The USA: “no way out but war”

24 May

MintPress News yesterday: searing words from America and about America by Presbyterian Minister, Chris Hedges:

The United States, as the near unanimous vote to provide nearly $40 billion in aid to Ukraine illustrates, is trapped in the death spiral of unchecked militarism. No high speed trains. No universal health care. No viable Covid relief program. No respite from 8.3 percent inflation. No infrastructure programs to repair decaying roads and bridges, which require $41.8 billion to fix the 43,586 structurally deficient bridges, on average 68 years old. No forgiveness of $1.7 trillion in student debt. No addressing income inequality. No program to feed the 17 million children who go to bed each night hungry. No rational gun control or curbing of the epidemic of nihilistic violence and mass shootings. No help for the 100,000 Americans who die each year of drug overdoses. No minimum wage of $15 an hour to counter 44 years of wage stagnation. No respite from gas prices that are projected to hit $6 a gallon.

The permanent war economy, implanted since the end of World War II, has destroyed the private economy, bankrupted the nation, and squandered trillions of dollars of taxpayer money. The monopolization of capital by the military has driven the US debt to $30 trillion, $ 6 trillion more than the US GDP of $ 24 trillion. Servicing this debt costs $300 billion a year. We spent more on the military, $ 813 billion for fiscal year 2023, than the next nine countries, including China and Russia, combined.

We are paying a heavy social, political, and economic cost for our militarism. Washington watches passively as the U.S. rots, morally, politically, economically, and physically, while China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, India, and other countries extract themselves from the tyranny of the U.S. dollar and the international Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT), a messaging network banks and other financial institutions use to send and receive information, such as money transfer instructions. Once the U.S. dollar is no longer the world’s reserve currency, once there is an alternative to SWIFT, it will precipitate an internal economic collapse. It will force the immediate contraction of the U.S. empire shuttering most of its nearly 800 overseas military installations. It will signal the death of Pax Americana.

Democrat or Republican. It does not matter. War is the raison d’état of the state. Extravagant military expenditures are justified in the name of “national security.” The nearly $40 billion allocated for Ukraine, most of it going into the hands of weapons manufacturers such as Raytheon Technologies, General Dynamics, Northrop Grumman, BAE Systems, Lockheed Martin, and Boeing, is only the beginning. Military strategists, who say the war will be long and protracted, are talking about infusions of $4 or $5 billion in military aid a month to Ukraine. We face existential threats. But these do not count. The proposed budget for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in fiscal year 2023 is $10.675 billion. The proposed budget for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is $11.881 billion. Ukraine alone gets more than double that amount. Pandemics and the climate emergency are afterthoughts. War is all that matters. This is a recipe for collective suicide.

There were three restraints to the avarice and bloodlust of the permanent war economy that no longer exist. The first was the old liberal wing of the Democratic Party, led by politicians such as Senator George McGovern, Senator Eugene McCarthy, and Senator J. William Fulbright, who wrote The Pentagon Propaganda Machine. The self-identified progressives, a pitiful minority, in Congress today, from Barbara Lee, who was the single vote in the House and the Senate opposing a broad, open-ended authorization allowing the president to wage war in Afghanistan or anywhere else, to Ilhan Omar now dutifully line up to fund the latest proxy war. The second restraint was an independent media and academia, including journalists such as I.F Stone and Neil Sheehan along with scholars such as Seymour Melman, author of The Permanent War Economy and Pentagon Capitalism: The Political Economy of War. Third, and perhaps most important, was an organized anti-war movement, led by religious leaders such as Dorothy Day, Martin Luther King Jr. and Phil and Dan Berrigan as well as groups such as Students for a Democratic Society (SDS). They understood that unchecked militarism was a fatal disease.

