By Edward Curtin
Two days after Russia attacked Ukraine and the day before Vladimir Putin put Russia on nuclear alert, I wrote a little article whose first sentence was: “Not wanting to sound hyperbolic, but I am starting to conclude that the nuclear madmen running the U.S./NATO New Cold War they started decades ago are itching to start a nuclear war with Russia.”
It was an intuition based on my knowledge of U.S./Russia history, including the U.S engineered coup in Ukraine in 2014, and a reading of current events. I refer to it as intuition, yet it is based on a lifetime’s study and teaching of political sociology and writing against war. I am not a Russian scholar, simply a writer with a sociological, historical, and artistic imagination, although my first graduate academic study in the late 1960s was a thesis on nuclear weapons and why they might be someday used again.
It no longer sounds hyperbolic to me that madmen in the declining U.S. Empire might resort, like rats in a sinking ship, to first strike use of nuclear weapons, which is official U.S. policy. My stomach is churning at the thought, despite what most experts say: that the chances of a nuclear war are slight. And despite what others say about the Ukraine war: that it is an intentional diversion from the Covid propaganda and the Great Reset (although I agree it achieves that goal).
My gut tells me no; it is very real, sui generis, and very, very dangerous now.
The eminent scholar Michel Chossudovsky of Global Research agrees that we are very close to the unthinkable. In a recent historical analysis of U.S.-Russia relations and nuclear weapons, he writes the following (before quoting Vladimir Putin’s recent statement on the matter): “Vladimir Putin’s statement on February 21st, 2022 was a response to U.S. threats to use nuclear weapons on a preemptive basis against Russia, despite Joe Biden’s “reassurance” that the U.S. would not be resorting to ‘A first strike’ nuclear attack against an enemy of America”:
Let me [Putin] explain that U.S. strategic planning documents contain the possibility of a so-called preemptive strike against enemy missile systems. And who is the main enemy for the U.S. and NATO? We know that too. It’s Russia. In NATO documents, our country is officially and directly declared the main threat to North Atlantic security. And Ukraine will serve as a forward springboard for the strike.” (Putin Speech, February 21, 2022, emphasis added)
Putin is absolutely correct. It is why he put Russia’s nuclear forces on full alert. Only those ignorant of history, which sadly includes most U.S. Americans, don’t know this.
I believe that today we are in the greatest danger of a nuclear war since the Cuban Missile Crisis of October 1962, something I vividly remember as a teenager. The same feelings return. Dread. Anxiety. Breathlessness. I do not think these feelings are misplaced nor they are simply an emotional response. I try to continue writing on other projects that I have started but feel stymied. The possibility of nuclear war, whether intentional or accidental, obsesses me.
In order to grasp this stomach-churning possibility within the context of Ukraine, we need to put aside all talk of morality, rights, international law, and think in terms of great power politics, as John Mearsheimer has so clearly articulated. As he says, when a great power feels its existence is threatened, might makes right. You simply can’t understand world politics without thinking at this level. Doing so does not mean justifying the use of might; it is a means of clarifying the causes of wars, which start long before the first shots are fired.
In the present crisis over Ukraine, Russia clearly feels existentially threatened by U.S./NATO military moves in Ukraine and in eastern Europe where they have positioned missiles that can be very quickly converted to nuclear and are within a few minutes range of Russia. (And of course there are U.S./NATO nuclear missiles throughout western and southern Europe.) Vladimir Putin has been talking about this for many years and is factually correct. He has reiterated that this is unacceptable to Russia and must stop. He has pushed for negotiations to end this situation.
The United States, despite its own Monroe Doctrine that prohibits another great power from putting weapons or military forces close to its borders, has blocked its ears and kept upping the ante, provoking Russian fears. This fact is not in dispute but is shrugged off by U.S./NATO as of little consequence. Such an attitude is pure provocation as anyone with a smidgeon of historical awareness knows.
The world was very lucky sixty years ago this October when JFK and Nikita Khrushchev negotiated the end of the Cuban Missile Crisis before the world was incinerated. Kennedy, of course, was intensely pressured by the military and CIA to bomb Cuba, but he resisted. He also rejected the insane military desire to nuke the Soviet Union, calling such people crazy; at a National Security Council meeting on September 12, 1963, when the Joint Chiefs of Staff presented a report about a nuclear first strike against the Soviet Union which they wanted for that fall, he said, “Preemption is not possible for us.”
