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Ron Unz THE UNZ REVIEW Please give this page some time to load its video assets
Since late February 2022 Russia’s war with Ukraine has dominated the global headlines, but what may have been the most important incident in that conflict has received only a sliver of coverage in the Western mainstream media.
One year ago tomorrow a series of massive underwater explosions destroyed most of the $30 billion Russian-German Nord Stream Pipelines, probably Europe’s most important civilian energy infrastructure. All observers soon agreed that the blasts had been deliberate, likely constituting the greatest case of industrial terrorism in world history and an obvious act of war against Germany, NATO’s leading European member. And then in lock-step, nearly all Western media outlets declared that the Russians had destroyed their own pipelines, an action further demonstrating the dangerous insanity of President Vladimir Putin, our diabolical Moscow adversary. Only a handful of voices on the dissident fringe suggested otherwise.
But five months later the issue was suddenly resurrected. Across his half-century career, Seymour Hersh had established himself as America’s most renowned investigative journalist, and he now published one of his greatest exposes, a meticulously detailed account of how a team of American military divers had destroyed the pipelines, acting under the orders of the Biden Administration.
Despite Hersh’s towering reputation, virtually all our mainstream journalists scrupulously avoided mentioning those revelations. But many millions around the world read his article or watched his interviews, and the UN Security Council soon held hearings on the issue, with Prof. Jeffrey Sachs and former CIA Analyst Ray McGovern strongly endorsing Hersh’s conclusions.
Given these developments, the previous claim that Putin had destroyed his own pipelines began looking a little threadbare, so Western intelligence services soon circulated a new cover story, claiming that the gigantic attacks had actually been mounted by a shadowy handful of pro-Ukrainian activists operating from a rented sailboat. Once again, nearly all our pundits eagerly nodded their heads.
We live in an age of grotesque falsehoods that might rival those portrayed in George Orwell’s 1984, and I think Putin had a point when he condemned America as “an empire of lies.”
Last winter was an unusually mild one, somewhat mitigating the full impact of Europe’s total loss of cheap Russian energy. But even so, a recent front-page storyin the Wall Street Journal described the severe economic crisis facing Germany, Europe’s industrial engine. If Hersh’s account were confirmed, NATO would legally be at war with the U.S.
Although such a bizarre outcome is hardly likely, the future of the alliance does seem very doubtful. Lawrence Wilkerson has had a distinguished mainstream career, serving as the longtime chief of staff to former Secretary of State Colin Powell, and in a lengthy interview a couple of days ago he foresaw the loss of America’s German ally and the dissolution of NATO. If that 76 year alliance does disintegrate, future historians will surely point to the Nord Stream pipeline attacks as the crucial triggering event. Western media possesses an awesome power of illusion, but Reality usually has the final say.
The Ultimate Dissolution of NATO | Col. Larry Wilkerson
Col. (ret.) Lawrence Wilkerson's last positions in government were as Secretary of State Colin Powell's Chief of Staff (2002-05), Associate Director of the State Department's Policy Planning staff under the directorship of Ambassador Richard N. Haass, and member of that staff responsible for East Asia and the Pacific, political-military and legislative affairs (2001-02). Before serving at the State Department, Wilkerson served 31 years in the U.S. Army. During that time, he was a member of the faculty of the U.S. Naval War College (1987 to 1989), Special Assistant to General Powell when he was Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (1989-93), and Director and Deputy Director of the U.S. Marine Corps War College at Quantico, Virginia (1993-97). Wilkerson retired in 1997 and began work as an advisor to General Powell. He has also taught national security affairs at the George Washington University and is currently working on a book about the first George W. Bush administration.
Hersh had originally intended his current column to focus on the anniversary of the pipeline attacks, but important developments in the larger Ukraine war pushed that aside. As he reported, one of his trusted sources with access to current intelligence explained the disastrous state of the military situation:
It’s all lies,” the official said, speaking of the Ukrainian claims of incremental progress in the offensive that has suffered staggering losses, while gaining ground in a few scattered areas that the Ukrainian military measures in meters per week.
