Monday, February 2, 2015

Groundhog Day

(credit: USA Today)

It's deja vu all over again. It's fascist coup all over again.

 In the past half century alone, the USA has invaded, bombed, and/or occupied Vietnam, Lebanon, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Grenada, Panama, Gulf States, Somalia, Haiti, Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan, Yemen, Iraq, Pakistan, Libya, and Syria.  And even that is only a partial list. There are shadow wars being waged all the time from more than a thousand American military bases dotting our endangered planet.

Deja vu has popped up its rabid, fascist little head all over again. Because while you were distracted watching the Super Bowl last night, the Obama administration and its corporate partners brazenly tacked yet another gigantic hunk of real estate onto their plunder list. And that is Ukraine, and by extension, Russia.

Oh, we've known for awhile that the White House fomented the right-wing coup in Ukraine last year in order to wage a not-so-proxy war against Russia, and has used special ops and the CIA to help its puppets attack civilian populations -- conveniently demonized as "pro-Russian rebels" -- in the east.

 But now they're moving on to the next level: directly and openly arming their puppets, escalating the civil war, leading to the hoped-for toppling of Vladimir Putin and the opening of Russia to the Western flank of the global oligarchy. The ever-helpful New York Times slapped the announcement on its front page today, right next to all the gruesome football coverage.

As commenter Patricia M. points out, the timing of the latest roll-out was everything. American leaders waited until the sponge colonies of consumer-spectators were riveted on one jingoistic spectacle before debuting another one for our paranoid, patriotic pleasure. Stun the "bewildered herd" while they're still mindlessly wallowing in their alternate televised universe of blood, brawls, and babes. Strike while they're helplessly hung over by the annual spectacle of guts, glory, and greed that is the Super Bowl.

For as Noam Chomsky observed in Manufacturing Consent, "If you want to have a violent society that uses force around the world to achieve the ends of its own domestic elite, it's necessary to have a proper appreciation of the martial virtues and none of these sickly inhibitions about using violence."

So last night, we saw one football player suffer a compound arm fracture and another one dragged off the field with a concussion, interspersed with flying Thunderbirds, fireworks, and Katy Perry riding a giant metallic robot. We overcame any sickly inhibitions we might have otherwise felt about a new war. Our consent was being cynically engineered by the media-political complex.

Strike while the striking is good, and the news of yet another front in the forever war is almost guaranteed to be met with a group "Meh" by an exhausted viewing audience replete on beer and Doritos and a funny Superbowl commercial featuring drunk-driving Lindsay Lohan selling cheap car insurance. Strike, yet disguise the coming bloodshed in the blandest possible terms.

 Michael Gordon, the same Times reporter who helped Judith Miller plant the phony weapons of mass destruction bunk that enabled Bush's criminal invasion of Iraq, co-wrote this propaganda too:
With Russian-backed separatists pressing their attacks in Ukraine, NATO’s military commander, Gen. Philip M. Breedlove, now supports providing defensive weapons and equipment to Kiev’s beleaguered forces, and an array of administration and military officials appear to be edging toward that position, American officials said Sunday.
President Obama has made no decisions on providing such lethal assistance. But after a series of striking reversals that Ukraine’s forces have suffered in recent weeks, the Obama administration is taking a fresh look at the question of military aid.
Breedlove sounds like a character straight out of Catch-22, doesn't he?   Breedlove is the designated breeder of war fever. And since familiarity breeds contempt, Obama the Minderbinder is allowed to distance himself from the plot, pretending that he is just starting to agonize over whether to liberally intervene in a situation that he himself created.

The usual suspects have their carefully orchestrated roles down pat:
Secretary of State John Kerry, who plans to visit Kiev on Thursday, is open to new discussions about providing lethal assistance, as is Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, officials said. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, who is leaving his post soon, backs sending defensive weapons to the Ukrainian forces.
In recent months, Susan E. Rice, Mr. Obama’s national security adviser, has resisted proposals to provide lethal assistance, several officials said. But one official who is familiar with her views insisted that Ms. Rice was now prepared to reconsider the issue.
This is the obligatory creation of a crisis atmosphere. The architects of mayhem are portrayed as having to address circumstances that they had no hand in orchestrating. The masters of war and the fomenters of right-wing coups posture as victims who have to be dragged, kicking and screaming, into combat. Susan Rice, whose reputation for bloodthirsty bellicosity precedes her (Congo, Libya), is  miraculously recast as the woman of peace who is now forced to become a reluctant warrior.

