AN ASSOCIATED PRESS EDITOR SAID SHE “CAN’T IMAGINE” AN AMERICAN INTELLIGENCE OFFICIAL BEING WRONG

The AP Journalist Who Reported An American Intelligence Official’s False Claim That Russia Had Launched Missiles At Poland Last Week Has Been Fired.

As we revealed previously, AP’s anonymously sourced report which said “A senior U.S. intelligence official says Russian missiles crossed into NATO member Poland, killing two people” went viral because of the massive implications of direct hot warfare erupting between Russia and the NATO alliance. AP subsequently retracted its story as the mainstream political/media class came to accept that it was in fact a Ukrainian missile that had struck Poland.

AP’s firing of reporter James LaPorta looks at this time to be the end point of any accountability for the circulation of this extremely dangerous falsehood. AP spokesperson Lauren Easton says no disciplinary action will be taken against the editors who waved the bogus story through, and to this day the public has been kept in the dark about the identity of the American official who fed such extremely egregious misinformation/disinformation to the public through the mainstream press.

It is utterly inexcusable for AP to continue to protect the anonymity of a government official who fed them such a profoundly significant falsehood. This didn’t just affect AP staff, it affected the whole world; we deserve to know what happened and who was responsible, and AP has no business obstructing that knowledge from us.

LaPorta’s firing looks like this is yet another instance where the least powerful person involved in a debacle is being made to take the fall for it. A powerful intelligence official will suffer no consequences for feeding false information to the press — thereby ensuring that it will happen again — and no disciplinary action will be taken against LaPorta’s superiors, despite the absolute buffoonery that subsequent reporting has revealed on their part.

In an article titled “Associated Press reporter fired over erroneous story on Russian attack,” The Washington Post reports the following:

Internal AP communications viewed by The Post show some confusion and misunderstanding during the preparations of the erroneous report.

LaPorta shared the U.S. official’s tip in an electronic message around 1:30 p.m. Eastern time. An editor immediately asked if AP should issue an alert on his tip, “or would we need confirmation from another source and/or Poland?”

After further discussion, a second editor said she “would vote” for publishing an alert, adding, “I can’t imagine a U.S. intelligence official would be wrong on this.””

I can’t imagine a US intelligence official would be wrong on this.”

Can you imagine not being able to imagine an American intelligence official being wrong? This would be an unacceptable position for any educated adult to hold, much less a journalist, still less an editor, and still less an editor of one of the most influential news agencies on earth.

These are the people who publish the news reports people read to find out what’s happening in the world. This is the baby-brained level of thinking these people are serving the public interest with.

Antiwar commentator Daniel Larison writes the following of the AP editor’s shocking quote:

Skepticism about official claims should always be the watchword for journalists and analysts. These are claims that need more scrutiny than usual rather than less. If you can’t imagine that an intelligence official could get something important wrong, whether by accident or on purpose, you are taking far too many things for granted that need to be questioned and checked out first.

Intelligence officials of many governments feed information to journalists and have done so practically ever since there was a popular press to feed information to, and that information certainly should not be trusted just because an official source hands it over. It is also always possible for intelligence officials to just get things wrong, whether it is because they are relying on faulty information or because they were too hasty in reaching conclusions about what they think they know.

Whether the AP’s source was feeding them a line or was simply mistaken, a claim as provocative and serious as this one should have been checked out much more thoroughly before it got anywhere near publication. The AP report in this case seems to have been a combination of a story that was “too good to check” and a culture of deference to official sources in which the editors didn’t feel compelled to make the effort to check.”

Indeed, the only reason the press receive such explicit protections in the American Constitution is because they are supposed to hold the powerful to account. If the editors of a wildly influential news agency will just unquestioningly parrot whatever they are fed by government officials while simultaneously protecting those officials with anonymity, they are not holding the powerful to account, and are in fact not meaningfully different from state propagandists.

They are state propagandists. Which is probably why they are sipping lattes in the AP newsroom while Julian Assange languishes in prison.

As Jacobin’s Branko Marcetic observed, this is far from the first time AP has given the cover of anonymity to American government officials circulating bogus claims of potentially dangerous consequence, like the time it reported an official’s evidence-free assertion which later proved false that Iran had carried out an attack on four oil tankers off the coast of the United Arab Emirates, or the time it let another one anonymously claim that “Iran may try to take advantage of America’s troop withdrawals from Iraq and Afghanistan.”

SO TO RECAP —

  • Powerful government official who fed AP a false story: Zero accountability

  • AP editor who asked if a report should immediately be published upon receipt of the story: Zero accountability

  • Second AP editor who says she can’t imagine an American intelligence official would be wrong: Zero accountability

  • Journalist who wrote the story: Singular accountability

  • In a sane society, power and responsibility would go hand in hand. A disaster would be blamed on the most powerful people involved in its occurrence. In our society it’s generally the exact opposite, with the rank-and-file taking all of the responsibility and none of the power.

Our rulers lie to us, propagandize us, endanger us, impoverish us, destroy journalism, start wars, kill our biosphere and make our world dark and confusing, and they suffer no consequences for it. We cannot allow them to continue holding all of the power and none of the responsibility. This is backwards and must end.

JOE BIDEN AND THE CIA TRY TO SPLIT PUTIN AND XI

Biden Allegedly Sought To Lower Tensions With China Last Week When He Promised Chinese Counterpart Xi Jinping That Washington Was “Not Seeking A New Cold War” With Beijing.

Biden’s talk of “not seeking a new Cold War” with China is contemptible in the face of empirical events and American conduct.

The two leaders met on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Indonesia. It was their first face-to-face meeting since Biden took office in January 2021. While Biden was all smiles for a handshake photo-op, Xi looked noticeably reserved, like a guy who was bracing himself as one about to hear loads of bullshit.

After more than three hours of private discussions, the Americans and Western media subsequently tried to spin that both sides had agreed on condemning Russia’s alleged threat to use nuclear weapons in Ukraine. This was the Americans taking license. Xi did not specify Russia, according to the White House readout of the meeting. Both leaders condemned nuclear war and said it should never be fought, a rebuke which applies as much to the United States as anyone else. The Western media, however, tried to spin it as joint condemnation of Russia.

The Chinese side had quite a different take on what was conveyed in the meeting. No wonder that Xi had looked reserved when he greeted Biden earlier.

President Xi was quoted as telling Biden: “A statesman should think about and know where to lead his country. He should also think about and know how to get along with other countries and the wider world… Instead of talking in one way and acting in another, the United States needs to honor its commitments with concrete action.”

This was pretty close to the Chinese president calling out his American counterpart as a bare-faced liar who can’t be trusted in what he says.

