WE NEED TO DEFUND THE MILITARY

Amidst All The Talk About Defunding The Police, Notice Something Important: No One Talks About Defunding The Military.

That’s because the military establishment is too powerful and has come to be accepted as a permanent feature in American life. Except for libertarians, everyone treats the military as their god.

But defunding the military, whose taxpayer-funded largess is now around $800 billion per year, is precisely what we need to do. This is especially true given the out-of-control spending, debt, and monetary debauchery that is threatening to take our country down from within, not to mention the fact that the military establishment is now doing everything it can to embroil the United States in a nuclear war with Russia, China, or both.

According to a September 7, 2022, article at Omni Financial, the United States has around 450-500 military bases here in the United States. All 50 states have at least one base. Several have dozens of bases. California has 123, Texas 59, Florida 56, Hawaii 49, and Alaska 47.

What purpose does this empire of domestic military bases serve?

Answer: It serves no purpose whatsoever. These bases all exist for their own sake — that is, simply to serve as a place for military personnel to live and work, as they spend that $800 billion in annual taxpayer-funded largess.

Think about it. In the 19th century, it made sense to have military bases to protect communities from attacks by Native Americans. But today, there is no threat of attack on any communities by Native Americans. That threat disappeared a long time ago.

Again, we ask: What purpose do all these military bases serve? Answer: No purpose whatsoever.

What about the threat of a foreign invasion of the United States? Couldn’t it be said that those 450-500 bases protect Americans in the event of foreign invasion of the United States?

But there is no threat of a foreign invasion of the United States. None!

It is now clear that the Pentagon hoped to re-convert Russia into a grave threat against the United States, just as it did during the 45 years of its Cold War racket. Recall what military officials were exclaiming after they used NATO to provoke Russia into invading Ukraine. They were saying that Russia’s invasion showed that it intended to move west after conquering Ukraine, with the ultimate aim of taking over all of Europe, after which it was going to cross the Atlantic and invade and conquer the United States.

Whoops! As we now know, Russia isn’t even able to conquer Ukraine. The great big “threat” to the United States was exposed as a sham. There was never any possibility that Russia would be able to cross the Atlantic, invade the United States, maintain its supply lines, conquer the country, and take over the federal government and America’s public schools.

It was all a crock. But that was clearly the plan — to present Russia, once again, as a giant threat, one that could be used to justify the continued existence of all those needless 450-500 domestic military bases.

What about China, the other nation that the Pentagon and its acolytes in the mainstream press consider to be America’s other major “adversary,” “competitor,” “rival,” “opponent,” or “enemy”?

China would have a difficult time even conquering Taiwan. It doesn’t have the remotest military capability, including the problem of maintaining supply lines, to cross the Pacific, and invade, conquer, and occupy the United States. For that matter, China doesn’t have any interest whatsoever in invading the United States, conquering the nation, and forcing Americans to learn the Communist Manifesto in America’s public-school systems.

But in order to justify the existence of those 450-500 domestic military bases, the Pentagon is desperately doing whatever it can to demonstrate that China poses a grave threat to the United States, much as it did during its Cold War racket.

What about Venezuela, Cuba, North Korea, Nicaragua, Syria, or other Third World socialist or communist countries that the Pentagon considers are a threat to “national security”? Once again, they lack the military capability, money, armaments, troops, and even the interest to invade, conquer, and occupy the United States. In fact, if they tried, there is little doubt that America’s well-armed citizenry would quickly dispose of them.

Of course, military statists would exclaim, “Without our empire of domestic military bases, the Pentagon would not be able to sustain its empire of foreign military bases!” They would be referring to the 750 bases in some 80 countries. Yes, imagine that: the Pentagon has more military bases abroad than here inside the United States!

We should close those too. What purpose do they serve? None, expect to provide the Pentagon with the ability to control foreign regimes, invade and occupy foreign countries, and gin up foreign crises and wars, as it has done most recently in Ukraine. Remember what Martin Luther King said about the American national-security state — that it is the “greatest purveyor of violence in the world.”

How is all that deadly and destructive foreign interventionism in the interests of the American people? All it does is inflict death, suffering, and destruction that engenders anger and hatred, which then manifests itself in retaliatory terrorism, which is then used to justify the existence of that vast empire of domestic and foreign military bases.

Let’s not forget something else that’s of critical importance: the destruction of our liberty here at home at the hands of the national-security establishment. Examples: The USA PATRIOT Act, mass secret surveillance, the super-secret rubber-stamp FISA court, indefinite detention, military tribunals, denial of due process, and state-sponsored assassinations and torture of American citizens.

Our nation was founded as a limited-government republic. That’s the governmental system that the Constitution called into existence. That was our governmental system for more than 100 years. It was characterized by a basic, relatively small army. The last thing our ancestors wanted was a gigantic military establishment with a gigantic empire of domestic and military bases that America has today. They fiercely opposed standing armies.

The conversion of the federal government to a national-security state was the worst mistake our nation has ever made. Not only is it a major factor in the out-of-control federal spending, debt, and monetary debauchery that is threatening our nation with bankruptcy, it also is now threatening our nation with life-destroying nuclear war.

We need to repeal and dismantle the national security establishment and restore a limited-government republic with a relatively small military force. We need to do it now. Our liberty, peace, prosperity, harmony, and possibly even our survival depend on it.

THE GOP’S IMPENDING GREAT BETRAYAL

Don’t Expect Much From The Thin New GOP Majority In The House – At Least Anything That Will Materially Turn The Ship Of State From Its Headlong Dash Toward Fiscal Disaster.

Don’t expect much from the thin new GOP majority in the House – at least anything that will materially turn the ship of state from its headlong dash toward fiscal disaster. That because on the big issues that really count, the beltway lifers who dominate the GOP’s senior ranks and committee/subcommittee chairmanships are on the wrong side!

That starts with the Warfare State and its symbiosis with the Welfare State, intermediated by the log-rolling politicians of the bipartisan duopoly. The fact is, all of Washington’s abominable spending, borrowing and money-printing flows from that deadly coalition of convenience.

But today’s GOP is not about to sever this convenient nexus, and pivot in favor of nonintervention abroad and drastic curtailment of the Washington spending machine. This means, in turn, that the vastly bloated $850 billion defense budget, and the neocon foreign policy of global intervention and Forever Wars which it funds, will not likely shed a single dime of its current budgetary obesity.

That’s because the GOP national security leaders are raving neocon interventionists. The worst of these is Rep. Michael McCaul, who has now become chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Like the overwhelming share of the GOP rank and file on the Potomac, he’s never seen an American foreign intervention that he couldn’t embrace lock, stock and barrel.

Thus, he (and they) cheered on the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and the interventions in Libya, Yemen, Syria, Somalia, Sudan, Iran and assorted others; and now is especially whooping it up for proxy war against Russia in Ukraine and hot war with China, if Washington is given half the excuse.

Indeed, McCaul is such an incorrigible interventionist that he see’s fit to prance around the Imperial City as co-chair of the “Congressional Caucus on Sudan and South Sudan”!

You can’t make this up. Both of these notional nations are among the “sh*thole” countries of the world that the Donald once fulminated about. Racked by civil war, poverty, famine, disease and ethnic strife, these two ostensible nations (divided in 2011) have GDPs of $34 billion and $1 billion, respectively, which together amount to the equivalent of 11 hours worth of the American economic output.