None of these opposition forces, which did not reverse the permanent war economy but curbed its excesses, now exist. The two ruling parties have been bought by corporations, especially military contractors. The press is anemic and obsequious to the war industry. Propagandists for permanent war, largely from right-wing think tanks lavishly funded by the war industry, along with former military and intelligence officials, are exclusively quoted or interviewed as military experts. NBC’s “Meet the Press” aired a segment May 13 where officials from Center for a New American Security (CNAS) simulated what a war with China over Taiwan might look like. The co-founder of CNAS, Michèle Flournoy, who appeared in the “Meet the Press” war games segment and was considered by Biden to run the Pentagon, wrote in 2020 in Foreign Affairs that the U.S. needs to develop “the capability to credibly threaten to sink all of China’s military vessels, submarines and merchant ships in the South China Sea within 72 hours.” 

The handful of anti-militarists and critics of empire from the left, such as Noam Chomsky, and the right, such as Ron Paul, have been declared persona non grata by a compliant media. The liberal class has retreated into boutique activism where issues of class, capitalism and militarism are jettisoned for “cancel culture,” multiculturalism and identity politics. Liberals are cheerleading the war in Ukraine. At least the inception of the war with Iraq saw them join significant street protests. Ukraine is embraced as the latest crusade for freedom and democracy against the new Hitler. There is little hope, I fear, of rolling back or restraining the disasters being orchestrated on a national and global level.  The neoconservatives and liberal interventionists chant in unison for war. Biden has appointed these war mongers, whose attitude to nuclear war is terrifyingly cavalier, to run the Pentagon, the National Security Council, and the State Department.

Since all we do is war, all proposed solutions are military. This military adventurism accelerates the decline, as the defeat in Vietnam and the squandering of $8 trillion in the futile wars in the Middle East illustrate. War and sanctions, it is believed, will cripple Russia, rich in gas and natural resources. War, or the threat of war, will curb the growing economic and military clout of China.

These are demented and dangerous fantasies, perpetrated by a ruling class that has severed itself from reality. No longer able to salvage their own society and economy, they seek to destroy those of their global competitors, especially Russia and China. Once the militarists cripple Russia, the plan goes, they will focus military aggression on the Indo-Pacific, dominating what Hillary Clinton as secretary of state, referring to the Pacific, called “the American Sea.” 

You cannot talk about war without talking about markets. The U.S., whose growth rate has fallen to below 2 percent, while China’s growth rate is 8.1 percent, has turned to military aggression to bolster its sagging economy. If the U.S. can sever Russian gas supplies to Europe, it will force Europeans to buy from the United States. U.S. firms, at the same time, would be happy to replace the Chinese Communist Party, even if they must do it through the threat of war, to open unfettered access to Chinese markets. War, if it did break out with China, would devastate the Chinese, American, and global economies, destroying free trade between countries as in World War I. But that doesn’t mean it won’t happen.

Washington is desperately trying to build military and economic alliances to ward off a rising China, whose economy is expected by 2028 to overtake that of the United States, according to the UK’s Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR). The White House has said Biden’s current visit to Asia is about sending a “powerful message” to Beijing and others about what the world could look like if democracies “stand together to shape the rules of the road.” The Biden administration has invited South Korea and Japan to attend the NATO summit in Madrid.

But fewer and fewer nations, even among European allies, are willing to be dominated by the United States. Washington’s veneer of democracy and supposed respect for human rights and civil liberties is so badly tarnished as to be irrecoverable. Its economic decline, with China’s manufacturing 70 percent higher than that of the U.S., is irreversible. War is a desperate Hail Mary, one employed by dying empires throughout history with catastrophic consequences. “It was the rise of Athens and the fear that this instilled in Sparta that made war inevitable,” Thucydides noted in the History of the Peloponnesian War. 

A key component to the sustenance of the permanent war state was the creation of the All-Volunteer Force. Without conscripts, the burden of fighting wars falls to the poor, the working class, and military families. This All-Volunteer Force allows the children of the middle class, who led the Vietnam anti-war movement, to avoid service. It protects the military from internal revolts, carried out by troops during the Vietnam War, which jeopardized the cohesion of the armed forces.

