The man was brilliant, quite brilliant. Relevance? As the documentary shows repeatedly, Jimmy was forever telling us exactly what he was about. One contemporaneous observer did – unlike Janet Street Porter, as featured in my 2015 post, Kruschev on doing the right thing say exactly what she thought at the time – “it’s like there’s two of him, but the one he hides away keeps breaking into the one he shows the world.”  Indeed. And as it was with Uncle Jimmy, so is it with Uncle Sam. See the Madeleine Albright, Hillary Clinton and Mike Pompeo short clips – and above all that of Reagan’s head of CIA in Latin America, Duane Clarridge – in The day Pilger met the CIA chiefAs for that Netflix offering, if you haven’t seen it, get Jim to fix it. Like the US Empire as skewered by Mr Pinter, here was an unspeakable criminal hiding right out in the open.

  4. Years ago I was put on “pre moderation” at the Guardian. My comments below the line at that organ, though it’s a very long time since I last felt inclined to bother, must await approval. As with Facebook I wasn’t told the nature of my transgression; simply referred to a generic list of offences, none of which I’d committed. Here too I have to guess that my sin was that of linking back to my own site – a non commercial entity – when relevant to the topic discussed.

2 Replies to “Ukraine: “turning brains to soup”

  1. In the present climate the removal from Facebook might well in the long run prove a blessing in disguise?

    Having managed to resume posting on GETTR following a two week period between 7-21 March when for reasons unknown I was unable to submit or repost I woke up this morning to find I had been followed by this guy:

    I looked him up because reading his timeline it was obvious his position was anti-Russian/anti-Chinese Governments and pro-Ukraine. Given I’ve posted reams of stuff which is the opposite of this blokes position a certain well known ditty from Gilbert and Sullivan’s Mikado sprang immediately to mind (though, to be honest, I’ve been on so many lists over the years I’ve lost count).

    If you don’t hear from me for a while you know the SBU have got me.

    • removal from Facebook might well in the long run prove a blessing in disguise?

      Well now, some three weeks after my banishment, I bear living witness that there’s life after FB. What I most miss are alerts to material for my blogsite, but I’m gradually replacing these – not least through links below the line here, as supplied by you, bevin and others, and tip-offs like those recent ones by my pal at Sheffield Hallam.

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