Orwell’s “1984” Holds Many Lessons for the New Cold War

Jeffrey G. Moebus

Anybody attempting to understand what is unfolding in Ukraine and over in the South China Sea and Taiwan should read George Orwell’s 1984. When you do, you will recognize and realize the following.

To use Orwell’s terms:  What we have here and now is a Eurasia with its Putin and an Eastasia with its Xi. All that is lacking is an Oceania with its Big Brother. And we have a whole gaggle of folks on the American political landscape ~ on the Left and on the Right ~ who would love to have the chance to fill that slot.

America’s twenty year “Forever War” after 9/11 was, is, and ever will be a half-time show designed to keep the troops occupied, the defense contractors profitable, and the American people comfortably numb to protracted conflicts in places many of them cannot find on a map of the world.

For now, Russia has recovered from the disintegration of European Communism and the USSR ~ and China has recovered from the madness of Mao ~ sufficiently for either [or especially both] to present viable, credible “threats” to America’s 30-year reign of global, unipolar hegemony since the end of Cold War I in December, 1991.

For now looms Cold War II, with Ukraine, the South China Sea, and/or Taiwan set to kick it off in fine fashion.

And to understand what is happening in Ukraine, in particular, one must also be familiar with the history of Russia’s interaction with Western Europe over the past 200 years.  Napoleon and Hitler both tried to bring the “blessings” of the West to Mother Russia, and failed at terrible cost, particularly to the Land, Country, Nation, and People that was ~ and still is ~ Russia.  

NATO is hard on all of Russia’s borders except in Ukraine; and, given that history spanning over two centuries, it is not at all difficult to understand why Russia wants to keep it that way.  This in no way justifies, excuses, or exonerates Putin and his illegal, immoral, and quite insane invasion of Ukraine.  It merely speculates on a very real possible motive. 

And beyond all that is the fact that a major force at work here in the United States is the possibility of a War, and the effect that that can have on the Citizens of a nation already hammered by a failed national response to a pandemic, inflation kicking in big time, a national Debt that just broached $30 trillion, a crumbling infrastructure increasingly vulnerable to disruptions by weather, cyber attack, and social unrest, and the disintegration of anything even close to a national consensus on virtually every hot-button issue: from vaccine and mask mandates, voting rights, and critical race theory, to gun control, police violence, and crimes against persons and property, to drug overdoses, suicides, and vehicular deaths, abortion, wokeness and cancel culture, “domestic terrorism,” and so forth.   

So that’s the “long answer” to what’s up in Ukraine and East Asia.    

The short, bottom-line, bullet-hits-the bone answer is that it is a very convenient distraction for Putin, Xi, and Biden [ie, his owners, operators, and script writers, America’s Ruling Elite] as they each attempt to deal with very serious economic and social problems within their own kingdoms. 

While the wings haven’t fallen off quite yet, rivets are popping loose and hydraulic fluid is streaming back across the wing tops.  And the folks up in the cockpit are very aware that it is increasingly visible to the other folks back in 1st, Business, and especially Tourist Class. 

Add all that to the fact that this is an election year in the US, and this is shaping up to be a very interesting Chinese “Year of the Black Water Tiger,” indeed.

Note:  One of the biggest differences between 1984 and today is that we all carry our very own portable, personal telescreen around with us. Certainly makes the job of the Thought Police a whole lot easier, eh?

Jeffrey Moebus, a retired U.S. Army Master Sergeant, spent two years in Vietnam in the 1960s and two years in the pre-Operation Desert Storm Middle East in the 1980s.  He lives in Sitka, Alaska on the sailboat he brought up from San Francisco Bay ten years ago this summer, and is the POC for Veterans Against War [Sitka Platoon] at vaw.sitka@gmail.com.

