The lies that triggered WW3

20 Nov

You’ve likely spotted the typographic error in this post’s title. WW3 hasn’t happened yet, has it?

My bad. But I should warn you now: this post descends at times into heavy irony; second lowest form of wit.

We know from our fearlessly independent media that every one of the endless wars waged by a US empire which doesn’t actually exist – since, unlike the democratic and freedom loving US of A, empires are a Bad Thing – has been sold to us on the back of lies.

The late Colin Powell, waving that test tube at the UN Security Council on February 5, 2003

Guardian, July 7, 2016

Trouble is, in almost all cases (two exceptions are shown below 1 ) those fearlessly independent media do their exposing, and picking up of plaudits and Pulitzers, after  the wars they backed – here with shows of reluctance, 2 there with unabashed jingoism – have served, or signally failed to serve, their imperial purposes. 3

See my post of ten days ago, The propaganda blitz on Bucha, for the why of that. Meanwhile here’s the right honourable Jeremy Hunt, currently Britain’s Chancellor of the Exchequer but previously its Foreign Secretary …

Jeremy Hunt’s “warning” is headlined in this Evening Standard feature of March 2022

While here – yes, again! – is one of the many aspects too trifling for Mr Hunt to mention:

Which brings me to the lies which may indeed trigger WW3. But there’s a twist to those in last week’s episode of Washington’s nine months eight years of proxy war in Ukraine: not only on Russia – with China and Iran next in line if all goes to plan (which it plainly isn’t doing 4 ) – but on its European ‘allies’ too. With friends like Uncle Sam, who needs enemies? The husband of neoliberal Russophobe Anne Applebaum, Poland’s Radek Sikorski, may be a huge admirer …

… but the same can’t be said of Germany’s shivering householders, and workers laid off as its industrial competitiveness plummets thanks to the dearer LPG they must now import from – you got it – their kindly old Uncle Sam.

I haven’t time to construct a Venn diagram of where Kiev’s interests, and those of Washington, do and do not intersect. But long before February 24, 2022, we were seeing signs of divergent agendas; a divergence which resurfaced last week after that November 15 missile strike on Poland.

Guardian, November 16, 2022

Says Volodymyr Zelensky to Interfax-Ukraine:

I have no doubt that it was not our rocket. I believe that it was a Russian missile based on the credibility of the reports of the military.

Says his Foreign Minister, Dmytro Kuleba, on Twitter:

Russia now promotes a conspiracy theory that it was allegedly a missile of Ukrainian air defense that fell on the Polish theory [sic]. Which is not true. No one should buy Russian propaganda or amplify its messages

Says NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, a notorious Putin apologist and peddler of conspiracy theories to promote Kremlin interests:

Our preliminary analysis suggests that the incident was likely caused by a Ukrainian air defense missile fired to defend Ukrainian territory against Russian cruise missile attacks.

Poland’s President Duda agreed, as did the remarkably unremarkable Stoltenberg’s paymasters in Washington. National Security Council spokeswoman Adrienne Watson – another Putin troll – said on November 15 that the US had.

Seen nothing to contradict President Duda’s preliminary assessment that this explosion was most likely the result of a Ukrainian air defense missile that unfortunately landed in Poland.

My conclusions? One, that Ukraine was either executing an inept false flag op – which doesn’t preclude its doing similar in future, but with greater ept – or that it was ineptly making a virtue of necessity following its ineptly targeted missile strikes.

Those who know about such things say strikes going so far astray as this are unlikely, given the way surface to air missile systems are programmed. For his part Gilbert Doctorow, writing late afternoon on November 16, offers this:

The latest statements from Poland and the U.S. in the past hour or so are saying the missiles which landed in Poland were Ukrainian air defense missiles, not downed Russian cruise missiles. Since the US has recorded the trajectory of the missiles by one of its spy planes on location near the border, they know from where the missiles were launched and whether air defense units were there. They also have the missile fragments from the crash site and can identify exactly what type they were if they so wish. For their part, the Poles are indicating that they will not activate Article 4 provisions of the Alliance after all. 5 We may assume that knowing what they do, they would prefer to remove this whole incident from public discussion as quickly as possible. The Russians say their attack on infrastructure came nowhere near the Ukrainian border with Poland, and that is completely believable: they want to avoid precisely what happened yesterday. So what is the chief lesson of this event: that the Americans understand it was a provocation by the Zelensky regime and they were quick to snuff it out because they absolutely want to avoid any possibility of the conflict going out of their control and escalating to nuclear war.

Which leads naturally to my second conclusion. That “the Americans” do indeed “want to avoid any possibility of the conflict going out of their control and escalating to nuclear war”. But as I noted three days ago, in my own post on the matter:

Wanting to avoid thermonuclear war does not preclude recklessly provoking a nuclear adversary in ways that up the likelihood of getting precisely that, Dr Strangelove style.

