The Disinformation Racket of US/European Imperialism
1. The Rule of Lawfare and the Military Industrial Complex’s Animosity to Trump
Part 1 of this essay focussed upon the purpose and some of the means of the US/ European Axis globalist imperial project. Some of those means veered into what is simply dismissed out of hand by the media and those, like academics who parrot what they say, as conspiracy theories. As I indicated in the conclusion of Part 1 the facts are the facts, and if there is any larger theory about why those facts are occurring then it is reasonable to ask who is behind them, who benefits, as well as what are the benefits of making a cluster of things happen which all form a pattern. That cluster is one in which oligarchs and technocrats preside over a neo-feudal global order. The vassals who serve them do the dirty work of censoring, economically and socially ostracizing, fining and imprisoning those who are obstacles to the expanse and implementation of this order. On the domestic front, the oligarchs and their vassals keep pressing on. The most recent development are, as reported by The Epoch Times (one of the rare newspapers that was debunking Russiagate as it was being concocted):
31 counts of wilful retention of national defense information; one count of conspiracy to obstruct justice, one count of withholding a document or record, one count of scheme to conceal, one count of corruptly concealing a document or record, one count of concealing a document in a federal investigation, and one count of false statements and representations, information about the national defense, lying to federal investigators, obstructing justice.
The intricate legalities are all being explained by politically legal scholars and fact-checkers so that if the former President is sentenced to a prison sentence of a hundred years it would be perfectly legal as well as reasonable. The serious charges come under the Espionage Act. It would be hard to get more serious. Then there are the obstruction of justice, document concealments and lies told to agents who themselves worked for bosses who routinely lied and obstructed justice. People who don’t take their truths from CNN and the cabal of oligarch-intel agency funded media are pretty much all asking the same questions, which all point to the US operating under two sets of laws. The most often asked ones are:
- Why is it that state intelligence officials who are publicly opposed to Donald Trump such as Peter Strzok, James Comey, James Baker, Andrew McCabe, John Brennen and James Clapper have lied under oath and never been charged with obstruction of justice, while Michael Flynn, and Roger Stone have served time in prison for that? And why does the mainstream media not only not care about such double standards but employ these people to offer political commentary?
- Why has the use of a private email server for conducting affairs of state so that personal and state affairs can be intermingled without public scrutiny or historical record, so that, for example, a pay (the Clinton Foundation) to receive special US government favours might be concealed, never been subject to any serious media scrutiny? And why was it simply dismissed by James Comey as “extremely careless” instead of a crime?
- How is it that a story fabricated in a presidential campaign about the opposing candidate being a Russian operative was not only so effective that it was repeated as if it were true in the media, but also used as the basis for spying on that campaign and imprisoning people for ‘process’ crimes is treated as if it were perfectly legitimate? How is this act of spying on a Presidential campaign not worse than Water Gate?
In the latest Trump case the big issue was why what seemed to be a case about classified documents moved to one in which the centrepiece was NDI documents. Given the proximity of its timing with the Durham Report, and the ramping up of people pushing further into the Biden money trail, ever more questions about China spying and the Biden family (all to be found in the laptop from hell stuff, which high ranking CIA, FBI and military officials conspired to dupe the public into thinking was a Russian Psy-Op) to those who sit back and wonder why now—it wreaks like a two month old abandoned fish factory still full of fish in a record drought year. Not that I think it will make a scrap of difference to how Trump is politically parsed. For those who hate him it confirms “He was a spy;” to those who don’t, some will think he has behaved very foolishly, and given his enemies a great opportunity to be rid of him once and for all—possibly; and for those who think the deep state has been at him from the day he announced his presidential campaign run, this will only confirm that Trump is seen as threat to the deep state.
The one piece that everyone knows about in the NDI bits was Milley’s plan to conquer Iran. Once upon a time, a President who stopped that, and kept evidence about the kind of shenanigans the MIC was up to he would have been carried aloft by professors and journalists chanting “No More Wars.” Now they tut-tut over their coffee and granola nodding beneath the Ukrainian flag they have draped in their kitchen along with the commentary that a President who had the temerity to hang onto evidence of a general plan to invade Iran is a danger to world peace. By the way—does anyone know how many Presidents have previously held onto any NDI documents after leaving office? Has anyone ever cared about this before? That’s the kind of question tens of millions are asking right now. And their answers are why Trump is still their preferred choice for President. And, funnily enough, they are the people who identify as patriots, while the people invoking the espionage act are the ones who think the flag, the national anthem and 1776 are embarrassing or just plain rancidly racist symbols.
Bill Barr, and Judge Napolitano have weighed in about the seriousness of these charges. But even if so, the DOJ has long since lost all credibility in terms of who it prosecutes and why. For those who want to know if the legalities of locking away a President are open and shut because not even a President is allowed to keep such secrets as what Milley was plotting on behalf of the USA and the rest of the world, I refer the reader to the legal analysis by Will Sharf. He is “a former Assistant U.S. Attorney, who worked on two Supreme Court confirmations, and clerked for two federal appellate judges.” The most important part of his argument comes down to intentionality—which by the way was the aspect that Comey said absolved Hilary of any criminality. The following two sections from Sharf’s analysis are the most pertinent:
Did he really think these documents, like years old briefing notes and random maps, jumbled together with his letters, news clippings, scribbled notes, and random miscellaneous items, “could be used to the injury of the United States”? Or did he just think of them as mementos of his time in office, his Personal Records of the four years, akin to a journal or diary?
If he thought these boxes were his Personal Records, he may have believed that NARA simply had no right to receive them at all. Meaning that he did not willfully withhold anything from an official he knew had the right to receive them. Because he didn’t believe that anyone had the right to receive them.
By breathlessly bandying around classification levels and markings, the Special Counsel is trying to make this case seem much, much simpler than it is. Classification levels do not automatically make something NDI, and having classified documents in your possession is not enough to convict here.
Just because something is classified—even Top Secret, SCI, NOFORN, FISA, pick your alphabet soup—does not mean that it is National Defense Information (NDI) within the meaning of the Espionage Act.
NDI, for the purposes of an Espionage Act § 793(e) prosecution, is defined as one of a long list of items “relating to the national defense which information the possessor had reason to believe could be used to the injury of the United States or to the advantage of any foreign nation.”
A lot of the documents listed in the indictment are older, or seemingly random. Would Trump in 2022 have had reason to know that a 2019 briefing document “related to various foreign countries, with handwritten annotation in black marker” could harm the US or help foreign countries?
Tough to say, because we can’t see the documents, but that’s a question the jury is going to have to decide in the end, and Trump’s legal team needs to drive home this point over and over again
Just as I write this essay Hunter Biden has agreed to plead guilty to minor tax offences and fire-arm possession. None who are not working for the uni-party see this as anything other than a blatant play to make the charges on Trump look “fair,” which is what Trump said and which is yet another example of why he still garners supporters when he should have been dead and buried after Pussy-gate, though contending against the wife of an adulterous President who had been accused of rape put boys-locker-room- dirty-talk in perspective.
The media, like the Democrat Party, carefully picks its women victims—Tara Reade no good; Juanita Broaddrick no good—they accused a man from the party of all things wise, and noble, and loving; E. Jean Caroll very good. She targeted a threat to the entire world; even though the story of sexual abuse (not rape) in the changing room of a Manhattan luxury department store during opening hours might leave someone who has ever been in a luxury department store, and noted the lack of privacy that you might want if you just could not control your urges at that moment, somewhat sceptical—surveillance cameras? could she not cry for help? It did not take long for the “me-too-movement’s” slogan “believe every women” to segue into the formula: “believe every woman who is a victim of a predator the press does not approve of.” That shows just how morally serious Hollywood and mainstream journalists are in their defence of anyone who claims to be a woman (even when it is so they can beat penis-less women at sports, or perve on them in nude spas and showers and toilets). Trump supporters include women, gays, and trans, blacks, Latinos and whites. I have heard dozens of them say why they support him—and what they all have in common is that they deeply resent being made fools of, and would much rather someone who kicks back rather than fold.
The Donald Trump phenomenon exists for one simple reason—a massive number of people think the country has gone mad and bad, and that they would rather support a deeply flawed man who sympathises with them, even if they have nothing else in common with him than people who mock, deride and try to use them as clients for building a world where they are the ones to be disposed of. Trump is a symbol of resistance to the disintegration of the USA. One might think surely there could be a better symbol—and surely his time has gone. I do not know if the latter claim is true or false, but the reaction to him and his support base seems to be just as deranged as it ever was, and the dirty tricks just as dirty. And yes there are far more eloquent critics of what is occurring who might throw their hat into the electoral ring. But political destiny has a funny way of clearing away the strictures of the more pure among us, and providing someone who can fight in the mud. The thing, though, that always puzzled me was why did so many former celebrity friends who begged him to be on their tv or radio shows (including the biggies like Letterman, Colbert, Winfrey, Stern), who fawned all over him as they encouraged him to run for president, then turn on him when he actually decided to act in line with their advice and run? They all shared his politics. It was the politics of the Democrats for decades: let’s employ Americans instead of off-loading manufacturing to where wages are cheap; let’s side with the little guy at home and not do what Republicans do—give free reign to multi-national corporations who are responsible for the industrial wasteland occurring in our town and cities. Trump’s run in 2016 could have been lifted straight from the Warren Beattie movie Bulworth, a film that was basically a piece of 1990s Democrat agit-prop).
Trump’s politics never changed—he was saying this in the 1980s and being slapped on the back by the same lot who called for his impeachment, or whatever it took, to free the nation of this plague resting under the world’s worst comb-over. Of course it was not that much of a puzzle really. They followed the money—and as much as Trump had, it was peanuts compared to his opposition. They and the people who paid their salaries were part of a much larger global sweep of oppositional forces, that included the world’s wealthiest men and their companies, as well as the globalist political and administrative classes, and all the vassals on the globalist private and public ticket. Their motto was not America first in Trump’s sense of creating jobs in America, and developing prosperity for the American working class, but America and Western Europe first—in the sense of supporting policies for the world’s wealthiest oligarchs and an America-led (first) alliance with Western Europe to impose its values, its priorities, and its access and control of resources. To that end it requires the Military Industrial Complex, that also includes the creation of a standing world army (NATO) under its supervision to be ever-ready for the endless wars which it helps fuel, as it runs over or undermines any regime that is in its way.
That is why Tucker Carlson, in his third Twitter show, and racking up 30 million tweets in 12 hours, made the salient point that the line Trump crossed had been to position himself against the Industrial Military Complex. For Tucker the moment Trump sealed his fate and galvanized the Military Industrial Complex against him was when he said, in his campaign, that the “weapons of mass destruction in Iraq was a lie.” Everyone knew that. Anti-Republican journalists and anti-war academics—which is to say most of them at that time—had been saying this for years. But it was then the propaganda machine against Trump as Hitler went into full effect, as the story that was endlessly repeated was how much less safe the world was with the reckless orange-haired Hitler having the authority to press the button.
According to Hilary, and her cheer squad of journalists, it came so very, very close when Trump called Kim Il-Jong “Little rocket man” at the UN. So dire was the situation that eventually, after Trump had “lost” the 2020 election and hence was bound to pound the blow-up-the-world switch out of a temper tantrum, that one of the MIC’s very own men, General Milley, phoned China to tell them that the world was in safe hands—his.
The pressure from the MIC, though, did feed into some of Trump’s very dangerously deluded and rash diplomatic decisions, like the assassination of General Soleimani, discussed below, and the bombing of Syria because of faked and staged chemical attacks attributed to the Assad regime.