After all, Biden has continued the policy of massively arming China’s island province of Taiwan. That is a direct assault on Beijing’s sovereignty and China’s territorial integrity as well as posing a threat to its national security across the 150-km Taiwan Strait.

This American president has said publicly on four occasions that the America would defend Taiwan militarily if the Chinese mainland were to exercise its legal right to use force for bringing the island under full administrative control from Beijing. Those declarations by Biden violate the legally binding One China principle recognized by international law as well as under domestic American laws. At the G20 summit this week, Biden said there was no change in American policy on Taiwan, despite his previous flagrant statements to the contrary.

The Biden administration is planning to station nuclear-capable B-52 bombers in Australia aimed at provoking China as well as supplying Canberra with nuclear submarines as part of a new military coalition in the Asia-Pacific involving the United Kingdom, known as AUKUS.

Washington has also stepped up economic warfare against China with bans on the export of hi-tech semiconductors vital for Chinese industry.

The resumption of American war drills off the Korean Peninsula in recent weeks after a three-year hiatus has sharply escalated tensions with between North and South Korea which poses a destabilizing national security risk for neighboring China.

So, Biden’s talk of “not seeking a new Cold War” with China is contemptible in the face of empirical events and American conduct.

Which brings us to the question: what was Biden trying to achieve in soft-talking to Xi?

It seems the president was really seeking to split China from Russia.

Biden talked about no Cold War with China. But what about Russia? Seems the United States is full-on about aggravating Moscow. Can a presumed superpower be credibly in a Cold War with one adversary but not with another? That dichotomy doesn’t sound believable. So, what’s going on?

It is significant that Putin did not attend the G20 summit this week. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was deputized to act as Russia’s dignitary for the event. Why Putin did not go to the summit was not clear.

Also significant was a top-level meeting held in Turkey at the same time between the American and Russian spy chiefs.

William Burns, the CIA director, met with the head of Russia’s foreign intelligence Sergei Naryshkin in Ankara. The meeting was widely reported in the Western media which is unusual for such back-channel encounters. The impression is that the Biden administration wanted this meeting to be widely reported for the optics and headlines. Western headlines dutifully reported that Burns purportedly “warned Russia against using nuclear weapons in Ukraine”.

The White House’s national security council emphasized that Burns was not engaged in talks to end the conflict in Ukraine.

The heavily reported narrative of “warning Russia against nukes” reinforces the contrived notion that Russia is a pariah state that is threatening to use nuclear weapons, whereas it is Moscow that has repeatedly warned that the war being fueled in Ukraine by the United States and its NATO partners could spiral uncontrollably into a catastrophic confrontation.

Russia has not threatened to use nuclear weapons, has not even mentioned the word, and it has warned of the reckless dangers that America and NATO are stoking. If anything, it is the United States and its partners who are implicitly threatening the risk of nuclear war. President Vladimir Putin’s warned in September that if Russia’s existential security is threatened by NATO then Moscow reserves “the right to use all means of defense”. That reasonable warning has been cynically distorted to appear like a menacing threat to use nukes by Russia.

It seems that the Burns trip was aimed at further demonizing Russia as a nuclear threat to world security. Meanwhile, Biden was trying to ingratiate himself with Xi as a way to undermine the strong friendship that has developed between Beijing and Moscow, especially under Xi and Putin’s leadership.

Biden’s bid to appease Xi by saying that there is no Cold War intended is a blatant lie that China no doubt can see through as plain as a glass of urine. Biden and Burns’ clunky double act is likely to not impress anyone in Beijing and Moscow.

MUSK’S “FREE SPEECH” AGENDA FOR TWITTER HASN’T ACCOMPLISHED MUCH

Musk Hasn’t Done Anything To Meaningfully Scale Back The Speech Restrictions On The Platform Except For A Few Oligarchs.

When Elon Musk’s purchase of Twitter was first announced this past April it was postulated that the purchase likely wouldn’t go through if the empire thought it posed a threat to its information interests. It was said that any reduction of censorship protocols which Musk implements on the platform would probably not be of the sort that make any difference to the powerful, but would instead just amplify vapid partisan culture war nonsense.

So far since Musk’s takeover, this does appear to be the case.

In recent days Twitter has reinstated the accounts of Donald Trump, Kanye West, Jordan Peterson, Project Veritas, Kathy Griffin, and the Babylon Bee. This to date is as close as Musk has come to honoring his stated intention of making Twitter a haven of free speech where people have a “digital town square” to debate and discuss ideas.

And it’s not enough. Un-banning a few famous people will drum up a lot of headlines and online chatter and make it look like he is really doing something, but in the end all he has done is reinstate a handful of Twitter accounts. He hasn’t done anything to meaningfully scale back the speech restrictions on the platform.

We can already hear the Elon simps falling all over themselves in a mad rush to tell us it’s only been a few weeks and we need to give Daddy more time, but they can go lick a Tesla battery. Nobody gains anything by giving the billionaire the benefit of the doubt and refraining from pointing out that he hasn’t done nearly enough at this point. The time to start criticizing and pushing is right now.

Twitter is currently full of discussions about which famous people Musk should un-ban next, but they’re completely missing the point. Reinstating a handful of celebrities has no meaningful effect on the free expression of normal people.

We don’t care that we can see tweets from Trump and Kanye again; we care that people are still banned from the platform for questioning western allegations of Russian war crimes and voicing unauthorized opinions about the war in Ukraine. We care that people are still banned for questioning vaccines and Covid policies which affect everyone. We care that media from governments America doesn’t control are censored and suppressed while its reporters are made to carry “state-affiliated media” labels that media personnel from American puppet states don’t have. You should care that mass purges of accounts are virtually always directed at people from nations targeted by America.

Free speech is important first and foremost not because it feels nice to be able to say whatever you want, but because being able to freely criticize the powerful puts an important check on power. Letting celebrities say whatever they want about trans people or what have you is of the “feels nice to say whatever I want” variety. We’re not seeing any increase in the freedoms of speech which put a check on power.

In fact, we’re seeing Musk pledge to use shadowbanning to algorithmically censor tweets with unauthorized speech.

New Twitter policy is freedom of speech, but not freedom of reach,” Musk tweeted on Friday. “Negative/hate tweets will be max deboosted and demonetized, so no ads or other revenue to Twitter. You won’t find the tweet unless you specifically seek it out, which is no different from rest of Internet.”

Musk never clarified what he means by “negative” tweets; it’s as vague and subjective a definition as anyone could possibly come up with, which will surely result in abuses and overreach unless clarified.