South Sudan itself has a population of 10 million, with 6 million considered to be victims of famine by the UN, and a per capita income of $100.

And, no, we did not forget any zeros!

Its national income is just $100 per miserable soul in what has become truly one of the hell holes of the planet.

So why might the Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, presumably charged with looking after the great issues of America’s homeland security, busy himself with advocating in the halls of Capitol Hill for this absolute cipher among the nations of the earth?

Alas, there happens to be a ready neocon explanation. There always is.

It so happens that the population of South Sudan’s neighbor and the home of its former countrymen, Sudan, is 97% Muslim and allegedly a refuge for various woebegone factions and tiny encampments of Islamic militants.

These wanna be “terrorists,” in turn, are alleged to be a threat to the largely Christian population of South Sudan. That is, when the latter are not busy killing each other in what has been a brutal, decade-long civil war there between the Dinka ethnic group, led by a no count politician who is the country’s president and the Nuer ethnic group, led by another adventurer who is vice-president.

As it happened, the post-2011 political tensions between South Sudan President Salva Kiir Mayardit and First Vice President Riek Machar erupted into open violence a few years later, with the former announcing that the latter had attempted a coup. In turn, that triggered a widespread outbreak of civil war.

Soon, armed groups targeted civilians along ethnic lines, committed rape and mayhem, destroyed property, looted villages and recruited children into their ranks. At length, starvation and disease stalked the land.

And we do mean this was brutal. The UN’s estimated civilian death count amounts to 4% of the entire population, which on an American scale would be the equivalent of 13 million corpses.

Of course, none of this has the remotest bearing on the safety and liberty of the citizens of Portland ME or Portland OR or anywhere else from sea to shinning sea. But never mind. The “terrorists,” whoever they are, must be stopped.

So right on cue, Rep. McCaul has gotten his undies bunched up in a knot owing to a few thousand woebegone Islamic militants domiciled deep in the heart of sub-Saharan Africa.

For crying out loud. It doesn’t get any more ludicrous than this. The predicate, apparently, is that “terrorists” marauding around even the most remote, desolate and godforsaken margins of the planet are an intolerable threat to national security and most be dealt with by the full force of Imperial Washington’s bountiful tool kit of diplomacy, economic aid, security assistance, arms sales, censure, sanctions and military interventions if need be.

But we say, not at all. Washington needn’t give a sh*t about the shenanigans in the Sudans or, for that matter, Libya, Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Taiwan or most especially, not Russia’s doorstep in Ukraine.

All of this imperial intervention is a throwback to the false predicate of the cold war and the notion that the countries of the world are essentially little more than a long-line of dominoes waiting to be tipped-over into tyranny by any aggressor who shows up on the stage of history.

But it was never true about Soviet communism, which was destined to collapse under the weight of its own misbegotten command-and-control folly, and actually did just that in 1991. And its absolutely not even remotely true today.

None of the alleged domino-tripping “aggressors” on the present scene are a threat to America’s homeland security or to its triad nuclear deterrent. And none could mount the massive conventional force armada that would be required to traverse the great ocean moats that are America’s ultimate safeguard against hostile armies landing on the shores of New Jersey or California.

  • Certainly not the late Islamic Caliphate with it armed Toyota pickups and captured American machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades that were once (and temporarily) strewn about the dusty, miserable stretches of the Upper Euphrates;

  • Not Russia with a $1.8 trillion GDP compared to the $40 trillion economic expanse of the America and its NATO puppets;

  • Not the great $50 trillion debt Ponzi of China, which would collapse under its own weight even faster than did the Soviet Union were its leaders foolish enough to attack the 5,000 Walmart stores and Amazon warehouses in America on which its economy utterly depends.

  • Stated differently, the world doesn’t need Washington’s “leadership” or its hegemonic pretensions. The planet is not lurking with latter day Hitler’s and Stalin’s ready to spread tyranny far and wide among falling dominoes if given half the chance.

To the contrary, the totalitarian excrescences which emerged in the 1930s, along with the Great Depression which gave them faint plausibility, were a once in 10,000 years aberration. They arose from the madness of WWI, Woodrow Wilson’s destructive intervention to make the world safe for democracy and the absolute folly of the vindictive peace imposed on Germany by the victors at Versailles.

Indeed, it is more than fair to say that Woodrow Wilson’s foolish declaration of War in April 1917 – when for all practical purposes the Great War had ended in stalemate, exhaustion and bankruptcy among all the original belligerents – changed the course of history and decidedly for the worse.

That is to say, a peace of the exhausted would not have opened the door to Lenin’s storming of the Winter Palace in Czarist Russia. Nor would it have enabled the rise of Hitler in 1920’s Germany on the back of an abandoned army of disgruntled veterans and the revanchist fires ignited by the loss of millions of Germans and related territories to Poland, France and Czechoslovakia at Versailles.

Needless to say, the truth that Hitler and Stalin were nigh to unrepeatable aberrations of history and that the nations of the world are not dominoes perennially fixing to “fall” invalidates the entire GOP/Washington foreign policy framework. Namely, that America is the “indispensable nation,” that is must lead through “strength” (whatever that means) and that the business of Washington is to mind everyone else’s business across the length and breadth of the planet.

Indeed, Chairman McCaul’s own website claims exactly that.

In his capacity as the committee’s chairman, McCaul is committed to ensuring we promote America’s leadership on the global stage. In his view, it is essential the United States bolsters international engagement with our allies, counters the aggressive policies of our adversaries, and advances the common interests of nations in defense of stability and democracy around the globe. He will continue to use his national security expertise to work to counter threats facing the United States, especially the increasing threat we face from nation state actors such as China, Iran, Russia, North Korea, among others.

Nothing could be more diametrically opposed to the non-interventionist posture that small government republicans in the Robert Taft tradition once adhered to than the clap-trap contained on McCaul’s website. And there is no way that the nation’s runaway public debt will ever be contained unless the defense budget is cut by 50% or more, and Washington retirees to minding the public’s business within these homeland shores, not the business of the 195 odd nations which stretch to the four corners of the planet.

But McCaul, along with most of the GOP ranks on Capitol Hill, is infected with the hegemony disease. Like Speaker McCarthy and countless other senior Republicans, the man is 60 years old and has been on the public teat most of his adult life, including being a Member of the House since 2004.

He actually thinks, therefore, that his job is to peddle the indispensable nation gospel and to support the bipartisan War Party in its global interventions and adventures – -all the way to, well, the “sh*tholes” known as Sudan and South Sudan.

Not surprisingly, a lame-brain who doesn’t even get the joke about Sudan is putty in the hands of the Washington War machine when it comes to larger, dangerous adventures like the current insane proxy war against Russia in Ukraine.

Here is what McCaul had to say about the latter during an appearance on the Sunday talk shows this past weekend. It is truly a word salad of dangerous idiocy and stunning historical ignorance.

As to the latter, even establishment historians know what the Munich conference between Hitler and Chamberlain was about. To wit, the return of several millions of uprooted Germans in the Sudetenland, who had been seconded to the artificial state of Czechoslovakia at Versailles.

That’s ironic of, of course, because that’s exactly what today’s civil war in the Ukraine is about. The Russian speaking populations of the Donbas and the Black Sea rim were historically citizens of “Novorossiya” (New Russia). It was the bastard son of Wilson’s crusade to make the world safe for democracy, Vladimir Lenin, who put them in Ukraine in 1922 in order to better manage his Soviet empire.