The American intelligence official I spoke with spent the early years of his career working against Soviet aggression and spying has respect for Putin’s intellect but contempt for his decision to go to war with Ukraine and to initiate the death and destruction that war brings. But, as he told me, “The war is over. Russia has won. There is no Ukrainian offensive anymore, but the White House and the American media have to keep the lie going.
Hersh’s informant also described the way that Western intelligence had been manipulating our mainstream media and using it to deceive our own citizens:
Yes,” the official said, “Putin did something stupid, no matter how provoked, by violating the UN charter and so did we”—meaning President Biden’s decision to wage a proxy war with Russia by funding Zelensky and his military. “And so now we have to paint him black, with the help of the media, in order to justify our mistake.” He was referring to a secret disinformation operation that was aimed at diminishing Putin, undertaken by the CIA in coordination with elements of British intelligence. The successful operation led major media outlets here and in London to report that the Russian president was suffering from varied illnesses that included blood disorders and a serious cancer. One oft-quoted story had Putin being treated by heavy doses of steroids. Not all were fooled. The Guardian skeptically reported in May of 2022 that the rumors “spanned the gamut: Vladimir Putin is suffering from cancer or Parkinson’s disease, say unconfirmed and unverified reports.” But many major news organizations took the bait. In June 2022, Newsweek splashed what it billed a major scoop, citing unnamed sources saying that Putin had undergone treatment two months earlier for advanced cancer: “Putin’s grip is strong but no longer absolute. The jockeying inside the Kremlin has never been more intense. . . . everyone sensing that the end is near.”
Public events seemed to quickly confirm the accuracy of the grim Ukraine war prognosis reported by Hersh. Poland has always been intensely hostile to Russia, so from the beginning of the fighting, the Warsaw government had been the strongest and most enthusiastic backer of Ukraine’s military effort, by some accounts even secretly sending many thousands of its own troops into combat. But Poland’s President Andrzej Duda has now declared that his country would provide no additional military aid, underscoring his position with remarkably undiplomatic language:
Ukraine is behaving like a drowning person clinging to everything he can… but we have the right to defend ourselves against harm being done to us. A drowning person is extremely dangerous, he can pull you down to the depths… simply drown the rescuer. We must act to protect ourselves from the harm being done to us, because if the drowning person… drowns us, he will not get help. So we have to take care of our interests and we will do it effectively and decisively.
🇺🇦🇵🇱 “Ukraine is like a drowning man who will drag down those who are trying to help him.”
And Poland’s dramatic public break with Ukraine is hardly alone, coming after signs that various other European leaders are strongly reevaluating their involvement. As I’d highlighted earlier this month, a front-page story in the New York Times by its longtime European columnist described how numerous leading European figures have shifted their position, opening with these striking paragraphs:
PARIS — Nicolas Sarkozy, the former French president, was once known as “Sarko the American” for his love of free markets, freewheeling debate and Elvis. Of late, however, he has appeared more like “Sarko the Russian,” even as President Vladimir V. Putin’s ruthlessness appears more evident than ever.
In interviews coinciding with the publication of a memoir, Mr. Sarkozy, who was president from 2007 to 2012, said that reversing Russia’s annexation of Crimea was “illusory,” ruled out Ukraine joining the European Union or NATO because it must remain “neutral,” and insisted that Russia and France “need each other.”
“People tell me Vladimir Putin isn’t the same man that I met. I don’t find that convincing. I’ve had tens of conversations with him. He is not irrational,” he told Le Figaro. “European interests aren’t aligned with American interests this time,” he added.
His statements, to the newspaper as well as the TF1 television network, were unusual for a former president in that they are profoundly at odds with official French policy. They provoked outrage from the Ukrainian ambassador to France and condemnation from several French politicians, including President Emmanuel Macron.
Meanwhile, our media outlets are finally beginning to reveal the true magnitude of the West’s military predicament. Just over a week ago, a major front-page story in the New York Times described the complete failure of our attempts to cripple Russian military production, which now dramatically exceeds the combined total of America and its NATO allies. Artillery has played a dominant role in the Ukraine war and Russia’s advantage in both quantity and cost is enormous:
Western officials also believe Russia is on track to manufacture two million artillery shells a year — double the amount Western intelligence services had initially estimated Russia could manufacture before the war.
