Pity Ukraine, and Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, and any other War Zone

W.J. Astore

As Russia’s invasion drags on, more and more destruction is visited upon Ukraine. Western media coverage is filled with images of this destruction, but rarely did we see images of widespread destruction in Iraq and Afghanistan during those U.S. wars. Meanwhile, the Saudi war in Yemen drags on as well, essentially uncovered and ignored by mainstream media outlets, even though that war is supported and enabled by the U.S. military.

It’s supposed to be good news, I guess, that Russia is “stalemated” in Ukraine, according to Western media outlets. If true, what this really means is a longer war with even more destruction, especially given major shipments of weapons to Ukraine by the United States and NATO. Weapons like the Javelin missile system, made by Raytheon and Lockheed Martin, are supposed to even the odds for Ukraine. What they’re effectively doing is ensuring a longer, more devastating, war.

Javelin missile system, carefully crafted in the USA, shipped generously to Ukraine, paid for by U.S. taxpayers

At NBC News today, I noted the following snippet: “Russia has roughly four times as many troops as Ukraine’s 130,000-strong army. It also spends about $78 billion on its armed forces annually, compared to the $1.6 billion Ukraine has been able to budget for its military.”

NBC failed to note that the U.S. military annually spends roughly $780 billion , ten times as much as its Russian counterpart. Meanwhile, it appears the Russian military is weakening due to this invasion. A weaker Russian military suggests that the U.S. military budget can decrease in FY2023. NATO-member countries’ spending on their militaries is due to rise, yet another reason why U.S. military spending could conceivably decrease. But of course Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is being seized upon by the military-industrial-congressional complex as the primary reason why U.S. spending on weapons and warfare must soar ever higher.

Recall that President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s goal was to withdraw all U.S. military forces from Europe when European countries were back on their feet after World War II and able to fund their own militaries. We’re acting as if Ike’s goal will never be met. Put differently, we’re acting as if America’s right flank truly sat at the border of Ukraine rather than along the Atlantic seaboard.

The U.S., of course, acts as a global hegemon. No price is apparently too high to pay for global dominance. But when one seeks to dominate the world while losing one’s fundamental freedoms, such as freedom of speech, while impoverishing the lives of one’s people, especially the neediest and most vulnerable, what has one truly gained?

For what doth it profit a man to gain the whole world but to lose his immortal soul?

56 thoughts on “Pity Ukraine, and Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, and any other War Zone

  1. The rich shareholders in the US War Machine Manufacturing Industries must be rubbing their hands in glee with the potential $Billions more in arms manufacturing.

    The $1.6 Billion Ukraine Military Budget does not include the many $Billions more in US/NATO supplied Weapons.

    ‘Covering War Without Prejudice’
    Ukrainians deserve our compassion. So do victims of war everywhere else.
    War’s grim reality is recognizable wherever it occurs. We can see it all too clearly in Ukraine — in the destruction of cities, in civilians fleeing their homes, and in the heart-wrenching casualties.

    No matter where it happens, war’s tragedy is the same. You wouldn’t always get that sense, however, from the prejudiced way some reporters talk about it.

    In an already notorious example, CBS News correspondent Charlie D’Agata mused on air that Ukraine “isn’t a place, with all due respect, like Iraq or Afghanistan, that has seen conflict raging for decades.”

    Instead, he said, it’s “relatively civilized, relatively European.”

    Public outrage followed, but D’Agata was hardly alone. “These are not obviously refugees looking to get away from areas in the Middle East that are still in a big state of war,” English anchor Peter Dobbie piled on. “They look like any European family that you would live next door to.”

    As a Syrian American, I got the message loud and clear: War is an unexpected tragedy when it happens to people who look “European.” For those of us who don’t, it’s only natural to experience war, violence, and displacement.

    This narrative isn’t just racist and dehumanizing. It’s also ignorant about the history of Europe itself — from two World Wars to ethnic cleansing in the Balkans to Russia’s last invasion of Ukraine in 2014.

    This ignorant double standard extends to the coverage of other conflicts as well.

    Western journalists lift up President Biden and other global leaders’ rightful denunciations of Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine. But they often remain silent when these same leaders fail to condemn — or even aid and abet — violations of international law elsewhere……………………………
    https://portside.org/2022-03-21/covering-war-without-prejudice

    It is the unfortunate consequence of this War to see all the Ukrainian War refugees, a War that would have been avoided if the US/NATO negotiated over Russia’s legitimate National Security concerns, but they were dismissed out of hand.

    As for War Refugees, Since President George W. Bush announced a “global war on terror” following Al Qaeda’s September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States, (mostly SAWdi Arabians, the BIGGEST CUSTOMER for American Weapons) the U.S. military has engaged in combat around the world. As in past conflicts, the United States’ post-9/11 wars have resulted in mass population displacements.