Don’t expect much from the GOP’s new majority. Their leaders are part and parcel of the problem.

AMERICA’S THE MONROE DOCTRINE IS SOAKED IN BLOOD

American Students Are Rarely Taught How Much American Imperialism To The South Through The 1860s Was About Expanding Slavery, Or How Much It Was Impeded By Racism.

The Monroe Doctrine was first discussed under that name as justification for the United States war on Mexico that moved its western border south, swallowing up the present-day states of California, Nevada, and Utah, most of New Mexico, Arizona and Colorado, and parts of Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Wyoming. By no means was that as far south as some would have liked to move the border.

The catastrophic war on the Philippines also grew out of a Monroe-Doctrine-justified war against Spain (and Cuba and Puerto Rico) in the Caribbean. And global imperialism was a smooth expansion of the Monroe Doctrine.

But it is in reference to Latin America that the Monroe Doctrine is usually cited today, and the Monroe Doctrine has been central to a United States assault on its southern neighbors for 200 years. During these centuries, groups and individuals, including Latin American intellectuals, have both opposed the Monroe Doctrine’s justification of imperialism and sought to argue that the Monroe Doctrine should be interpreted as promoting isolationism and multilateralism. Both approaches have had limited success. United States interventions have ebbed and flowed but never halted.

The popularity of the Monroe Doctrine as a reference point in United States discourse, which rose to amazing heights during the 19th century, practically achieving the status of the Declaration of Independence or Constitution, may in part be thanks to its lack of clarity and to its avoidance of committing the government to anything in particular, while sounding quite macho. As various United States eras added their “corollaries” and interpretations, commentators could defend their preferred version against others. But the dominant theme, both before and even more so after Theodore Roosevelt, has always been exceptionalist imperialism.

Many a filibustering fiasco in Cuba long preceded the Bay of Pigs SNAFU. But when it comes to the escapades of arrogant gringos, no sampling of tales would be complete without the somewhat unique but revealing story of William Walker, a filibusterer who made himself president of Nicaragua, carrying south the expansion that predecessors like Daniel Boone had carried west. Walker is not secret CIA history. The CIA had yet to exist. During the 1850s Walker may have received more attention in American newspapers than any president. On four different days, the New York Times devoted its entire front page to his antics. That most people in Central America know his name and virtually nobody in the United States does is a choice made by the respective educational systems.

Nobody in the United States having any idea who William Walker was is not the equivalent of nobody in the United States knowing there was a coup in Ukraine in 2014. Nor is it like 20 years from now everybody having failed to learn that Russiagate was a scam. We would equate it more closely to 20 years from now nobody knowing that there was a 2003 war on Iraq that George W. Bush told any lies about. Walker was big news subsequently erased.

Walker got himself the command of a North American force supposedly aiding one of two warring parties in Nicaragua, but actually doing what Walker chose, which included capturing the city of Granada, effectively taking charge of the country, and eventually holding a phony election of himself. Walker got to work transferring land ownership to gringos, instituting slavery, and making English an official language. Newspapers in the southern United States wrote about Nicaragua as a future American state. But Walker managed to make an enemy of Vanderbilt, and to unite Central America as never before, across political divisions and national borders, against him. Only the American government professed “neutrality.” Defeated, Walker was welcomed back to the United States as a conquering hero. He tried again in Honduras in 1860 and ended up captured by the British, turned over to Honduras, and shot by a firing squad. His soldiers were sent back to the United States where they mostly joined the Confederate Army.

Walker had preached the gospel of war. “They are but drivellers,” he said, “who speak of establishing fixed relations between the pure white American race, as it exists in the United States, and the mixed, Hispano-Indian race, as it exists in Mexico and Central America, without the employment of force.” Walker’s vision was adored and celebrated by American media, not to mention a Broadway show.

American students are rarely taught how much American imperialism to the South up through the 1860s was about expanding slavery, or how much it was impeded by the racism that did not want non-“white,” non-English-speaking people joining the United States.

José Martí wrote in a Buenos Aires newspaper denouncing the Monroe Doctrine as hypocrisy and accusing the United States of invoking “freedom . . . for purposes of depriving other nations of it.”

While it’s important not to believe that American imperialism began in 1898, how people in the United States thought of imperialism did change in 1898 and the years following. There were now greater bodies of water between the mainland and its colonies and possessions. There were greater numbers of people not deemed “white” living below American flags. And there was apparently no longer a need to respect the rest of the hemisphere by understanding the name “America” to apply to more than one nation. Up until this time, the United States of America was usually referred to as the United States or the Union. Now it became America. So, if you thought your little country was in America, you’d better watch out!

ISRAEL’S FREE PASS LEADS TO MORE SADISTIC VIOLENCE

Washington’s Reluctance To Criticize Tel Aviv Enables Regional Aggression, Which In Turn Harms American Interests As Well As Humanity.

In a joint press conference following his recent meeting with Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu smilingly commented that he had dealt with many American presidents (four) while heading Israel’s government. Netanyahu had good reason to feel relaxed in referring to his history of dealings with Washington. It is a history of multiple American administrations, of both parties, effectively giving Israel a mostly blank check in its use of force — in various forms, including in ways that are contrary to American interests and are crimes against humanity.

The latest upsurge in violence between Israelis and Arabs was a focus of Blinken’s trip to the Middle East. But that longer history of American-Israeli relations — with the United States forgoing the use of what would be substantial leverage over Israel — needs to be kept in mind to understand what has led to the most recent bloodshed.

In this regard, Blinken’s posture during his visit to Israel was self-contradictory. While speaking of the need to tamp down the violence, he also recited the politically de rigueur Washington mantra that “America’s commitment to [Israel’s] security remains ironclad,” “has never wavered,” and “never will.” And he recited it with full knowledge of the expansive way in which Israeli governments interpret “security of Israel,” to include use of force that goes far beyond well-focused defense of that security and includes much that is offensive and aggressive, and much that has more to do with territorial aggrandizement than with the safety of Israeli citizens. The avowedly unconditional nature of American support removes any incentive for Israel to change that pattern.

Israel-Palestinian violence over recent months has, as usual, entailed far more Palestinian victims than Israeli ones. The United Nations envoy for the Middle East reported in December that in 2022 “more than 150” Palestinians had died at the hands of Israeli forces, with “more than 20” Israeli deaths from Palestinian violence. The violence of the last several days was initiated, as is more often than not the case, by Israel. In this instance it was an Israeli raid on a refugee camp in the West Bank city of Jenin, a day before Blinken’s arrival, which led to the death of 10 Palestinians, including a 61-year-old woman. Violent reactions by Palestinians ensued, including the shooting of seven Israelis in East Jerusalem.

The more-extreme-than-ever right-wing government that Netanyahu currently heads makes up another part of the political context of the current violence. That extremism will lead to more provocations likely to induce violence, such as National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir’s stroll on the religiously ultra-sensitive site that Jews know as the Temple Mount and Muslims call the Noble Sanctuary. Another high-profile extremist in Netanyahu’s government, Bezalel Smotrich, has been given ill-defined responsibilities for the administration of the occupied territories.

Officially conducted violence evidently is not enough for this government. Netanyahu announced an acceleration of the licensing of firearms to Israeli civilians, with the objective of arming “thousands” of them. This move is nothing less than a green light for uncontrolled Jew-on-Arab violence — especially as conducted by West Bank settlers, who perpetrated a wave of nearly 150 attacks against Palestinian residents in just one day. The settlers are even less concerned than the government about whether their victims are innocent or guilty of any violence themselves, and the settler violence is driven in large part by state-sanctioned hatred of Arabs.