As a result of the push, Russia is now producing more ammunition than the United States and Europe. Overall, Kusti Salm, a senior Estonian defense ministry official, estimated that Russia’s current ammunition production is seven times greater than that of the West.
Russia’s production costs are also far lower than the West’s, in part because Moscow is sacrificing safety and quality in its effort to build weapons more cheaply, Mr. Salm said. For instance, it costs a Western country $5,000 to $6,000 to make a 155-millimeter artillery round, whereas it costs Russia about $600 to produce a comparable 152-millimeter artillery shell, he said.
When I first saw that claim by a senior NATO Defense official that “Russia’s current ammunition production is seven times greater than that of the West,” I wondered whether some ridiculous misprint had slipped past the copy-editors of our national newspaper of record; but the figure seems absolutely correct. Just a couple of days ago, a Fox Business report quoted a top American procurement official:
“We’re going to be at 100,000 per month in 2025. We were at 14,000 per month 6 or 8 months ago, we are now at 28,000 a month today,” Bill LaPlante, the Pentagon’s weapons acquisition chief, said at a conference on Friday.
So Russia’s production is currently around 170,000 shells per month and ours is merely 15% of that, while we’re hoping to reach 60% within a couple of years, at which point Russian production will surely have also dramatically increased. For months now, honest military and intelligence analysts such as Douglas Macgregor, Ray McGovern, Larry Johnson, and Scott Ritter have emphasized that NATO is rapidly running out of both weapons and ammunition, and the Pentagon seems to have now confirmed that reality.
Although our hagiographic history books have generally ascribed our successful wars of the last century to the heroism of American troops, the true facts were otherwise. Our country’s military victories in World War II and afterward were almost entirely due to our enormous advantages in productive capability, which allowed us to swamp our foes with vast quantities of equipment. Henry Ford may have been strongly opposed to American involvement in World War II, but the world-beating efficiency of the factory system that he pioneered was probably more important to our victory than any of our famous generals or admirals.
Such advantages were obviously far greater in the other wars that followed, including Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan, all conflicts that we failed to win despite possessing overwhelming superiority in materiel, and since the Second World War, we have never had to face anything like a peer-competitor. Our arrogant and complacent political leadership class has therefore allowed our defense industry to shift its focus from production to profiteering, and as a result Russia is vastly outproducing us at just a fraction of our cost. Meanwhile, as I emphasized earlier this year, Russia’s Chinese ally has a real productive economy three times the size of our own, and could easily swamp our output if that were to prove necessary.
Artillery shells may have become the primary expendable munitions of the Ukraine war, but they hardly represent cutting-edge technology, and many Americans might comfort themselves that decades of our enormous annual defense budgets, running more than ten times that of Russia, have surely given us unmatched superiority in high-tech weaponry. But the reality is rather different.
In early 2018, we published an article by Andrei Martyanov, a Soviet immigrant with strong military expertise, in which he discussed the revolutionary suite of hypersonic missile systems that Putin had just announced, with our publication being one of the first in the West to emphasize the importance of this technological breakthrough.
At the time, the mainstream reaction was mostly a mixture of skepticism that hypersonics would actually work and be significant, together with reassuring claims that we would quickly be able to match any such Russian systems. But more than five years have now passed, and Russian hypersonics have regularly been used with great effectiveness in Ukraine, demonstrating that they cannot be stopped by any Western defensive system. Then last week a front-page story in the Wall Street Journalsummed up our current predicament:
The weapon Beijing launched over the South China Sea traveled at speeds of more than 15,000 miles an hour as it circled the globe.
Flying at least 20 times the speed of sound, it could reach anywhere on earth in less than an hour.
The summer 2021 test flight ended with the missile striking near a target in China, but it sent shock waves through Washington. National security officials concluded Beijing had launched a hypersonic weapon—a projectile capable of traveling at least five times the speed of sound.
The weapons can attack with extreme speed, be launched from great distances and evade most air defenses. They can carry conventional explosives or nuclear warheads. China and Russia have them ready to use. The U.S. doesn’t.