    Conservative estimates that at least 37 million people have fled their homes in the eight most violent wars the U.S. military has launched or participated in since 2001. Wartime displacement (alongside war deaths and injuries) must be central to any analysis of the post-9/11 wars and their short- and long-term consequences.
    Displacement also must be central to any possible consideration of the future use of military force by the United States or others. Ultimately, displacing 37 million—and perhaps as many as 59 million—raises the question of who bears responsibility for repairing the damage inflicted on those displaced by US WARS in violation of the same International Law Russia is violating?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. And I think the depraved warmonger, Hillary Rodham Clinton, gave the game away when she recently compared the future of Ukraine to Afghanistan, where a “very motivated, and then funded, and armed insurgency basically drove the Russians out of Afghanistan”. More profits for US defense contractors, with death and suffering for Ukrainians and Russians. And no mention of course for the blowback from that insurgency on September 11, 2001.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. ‘The Future Is Here: Dystopian Movies Fit for a Dystopian World’

    “The Internet is watching us now. If they want to. They can see what sites you visit. In the future, television will be watching us, and customizing itself to what it knows about us. The thrilling thing is, that will make us feel we’re part of the medium. The scary thing is, we’ll lose our right to privacy. An ad will appear in the air around us, talking directly to us.”—Director Steven Spielberg, Minority Report

    We have arrived, way ahead of schedule, into the dystopian future dreamed up by such science fiction writers as George Orwell, Aldous Huxley, Margaret Atwood and Philip K. Dick.

    Much like Orwell’s Big Brother in 1984, the government and its corporate spies now watch our every move.

    Much like Huxley’s A Brave New World, we are churning out a society of watchers who “have their liberties taken away from them, but … rather enjoy it, because they [are] distracted from any desire to rebel by propaganda or brainwashing.”

    Much like Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, the populace is now taught to “know their place and their duties, to understand that they have no real rights but will be protected up to a point if they conform, and to think so poorly of themselves that they will accept their assigned fate and not rebel or run away”…………………
    https://www.rutherford.org/publications_resources/john_whiteheads_commentary/the_future_is_here_dystopian_movies_fit_for_a_dystopian_world

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  4. What would you do if the U.S. were invaded like Ukraine is now? Would you fight for your country? Would you want weapons to fight the enemy?

    Instead of focusing on how this is some elaborate plot for U.S. weapons makers to profit from a prolonged war, why not focus on the war itself?

    If it were our cities being demolished by artillery and missiles, our civilians dying and fleeing as refugees where would your thoughts be turning?

    I was in Afghanistan in 1987 and my life was saved by a stinger missile. The war there changed completely in 1987 once the Russian helicopter pilots knew the mujahideen had stingers in quantity. Anti-tank missiles were not so useful in Afghanistan due to the mountainous terrain.

    I am still not sure the U.S. should be sending lethal military equipment to the Ukraine now. I am reposting what my thoughts are on this from a previous topic.

    1. I have written to my representatives urging them not to send military aid to Ukraine. I have been uncertain of that position given my experiences in Afghanistan where the Stinger missile turned the war around in just 1 year. Yet, it seems that Ukraine 2022 is significantly different than Afghanistan 1980s. For one thing, Ukraine is right next door to Russia and there is easy access to all parts of Ukraine. Afghanistan was a long way across Russia and several of the ‘stans’. Afghanistan is the Hindu Kush where helicopters are essential but are very exposed to missile fire. Tanks could not get into many of the rugged mountainous areas. Ukraine is one big wheat field with no place to hide.

    2. The protest movement in Russia seems strong despite the repression. Many of those protesting may have second thoughts if the U.S. is providing military aid to Ukraine. This makes the U.S. a de facto enemy, the traditional enemy of Russia for the last 80 years. Many will abandon the protest. Those that continue will be severely compromised.

    3. There is a morale problem brewing in the Russian military as more troops realize that they have been lied to about the reasons for the invasion. Once military aid is arriving from the U.S. it is Russia vs. the U.S., and most troops will rally to Mother Russia.

    4. The general Russian population may slowly realize that the war is not what they were told as more information gets through; just as the Pentagon papers knocked the bottom out of the Viet Nam war. Military aid to Ukraine will result in Russian soldiers dying and these are the sons, nephews, and husbands of the general population. Again it will be Russia vs. U.S. and the end of any conversion of attitudes towards peace.

    If this war is to end it will require the consent and active participation of the Russian general population, in my opinion. Even Putin will not be able to survive politically if the majority is against him.

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    1. I will try to answer your questions honestly and forthrightly:

      1. If the U.S. were invaded by a powerful country, I might do what many Ukrainians are doing: flee! Not everyone has the wherewithal and the physical stamina to fight a war. But let’s say this old guy couldn’t flee and the enemy was approaching. I’d probably resist to the best of my ability. And I might surrender when I could no longer resist. I have no illusions that I’m John Rambo — or John Wayne.