The extremism of the current Israeli government is not just a given based solely on domestic Israeli politics. American policy has been relevant here, too. Most Israeli citizens as well as Israeli politicians are aware of the importance of the American relationship to their country. If American policy had not for years in effect condoned the more extreme and violent turns that Israeli policy has taken, it is unlikely that last fall’s Israeli election would have produced the results that it did.

A further context for the violence of today has been the half-century of illegal Israeli colonization of the West Bank, accompanied by little more than wrist-slaps from the United States. Blinken uttered the usual American support for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, even though the Israeli colonization project has now gone so far that many observers have concluded that a two-state solution is no longer a possibility, and many Israelis and Palestinians, in their different ways, have moved on from that concept. Netanyahu’s recent statements appear to have driven further nails into the coffin of the two-state solution. And so, Palestinians are denied any hope for gaining control over their own future, with everything that lack of hope implies regarding the possibility of violent responses.

Blinken’s subsequent visit to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas provided no encouragement on that score; Blinken’s only offer was some additional funding of the United Nations relief agency that serves Palestinian refugees. Blinken asked Abbas to do more to control violence, but apparently did not explain why the “ironclad” American commitment to Israeli security is unmatched by any remotely comparable commitment to the security of Palestinians. Although Blinken’s statement on the tarmac upon first landing in Israel was an extended expression of sympathy for the seven Israelis killed in the attack in East Jerusalem — an expression he repeated at a later press conference — his only voicing of sympathy on this trip for the death of innocent Palestinians was a single sentence in his press conference with Abbas.

That Netanyahu’s government sees nothing in American policy toward Israel to deter it from offensive violence applies, unfortunately, not just to violence against Palestinians. A recent reminder of this was a drone attack against a military installation in Isfahan, Iran, which almost all observers have concluded was an Israeli operation. The attack was part of a sustained campaign of clandestine Israeli operations inside Iran that are offensive and not in response to anything comparable that Iran is doing in Israel. Israeli governments and especially Netanyahu have long stoked tensions and confrontation with Iran for several reasons, not least of which is to deflect blame and attention from anything Israel is doing when it comes to violence and instability in the Middle East. Again, the Israeli use of violence has gone against official Amercan policies — with Netanyahu having actively and consistently undermined American diplomacy regarding Iran. And again, Israeli governments have done so without paying a diplomatic, financial, or political penalty. As a result, they have incentive to keep doing such things.

In one instance where it might seem that the Israeli government is leaning in a less rather than more violent direction — its reluctance to provide military aid to embattled Ukraine — a violent agenda underlies its policy. That Israeli policy contravenes American policy, and Netanyahu’s government has even balked at Washington’s transport to Ukraine of old air defense systems that have been stored in Israel. But Netanyahu’s government is not concerned with bloodshed in Ukraine and with trying to de-escalate the war there. Its concern instead is with Israel’s relationship with Russia, and with keeping that relationship friendly enough so that Russia will continue to turn a blind eye to Israel’s sustained campaign of aerial bombardment against targets in Syria. This campaign is one more offensive Israeli use of force, with hardly any munitions being fired in the opposite direction.

If the United States really wants to reduce violence in the Middle East, it must look first to how it has shaped incentives in what it still considers its most important relationship in the region.

HERE IS MORE EVIDENCE THAT THE AMERICAN EMPIRE SABOTAGED PEACE IN UKRAINE

This Substantiates The Claim Made By Vladimir Putin This Past September That Russia And Ukraine Had Been On The Cusp Of Peace Shortly After The Start Of The War.

Days after the war in Ukraine began it was reported by The New York Times that “President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine has asked the Israeli prime minister, Naftali Bennett, to mediate negotiations in Jerusalem between Ukraine and Russia.” In a recent interview, Bennett made some very interesting comments about what happened during those negotiations in the early days of the war.

In a new article titled “Former Israeli PM Bennett Says US ‘Blocked’ His Attempts at a Russia-Ukraine Peace Deal,” Antiwar’s Dave DeCamp writes the following:

Former Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said in an interview posted to his YouTube channel on Saturday that the US and its Western allies “blocked” his efforts of mediating between Russia and Ukraine to bring an end to the war in its early days.

On March 4, 2022, Bennett traveled to Russia to meet with President Vladimir Putin. In the interview, he detailed his mediation at the time between Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, which he said he coordinated with the US, France, Germany, and the UK.”

Bennett said that both sides agreed to major concessions during his mediation effort.

But ultimately, the Western leaders opposed Bennet’s efforts. “I’ll say this in the broad sense. I think there was a legitimate decision by the West to keep striking Putin and not [negotiate],” Bennett said.

When asked if the Western powers “blocked” the mediation efforts, Bennet said, “Basically, yes. They blocked it, and I thought they were wrong.””

Bennett says the concessions each side was prepared to make included the renunciation of future NATO membership for Ukraine, and on Russia’s end dropping the goals of “denazification” and Ukrainian disarmament. As DeCamp notes, this matches up with an Axios report from early March that “According to Israeli officials, Putin’s proposal is difficult for Zelensky to accept but not as extreme as they anticipated. They said the proposal doesn’t include regime change in Kyiv and allows Ukraine to keep its sovereignty.”

Bennett is about as unsavory a character as exists in the world today, but Israel’s complicated relationship with this war lends itself to the occasional release of information not fully in alignment with the official imperial line. And his comments here only add to a pile of information that’s been coming out for months which says the same thing, not just regarding the sabotage of peace talks in March but in April as well.

In May of last year Ukrainian media reported that then-British prime minister Boris Johnson had flown to Kyiv the previous month to pass on the message on behalf of the American empire that “Putin is a war criminal, he should be pressured, not negotiated with,” and that “even if Ukraine is ready to sign some agreements on guarantees with Putin, they are not.”

In April of last year, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said that “there are those within the NATO member states that want the war to continue, let the war continue and Russia gets weaker.” Shortly thereafter, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said that the goal in Ukraine is “to see Russia weakened.”

A September Foreign Affairs report by Fiona Hill asserts that in April of last year a peace deal had been in the works between Moscow and Kyiv, which would presumably have been the agreement that Johnson et al were able to sabotage:

According to multiple former senior American officials, in April 2022, Russian and Ukrainian negotiators appeared to have tentatively agreed on the outlines of a negotiated interim settlement: Russia would withdraw to its position on February 23, when it controlled part of the Donbas region and all of Crimea, and in exchange, Ukraine would promise not to seek NATO membership and instead receive security guarantees from a number of countries.”

In March of last year Bloomberg’s Niall Ferguson reported that sources in the American and UK governments had told him the real goal of western powers in this conflict is not to negotiate peace or end the war quickly, but to prolong it in order “bleed Putin” and achieve regime change in Moscow. Ferguson wrote that he has reached the conclusion that “the U.S. intends to keep this war going,” and says he has other sources to corroborate this:

The only end game now,” a senior administration official was heard to say at a private event earlier this month, “is the end of Putin regime. Until then, all the time Putin stays, [Russia] will be a pariah state that will never be welcomed back into the community of nations. China has made a huge error in thinking Putin will get away with it. Seeing Russia get cut off will not look like a good vector and they’ll have to re-evaluate the Sino-Russia axis. All this is to say that democracy and the West may well look back on this as a pivotal strengthening moment.”