Freedom of speech but not freedom of reach” is the same dumbass slogan that’s been used by proponents of internet censorship for a long time. It basically means that you can say whatever you want, but if it’s not approved speech then no one will ever hear it. Which of course isn’t free speech at all. It’s like saying “You have free speech! You can say whatever you want, as long as you say it alone in a soundproof room.”

Censorship by algorithm is actually more damaging than overt censorship, because it happens in a much subtler way that people don’t notice, and because it can be done at mass scale. This is the same form of censorship that’s been embraced by platforms like Facebook and YouTube, which up until now have been far more restrictive of speech than Twitter.

So as far as we are concerned Musk is failing the free speech test. Speech is not becoming any freer on Twitter in any way that actually matters, and from all appearances it’s still functioning as a narrative control tool for the most powerful empire that has ever existed.

And that’s pretty much what you’d expect from a billionaire Pentagon contractor who is inextricably interwoven with the American military-industrial complex. People don’t get to be billionaires unless they collaborate with existing power structures, and they certainly never get anywhere close to managing critical narrative control infrastructure unless they are devoutly loyal to the empire.

Billionaires only come to the rescue in movies and comic books. Elon Musk is no more likely to save the day than Tony Stark or Bruce Wayne. People only believe he’s a hero because Hollywood has trained us to look for heroes, but Hollywood only does that to keep us searching for heroes outside ourselves.

We’ll never get a healthy world if we keep looking to billionaires, politicians and celebrities to make things better. It’s going to have to come from us. The sooner we wake up to that reality the better a chance our species will have at surviving the existential crises looming on out horizon.

ISRAELIS AND AMERICANS SHOULD KNOW THAT ARMED RESISTANCE TO OCCUPATION IS LEGAL AND NOT TERRORISM

The Media Plays A Key Role In Keeping The Israeli And American Public Thoroughly Ignorant Of The Most Basic Facts.

Despite what international law says, the Israeli public has internalised the notion that, by definition, there is no legitimate Palestinian struggle for national liberation.

It is doubtful if more than a handful of Jews in Israel or Americans could tell you accurately how many raids the Israeli army conducted last week in Palestinian cities in the West Bank, the number of arrests they made, or the number of people they killed.

At the same time, it is doubtful if there were more than a handful of Israelis who had not heard of the shooting incident on a soldiers’ bus in the Jordan Valley, on Sunday 4 September.

A Palestinian shooting at Israeli soldiers – as opposed to Israelis shooting at Palestinians – is not just an alarming “man bites dog” story that reverses the usual order, demanding extensive reports; in all of those reports, the event was defined as a terror attack and the Palestinian shooters as terrorists.

Not a word about how the shooting targeted soldiers of an occupying army and occurred on occupied land.

The media has a key role in shaping public consciousness to serve the establishment’s propaganda machine, while keeping the public thoroughly ignorant of the most basic facts.

The public, in general, has completely internalised the notion that, by definition, there is no legitimate Palestinian struggle for national liberation.

As with the thorough erasure of the 1949 armistice line, also known as the Green Line, from Israeli consciousness – to the point that the mere mention of its existence by the Tel Aviv municipality provokes threats from the Ministry of Education – so too the consistent labelling of any Palestinian struggle as terrorism obscures the important distinction under international law between an action targeting combatants and one directed against civilians.

A LEGITIMATE RIGHT

The fact is that international law recognises the legitimate right of a people to fight for its freedom, and for “liberation from colonial control, apartheid and foreign occupation by all the means at its disposal, including armed struggle”, as confirmed, for example, by a resolution of the UN General Assembly in 1990.

The use of force to achieve liberation is legitimate. The manner in which force is used is governed by the laws of war, the main purpose of which is to protect uninvolved civilians on both sides.

The Jordan Valley shooting did not target civilians, and cannot be considered a terrorist act. It was an act of armed resistance against an occupying power, on occupied land.

The Israeli regime and its dutiful echo, the western media, treat every action against occupation forces on occupied land exactly as if they were actions targeting civilians in the heart of Tel Aviv: as terrorist acts perpetrated by terrorists.

This conflation not only negates a legal or moral basis for the act; it is also contrary to the interests of Israel’s citizens.

The relevant laws of war are designed first and foremost to protect civilians who are not participants in the cycle of violence and to limit that violence to actual combatants.

Israel, however, recognises no such category of Palestinian combatants; from Israel’s standpoint, any resistance, even nonviolent resistance, to its occupation and oppression poses a danger to security that is easily recognised as terror, as when Israel recently declared the six most prominent Palestinian NGOs to be terror organisations.

This is a two-way distortion by Israel. Just as it treats every Palestinian action, even those directed against soldiers, as acts of terrorism, so too does Israel paint any Israeli action taken against Palestinians as legitimate, even when those Palestinians are civilians.

A TYPICAL BRUTALITY

For an especially outrageous example of this policy, consider the final conclusions published by the Israeli army regarding the fatal shooting of journalist Shireen Abu Akleh. The army initially claimed that Abu Akleh was killed by Palestinian gunfire, a blatant lie that was exposed by a series of media outlets that examined the evidence minutely. The revised version the army later published is also far from congruent with the evidence.

The Military Advocate General announced that no investigation would be opened, despite the chilling admission that Abu Akleh, wearing a vest clearly identifying her as a journalist, was shot to death by a soldier using a sniper rifle’s telescopic sight – which magnifies the target by a factor of four.

Equally disgraceful was the Israeli response to the very minor American request to “take another look at” the army’s open-fire procedures in the West Bank.

Not that the army will stop murdering innocent people, God forbid, nor that it will stop the endless invasions of West Bank cities, the mass arrests, the midnight abductions of children from their beds – just that it will exert itself a bit more, if it’s not too difficult, to avoid any more such cases.

The mighty United States prefers not to find itself mired in such cases because the victim happens to hold American citizenship, as was the case with Abu Akleh.

Even the courtesy of paying lip service to this minor request was not forthcoming from Israel, which responded with typical brutality. Prime Minister Yair Lapid hastened to tell the Americans that “no one will dictate open-fire regulations to us”.

Defence Minister Benny Gantz, in the same spirit, stated: “The chief of staff, and he alone, determines and will continue to determine the open-fire policies.”

In other words, Israel put the Americans, indeed the entire world, on notice: no one will tell Israel how many, who, when, where or how we will kill. And there the matter ends, until the next time.

AN ASSOCIATED PRESS STORY WITH A QUESTIONABLE SOURCE ALMOST SET OFF WORLD WAR III

A Deadly Explosion In Poland Kicked Off Hours Of Near-Gleeful Speculation About Whether NATO Would Join The Fight Against Russia.