The All-Volunteer Force, by limiting the pool of available troops, also makes the global ambitions of the militarists impossible. Desperate to maintain or increase troop levels in Iraq and Afghanistan, the military instituted the stop-loss policy that arbitrarily extended active-duty contracts. Its slang term was the backdoor draft. The effort to bolster the number of troops by hiring private military contractors, as well, had a negligible effect. Increased troop levels would not have won the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan but the tiny percentage of those willing to serve in the military (only 7 percent of the U.S. population are veterans) is an unacknowledged Achilles heel for the militarists.

“As a consequence, the problem of too much war and too few soldiers eludes serious scrutiny,” writes historian and retired Army Colonel Andrew Bacevich in After the Apocalypse: America’s Role in a World Transformed. “Expectations of technology bridging that gap provide an excuse to avoid asking the most fundamental questions: Does the United States possess the military wherewithal to oblige adversaries to endorse its claim of being history’s indispensable nation? And if the answer is no, as the post-9/11 wars in Afghanistan and Iraq suggest, wouldn’t it make sense for Washington to temper its ambitions accordingly?”

This question, as Bacevich points out, is “anathema.” The military strategists work from the supposition that the coming wars won’t look anything like past wars. They invest in imaginary theories of future wars that ignore the lessons of the past, ensuring more fiascos. 

The political class is as self-deluded as the generals. It refuses to accept the emergence of a multi-polar world and the palpable decline of American power. It speaks in the outdated language of American exceptionalism and triumphalism, believing it has the right to impose its will as the leader of the “free world.” In his 1992 Defense Planning Guidance memorandum, U.S. Under Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz argued that the U.S. must ensure no rival superpower again arises. The U.S. should project its military strength to dominate a unipolar world in perpetuity. On February 19, 1998, on NBC’s “Today Show”, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright gave the Democratic version of this doctrine of unipolarity. “If we have to use force it is because we are Americans; we are the indispensable nation,” she said. “We stand tall, and we see further than other countries into the future.”

This demented vision of unrivaled U.S. global supremacy, not to mention unrivaled goodness and virtue, blinds the establishment Republicans and Democrats. The military strikes they casually used to assert the doctrine of unipolarity, especially in the Middle East, swiftly spawned jihadist terror and prolonged warfare. None of them saw it coming until the hijacked jets slammed into the World Trade Center twin towers. That they cling to this absurd hallucination is the triumph of hope over experience.

There is a deep loathing among the public for these elitist Ivy League architects of American imperialism. Imperialism was tolerated when it was able to project power abroad and produce rising living standards at home. It was tolerated when it restrained itself to covert interventions in countries such as Iran, Guatemala, and Indonesia. It went off the rails in Vietnam. The military defeats that followed accompanied a steady decline in living standards, wage stagnation, a crumbling infrastructure and eventually a series of economic policies and trade deals, orchestrated by the same ruling class, which deindustrialized and impoverished the country.

The establishment oligarchs, now united in the Democratic Party, distrust Donald Trump. He commits the heresy of questioning the sanctity of the American empire. Trump derided the invasion of Iraq as a “big, fat mistake.” He promised “to keep us out of endless war.” Trump was repeatedly questioned about his relationship with Vladimir Putin. Putin was “a killer,” one interviewer told him. “There are a lot of killers,” Trump retorted. “You think our country’s so innocent?” Trump dared to speak a truth that was to be forever unspoken, the militarists had sold out the American people.

Noam Chomsky took some heat for pointing out, correctly, that Trump is the “one statesman” who has laid out a “sensible” proposition to resolve the Russia-Ukraine crisis. The proposed solution included “facilitating negotiations instead of undermining them and moving toward establishing some kind of accommodation in Europe…in which there are no military alliances but just mutual accommodation.”

Trump is too unfocused and mercurial to offer serious policy solutions. He did set a timetable to withdraw from Afghanistan, but he also ratcheted up the economic war against Venezuela and reinstituted crushing sanctions against Cuba and Iran, which the Obama administration had ended. He increased the military budget. He apparently flirted with carrying out a missile strike on Mexico to “destroy the drug labs.” But he acknowledges a distaste for imperial mismanagement that resonates with the public, one that has every right to loath the smug mandarins that plunge us into one war after another. Trump lies like he breathes. But so do they.