Gordon and his cohort Eric Schmitt continue the charade:
 “Although our focus remains on pursuing a solution through diplomatic means, we are always evaluating other options that will help create space for a negotiated solution to the crisis,” said Bernadette Meehan, a spokeswoman for the National Security Council.
That is Newspeak worthy of Orwell. Bombs and guns and death and destruction have become the means to "create space for a negotiated solution to the crisis."

Obama himself created that space awhile ago. Of course, he euphemizes his coup by bragging that he "brokered a deal to transition power in Ukraine."  

And the Times dutifully marches on:
Fueling the broader debate over policy is an independent report to be issued Monday by eight former senior American officials, who urge the United States to send $3 billion in defensive arms and equipment to Ukraine, including anti-armor missiles, reconnaissance drones, armored Humvees and radars that can determine the location of enemy rocket and artillery fire.
Michèle A. Flournoy, a former senior Pentagon official who is a leading candidate to serve as defense secretary if Hillary Rodham Clinton is elected president, joined in preparing the report. Others include James G. Stavridis, a retired admiral who served as the top NATO military commander, and Ivo Daalder, the ambassador to NATO during Mr. Obama’s first term.
Translation: they want more war for endless profits. Flournoy is the founder of the weapons industry/Wall Street-funded Center for a New American Security, (CNAS) whose main purpose is to gin up "responsibility to protect" excuses for waging war and making billions of dollars for the military-industrial complex in the process. It was CNAS which orchestrated and still controls Michelle Obama's "Joining Forces" propaganda campaign, whose goal is to get the American public to support American imperialism through "supporting the troops." (who wouldn't support the troops?) Mrs. Obama's recent promotion of entertainment like American Sniper is a huge part of the corporate-funded Permawar effort. Moreover, she's seen to it that movies and TV shows portraying soldiers and veterans will now be subject to a military seal of propaganda approval.

But back to the New York Times propaganda:
The administration’s deliberations were described by a range of senior Pentagon, administration and Western officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were talking about internal discussions.
A spokesman for General Breedlove declined to comment on his view on providing defensive weapons, which was disclosed by United States officials privy to confidential discussions.
What a bunch of craven cowards, starting wars while hiding behind their cloaks of anonymity in their office towers. This is the territory of the controlled leak. It is not punishable, because leakers in high places never punish themselves. Only whistleblowers exposing war crimes and official incompetence ever get punished.

The entry of the United States into a new, semi-proxified war against Russia is all of a piece with the ongoing fascist coup destroying what's left of American democracy. Besides the Center for a New American Security, the other authors of the report calling for the launching of a thousand new missiles in Ukraine are the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, the Atlantic Council and the Brookings Institution. The chairman of the Chicago Council is none other than Lester Crown, one of Barack Obama's original funders and a major stakeholder in General Dynamics, manufacturer of weaponized drones and other military hardware. The Atlantic Council is a bloated cornucopia of war-hungry multinationals:  Chevron, Airbus, Lockheed Martin, Bank of America, the Blackstone Group, Northrup Grumman, Coca-Cola, HSBC, US Chamber of Commerce, Microsoft... to name just a few.

If any member of the Forbes 400, or any the top 80 billionaires already owning half the world's wealth have been left out of the Ukraine War Manifesto, it has to have been an oversight. I am sure there's still time to score an invitation, though, and turn their money into speech, their speech into more blood-soaked money.


annenigma said...

Excellent Karen! Thank you.

Someone named Cedar Cat said this as part of his/her NYT comment to their editorial 'Mr. Putin Resumes His War in the Ukraine':

"At least the Russians know their news is propaganda. Seems like we're still lapping it up over here."

How can we blame people for not being engaged or caring when they don't even realize what's really going on? I'm always surprised to hear people actually believe that Obama ended our wars instead of just changing the name of the mission and expanding them to more than a half dozen other countries. And now Russia is supposedly taking over the world starting with Ukraine. The old Domino Theory of Viet Nam is coming back like a bad penny.

The propaganda is definitely working. Shame on the NYT for being the print arm of the propaganda machine. I guess they wiped off the crusty blood from their hands from Iraq and Afghanistan and now they're rubbing their hands together, eager for some fresh blood and headlines. Just think of the new leaks, scoops, and other perks they're earning for being loyalists to the regime. Those will bring in new eyeballs, clicks, and ad money. War also provides the easiest news to pass along, regurgitated directly from the maw of the Beast, pre-formed, to be spoon fed by stenographers. No need for real journalists.