      2. I’m trying to focus on the war itself. But it’s important to note who’s profiting from the war, including U.S. weapons manufacturers. I can do both these things. Right?

      3. Again, if the U.S. was under direct attack, I might be with those fleeing refugees. And I’m sure I’d be angry about the war, and angrier still that the U.S. military wasn’t protecting me, given its trillion-dollar spending habits!

      I’d be interested to hear your answers to the questions you posed.

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      1. Thank you WJA for your respectful and considered response.

        1. I would not flee. I have gone over this in my dreams and meditations and am certain I would stay and fight. I agree that those who are incapable or unwilling to fight for whatever reason should do so and not be condemned for it. I believe and respect free choice.

        2. I agree that you and the others here can address two issues, the war and the profiteers. I am trying to add some balance here because it seems most of the energy is being spent on the U.S. shameful role as the world’s arms supplier. I agree with all of you on that.

        3. War is horrible and a crime. I have seen it up close and want to scream or cry if I really go over it too deeply. However as it says in Ecclesiastes, ‘there is a time for peace and a time for war’. There is no time for overwhelming fear; that is fear of death or injury that would keep one from doing one’s duty to self and others.

        4. I am coming from a personal conviction that freedom is the natural and necessary condition of all human beings. There has not been one people anywhere, anytime that have not valued their freedom. I feel very lucky that I was born in the U.S.A. a free country and not some corrupt and brutal dictatorship. Yes, I am very aware that this country is not free in many ways because the wealthy control a large part of our lives. Still I can protest and be fairly sure I will not ‘disappear’ some night.

        To answer the question I am struggling with: Should the U.S.A be sending lethal military aid to Ukraine? I will answer No and for the reasons above.

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        1. You’re dealing with hypotheticals.
          There is no way Russia or China can invade the US with troops on the ground. The 1st Gulf War showed how long it took for the Coalition of the Willing to marshal it’s forces on the ground in Sawdi Arabia.
          We’re in the Nuclear Missile Age, and the War would be over before before any Russian or Chinese ground forced got here.
          Unfortunately the possibility of Missile attack increases with NATO more interested in arming Ukrainians for a slaughter than undertaking Good Faith negotiations with Russia which they spurned in December when Putin submitted a Draft Treaty to avoid this War.

          Naturally I see that possibility more than any other reader here because of this 1 line with so much more in the Historical record as published by The Kansas City Times September 13, 1976, He wanted to bring to the Public’s attention an “idea being put out subtly and deceptively” by the government that we have to get prepared for a War with Russia.”

          That 1976 FUTURE is NOW with the Revelation of the details GENERALLY unfolding in the spirit of the letter.
          With the benefit of 45 years hindsight, the last 8 years of intensified Military, FBI and Intelligence “experts” on TV constantly, unanimously, demonizing Putin and Russia, the People have been prepared.

          Naturally, People would discount the significance of these Historical SIGNS OF THE TIMES of where this World is at Today.

          The TV movie ‘The Day After’ Kansas City was incinerated in a Nuclear Holocaust appeared 7 years to the month later, on November 20, 1983, and this is one of the final frames from that movie,

          Since that Time, I have been consistent being moved by the spirit of this letter,
          So you, O son of man, I have set you a watchman […] When I say to the wicked, O wicked man, you shall surely die; if you do not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at your hand.
          Nevertheless, if you warn the wicked of his way to turn from it; if he do not turn from his way, he shall die in his iniquity; but you have delivered your soul. […] Say to them, As I live, says the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die.

          The World takes great pleasure in the destruction of the wicked.

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    1. Very nice! Few people realize that the U.S.A. shares a border with Russia. Putin probably does not recognize the sale of Alaska to the U.S.A because it was done by Tsar Alexander II, the ruler of the Russian Empire, and never approved by the Russian people.

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      1. Heh. Can You name one thing that has ever been “approved by the Russian people,” whether under the Tsars, the USSR, or the Federation of Russia?

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      2. And the American people didn’t have too much to say about the U.S. buying Alaska. And of course, the Native Alaskans had absolutely nothing to say about it.

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    2. First, how would you feel, and what would you do?

      I would consider a Russian attack on Alaska to be an act of war. And I would support all efforts short of a nuclear attack to defend Alaska. If I were in Alaska, and the U.S. military had a reason to think I could help in some way, I would do so.

      In most wars, the best thing civilians can do is get out of the way. This is why we have professional militaries: to fight wars. Too many people seem to think it’s easy to become a rebel fighter, like in “Red Dawn” (1984). Just pick up a rifle, get in your pickup, and join the “resistance.” If it were that easy, our troops wouldn’t have to train for years to become proficient.

      History teaches us complex messages about war and resistance. Consider the experience of the French under Nazi rule from 1940-44. Many resisted, but many collaborated, and many just wanted to be left alone.