I gather that senior British figures are talking in similar terms. There is a belief that “the U.K.’s No. 1 option is for the conflict to be extended and thereby bleed Putin.” Again and again, I hear such language. It helps explain, among other things, the lack of any diplomatic effort by the U.S. to secure a cease-fire. It also explains the readiness of President Joe Biden to call Putin a war criminal.”

All this taken together heavily substantiates the claim made by Vladimir Putin this past September that Russia and Ukraine had been on the cusp of peace shortly after the start of the war, but western powers ordered Kyiv to “wreck” the negotiations.

After the start of the special military operation, in particular after the Istanbul talks, Kyiv representatives voiced quite a positive response to our proposals,” Putin said. “These proposals concerned above all ensuring Russia’s security and interests. But a peaceful settlement obviously did not suit the West, which is why, after certain compromises were coordinated, Kyiv was actually ordered to wreck all these agreements.”

Month after month it’s been reported that American diplomats have been steadfastly refusing to engage in diplomacy with Russia to help bring an end to this war, an inexcusable rejection that would only make sense if America wants this war to continue. And comments from American officials continually make it clear that this is the case.

In March of last year President Biden himself acknowledged what the real game is here with an open call for regime change, saying of Putin, “For God’s sake, this man cannot remain in power.” Statements from the Biden administration in fact indicate that they expect this war to drag on for a long time, making it abundantly clear that a swift end to minimize the death and destruction is not just uninteresting but undesirable for the American empire.

American officials are becoming more and more open about the fact that they see this war as something that serves their strategic objectives, which would of course contradict the official narrative that the western empire did not want this war and the infantile fiction that Russia’s invasion was “unprovoked”. Recent examples of this would include Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s speech ahead of Zelensky’s visit to Washington in December.

President Zelensky is an inspiring leader,” McConnell said in his speech ahead of the Ukrainian president’s visit to Washington. “But the most basic reasons for continuing to help Ukraine degrade and defeat the Russian invaders are cold, hard, practical American interests. Helping equip our friends in Eastern Europe to win this war is also a direct investment in reducing Vladimir Putin’s future capabilities to menace America, threaten our allies, and contest our core interests.”

In May of last year Congressman Dan Crenshaw said on Twitter that “investing in the destruction of our adversary’s military, without losing a single American troop, strikes me as a good idea.”

Indeed, a report by the empire-funded Center for European Policy Analysis titled “It’s Costing Peanuts for the US to Defeat Russia” asserts that the “US spending of 5.6% of its defense budget to destroy nearly half of Russia’s conventional military capability seems like an absolutely incredible investment.”

In May of last year Senator Joe Manchin said at the World Economic Forum that he opposes any kind of peace agreement between Ukraine and Russia, preferring instead to use the conflict to hurt Russian interests and hopefully remove Putin.

I am totally committed, as one person, to seeing Ukraine to the end with a win, not basically with some kind of a treaty; I don’t think that is where we are and where we should be,” Manchin said.

I mean basically moving Putin back to Russia and hopefully getting rid of Putin,” Manchin added when asked what he meant by a win for Ukraine.

I believe strongly that I have never seen, and the people I talk strategically have never seen, an opportunity more than this, to do what needs to be done,” Manchin later added.

Then you’ve got American officials telling the press that they plan to use this war to hurt Russia’s fossil fuel interests, “with the long-term goal of destroying the country’s central role in the global energy economy” according to The New York Times. You’ve also got the fact that the American State Department can’t stop talking about how great it is that Russia’s Nord Stream Pipelines were sabotaged in September of last year, with Secretary of State Antony Blinken saying the Nord Stream bombing “offers tremendous strategic opportunity” and Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland saying the Biden administration is “very gratified to know that Nord Stream 2 is now, as you like to say, a hunk of metal at the bottom of the sea.”

The American empire is getting everything it wants out of this proxy war. That’s why it knowingly provoked this war, that’s why it repeatedly sabotaged the outbreak of peace after the war broke out, and that’s why this proxy war has no exit strategy. The empire is getting everything it wants from this war, so why wouldn’t it do everything in its power to obstruct peace?

Besides the obvious unforgivable depravity of it all, of course. The empire has always been fine with cracking a few hundred thousand human eggs in order to cook the imperial omelette. It is unfathomably, unforgivably evil, though, and it should outrage everyone who actually has a soul.

FACEBOOK PROTECTS THE NAZIS TO PROTECT AMERICA’S UKRAINE PROXY WAR

Meta, The Parent Company Of Facebook, Announced On January 19th That The Company No Longer Considers Ukraine’s Azov Regiment To Be A “Dangerous Organization.”

The far-right paramilitary group grew out of the street gangs that helped topple Ukraine’s president in the American-backed 2014 coup. Originally funded by the same Ukrainian oligarch that backed President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s rise to power, Azov was on the front lines of civil war in Eastern Ukraine, and was later fully integrated into the Ukrainian national guard.

The main outlet to report on this move was the Kyiv Independent (1/19/23), a Ukrainian newsroom closely linked to Western “democracy promotion” initiatives. These ties are reflected in its coverage of Facebook’s move. Take the description of the Azov Regiment:

The group has sparked controversy over its alleged association with far-right groups—a recurring theme used by Russian propaganda.”

The “association” with “far-right groups” has been far more than “alleged,” and is well documented and openly acknowledged by members of the organization. Even the use of “far-right” downplays the fact that they have regularly been seen sporting Nazi symbols and even making Nazi salutes. NATO was forced to apologize after tweeting a photo of the regiment, circulated as part of public relations for the war, in which a soldier was wearing a symbol from the Third Reich.

The danger of white-supremacist military units used to be widely acknowledged in corporate media.

Even the logo of the Regiment is a variant of a popular Nazi symbol. Another Nazi symbol affiliated with Azov was printed on the Christchurch, New Zealand, shooter’s jacket as he opened fire on multiple mosques in 2019.

The founder of the regiment once asserted that Ukraine’s mission was to “lead the white races of the world in a final crusade…against Semite-led Untermenschen.”

Even Congress, who was funding the Ukrainian military years before the war, acknowledged the regiment’s neo-Nazi affiliation. In 2018, it passed a law restricting those funds from going to Azov fighters. However, officials on the ground acknowledged that there was never any real mechanism preventing the aid from reaching Azov.

The Kyiv Independent article was republished in the American press by Yahoo News (1/19/23)—with a note appended with a link to the Independent’s Patreon fundraising account.

The Washington Post also reported on the move, suggesting that the “Azov Regiment” is now separate from the “Azov Movement,” since the Regiment is now formally under the control of the Ukrainian military. The Post, which called the Regiment “controversial,” did not criticize Meta’s move, and instead highlighted Mykhailo Fedorov, Ukraine’s minister of digital transformation, who praised the decision.

The tech news site Engadget noted that “the change will allow members of the unit to create Facebook and Instagram accounts.”

BACKING NATO PR

This isn’t the first time that the platform’s policies were used to promote the Amercan regime’s public relations objectives. In February 2022, Facebook announced that it would carve out an exception to its policy against praising white supremacy to accommodate the Azov Regiment. In March 2022, Facebook announced it would allow posts calling for violence against Russians within the context of the invasion. This included allowing users to call for the death of Russian President Vladimir Putin, and even Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko.