The 57 Republicans who refused to support the $40 billion aid package to Ukraine, along with many of the 19 bills that included an earlier $13.6 billion in aid for Ukraine, come out of the kooky conspiratorial world of Trump. They, like Trump, repeat this heresy. They too are attacked and censored. But the longer Biden and the ruling class continue to pour resources into war at our expense, the more these proto fascists, already set to wipe out Democratic gains in the House and the Senate this fall, will be ascendant. Marjorie Taylor Greene, during the debate on the aid package to Ukraine, which most members were not given time to closely examine, said: “$40 billion dollars but there’s no baby formula for American mothers and babies.”

“An unknown amount of money to the CIA and Ukraine supplemental bill but there’s no formula for American babies,” she added. “Stop funding regime change and money laundering scams. A US politician covers up their crimes in countries like Ukraine.”

Democrat Jamie Raskin immediately attacked Greene for parroting the propaganda of Russian president Vladimir Putin.

Greene, like Trump, spoke a truth that resonates with a beleaguered public. The opposition to permanent war should have come from the tiny progressive wing of the Democratic Party, which unfortunately sold out to the craven Democratic Party leadership to save their political careers. Greene is demented, but Raskin and the Democrats peddle their own brand of lunacy. We are going to pay a very steep price for this burlesque.

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8 Replies to “The USA: “no way out but war”

  1. Hi Phil, hope you enjoyed your wilding break and found new kayaking prospects.
    Over the past week I have probably visited a hundred sites and there is so much to observe.
    I have been paying attention to some cross party assembly debates in the US and have been very surprised to find so many Republicans speaking out along the lines of Greene as mentioned above.
    Although I understand that staying in office is usually their main self interested concern, unusually they are actually listening to the rif raf who put them in office. It’s not uncommon for the members of the Ron Paul institute to speak out against offensive war spending but that’s usually the Democrats job. The Dems obviously, are defending the ill-Be-gotten Biden and his mindless observations.
    Although I have no desire to see the return of the orange menace it would be nice if an adherent of the RP FREE movement did get into power. If the current trend of US Foreign Policy continues, the US, who is now falling behind in every aspect of it’s existence, will inevitably have no other means of clinging on to what it perceives as it’s pre-eminence by aggressive force.
    The British based reporter John Ross(aka Luo Siyin) seems to believe that when the US feels less powerful it becomes passive and when it’s successful in it’s military success, it emboldens the US aggressive stance.
    This leaves me wondering if it has sunk in that only 30 of the 195 countries opting to sanction Russia and the obvious imminent defeat of their proxy war against Russia and the failure to challenge China’s economic growth will make them more passive as John Ross thinks. I personally am sceptical re his latest article, but one can hope.
    I still believe that the US will be more aggressive. Even when confronted by certain outlets blatantly accusing the US of having weaponised the current bird flu and monkey pox after Russia’s pronouncement of having proof of US owned Ukraine labs modifying said strains, those “new” pandemic threats have in fact materialised.
    I feel that the US is ratcheting up it’s pressure against the rest of the world as a petulant last throw of the dice before it becomes an empire in ruins(which it is). I can’t help thinking that Washington is incapable of comprehending the obvious, as is so often the case, when people believe unconditionally, despite all evidence to the contrary, that they are invincible and cannot fail.
    Chris Hedges is well informed and knows what he is talking about(Zerohedge is one of my sites)and his last sentence is perhaps the one we need to remember.
    Burlesque indeed. What will be the price ie. the subordination of WHO?, the UN?, WTO? AI? HRW? in which case where do we turn to for sane responses?
    I have no answers, so I will be looking to you and Dave et al.

    Best wishes,
    Susan:)

    • Hi Susan. You write:

      Although I understand that staying in office is usually their main self interested concern, unusually they are actually listening to the rif raf who put them in office. It’s not uncommon for the members of the Ron Paul institute to speak out against offensive war spending but that’s usually the Democrats job. The Dems obviously, are defending the ill-Be-gotten Biden and his mindless observations.