      Most of us, perhaps, like to imagine ourselves as heroic fighters, standing to the last man and woman to protect our homes. Real life is far messier, and it’s often impossible to know who will be the fighters, and who will be the cowards and quislings.

      It is also not easy to become a killer, even in self-defense. No matter what decision you make, there will be a price to pay …

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Speaking of the burden of killing, even in self-defense, this classic scene from “Unforgiven” comes to mind:

        “It’s a hell of a thing killing a man. You take away all he’s got, and all he’s ever gonna have.”

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    3. Taking Fort Ross back would mean invading California. Which ain’t gonna happen.

      And if Russia attempted to invade Alaska, they would run into much of the same armed, violent resistance from the citizens of Alaska as they are running into in Ukraine.

      And given the logistical and command and control GoatRope that has enmeshed the Russian invasion of Ukraine across a couple of miles of a common land border, one can only imagine what would happen if they tried jumping across the Bering Strait.

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  5. From A Story On Today’s Yahoo! News Feed:
    “Today, both Russia and the United States have nuclear arms that are much less destructive — their power just fractions of the Hiroshima bomb’s force, their use perhaps less frightening and more thinkable.”
    Well, hell … no problem. Let’s fire ’em up.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. As somebody who has lived in Sitka, Alaska, on the sailboat i brought up from San Francisco Bay ten years ago this summer, i’d like to offer a relatively new Alaskan’s perspective on Alaska, Russia, and the United States. It goes like this:

    Why is Alaska a State?

    A question a growing number of Alaskans have been asking themselves over the past several years is: “Why is Alaska the 49th State of the United States of America, and not a sovereign, independent Nation like its neighbors, Canada and Russia?”

    The question is not HOW Alaska became that State: Czarist Russia ~ which did not even marginally control, let alone “own” Alaska ~ “sold” It to the victor of the First American Civil War, the nascently emergent military, economic, and political superpower on the North American continent; which, incidentally, had no more legal, moral, ethical , or any other kind of “right” to “buy” stolen property, in the second place, than did the Russians have a right to sell it, in the first.

    Then initially as a military outpost, and subsequently as a Territory, Alaska eventually became that 49th Star on the Flag.

    That’s HOW Alaska became a State. The question is: WHY is Alaska still a State?

    At this juncture in Alaska’s, America’s, and the World’s history ~ as we move from The Age of Trump to Bidenopia and Beyond ~ would not Alaska and Alaskans, and the World [and ultimately, it will be argued, the United States], be better served if Alaska was a sovereign, free, and independent, politically, economically, and militarily neutral, Federated Republic of Republics, modeled after Switzerland?

    Perhaps it is time for The Peoples of Alaska to ask themselves: What are the benefits ~ to Alaskans and to Alaska ~ of “The Great Land” remaining in the United States, and of They remaining Citizens of that Nation? When they ask that question, they will perhaps also ask themselves: And what are the costs?

    And then, perhaps, that would lead them to ask the same questions about becoming that Federated Republic: What would be the benefits? And what would be the costs? But very possibly most interesting and challenging of all: What would be the possibilities and the potentialities?

    This Question ~ Why is Alaska a State? ~ started to surface when Alaskans realized that nobody was even asking them any of the following Questions; let alone listening to their Answers:

    1. Do You want oil drilling in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge?
    2. Do You want oil drilling in the National Petroleum Reserve – Alaska?
    3. Do You want oil drilling along All of Alaska’s Offshore Waters?
    4. Do You want oil drilling along Some of Alaska’s Offshore Waters?
    5. Do You want the Tongass Forest to be harvested?
    6. Do You want the proposed Pebble Mine to become operational?
    7. Do You want the US Navy, Etc, to conduct Training Exercises in the Gulf of Alaska when Fish, Whales, and Other Marine Mammals, and Birds are at or approaching peak migratory activity?
    8. Do You want federal anti-marijuana and other drug laws to be enforced in Alaska?
    9. Do You want federal gun control laws to be enforced in Alaska?
    10. Do You believe that the decisions on these Questions should be made by The Peoples of Alaska, and NOT in SwampLand?

    And an increasing number of Alaskans are responding to Question 10 with a resounding “YES!!!”

    Liked by 2 people

  7. ‘Chris Hedges: The Lie of American Innocence’
    U.S. hypocrisy on war crimes makes a rules-based world, one that abides by international law, impossible.
    The branding of Vladimir Putin as a war criminal by Joe Biden, who lobbied for the Iraq war and staunchly supported the 20 years of carnage in the Middle East, is one more example of the hypocritical moral posturing sweeping across the United States.

    It is unclear how anyone would try Putin for war crimes since Russia, like the United States, does not recognize the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court in The Hague. But justice is not the point.

    Politicians like Biden, who do not accept responsibility for our well-documented war crimes, bolster their moral credentials by demonizing their adversaries. They know the chance of Putin facing justice is zero. And they know their chance of facing justice is the same.

