The ever more absurd Economist, yesterday
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.
Harold Pinter, Nobel Acceptance Speech 2005
When truth – in this case about what is driving America’s proxy war on Russia in Ukraine – is stood on its head, all manner of Alice-in madness must follow. Caitlin Johnstone today:
Worthless House Progressives Retract Mild Peace Advocacy Under Pressure From Warmongers
The Congressional Progressive Caucus has retracted an extremely mild, toothless letter its members had written to President Biden politely asking him to consider adding a little diplomacy into the mix to help end the conflict in Ukraine. The retraction followed a deluge of public outrage against their slight deviation from the official imperial narrative.
If you actually read the original letter signed by House progressives including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley, Rashida Tlaib, Jamaal Bowman and Ro Khanna, you will quickly see that it’s as innocuous and anodyne as any statement could possibly be while still containing words. It opens with effusive praise for Biden’s interventionism in Ukraine and condemns the Russian government unequivocally throughout, offering only the humble suggestion that he “pair the military and economic support the United States has provided to Ukraine with a proactive diplomatic push, redoubling efforts to seek a realistic framework for a ceasefire.” Its authors make it abundantly clear that they support making sure such diplomacy is agreeable to Ukraine at every step of the way.
This impotent nothing salad was bizarrely spun by The Washington Post as a call on Biden to “dramatically shift his strategy on the Ukraine war,” despite nothing that could be remotely construed as “dramatic” existing anywhere in the body of the text. The letter received backlash from warmongers in both parties, including from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. It was personally slammed by Bernie Sanders, the pope of American progressivism. Trolls and warmongers swarmed the social media notifications of every account which posted the letter in an official capacity, mindlessly bleating the words “appeasement” and “Chamberlain” in unison.
Oh my god the replies to this tweet, Jesus fucking Christ everyone is bat shit fucking insane https://t.co/lSGbNnxZ7A — Caitlin Johnstone (@caitoz) October 24, 2022
In a statement on the retraction of the letter, CPC chair Pramila Jayapal says she accepts responsibility for the publication of the offending act of peacemongering while in the same breath blaming its publication on her staff.
“The letter was drafted several months ago, but unfortunately was released by staff without vetting. As Chair of the Caucus, I accept responsibility for this,” Jayapal said.
“Every war ends with diplomacy, and this one will too after Ukrainian victory,” the statement reads, ignoring mainstream reports that US officials quietly believe Ukraine stands no chance at outright victory in this war. “The letter sent yesterday, although restating that basic principle, has been conflated with GOP opposition to support for the Ukrainians’ just defense of their national sovereignty. As such, it is a distraction at this time and we withdraw the letter.”
Empire critics were quick to highlight the obsequious nature of this retraction.
“For progressives, I didn’t think it could get more pathetic than voting for a disastrous proxy war that the US provoked and prolonged, handing billions to arms makers in the process. In retracting their tepid call for diplomacy and blaming staffers for it, they somehow surpassed it,” tweeted Aaron Maté.
“Certainly speaks to the insanely hawkish atmosphere in Washington that pressured the progressive caucus to withdrawal a totally reasonable, responsible and necessary call for diplomacy in a conflict that risks escalating to nuclear armageddon,” tweeted Rania Khalek.
“Imagine being elected to Congress based on promises of challenging ‘the establishment’ or whatever, then being so petrified of anger from bipartisan DC establishment mavens that you can’t even wait 24 hours before meekly retracting the only mild dissent you’ve expressed,” tweeted Glenn Greenwald.
I don’t know what pressures were the ultimate deciding factor in the CPC’s decision to retract its feeble advocacy for a bit more diplomacy, or how much of that pressure was brought to bear behind the scenes by bigger political monsters in the Beltway swamp, but ultimately it doesn’t matter. The important take-home from this lesson, once again, is that progressive Democrats are worse than worthless at opposing the mechanisms of oligarchy and empire.
In fact if you look at their actions it’s not even really accurate to describe them as “progressive Democrats” as though they are a faction that has meaningful differences with the rest of that party. Aside from the occasional empty soundbyte about healthcare or debt forgiveness, they’re not doing anything to advance progressive agendas which make American lives better, and they’re certainly doing nothing to impede the expansion of the US war machine.
The progressive Democrat is a myth, like the good billionaire or the righteous American war. “The Squad” is nothing more than the social media-savvy branch of the Democratic establishment. The United States has two warmongering oligarchic parties, and a tremendous amount of narrative management goes into manipulating, cajoling and coercing Americans into staying psychologically plugged in to that fraudulent political paradigm.
This comes at the same time the defense minister of Romania was forced to resign for saying peace talks were necessary to achieve peace in Ukraine. It just reveals so much about where we’re at and where we’re headed that the most incendiary and outrageous thing you can say in our society is that we should probably attempt to diplomatically de-escalate hostilities between nuclear superpowers. The fact that the Overton window of acceptable political discourse has already been dragged that far in the direction of warmongering insanity prevents peace from ever having any space to get a word in edgewise.
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But the problem is neither insanity nor ignorance but cowardice moral, physical and in every possible respect. Plus, of course, lack of imagination: these people cannot conceive of a world in which people in their positions (no comment there) did not do as they were bid.
and “Its the same the whole (western) world over. Ain’t it all a bloody shame.”
Hi bevin. I’m increasingly of the view that the cowardice and lack of imagination you speak of begets its own insanity. I’ve gone into the mechanisms before. There’s a compulsion within our species to think well of ourselves. (To the best of my knowledge, gained from seventy spins round the sun, the James Bond villain delighting in evil for its own sake doesn’t exist.) Given a gap between this drive, and the actuality of what we do, we make efforts to narrow it and so lower the cognitive dissonance. The bigger the gap, the harder we must work to do so, and the greater the distortion of reality. That way lies madness.
But at some level of consciousness it’s a wilfully imposed madness. It excuses nothing.
Much is being made of the flakiness of so-called Democrat Progressives but for me the big takeaway from this sorry incident is the refusal of the US Ruling Class to brook anything other than Russian defeat. In most situations Ruling Classes are happy tolerate some ‘safe dissent’ as it keeps doors open for future diplomatic negotiations and compromises – much in the way that Macron pointed out in March that at some point the West will have to talk to Putin. Then along comes not as stupid as he appears Johnson to lean on Zerensky to keep on fighting.
On a wet morning in Derbyshire last week, sitting comfortably in a warm pub you rightly pointed out Phil that Russia can’t afford to lose this war, perceiving it as an existential threat. I was of the opinion that the US was just happy to let Russia exhaust itself – but now I’m thinking that the US Ruling Class has worked out that it can’t afford to lose this war either – perceiving Russia and China to be an existential threat.
Prospects of peace do not look good.
Yes. For Russians this is existential.
For Americans (and Westerners at large) it is not.
For the US ruling class, and the rulers of other states whose hyper-financialised hollowing out of their manufacturing sector make them dependent on imperialism, it is existential.