      True, but I’m wary of confusing ‘office’ with power, and believe the truth runs deeper. Not just Chris Hedges but, with even greater gravitas, Michael Hudson and others have been showing exactly why the USA is in this position: where war really is the only way out. In part this is because – as too few Americans or westerners at large have grasped – the US economy is addicted to military spend. Over and above its role in enforcing Washington (i.e. Wall Street) will, the arms sector is central to the American domestic economy and a key means of transferring wealth from the many to the few in one of the most unequal societies on earth – and surely the worst place to commit the heinously anti-American crime of being poor.

      (The cluelessness of liberals, lost in the rabbit holes of identity politics, has them seeing each new war as somehow unique and to be considered solely on its own merits; not as part of a much broader and truly terrifying pattern. Hence the interminable arguments about needing to “Take Out the [latest] Bad Guy”, advanced by expensively educated half-wits who think reading the Guardian and Economist could possibly leave them well informed. To hear them speak about Ukraine, and before that Syria, you’d think all the other wars on all the other “new Hitlers” had never happened!)

      The other half of the story is that the USA, like Britain but on a vaster scale, has pursued financial imperialism, massively aided by the US dollar as the word’s reserve currency, at the expense of its industrial base. As such it has sown the seeds of its own demise. One, its economic warfare even more than its military operations – eg the confiscation of hundreds of billions of assets held by Iran, Russia, Venezuela and other states which offend “the international community” (i.e. Washington) – has seen the global south and even parts of the north questioning the wisdom of holding US Treasury bonds.

      Two, its policies towards China and Russia push those two powers into ever closer ties. In part this is due to political ineptitude: one small but telling indicator being, I’m told, a year on year shrinkage of state department officials – in a philistine Beltway climate where “understanding” Moscow and Beijing is seen as suspect – who actually speak Mandarin or Russian. But to greater degree I see it as structurally inevitable given the different factions within the US ruling class. Look what happened to Trump when, in the interests of curbing the greater challenge of China, he sought closer relations with Russia. Since that ruling class is divided not only between neocons and neoliberals but, within both, those who deem Russia or China the greater enemy (nope: these divisions do not align neatly with the two parties) a coordinated and long term policy is not easily pursued; not even by the deep state. The anarchic logic of rentier monopoly capitalism – aka imperialism – in a fading dollarised world affords less scope than did old style colonialism for divide and rule.

      Marx was right. There are a thousand ways of showing capitalism to be incapable of looking after its own interests. One is that, in post WW2 Britain, sectors vital to capital – steel, coal and rail – were running at a loss so had to be subsidised by tax payers in the form of nationalisation. This is another, the difference being that in a dollarised world the state of the US economy has planet wide implications. Obeying the relentless logic of pursuing the highest return on investment, US capital – hence “American jobs” – has gone southwards. The hollowing out of America’s rust belt follows iron laws Trump, for all his bluster – and in this case sincere intent – could do little to reverse.

      Three, at an even more fundamental level and outside of its military industrial complex, America’s economy – again like Britain’s – is driven by rentier capital. A fading of dollar pre-eminence therefore spells disaster. As Trump discovered, decades of exporting US jobs could not be reversed by presidential fiat. Without its empire the prospects for America (and Britain, with its post-Thatcher dependence on ‘the city’) look bleak: a truth Chris Hedges offers at various points in his piece. Here for instance:

      China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, India, and other countries [are extracting] themselves from the tyranny of the U.S. dollar and [SWIFT] … Once the U.S. dollar is no longer the world’s reserve currency, once there is an alternative to SWIFT, it will precipitate an internal economic collapse.

      (The more dirigiste economies of France and especially German are better placed, but only if they make a seismic break with Washington to pursue policies of enlightened self interest: i.e. of rapprochement with Russia and above all China. Right now the signs of Europe’s elites doing any such thing are virtually non existent, and one of the prime effects – I’d say intentional – of America’s proxy war in Ukraine is to bind Europe more closely to the USA in a deep and lasting betrayal of the interests of its citizens.)

