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Thursday, March 06, 2014

Cold War II

America has Ukraine on the brain right now. I don't think that the neocons want actual war with Putin, but they certainly want a new Cold War. Their propaganda push has invaded all aspects of our national culture.

Consider this interview with Fedor Bondarchuk, director of the new Imax Stalingrad film. I haven't seen the movie, but I'm a huge admirer of Fedor's father, Sergei Bondarchuk. The interview is worth reading despite the appalling headline:
“Stalingrad”: A national myth for Putin’s Russia
Fedor Bondarchuk on his eye-popping WWII epic, which helps explain the psychology behind the Ukraine crisis
Why are these words appalling? Because nothing in the interview buttresses the idea that this new movie has any relationship at all to Putin or the Ukraine crisis. So why did Salon hit us with that headline? It's as if a Russian film critic tried to convince his readers that The Thin Red Line offered some deep insight into the inner workings of Bill Clinton's mind.

I cite that headline as one small (yet telling) example of what happens when the war drums begin to bang bang bang BANG BANG. Everyone starts bopping and nodding and tapping toes to the rhythm. It's infectious. Insidious. Even people who damned well ought to know better get caught up in the beat.

So why is this happening?

I am persuaded that this crisis was ginned up. But why was it ginned up?

Many have offered theories involving oil pipelines. While those theories probably have much in their favor, let's not overlook an even simpler idea.

This story, on its surface, has no direct bearing on Russia and Ukraine. And yet...
The nation’s top military commander painted a dark picture Tuesday of future U.S. defense capabilities clouded by shrinking Pentagon budgets and adversaries’ technological advances that he said would erode American battlefield superiority.

Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, provided his sobering views as part of the Quadrennial Defense Review, a congressionally mandated evaluation of U.S. military strength issued every four years.

Dempsey predicted that it would become increasingly difficult to balance the competing demands of protecting allies abroad, securing Americans at home and deterring future wars.

“The smaller and less capable military outlined in the QDR makes meeting these obligations more difficult,” he said. “Most of our platforms and equipment will be older, and our advantages in some domains will have eroded. Our loss of depth across the force could reduce our ability to intimidate opponents from escalating conflicts.”
Some of you may recall that, in 2010, I predicted that we'd be seeing a lot of stories like this. I said that the media would overflow with dire warnings of imminent military collapse.

More than a year later, I had to admit that my confident forecast remained unfulfilled. That confession was difficult to write. I honestly could not understand what was happening:
For decades, the only Keynesianism which the punditry would ever countenance was military Keynesianism. That was Reagan's big trick -- and to be frank, it more or less worked.

I had once predicted that our real rulers would prepare the way for a military Keynesian solution by inundating us with propaganda about the horribly antiquated equipment our soldiers must use. If you lived through the Reagan years, you'll know the kind of ad campaign I'm talking about: "America still uses biplanes and wooden ships and muskets! Our soldiers wear tri-corner hats! We need to upgrade now!"

When that kind of propaganda didn't flood our airwaves, I began to suspect that maybe this crisis was different.
Damned right it was different. Over the past few years, the Ayn Randroids within the Republican establishment have actually been talking about defense cuts. Yes: Cuts. To the Randroids, military Keynesianism was just as odious as any other kind of Keynesianism.

For the longest time, the hard core libertarians appeared to have won the day. But now, it looks as though the people running this country have finally decided not to give up on the U.S. economy after all. They came up with a new plan to put people back to work again.

This "new" plan is, of course, the old plan -- the traditional plan. It has three steps.

First: Scare America with dark talk of a Big Bad Russian Wolf.

Second: Permit increased deficit spending in order to fund a new peacetime military build-up.

Third: Erect "Now Hiring" signs in front of Lockheed, Raytheon, Boeing and every other defense contractor. 

I doubt that the people running this country bear Putin any actual ill will. It's nothing personal. We simply need a new bogeyman, and Putin will more or less do.

Osama Bin Laden is no longer available for the bogeyman role -- and besides, the War on Terror never sufficed as a justification for a new round of Military Keynesianism. Putin, by contrast, is the head of a major power, and he's an ornery and eccentric old cuss. If Vladimir Putin did not exist, we would have to invent him

What was it Gore Vidal used to say? When politicians tell you that the Russians are coming, hang onto your wallets -- it's just another raid on the Treasury.