Wars make money. The NYT and other news media will always be for war. It's every advertiser's wet dream.

Patricia M. said...

Thank you once again for putting it all together so succinctly and thoroughly, Karen. And thank you, too, annenigma, for your comment.

The "Times" editorial/opinion page that includes "Mr. Putin Resumes His War in Ukraine," is followed by "Putin's Evolution" by Maxim Trudolyubov.

The opinion piece includes this statement regarding Putin: "A more rational leader would be busy making sure that the economy was growing and that his base of supporters was happy." He could be describing our “leader” and our government.

This rush of biased and unfounded opinions from the NYT make the remarks of last week by Dean Baquet ring hollow: " Dean Baquet, the executive editor of the New York Times, believes his newspaper - in company with the mainstream media - failed their audiences after 9/11." The word “hollow” does not convey the full significance of the remarks in light of what is presently happening in Ukraine.

Denis Neville said...

Yes, “the annual spectacle of guts, glory, and greed that is the Super Bowl.”

I normally do not watch, but I did this year out of curiosity, just to see how decadent the bread and circuses could be. It was testimony to the bankruptcy of the nation’s soul.

A gaudy diversion from more lunacy, more war in an age of especially phony patriotism.

Chris Hedges writes that “Malcolm X, unlike Martin Luther King Jr., did not believe America had a conscience… He, perhaps better than King, understood the inner workings of empire. He had no hope that those who managed empire would ever get in touch with their better selves to build a country free of exploitation and injustice.”

From Ben Fountain’s Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk:

"They all need something from him [Specialist Billy Lynn] ... half-rich lawyers, dentists ... corporate VPs, they're all gnashing for a piece of a barely grown grunt making $14,800 a year .... It was just, so obvious, what had to be done ... Send in more troops ... go in blazing, full frontal smack down ... And by the way, shouldn't the Iraqis be thanking us? ... Or maybe they'd like their dictator back. Failing that, drop bombs. More and bigger bombs. Show these persons the wrath of God and pound them into compliance."

[Senator Huckleberry J. Butchmeup (R-S.C.), who is considering a 2016 presidential bid, said on Sunday that 10,000 American "boots on the ground" (i.e., bodies in boxes) will be required in Syria.]

“When people ask him does he pray, is he religious or specifically saved or Christian, Billy always says yes, partly because it makes them happy and partly because he feels that’s pretty much the truth, though probably not in the way they’re thinking. What he’d like to say is that he’s lived it, if not the entire breadth and depth of the Christian faith then certainly the central thrust of it. The mystery, the awe, the huge sadness and grief. Oh my people. He felt Shroom’s soul leave his body at the moment of his death. A blinding whoom! Like a high-voltage line blowing out, leaving Billy with all circuits fried and a lingering haze like he’d been whacked by a heavyweight who knows how to hit. A kind of concussion, is what it was. Sometimes he thinks his ears are ringing still.”

Ste-vo said...

Is not sure why I am thanking you for writing this, but I am. I knew this was going on, as I have a Ukranian friend born and raised there until he was in his late teens. Came to this country as a student to study viola and he stayed. He set me straight and explained it very well when the who fiasco started. What I do not understand is why we are unable to elect people to positions that will help us remove the neocons from power as we removed the Baathists in Iraq. Oh yeah, it just dawned on me.

Zee said...

Why, Denis!

Is that any kind of nice way to refer to Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC)?

Who, though having served in the military himself, has conveniently never spent any real time in a combat zone, nor has any sons or daughters of his own to offer up in sacrifice...errr..."honorable service" yet another land war in the Middle East?

IMHO, a war in Syria against the distant threat of ISIS is something that the U.S. can well afford to sit out. Let the Europeans and our "regional partners"--who refuse to act unless WE do--figure this one out.

Paris is not OUR homeland.

I vote for better securing our borders and increasing scrutiny of visa requests by furriners who want to visit our shores.

Oops! I forgot! We can't further secure our borders because that would be just sooo...well...sooo politically incorrect.

Gotta keep that pipeline that feeds our permanent underclass flowing at any cost.

Jay-Ottawa said...

Thanks, all. New distractions at home will only let me come out and play once in a while.

Patricia’s alert earlier about developments in Ukraine, and now Karen's report, renewed my concern about a resumption of the cold war, which just might turn hot in a jiffy, just as one little step after another led up to August 1914. But then I read the papers and began to relax. What’s to fear when we have the biggest and best––if not the brightest––military in the world?