    We know who our most recent war criminals are, among others: George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, General Ricardo Sanchez, former CIA Director George Tenet, former Asst. Atty. Gen. Jay Bybee, former Dep. Asst. Atty. Gen. John Yoo, who set up the legal framework to authorize torture; the helicopter pilots who gunned down civilians, including two Reuters journalists, in the “Collateral Murder” video released by WikiLeaks. We have evidence of the crimes they committed…………………
    https://consortiumnews.com/2022/03/22/chris-hedges-the-lie-of-american-innocence/

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Condoleezza Rice admits that invading a sovereign nation is a war crime!
    But not when the US does so apparently!
    You can’t make this up folks!

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  9. On a No-Fly Zone over Ukraine

    As a retired United States Army Master Sergeant who spent two years in Vietnam in the 60s, and two years in the pre-Operation Desert Storm Middle East in the 80s, i can’t help but wonder: How many Navy and Air Force Pilots are in favor a “No-Fly Zone” over Ukraine?

    Not Admirals and Generals or their Field-Grade-level Wannabes; but Pilots. And their families and loved ones.

    Note that no American politician, pundit, propagandist , or other super patriot calling for an NFZ has any intention whatsoever of volunteering to go to Ukraine to be a participant-observer in it, and cheer it on from Ground Zero. Any guess as to why?

    So now, we have the now-very real threat of global nuclear war and more climate-driven weather disasters; such as has happened and is happening in the southern U.S. even as we speak. Plus, we also have the planet’s governing class smacking their lips in anticipation of the very real probability of a resurgent COVID Wave. Thereby giving them further opportunity and justification to further increase their power, authority, and, of course, wealth.

    Throw in the pending world food shortages precipitated by the war in Ukraine and all the current and inevitable financial, economic, and social chaos of the Sanctions ~ along with Weimar Republic-levels of hyperinflation ~ and it is going to be a very interesting Mid-Term election here in the US in November.

    Especially here in Alaska, where Congressman Don Young ~ who has Represented Alaska just 11 1/2 months shy of 50 years ~ just died. One must ask: Should anybody be in any elected office that long? And should this nation today be firmly in the hands of Baby Boomers in their 70s and 80s? But that is a separate rant.

    A very interesting Mid-Term election, indeed. That is: If there is an election.

    In any case, it already is a very interesting Chinese “Year of the Black Water Rat.” All over the Planet.

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  10. WJA, WHAT CAN I DO? SHEERPOST HAS BLOCKED ME. AS SOON AS I TRY TO LOG ONTO SHEERPOST MY ENTIRE SCREEN FREEZES, AS DOES EVERY WORD ON THE SCREEN. THE ONLY WAY I CAN UNBLOCK MY MONITOR IS TO SHUT DOWN THE COMPUTER AND RELOAD. I FEAR YOUR BLOG WILL BE NEXT. I HAVE BEEN FOREWARNED THAT MY COMPUTER IS BEING TRACKED’. WHERE IS EDWARD SNOWDEN WHEN I NEED HIM? HE AND HIS GENIUS CONSOCIATES CHANNING AND ASSANGE COULD RESOLVE THIS IN A GHEKKO’S EYEBLINK. NO OTHER SITE IS YET BEING BLOCKED. DO YOU OR YOUR READERS HAVE ANY SUGGESTIONS?

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  11. MORE ACCURATELY, WJA, I SHOULD SAY, SHEERPOST HAS BEEN BLOCKED, AND I CAN NO LONGER GAIN ACCESS TO THAT SITE. i fear whoever is tracking my computer will soon eliminate bracing views, counterpunch, just vision, and tomdispatch. the info wars will dispatch us all to the outer galaxies.

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      1. This is the latest post
        Washington Should Think Twice Before Launching a New Cold War
        by
        Editor
        March 22, 2022
        9 Comments on Washington Should Think Twice Before Launching a New Cold War
        Here we are in what might indeed be Cold War II, playing out the Ukrainian version of Afghanistan with a weaker Russian military, a visibly more disturbed leader, Washington again shoveling arms, money, and training to the other side, and the possibility that the war could spread elsewhere in Europe. What happens when history repeats itself, however weirdly?

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          1. tnx, rjc… an avoir-dupois [assuming your status as a bi-lingual canadian in our ‘payee bi-langue’ country] of appreciation for the link, which sourcing from you in wja’s comment section did not freeze my screen. you are a most reliable intermediary!

            Liked by 1 person

      2. i can access sheerpost ,rjc, but doing so instantly freezes my screen, accompanied by the caveat that “your computer is being tracked”… why is that? might it be b/c i’m in the philippines?

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          1. how bewildering. i’m parlous befuddled b/c it has never happened before. freezing my computer is some scallawag’s way of discouraging me from logging on to sheerpost again, given i’m compelled to shut down my computer and reload every time i try to do so.