On November 15th, reports emerged that a pair of rockets had slammed into a quiet farming town in Poland. The tragic blast killed two locals, marking the first time that the war in Ukraine bled over into NATO territory.

Western officials now widely agree that the Russian-made S-300 rockets were launched by Ukrainian forces as part of their ongoing effort to counter Russia’s attacks on their infrastructure. But that conclusion came after a long day of finger-pointing, with many leaders in politics and media using the blast as an opportunity to condemn Moscow and call for a swift response, up to and including the invocation of NATO’s collective defense pledge.

To put it more bluntly, a lot of people spent yesterday calling for war between the world’s two largest nuclear powers.

The incident gives a unique glimpse into how moments of crisis, which are often marked by limited information and strong emotions, create the conditions for rapid escalation, according to George Beebe of the Quincy Institute.

We’re all walking close to the edge of a disaster, and the United States should not be confident that we won’t be pushed over that edge by forces we can’t control,” said Beebe, who previously led the CIA’s Russia Analysis Group.

In order to better understand this dynamic, it is helpful to take a closer look at the events.

The first indication that something had gone wrong in Poland came at 12:38 pm EST, when Reuters reported that Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki had called an emergency meeting of his national security team. Shortly after 1 pm, a flurry of Polish media outlets revealed that the rockets were the reason for the emergency gathering.

The first images of the blast quickly started to emerge, prompting some analysts to point out that the debris looked an awful lot like an S-300 rocket, part of a Soviet-era missile defense system that Kyiv continues to use today.

But at 2 pm, just as it had started to become clear that Russia was an unlikely culprit, AP News published a one-sentence, one-source story that would prove remarkably consequential: “A senior U.S. intelligence official says Russian missiles crossed into NATO member Poland, killing two people.”

Within minutes, prominent media personalities had already started to call on NATO to invoke Article V, which mandates that member states meet to determine a collective response whenever one of them is attacked. (It is worth noting that, contrary to popular belief, Article V does not prescribe a rapid response, and Congress would likely have to approve such a move.)

At 2:10 pm, Nika Melkozerova, a Ukrainian journalist with a significant following in the West, tweeted “So.. article 5?” Melkozerova softened her comment 20 minutes later, calling on concerned parties to “wait for official information.”

But Lesia Vasylenko, a member of Ukraine’s parliament, had no such compunction. The lawmaker simply tweeted out the phrase “Article 5” at 2:29 pm, adding later that Russian President Vladimir Putin was “testing the limits” with the strikes and that “reaction=appeasement.”

Paul Massaro, a prominent American supporter of Ukraine and member of the American Helsinki Commission, said around the same time that “Russian terrorism” had reached Poland, adding shortly after that it was “[h]ard to believe this was an accident.”

Some NATO leaders seemed to follow in Massaro and Vasylenko’s footsteps. “Very concerned by Russian missiles dropping in Poland,” tweeted Slovakian Defense Minister Jaroslav Nad at 2:46 pm. “Will be in close contact with [NATO allies] to coordinate [a] response.”

A “senior European diplomat” echoed Nad in a Politico piece, saying that it was “appalling to see a desperate regime attacking critical infrastructure of Ukraine and hitting allied territory with victims.” (The diplomat did hedge by noting that the author of the attack was not yet confirmed.)

The Pentagon’s spokesman had the misfortune of having already scheduled a press conference for 2 pm, when little was known about the blast. “I don’t want to speculate when it comes to our security commitments and Article 5,” Patrick Ryder said, noting that he could not confirm AP’s report. “But we have made it crystal clear that we will protect every inch of NATO territory.”

The boilerplate promise to defend “every inch of NATO territory” earned an outsized response.

Given Russia’s purported senseless attack on NATO, nothing less than the organization’s very credibility as a collective defense organization was at stake.

Or at least that is what Anders Aslund of the Atlantic Council argued at around 3:30 pm. In a message aimed directly at President Joe Biden, Aslund said, “You have promised to defend ‘every inch of NATO territory.’ Are you going to bomb Russia now?” He added that Biden’s first move should be to establish a no-fly zone in Ukraine before “clean[ing] out the Russian Black Sea fleet.”

At the same time, Sergej Sumlenny, a prominent European policy expert, implied in a viral tweet that the attack was an intentional extension of Russia’s assault on Ukrainian infrastructure.

Shortly after, Mykhailo Podolyak, one of the top advisors to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, declared that the strikes were “not an accident, but a deliberately planned ‘hello’ from [Russia], disguised as a ‘mistake.’”

Russia denied the claim, saying that “[n]o strikes on targets near the Ukrainian-Polish state border were made by Russian means of destruction.” But, somewhat understandably for many of Ukraine’s supporters, Russia’s word no longer holds much purchase.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba responded at 4:35 pm that Moscow “promotes a conspiracy theory that it was allegedly a missile of Ukrainian air defense” that hit Poland. “No one should buy Russian propaganda or amplify its messages,” Kuleba added. Around the same time, Zelensky tweeted that the “Russian attack on collective security in the Euro-Atlantic is a significant escalation” of the conflict.

Luckily, the Biden administration didn’t take the bait. Despite the sharp words from Kyiv, American and Polish officials maintained that the origin of the missiles was unclear and insisted that they needed more time to investigate the incident. At 7 pm, Biden, who is currently in Bali for the G20 conference, offered “full support” for Warsaw’s investigation following a call with Polish President Andrzej Duda.

Speculation and calls for escalation continued to run rampant as officials from across the West held emergency meetings. It took until nearly midnight for AP News to finally report that “[t]hree U.S. officials said preliminary assessments suggested the missile was fired by Ukrainian forces at an incoming Russian one amid the crushing salvo against Ukraine’s electrical infrastructure Tuesday.”

Even after this news emerged, Podolyak maintained that NATO should enact a no-fly zone in Ukraine, which would likely require Western pilots to fight their Russian counterparts directly, putting four nuclear-armed nations at war. Kyiv continues to deny that it fired the missiles.

This morning, Biden disputed Ukraine’s line, saying it was “unlikely” that the missiles came from Russia. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg also declared that there is “no indication this was the result of a deliberate attack” but added that Russia holds ultimate responsibility for the attack given Moscow’s invasion and continued attacks on Ukrainian cities.

The trajectory of events starting from the initial report about the missiles hitting inside Poland highlights the difference between American and Ukrainian interests when it comes to direct NATO involvement in the conflict, according to Beebe.

There is a clear divergence of interests on that score, and the Biden team was appropriately cautious about gathering the facts about what happened and not rushing to judgment about potential retaliation,” he said.