29 thoughts on “Orwell’s “1984” Holds Many Lessons for the New Cold War

  1. The party’s slogan in 1984, “Who controls the past controls the future: who controls the present controls the past,” is really about context, and the attempt to eliminate it. As you note, it’s about distraction and forgetting – if something was ever even known.

    I was reminded of JFK’s American University speech in June 1963 when he reminded people of the terrible costs Russia suffered in WWII, i.e., “A third of the nation’s territory, including nearly two thirds of its industrial base, was turned into a wasteland, a loss equivalent to the devastation of this country east of Chicago.”

    How many Americans know that cost and the actual role Russia had in defeating Hitler, and how that informs their response to NATO expansion?

    After the many decades of false history and “patriotic” conditioning by our owners, it’s apparent not many.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you for your comment. As a veteran of the Nixon-Kissinger Fig Leaf Contingent (Vietnam 1970-72) I can attest to the feeling of alienation that comes from realizing how little the American people actually know about the activities of their military forces sent to repel Eurasian (alternatively, East Asian) hordes on the Malabar Front. “Victory” mansions, cigarettes, and gin anyone?

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      1. One big difference between Putin, Xi and Biden Denise and Jeanie.
        Neither Putin nor Xi has 900 military bases scattered all over the globe.

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        1. too troo, dennis. if i were 60 years younger, i would be trying to organize fellow oxymoronic ‘pacifistic non-pacifists’ like myself to blow up as many of those bases as possible, so long as we could do so w/out slaughtering the multifarious host countries’ local workers inside.. those bases. but ‘aye, that’s the rub’.

          [a scholium: how odd that my favourite canadian tennis player and e-blogging consociates are all variegated versions of dens; denis{shapovalov}, denise, and dennis!]

          Liked by 1 person

  2. “Note: One of the biggest differences between 1984 and today is that we all carry our very own portable, personal telescreen around with us. Certainly makes the job of the Thought Police a whole lot easier, eh?”

    An apt observation. Also especially ironic when one gets to see the erstwhile Thought Police hoist by their own petard. Like back in 2014, when Victoria Nuland and U.S. Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt had their notorious phone conversation detailing their personnel choices for the new U.S.-installed coup-regime they planned to midwife in Kiev. Immediately, the whole world got to read about it on CNN, BBC, etc. Not much in the way of information security. Sort of on the level of former President Bill Clinton’s wife setting up her own “private” State Department server in her home bathroom where any teenager with a cell phone and a wi-fi connection could drive by and download whatever “data” they wished.

    But more to the present moment. That same failed former “First Lady Person” — pardon the circumlocution — just resurfaced from her deserved political oblivion to call for an “insurgency” in Ukraine that would “give the Russians their own Vietnam,” blah, blah, blah. As luck would have it, I no sooner saw a video clip of this person’s typically asinine suggestion than I caught Scott Ritter giving a more realistic, if not brutal, interview on Consortium News debunking any such lunatic proposals, especially in the age of the portable telescreen cell phone to which all classes of world society have become hopelessly addicted:

    [1:22:51] Scott Ritter: [holding up a cell phone] “This right here is a suicide pill. If you’re an idiot insurgent or nationalist, every time you get on your little phone and do something, the Russians are sucking it up. They’ve got all your data. They know who you are. They’ve geo-located you. When the time comes, they will hunt you down and kill you. That’s why there won’t be an insurgency. The CIA could have, if they’d done it truly covertly, probably left some stay-behind units that would have been isolated and killed. But no. This is, again, part of the propaganda that’s coming out. Insurgencies are very difficult to organize. Very difficult to sustain. They tend to die violently. And I will tell you right now. Anybody who thinks you’re going to be a brave western Ukrainian insurgent better have picked the grave plot already, had it dug, and put some fake body in there because your body will never reach it. Your body will be scattered all over the face of western Ukraine.”