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  12. I’m guessing that no one is having trouble accessing Bracing Views. But if anyone is, please reply to this.

    BTW, this is our new Orwellian reality, where censorship is free speech and surveillance is privacy. Of course, war remains peace, and ignorance is still strength.

    Have another bottle of Victory gin in Oceania!

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        1. goblins of gobbledeegook, wja, i just tried to log onto counterpunch and my entire inbox disappeared. there seems to be no way i can retrieve it, which means i must ask all my children and absent 82-yr-old husband, in canada due to filipino visa restrictions, to resend every email they have sent over the past 24 hrs. shit and shitola! i wish i could regress to the postal delivery system, but aleatorically, our local post office has been shut down as well, throughout the entire 2-yr covid pandemic.

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  13. The Economist -Subscription required
    John Mearsheimer on why the West is principally responsible for the Ukrainian crisis
    The political scientist believes the reckless expansion of NATO provoked Russia

    THE WAR in Ukraine is the most dangerous international conflict since the 1962 Cuban missile crisis. Understanding its root causes is essential if we are to prevent it from getting worse and, instead, to find a way to bring it to a close.

    There is no question that Vladimir Putin started the war and is responsible for how it is being waged. But why he did so is another matter. The mainstream view in the West is that he is an irrational, out-of-touch aggressor bent on creating a greater Russia in the mould of the former Soviet Union. Thus, he alone bears full responsibility for the Ukraine crisis.

    But that story is wrong. The West, and especially America, is principally responsible for the crisis which began in February 2014. It has now turned into a war that not only threatens to destroy Ukraine, but also has the potential to escalate into a nuclear war between Russia and NATO.

    The trouble over Ukraine actually started at NATO’s Bucharest summit in April 2008, when George W. Bush’s administration pushed the alliance to announce that Ukraine and Georgia “will become members”. Russian leaders responded immediately with outrage, characterising this decision as an existential threat to Russia and vowing to thwart it. According to a respected Russian journalist, Mr Putin “flew into a rage” and warned that “if Ukraine joins NATO, it will do so without Crimea and the eastern regions. It will simply fall apart.” America ignored Moscow’s red line, however, and pushed forward to make Ukraine a Western bulwark on Russia’s border. That strategy included two other elements: bringing Ukraine closer to the eu and making it a pro-American democracy.

    These efforts eventually sparked hostilities in February 2014, after an uprising (which was supported by America) caused Ukraine’s pro-Russian president, Viktor Yanukovych, to flee the country. In response, Russia took Crimea from Ukraine and helped fuel a civil war that broke out in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine.

    The next major confrontation came in December 2021 and led directly to the current war. The main cause was that Ukraine was becoming a de facto member of NATO. The process started in December 2017, when the Trump administration decided to sell Kyiv “defensive weapons”. What counts as “defensive” is hardly clear-cut, however, and these weapons certainly looked offensive to Moscow and its allies in the Donbas region. Other NATO countries got in on the act, shipping weapons to Ukraine, training its armed forces and allowing it to participate in joint air and naval exercises. In July 2021, Ukraine and America co-hosted a major naval exercise in the Black Sea region involving navies from 32 countries. Operation Sea Breeze almost provoked Russia to fire at a British naval destroyer that deliberately entered what Russia considers its territorial waters.

    The links between Ukraine and America continued growing under the Biden administration. This commitment is reflected throughout an important document—the “us-Ukraine Charter on Strategic Partnership”—that was signed in November by Antony Blinken, America’s secretary of state, and Dmytro Kuleba, his Ukrainian counterpart. The aim was to “underscore … a commitment to Ukraine’s implementation of the deep and comprehensive reforms necessary for full integration into European and Euro-Atlantic institutions.” The document explicitly builds on “the commitments made to strengthen the Ukraine-u.s. strategic partnership by Presidents Zelensky and Biden,” and also emphasises that the two countries will be guided by the “2008 Bucharest Summit Declaration.”

    Unsurprisingly, Moscow found this evolving situation intolerable and began mobilising its army on Ukraine’s border last spring to signal its resolve to Washington. But it had no effect, as the Biden administration continued to move closer to Ukraine. This led Russia to precipitate a full-blown diplomatic stand-off in December. As Sergey Lavrov, Russia’s foreign minister, put it: “We reached our boiling point.” Russia demanded a written guarantee that Ukraine would never become a part of NATO and that the alliance remove the military assets it had deployed in eastern Europe since 1997. The subsequent negotiations failed, as Mr Blinken made clear: “There is no change. There will be no change.” A month later Mr Putin launched an invasion of Ukraine to eliminate the threat he saw from NATO.