In the end, the voices calling for calm won out over their more hawkish counterparts. But the incident serves as a stark reminder that misinformation spreads fast in moments of crisis, which can result in dangerous escalation. This makes it all the more important that major outlets like AP News get the story right the first time, as journalist Ken Klippenstein argued on Twitter.

This is why journalists are supposed to verify information before they report it,” Klippenstein wrote.

YOU SHOULD BLAME THE DEEP STATE FOR THE CARNAGE IN UKRAINE

America’s Foreign Policy Establishment Knew It Was Needlessly Provoking Russia At Every Step Along The Way.

From the onset of the Ukraine war, the corporate media, politicians, and all the controlled NGOs throughout America and Western Europe were lockstep in their claim that the Russian military action in eastern Ukraine was unprovoked and unjustified—an act of aggression that could not be allowed to stand.

There was one problem with this propaganda blitz: it was totally untrue. The Deep State—the government elites, intelligence community, and the military establishment—has spent decades threatening and provoking Russia by pushing NATO up against their border.

You do not have to like Russia to see this, and you can detest Vladimir Putin until the cows come home. The fundamental issue remains the same: the Russians view NATO on their border as an act of aggression and a threat to their national security, and we have known this for decades.

The record is clear and unassailable.

In 1990, as the Soviet Union was beginning to break apart and the possibility of peace throughout most of the world was in sight, the United States—in no less a personage than James Baker, America’s secretary of State—pledged that NATO would not move eastward toward the Russian border. That promise was central to enabling the withdrawal of the Soviet military divisions from East Germany to facilitate the unification of the country. This commitment also provided the security necessary for the dissolution of power inside the Soviet Union. Without such a guarantee, the resistance to the breakup would have been intense and almost certainly violent.

At that point, it had been less than 50 years since Russia had been invaded. The horror of the Second World War cost the Russian people an estimated 25 to 35 million lives. In addition to the unimaginable sea of blood from that war, Russians well remember the many other invasions that have caused death, sorrow, and brokenness for an incalculable number of their fellow citizens. Since Americans have never experienced a foreign invasion, they have no concept of that horror. (The war of 1812 was a brief and small fight.)

Secretary of State Baker did the right thing to assuage a legitimate fear and facilitate the breakup and the freeing of hundreds of millions of people captive in the Soviet system. But before the ink was dry, the American foreign policy establishment as expressed in NATO and the E.U. began breaking its word.

As post-Soviet Russia went through a serious economic depression unknown to most in the West, the elites in America and Europe put together a plan to expand NATO all the way to the borders of Russia. This cynical move openly ignored and violated the West’s pledge. In early 1997 George Kennan, the foreign policy lion of much of the 20th century, warned in an op-ed in the New York Times:

In late 1996, the impression was allowed, or caused, to become prevalent that it had been somehow and somewhere decided to expand NATO up to Russia’s borders.

But something of the highest importance is at stake here. And perhaps it is not too late to advance a view that, I believe, is not only mine alone but is shared by a number of others with extensive and in most instances more recent experience in Russian matters. The view, bluntly stated, is that expanding NATO would be the most fateful error of American policy in the entire post-cold-war era.”

A year later, in May 1998, following a vote by the Senate to expand NATO, Kennan again warned the Western policy elites of the danger in an interview with Thomas Friedman of the New York Times.

”I think it is the beginning of a new cold war,” said Mr. Kennan from his Princeton home. ”I think the Russians will gradually react quite adversely and it will affect their policies. I think it is a tragic mistake. There was no reason for this whatsoever. No one was threatening anybody else. This expansion would make the Founding Fathers of this country turn over in their graves. We have signed up to protect a whole series of countries, even though we have neither the resources nor the intention to do so in any serious way. [NATO expansion] was simply a light-hearted action by a Senate that has no real interest in foreign affairs.”

Kennan’s warnings were ignored. A year later, in 1999, NATO engaged in military action against the newly formed nation of Serbia. To this day, you can see the damage of the bombings in Belgrade, the Serbian capital.

Serbia has been an ally of Russia since the time of the First World War. This was viewed in Russia as a warning that NATO intended to do as it pleased and that anyone who stood up to them could count on the same treatment. This calculated insult led directly to the rise of a nationalist leader in Russia. In 2000, Vladimir Putin was elected president. Since the bombing of Serbia, America and NATO’s participation in wars and the willful wreckage of other countries such as Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, and a number of countries in Africa, Central, and South America, has not gone unnoticed by the Russian leadership.

No serious person in Washington can say they were not warned of the impact of their power-lust in expanding NATO. But the lie continues. The top foreign policy leaders who spoke up over the years against the destructive interventions were ignored.

William Burns, Biden’s director of the CIA—the agency charged with knowing how other nations will act and react—has had a ringside seat on Russian and NATO policy for more than 30 years. In 1990, Burns served under Secretary of State James Baker in a planning role during the period when Baker made the pledge to Russia that NATO would not advance past the borders of the newly reunited Germany.

Burns’s career as an anointed cardinal of the Deep State is well documented. In fact, he is a bit of a legacy. Burns’s father, a major general in the Army, was deeply involved in intelligence work and served Reagan and Bush on the Disarmament Councils. Burns himself was a Clinton appointee in 1995 when he wrote, while serving as counselor for political affairs at the American Embassy in Moscow, that “hostility to early NATO expansion is almost universally felt across the domestic political spectrum here.”

The intensity of Russia’s antipathy to the expansion of NATO toward their border, and Ukraine in particular, was accentuated in a 2008 report by Burns—at that time American ambassador to the Russian Federation—to Bush II Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice: “Ukrainian entry into NATO is the brightest of all redlines for the Russian elite (not just Putin). In more than two and a half years of conversations with key Russian players, from knuckle-draggers in the dark recesses of the Kremlin to Putin’s sharpest liberal critics, I have yet to find anyone who views Ukraine in NATO as anything other than a direct challenge to Russian interests.”

Even if Biden’s CIA director was not able to bring his extensive experience to bear this year, others in the State Department knew full well how Russia would react to open moves to add Ukraine to the membership rolls of NATO. Yet Victoria Nuland, mandarin in the neocon ranks of the foreign policy establishment and State Department, in 2013 boasted that the U.S. had spent more than $5 billion promoting pro-Western “civil society” groups in Ukraine since the end of the Cold War.

In 2014 the United States assisted, if not outright directed, a coup d’état against an elected government in Ukraine because that government wanted friendly relations with Russia—a larger neighbor with a shared history stretching back centuries. The Deep State could not tolerate that friendship. An infamous leaked call between then Assistant Secretary of State Nuland and former U.S. Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt discussing helping “midwife” the February 2014 revolution can be heard here. University of Chicago Professor John Mearsheimer gave a 2015 lecture in which he warned about the problems and dangers wrought by the 2014 American engineered Ukraine crisis.