Facebook encouraged even more ethnic hate against Russians by relaxing policies on violent or hateful speech against Russian individuals. Materials reviewed by the Intercept showed that Facebook and Instagram users were now allowed to call for the “explicit removal [of] Russians from Ukraine and Belarus.” In sharp contrast with its policy against allowing graphic images of the victims of Israel’s attacks on Palestine, the platform began to allow users to post such images from Russia’s invasion.

All of this has contributed to the normalization, or even embrace of neo-Nazis in America. Early in the war, Western media uncritically promoted an Azov publicity event while making no mention of the group’s Nazi ties. In October, the New York Times wrote a laudatory article about “Ukraine’s celebrated Azov Battalion” that completely ignored the group’s Nazi ties. An Azov soldier with a Nazi tattoo was even welcomed to Disney World by liberal icon Jon Stewart.

All of this comes as the American media promote ostensible concern about the growth and influence of the far right at home. This blind spot is especially egregious, given the numerous accounts of American white supremacists going to Ukraine to train with the Azov Regiment in preparation of a new American civil war.

THEY’RE NOT WORRIED ABOUT “RUSSIAN INFLUENCE”, THEY’RE WORRIED ABOUT DISSENT

Being Labeled A Russian Propagandist All Day Every Day For Criticizing America’s Imperialist, Warmongering Foreign Policy Is Really Weird. Or Is It?

However, one advantage it comes with is a useful perspective on what people have really been talking about all these years when they warn of the dangers of “Russian propaganda”.

We know we are not a Russian propagandists. We are not paid by Russia, we have no connections to Russia, and until we started this political commentary gig in 2016 we thought very little about Russia. Our opinions about the western empire sometimes turn up on Russian media because anyone can use our work who wants to, but that was always something they did on their own without my submitting it to them and without any payment or solicitation of any kind. We are literally just some random westerners sharing political opinions on the internet; those opinions just happen to disagree with the American empire and its stories about itself and its behavior.

Yet for years we have watched people pointing at us as an example of what “Russian propaganda” looks like. This has helped inform our understanding of all the panic about “Russian influence” that’s been circulating these last six years, and given us some insight into how seriously it should be taken.

That’s one reason why we were not surprised by Matt Taibbi’s reporting on the Twitter Files revelations about Hamilton 68, an information op run by DC swamp monsters and backed by imperialist think tanks which generated hundreds if not thousands of completely bogus mainstream news reports about online Russian influence over the years.

Hamilton 68 purported to track Russian attempts to influence western thought on social media, but Twitter eventually figured out that the “Russians” the operation has been tracking were actually mostly real, mostly American accounts who just happened to say things that didn’t perfectly align with the official Beltway consensus. These accounts were often right-leaning, but also included people like Consortium News editor Joe Lauria, who’s about as far from a rightist as you can get.

They played a massive role in fanning the flames of public hysteria about online Russian influence, but while they did this by pretending to track the behavior of Russian influence ops, in reality they were tracking dissent.

One of the craziest things happening in the world today is the way westerners are being brainwashed by western propaganda into panicking about Russian propaganda, something that has no meaningful existence in the west. Before RT was shut down in Britain it was drawing a whopping 0.04 percent of the UK’s total TV audience. The much-touted Russian election interference campaign on Facebook was mostly unrelated to the election and affected “approximately 1 out of 23,000 pieces of content” according o Facebook. Research by New York University into Russian trolling behavior on Twitter in the lead-up to the 2016 election has found “no evidence of a meaningful relationship between exposure to the Russian foreign influence campaign and changes in attitudes, polarization, or voting behavior.” A study by the University of Adelaide found that despite all the warnings of Russian bots and trolls following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the overwhelming majority of inauthentic behavior on Twitter during that time was anti-Russian in nature.

Russia exerts essentially zero influence over what westerners think, yet we’re all meant to freak out about “Russian propaganda” while western oligarchs and government agencies continually hammer our minds with propaganda designed to manufacture our consent for the status quo which benefits them.

All this and we’re still seeing calls for more narrative management from the western empire, like the recent American Purpose article “The Long War of Ideas” being promoted by people like Bill Kristol which calls for a resurrection of CIA culture war tactics like those used during the last cold war. Every day there’s some new liberal politician sermonizing about the need to do more to fight Russian influence and protect American minds from “disinformation”, even as we are shown over and over again that what they really want is to shut down dissident voices.

That’s what we’re seeing in the continual efforts to increase online censorship, in the bogus new “fact-checking” industry, in calls to increase the output of formal American government propaganda operations like Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and Radio Free Asia, in the way all facts about Russia has been forcefully purged from the western media in recent years, in the way empire-amplified trolling operations have been shouting down and drowning out critics of American foreign policy online, in the way censorship via algorithm has emerged as one of the major methods of restricting dissident speech.

They claim there needs to be a massive escalation in propaganda, censorship and online psyops in order to fight “Russian influence”, while the only influence operations we’re being subjected to in any meaningful way are only ever of the western variety. They just want to do more of that.

Our rulers aren’t actually worried about “Russian influence”, they’re worried about dissent. They’re worried the public won’t consent to the “great power competition” they plan to subject us to for the foreseeable future unless they can exert massive influence over our minds, because they know that otherwise we will recognize that our interests are directly harmed by the economic warfare, exploding military spending and nuclear brinkmanship which necessarily accompanies that campaign to reign in Russia and stop the rise of China.

They’re propagandizing us about the threat of foreign propaganda in order to justify propagandizing us more. We’re being manipulated into consenting to agendas that no healthy person would ever consent to without copious amounts of manipulation.

THE LIMITS OF TRYING TO BE NUMBER ONE

Do Not, As Madeline Albright Did, Think The Price Is Worth It.

The world is a mess, and Washington is determined to fix it. The secretary of state flies around the globe issuing instructions to friends and foes alike. When foreign officials refuse to listen, Uncle Sam dons his nailed fist.

First come sanctions to back his commands. Washington’s ability and willingness to conduct economic warfare is without pareil. America and its allies understandably fret over Chinese economic performance, in spite of it’s responses such as trade restrictions, bans on tourism, and restrictions of investment. However, the Treasury Department issues new economic sanctions almost daily. Across the globe thousands of governments, businesses, officials, and others are presently on its naughty list.

With nary a thought, let alone serious debate, Congress also penalizes other nations—friends as well as foes—that flout its will. Worst is imposing economic sanctions on already impoverished populations in an attempt to oust or influence their governments. Americans pay for such controls, which greatly complicate international investment, trade, and services, but foreign peoples suffer far more.

Sanctions are notable for both their harm and their ineffectiveness, as seen in Cuba, Venezuela, Syria, Iran, and North Korea. When America targets the entire economy, the resulting hardship is widespread and sometimes deadly. American officials know the harm caused to innocents, but simply don’t care. For instance, when confronted with the mass death of Iraqi children from sanctions, Madeleine Albright’s infamous response was: “We think the price is worth it.”

Alas, little practical has been achieved at such high human cost. Although American sanctions ultimately might weaken target regimes, Washington has failed to enforce its will against any of its adversaries. Despite years, even decades, of sanctions, Cuba remains communist and Venezuela remains independent. North Korea has not abandoned its nuclear weapons, Syria has not ousted Bashar al-Assad, and Iran has not abandoned its nuclear activities. Washington also has tried targeted sanctions under the Global Magnitsky Act, but they have even less impact on hostile governments.