    The problem with the 1984 analogy — which I wholeheartedly endorse in many respects — stems from the fact that many more “Big Brothers” — not to mention “little brothers” — exist in other parts of the world today, with their very own satellite constellations keeping vigilant watch on everything going on down below and all around. And while George Orwell described a single Big Brother within only Oceania (U.S./UK/EU), he presumed that it would possess a frightening competence, something few knowledgeable and informed persons would attribute to the corporately owned and operated U.S. “government” and NATO, the Nefarious American Terrorist Operation — nothing to do with the “North Atlantic” — that I very much wish to see dissolved and relegated to the trash dump of history as soon as possible.

    Anyway, for those who might wish an acquaintance with the views of two knowledgeable U.S. military veterans, Scott Ritter and Mark Sleboda, see: <WATCH: CN Live! — ‘Ukraine Update’, Consortium News (March 4, 2022). I plan to do a transcript of this video, but I have several others in work right now, so it may take me awhile got get around to completing this one.

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    1. thank you MM for the CONSORTIUM NEWS site.. i would not have been so honestly apprised of the au-courants had i deigned to read the NYT or the WP who, w/ the complicity of other corporate-owned MSM, indulge in more outré mendacity, myth, and prevarications than the nefarious bible.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. No time to do full transcripts right now, but four more videos from Jimmy Dore and Max Blumenthal of The Gray Zone. Fairly comprehensive treatment of the frustrated — hence the hysteria — U.S./NATO assault on the Russian Federation (and its reaction) up to the present day.

    Ukraine War Driving Rampant Censorship At Home

    Impose “Economic Pain” On Russian People Says Hillary Clinton

    Ukraine Neo-Nazis Infiltrate EVERY LEVEL Of Military & Government

    US/NATO Provoked Ukraine War Say Most Experts On Russia

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  4. Monsieur Moebus: Very nice. And thanks to Colonel Astore for sharing new voices. And simple messages. Truth.

    A reaction to share with you on this: “The short, bottom-line, bullet-hits-the bone answer is that it is a very convenient distraction for Putin, Xi, and Biden [ie, his owners, operators, and script writers, America’s Ruling Elite] as they each attempt to deal with very serious economic and social problems within their own kingdoms.”

    Do you actually think that Biden et al are actually attempting to deal with the problems you list?
    That is Party-thinking at its best. They are creating and exacerbating these problems, to the same effect as the convenient distraction of war on multiple fronts that you mention.

    In terms of 1984, let’s keep it real.
    Control and Power.

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    1. I had to laugh when Biden gave his “State of the Union” address and talked about a $15 minimum wage, much lower prescription drug prices, child tax credits, etc. It’s all total BS, a string of broken campaign promises, proposals that he had and has no intention of fighting for because his donors are pulling the strings of the Biden puppet.

      Perhaps that’s why Biden spoke of Iranians when he meant Ukrainians: sometimes, the puppet malfunctions.

      Liked by 5 people

      1. From what I understand, Joe Biden gave a State Of The Ukraine speech, complete with a clapping-seals Congress dressed up with yellow and blue accoutrements (colors of the current coup-regime in Kiev) symbolically signifying their “solidarity.” I couldn’t help remembering the time when our invasion and destruction of Iraq began to go bad (for us) and how our Viceroy, L. Paul Bremer, staged a photo-op “election” complete with scenes of Iraqi voters ostentatiously displaying purple-stained fingers as evidence that they had “made democracy work.” Naturally, at one of Deputy Dubya’s annual screed-readings our Congress bravely stood and proudly displayed their own purple-stained fingers on cue.

        This time, though, the French have gone along and we don’t call them “surrender monkeys” or ban French Fries from the Congressional cafeteria. So instead of “Freedom Fries,” what do we call banned Russian dishes? “Browbeaten Borscht”?

        What a pathetic, sick collection of clowns Americans tolerate as their political “leadership.”

        Liked by 1 person

        1. How quickly Ukraine has become America’s darling! And how painless it is to express “support” for the blue-and-yellow team.