After numerous rebuffed Russian diplomatic overtures to resolve the dangers posed by an unfriendly and NATO-armed Ukraine, Russia did act—as Kennan, Burns, and others predicted. The Russians moved in 2014 to defend their southern border. By supporting local Russian-speaking separatists, Russia was able to secure Crimea, a peninsula that had been central to the Russian Navy for 300 years. Did they go further? No. Did they start a full-on war? No. But they did as they had promised and moved to defend their nation’s southern front. As Professor John Mearsheimer pointed out in a June 6, 2022, lecture, there was a long list of provocations by America and NATO leading up to that.

Many of these provocations were outlined in the 2019 Rand Corporation report entitled Extending Russia. The Rand Corporation is a Deep State think tank which has helped engineer most of American foreign interventions since its founding in 1948. But even the Rand report summary warns against going so far as to precipitate military action. Apparently the brain-trust of Nuland, Biden, and Blinken didn’t read that part. For years, they have made Ukraine a de facto member of NATO, a neutral nation in name only. Since the 2015 Minsk treaty, they have poked the bear—and they kept poking until the bear lashed out. How does that serve America’s interests?

If you are interested in having a glimpse into the thoughts and designs of our Deep State toward Russia, read the whole Extending Russia Rand Corporation report. It is a chilling litany of the United States’ intentional interference in sovereign nations in Russia’s neighborhood to injure and provoke Russia. American policy has been, apparently: instigate hostilities between Ukraine and Russia at all costs. Why did leadership refuse to negotiate in good faith with Russia? They knew the Russians would react as they have. What did American policymakers hope to gain?

These are the questions that must be answered. Foreign policy and military elites must be held to account for the death and destruction their antagonistic policies have unleashed. They can pretend they didn’t know what would happen, but serious foreign policy experts outside the Washington bubble know better.

THE REAL WINNER OF THE MIDTERMS IS THE WAR PARTY

Arms Makers Pay Big Money To Make Sure That No Matter What Party Is In Power, Lawmakers Like These Will Be Running The Show.

Despite an underwhelming performance in the midterm elections, Republicans appear poised to take back the House for the first time since 2016. The shift has the potential to impact a wide range of policies and will undoubtedly lead to a series of hearings on everything from the Afghanistan withdrawal to Hunter Biden’s business dealings.

But when it comes to defense spending, there’s little reason to think that GOP leaders will rock the boat.

To understand why, one just has to take a quick look at two of the most influential defense policy roles in the House: the heads of the committees that oversee spending and the armed services. The Republicans who are expected to take on these roles next year both have strong incentives to keep Pentagon spending high.

Take Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Ala.), who will likely succeed Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) as the chair of the House Armed Services Committee. Rogers has been a leading proponent of a push to increase defense spending purportedly because of historically high inflation rates, despite the Pentagon’s insistence that its own budget request had already taken the economic climate into account.

He’s also received over $400,000 from arms makers this cycle, making him the single largest recipient of defense industry campaign donations in the 2022 cycle, according to Open Secrets. And Rogers’ district contains parts of Calhoun and Talladega counties, which together got over $200 million in defense money last year.

Of course, Rogers is only slightly more hawkish than his Democratic predecessor, who banked more than $300,000 from defense primes this year and happens to hail from a district that got $8.5 billion in defense spending in 2021. But the difference could be a bit bigger when it comes to the Appropriations Committee, which is currently led by self-described progressive Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.).

Despite having relatively little defense money go to her district, DeLauro has long been a champion of keeping military funding high. As her website makes clear, her main foreign policy priority is guaranteeing that defense spending keeps flowing to her home state, even if that means continuing to fund controversial, expensive programs like the F-35.

Rosa has always supported defense programs that maintain jobs in Connecticut, including the Black Hawk, Marine One Presidential, Combat Rescue and CH-53K heavy-lift helicopter programs, as well as the procurement of engines for the C-17, F-22, F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and other aircraft,” her site explains. “Rosa [has] been an advocate for the Joint Strike Fighter primary engine, with testing and assembly of that engine taking place in Middletown, and played a lead role in terminating the alternate engine program.”

Her most likely successor is Rep. Kay Granger (R-Texas). Granger is a vocal supporter of the F-35 and the notoriously dangerous V-22 Osprey, which she says “are integral to our national security and play a vital role in our military’s offensive and defensive strategies.” Her campaign also raked in over $200,000 from defense companies, and her district contains parts of Tarrant County, which received more than $12 billion in military spending last year.

In total, 15 of the top 16 recipients of defense industry campaign funds in the House are members of one or both of these two committees. The only exception to that rule is Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.), who is the odds-on favorite to take over as majority whip in the new Congress.

And those campaign investments are just the tip of the iceberg. According to Open Secrets, defense contractors have already spent more than $100 million on lobbying efforts in just the first three quarters of 2022, and that number will only continue to rise as arms makers make their final push to increase next year’s defense budget.

Unfortunately for the public, there is a significant risk that it will be locked out of debates over the impacts of those investments. As Bloomberg recently reported, the House and Senate Armed Services Committees have begun negotiating behind closed doors on next year’s National Defense Authorization Act, which “could be taken up in the House and Senate without amendments.”

In other words, lawmakers are set to scrap the defense authorization bill that the HASC already debated, amended, and managed to pass through the House in favor of one that has never been subject to public scrutiny — the same thing that happened with last year’s NDAA.

Given the sheer size of defense policy bills, watchdogs will be hard-pressed to sift through the next one for potentially wasteful line items before it becomes law. But maybe that’s the point as usual.

“JULIAN IS FIGHTING FOR HIS SURVIVAL AND HE’S GOING THROUGH HELL” – STELLA ASSANGE

The Wife Of The World’s Most Famous Political Prisoner Is Speaking Out Against The Injustice And Inhumanity He Is Experiencing.

The wife of the world’s most famous political prisoner spoke to Declassified as part of her relentless battle to save her husband’s life.

Sometimes it’s been really, really very difficult for him, and sometimes when he’s able to see the children, when he’s with the children, when there’s progress in the case, then he’s energised,” she adds. “And he’s energised by all the support that he sees out there for him. He gets letters of support and expressions of support constantly.”

One thing immediately noticeable when talking with Stella is she has the same unusual intensity and focus as her husband. For anyone who has met Julian, the similarities are striking.

He has now been in Belmarsh maximum-security prison in London for three and a half years. He was initially put in there ostensibly because of a bail violation after he was given political asylum by the Ecuadorian government.