Sanctions have, however, uniformly intensified antagonism toward America. Targeted states have sought assistance elsewhere, especially turning to Russia and China. Washington’s “hostile policy” has become another justification for North Korea’s nuclear program.

Ongoing sanctions against Afghanistan and Russia are likely to fail in much the same way. A year on and the Taliban’s rule in Afghanistan is growing more radical as its people suffer ever more from economic collapse. Moscow is escalating its military campaign against Ukraine. Although the Russian economy will suffer further, especially in high-tech fields, Moscow will remain able to deploy a substantial military. The regime may end up looking a bit like a large North Korea: poor and isolated, but doubly belligerent.

Washington’s second tool of intervention is military action. Resist America and Washington is ever ready to bomb, invade, and occupy your nation! The cost of this policy is enormous, starting with the Pentagon budget. Last month, the lame duck Congress approved a record $858 billion in “defense” (really offense) outlays. The so-called global war on terror alone will ultimately cost, including care for wounded and disabled service personnel, about $8 trillion. That accounts for roughly a third of the current publicly held national debt.

Even more tragic are the lives lost and maimed. A conservative estimate of the total dead in America’s wars over the last two decades is about one million. However, by some measures, the number of Iraqis killed in the aftermath of Washington’s invasion alone approaches that number. American deaths, service personnel and contractors, have been in the thousands. Official statistics undercount injuries, which are in the tens of thousands. Better medical care has saved many who would have died in previous contacts, but rampant suicide has increased the death toll, adding more than four times the number of those killed in action, and thousands live with severe injuries and PTSD.

Nor are Americans the only ones to suffer. Allied troops, especially local forces, have suffered tens of thousands of deaths. Hundreds of thousands of civilians have died in Iraq, Syria, and Yemen. Tens of thousands in Afghanistan. Thousands or tens of thousands – the estimates vary widely – have died in Libya. Large numbers have been injured and millions displaced in these conflicts.

Admittedly, Washington has not directly caused most of the harm, though American airstrikes killed more civilians than successive administrations admitted. Rather, America’s specialty has been to wreck governments and divide countries, inviting and sustaining brutal conflict and mass killing. Washington also has underwritten other combatants, such as Saudi Arabia, which continue to commit murder and mayhem even as prospects for success disappear. None of America’s recent wars have yet delivered the promised peace, stability, prosperity, and democracy.

AMERICA SURROUNDED CHINA WITH WAR MACHINERY WHILE FREAKING YOU OUT ABOUT BALLOONS

In What Has Been Called One Of The Stupidest News Cycles In Living Memory,” The Entire American Political/Media Class Is Having An Existential Meltdown Over A Balloon.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken cancelled his scheduled diplomatic visit to China after the detection of the balloon. The mass media have been covering the story with breathless excitement. China hawk pundits have been pounding the war drums all day on any platform they can get to and accusing the Biden administration of not responding aggressively enough to the incident.

The important thing that the American people need to understand, and what we are going to try to expose in a bipartisan fashion on this committee, is that the threat posed by the Chinese Communist Party is not just a distant threat in East Asia, or a threat to Taiwan,” House China Select Committee Chairman Mike Gallagher told Fox News on Friday. “It is a threat right here at home. It is a threat to American sovereignty, and it is a threat to the Midwest — in places like those that I live in.”

A big Chinese balloon in the sky and millions of Chinese TikTok balloons on our phones,” tweeted Senator Mitt Romney. “Let’s shut them all down.”

China’s foreign ministry says the balloon is indeed from China but is “civilian in nature, used for meteorological and other scientific research,” and was simply blown far off course. This could of course be untrue — all major governments spy on each other constantly and China is no exception — but the Pentagon’s own assessment is that the balloon “does not create significant value added over and above what the PRC is likely able to collect through things like satellites in Low Earth Orbit.”

So everyone’s losing their minds over a balloon that in all probability would be mostly worthless for spying, even while everyone with a brain knows America spies on China at every possible opportunity. American officials have complained to the press that American spies are having a much harder time conducting operations and recruiting assets in China than they used to because of measures the Chinese government has taken to thwart them, and in 2001 an American spy plane caused a major international incident when it collided with a Chinese military jet on China’s coastline, killing the pilot.

America considers it its sovereign right to spy on any nation it chooses, and the average American tends more or less to see it the same way. This is highlighted in controversies around domestic versus foreign surveillance, for example; Americans were outraged over the Edward Snowden revelations not because spy agencies were conducting surveillance, but because they were conducting surveillance on American citizens. It’s just taken as a given that spying on foreigners is fine, so it’s a bit silly to react melodramatically when foreigners return the favor.

As Jake Werner explains for Responsible Statecraft:

Foreign surveillance of sensitive U.S. sites is not a new phenomenon. “It’s been a fact of life since the dawn of the nuclear age, and with the advent of satellite surveillance systems, it long ago became an everyday occurrence,” as my colleague and former CIA analyst George Beebe puts it.

U.S. surveillance of foreign countries is likewise quite common. Indeed, great powers gathering intelligence on each other is one of the more banal and universal facts of international relations. Major countries even spy on their own allies, as when U.S. intelligence bugged the cellphone of German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Typically, even when such surveillance is directed against the United States by a rival power, it does not threaten the safety of Americans and it poses manageable risks to sites where secrecy is of the utmost importance. However — in the context of rapidly increasing U.S.–China tensions — foreseeable incidents like these can quickly balloon into dangerous confrontations.”

Now let’s contrast all this with another news story that’s getting a lot less attention.

In an article titled “US secures deal on Philippines bases to complete arc around China,” the BBC reports that the empire will be adding even more installations to the already impressive military noose it has been constructing around the PRC.

The US has secured access to four additional military bases in the Philippines – a key bit of real estate which would offer a front seat to monitor the Chinese in the South China Sea and around Taiwan,” writes the BBC’s Rupert Wingfield-Hayes. “With the deal, Washington has stitched the gap in the arc of US alliances stretching from South Korea and Japan in the north to Australia in the south. The missing link had been the Philippines, which borders two of the biggest potential flashpoints – Taiwan and the South China Sea.”

The US hasn’t said where the new bases are but three of them could be on Luzon, an island on the northern edge of the Philippines, the only large piece of land close to Taiwan – if you don’t count China,” writes Wingfield-Hayes.

The BBC provides a helpful illustration to show how America is completing its military encirclement, courtesy of the Armed Forces of the Philippines:

The American empire has been surrounding China with military bases and war machinery for many years, in ways Washington would never tolerate China doing in the nations and waters surrounding the United States. There is no question that America is the aggressor in this increasingly hostile standoff between major powers. Yet we’re all meant to be freaking out about a balloon.

Ask us to show you how America has been aggressing against China and we can show you all the well-documented ways in which America is encircling China with weapons of war. Ask an empire apologist to show you how China is aggressing against America and they’ll start babbling about TikTok and balloons.

These things are not equal. Maybe Americans should stop watching out for hostile foreign threats and start looking a little closer to home for the real threat.

TO AMERICAN “NEWS” PAPERS, IRANIAN WEAPONS ARE FAR MORE “NEWSWORTHY” THAN THOSE MADE IN AMERICA

Russia’s Use Of Iranian-Made Drones In The Ukraine War Has Garnered Substantial Attention In The American Propaganda Outlets.