          Again, Orwell’s “1984” is prescient here — how easy it is through propaganda and conformity to switch enemies from Eastasia to Eurasia and back again.

          Assuming the Russia/Ukraine war doesn’t drag on for years, I expect a fast pivot back to Eastasia (China) as the “real” enemy. Russia simply isn’t big enough and global enough to justify a new, global, Cold War.

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          1. As I am trying to express on every forum I can, including in Israel’s Haaretz newspaper, the contrast between Russia being the invader to hate and Israel being the invader to love couldn’t be more obvious right now, Congress jumping up and down to sanction the former while routinely blessing the latter with gifts. I do this because it needs to be said and nobody is mentioning it, even though the 74 year old invasion of Palestine is still going on and Israel has yet to define its borders.

            At the moment, Israel’s PM Bennett, an Israeli settler, is in Moscow conferring with Putin. Israel is welcoming Ukrainian Jews even as it continues to ignore the Palestinians it made refugees in their own land and practices apartheid, the very thing South Africa was heavily sanctioned for, but not a single sanction comes for a state protected by the US in the UN.

            Justice should be blind, that is why she is blindfolded as she holds the scales. Jews who are Israelis are and have been conducting a terrible injustice and many American Jews are understandably calling this out. This isn’t a matter of anti-Semitism, but of all people deserving liberty and justice. Has the false charge of anti-Semitism became so intimidating that Israel is given a pass? That appears to be the case.

            It is very appropriate that my comment comes under your essay mentioning Orwell. War is Peace. Injustice is justice. Wrong is right if the wrongdoer was previously wronged.

            Where is the outrage over injustice operating in broad daylight, over decades and with fulsome praise from Washington? A state of 8 million people has entirely intimidated a country of 350 million, getting it to walk all over the pledge of liberty and justice for all while the citizenry remain silent.

            Tell me true, have you seen even one mention of this astounding contrast regarding invasions anywhere either in the news or on blogs like this one or simply in comments? Would any of you dare to join me in speaking up about it? If the only thing necessary for injustice (once called evil) to triumph is that good men (and women too) do nothing, then we are witnesses to a complete triumph and the complete silence that has made it possible.

            Am I all alone?

            Liked by 1 person

            1. as you must know from my ranting rages and excoriations against the zionists previously posted on this and other websites, clif9710, i’m w/ you 100%. after volunteering for years in palestinian refugee camps, my children as well, in the hashemite klingdom of jordan, lebanon, and egypt, particularly during the 2 intifahdahs in the 1980’s, and throughout the decades following, i finally surrendered, as my diplomatic letters to the mainstream press back then were never published.

              eventually diplomacy transmogrified into denouncements and vituperations that were printed only by outlier rags, mags, and newsletters. my energy and advocacy diatribes were finally deflated until utterly spent, when i came to realize the futility of battling the zionists b/c they own the media, the banks, and most governments.

              now in my 80’s, nothing has changed in all these decades. nevertheless, i’m no longer too ‘spent’ to help you raise that pro-palestinian gonfalon again, clif9710. what can i do from here in the philippines? your comments on this site have re-ignited my hortatory advocacy, rather than just my funding efforts for which JUST VISION has become the primary repository. let us not die as craven poltroons, eh clif9710?

              Liked by 1 person

            2. you are undoubtedly aware, clif9710, that the word ‘evil’ is a reconfiguration of the word ‘levi, as in the levites. it is one of the most common surnames in the levite region of israel. those 4 letters also spell ‘vile’, ‘veil’ [of darkness], and the prefix ‘veli-‘ [veiled membrane].

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            3. No, you are not alone in seeing this travesty, Clif. One thought that occurs to me is that, if any members of the U.S. government pointed out the Israeli invasion and occupation, they might be hit with similar accusations about Iraq and Afghanistan, and, well….that just wouldn’t do!