My own feelings are mixed. Obviously, I believe in Keynesian solutions. I believe that the government should invest in a jobs program. But must those jobs be linked to building up our already bloated military? And must the jobs program be accompanied by shady covert ops and dangerously bellicose talk? Can't we at least try a non-military form of Keynesianism?
The gas pipelines in the Ukraine are unlikely to be an important reason, because they all begin in Russia. No government in the Ukraine is going to want the flow to stop. This article in the Guardian is rubbish.
The big issue: Ukraine is on the brink of default.

Russian government economics adviser Sergei Glazyev:

"An attempt to announce sanctions (against Russia) would end in a crash for the financial system of the United States, which would cause the end of the domination of the United States in the global financial system."
We don't necessarily need the government to think up new jobs. We do need the government to incentivize the REDUCTION of consumer debt by offering lower interest credit card and student loan PAY DOWN programs.

The government is locked in on growth through increased consumer death, this is the kiss of death of the entire planet over the next 10 to 50 years.

Debt Neutrality Petition is the answer.
In retrospect to 911, back then using a cell phone as a homing device was still relatively unknown, no?

Now that we know that cell phone homing technology existed back then, doesn't that make it not such a stretch for someone on the inside to have planned 911 in concert with terrorists?
It's always pretty obvious that the media apparatus in this country practices strict top-down control from an editorial perspective, but whenever the powers-that-be decide we need to villainize someone or convince Americans of the need for war, that control becomes impossible to ignore.

I know I've mentioned this before, but just because Operation Mockingbird was eventually exposed doesn't mean the agency gave up on it; if anything, the decades of media consolidation since the program was first exposed have made it far easier for the ruling class to exercise editorial control over what people see/hear/read.

I also often think you can glean nearly as much insight into the objectives of the media by questioning what they doesn't tell you.

I would describe it as a form of gatekeeping; by limiting the spectrum of acceptable thought to within point A on the left and point B on the right, you can then label anyone who strays outside of those boundaries as a conspiracy theorist or nutcase in general.

A couple of cases in point would be the timely death of both Senator Paul Wellstone and Pat Tillman. Both men were causing problems for the cabal running the country duing the 2001-2004 timeframe, and both died under extremely suspicious circumstances, however there was never any mention in the media that their deaths may have been the result of political assassinations.

Wellstone had just voted against the AUMF and was the leading GOP poster boy Norm Coleman in the polls with a month left to go until the mid-terms in 2002. He was pushing for more aggressive investigations into 9/11 and was every bit the populist; he couldn't be bought, he wouldn't sell out is ideals to the highest bidder, and Cheney et al HATED that.

His plane mysteriously went down with zero radio communications on final approach in Minnesota. The fuselage burned beyond recognition, but the wings - which held the fuel - remained intact. The corporate media then launched an aggressive campaign to discredit the democrats who rightly called out the hypocrisy of Cheney attending Wellstone's memorial service. I guaran-fucking-tee Cheney ordered the hit on Wellstone.

Pat Tillman was propagandized to no end when he walked away from his lucrative NFL contract to join the Rangers, but he was kept on a very short leash, i.e. every communication he made, every letter he sent, every book he read, was scrutinized and catalogued by Rumsfeld's henchmen. When they learned he was vehemently opposed to the Iraq war and was planning on returning to the US in early 2004 to campaign for Kerry and lead the anti-war movement, they realized it'd be easier to deal with him over there than it would be to deal with him over here.

They created a plan to split his unit and lure him into an ambush by faking an enemy ambush. The only problem was that there were zero enemy shell casings or bullet holes in any of the US equipment. He was killed with three rounds to his forehead in a 2" diameter cluster; the medical examiner who looked at him first suspected homicide and requested an investigation, but was overruled.

They burned his body armor and uniform, stole and likely destroyed his journal (which he'd kept since he was 16), and implemented their pre-planned cover story.

Only our "free press" never once asked if he was killed intentionally. The crime was always, ALWAYS, the cover-up as far as our media was concerned. To ask the question of whether he was killed because of the threat he represented to the ruling cabal would be a bridge too far.

Our media is corrupt and only serves powerful interests.
I have little doubt that you're correct in your assessment, Joe--that part of this is the need for a new boogyman and that there is a tug of war behind the scenes regarding where the US will spend its money to jumpstart our own economy. Saint Ronnie certainly knew the formula. All the wailing about not having resources to take care of our own domestic problems are quickly evaporating. We always have money for more war, cold or not.