Those include the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post. These papers’ first references to the matter came on July 11th. Between then and now, the publications have run at least 215 pieces that mention Ukraine and the words “Iranian drones,” “Iranian-made drones,” “drones made in Iran” or minor variations on these phrases. That’s more than one mention per day over six-and-a-half months.

The fact that some of Russia’s drones are made in Iran is not only frequently mentioned, but is often featured in headlines like “Iran to Send Hundreds of Drones to Russia for Use in Ukraine, US Says” (Washington Post, 7/11/22), “Ukraine Warns of Growing Attacks by Drones Iran Has Supplied to Russia” (New York Times, 9/25/22) and “Russia’s Iranian Drones Pose Growing Threat to Ukraine” (Wall Street Journal, 10/18/22).

Drones are, of course, just one type of weapons export among many, and American-made armaments have not received similar coverage when they are implicated in the slaughter of innocents.

AMERICAN MADE BOMBS IN GAZA

One example is Israel’s May 10–21, 2021, bombing of Gaza. According to the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Israeli military killed approximately 245 Palestinians, including 63 children, and “totally destroyed or severely damaged” more than 2,000 housing units:

An estimated 15,000 housing units sustained some degree of damage, as did multiple water and sanitation facilities and infrastructure, 58 education facilities, nine hospitals and 19 primary healthcare centers. The damage to infrastructure has exacerbated Gaza’s chronic infrastructure and power deficits, resulting in a decrease of clean water and sewage treatment, and daily power cuts of 18–20 hours, affecting hundreds of thousands.

Israel’s attack was carried out with an arsenal replete with American weaponry. From 2009–20, more than 70% of Israel’s major conventional arms purchases came from America; according to Andrew Smith of the Campaign Against the Arms Trade, Israel’s “major combat aircraft come from the US,” notably including the F-16 fighter jets that were bombarding Gaza at the time (Middle East Eye, 5/18/21). As the Congressional Research Service (11/16/20) noted six months before the attack on Gaza, Israel has received more cumulative American foreign assistance than any other country since World War II:

To date, the United States has provided Israel $146 billion (current, or non-inflation-adjusted, dollars) in bilateral assistance and missile defense funding. At present, almost all American bilateral aid to Israel is in the form of military assistance.

The databases of the Times, Journal and Post was searched for the equivalent terms used for the Iranian drones used in Ukraine, and added analogous terms. In the one-month period beginning May 10, just 15 articles in these papers mentioned Israel’s use of American weapons, approximately half as many stories as have been published on the Russian use of Iranian-made drones each month.

STRONGLY BACKING” ATTACKS ON YEMEN

NYT: Saudi-Led Airstrikes Kill Scores at a Prison in Yemen

A grisly case from the ongoing Yemen war is another worthwhile comparison for how Iranian weapons exports and their American counterparts are covered. On January 21, 2022, the American/Saudi/Emirati/British/Canadian coalition in Yemen bombed a prison in Sa’adah, killing at least 80 people and injuring more than 200. The American weapons-maker Raytheon manufactured the bomb used in the atrocity.

In coverage from the month following the attack, we find evidence of only two articles in the three papers that link the slaughter and American weapons. A New York Times story (1/21/22) raised the possibility that American-made bombs killed people in Sa’adah:

It was unclear whether the weapons used in the airstrikes had been provided by the United States, which in recent years has been by far the largest arms seller to Saudi Arabia and the [United Arab] Emirates, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, which monitors weapons transfers.”

The one piece that explicitly pointed to American culpability in the Sa’adah massacre was an op-ed in the Washington Post (1/26/22) that referred to “ample evidence showing US weapons used in the attack.” Thus the Wall Street Journal didn’t consider American participation in a mass murder that killed 80 people to be newsworthy, and the Times and Post evidently concluded that US involvement merited minimal attention. The Post (1/21/22) even ran an article that misleadingly suggested America had ceased to be a major factor in the war:

The United States once strongly backed the Saudi-led coalition. But President Biden announced early last year that Washington would withdraw support for the coalition’s offensive operations, which have been blamed for the deaths of thousands of civilians. The Trump administration had previously halted US refueling of Saudi jets operating against the Houthis. Some members of Congress had long expressed outrage over US involvement in the war, including weapons sales to Saudi Arabia.”

Yet mere weeks before Sa’adah killings, Congress signed off on a Biden-approved $650 million weapons sale to Saudi Arabia (Al Jazeera, 12/8/21). That means Washington is still “strongly back[ing]” the coalition, notwithstanding the hollow claims that such weapons are defensive (In These Times, 11/22/21).

EXPANDING THREAT”

The coverage of Iran’s weapons exports and the America’s also diverges in terms of the analyses that the outlets offer.

David Ignatius told his Washington Post (8/24/22) readers to “beware the emerging Tehran/Moscow alliance.” In the periods examined, there is a marked shortage of articles urging readers to “beware” the Washington/Tel Aviv or Washington/Riyadh alliances, despise the bloodshed they facilitate.

The Wall Street Journal (10/28/22) contended that:

Russia’s expanding use of Iranian drones in Ukraine poses an increasing threat for the US and its European allies as Tehran attempts to project military power beyond the Middle East.”

The article went on to say that “the Western-made components that guide, power and steer the [Iranian] drones touch on a vexing problem world leaders face in trying to contain the expanding threat.” The piece cited Norman Roule, formerly of the CIA, warn[ing] that the combination of drones and missiles one day might be used against Western powers. “This Ukraine conflict provides Iran with a unique and low-risk opportunity to test its weapons systems against modern Western defenses,” Mr. Roule said.

The American weapons that helped lay waste to Gaza and snuff out dozens of prisoners in Sa’adah are barely presented as having harmed their victims, and not at all as an “increasing” or “expanding” threat to rival powers such as Russia or China, or to anyone else.

MALIGN BEHAVIOR”

A co-author from the “United States Institute for Peace” (Washington Post, 12/6/22) suggests sending “US military escorts” into an active war zone. What could go wrong?

In the New York Times (11/1/22), Bret Stephens contended that the Biden administration should warn Iran’s leaders that their UAV factories will be targeted and destroyed if they continue to provide kamikaze drones to Russia, in flat violation of UN Security Council Resolution 2231. He contends that if Tehran can get away with being an accessory to mass murder in Ukraine, it will never have any reason to fear the United States for any of its malign behavior. Every country should be put on notice that the price for helping Moscow in its slaughter will be steep.

Of course, the UN charter does not give individual countries the right to attack other nations they perceive as violating UN Security Council resolutions. And needless to say, the Times, Journal and Post do not say that American responsibility for mass murder in Palestine and Yemen means that weapons factories in America should be “targeted and destroyed” by a hostile power. Nor do they suggest that America should be “put on notice” that there will be a “steep” “price for helping” Tel Aviv or Riyadh in their “slaughter.”

William B. Taylor and David J. Kramer argue in the Post (12/6/22) that Iranian drones are among the few “Russian weapons that work,” and that America needs to “provid[e] Ukraine with missile defense, anti-drone and antiaircraft systems.” None of the articles examined said that anyone should give military hardware to the Palestinians or Yemenis for protection against American-made weapons.

If these outlets’ concern about Iranian arms exports to Russia were about the sanctity of human life, there wouldn’t be such a gap between the volume and character of this coverage compared to that of American weapons piling up corpses in Palestine and Yemen. Instead, corporate media have focused on how official enemies enact violence, and downplayed that which their own country inflicts.