Unfortunately, it was precisely these acts of reckless and ill-advised international aggression that gave Trump a moment or two of respite from the media and military officials doing their baying for Trump’s blood. That tells us a lot. Whereas when Trump met with President Putin in what, to me as someone who has spent much of his life teaching Political Science, saw as a fairly well conducted piece of public diplomacy, the press acted as if Trump and Dr. Evil were ghoulishly gloating over the latest plan for Russian nuclear devastation of the USA.
One would never know from the press, who, as Tucker rightly sees, have become the Military Industrial Complex’s propaganda wing, but one of Trump’s worst failures was that in trying to revive America’s industrial base and keep the US out of new wars, he handed over the state department to neo-cons, who had gravitated around Trump like flies to cow-dung, only to dump on him as soon as he either decided not to go along with some scheme or other that they had cooked up, or had blithely walked into some other scheme aimed to derail him. In any case, no matter how many qualifications we may want to add to Tucker’s general claim, I think it fair to say he has a point. Trump was definitely seen as an existential threat to the military industrial complex.
Pat Bet-David (not a Democrat, but no Trump fan-boy) also made a point that is even more telling in an excellent interview with Whitney Webb. Webb’s One Nation Under Blackmail is possibly the most important work on politics in the US I have read—ever. Its research is meticulous and the case she makes about the role of organized crime within the government of the USA is rock-solid, as is the account of the elaborate list of players and their political connections involved in the financial crimes and blackmailing sting being run by Epstein (who is the centre of the two volume work) and Israeli intelligence. She is no partisan, and pulls no punches about presidential corruption, and the corruption that runs through the most powerful political and financial families in the US. She tends to lump Trump in with the rest of the mobsters, blackmailers and laundromat operators running the country. While she notes that the mainstream media has protected—by lying about the extent, and dates of—the Epstein-Clinton connection (as they have also done with the Gates-Epstein connection), and have exaggerated the Trump-Epstein connection (which were financial rather than Trump seeking young girls, though Webb also rightly draws attention to just how the press has neglected the financial arm of Epstein’s/Mossad operations), her negative appraisal of Trump—unlike the disinformation of the mainstream oligarchic- funded jeer-squad—is well made.
The essence of Webb’s critique of Trump is that he is too influenced by Israel, and that his administration was heavily staffed with people with very close ties to Israel, that he did not pardon Julian Assange or Edward Snowden, that his business interests have crooked ties (the Scarfo and the Pritzker families), which also connects with him being mentored by that blackmailing sleaze-bag friend of J. Edgar Hoover, Roy Cohn. But for all that, Bet-David posed the right questions to her, which go some way to understanding why Trump has the support base he has. “Why,” he asked “have the top 10 organizations in the USA and globally hated Trump so much?” And “What institutions that have hurt America so badly, and that hate America, love Trump?” Whitney did not have an answer to that.
David’s podcast has a huge audience, but not as huge as Tucker’s; so for the mainstream media David might as well not exist. But when Tucker made his point—with great applause from George Galloway (yes that is the kind of alliance that is occurring which tells you that all old political categories are total junk for making sense of the world now)—the rest of the mainstream media chimed in immediately calling Tucker Carlson a conspiracy theorist.
Just as the word conspiracy now means anything your eyes and ears inform you of that has not been authorised by the media and the various state agencies of the uni-party behind it, the word theory has lost any meaning. Tucker was not laying out a theory. He was providing an insight, which to be sure was based upon a conjecture. But unlike those denouncing him as a conspiracy theorist, he was trying to identify why all these actors have done what they have done. And what they have done is destroy the rule of law by making politics take primacy over procedure. In doing this they have essentially criminalized what half the population or more value and think. And worst of all, without even realizing, let alone caring that they have done so they have broken the bonds of social unity that provide the requisite cultural condition for a functioning republic, or liberal democracy.
This is why increasingly, people who are all too aware of Trump’s policy errors and disasters (the most egregious of which, outside of international diplomacy, is another one that his enemies supported, was giving control of the pandemic to Anthony Fauci) and personality, are coming around to the position (which has always been my position) that this is only about Trump in so far as he has been a catalyst in exposing the powers who have had as little compunction in destroying the US constitution as they have had in claiming that half the country is a domestic terror coalition of “white supremacists,” homophobes, transphobes, and whatever nasty prefix plus ist or phobe occurs to them. The same concatenation of political crimes has now spread far beyond the USA.
In the USA, the first amendment is nothing but a quaint reminder of the racist and unemancipated ruling class who came up with a constitution so disturbing that the National Archive has to provide a warning about the harmful nature of its language. Fact checkers justify this by pointing out that it is not only the Constitution that gets a trigger warning, which is one more symptom of what a mad-hatters tea-party our “fact-checkers” merrily engage in.
The occasional instances and slithers of constitutional victory still give hope to those who think that politics in the USA is anything other than lawfare. Politicized law, though is not only bad law, it is law that spells the end of democracy. When it is commonplace it indicates that the rule of law has been replaced by the rule of lawfare. The United States—and much of the Western world—has adopted the rule of lawfare. The death of the rule of the law, and the transformation of the rule of lawfare is the result of the organizations and institutions that are essential to the information that enable citizens to make informed political choices becoming nothing more than sites of mis- and disinformation that target enemies and protect friends. There is nothing new about academics being ideological lunatics, nor partisan and stupid journalists, it is the active suppression of any countervailing voices that has turned the sites of information gathering and flow and framing into propaganda agencies.
The reason that the ruling class of the US opts for lawfare not warfare against the recalcitrants who prefer Old Glory to the 22 pride flags available to choose from is because their resistance to the world where elections don’t amount to anything anymore is restricted to some placards, irate podcasters and off grid journalists, and a generally politically docile group whose time is not devoted to white supremacist bivouac, and shooting black people practice, nor to figuring out which hair dye, gender operation, or pronoun they might come up with as they invent ever new ways to sexualize children, run down cities, destroy citizenship, and take out their political opponents. Astonishingly—and shhh, I will let you into a big secret that the media will never tell you: their time is largely taken up with work so they can keep putting the ever more expensive bread on the table, whilst having to react to the latest intrusion into their children’s welfare at school and their parental rights, along with the destruction of their personal safety and public order.
When lawfare does not suffice, though, the ruling class sends out the right signals to a client underclass which it keeps in drugs, squalor, and dependency, on the streets, while also giving them the green light to physically harm who they want and just steal stuff as the need comes upon them. Thus employees who oppose shoplifters will lose their job and possibly go to court. Woe betide anyone who might just happen to want to prevent a black person committing a crime. The ruling class wants blacks to be criminals as well as clients, though it also offers career paths for blacks who want to preside over and make a political living off ensuring the black client-underclass stays a client-under class. Black crime is not crime, and the most productive black citizens are ones that protect blacks so they can be unleashed from squalid neighbourhoods so they can commit crime.
The contender for the greatest North American writer of the Twentieth Century, Ralph Ellison, in his masterpiece, The Invisible Man, wrote about how the communists had used the resentment of the black under-class to make their own political advancement. This is no longer the strategy of communists, but of the American political class, and it has become institutionalised and corporatized in almost every organization that trains and employs professionals. The self-interest and political delusions of that class are so entwined that to even dare to say it, or which is the same thing, to criticize DEI—and all the variant formulae in social circulation—as a package of abstract inanities entrenching clientelism, polarised identities, managerial technocratic authority and the death not only of democracy but of a society in which intelligence, spontaneous solidarity based upon shared loves and sacrifices, and the cultivation of talents and initiative is hammered into fragments of divided groups, each grasping for more of the resources available to a diminishing number of them, is to become unemployable within any large scale private or public organization. It is also to be potentially accused of a crime—a hate crime.
Nothing illustrates where the United States and its vassal states is going and how the media has become the instrument for lawfare better than the mainstream narrative about the “insurrection” that took place on January 6. It was the world’s first insurrection that ever took place without any attempt at a military coup, without anyone trying to control any media, without guns, and without plans. It was an insurrection of disgruntled mostly middle aged, out of shape, typical Americans in good humour, balancing their hotdog, and cokes (the black fizzy stuff you drink, not the white stuff cut up on credit cards and snorted by celebrities, lawyers, politicos, bankers and others who generally hate MAGA types), and placards or flags whilst wandering outside the capitol. They would have all been home for dinner, after believing they at least had the opportunity to express their point of view about how the election was stolen, had it not been for the Antifa and deep state plants turning the party into a violent opportunity for the police to beat the living daylights out of them, whilst killing a couple to show that they meant business. They did so knowing full well that the media would make out that it was the protestors who were responsible for the deaths.
As far as the media were concerned protesting about election irregularities in the US was a white supremacist take-over of the nation by hotdog wielding flag-carrying, red baseball cap wearing coca-cola heads—it was absolutely terrifying for anyone who did not want to use their own eyes, who did not see the line of protestors being quietly ushered by police into the capitol building from the back, or missed the footage where something generally terrifying was police-instigated and deadly—at least for Rosanne Boyland crushed amidst the police induced mayhem, and Ashli Babbitt, shot at point blank range, for trespassing in the capitol, and caught up in the push and shoving by a policeman who was never endangered by her, or anyone in the capitol. Fact-checkers and Wikipedia will make their deaths out to be their own fault. Brian Sicknick’s death, from stroke, incurred after the riot, was, on the other hand, widely reported to have been caused by the protestors before any retractions occurred.
Though, when the protests against Trump winning the election went down that was not only reasonable but something to be proud of, as a beaming James Comey, employed to be a public servanta, said of his wife and daughter protesting against a President whose administration he was supposed to be serving. Attacks upon the supreme court building were not insurrections, nor were the protests outside the white house when the George Floyds protests were peacefully burning down various shopping areas with the approval of various senators and congress members. The mainstream media thinks that everyone has the memory of a gold-fish, and it does so because it mostly employs journalists who do.
2. Media Lies and Warfare. And Just to Refresh your Memory, Some Examples from Jacques Baud’s Governing By Fake News
That some half of the population of the United States see a tremendous amount of conspiring taking place is because there is a tremendous amount of conspiring taking place. And it has changed the entire social fabric and political culture of democratic nations in the West. Though there is one great irony in this: the same kind of machinations that the CIA have engaged in for decades against regimes seen as inimical to US interests, with the media reporting their disinformation, are now par for the course in the US itself. Not that long ago it was not that easy to find a Professor working in the area of geo-politics who was unaware of the nefarious extent of the CIA and the work it did in cooperation with some less than illustrious companies such as United Fruit. Likewise, when the Iraq wars happened there could be found plenty of professors and even a few journalists who thought something stinky was going on. But when it comes to the Russian war, the academics and journalists speaking out against the role of the US and Western Europe in igniting that war are a tiny handful. From the mainstream, Tucker was the only person I can think of who thought the whys’ and wherefores’ of the war deserved scrutiny, and from the universities there is Mearsheimer and a couple of others. The main ones I am familiar with are podcasters, or independent analysts who do regular interviews with podcasters.