Such leadership, together with the nuclear test ban treaty he negotiated with the USSR that month, inter alia (such treaties have now been abrogated by the U.S. government), assured his assassination organized by the CIA. These days, the U.S. is led by deluded men who espouse a nuclear first strike policy, which tells one all one needs to know about the danger the world is in. The U.S. has been very sick with Russia hatred for a long time.
After the terror of the Cuban Missile Crisis, many more people took the threat of nuclear war seriously. Today very few do. It has receded into the ”unimaginable.” In 1962, however, as James W. Douglass writes in JFK and the Unspeakable:
Kennedy saw that, at least outside Washington, D.C., people were living with a deeper awareness of the ultimate choice they faced. Nuclear weapons were real. So, too, was the prospect of peace. Shocked by the Cuban Missile Crisis into recognizing a real choice, people preferred peace to annihilation.
Today the reality of nuclear annihilation has receded into unconsciousness. This despite the recent statements by U.S. generals and the U.S. Ukrainian puppet Zelensky about nuclear weapons and their use that have extremely inflamed Russia’s fears, which clearly is intentional.
The game is to have some officials say it and then deny it while having a policy that contradicts your denial. Keep pushing the envelope is U.S. policy.
It is a bi-partisan Cold War 2, getting very hot
Obama-Biden reigned over the U.S. 2014 coup in Ukraine, Trump increased weapon sales to Ukraine in 2017, and Biden has picked up the baton from his partner (not his enemy) in this most deadly game.
It is a bi-partisan Cold War 2, getting very hot. And it is the reason why Russia, its back to the wall, attacked Ukraine. It is obvious that this is exactly what the U.S. wanted or it would have acted very differently in the leadup to this tragedy. All the current ringing of hands is pure hypocrisy, the nihilism of a nuclear power never for one moment threatened but whose designs were calculated to threaten Russia at its borders.
The media propaganda against Russia and Putin is the most extreme and extensive propaganda in my lifetime. Patrick Lawrence has astutely examined this in a recent essay, where he writes the same is true for him:
Many people of many different ages have remarked in recent days that they cannot recall in their lifetimes a more pervasive, suffocating barrage of propaganda than what has engulfed us since the months that preceded Russia’s intervention. In my case it has come to supersede the worst of what I remember from the Cold War decades.
Propaganda as cognitive warfare
Engulfed is an appropriate word. Lawrence rightly points to this propaganda as cognitive warfare directed at the U.S. population (and the rest of the world) and notes its connection to the January 2021 final draft of a “diabolic” NATO study called “Cognitive Warfare.” He quotes it thus: “The brain will be the battlefield of the 21st century,” . . . “Humans are the contested domain. Cognitive warfare’s objective is to make everyone a weapon.”
This cognitive warfare, however, has a longer history in cutting edge science. For each successive decade beginning with the 1990s and a declaration from President (and ex-Director of the CIA) George H. W. Bush that the 1990s would be the Decade of Brain Research, presidents have announced additional decades long projects involving the brain, with 2000-2010 being the Decade of Behavior Project, followed by mapping of the brain, artificial intelligence, etc. all organized and funded through the Office of Science and Technology Project (OSTP) and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).
This medical, military, and scientific research has been part of a long range plan to extend MK-Ultra’s mind control to the population at large under the cover of medical science, and it has been simultaneously connected to the development and funding of the pharmaceutical industries research and development of new brain-altering drugs.
RFK, Jr. has documented the CIA’s extensive connection to germ and mind research and promotion in his book, The Real Anthony Fauci: Bill Gates, Big Pharma, and the Global War on Democracy and Public Health. It is why his book is banned from the mainstream media, who do the prime work of cognitive warfare for the government.
In other words, the cognitive warfare we are now being subjected to has many tentacles connected to much more than today’s fanatical anti-Russian propaganda over Ukraine. All the U.S. wars of aggression have been promoted under its aegis, as have the lies about the attacks of September 11, 2001, the economic warfare by the elites, the COVID crisis, etc. It’s one piece.
Take, for example, a book written in 2010 by David Ray Griffin, a renown theologian who has written more than a dozen books about 9/11. The book is Cognitive Infiltration: An Obama Appointee’s Plan to Undermine the 9/11 Conspiracy Theory.