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          2. Yes. Well, as we know from Noam Chomsky, there are “worthy” and “unworthy” victims. The MSM/US Govt say the Ukrainians are worthy; we can be with them; indeed, you’ll be applauded if you “support” Ukraine. But the Palestinians are unworthy; you can’t be with them; indeed, you’ll be booed if you advocate for them.

            Most Americans are simply ignorant and/or we believe what we’re told. We’re told Israel is a democracy that’s “just like us” and that the Palestinians are terrorists or otherwise highly suspect. And I think most people believe it. The charge of anti-semitism is also a potent one, as Is the charge of being a “self-hating Jew” if you are Jewish and criticize Israel.

            There is also a strange alliance between powerful evangelical elements in the U.S. and Israel.

            And, to state the obvious, the power of lobbies like AIPAC is considerable. Money and power have been known to corrupt politicians :-). I know: what a surprise.

            Liked by 1 person

          3. Two more data points here.

            Within the U.S., I think there’s still the image of David versus Goliath, with David being the “tiny” state of Israel and Goliath being the surrounding Arab enemies. Of course, this image has been obsolete for nearly 50 years, but it remains.

            Also, never forget the legacy of the Holocaust. Jews in Israel haven’t, nor have most Americans. That horrific genocidal event marks the great betrayal of the Jewish people and generates sympathy for them. I’m not saying the Holocaust is an excuse for Israel’s behavior, but it is a partial explanation for the support Israel gets. See Novick’s “The Holocaust in American Life” here.

            To me, it’s revealing that Jews within Israel are more openly critical of their government and its policies toward Palestinians than the mainstream media in America is allowed to be.

            Liked by 1 person

          4. How’d Orwell put it? “Oceania is at war with Eastasia. Oceania has always been at war with Eastasia.” And just last yesterday, it was “”Oceania is at war with Eurtasia. Oceania has always been at war with Eurasia.”

            And, while at the moment, neither Russia nor China is big and global enough to justify a new global Cold War individually, together they certainly could and, for all intents and purposes, seem to have already.

            Of course, this whole thing could get Really interesting if China decides that now would be a good time to bring Taiwan back into the fold, eh?

            Liked by 1 person

            1. I don’t agree with Tom Friedman very often, but he does have an interesting take here, in relation to China:

              If anyone hits a paywall and wants to read the article, give me a shout.

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      2. Lol I thought I was the only one who noticed that whilst watching Poor, Puppet, Jolt-not, Joe deliver as I asked my Wife did you just hear that whopper of a Freudian Slip!

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          1. Heh. Like that old post-9/11 ditty went: “Everybody wants to go to Baghdad. Real men want to go to Tehran.”

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        1. Yes, we need to remember also though that Palestine is quite defenseless. I’ve never seen a Palestine Tank, or Helicopter, or Regular Army… Rocks, Stones and a cause is not much against a Military Arsenal and Army supplied by US w/ the latest killing Technology. Can’t see being proud with them kind of advantages. Kinda like our US Cavalry against the Plains Indians of our Wild West days! Ethnic Genocide by any other name is still ethnic genocide…

          Liked by 1 person

    2. Good point, TJOSTEEN.

      i could have used a better term than “deal” to express my idea that the governments of Russia, China, and America are all confronting a gathering storm of economic, infrastructural, and social/cultural problems unlike any they have ever faced before; and they are failing. Like i said: “Rivets are popping loose… .”

      And War against The Other has always been the best way for governments to divert their citizens’ attention away from ~ and re-route real and potentially worse wrath and even action against ~ their government and its failures, and toward the new “Enemy.”

      So, Biden et al are “dealing” with the various crises confronting their kingdoms by diverting potential malcontents with the possibility and, in Russia’s case, the actuality of War.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. However, if the sanctions work as planned (and of course, reports are that the ruble has fallen by .30 against the dollar thus far, with their stock market tanking), the malcontents in Russia may, just may, start to realize that their problem is their leader.

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