But of all those who have spoken out about the false information being spread by the mainstream media about the NATO led war in Ukraine, none in my opinion has laid out the most compelling case against what the US and Western Europe have done in the region than Jacques Baud, a Colonel, “ a former member of the Swiss Strategic Intelligence, a specialist in Eastern Europe and former head of Doctrine of the United Nations Peace Operations. Within NATO, he was involved in programs in Ukraine, including after the Maidan Revolution of 2014 and 2017.” He has on the ground experience of the region, and knows NATO and how intelligence services work from the inside. Plus he has the courage to speak his mind when he sees stupid decisions drawing the world into unnecessary wars. And the internal turmoil now transpiring in the US is a reflection of the confused imperial mind-set which has been interfering in global events to the detriment of the world as a whole, as well as Western civilization which now rallies behind pride flags, crushing inflation, lawfare, infantilism, broken cities and neighbourhoods, race and ethnic hostilities, and hyperbolic moral and meaningless slogans howled by angry and blue-haired non-binaries, their professors and fogged-brain old hippies, and spouted out in more “professional” form in media sites and policy documents to be used by doctors, dentists, corporations, schools, universities, law firms—all of which it passes off as emancipation.
The present war in the Ukraine is but the latest in a long list of US adventurist disasters, and it may very well be a prelude to the big event, War with China, something that is even floated by leading US military officials. And the blue haired non-binary/ professional coalition are perfectly fine with it. Getting the military to go gay and trans was a masterstroke in getting the usual anti-war lot to become another front for the MIC.
Jacques Baud’s Operation Z, and his earlier book Governing By Fake News: International Conflict: 30 Years of Fake News Used by Western Countries provide what I consider the best account of how US imperial foreign policy consists of a great tapestry of disinformation spread by a Media that has abdicated all commitment to researching and reporting on the truth of things.
In this essay, I have drawn attention to deliberate decisions undertaken to achieve strategic objectives in disinformation, but I have also emphasised throughout that it is the amalgam of contradictory interests that is intrinsic to the sorry tale that we are now caught up in. However, I have also mentioned—as I frequently do—the importance of ambition and lack of knowledge in shaping the world. That is one of the lessons I have carried over from Plato—“evil is ignorance” was his (Socratic) formulation. Not being a metaphysician (and having a strong antipathy to most metaphysical enterprises and claims) I am happy to rephrase it to “evil is often ignorance.” I also think that folly is the footman of evil, and there is none so foolish as they who think they know what they don’t (that’s also Socrates), and live by and fight for false convictions. This is what Baud concentrates on. Thus in the concluding section of Governing by Fake News, “A problem of democracy” he writes:
It would be wrong to believe that fake news masks a will. That would be a “conspiracy” interpretation. In fact, the opposite is true: we act without understanding the situation or in haste, and then, in order to hide the errors of governance, we invoke fake news. As a classified presentation by the UK’s Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group (JTRIG) on influence operations states: People make decisions for emotional reasons, not rational ones2024. This is what happened during the Coronavirus crisis in most countries: by ignoring the Chinese experiences, precious time was lost in preparing for the crisis, and emergency measures (generalized containment) had to be taken with catastrophic consequences. The real problem is not the “infoxes” that “get the buzz,” but the subtle distortions of facts that lead our democracies down the wrong path. Our opinions are deliberately distorted by assumptions or mere suspicions, framed in such a way that they appear as established facts.
I agree that Baud has identified a real problem. But one cannot dig away at fake news and not constantly hit a wall of wills as one runs into PSY OPS and false flags, a panoply of gaslighting techniques and examples, endless examples of disinformation created by intelligence agents, and countless lies wittingly told by government officials. All of this exists alongside of the commonplace refusal of media outlets to demand journalistic protocols that would prevent falsehoods of great magnitude and implications for the fate of a nation. Media outlets routinely air false stories, so much so that they are now playing a major part in the Industrial Censorship Complex by protecting the false and denouncing the true. So in spite of his disclaimers about wilful intentions, and a preface that suggests incompetence is the greater crime, in page after page he speaks of the lies that have been told in the West’s fight against its enemies. Thus on the very page after he the citation I provided above, he also writes “Tony Blair will go into Iraq knowing that the charges against Saddam Hussein were false.” And earlier in the book he also noted:
There are very few verifiable and irrefutable facts to support our picture of countries like Russia, Iran, Syria, etc. Gaddafi was probably a dictator, but where are the mass graves of the massacres attributed to him? Omar Bashir was probably a dictator too, but where are the mass graves of the 400,000 deaths in Darfur between 2003 and 2006? By having created and accepted these lies without batting an eyelid, we have generated hundreds of thousands of other deaths and an immigration that we can no longer control.
Indeed, in a book which is possibly the best single compendium of the disinformation about nations and events involving those leaders or nations which have thwarted the geopolitical objectives of the West—objectives which are now impossible to disassociate from globalist liberal progressivism—the word lie accompanies the narrative like a bass drum does a rock song.
But, it is true that many of those, indeed the overwhelming majority, who participate in making up the wall of wills, ambitious as they are, are not very bright, and act out of ignorance. I do not blame Baud, a man with an extraordinary military and peacekeeping career who has taken a stand on the Ukraine war that leaves him marginalized, and open to denunciation and humiliation, for framing the problem the way he does so that the added debris of being a conspiracy theorist is not also piled upon him. And Baud wants his readers to join him in being rational and objective about the information he has presented. Thus he sees
The inability of Western intelligence services to analyse situations objectively and factually is a vulnerability on two levels. The first is the disproportionate influence of the American, British and Israeli services, which are said to have far superior analytical capabilities. The second is that a rumour or the action of a group of individuals could well lead to a major conflict. Our services lack the method and experience to understand strategic realities. Faced with the complexity of security problems, Western services have sought answers in the accumulation of data. Paradoxically, however, data has become their weakness. Pseudo-experts attribute this to the growing inability of the services to process the mass of information. This is incorrect: the problem is their inability to see the bigger picture.
Unlike Baud, I think reason is something everyone thinks they have, and, as I detail at more length in the third part of this essay, the Enlightenment dream of creating a perfect society out of the kinds of creatures (for in spite of our virtues, it is the lack thereof that never disappears—our weaknesses, and susceptibility to laziness, superstition, ambition, lust, greed etc. are perennially with us), is akin to a child trying to move the ocean into a hole with a teaspoon, and, indeed, nothing was ever going to be more irrational and more assured of creating a totalitarian society than the attempt to build a “rational” one.
But I tarry too long with where I think Baud is both giving away too much to his enemies, and hoping too much for where and how much reason figures in our lives. For when faced with the kind of reader who most needs to read it, he will be met with the self-satisfied smugness of closed mind who thinks him a Putin stooge, so maybe his strategy is a way to get a bit of listening space. For the rest of us, though, who want to know what is going on, Baud’s downplaying the intentionality behind fake news has little bearing on what is a rigorous and compelling account of the disastrous nature and direction of Western foreign policy and geopolitical objectives and tactics. I urge the reader of this essay to get a hold of that book, and work his way through the fake news that has operated in tandem with the geopolitical objectives, policies and interventions of the USA and, more generally, the Western imperial alliance. For I can only cover a small sample of the examples that his book provides to make his case.
Let’s start with the lie that Al Qaeda emerged as a response to the Soviet invasion, when the Soviet invasion was itself a response to the “American attempt to destablise the pro-Soviet regime in Kabul with jihadist movements six months earlier. The chaos that followed once the US had achieved their strategic objective of rolling back Soviet influence in Afghanistan led to the emergence of the Taliban. Hardly anyone in the West had ever heard of these goatherders with machine guns in one hand, and a Koran in the other until 9.11. Then, when the attacks upon the USA were interpreted as being master-minded by Osama Bin-Laden the Taliban was ostensibly a party to a global jihadist movement.
In fact, goats aside, it was a regional Sunni sectarian power intent in federating the different ethnic groups that made up the Afghan resistance. I am not saying I would like to be ruled by the Taliban. But the nature and cultural undergirding of social groups, and their existential and political priorities, options and choices in Afghanistan are what they are—and in the 20 years or so of US led post-Taliban occupation, nothing was done that created a more viable or more Western orientated government with a strong support base. The Taliban were the government prior to the US-led invasion and they are again now—after all the killing, the sequence of corrupt governments and the debacle of the US abandonment, leaving those who had cooperated with them to their, fate along with the billions of dollars’ worth of weapons they also left behind for the Taliban (the mainstream figure now touted is $7 billion—I don’t know whether that is closer to the mark than the 80 plus billion claimed by critics of the withdrawal—though I do know if Snopes says it is 7 billion I am more inclined to believe the 80 plus figure). But let us see Baud’s account of the Taliban’s response to the US demand for them to hand over Bin Laden after 9.11. For it is just the kind of fact that most people either never knew or have forgotten:
The Taliban’s position is clear: they are ready to hand him over, but demand proof of his guilt. The Americans provided evidence, but the Afghan High Court of Justice ruled that it did not prove his involvement and refused to hand him over. The Taliban then asked the Americans to make a “constructive proposal” to resolve the crisis. But this request was never reported as such in the Western media and the Americans did not respond. Yet the Taliban sought a solution. On 21 February 2001, they offered to extradite him to the United States in exchange for an agreement on the sanctions affecting the country, but for reasons that were never fully clarified, the US government refused. After 9/11, the issue of OBL’s extradition came up again and the Taliban envoy told the US chargé d’affaires in Islamabad that if the US provided evidence of his responsibility, the “problem could be easily solved.” But in reality, the evidence of OBL’s involvement is of little interest to the Americans, as they had already decided to intervene in Afghanistan long before “9/11.” On 4 September 2001, exactly one week before 9/11, the National Security Presidential Directive 9 (NSPD9)52 was submitted to President George W. Bush for signature. Classified SECRET, it is entitled Defeating the Terrorist Threat to the United States53, and in a TOP SECRET classified annex, it directs the Secretary of Defense to plan military options “against Taliban targets in Afghanistan, including leadership, command control, air defence, ground forces and logistics.“ It was approved on 25 October 2001.
There is much more to that story that Baud tells and that the mainstream US journalists either never knew or never cared to discover, but let’s move onto the Dafur “genocide.” I leave aside the intricacies of the conflict there, and the details Baud provides which indicate what a ridiculously simplistic summary of the issues and events have been spread by the media—and will just cite this passage from Baud:
At the outset of the Darfur crisis, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) mentioned the figure of 180,000 dead. By early 2005, when the UN mission was established, the most common estimate was 200,000 dead. During this period, when the author had a very good overview of the situation and collaborated with the main Western intelligence services, no major clashes took place and humanitarian access was generally good. However, in 2008, Jan Egeland, the then OCHA coordinator, stated that 400,000 was closer to the reality. However, ten years later, the figure most often put forward is 300,000 dead, while remaining purely speculative. Despite numerous rumours and the claims of some humanitarian NGOs, no mass graves, mass graves or evidence of massacres on this scale have been found. In fact, these figures are derived from statistical estimates and projections based on unverified and unverifiable testimony. But this does not prevent the international community from accusing the Sudanese government of “genocide.” To justify this accusation, two notions are played on alternately: mortality due to the consequences of violence (lack of hygiene, lack of water and food, etc.) and mortality due to the acts of violence themselves. In fact, they are mixed. In addition, the role of local armed actors is deliberately minimised in order to attribute their violence to the government. Between early 2005 and mid-2006, at the request of the head of UNMIS, the mission’s intelligence unit (JMAC) carried out four studies on violent mortality in Darfur. All available sources are used: international (such as WHO and ICRC) and non-governmental organisations, the African Union mission (AMIS), the UN security service (UN DSS), Sudanese security services, Western intelligence services and the rebel groups themselves. In most cases, there are photographic documents or detailed reports (police, medical, military, and/or human rights bodies). The results are surprising: Period Number of deaths: June 2004—March 2005 400 April 2005—July 2005 1 200 August 2005—January 2006 500 February 2006—July 2006 400 Total (June 2004—July 2006) 2500 . (JIC Assessment, International Terrorism: Impact of Iraq, Joint Intelligence Committee, 13 April 2005, TOP SECRET (declassified January 2011) Table 2—Victims of violence in Darfur (2004-2006)) These figures are probably still too high, but they include all forms of violence, from simple crime to tribal skirmishes.