For more than 60 years, the U.S. has invested billions of dollars in dozens of programs to develop its own version of the technology. Those efforts have either ended in failure or been canceled before having a chance to succeed.
For nearly a decade, Prof. John Mearsheimer and other top scholars have emphasized that Russia’s entire political leadership regarded a NATO military presence on Russia’s own border as an existential national security threat. Russia not only possesses the world’s largest arsenal of nuclear weapons, but its suite of hypersonic delivery systems have now provided it with a considerable degree of strategic superiority, rendering our massive involvement in the Ukraine war an act of colossal recklessness.
A few days ago,a Ukrainian missile strike damaged the Crimea headquarters of Russia’s Black Sea fleet, an operation that almost certainly required NATO reconnaissance and intelligence support, legally making the alliance a co-belligerent in the conflict. The Russians could announce tomorrow that they will retaliate by using a conventionally-armed hypersonic missile to demolish the NATO headquarters in Brussels, even providing the exact hour and minute of the planned attack so as to minimize any resulting loss of life, and from what I’ve read none of our lavishly-funded missile defenses could save the doomed building from its fate.
But even aside from the risk of a direct military clash, our leaders seem not to consider that Russia might take horizontal retaliatory steps in other theaters that could gravely endanger our own national security.
One such Russian counter-move may have already occurred. Last month, CSIS published a report by MIT Prof. Ted Postol, a top arms control expert, arguing that the sudden appearance of new, solid-fueled North Korean ICBMs was probably the result of a direct technology-transfer from Russia. He explained: “This missile is equipped to penetrate existing U.S. ballistic missile defenses with countermeasures and deliver multiple thermonuclear weapons to targets in the continental United States.” As a result, many tens of millions of American lives are now at the mercy of a young and sometimes erratic foreign dictator deeply hostile to us, thereby obviously giving North Korea much greater leverage in any future military confrontation involving South Korea or Japan.
Postol’s case is hardly air-tight and some other arms control experts have disputedhis conclusions. However, North Korea displayed their the new ICBMs around the same time that the country received its first visit from a Russian Defense Minister in more than three decades, and this milestone was quickly followed by the unprecedented personal visit by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to Russia for meetings with Putin. These highly unusual developments tend to support Postol’s analysis, and with leading national security experts such as Ray McGovern, Larry Wilkerson, and Douglas Macgregor all endorsing his conclusions.
Is CIA Seeing Any Light? Intel Round Table w/Larry Johnson & Ray McGovern
In a recent interview, Macgregor argued that China had long regarded North Korea as a dangerous regional trouble-maker and had therefore vetoed any transfer of Russian ICBM systems to that country. But America’s endless provocations in Ukraine and Taiwan finally persuaded the Chinese to let the Russians play their North Korean card. Macgregor further suggested that the Russians might eventually decide to retaliate against our continuing support for Ukraine by similarly transferring advanced weapons systems or missile technology to Western Hemisphere countries such as Cuba and Venezuela that have long been the targets of our hostility. So our irrational Ukraine policy might trigger another Cuban Missile Crisis.
Moreover, the extent of America’s ongoing strategic defeat stretches far beyond narrow military issues. A couple of years ago, America had launched an outrageous attempt to strangle the expanding Chinese technology sector by suddenly banning all shipments of Western microchips and related design products, with our highest-priority target being Huawei, China’s global tech champion and the world’s leading producer of networking equipment. America’s economic Pearl Harbor attack led to the quick destruction of Huawei’s once rapidly-growing mobile phone division, with jingoistic Americans crowing about that victory.
But Huawei and its government patrons quietly redoubled their efforts, focusing upon developing home-grown microchip substitutes. As a result, the company recently released a powerful new mobile phone built entirely upon domestic components, and did so in just a fraction of the time American analysts had believed possible. A week ago Prof. Jeffrey Sachs discussed the implications of this additional failure in America’s senseless drive for global hegemony.
US efforts to strangle China & reassert hegemony - Jeffrey Sachs, Alexander Mercouris & Glenn Diesen
Soon afterward, Michael Brenner, a professor of international affairs, pondered how America might react to its looming military defeat in Ukraine. He argued that over the decades our country’s very well-oiled media-propaganda organs had proven themselves extremely skilled in flushing away memories of our past failures and defeats, but then suggested that the likely outcome in Ukraine might be much more difficult to conceal.
