Saturday 22nd of June 2024

keep on rockin' in the free world near a garbage can... and better dead....






insane blinken.....


Under the cloak of genocide, nuclear brinkmanship escalates in Ukraine   By Caitlin Johnstone


While the antiwar zeitgeist has been quite understandably focused on the genocide in Gaza, over the past few weeks we’ve been seeing some very disturbing reports about empire managers ramping up nuclear brinkmanship escalations in Ukraine that are worth going over.

Antiwar’s Dave DeCamp has been doing a great job covering these developments, as usual. Here are a few recent stories from which deserve some attention today.

In an article titled “Blinken Pushing To Let Ukraine Hit Russian Territory With US Weapons,” DeCamp goes over a New York Times report about a “vigorous debate” within the Biden administration over whether to let Ukraine use US-supplied war machinery to attack targets in the Russian Federation itself. This would risk direct hot war between Russia and NATO, as Moscow already made explicitly clear recently with regard to similar developments in the UK.

“Moscow recently warned the UK that if Ukraine used British weapons on Russian territory, Russian forces would target UK military sites in Ukraine ‘and beyond’,” DeCamp writes. “The warning came after British Foreign Secretary David Cameron said Ukraine had the ‘right’ to use British arms in attacks on Russia.”

Obviously Ukraine has the “right” to attack Russia since Russia is attacking Ukraine; nobody disputes this. What is of course disputed is that it is wise or moral to risk the life of every terrestrial organism by tempting hot warfare between Russia and NATO over who controls Kharkiv.

In “Speaker Johnson Thinks Ukraine Should Use US Weapons on Russian Territory,” DeCamp reports on a letter sent by a bipartisan group of House representatives urging the president to lift any restrictions on the Ukrainians using US-supplied weapons to strike Russian territory “in the way they see fit.” Which means pressure is mounting both within the White House and on Capitol Hill to escalate nuclear tensions in this way.

In “Estonia Says NATO Countries Shouldn’t Be Afraid of Sending Troops to Ukraine for Training,” we learn of Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas’ casual support for openly sending large numbers of NATO forces into Ukraine for training purposes. Small, unofficial special operations forces from NATO powers have long been active in Ukraine, but what the Estonian PM is advocating would be a significant escalation from there. DeCamp notes that “Estonia, Lithuania, and France have all expressed interest in deploying troops” in Ukraine.

All this insanely hawkish rhetoric is already drawing a response from Moscow. In “Russia Begins Nuclear Weapons Drills Near Ukrainian Border,” The Libertarian Institute’s Kyle Anzalone reports on new war games which were announced by the Russian government “in response to Western leaders suggesting NATO troops could enter Ukraine.”

There was a lull in nuclear brinkmanship between NATO and Russia as the uncertainties of the Ukraine war and the influence the hawks would have over it got clearer, and things reached a cruel and bloody semblance of stability. But as Ukraine loses ground and runs out of manpower we’re starting to see some frantic flailings throughout the western empire on a front where cool heads are of existential importance to the survival of our species.

It would feel so unbelievably idiotic if we woke up to learn that nuclear war has begun after a series of reckless escalations and unpredictable developments led to a rapid sequence of events from which there could be no return. But that’s not an unreasonable fear at this point in history, and we are moving much, much too close to that ledge.


Republished from Caitlin Johnstone from Caitlin’s Newsletter, May 24, 2024






blinkered blinken......





Last night Secretary of State Blinken played Neil Young’s bitterly ironic protest song, “Rockin' in the Free World” in a Kyiv bar. His speech Tuesday laying out the U.S. plan for a “Free, Secure, and Prosperous Future for Ukraine” was full of ironies as well, although he’d prefer that we be oblivious to those too. 

After almost two and a half years of war, the speech announced a “stay the course” approach for Washington’s Ukraine policy. Rather than use the recent $60 billion aid package to lay the groundwork for a feasible plan to end the conflict, the speech promised continued U.S. support for unconditional victory and continued efforts to bring Ukraine into NATO, one of the issues that helped to trigger the war in the first place. 

One irony is that Ukraine won’t be permitted to join NATO as long as the war continues. The U.S. and other NATO countries — which could bring Ukraine into the alliance today if they wanted to — won’t make a defense commitment that requires them to risk nuclear conflict by putting their own troops on the Ukrainian front lines and fighting Russia directly. President Biden began his State of the Union speech a few months ago by comparing the war in Ukraine to World War II and calling it critical to the future of freedom, but immediately afterward hastened to assure the public that “there are no American soldiers at war in Ukraine. And I am determined to keep it that way.” 

Without a massive and risky escalation by outside powers, the best case scenario for Ukraine seems to be a bloody stalemate into the foreseeable future. Ukrainian territorial control has barely budged since their initial advances against the Russian invasion almost two years ago in summer 2022, even as hundreds of thousands of casualties have been incurred by both sides. U.S. officials admit that it won’t be possible for Ukraine to even attempt offensive operations until 2025, and even then, there is no guarantee that a new offensive won’t just repeat the bloody debacle of Ukraine’s 2023 counter-offensive.

Blinken tried to paint the picture of a thriving and prosperous Ukraine even as the war continued. But he had to distort the tragic situation on the ground to do it. He touted a 5% growth in Ukraine’s economy in 2023, but without mentioning that the Ukrainian economy is still 25% smaller than it was before the war, when it was already one of the poorest countries in Europe. And this economic growth is only achieved by massive infusions of foreign aid — the $115 billion committed by the EU and U.S. to Ukraine so far this year is more than two thirds the size of Ukraine’s own GDP. 