The point of this is simply that while a huge number of people in the US don’t know anything about the world, including their own world, those that think they do, when they hear or see the word Darfur, will associate that word with some completely fabricated figure that is supposed to lend support to there having been a genocide. Information is inseparable from association, and when the information is so shoddy, so are the associations and hence the judgments relying upon those associations are bound to be ignorant. And the judgments made so forthrightly by all sorts of influential people are often shockingly ignorant when it comes to commentary upon the enemies of the US. One might add, there is a reason why such a bunch of half-baked brains dreamt up the neo-con disasters that have plagued the US, and, the irony, is that their equally half-baked brained liberal opponents invariably end up just doing a variant of the same thing—thus was the Obama supported/ assisted Arab Spring really just one more stab at regime change that was supposed to make the Middle East the latest democratic flower child to join in US/ European progressive cultural wisdom.
Since the USA abandoned the Shah of Iran to his fate, thereby giving further confirmation to the famous line of Kissinger that “It may be dangerous to be America’s enemy, but to be America’s friend is fatal,” Iran has become viewed by the West, as George Bush Jr, put it in 2002, as part of the axis of evil. Whether true or not, Baud makes a convincing case that at least from the time the story of Irangate broke—where the Regan regime was secretly selling arms to Iran to finance the war against the Contras in Nicaragua—the West has been spreading fake stories about Iran. Thus, for example, in 1988 when the US shot down the Airbus of Iran Airflight 655 that killed 290 people 66 of whom were children), the US government and media concealed the fact that the US cruiser which bought down the airbus was in Iranian waters and then concocted the story that the airbus was really an Iraian F-14 “in a dive against the ship.”
Most people in the West have no idea that Iran had tried to improve relations with the West at the end of the Cold War, that it was neutral during the first Gulf War (given its earlier history with the US backed invasion by Saddam, that was about as good as an “alliance” was like to be), that hostilities with the Taliban, who had assassinated nine Iranian diplomats in 1988, led to it providing intelligence to the Americans, as well as supporting the US invasion of Afghanistan. And for their thanks, as Baud points out a month after James Dobbin at the Bonn Agreement had “thanked Iran for having convinced its Afghanistan allies go join the coalition of national unity,” Bush Jr. identified Iran as belonging to the axis of evil. That old imperial American gratitude yet again.
The following point raised by Baud is also an excellent account of the sheer stupidity of the US when it comes to even thinking though its own geopolitical interests:
By intervening in Iraq in 2003, with the support of the country’s Shiite majority, American strategists did not understand that they were creating a continuous axis between Iran and Lebanon, which they reinforced by isolating Syria after 2005. They thus generated a feeling of encirclement among the Gulf monarchies, as evidenced by a SECRET message from the American embassy in Ryadh, dated 22 March 2009108. This is what will later push Saudi Arabia and Qatar to reassert Sunni influence through the revolutions, which affected secular Arab countries. The West perceived them as democratic outbursts, whereas they were essentially a defensive reaction of the Gulf monarchies that felt threatened. This is all the more true since most of their oil wealth is located in areas where their Shiite minorities are in the majority.
Baud’s analysis of Iran is astute and raises issues rarely noted by Western journalists, but before passing onto briefly look at what he says about Syria and Venzuela, I should mention his account of the assassination of General Soleimani, an assassination much trumpeted by President Trump. Baud has nothing good to say about the impact of Trump’s presidency on global affairs, and whenever his name occurs in this book, it is because of the recklessness of Trump’s interventions. The case of Soleimani is a very good example of a presidential decision making tenuous and fraught diplomatic relations even worse. As Baud points out Soleimani’s assassination was rooted in Trump’s
claim to American authority over Iraqi oil, in payment for investments in the country! In order to put pressure on Iraq, Trump proposed to Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi to complete the reconstruction of the country’s infrastructure in exchange for the transfer of 50 % of the oil.
The refusal to accept this by Abdul-Mahdi led Trump to respond that he would help internal Iranian opposition overthrow the regime. Subsequently violent protests erupted in Baghdad.
In December of that same year an Iranian-made missile hit a base housing Iraqi and US units fighting ISIS and killing a US mercenary. Although there was no definitive proof of who was behind the strike, Trump accused the Iranians for it, leading to a retaliatory strike in Syria against Iranian backed soldiers. These strikes in turn incited rioters storming the American embassy in Baghdad, while Soleimani was accused of being the brains behind the storm along with plotting operations against four American embassies in the Middle East.
Unable to provide any definitive proof to Congress, the government segued from lie to lie—even claiming “that Soleimani had helped the terrorists prepared for 9.11” (obviously relying upon the fact that most Americans would have no idea about the hostility between Al Qaeda, Saudi Arabia, and Iran, and there was never the slightest evidence for the involvement of Iran, just as there had never been anything reliable linking Al Qaeda to Saddam Hussein). On the day that Pompeo was reduced by journalists wanting to know more about the “imminent threats” to the US embassies he could only bluster that the plans were real, though none knew where they were supposed to be, President Trump changed tack—the issue was not the threats—but Soleimani’s “horrible past.” Baud continues:
On the same day, Donald Trump confessed that this “imminent threat” was not the problem, but rather the general’s “horrible past “! He is referring to his alleged responsibility for the death of 600 American soldiers in Iraq since 2003. An accusation relayed in France by the pro-Israeli media, like Dreuz. But it is false: the Pentagon spokesman confesses that he “has no study, no documentation, no data to provide to journalists that could confirm these figures. Unverified, the number of 600 was not originally attributed to Soleimani, but to Iran. This is also a lie: it originated in January 2007, when US Vice President Dick Cheney was looking for pretexts to strike Iran.
After the generals of the Joint Chiefs of Staff unanimously and categorically refused to strike Iranian nuclear capabilities about which there was no intelligence, Cheney claimed that Iran had supplied directional anti-vehicle mines (responsible for the deaths in question)274. Another lie: the devices were made in Iraq, with equipment purchased from the United Arab Emirates, as confirmed by the very serious Jane’s Intelligence Review.
Baud has no illusions about there not being any internal opposition to the Iranian regime—though he is right to point out the inanity of thinking that the government’s lack of support translates into Iranians in any way supporting US/Western geopolitical intrusions in the Middle East. What is a fantasy is that Iran is today considered to be a global supporter of jihad—any dreams that the Ayatollah may have had of a possible Shia led pan-Islamic alliance seem ridiculous in light of the enmities within the Islamic world—and that is aside from the fact the Iranian form of government is not even universally supported by Shia Muslims.
But the fantasy about Iran is widely held and Baud gives the example of the French writer and philosopher Michel Onfray on the popular program in France “On n’est pas couché,” claiming that “Iran rejoiced, after the Charlie Hebdo killings.” But, as Baud rightly points out: this was not the case at all; “it was unequivocally and publicly condemned by the Iranian President.”
On that front I think a far stronger case can be made that it is the Saudis, a US ally, that have helped sponsor global terror—as it maintained a revolving door of terrorism, geeing jihadists up to leave the country, then locking them up or providing intel to the US as they returned. Further it has spent a fortune funding mosques and imams sympathetic to their Wahhabism in a hegemonic attempt to spread Islam globally. We know why the US lets the Saudis get away with what they do, but apart from it being a dangerous game, the double standards are not lost on anyone who doubts that the US is bringing more order and peace to the world.
Baud also rightly draws attention to the real issue—already mentioned—the Tehran Damascus axis “which frightens Gulf monarchies.” And while there are undoubted hostilities between Iran and Israel, Baud argues that the threat to Israel is persistently overplayed by Israel and the USA and exaggerated by the media.
As with America, Israel’s bungling, and indiscriminate responses to attacks have often played a role in unnecessarily increasing hostilities between them and other regional players. Unlike the US though, the very existence of Israel is precariously poised given its very regional location, so it is more understandable that they overreact or operate outside international norms that they too give lip service too. But however much sympathy one may have for the plight of Israel, bad decisions are still bad decisions, and the law of unintended consequences does not bypass a people simply because of the past horrors they have experienced, and sought to avoid again. That Israel unnecessarily created a fierce enemy for itself can be seen in the creation of Hezbollah in the context of the conflict with the PLO. The settlement of some 300,000 refugees in the aftermath of the “67 war and Black September in Jordan in 1970 had exacerbated Shiite hostility against the Palestinians. Israel’s attempt to put a stop to the PLO “launching attacks into Israel from Southern Lebanon was disastrously handled. Instead of taking advantage of the local schisms and tensions, Israel indiscriminately fought against Lebanese Shiites and Palestinian Sunnis “quickly creating unanimity between them.” Up until then the Lebanese Shiites had not had any particular beef with Israel—and anyone familiar with Sunni-Shia hostilities in the Middle East knows that the religious divisions between Sunni and Shia can be every bit as acrimonious as between Muslims and Jews. If you have not done so find some Sunni-Shia scholarly debates and sit back with the popcorn—it is a theological equivalent of UFC.
Baud’s chapter on Iran also discusses the widely reported claim that President Ahmadinejad, quoting Ayatollah Khomeini, had called for Israel being “wiped off the map,” when what he said was that “the regime that occupies Jerusalem must be erased from the page of history.” The difference may seem moot. But I think Baud is right to draw attention to a mistranslation which calls for the extermination of a people rather than a geopolitical call for regime change. Certainly no journalist in the USA seems to think that their support for what is de facto support for Russian regime change is a call for genocide, even it goes along with Lindsey Graham gloating over money being well spent when it leads to dead Russians. But it is precisely because such conflations between regime and a people are made by choosing to be inattentive to what is actually said that the media de facto endorses perilous geopolitical political adventures. Likewise, the conflation is also at the heart of the unconscionably cruel and stupid tactic that has become commonplace in the West and is part of the armoury to be used against Russian and Iran amongst others to deploy sanctions as a means of inducing regime change. The tactic itself only shows the utter contempt for the ostensible morally based grounding of the West—its willingness to use people, who simply want to get on with living their lives under the conditions they have been thrown into, as cannon fodder in creating a world that fits their picture of the good and the true.
Another primary piece of disinformation discussed by Baud is that surrounding Iran’s nuclear programme. Baud points out that Iran had already abandoned it nuclear weapons program in 2003, and that this had been confirmed in 2007 by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the National Intelligence Council, and reinforced in 2012 by Mossad and the CIA. Neverthtless, the US intelligence agencies had disclosed that they were seeking a pretext to overthrow the Iranian government and that Prime Minister Netanyahu went on record to the UN General Assembly saying that Iran would soon have nuclear weapons, thus contradicting a memo from Mossad to South African intelligence saying that Iran was not presently engaged in the production of nuclear weapons.