The United States is being defeated in Ukraine.
One could say that it is facing defeat — or, more starkly, that it is staring defeat in the face. Neither formulation is appropriate, though. The U.S. doesn’t look reality squarely in the eye. It prefers to look at the world through the distorted lenses of its fantasies. It plunges forward on whatever path it’s chosen while averting its eyes from the topography it is trying to traverse. Its sole guiding light is the glow of a distant mirage. That is its lodestone.
The focal shift from Russia in Europe to China in Asia is less a mechanism for coping with defeat than the pathological reaction of a country that, feeling a gnawing sense of diminishing prowess, can manage to do nothing more than try one final fling at proving to itself that it still has the right stuff — since living without that exalted sense of self is intolerable.
What is deemed heterodox, and daring, in Washington these days is to argue that it should wrap up the Ukraine affair one way or another so it might gird its loins for the truly historic contest with Beijing. The disconcerting truth that nobody of consequence in the country’s foreign policy establishment has denounced this hazardous turn toward war supports the proposition that deep emotions rather than reasoned thought are propelling the U.S. toward an avoidable, potentially catastrophic conflict.
A society represented by an entire political class that is not sobered by that prospect rightly can be judged as providing prime facie evidence of being collectively unhinged.
Amnesia may serve the purpose of sparing our political elites, and the American populace at large, the acute discomfort of acknowledging mistakes and defeat. However, that success is not matched by an analogous process of memory erasure in other places.
The U.S. was fortunate, in the case of Vietnam, that the United States’ dominant position in the world outside of the Soviet Bloc and the PRC allowed it to maintain respect, status and influence.
Things have now changed, though. The U.S. relative strength in all domains is weaker, strong centrifugal forces around the globe are producing a dispersion of power, will and outlook among other states. The BRICs phenomenon is the concrete embodiment of that reality.
Hence, the prerogatives of the United States are narrowing, its ability to shape the global system in conformity with its ideas and interests are under mounting challenge, and premiums are being placed on diplomacy of an order that seems beyond its present aptitudes.
All of these esteemed academic scholars and influential public intellectuals have made a very strong and substantive case for the disastrous military and political failure of America’s Ukraine policy. But a perfect example of the sheer madness of our effort came in a short post by Andrew Anglin, the deliberately provocative alt-right activist who has inherited the social mantle of the outrageous Yippies of the late 1960s and as a result become the world’s most censored writer.
A few days ago he mentioned that the Ukrainian military had just fired one of its leading spokespersons, Michael “Sarah” Ashton-Cirillo, an American transsexual who had publicly called for the assassinations of foreign journalists critical of the Ukrainian regime.
Michael "Sarah" Ashton-Cirillo, der US-amerikanische Transerich und offizielle Pressesprecher der ukrainischen Faschisten droht "russischen Propagandisten".
This seems to demonstrate that the Ukraine propaganda agenda is on the backfoot.
After the murder of Alexander Dugin’s daughter, and the bombing of a journalist, Vladlen Tatarsky, at a coffee shop in Saint Petersburg, the Ukraine state made these exact same threats, saying they were going to kill more and more journalists and writers who say things against them.
Obviously, the goal of murdering journalists is to create a chilling effect, where people are scared to criticize you. When I was on Twitter, a lot of people were saying they were going to hunt me down and kill me for criticizing the war. I’m like “lol, ok.” But I could see even that situation – just internet death threats – causing a lot of people to stop speaking out against the war.
It’s really gross behavior, and not the mark of a winner. But it’s something Ukraine has done consistently, so the fact that they are punishing this tranny and doing damage control shows that they’re feeling the heat.
If in 2015 you would have told me the US would have given over 100 Billion in aid to a military “ally” in a hot war with Russia that had an American transsexual wearing an obvious wig as its spokesperson issuing death threats to journalists covering the war for not lying about it, all with our approval, I’d have told you that you are drinking way too much, but now it’s hard to imagine things being any other way.
Ron Unz is publisher and editor in chief of the Unz Review.
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