It is a critique of law professor Cass Sunstein, appointed by Obama to be the Administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. Sunstein had written an article with a plan for the government to prevent the spread of anti-government “conspiracy theories” in which he promoted the use of anonymous government agents to use secret “cognitive infiltration” of these groups in order to break them up; to use media plants to disparage their arguments.
He was particularly referring to those who questioned the official 9/11 narrative but his point obviously extended much further. He was working in the tradition of the great propagandists. Griffin took a scalpel to this call for cognitive warfare and was of course a victim of it as well. Sunstein has since worked for the World Health Organization (WHO) on COVID psychological responses and other COVID committees. It’s all one piece.
Sunstein’s wife is Samantha Power, Obama’s Ambassador to the United Nations and war hawk extraordinaire. She gleefully promoted the U.S. destruction of Libya under the appellation of the “responsibility to protect,” a “humane” cover for imperialism. Now she is Biden’s Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), an arm of the CIA throughout the world. It’s all one piece.
The merry-go-round goes round and round.
I have gone off on this slight tangent to emphasize how vast and interconnected are the players and groups on Team Cognitive Warfare. They have been leading the league for quite some time and are hoping their game plan against Team Russia will keep them there. So far they are winning, as Patrick Lawrence says:
Look at what has become of us. Most Americans seem to approve of these things, or at least are unstirred to object. We have lost all sense of decency, of ordinary morality, of proportion. Can anyone listen to the din of the past couple of weeks without wondering if we have made of ourselves a nation of grotesques?
It is common to observe that in war the enemy is always dehumanized. We are now face to face with another reality: Those who dehumanize others dehumanize themselves more profoundly.
Perhaps people are too ignorant to see through the propaganda. To have some group to hate is always “uplifting.” But we are all responsible for the consequences of our actions, even when those actions are just buying the propaganda and hating those one is told to hate. It is very hard to accept that the leaders of your own country commit and contemplate unspeakable evil deeds and that they wish to control your mind. To contemplate that they might once again use nuclear weapons is unspeakable but necessary if we are to prevent it.
I hope my fears are unfounded. I agree with Gilbert Doctorow that the Ukraine-Russia war separates the sheep from the goats, that there is no middle ground. This is not to celebrate war and the death of innocent people, but it does demand placing the blame squarely where it belongs and not trying to have it both ways. People like him, John Mearsheimer, the late badly missed Stephen Cohen, Ray McGovern, Scott Ritter, Pepe Escobar, Patrick Lawrence, Jack Matlock, Ted Postol, et al. are all cutting through the propaganda and delivering truth in opposition to all the lies. They go gentile with fears of nuclear war, however, as if it is somewhat possible but highly unlikely, as if their deepest thoughts are unspeakable, for to utter them would be an act of despondency.
The consensus of the experts tends to be that the U.S. wishes to draw the Russians into a long protracted guerrilla war along the lines of its secret use of mujahideen in Afghanistan in 1979 and after. There is evidence that this is already happening.
But I think the U.S. strategists know that the Russians are too smart for that; that they have learned their lesson; and that they will withdraw once they feel they have accomplished their goals. Therefore, from the U.S./NATO perspective, time is reasonably short and they must act quickly, perhaps by doing a false flag operation that will justify a drastic response, or upping the tempo in some other way that would seem to justify the use of nuclear weapons, perhaps tactical at first.
I appreciate the input of the Russia experts I mentioned above. Their expertise dwarfs mine, but I disagree. Perhaps I am an excitable sort; perhaps I am one of those Patrick Lawrence refers to, quoting Carl Jung, as too emotional and therefore incapable of clear thinking. (I will leave the issue of this long held but erroneous western philosophical belief in the division of emotions and thoughts for another day.)
Perhaps I can’t see the obvious that a nuclear war will profit no one and therefore it cannot happen. Yet Ted Postol, MIT professor of technology and international security, while perhaps agreeing that an intentional nuclear war is very unlikely, has been warning of an accidental one for many years. He is surely right on that score and well worth listening to.
But either way, I am sorry to say, perhaps because my perspective is that of a generalist, not an expert, and my thinking is informed by art as much as social science and history, my antennae pick up a very disturbing message. A voice tells me that the danger is very, very real today. It says:
Beware, we are on the edge of a nuclear abyss.
Ed Curtin is a writer, historian and professor at the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts. His whose works can be found on http://edwardcurtin.com where this article was first published.
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