    This interpretation of events is at odds with the prevailing mantra in the West, which portrays NATO expansion as irrelevant to the Ukraine crisis, blaming instead Mr Putin’s expansionist goals. According to a recent NATO document sent to Russian leaders, “NATO is a defensive Alliance and poses no threat to Russia.” The available evidence contradicts these claims. For starters, the issue at hand is not what Western leaders say NATO’s purpose or intentions are; it is how Moscow sees NATO’s actions.

    Mr Putin surely knows that the costs of conquering and occupying large amounts of territory in eastern Europe would be prohibitive for Russia. As he once put it, “Whoever does not miss the Soviet Union has no heart. Whoever wants it back has no brain.” His beliefs about the tight bonds between Russia and Ukraine notwithstanding, trying to take back all of Ukraine would be like trying to swallow a porcupine. Furthermore, Russian policymakers—including Mr Putin—have said hardly anything about conquering new territory to recreate the Soviet Union or build a greater Russia. Rather, since the 2008 Bucharest summit Russian leaders have repeatedly said that they view Ukraine joining NATO as an existential threat that must be prevented. As Mr Lavrov noted in January, “the key to everything is the guarantee that NATO will not expand eastward.”

    Tellingly, Western leaders rarely described Russia as a military threat to Europe before 2014. As America’s former ambassador to Moscow Michael McFaul notes, Mr Putin’s seizure of Crimea was not planned for long; it was an impulsive move in response to the coup that overthrew Ukraine’s pro-Russian leader. In fact, until then, NATO expansion was aimed at turning all of Europe into a giant zone of peace, not containing a dangerous Russia. Once the crisis started, however, American and European policymakers could not admit they had provoked it by trying to integrate Ukraine into the West. They declared the real source of the problem was Russia’s revanchism and its desire to dominate if not conquer Ukraine.

    My story about the conflict’s causes should not be controversial, given that many prominent American foreign-policy experts have warned against NATO expansion since the late 1990s. America’s secretary of defence at the time of the Bucharest summit, Robert Gates, recognised that “trying to bring Georgia and Ukraine into NATO was truly overreaching”. Indeed, at that summit, both the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, and the French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, were opposed to moving forward on NATO membership for Ukraine because they feared it would infuriate Russia.

    The upshot of my interpretation is that we are in an extremely dangerous situation, and Western policy is exacerbating these risks. For Russia’s leaders, what happens in Ukraine has little to do with their imperial ambitions being thwarted; it is about dealing with what they regard as a direct threat to Russia’s future. Mr Putin may have misjudged Russia’s military capabilities, the effectiveness of the Ukrainian resistance and the scope and speed of the Western response, but one should never underestimate how ruthless great powers can be when they believe they are in dire straits. America and its allies, however, are doubling down, hoping to inflict a humiliating defeat on Mr Putin and to maybe even trigger his removal. They are increasing aid to Ukraine while using economic sanctions to inflict massive punishment on Russia, a step that Putin now sees as “akin to a declaration of war”.

    America and its allies may be able to prevent a Russian victory in Ukraine, but the country will be gravely damaged, if not dismembered. Moreover, there is a serious threat of escalation beyond Ukraine, not to mention the danger of nuclear war. If the West not only thwarts Moscow on Ukraine’s battlefields, but also does serious, lasting damage to Russia’s economy, it is in effect pushing a great power to the brink. Mr Putin might then turn to nuclear weapons.

    At this point it is impossible to know the terms on which this conflict will be settled. But, if we do not understand its deep cause, we will be unable to end it before Ukraine is wrecked and NATO ends up in a war with Russia.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Thanks for that post Ray.
    For the best analysis of where we are at today, and what is actually going on, I recommend this video.
    Alexander Mercouris is by far the most reliable source on geo-political issues.

    Like

  15. Another situation where your site will not post what I’m posting. Must be like Google Chrome hiding Sheerpost. Maybe because it’s a video interview with Michael Hudson on banned RT.

    This is Michael’s the last word in the video, Michael Hudson [00:26:03] I don’t see any cooler heads in the United States. The surprising thing is that here it’s the right wing channel, the Republican Fox Channel, is the only channel that’s taking the anti-war stand and is saying we shouldn’t be at war in Ukraine. It’s the only channel that’s talking about here is how Russia sees the world. Do we really want to take a one sided perspective or do we want to see the actual dynamics at work? So it was the Republicans and the right wing that is now primarily against the NATO war in the Ukraine. The left wing seems to be all for it, but the left wing of the Democratic Party is in office and I don’t see any cooler heads in the Democratic Party at all. And I’ve known many of these people for many decades, and they are willing to go to war for a death. There are still back in the world of World War Two when the fight was against the Nazis and anti-Semitism. They’re still living in a kind of mythology world, not in the real world. And the thought that the world can come to an end either doesn’t have a reality to them or as Herman Cain said, Well, somebody is going to survive.