      Er, this reply has been longer than I intended. I’ll stop for the time being …

      *

      PS, yes I very much enjoyed my mini-break in East Sussex. I highly recommend a visit to Rye, the picturesque port on the edge of Romney Marsh. (It will likely remind you of your neck of the woods, being somewhat reminiscent of East Anglia.) T’was here that another empire, facing a strong challenge from Bonaparte, hatched plans to open drainage sluices and flood the salt marshes in the event of a French invasion. Then somebody pointed out that those wily frogs might sow rumours of an imminent attack, just for the pleasure of seeing countless hectares of arable land and pasture ruined at great cost to mighty Albion’s ruling classes. The whole idea was hastily ditched – yes, I think ‘ditched’ is the right word!

  2. If you didn’t understand my previous mention of Zerohedge that’s because I assumed the anonymous writers under the pseudonym/avatar of Tyler Durden included articles by Chris Hedges who contributes articles to Consortium News and substack(I think). I don’t know why I made that assumption, probably on the basis of the name and if Mr. Hedges is not a contributor as Tyler Durden he might well take offence. If that is the case then my comment should be deleted.

  3. Thankyou Phil for continuing to do the heavy lifting in identifying insightful articles for us (I imagine you may have to wade through a fair bit of dross to do this). Recently I have much appreciated the links to the Hudson interview, the Konstantakopolous article and now this one. Keep up the good work mate.

  4. Every day produces more and more evidence that someone must have cloned and massed produced Baldricks. Because everywhere you look across the West that’s the only characters you see in any decision making position from the top of the hierarchical pyramid right down to the bottom.

    The examples of dumb decisions based on the fantasies rather than objective reality is simply staggering.

    As Glenn Greenwald and Anthony Tobin observe:

    https://greenwald.substack.com/p/twenty-two-house-republicans-demand?s=r

    “The aid package approved by Congress provides unprecedented funding for a foreign conflict in which the United States is not fighting, while there have been no significant hearings or substantive briefings on the use of the money and weapons being provided at taxpayer expense.” The lawmakers raised the prospect of sophisticated weaponry falling into the hands of terrorist organizations, citing a documented history of illicit arms-trafficking within Ukraine, a market which is one of the largest in Europe:

    According to a 2017 Small Arms Survey briefing on arms trafficking, over 300,000 small arms disappeared from Ukraine between 2013 and 2015 and only 13 percent were recovered. Criminal networks, corrupt officials, and underpaid military personnel can make a profitable business from the sale of arms from Ukrainian military stockpiles. For example, in 2019, the Ukrainian Security Service uncovered a plot by Ukrainian soldiers to sell 40 RGD-5 grenades, 15 grenade launchers, 30 grenade detonators, and 2,454 rounds of ammunition for 75,000 Ukrainian hryvnia or around $2,900.

    Indeed, the relentlessly war-supporting CNN last month acknowledged that “the US has few ways to track the substantial supply of anti-tank, anti-aircraft and other weaponry it has sent across the border into Ukraine.” Biden officials admitted the “risk that some of the shipments may ultimately end up in unexpected places.” About the heavy weaponry the Biden White House had originally said it wouldn’t send, only to change its mind, a senior official briefing reporters said: “I couldn’t tell you where they are in Ukraine and whether the Ukrainians are using them at this point.”

    Following that trail, this new letter accuses the Biden administration of indifference toward Ukraine’s dismal corruption record and the resulting possibility that large amounts of U.S. weaponry could soon circulate around the black market, placing the security of both Europe and the U.S at risk”

    The criminal idiocy taking place here could easily, as Scott Ritter observed a month or two back, result in civilian airliners or State motorcades being put at risk from the uncontrolled dissemination of lethal arms across the entire European continent.

    There is zero evidence of any kind of joined up thinking. As Moon of Alabama Observed:

    “It feels insane when Henry Kissinger is the only sane man in the room.