Blinken’s speech claimed a sustainable Ukrainian prosperity could be achieved by “the growth of Ukraine’s burgeoning defense industry.” But Russia is hardly likely to permit Ukraine to become a defense production superpower while the two countries remain at war. Whatever you think of arms sales as the foundation for national prosperity, Ukraine can hardly build a globally competitive arms production industry under the disadvantage of having to shoot down a constant rain of Russian missiles aimed at its industrial plants.

The reality is that as long as the war continues Ukraine’s future is as a heavily subsidized battleground for a proxy conflict between the U.S. and EU and Russia. The kind of economic opportunities created by that future are grim at best. In a press conference later in the day, Blinken touted his visit to a Ukrainian “company producing world-leading prosthetics.” No doubt the company is world class, since it has to supply the demand from fifty thousand Ukrainian amputees (and counting) created by the ongoing conflict.

The $60 billion in aid offered by the U.S. is expensive in an absolute sense, but Americans barely notice it against the background of a $27 trillion economy. It’s Ukraine that bears the true cost of the war. With elections in Ukraine canceled for the foreseeable future as the conflict continues there are few mechanisms for the Ukrainian public to call for an alternative path.

We now know that there were serious Russian-Ukrainian peace talks taking place two years ago, soon after the Russian invasion, when Putin realized that his attempt at regime change in Ukraine had been thwarted. Those talks failed in part because Western powers refused to support the combination of compromises and practical security guarantees that Ukraine needed to make a peace agreement work. If the U.S. truly wants to support Ukraine’s future, we need to break from our current policies and champion a practical path to peace today.





blinken blind....




A columnist for the British newspaper suggests the US should abandon all talk of the rules-based order entirely, instead adopting a reductionist Cold War rhetoric focused on defense of freedom and democracy.

“Our administration is committed to leading with diplomacy to advance the interests of the United States and to strengthen the rules-based international order,” said US Secretary of State Antony Blinken during a 2021 summit with Chinese leaders noted for the White House’s “acrimonious” and “condescending” tone towards the Asian power.

The US diplomat went on to criticize China’s “aggressive behavior,” accusing it of “economic coercion” and alleged disregard for democracy. “Each of these actions threaten the rules-based order that maintains global stability,” Blinken chided.

The term “rules-based international order” has drawn scrutiny as a favored talking point of the Biden administration. Which “rules” are being referred to, it is often asked, and who created them? If the expression is simply another name for “international law,” why not use that term?

The problem, as some observers have pointed out, is that “international law” and the “international rules-based order” are not, in fact, synonymous. The former is something concrete – a series of codes and conventions upheld by nominally-independent global bodies. The latter is, frequently, whatever the White House wants it to be: “the substitution of international law with the prerogatives of American hegemony.”

Financial Times foreign affairs columnist Gideon Rachman acknowledges as much in an editorial on the subject, writing, “America’s own actions are undermining vital parts of the rules-based order.” What’s more, Rachman observes that the rules-based international order is “a deeply uninspiring concept,” “a phrase that means nothing to a normal person.”



“Nobody is going to fight and die for the RBIO,” Rachman admits.


As a substitute slogan he proposes something even more subjective, cliché and nebulous. America should abandon any pretense of rules or outside authority entirely, he writes, and return to the Cold War rallying cry of “defending the free world.”

The issue with citing rules is that the United States frequently breaks them. “The 100 percent tariffs that the Biden administration has imposed on Chinese electric vehicles are virtually impossible to reconcile with [World Trade Organization] rules on trade,” Rachman notes.

The International Criminal Court’s recent announcement it would pursue an arrest warrant against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also placed the White House in a bind. The prospect of a junior partner of US imperialism being held accountable led Blinken to mull sanctions on the ICC, an important arbiter of the rules he claims to defend.

The saga was perfectly illustrative for those who argue both major parties share a common foreign policy, with Blinken suddenly difficult to tell apart from a conservative hawk like John Bolton who has muses openly about abolishing the UN. Democrats typically at least pay lip service to the notion the US cares about global opinion, until push comes to shove.

Rachman’s Cold War framing dispenses with such need to keep up appearances. All that is necessary is to claim the United States is defending freedom and democracy, and we are good at claiming such things. No international court can rule against us if a vague notion of “freedom” is our only constraint.

But that notion is appearing more vague than ever.

A recent survey asked people worldwide whether they view their country as being democratic. In what must come as a shock to many Westerners, China was among the top performers in the study, with 79% of its citizens believing their country is highly democratic. Only about half of Americans surveyed said the same of the United States.

“People's perception of whether they live in a democracy or not is not at all aligned with procedural democracy: whether people vote for their country's leaders or not, and whether a country has the procedural attributes of liberal democracy,” explained French analyst Arnaud Bertrand.



“The perception of democracy is extremely correlated with the percentage of people who believe the government serves the majority as opposed to a minority,” he continued. “For instance, China scores highest in the world on this, with almost everyone agreeing with the sentence ‘my government usually acts in the interests of most people in my country.’”


“This is after all quite important for democracy: the whole point is that it's supposed to be ‘for the people,’ isn't it?”

Indicators of economic equality and class mobility in the United States were at their highest during the Cold War period, when the US fought a global ideological battle with the Soviet Union over which system offered its citizens a better quality of life. Those figures are now in decline as lawmakers pursue a bipartisan neoliberal vision: “the share of people who go on to earn more than their parents has been steadily declining,” reveals one study on the matter.

Rachman rejects the notion that the US and its global adversaries are “on the same moral level.”

“As in the Cold War and the earlier struggles of the 20th century, the world’s democracies do not need to apologize for being ruthless in defense of free societies,” he writes.

The claim presumes the United States has ever apologized for anything, and that the Americans doing the defending share his belief in their own freedom and democracy. But that notion now seems more uncertain than ever.