While it is true that Iran frequently has engaged in bellicose rhetoric about Israel, Iran, nevertheless, signed the Vienna agreement in 2015 in the hope of having sanctions lifted for reducing nuclear capabilities. But the sanctions were not lifted, and in 2018 Netanyahu, a Prime Minister caught up in domestic scandals that may still end up sending him to prison, falsely claimed that Tehran had been lying about its nuclear program. In fact he was using documents dating back to 2002! Trump would follow up on Netanyahu’s falsehood, and adding few of his own in a tweet of July 10 2019: “Iran has long secretly “enriched,” in total violation of the terrible $150 billion deal signed by John Kerry and the Obama administration. Remember that this agreement was due to expire in a few years.” Baud continues:
In a few words, he manages to lie on three points. Concerning enrichment activities, it should be remembered that for military use, uranium must be enriched to 90%. Iran never exceeded 20% before the JCPOA. With the treaty, Iran had agreed to limit itself to 3.67% for a period of 15 years; and in its report of 31 May 2019, the IAEA confirms that Iran has kept to these limits. Moreover, in January 2019, during her hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee, CIA Director Gina Haspel confirmed that Iran had complied with the JCPOA, thus contradicting Trump. As for the $150 billion, this is not the amount paid by the US, but the total of Iranian assets that should be “unfrozen,” and the total is probably much lower. In August 2015, in an audit to the Senate Finance Committee, Adam J. Szubin, Treasury Undersecretary for Financial Intelligence and Terrorism, estimated the amount at “just over $50 billion.” Another lie. Finally, as far as the timetable is concerned, Donald Trump seems not to have read (or understood) the JCPOA. He claims that: In seven years, this agreement will have expired and Iran will be free to create nuclear weapons. This is not acceptable. Seven years is tomorrow. This is another lie. While some of the treaty’s provisions do indeed expire in 2025 (e.g. on centrifuge development), the most significant clauses (e.g. on the prohibition of nuclear weapons development, nuclear fuel reprocessing or the application of IAEA safeguards) do not have a time limit.
The absurdity of sanctions being imposed upon a state for doing what it is not doing is only matched by the absurdity of what it hopes to achieve, regime change. That is supposed to occur because “the people” will supposedly think that a primary cause of their economic woes, the US, by imposing sanctions are really their friends. There may be cases where this strategy has worked, but off the top of my head I cannot think of them. What is far more common is that the US then gets caught up in fantasies of its own making about some genuinely popular leader of a government in waiting that is pushed by the media.
This is the line being pushed about Alexei Navalny, the subject of another book by Baud, The Navalny Case: Conspiracy to Serve Foreign Policy. Navalny is an oligarch who had received five year suspended sentence for engaging in a scam with his brother (who went to prison for 3 and ½ years) that involved sweeping up state companies at a pittance and then making a killing by (illegally) selling them privately, the most notable of which was the cosmetic company Yves Rocheter. Reading about Navalny in the West today one gets the impression he is a saintly victim and bastion of democracy, when he is just another profiteer operating a network of accounting trails and shelf companies concealing illegal activities. For some reason, the kind of fraud that everyone in the West accepts as fraud does not count as fraud for Western journalists and officials if perpetrated in Russia. It is amazing just what location does to someone. We all know now that a Nazi is not a Nazi, if he is a Nazi in Ukraine.
Likewise Navalny’s xenophobic and racist involvement in the far right “Russian March” has no impact upon him being held up as the liberal alternative to dictator Putin. Nor does the fact that his popularity rating with Russians hovers around the 1 percent mark—a complete irrelevancy for the Western media. What really matters is what is ostensibly his most important credential, viz., he is yet another example of mad Vlad’s poisoning escapades—which seem to convince everybody, except anybody who actually investigates them, and discovers, as is the case in this instance, the whole story is yet one more concoction by British intelligence agencies. Anyone wanting more details about Navalny’s “poisoning” should read chapter 4 of Baud’s Navalny book. For my part, I would really like to know how much Russian mafia/oligarch money makes its way into the British secret service. Our journalists, though, will not report this because they will never receive intelligence briefings about such national secrets.
Sometimes it is not just the nefariousness of the fake news that astounds one about the fakery the US is willing to engage in to try and bring about regime change but the sheer stupidity of the claims, that can be uncovered almost instantly. That is certainly the case with Juan Guaidó’s claim to be president of Venzeuela. One does not need to be a great fan of Chávez or Maduro to see that the US interest in Venezuelan democracy has much to do with oil, and that the support shown for Guaidó comes straight out of Keystone casting who were responsible for those Kops who bear such a striking resemblance to US neo-cons. The recognition of Guaidó as President of Venezuela, by Mike Pence and Donald Trump, though, made any electoral shenanigans that Maduro and his cronies might have been up to mere child’s play, because while Maduro is not universally beloved, he does a have a strong enough support base (as do pretty well all socialists in Latin America). But there was not even the need to have a skerrick of electoral legitimacy for declaring Guaidó to be President. Indeed, as Baud points out, the day after his self-proclamation as President of Venezuela more than “80% of the population had never heard of him.”
Apart from hardly anyone knowing who is Guaidó is victim to another bit of reality that his Western enablers either don’t know or don’t care about, viz. the opposition in Venezuela, which may amount to some half of the country, is not unified into a common program or political spearhead. Whether Maduro should be popular is one thing, but he is popular is another, and, unlike Guaidó, the people of Venezuela at least know who he is.
Baud also recounts the comical spectacle of February 2019 when Guaidó “had called for a million” volunteers to distribute aid at the Colombian border, and a concert organized by Richard Branson was supposed to attract 250,000 spectators—to which Maduro responded by having a concert of his own. (Why one might ask would Richard Branson, the very vocal supporter of the Ukraine war, the great supporter of a global energy renewable reset ever on the search for the right minerals and materials to keep his aviation industry afloat, be meddling in Venezuelan politics ?) In any case, on the big day “there were only a few hundred activists on the Tienditas Bridge, and the concert attracted only about 20,000 people.” But it gets better, the money collected by Branson and the funds from international organizations “had been squandered by Juan Guaidó’s confidants in hotels, luxury clothes, and with prostitutes.” You have to love the Latino crooks, they really get their priorities right—party, party, party all night long!
This, though, was a mere prelude to an even more burlesque piece of political theatre involving Guaidó and his political handlers—the April 2019 coup, “the final phase of operation freedom;” a call for a mass insurrection no less. Again Baud recounts the US led coup that turns out to be one more comic caper of the Keystone variety:
On 30 April 2019, there are two rallies in Caracas: one by supporters of Juan Guaidó and one by supporters of the government; but the international media only picks up on the opposition demonstration. The repeated announcement of the possible defection of high-ranking military personnel had encouraged insurgents to try to enter the La Carlota military base in Caracas to rally the armed forces. CNN reporter Jake Tapper tweets that the government military is firing on the crowd. Problem: he uses photos of pro-Guaidó soldiers, clearly recognisable by their blue armbands! The media is playing a loop of images of armoured national guard vehicles ramming into the demonstrators. This could be an outbreak of violence, as we have seen elsewhere in the world; but no one mentions that Guaidó supporters stole identical vehicles the same morning and that they could have used them to stir up tension. In fact, we don’t know anything about it, but no media outlet is in any doubt.
As USA Today reported, “as the hours dragged on, opposition leader Juan Guaidó stood alone on a highway overpass with the same small cadre of soldiers with whom he launched a bold effort to spark a military uprising.”
In the hands of USA Today this looks more Hamlet than Malvolio or Buster Keaton. But it is a stunning indictment of the utter inability of the US to find competent friends to get the regimes it wants. But given the kind of regime the US itself is perhaps that is simply one more confirmation that what we are witnessing is an imperial power that having found itself through picking up spoils from the imperial fall out of European powers all but destroying themselves, has simply over reached itself, in part by failing to fathom and cultivate what kind of resources were needed to live up to its promise of being the global defender of a way of life in which freedom and initiative would ignite new achievements of the human spirit—that proved to be too hard, though, which is why they turned to the emancipation lot that now flies their flags.
Empires are nothing if not great sacrificial alters requiring serious priests, warriors, and the breeding of generations who themselves are made for sacrifice, and not simply for their own indulgence. Once the ruling class succumbs to indulgence it’s Goodnight Irene—get back into the darkness. Every political philosopher worth anything has warned against the dangers of indulgence, and the US went from a generation of greats to a generation of indulgent brats in the time it took to say Dr. Spock. None can doubt the economic power of the US at its height, but as far as empires go in the annals of history, it is the equivalent of a three minute chart topping pop song.
In any case, the fiasco of Guaidó is but a symptom of US incompetence compounded by relentless pursuing policies that are supposed to be in the national interest but keep on generating ever greater enmity. It might well be that there are better ways to run the economy than Maduro’s socialism, but the spirit of enterprise is not helped by out and out corruption combing international and national players who find loopholes for escaping taxes to pay for developmental infrastructure and social capital. The economic choices of South American governments cannot be separated from ruling class, landed and military economic interests, cooperating with foreign capital garnering its interests with military and police brutality. The class polarisations in Central and South America have deep historical rooted.
Those class conditions when combined with Cold War, and US interference—from the supply of weapons and training to coups, and the propping up of regimes with death squads—in the region, plus the political clout of cartels go someway to explaining why socialism seems to many to be a better option than what they have. A figure like Chávez is the product of a society that has a very different developmental trajectory to Western Europe, North America or Australasia. Baud is right to point to the economic success of Chávez’s nationalisation strategy :
A period of growth followed that no previous government had achieved. The gross national product per capita, which had stagnated between $1,000 and $4,000 for decades, rose to $13,500 in 2010. Poverty is reduced from 70.8% (1996) to 21% (2010), while extreme poverty falls from 40% (1996) to 7.3% (2010).”
But I am less sure than Baud that this strategy did not also come with economic problems down the road, much like Cuba’s initial successes may have not helped move beyond the jolt that was needed. For while US sanctions have made matters worse, I am not convinced that the imposition of one party rule over a nation’s economy and the obstacles for national capital investment have not created major problems. This is a big issue, but creating a political framework for a successful economy strikes me as the most difficult balancing act which ideological thinking does not help. But the cultivation of an educated political elite who can veer between the pernicious interests of global capital and the more locally brewed style of corruptions is an endless challenge, one which Western market democracies once seemed to rise to, but no longer. Nevertheless, what Baud notes immediately following the points about its economic success are indisputable:
In the last decade of the 20th century, the US was absorbed in the aftermath of the Gulf War (1991) and ‘9/11’, with a foreign policy focused on the Middle East and North Africa. Apart from a coup d’état that temporarily overthrew Chávez in 2002, the United States are abandoning the subcontinent, which is tilting almost entirely to the left in Venezuela’s wake: Chile (March 2000), Brazil (January 2003), Argentina (May 2003), Bolivia (January 2006), Ecuador (January 2007), Paraguay (August 2008), Uruguay (March 2010) and Peru (July 2011). One of the consequences of this shift to the left, dubbed the “pink tide,” has been the arrival of other players, such as China, which is taking advantage of this “vacuum” to aggressively move into the continent.
Note the last sentence. Of course empires are rivals—and I cannot help but see the Belt and Road Initiative as anything other than an imperial initiative. But it is a far superior initiative than what has been displayed by the countless decades of US economic and military meddling in Latin America which has done nothing so much as make it a hated country. One could respond with the question, if it is hated, why are so many Latinos flooding the borders? But the hopes of economic advancement, and opportunities behind the mass migration, not to mention the extent of criminal migration and the drug/human/ and child trafficking, do not automatically translate into a desire to embrace the constitution or values of the host country. Many who flood the border come carrying the flag of the country they are leaving behind. And it is very easy to justify breaking the law to enter into a country whose wealth, whether rightly or wrongly, is widely seen as owing a lot to the plunder and political interference in their own country. None can dispute the fact, though, that the existence of the cartels is directly related to the demand for drugs coming from North America, and hence has created unliveable conditions for those wanting to escape from the hellish concoction fueled by drug wars and drug lords.