In 2012, UK courts had ordered Assange’s extradition to Sweden to face questioning over sexual assault allegations. The case was dropped in August 2019, soon after Assange was put in Belmarsh. He is now being held as a remand prisoner at the behest of the American government.

Belmarsh has about 800 prisoners, and it’s a very harsh regime because it has very serious offenders,” Stella says. “It also has people on remand for non-serious offences. And it has people who are like Julian, where there’s some kind of political aspect to it. Everyone is treated as if they were a serious offender. This is what distinguishes Belmarsh from other prisons.”

When Julian calls, for example, we only get ten minutes at a time,” she adds. “The explanation for this is that they’re surveilling the phone calls and there’s a technical limitation to how they can surveil the phone calls. So that’s incredibly frustrating: to have just ten minute chunks of phone calls.”

She continues: “Julian’s in his cell for over 20 hours a day, but it varies from day to day. During lockdown, it was for a critical week where there was an outbreak of Covid in his wing, it was 24/7 for several days in a row.”

Last month, Assange tested positive for covid and was in solitary confinement in his cell for 10 days. He has a chronic lung condition.

It’s not like you imagine prison like you see on TV,” Stella says. “The prisoners don’t sit together when they eat. They have to queue up to collect their food and then they have to eat in their own cell. Isolation is the norm. Sometimes they’re allowed out to collect medication, to collect food, to go to the yard, which should be once a day for an hour, but in practice it’s less. Social visits and legal visits, the visits occur a few times a week, if that. Sometimes visits get cancelled, like with the death of the Queen.”

This is just one example of how freedom, free speech and a free press are all deceptions that are conducted by America’s government and propaganda ministry.

THE GREATEST THREAT TO WORLD PEACE AMERICA’S HUBRIS

One Has To Question Who Is The Power Seeking To Turn This Into A Nuclear Conflict. Because I Don’t Think It’s Russia.”

In a wide-ranging interview with Finian Cunningham, former American military intelligence analyst Scott Ritter calls out a complex of American-made problems threatening world peace.

The Ukraine war is just one symptom of a bigger disease. The war in Ukraine began with the 2014 American-backed coup d’état in Kiev and the weaponizing by the United States and NATO of an anti-Russian regime over eight years.

Absurd disconnect” in American foreign policy, “extraordinary provocations” toward Russia, the “scam” of nuclear weapons and American military defense doctrine, and the “stunning hubris” of American national myth-making propaganda invoking a “God-given right to control the world”. This is the scope of American problems that threaten world peace.

Former Marine Corps intelligence officer Scott Ritter served as a United Nations weapons inspector in Iraq during the 1990s following the First Gulf War. He controversially challenged the official American and British narrative back then claiming Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. Those claims were later exposed as lies and fabrications but they were used to launch the Second Gulf War in 2003. A criminal war with massive repercussions that still haunts today.

In the interview, Ritter called out the absurdity of the United States voicing concerns about the danger of nuclear conflict with Russia while at the same time fueling a war in Ukraine on Russia’s doorstep.

One has to question who is the power seeking to turn this into a nuclear conflict. Because I don’t think it’s Russia.”

He says America has abandoned diplomacy and respect for other nations. “We view Russia as a defeated enemy from the Cold War… we want to dictate to Russia” and others.

Ritter compares the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962 and the present tensions and dangers between the United States and Russia. He says it’s like comparing a knife fight with a machine-gun battle in the present. “We had a handful of nukes back then which would have destroyed cities. We now have nation-destroying nuclear arsenals that would end the planet”.

Ritter says the American leadership no longer fears or respects Russia as the John F. Kennedy administration and previous administrations did. The “stunning hubris” in Washington makes the danger of war spinning out of control.

He also calls out the policy of ambiguity about under what circumstances America would use nuclear weapons as a form of “terroristic” behavior. Unlike Russia or China, America deliberately refuses to adopt a sole-use purpose for defense and deterrence. This preemptive-use option is a form of blackmail on the rest of the world. Ultimately, the logic being used is: “Do what we say or we’ll nuke you.”

Ritter says a major structural problem is the money-making scam of the American nuclear and military-industrial complex where American politicians are bought and paid for to lobby for military profits; and therefore never adopt a more sane, peace-making and democratic policy in the interests of the majority of American citizens. If the United States were to align its policy with that of Russia and China, that is, to adopt a sole-use purpose of defense then that would transform international relations, lower tensions and make eventual disarmament possible. But ironically the United States is a hostage of its own nuclear blackmail against the world. It can’t adopt a more sane, peaceful policy because of the propaganda narrative of depicting the world as full of enemies and because of the vested interests of the military-industrial complex and its politicians in Washington.

Ritter warns that America has to shed its supremacist thinking in the same way it has struggled for generations to overcome systematic racist attitudes. “Until we stop viewing ourselves as the ‘exceptional people’ and start viewing ourselves as just another person, there isn’t going to be peace and harmony in the world.”

THEY HAVE SET THE STAGE FOR SENDING AMERICAN TROOPS TO UKRAINE

There’s No Doubt That The Retreat From Kherson Was A Black-Eye For Russia’s Appearance. There’s Also No Doubt That The General Who Ordered The Evacuation Made The Right Decision.

There’s also no doubt that the general who ordered the evacuation made the right decision. True, the optics are terrible, but optics don’t win wars. Strategy, valor and firepower wins wars. Russian General Sergey Surovikin appears to grasp that fact which is why he made the unpopular decision to retreat.

Surovikin could have made the more politically acceptable choice and defended Kherson to the end, but the risks far outweighed the benefits. By all accounts, the 25,000 Russian troops in the city could have easily been encircled and annihilated by Ukrainian artillery. Additionally, Surovikin would have been forced to commit more troops to a rescue mission that would not have advanced Russia’s overall military strategy in the slightest. Russia’s immediate goal is to complete the liberation of the Donbas, a task that is not yet finished and which requires more of the troops that had been pinned-down in Kherson.

For all intents and purposes, the retreat from Kherson was a no-brainer. If the nightmare scenario had unfolded –as many had expected– and thousands of Russian soldiers wound up surrounded and slaughtered in defense of a city that holds little strategic value, then popular support for the war in Russia would have vanished overnight. Neither Putin nor Surovikin could afford to take that risk. So, instead, they opted to pack-it-in and evacuate while they still could, which of course, incited the fury of their critics who are still hopping mad. The good news, however, is that the Kherson public relations disaster will have no meaningful impact on the outcome of the war. Russia is still on-track to achieve all of its strategic objectives despite the pitfalls it has encountered along the way. Here’s a brief recap of the Russian withdrawal from an interview with Colonel Douglas MacGregor:

When General Surovikin took command… it was decided that Russia was going to wait for a decisive operation to end the war. In other words, no more simply defending southern Ukraine and the territory we’ve annexed, no more expectations of negotiations with anyone– those are over– we have to end the war.