The sanctions that Kerry is proposing [which Germany is pushing back on] will be countered by Putin. Reported this morning, Putin has threatened to seize American business assets inside Russia. We start seeing corporate assets under the gun [for instance,the company my husband works for has a 'large' investment inside the country] tensions will ratchet up dramatically. National interests in spades.

From all indications, Putin is itching for a fight. His own economy despite all the oil and natural gas is sluggish at best, predicted growth of only 1.6. Though his own citizenry is firmly against the action in Crimea, the party line is that the surge of troops are Ukrainian, not Russian. The theatrics on both sides have a familiar, chilling ring.

The neocons who have successfully ginned up the chaos are like the cat who swallowed the canary. There are reports out now [additional hacked messages] that the snipers in Kiev were taking orders from the propped up opposition, deliberately firing on their own citizens and police.

Deja vu all over again. Btw, where was our intelligence community in all this? Mum and blind at best, complicit at worst.


You may find the gas pipeline map of Ukraine interesting.

Breaking news:

You speculated that the sniper shooting of protesters was a "false flag" operation. You were right:

Estonian Foreign Ministry confirms authenticity of leaked phone call discussing how Kiev snipers who shot protesters were possibly hired by Ukraine's new leaders
Leaked phone call suggests anti-government protesters hired the snipers

Call between EU's foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton and Estonia's foreign affairs minister Urmas Paet

Paet appears to claim opposition leaders hired the snipers that killed 94

Russia Today said the clip was uploaded by officers of Security Service of Ukraine, who remain loyal to Yanukovich. They claimed the officers hacked Paet’s and Ashton’s phones to obtain the audio.

More at link


In Estonia, the foreign minister has claimed the police and protesters were shot by the same snipers, who were hired by the "protesters", in a phone call which was leaked to the press. Cue furious back pedaling.

in Donetsk, perhaps most famous for the recent success of their football team, Shakthar Donetsk, the leader of pro-Russian protests, Pavel Gubarev, has been dragged from him home by the authorities. The authorities also stormed local government building to eject pro-Russian demonstrators.

in Kiev a member of the new ruling party, Sergei Pashinsky, and former prime minister under the formerly imprisoned former president Yulia Timoschenko, has been found with a silenced sniper rifle in the Maidan.

in Russia Yanukovich has declared himself still president and asked for Russian military aid.

Can't we at least try a non-military form of Keynesianism?

No, we can't. Because socialism.
For a proper enemy to frighten the American public, there must be a name and face to focus upon. Ahmadinejad just wasn't up to it (not to mention that he held little power) and now Rouhani refuses to play that role. What's scary is that this new game of bear baiting involves nuclear confrontation. Do we now need to upgrade our nuclear arsenal and missile defense systems? Space weapons? What a gravy train!

Is this actually a cover for preparing to confront China? If so this new game may be bringing that future into reality. Ian Welsh thinks that isolating Russia will only force it to once again align with China. And this will result in Russia becoming a Chinese client state.

China sure could use Russia's oil, gas and lumber. I don't know how Europe will feel about Russian hydrocarbons going to China instead of them. I've read speculation that this could also be a ploy to sell American natural gas to Europe. A win win for big money! What could go wrong?

With a Sino-Russian alignment, will the Chinese have a monopoly on Kolinsky?,_Jamaica,_and_Nicaragua

The gas is important if only because the Ukrainians get such a good deal on it.

I see our man Yaks is quite open about being in power solely to push through unpopular neo-liberal measures.


If the U.S. wants another Cold War then we'll need to design and build a new space shuttle for our satellites and space weapons. Or at the minimum a new heavy lift rocket system. The Russians won't be carrying stuff up there for us anymore.

McClatchy has up an article which contains a few interesting items.

SpaceX to the rescue!

" "Our Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy launch vehicles are truly made in America," he said. "This stands in stark contrast to the United Launch Alliance's most frequently flown vehicle, the Atlas V."

That rocket uses a Russian engine, Musk said, and half the airframe is built abroad.

"Supply of the main engine depends on President Putin's permission," he said.

United Launch Alliance's Gass quickly responded that the company has a two-year supply of the engines."

This new war will be expensive. Funny how those beating the war drums were recently screaming about deficit spending. Never enough money to help people, but there's always the money to kill people.
Russia is going to default if sanctions are imposed? Seriously?
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