Further, given that there are no values in the United States sufficiently robust to galvanize civic unity amongst the larger population—even the flag and national anthem are seen as racist by many of the pedagogical class—who could blame those clambering to enter the USA from its southern “border” for simply wanting to take what they can get? Which is exactly what the ruling class of the US teaches, albeit the getting is wrapped up in identity, being a Latino suffices to make one a client for those taking the progressive road to political power. In any case, the ruling class in the United States (using its pedagogical wing) sees the entire globe rather than its particular portion of it, as its rightful asset, which is why its journalists and academics speak incessantly about how the world should be, as if they had the knowledge and the right to run it. Their entitled and extremely grand aspirations, though, fail to take into account that it is highly likely in the not too distant future, possibly in my life time, that the border flood may well end up in territorial (re)annexation by Mexico and the cartels, as the US collapses amidst the race wars it has been creating for itself. The greater geopolitical explosions has been igniting may also ignite a great racial bonfire at home. That the US has created enemies of people and regimes it need not make enemies of seems to be its stock in trade. Another great example of that is the US treatment of Syria.
As Baud points out in his chapter on Syria in Governing by Fake News, Syria had been a member of the coalition against Iraq and had deployed 1,450 troops in Desert Storm. Although Clinton had helped broker a peace process between Hafeez al-Assad and the Isreali government, Bush Jr.’s and Sharon’s governments derailed that. After 9/11 Syria had also provided information that the CIA had admitted was extremely valuable about the activities of the Muslim Brotherhood in Syria and Germany, but John Bolton, who would briefly pop up as yet another neo-con spoiler in the Trump administration, in his role as Undersecretary of State “added Syria to the axis of evil.” Syria did not join the second Iraq war, rightly seeing that it would only exacerbate the problem of jihadism in the region, though it would have to bear the brunt of some 1 ½ million Iraqi Sunni refugees. In a country where the ruling elite has a leader from a minority Islamic sect, which is generally hated even more than Shiites by sectarian Sunni jihadists, the Alawites, which make up some 13 percent of the Syrian population, this was one more existential threat that the Assad regime had to face and which was primarily a US creation.
It does seem that while the US understands the existential threat due to surrounding demographics that confronts Israel, in the case of Syria, that is simply an opportunity to be used. And it was used. But rather than achieving any greater concord in the region, it was used for contributing to even greater chaos which would eventually create the opportunity for Islamic State. While nature also lent a hand—a drought that went for some five years from 2005, so did other political events, such as the assassination of Lebanese Prime Minister Rafic Hariri which, with no credible evidence, was blamed on Syria, though as Baud rightly points out his death left Israel as the major beneficiary of the aftermath of the political vacuum it created in Lebanon. And, as Baud also notes, the regional break up of Syria has been a long term goal to enhance Israel geopolitical strategic advantage as laid out by the Yinon Plan in 1982 published by the World Zionist Organisation. It has also figured in long term US plans, as is evident from a CIA memo of 1986 which states that “American interests would be best served by a Sunni regime, controlled by moderates guided by business.”
Although Baud does not say this, it is noteworthy how the US government and reporters love bandying around the vacuous word “moderate” when dealing with value differences they have no idea of how to address. Under Obama the Muslim Brotherhood were rebadged as moderates, which is clearly nonsense if one takes into account their long term strategic political objectives, as say laid out in the writings of Sayyid Qutb, or any of the official declarations which call for a world living under Islam. The fact is that the differences between the Muslim Brotherhood, Al Qaeda and even Islamic State is one of the constituency of its appeal, the tactic deployed, and the theological emphasis—Muslim Brotherhood is seen as a sell-out for being willing to use the political mechanisms available to it to be rid of the plague of sins which so horrified Qutb when he visited the West, while Islamic State’s hatred of the Shia and even Sunnis who did not wish to join them in the new caliphate, or who believed it had no theological legitimacy. While Islamic State’s (videod) beheadings are extremely shocking—it is difficult to argue that the use of bombs and assassination, or that anything about a world caliphate which would require non-Muslims being Dhimmis is moderate. Words like “extremist” and “moderate” are mobile classifiers—thus now an extremist is someone in the US who thinks one’s sexual organs are a biological not a voluntary condition—which tell us far more about the people using them than the person or group classified as such. And what is pertinent here is that a political program that is faith based and has local and traditional roots and tentacles is not something that CIA or US imperial meddling can simply modulate to suit its interests. Peace can only exist when there is a recognition of implacable or non-negotiable differences and a search by the different parties takes place so that common objectives might be found in some areas, and that the no-go areas be understood as such. This is what the West has done with its Middle Eastern allies, but refuses to do with Iran and Syria, both of which it absurdly portrays as more “extremist” countries that need to undergo regime change so they can join the good guys.
The US and West more generally has suffered under the massive delusion, perhaps nowhere more conspicuous than in its inane reading of the events taking place in the Arab world in 2011 as a democratic uprising of a liberal sort. In any case Syria offered opportunities for potential cooperation with Western powers because of the precarious nature of the leadership and the country’s demographics, but the West had no interest in pursuing those opportunities. Indeed it seems that the opportunities it and other supporters of the Syrian opposition happen to focus upon are energy related. More specifically gas pipeline-related. This summary from Lauren von Bernuth in 2017 is apposite:
Two competing oil pipelines vying to run through Syria. Both pipelines seek to connect the largest natural gas field in the world, located 3000 meters below the floor of the Persian Gulf, to … Europe. Qatar owns roughly two-thirds of the mineral rights to the Persian Gulf gas field and Iran owns the other one third. One pipeline starts in Qatar and runs through Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria, and Turkey into Europe… The other pipeline runs from Iran through Iraq and Syria and into the Mediterranean Sea…The first pipeline proposed to Assad was the Qatar pipeline and he rejected the proposal. Assad then later approved the Iranian pipeline, which was expected to be completed in 2016, but the Syrian war disrupted that. Now let’s look at the Syrian war: Russia and Iran are supporting Assad, while the U.S., Saudi Arabia and Turkey are supporting the rebels. So the Qatar pipeline was rejected by Assad and it just so happens that the countries with a vested interest in that pipeline are supporting the rebels.
But back to Baud, the US had been funding opposition groups and clandestine activities since 2005—2006 to bring down the al-Assad government:
In 2006 the US government began funding the Justice and Development Movement (JDM), an opposition organisation inside and outside Syria. Between 2006 and 2010, the US spends $6.3 million to fund Barada TV, a TV channel designed to spread anti-regime news, and another $6 million is used to train Syrian journalists and activists. Based in London, it began broadcasting messages in support of an overthrow of the regime in April 2009. It will play a key role in 2011 through its coverage of the riots at the start of the revolution and its messages designed to inflame public opinion by disseminating false information about the reaction of Syrian law enforcement agencies, relayed by the Western media.
The so-called Arab Spring was a media event, an event that was partly due to protests occurring simultaneously in the region, albeit for different objectives. Western reporters were not interested in local grievances nor the local contours of sectarian conflicts and alliances, nor the precarious balances of power and opposition that the various ruling elites in the region have to grapple with. Like bulls in a China shop, Western journalists continued to do what they have largely been trained to do: act as a cheer and jeer squad on the basis of the propaganda they picked up from their media friends, who know as little as they do, and their mostly useless education. For them it was simply a matter of cheering on what they saw as a nascent liberal world order that they would have freely adopted had it not been oppressed by homophobia, racism, cis-genderist persecution, white supremacy, anti-feminism, imperialism, and Islamophobia, and tyrannical pronouns. The difference between liberal progressive la-la-land and neo-con la-la-land has nothing to do with genuine conceptual analytics, but much rather has to do with their preferred style of imperialism. That and the respective fantasies they like to tell each other in their respective grandiosely stupid conversations about how they will make the world. In any case Obama’s Arab Spring was simply a variant of the Bush dogma that the Arabs all wanted to live in democratic states and all that needed to be done was for the people to get together and overthrow the non-democracies under which they live—cut to Thunderclap Newman singing “We just got to get it together cause the revolution‘s here” and you get a good idea of the memory bank of the mental capacity of the more stately members of the Western ruling class today.
The fabricators of this nonsense were the kind of people who simply could not understand how difficult it is to keep peace in lands where sectarian differences affect almost every area of life, which is also why the political powers of the region would be either monarchs, or military dictators, and that eliminating strong men like Saddam Hussein or Muammar Gaddafi would not open up more liberal, let alone more stable regimes with the people all merrily singing “We are the World.” Had the US had its way, Assad, would have had a fate similar to Gaddafi, and Syria would have come out of it like Libya. Surprise, surprise, Assad did not like that particular script. In any case, Libyan rebels linked up with Syrian rebels to fuel a civil war, in which the rebels mainly consisted of foreigners—which is to say it was a funny kind of civil war.
Although the Western media were spinning stories which would make Assad’s government seem like a total hell-hole—Baud compares the response of the Syrian government to ongoing Kurdish demonstrations between 2005 and 2009 to that of French authorities to the Yellow Vests in France—and while there were sectarian discontents with historical roots going back at least siege of the city of Hamah in 1982—where thousands, estimates range from five to forty thousand—died, which were preceded by the events involving the Muslim Brotherhood revolt in the 1970s—the protests against Assad were never going to bring down the Assad government. There was discontent but not insurrection—though to appreciate this differentiates requires the reader not to have accepted the super-updated definition of an insurrection as whatever journalists and the uni-party say it is. Moreover, the army which was predominantly Sunni was mostly loyal to Assad. That the dissident faction in the Syrian Army were mainly Muslim Brotherhood is part of the reason why the US had rebranded the Muslim Brotherhood as moderate. And while the Assad government is Ba’athist and a carry-over from the Arab nationalism of the mid 20th century, its constitution is not strictly secular, its head of state must be a Muslim, and it incorporates elements of Islamic law into its judicial system.
Assad himself is urbane and sophisticated (as is his well-educated wife), and I mean urbane in the best sense—a doctor by training, who has only been turned into a tyrant by a media happy to villainize anyone they are paid to. But he has had to work with the social values and priorities that operate in Syria. Given the forces his government has had to balance, that there would be discontentment is inevitable. But the fact is that some 70% of the Syrian Population (according to independent surveys recognized by NATO!) support Assad.
In the West the media misrepresents the scale of discontent by passing off fabricated examples. Thus, for example, a massacre of 260 civilians was reported to have occurred in Homs—but that number seems to have no definitive basis—and by the time the BBC reported it that number had become 55 deaths. Some people definitely died. But who were they, and who killed them? Baud points out that it is most likely that the dead were pro-government Christians killed by anti-government militia.
Another piece of news fakery was in 2012 when a BBC journalist tweeted that the Syrian air force was bombing civilians in East Aleppo with Russian “MiGs.” Except—the planes were not MiGs, but Su-24s or Aero L-39s which don’t carry bombs. And, and in any case, civilians were not bombed. Yet another false massacre report was in Al-Houla. And as in the previous example from Homs, the numbers shift around, so that as one zooms in on the facts they seem to evaporate, or turn into their opposite. Franceinfo repeated information about this massacre from the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a highfalutin name for a Sunni Islamist opponent of the Syrian regime operating out of a London flat who is on the Saudi and Qatari pay roll (interesting isn’t it what alliances take place between enemies when money is involved). But, says Baud: “we see practically nothing: no place, no person, no weapon or date is identified. Eventually a journalist from Germany’s FAZ discovered that there were people killed in Al-Houla, and they were Shia converts, who had been knifed, not killed by heavy weapons, which suggests that it was not the Syrian army but opposition rebels. That there is the problem of reliability about the numbers of victims in the conflict, as well as who the victims really are, owes much to the fact that most of the information about the conflict comes from this guy in the London flat.