How do you end the war? Well, you launch operations that are so devastating in their destructiveness that the enemy cannot resist them. However, if you are going to do that you’re going to have to scale back current activities. (like Kherson) In other words, you have to make changes on the ground, shuffle troops, change resource commitments because you are now building up for forces that are not yet in southern Ukraine … but are being prepared with this mobilization of 300,000 troops integrated into this new force for future operations… which will come this winter once the ground freezes…. So, I would regard (the withdrawal) as an operational decision with short-term benefit in support of the long-term strategy of building this enormous striking power…The Russians no longer place any confidence in negotiations. I don’t think we could say anything to the Russians at this point that would persuade them to stop.”

So, according to MacGregor, the repositioning of troops is key to the overall strategy which has changed under Surovikin. Under the new commander, the primary focus of military operations is the annihilation of all forces and assets that allow the enemy to continue to wage war. One suspects that means the removal of the Zelensky regime and his security services, but that could be wrong. In any event, the upcoming Russian offensive is going to be much more in-line with a conventional combined-arms ground war than with the Special Military Operation we’ve seen up to this point. Moscow is determined settle the issue as quickly as possible and as forcefully as necessary. There won’t be any more messing around.

That said, recent reports suggest that the Biden administration may deploy American combat troops to the theatre in response to any Russian escalation that could threaten to alter the course of the war. If these reports prove to be accurate, then the greatly-anticipated winter offensive could trigger a direct conflagration between the United States and Russia. Given the trajectory of the war to this point, we think it’s only a matter of time before Washington emerges from behind its proxies and engages Russian troops on the battlefield. There are many indications that the Pentagon is already preparing for that eventuality.

Secret communications between national security advisor Jake Sullivan and the former Russian ambassador to Washington, Yuri Yushakov, and the former head of the FSB, Nikolai Patrushev, suggest that Sullivan warned his Russian counterparts that America would not allow Russia to settle the conflict on its own terms, but would take whatever steps were needed to prevent a decisive Russian victory. Check out this excerpt from another interview with Colonel Douglas MacGregor:

MacGregor– “Jake Sullivan talked about the dangers of escalation… He simply said that ‘We see evidence that you, Russia, are preparing to escalate this conflict.’ Which is true; we have been talking about this (impending Russian winter) offensive. ‘And we are warning you against that’ (said Sullivan) The unspoken implication at this point, is that we’re prepared to jump into this conflict in some way because we will not allow you to partition Ukraine. We will not allow you to fight and win this war on your terms……

Napolitano– Do you know whether Sullivan mentioned the presence of the 40,000 US troops (101st Airborne) in Poland?

MacGregor– We don’t (know that) But we think– based on the language that has leaked-out in the paragraph I received from another source, that he (Sullivan) did imply that they have 90,000 troops in Poland and Romania, and that, potentially, if Russia escalated, presumably– on the scale that we think the Russians will escalate– that we (the US) might be prepared to jump in. And we would jump in with 40,000 US troops, 30,000 Polish troops and 20,000 Romanian troops….. Sullivan made it clear that we are in a position to intervene.”

…”What we don’t know is what the Russians said in response, because if you are Russian, the red line is clear: ‘If you move into Ukraine, you’re going to be at war with Russia.’ We seem to be in denial about that.”

Napolitano– “Let me get this straight: Are you of the belief, …that Jake Sullivan…threatened the Russians that if they crossed these red lines, they would meet with US military resistance in Ukraine?”

MacGregor– I think that implication was made. That is the impression I am getting and I don’t think we should be surprised about that because Ukraine’s position is deteriorating very rapidly… And we are very concerned about a Ukrainian collapse. Some estimates indicate that the entire economy and social structure will collapse within 60 days. Some say they are going to general mobilization in Ukraine right now, which may include women, because their manpower base is exhausted. And, remember, people continue to leave Ukraine as much as possible because nobody wants to be stuck in a country that shortly will have no power, no electricity, and where there will be trouble getting water, and trouble getting food. The situation in Ukraine is dire.”

Napolitano– What are 40,000 US troops in the 101st Airborne doing in Poland?

MacGregor– They are preparing for combat operations….

Napolitano– Has the Department of Defense given the President of the United States plans for the entry of US troops into Ukraine? Is that done?

MacGregor– I think those plans have certainly been discussed if not briefed to Jake Sullivan. Certainly, the Secretary of State (Anthony Blinken) is aware. I don’t know what they’ve told the president. My hope is that he received some briefing. Again, this is all very serious because we are in the middle of an election and this could happen without any consultation with Congress whatsoever.

Napolitano– What is the status of the 300,000 reservists that Putin called up a month ago?

MacGregor– The majority of them have already been integrated into formations and units –alot of them have gone into units that were under-strength that are now back to ‘full strength’. Some have gone into new units. (Note: I think MacGregor could be wrong about this. Other analysts suggest that only 80,000 reservists have been sent to Ukraine so far. The process could take a few months before the entire deployment is concluded.) It’s almost complete but, the bottom line is, the low temperature in Ukraine has been 37 degrees. which means you’re still going to be stuck in the mud whether you are attacking or defending. Until the ground freezes, I don’t think alots going to happen…But when the winter arrives and the ground freezes, that is when the Russians will attack. And we see evidence of this from at least three different directions including the east, the southeast and the north. And, judging from the (military) buildup and the weapons systems that are in place and supplies that are available, this is an offensive that is designed to end the war. Whether it will or not, we don’t know. But I think that is the idea.

MacGregor– There’s one last thing I’d like to leave you with: When General Surovikin, the commander of the western theatre accepted his appointment, he made these brief remarks. He said “A Syrian solution for Ukraine is unacceptable.” In other words, we will not allow Ukraine to fall under the influence of various actors that maintain Ukraine in a state of permanent turmoil and war. That’s a very clear signal, that when they launch (the winter offensive) they plan to put an end to the conflict. So, it would be very unwise for us to get in the way of this…..We simply do not have the level of support to guarantee success.”

Russia is now prepared to do whatever it takes to win the war quickly and roll-up the hostile army that poses a threat to its national security. If American forces join the fighting, the calculus for winning could change dramatically, but the strategic objectives would remain the same. No nation can be expected to live at peace when a gun is pointed at its head. That is why Putin opposed NATO membership for Ukraine, and that is why the current war is being fought.