    Henry Kissinger: Ukraine must give Russia territory

    Veteran US statesman Henry Kissinger has urged the West to stop trying to inflict a crushing defeat on Russian forces in Ukraine, warning that it would have disastrous consequences for the long term stability of Europe.

    The former US secretary of state and architect of the Cold War rapprochement between the US and China told a gathering in Davos that it would be fatal for the West to get swept up in the mood of the moment and forget the proper place of Russia in the European balance of power.

    Dr Kissinger said the war must not be allowed to drag on for much longer, and came close to calling on the West to bully Ukraine into accepting negotiations on terms that fall very far short of its current war aims.
    ..
    He told the World Economic Forum that Russia had been an essential part of Europe for 400 years and had been the guarantor of the European balance of power structure at critical times. European leaders should not lose sight of the longer term relationship, and nor should they risk pushing Russia into a permanent alliance with China.”

    The only logical explanation which makes any kind of sense is that the collective West is holding a global village idiot competition in real time.

  5. The only logical explanation which makes any kind of sense is that the collective West is holding a global village idiot competition in real time.

    This is like this:

    One of the most prominent qualities of the US/NATO/Russia discourse is that the US project, the NATO expansion as part of total global domination, does not even quite make sense to those driving it. The Rand Corporation and CATO institute et al are home to singularly myopic sociopaths. Men and women who are actually among the least aware of history and least able to grasp the contours of the destruction they cause. The CIA and Pentagon are home to equally disturbed individuals. One of the things Debord hinted at was the detachment from reality in the ruling class.

    Which is from:

    https://john-steppling.com/2022/05/stone-age-brain/

    • An interesting piece, Johnny. I just skim read it and have earmarked for a more thorough read later today (a Sunday). I note this passage:

      One contributing factor to the ease with which Europe and North America (and really, the Commonwealth) have slid into a new intolerance is that media — and perhaps specifically Hollywood — has manufactured a representation of reality in which a half of humankind is invisible. The normalizing of surveillance in Hollywood spy movies or cop shows or military stories includes a fantasy of absolute technological superiority for the authority apparatus.

      What I appreciate here is the emphasising of a theme I’m acutely aware of: that it isn’t just news media which manufactures “our” opinions of the world. I ended my post, Ukraine in La La Land, with this:

      … the Ukraine narrative is easily and simply punctured. The problem is not that the arguments are complex and non-intuitive. The problem is that no matter how ridiculous and evidence-defiant the mainstream narrative on Ukraine is, its foundations have been carefully laid over years if not decades. The cornerstones being that:

      • Russia and China are truly scary entities despite having a record of invasion which pales into insignificance – whether reckoned by frequency, scale, duration or distance from their borders – at side of Britain’s, France’s and above all America’s.
      • The USA is a force for good in the world, despite its having slaughtered – by invasion, bomb, drone strike, sectarian terror unleashed and murderous sanctions imposed – millions in this century alone, and despite the fact that in almost every case (I try to leave room for the exception though I can’t for the life of me name one) Wall Street and America’s bloated military-industrial complex have profited directly or indirectly from that slaughter.

      These cornerstones of what we might call the meta-narrative are reinforced not just by news media whose systemic corruption I have been calling out for years. More diffusely they are deep embedded in the orientalist ideologies 6 which hold so powerful a grip on the western mind.

      And this my friends is why the ludicrous narrative on Ukraine, despite being on the face of it far easier to refute than a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work – despite too the exorbitant costs and existential perils attendant on that narrative – has swept the board. The emperor is naked but so what? Everyone has packed and gone to La La Land, a finger in each ear as they intone the mantra: Zelenski good, Putin baad …

      As for the “invisibility of half of humankind”, a week or two back Caitlin Johnstone was pointing out a central defect of mainstream media like Guardian, WashPo, BBC; viz, that imperialism in general, and the US Empire in particular, are wholly invisible: off limits to all, including seemingly Leftist writers like Owen Jones and George Monbiot. That’s why those two, undoubtedly intelligent and I think well meaning, wrote such tripe on Syria. They get away with, of course, because to the liberal mindset – even the leftist liberal mindset – empire is equally invisible.

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