    There’s a link to the video at the end and I can see it.

    https://dandelionsalad.wordpress.com/2022/03/23/michael-hudson-sanctions-the-blowback/

    Like

    1. Ray: WordPress says they are not blocking, but Google is. And if you’re using Google Chrome, it will block links to RT. Here’s a snippet:

      Reuters reported on February 26 that Google is barring Russian state-owned media outlets “from receiving money for ads on their websites, apps, and YouTube videos” as well as blocking Russian media’s access to Google’s ad-services tools, search function, and Gmail.

      The official Google Europe account tweeted on March 1 that the company is “blocking YouTube channels connected to RT and Sputnik across Europe, effective immediately.”

      Big Google Brother is watching you, Ray, and protecting you from Russian propaganda. I hope you feel safer.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. goblins of gobbledeegook, wja, i just tried to log onto counterpunch and my entire inbox disappeared. there seems to be no way i can retrieve it, which means i must ask all my children and absent 82-yr-old husband, in canada due to filipino visa restrictions, to resend every email they have sent over the past 24 hrs. shit and shitola! i wish i could regress to the postal delivery system, but aleatorically, our local post office has been shut down as well, throughout the entire 2-yr covid pandemic.

        Like

      2. Bill, I use Firefox as my browser, but I just tried to post the direct link to the RT video interview of Michael Hudson that can be seen linking from the Dandiloinsalad link upstream and your Blog wouldn’t accept it again

        Like

        1. “If the US empire truly believed its own role in this war was just, it wouldn’t be unleashing unprecedented levels of censorship, blacking out Russian media, and propagandizing like it’s already World War 3.”

          Caitlin Johnstone

          Like

  16. Readers! I have temporarily changed the “theme,” i.e. the look, of my site. Is this better? Worse? I welcome your feedback.

    This is supposed to be a more modern, slicker, theme than the one I’ve been using for the last six years. I’m not so sure I’m ready for a change, though.

    Like

    1. Never mind! I went back to the “classic” design. I don’t have the energy to deal with a new layout, but I do welcome suggestions. Does anyone care about this? Probably not …

      Like

      1. Its the content I care about Bill.
        The “look” or the “theme” does not matter me.
        I come to this site for your thoughts and ideas, and the thoughts of your great readers.
        And debating with others of like minds helps this lonely septuagenarian pass the time of the day.
        Cheers
        Dennis

        Liked by 1 person

        1. we octogenarians are lonely in the philippines too, dennis. do come visit us on mindoro island when you’re inspired to uptick the catalyzing mechanisms for travel, which should no longer be so onerous, given the several inter-island ferries are back in business, new zealand’s proximity to the PI, and the PI’s recently mandated abrogations of quondam quarantine restrictions in manila. if you are a consociate dipsomaniac, the beer, rum punches, and german wines are incomparable.

          Like

  17. Russia said it will not accept American Dollars as payment by Western Europe for Russian oil and gas. They will only accept payment in Russian Rubles. A smart move by Putin.
    It will force the Europeans to buy Rubles, raising it’s value and hastening the Day when the US Dollar will no longer be the World’s Reserve currency.

    That is sure to cause division within US dominated NATO

    Like

  18. The Pentagon is engaged in a consequential battle with the U.S. State Department and the Congress to prevent a direct military confrontation with Russia, which could unleash the most unimaginable horror of war.

    President Joe Biden is caught in the middle of the fray. So far he is siding with the Defense Department, saying there cannot be a NATO no-fly zone over Ukraine fighting Russian aircraft because “that’s called World War III, okay? Let’s get it straight here, guys. We will not fight the third world war in Ukraine.”

    “President Biden’s been clear that U.S. troops won’t fight Russia in Ukraine, and if you establish a no-fly zone, certainly in order to enforce that no-fly zone, you’ll have to engage Russian aircraft. And again, that would put us at war with Russia,” said U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin earlier this month. (The administration plan is to bring down the Russian government through a ground insurgency and economic war, not a direct military one.)

    But pressure on the White House from Congress and the press corps is unrelenting to recklessly bring NATO directly into the war. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, hailed as a virtual superhero in Western media, has vacillated between openness to negotiating a peace settlement with Russia and calling for NATO to “close the skies” above Ukraine. To save his country he appears willing to risk endangering the entire world.

    Meanwhile, Western corporate media, depending almost exclusively on Ukrainian sources, report that Russia is losing the war, with its military offensive “stalled,” and in frustration has deliberately targeted civilians and flattened cities……………………………………..

    https://consortiumnews.com/2022/03/23/pentagon-drops-truth-bombs-to-stave-off-war-with-russia/

    Like

  19. Is this case Ray where the American Military being under civilian control ( ultimately the Congress) could bite it in the butt?
    The president of the United States is the commander-in-chief of the armed forces and forms military policy with the Department of Defense (DoD) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS), both federal executive departments, acting as the principal organs by which military policy is carried out.
    Ironic on an anti-war site we should be arguing for the Military to prevail!

    Liked by 1 person

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