Of all the whoppers told in the Western press and governments about Syria, the biggest would have to be that Islamic State was somehow the creation of al-Assad. Anyone who knows anything about Assad and Islamic State would know just how crazy this is, but that was what the French Minister of Foreign Affairs was saying in 2014, and it was an idea repeated by the French philosopher Bernard-Henry Lévy, who has become a leading philosophical apologist for the US/ European imperial axis. This particular conspiracy theory ignores the most salient and disturbing fact that Western alliance of the French, British, and French and the Turkish governments and special services have, commencing with Muslim Brotherhood and Libyans mentioned above, armed and trained Islamists in their war against Syria, and that:
The militarisation of the Syrian revolution by the West forced the government to concentrate its forces in the west of the country. The result was a security vacuum in the east, which allowed the joining of Iraqi and Syrian Islamist forces, and the transformation of the ‘Islamic State in Iraq’ into the ‘Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant’. A dynamic map of the Syrian war shows that the Islamic State has grown from Iraq and the Turkish border and has established itself on Syrian territory in the wake of armed groups, such as the Free Syrian Army (FSA), supported by France and the United States.
Finally, while Baud’s analysis of what has occurred in Syria contains far more examples, I will conclude his discussion of Syria (and he has much, much more to say) with his discussion the white helmets, a topic that the journalist Vanessa Beeley has also covered in detail. The white helmets have a received a lot of press coverage, and they are presented as angels in human form. They were nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2016. But given that Barack Obama, whose main claim to fame was being a black man who was the President, (lesser know was that he presided over some ten times more drone strikes than George Bush Jr.) , and that Henry Kissinger, who had been the brains behind the secret war in Cambodia that opened the way for the Khmer Rouge to take over the country, have won this prize founded by the inventor of dynamite, one might be wise to be a tad sceptical about just how peaceful they really are. Baud is sceptical:
In reality, the White Helmets only operate in areas hostile to the Syrian government and in the hands of Jabhat al-Nosrah. Numerous videos show some of its members participating in the beheading of little Abdullah Issa by militants of the Nur al-Din al-Zinki Movement, or with weapons and an Islamist flag in hand. British journalist Vanessa Beeley posted videos on YouTube showing White Helmets participating in the making of the ‘Mortars of Hell’, which project ‘barrel bombs’. Just after the recapture of East Aleppo, the young French development worker Pierre le Corf visited the White Helmets’ headquarters and noted the collusion with Jabhat al-Nosrah. This does not prevent Agnès Levallois, on France 5, from underlining the “quite remarkable” character of the organisation… which will be allied with Turkey during its October 2019 offensive against the Syrian Kurds!
In addition the Ministry of Foreign Affairs had to report to parliament in 2018 that the one and half million Euros that had been given in aid to the White Helmets “was not traceable in the field and was likely to have been used to acquire weapons.”
What Baud’s book shows over and over—and with far more examples than I can recount here—is not only how absolutely unreliable the Western media is as a source of reliable information about the world events that appear in the daily news, but how time and time again it is simply a means of mis- or dis-informing the public about the truth. The process of disinformation has one overall objective—to create broad base support for military and intelligence interventions that serve the larger game plan of the US/ European imperial alliance. Were the players not such a bunch of duds and sad-sacks, who think they are super educated and have fine tastes in all the stuff they can get their mits on, were the outcomes ones in which the world was more peaceable and a better place because tyrants were now no longer amongst us, instead of a place where the Western Axis of evil tyrannically presides over its own internal chaos and spreads even more chaos to regions already caught up in their own conflicts, then one might wish to ignore books like Baud’s.
But all of the events discussed in Baud’s books are part of the long trail, which to be sure goes back much further than the end of the Cold War, but at least in the Cold War, the Soviets were an imperial power that were even worse on so many fronts than the US/ Western imperium—I know that could be debated, but I think the numbers stack up that way. But that is now irrelevant. For the US/ Western alliance was completely unprepared for what it would do after the Cold War ended, except more of the same. So they decided to keep on targeting Russia, adopting the narrative that it was just like the USSR, except there was a massive pile of wealth to be made.
It certainly did not take long for the US con-men to make their way into Russia and join in the asset stripping operation. Nor did it take long for US intelligence to try and destroy the more stable post-Yeltsin government that Putin was creating amidst a war, and terrorists bombing civilians, and organized criminals seizing the nation’s energy and commanding the information flow, after moving on from the more mundane operation of taking people’s apartments at gun point. Instead of the victor of the Cold War building a peace, it simply proceeded to build more wars.
3. Baud’s Operation Z And What the Mainstream Media Never Told You
Baud’s Governing by Fake News presents an excellent case of the diabolical fabrications and calculations that have step by step led to where we are today. And that is to a global war, partly concealed by the fact it is a proxy war. His Governing by Fake News goes into many of the details leading to the war, but his Operation Z provides a comprehensive account of the events leading to the war, as well as what has been occurring since it broke out. I will simply focus upon some of the key points that Baud relates which clarifies how Ukraine has split the way it has. Russia’s “Operation Z “is in response to a civil war on its border. It is the response of a government to persecuted Ukrainians who identity with their Russian roots, who do not want to be subjected to the rule and persecution of the Kiev government, and who when given a chance have chosen to join the Russian Federation. Were Kiev to allow the de facto now also de jure, from Russia’s perspective, boundaries of Ukraine to be redrawn, and to cease being a proxy member of NATO which is funding and helping conduct this proxy war, the war could end immediately. The reason it does not is no mystery. The American/ European Union Alliance wants regime change in Russia.
Baud commences with the emotional and cultural level of perception. Everybody I talk to who has a small teaspoon worth of facts and a belly full of bile with which to make their pronouncements about the war in Ukraine and Putin—“That animal!” exclaimed a recent visitor to my house—seems oblivious to the fact that their response is extremely emotional, that it is based upon images and ‘talking points’ that are part of a larger information war against Russia. The British empire has been at war with Russia since long before the USSR existed, and the British government continues to do all in its power to ensure the entire population accept its version of what the conflict is about and who is to blame.
The USA is a relative new-comer to imperial politics, though Woodrow Wilson thought it wise to dispatch some seven thousand troops to Siberia to contain the Bolsheviks, stave off Japanese expansionism, and help the Czech legion caught up in the civil war. It was also part of the larger liberal imperial vision pushed by Wilson which left a leading place for the USA as a harbinger of a new world order. The other members of NATO all have their reasons for aligning themselves with the US/ European imperial axis. But Baud also rightly identifies the fact a number of significant Western leaders “have a family history” which gives them a dog in the fight. They include Chrystia Freeland, the Canadian Foreign Minister, the current President of the EU Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, the German chancellor, Olaf Scholz, the US Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken, and US Under Secretary of State, Victoria Nuland. That is quite an astonishing group of people given the power they wield.
Baud says their political action “is guided more by emotion and ideology than by reflection,” and once again he announces his faith in the power of reason, at the juncture where the only reason we see is the reason of power politics, and heritage. It would be astonishing if this were sheer coincidence that the most important Western and European leaders—and let’s not forget Hunter and, Joe’s Ukrainian connections, which to be sure are more to do with veins of money than blood—all identify with a national heritage and identity which is defined by its denial and persecution of the Russian heritage, identity and language, of those who also have been born into the same land. Though none of these people grew up there, and none of them will die for the cause they have weaponized. That cause is not simply an independent Ukraine, but a Ukraine which is weaponised against Russia, and committed to breaking up the Russian federation. Baud quotes former director of the CIA, Robert Gates’s, recollection that Dick Cheney in 1991 wanted the Soviet collapse to be an occasion for the dismemberment not only of the Russian empire but itself. Moreover, the dissolution of the Soviet Union was accompanied with promises that there would be no NATO expansion Eastward. This has been a point repeatedly made by Russia, and it was confirmed by Robert Gates (Assistant to the President and Deputy National Security Adviser from 1989-1991) in 2000—now, of course, denied by Western propagandists.
There was also the problem of minority rights for ethnic Russians in former Soviet countries such as Georgia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and of course Ukraine. It is precisely because of the Russian ethnic minorities in these countries and their mistreatment that these countries are fearful of Russian invasion. The fears are strongly enough felt. But Baud rightly points out that while it suits Western interests to publicly condemn China’s treatments of the Uighurs, allies who persecute Russians are not chastised. And it was the extent of that persecution—not just cultural attacks, but threats and acts of ethnic cleansing—that would lead to the separatist regions in the Donbas. This was all in the penumbra and aftermath of the Maidan of 2014 that so misleadingly reported in the West, as if almost the entire country supported ousting a legitimately elected president because he did not want to proceed with moving unequivocally to closer ties with the EU.
While it is understandable why Western urban Ukrainians were not happy with the decision of a President most of them did not want, a sympathetic understanding of the complexity of the political demography of Ukrainian society played no part in either Western interference or reportage. Isolated voices of formerly respected journalist Robert Parry and Soviet specialist Stephen Cohen were simply smothered or denounced by the mainstream pushing ahead with its blatant disregard of any facts that told a more complex story than one that could be supported by photo-ops of (nefarious) members of the Ukrainian resistance with John McCain and Victoria Nuland. The role of Ultra-nationalists and the foreign volunteers who joined in the attack upon the ethnically impure to build a more racially pure Europe was also not part of any official story. To be sure this was not the swamp out of which Zelensky arose—his was the private-media oligarchically built swamp.
In discussing the ultra-ethnic nationalists and neo-Nazis Baud introduces nuances which give a clearer picture of the sentiments of Ukrainian nationalists of today and of yesterday, and the mass murder of Jews that Ukrainian national hero Stepan Bandera engaged in. He points out:
The apparent ambiguity about the collaboration between Ukrainian nationalists and the Third Reich—especially in the massacre of Jewish civilians in the Ukraine—is probably explained by the fact that our view emphasises the Jewish character of the victims, whereas the Ukrainians of the time saw them as partisans who threatened the German rear in areas with a largely Jewish population. All this does not detract from the criminal nature of these organised massacres, but it could explain that they were not dictated by anti-Semitism, but by the desire for reprisals. This is not much better, but it explains the logic. In other words, there is a difference between Ukrainian militants and the Nazis of the Third Reich. This is reflected in the names “neo-Nazis” or “Ukrainian-Nazis.”
But anti-Semitism runs deep amongst Ukrainian nationalists, and there are reasons for it, which are closely bound up with the hatred felt toward the Soviet Union:
The “founding” element of Ukrainian antisemitism is the “Holodomor” (holod: hunger; mor: plague). It is believed to have caused between 4 million and 7 million deaths in 1932-33 and is considered in Ukraine to be genocide, often compared to the Jewish ‘holocaust’. Despite its magnitude, which makes it perhaps the largest massacre in history, it remains largely ignored in the West, and its character as ‘genocide’ is disputed, in part to challenge the presence of antisemitism in Ukraine. Whatever the reality, the over-representation of Jews in the Communist Party leadership and among the NKVD cadres has left the Ukrainian imagination with the feeling that they orchestrated the Holodomor. The result is a deep-seated hatred that targets both the Moscow leadership and the Jews. In 2021, the Jerusalem Post reported that the Ukrainian far right was demanding an apology from Israel for the Holodomor and the crimes of communism. Today, although not a ‘doctrine’, violent antisemitism is growing alarmingly in Ukraine.