Like a basketball team that wants to stay on top, the Pentagon’s knights and pawns must practice continually. Otherwise, they’ll grow flabby and clumsy. Now that things are more or less winding down in the Middle East––just as Obama promised––we run the risk of our troops in the barracks losing their edge. So, deploy, deploy, deploy.

Why is Putin being so unaccommodating? Does he believe the buffer state of Ukraine can protect him from our nukes––now being upgraded, by the way––which could turn Moscow aglow within twenty minutes? Which reminds me, how’s our Star Wars/Iron Dome thing coming along?

Back in the Homeland, we cannot afford to turn off the lights in weapons factories. Our economy depends on weapons systems pegged at the level of hundreds of billion$, not trifling tens of billion$. Pentagon contracts will soon fall off sharply unless Obama does something real soon to jack up our all-volunteer foreign legion and the pivotal element of our manufacturing economy. Hence, his recent musing about a buildup in, over and around ISIS to contain the caliphate and his offer to provide more arms to the Ukraine. "Lethal" arms, yet.

Similarly, NATO in the heart of free Europe has got to wake up and catch up. Look what just happened on the streets of Paris. Pull European troops out of their barracks and station them into the fresh air of French boulevards and German autobahns––and think about sending them a little farther south, too. The big banks say the new populism in Greece is getting out of hand. And "Podemos" in Spain is another anarchic eruption that’s becoming worrisome.

If the European Union falls apart, what will become of NATO? If NATO gets laid off, what will happen to its grand plans for expansion? And where would that leave the US-EU trade treaties? That’s why wise heads in Washington say continued expansion on new fronts, like the Ukraine, is the only option. In this way we can pump up our economy and, just maybe, get lucky enough to win another world war.

Denis Neville said...

“There, in the unconscious, we sleep upon the psyche's oceanic floor, together like some vast bed of kelp, each wavering strand an individual American, swaying in the currents of national suggestion. In the form of a giant Portuguese man-of-war, our government hovers, rippling above us, showering freshly produced national memory spores on the fertile bed of our forgetfulness. Schools of undulating corporate jellyfish pass over, sowing the brands of products and services ... followed by the octopi called media and marketing, issuing milky clouds of sperm to fertilize the seeds with the animating plasma of The Great Dream.” - Joe Bageant, Rainbow Pie

War is the new normal and “yellow journalism” continues to thrive.

“The four cornerstones of the American political psyche are 1) emotion substituted for thought, 2) fear, 3) ignorance and 4) propaganda.” - Joe Bageant, Deer Hunting with Jesus: Dispatches from America's Class War

To protect the power of the military-financial elite, weapons of mass distraction are unleashed by the evil axis of anonymous officialdom, spouting official lies and official spin, and imperial journalism on the public in order to strike fear and loathing of external enemies and manipulate and secure their submission and obedience to their police state policies.

“Support Our Troops” substitutes for critical thinking. Our all-volunteer military is now something akin to a foreign legion.

“Thank you for your service” has become a routine form of cheap grace.

The new civic religion of honoring the troops at our stadiums and ballparks…

“To stand in solidarity with those on whom the burden of service and sacrifice falls is about as far as they will go. Expressions of solidarity affirm that the existing relationship between soldiers and society is consistent with democratic practice. By extension, so, too, is the distribution of prerogatives and responsibilities entailed by that relationship: a few fight, the rest applaud. Put simply, the message that citizens wish to convey to their soldiers is this: although choosing not to be with you, we are still for you (so long as being for you entails nothing on our part). Cheering for the troops, in effect, provides a convenient mechanism for voiding obligation and easing guilty consciences…

“The late German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer had a name for this unearned self-forgiveness and undeserved self-regard. He called it cheap grace. Were he alive today, Bonhoeffer might suggest that a taste for cheap grace, compounded by an appetite for false freedom, is leading Americans down the road to perdition.” - Andrew Bacevich, “Ballpark Liturgy: America’s New Civic Religion - Cheap Grace at Fenway,”

“If middle-class Americans do not feel threatened by the slow encroachment of the police state or the Patriot Act, it is because they live comfortably enough and exercise their liberties very lightly, never testing the boundaries. You never know you are in a prison unless you try the door.” - Joe Bageant, Deer Hunting with Jesus: Dispatches from America's Class War