* * *

  1. In assessing corporate media capacity to speak against ruling class interests on matters of core concern, it’s important to take a quantitative as well as qualitative approach. One swallow doth not a summer make, and the occasional outlier column by a Cockburn or Hitchens (Pilger is no longer granted the guest space once afforded from time to time by Guardian and Mirror) does not negate the kind of assessment I gave in such as Britain decides and Monolithic control at the Guardian. As Noam Chomsky noted: “The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum – even encourage the more critical and dissident views. That gives people the sense there’s free thinking going on, while all the time the presuppositions of the system are being reinforced by the limits put on the range of the debate.”
  2. As former Guardian columnist Jonathan Cook pointed out: “George Monbiot repeatedly denies he wants a military attack on Syria. But if he weakly accepts whatever narratives are crafted by those who do – and refuses to subject them to meaningful scrutiny – he is decisively helping to promote such an attack.” As I put it more recently:  if, by conscious mendacity or career-minded failure to exercise scepticism and due diligence, journalists produce copy which serves to deceive us on the motives of those who would take us to war and/or risk nuclear Armageddon, then are they not accessories to what Nuremberg called the supreme crime of waging aggressive war? “
  3. For what drives the empire’s wars on the Middle East, see this post from June 2021. Each of those wars has unique aspects but together they not only have common features. They also find echo in those greater and equally mis-sold tensions, the focus of this October 2022 post, with Russia and ultimately China.
  4. I can’t recommend too highly this discussion by Brian Berletic and Andrei Martyanov – antidote to the shallowness not only of Russophobic Western media but also, it seems, of Russian media critical of Putin and General Surovikin. (East defying Kipling to meet west in a shared tendency to pronounce on military matters beyond the ken of either.) Though its starting point is the Russian withdrawal from Kherson – east by northeast of Odessa, northwest of Crimea and close to the Dnieper’s date with the Black Sea – the discussion goes wider. Besides such obviously related topics as China and Taiwan, the issue of Iran is linked – via a Yemen war of whose nature Western media are silent – to a Riyadh as nervous of its Washington backers as of its mortal enemy, Iran. (Which sheds light on Riyadh having risked DC ire by toying with the idea of buying Russia’s world-beating S400 surface to air defence system.) The discussion runs for a gripping hour and three quarters but its segmented structure offers several strategic withdrawal points.
  5. Mr Doctorow refers to NATO article 4 but did he mean 5? Article 5 means that an attack on one member state, such as Poland, puts all other member states.on a war footing with the attacker. There have been wars within NATO, between Greece and Turkey, but the difference here is that Ukraine is not (and is unlikely to become) a NATO member. If Kiev is behind a false-flag strike on Poland – and this, for all the damage limitation spin by Washington and Nato, remains the likeliest explanation of what happened on November 16 – its intent can only have been to provoke an Article 5 response, at terrible risk to us all.

4 Replies to “The lies that triggered WW3

    • I’d be astonished had you disagreed, Margaret. From our exchanges these past two or three weeks it’s been clear that your tolerance of our leaders’ falsehoods, and those of our supine media, is even less than mine.

  1. Hi Phil. I sent that very short response because I didn’t feel I had anything meaningful to add.
    Talking about tolerance of leaders’ falsehoods and what you rightly call our supine media, I didn’t respond to your previous post where you quoted and discussed Polly Toynbee, because I literally can’t stand the woman and don’t like to think about her! I have zero respect for her, within or outside any parameters. To me she’s as bad as the rest, George Monbiot & Co? who we’ve discussed at length. Enough said.
    I used to be very naive about the world when I was younger, but I became more aware of how fucked up everything was when I went through some quite severe hardships a long time ago. This, plus the arrival of the Internet and independent journalism opened my eyes.
    I wish I hadn’t been basically clueless decades ago but it’s never too late, is it?
    I describe my views now as having been a slow awakening, becoming clearer the worse things get.

    • Toynbee can be excellent within very narrow limits. (Ditto Monbiot, Hitchens, Richard Murphy and countless other pundits who on some matters not only call it right, but do so with great effectiveness.)

      I realise of course that my featuring her, approvingly, on this hallowed site was highly provocative. But as I said to you once before, I try to avoid two errors. One is that of idolising, the other of throwing baby out with bathwater.

      As a matter of fact, I regard some of those – not you; this is overwhelmingly a male thing – who fail to recognise that second error as psychological sectarians. They strike me as interested less in effecting change than in parading a precious purity of view. In my experience most (not all) of these men – out in droves over Covid and 9/11 – are doing sweet FA, so it matters not one whit what they believe!

      On our early naivety, why beat ourselves up about it? I too was ‘basically clueless’ – and, as a Marxist, with less excuse. I even stayed home when my teenage daughter joined two million others in Hyde Park to protest the criminal war on Iraq. She put me to shame that day, but what matters is what we do now. To be sure, recognising our mistakes and even our cowardice is right and wholesome. But there simply isn’t time for getting teary-eyed about such things. We’re needed in the here and now!

      If you’ll forgive my preachy tone …

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