I will not repeat points I have made in other essays in this magazine about the war about Azov and other ultra-right militias in Ukraine and their role in the larger political machinations in Ukraine which have led to the persecutions of those who ethnically identify with Russia and not with the post 2014 Ukraine, whose first legislative act was “the abolition of 2012 Kivalov-Kolesnichenko law, which established the Russian language as an official language on a par with Ukrainian.” This sparked off the rebellions in the South, which led the government to respond by sending in troops, which in turn generated the formation of a separatist political movement needing to militarise itself against the attacks directed at them. As Baud notes:
The army was largely composed of Russian speakers, who were torn between their duty as soldiers and their loyalty to their community, whose demands they shared. The repression of the demonstrations was not carried out willingly by the soldiers, who then tried to escape recruitment, committed suicide at the front or deserted to the rebels. The task of the armed forces is virtually impossible. Moreover, the Ukrainian army, which has been made up of professionals since 2013, does not have enough manpower to respond to the situation. It is undermined by the corruption of its cadres and no longer enjoys the support of the population. According to a British Home Office report, during the March-April 2014 recall of reservists, 70% did not show up for the first session, 80% for the second, 90% for the third and 95% for the fourth. On 1 May 2014, the new government ordered the conscription of young people between the ages of 18 and 25 in all parts of the country, including the southern regions. Desertions to the rebel regions are becoming increasingly common. The problem became so serious that the Ukrainian parliament passed a law allowing officers to use their weapons against their men if they tried to desert. In October-November 2017, 70% of conscripts did not show up for the “Autumn 2017” recall campaign. This is without counting suicides and desertions (often to the benefit of autonomists), which reach up to 30% of the workforce in the ATO area. Young Ukrainians refuse to fight in the Donbass and prefer to emigrate, thus contributing to the country’s demographic deficit.
The vacuum created in the army by a combination of the refusal to fight one’s ethnic kin, desertion, and suicide opened the way for formally incorporating the ultra-nationalist and neo-Nazi militias into the government forces. But those forces had played a crucial part in the Maidan, and they were not going to simply vanish into the background because the electorate wanted less tattooed, and fiercely pugnacious looking politicians. The Maidan had also opened the country to far right foreign volunteers seeing this conflict as an opportunity to build a racially pure white land not sullied by Slav, or Muslim bloodlines. There were also Russian orthodox and Serbian nationalists fighting alongside the republican separatists. The Western Press would happily note the presence of the latter, whilst, with the occasional exception, ignoring the explosion of neo-Nazi and ultra-nationalist militias, beating up and killing Russo-centric-phile Ukrainians. The new government were happy enough for these thugs to go about their business as it concerned himself with a socio-economic and political lunge Westward accompanied by its punitive actions against those in the South/ East who were reacting to being treated as second class “citizens.” Though the Western press completely ignored this. Hence when Putin made eliminating the Nazi element in Ukrainians an objective of “Operation Z,” it was greeted with a combination of incredulity and derision by journalists who had got up to speed by reading intel briefs and each other’s propaganda.
There would be some 14000 victims in the war waged by Ukraine in the Donbass from 2014. Baud notes that UN reports 80% of civilian casualties came from Ukrainian strikes, and in the period from October 1 to March 30 2020 almost 85% of civilian casualties were from Ukrainian artillery shelling. The Western media also largely ignored all of this, and went with the story that all of a sudden Vladimir Putin woke up and decided to invade a peaceful freedom loving people led by a wise man so talented he once played piano on tv with his balls. (Ok they mainly kept silent about that particular skill-set that had been witnessed by everyone with a tv in Ukraine.)
The one story about the Donbas that Western media had been running with was a complete fabrication. It had involved disinformation being spread in a resolution by the European Union Parliament relaying unverified reports from Polish intelligence sources referring to “direct military intervention,” ceasefire violations “mainly by regular Russian troops” and claims that Russia has “increased its military presence on Ukrainian territory.” The Ukrainian Prime Minister Poroshenko would claim in the following year that Russia had sent 200,000 troops to Ukraine. A few months later he would claim to the UN General assembly that Ukrainians were having to fight heavily armed Russian soldiers. There were, so he said, some 75 Russian military units operating in Ukraine. Poroshenko’s reputation as an inveterate liar as well as a crook mattered little to those wanting to spread these stories, even though in the same time span other Ukrainian officials including the head of the Ukrainian General Staff and the head of the Security Service found no evidence to support these claims. It was true that some 50 or so young Russians had been captured who had come to fight in the Donbas.
In 2018 Alexander Hug, Deputy Head of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Observer Mission concede that OSCE has made no observations confirming the presence of Russian troops in Ukraine.
Another story that went under the radar was the role of the West in pushing for reconquering the autonomous republics through economic incentives. As Baud notes:
In May 2014, the International Monetary Fund warned Ukraine that it would not get its $17 billion loan if it did not regain control of the east of the country: If the central government loses effective control of the East, the programme will have to be rethought. This is what is pushing Kiev to relaunch its offensive against the Donbass. Ukraine receives a first tranche just after the events in Odessa. There is therefore international pressure to push Ukraine to re-establish its sovereignty over the entire territory.
From the initial coup which had been abled and abetted by the CIA and US government officials to the civil war encouraged by IMF pressure, to the lies about Russian troops occupying the Donbas back in 2014 the fabrications surrounding the US all conspire to build the case of Russian aggression. The great value of Baud’s book is that it provides a one stop shop for refuting these lies. And it is particularly good at debunking the big lie which, to the mis-and dis-informed imbibers of fake news, is the definitive proof of Russia’s long term plot for Ukrainian conquest. The big lie, of course, is that Russia conquered Crimea, and Crimea now suffers under the Russian jackboot, which is why acts of Ukrainian sabotage in Crimea are treated as acts of liberation, the likes of which take us back to the French resistance in occupied Paris.
Baud’s debunking of the Crimea lies start with UN Resolution 68/262 which declared the annexation of Crimea to be illegal. The Resolution took its “legal” point of departure from the Budapest Treaty of 1994 guaranteeing the territorial integrity of Ukraine, which thus renders invalid the Crimean referendum in 2014 that overwhelmingly voted to join the Russian Federation, so it could be relieved from Ukrainian ethnic-nationalist persecution.
The first problem with US Resolution 68/262 is that it ignores the fact that Crimeans had on a number of previous occasions expressed their desire to be ruled by Moscow. Baud also points out that the initial transfer of Crimea to Ukraine in 1954 had no legal basis: it had not been approved by the Supreme Soviet of the USST, the Supreme Soviet of the Russian Republic or the Supreme Soviet Republic of the Republic of Ukraine. Like so much else to do with the war, the mismatch between a war that is supposed to be a water tight case of legal violation, and the lack of a legal basis for Ukrainian possession of Crimea is something that has never been discussed, as far as I know, in the Western media. The transference was an act of fiat by the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet, i.e. its transfer was a dictatorial decree by Khrushchev. The irony that the great defenders of democracy against a(n elected) Russian President with a support rating (confirmed by independent sources) far surpassing any Western leader appeal to an act by a (non-elected) Soviet President who was a dictator that had neither the modicum of constitutional support that existed in the USSR nor popular support from a people who had never identified as Ukrainian is only matched by the same people who accuse all their enemies, including Trump and Putin, of being just like Hitler. But what should one expect from people defending a regime which has used, and gone along with the butchery of neo-Nazis against their ethnic enemies? How anyone outside the West can believe anything anymore the West says would be a mystery were it not for the fact that—with very few exceptions—they don’t.
As the Soviet Union was on the verge of collapse, the people of Crimea were asked in a referendum in 1991, whether they wanted to be administered by Moscow or stay with Kiev, 93.6% went with Moscow. Only people who ignore Crimea’s history would be surprised by this fact. That referendum led to the brief restoration of the Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic of Crimea, and this was essentially ratified by Ukraine who also voted in a referendum for the continuation of the USSR in 1991. The Donbas, by the way, is politically conspicuous by its lingering pro-Soviet sentiments. Some months later—in December 1991—Ukrainians held a referendum for independence from the Soviet Union, and in February of the next year the Crimean parliament declared its independence. Some two years later, in December 1994, Ukraine did a deal with Russia—it would surrender its nuclear weapons from its Soviet days in exchange for “security, independence and territorial integrity.”
At this stage, though, Crimea no longer considered itself legally a part of Ukraine. To emphasise the point: this was even prior to the persecution that led to the referendum after the Maidan. In the 1990s, in the eyes of the people of Crimea, it was not the Russians but the Ukrainians who had acted aggressively and illegally. That was in March 1995 when the Ukrainian government “abolished the Crimean constitution by authority, sent in its special forces to forcibly remove Yuri Mechkov, president of Crimea, and de facto annexed the Republic of Crimea.” The response in Crimea was to create another constitution reinstating the Autonomous Republic of Crimea. Wanting to placate the situation, after it was ratified by the Crimean parliament, it was confirmed by the Ukrainian Parliament in December 1998.
Ukraine had also signed a guarantee offering protection “of the ethnic, cultural, linguistic and religious originality of national minorities on their territories.” After the coup and the repealing of the law on official languages, the Kiev regime had destroyed all semblance of having any legitimate claims over what the people of Crimea could not do. None of these intricacies were widely, if ever, reported in the West when Crimeans voted to become part of the Russian federation. Nor were the large scale demonstrations taking place in Crimea that mirrored what was going on in the Donbas, in response to the abolition of the Official Languages Act, given much cover by the Western press. As was also the case in the Donbas the solution of sending in armed forces to quell the protests triggered mass disobedience in the ranks of the Ukrainian army—some 20,000 out of 22,000 military personnel (and the majority of the army in Crimea identified as Russian). There were also mass defections among the police. Had this been in Venezuela the media would have been swarming the place. But information fakery and brainwashing are as much acts of omission as well as commission.
Those journalists who went on the ground to report the events taking place in Crimea and the Donbas are now all viewed as Putin stooges, traitors and criminals in the West, and are on Ukrainian kill lists. Gonzalo Lire was arrested (for the second time) a month or so ago and no more has been heard of him. Some have had their assets frozen. Such is the free world today. And the freedom is as fake as it is precarious.
The Western project is now as fake as the news it supplies about the war, and the war is conducted purely along the lines of fake moral principles. A fake war hero leading a fake democracy is fawned over by celebrities oozing fake care and fake morals all holding fake beliefs picked up from fake news cobbled together by fakes posing as journalists. The weapons are real and so are the bodies though the public is smothered in fake news, and endless jabber and talking points and descriptions of how the war is going—Putin is dying, is dead, is a hologram already, and Russia has lost and just keeps losing more and more each day—Russia is completely broke—and the sooner it wakes up to itself and accepts its own demise then the world will live as one, just like John Lennon’s ditty predicted. Meanwhile the US/ European hegemonic world order is as dedicated to stupefying the human race as it is a neo-feudal order in which every aspect of life is to be calculated and controlled. Sure the leaders of this ghastly future are a bunch of brainless fakes—their masters are cunning and have real wealth, but their souls are hollow and the world they are making is one vast fakedom. But anyone who says this is a conspiracy theorist spreading disinformation.
There are many reasons why the West now stands for what it stands for. The destruction of its cultural roots is one large part of the story. In the final part of this essay I will explore the role played in the philosophical attack upon Christian culture as it helped lay the basis for the kind of technocratic dehumanised world we have become.
Featured: Mujer saliendo del psicoanalista (“Woman Leaving the Psychoanalyst”), by Remedios Varo; painted in 1960.