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The continuity of the lie

by Chris Hedges
The U.S. public has once again been wheedled into sinking billions into another endless war. The script by which the pimps of war usually lure us into one military fiasco after another - including Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, and now Ukraine - always remains the same. "Freedom and democracy are at risk. Evil must be vanquished. Human rights must be protected."
The continuity of the lie

Warmongers misled the public in the case of Afghanistan as well as Iraq-now the game is repeating itself with Ukraine.

The U.S. public has once again been wheedled into sinking billions into another endless war. The script by which the pimps of war usually lure us into one military fiasco after another - including Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, and now Ukraine - always remains the same. "Freedom and democracy are at risk. Evil must be vanquished. Human rights must be protected. The fate of Europe and NATO and a 'rules-based international order' are at stake. Victory is assured." The results are also always the same. Justifications and narratives turn out to be lies. Optimistic forecasts turn out to be false. Those in whose name we claim to fight are as venal as those we fight.

By Chris Hedges

[This article posted on 7/29/2023 is translated from the German on the Internet,]

The Russian invasion of Ukraine was a war crime, albeit provoked by NATO expansion and U.S. support of the Maidan coup in 2014 that led to the overthrow of democratically elected Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych. Yanukovych did want economic integration with the EU, but not at the expense of economic and political relations with Russia. The war will only be ended by negotiations that both grant autonomy to ethnic Russians in Ukraine and Moscow's protection, and ensure Ukraine's neutrality and thus no entry of the same into NATO.

The longer these negotiations are delayed, the more Ukrainians will suffer and die.

Their cities and infrastructure will continue to be razed to the ground. But this proxy war in Ukraine is designed to serve U.S. interests. It enriches the arms industry, weakens the Russian military, and isolates Russia from Europe. What happens to Ukraine doesn't matter.

"First, it is much cheaper - both in dollar terms and in U.S. human lives - to equip our friends on the front lines to defend themselves in order to weaken the Russian threat to the United States," admitted Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell.

"Second, the effective defense of Ukrainian territory teaches us how to improve the defense of partners threatened by China. Not surprisingly, senior officials from Taiwan are so supportive of Ukraine's efforts to defeat Russia.

Third, most of the money that has been earmarked to support Ukraine's security is not going to Ukraine at all. It is being invested in the U.S. defense industry. It is funding new weapons and munitions for U.S. forces to replace the older equipment that we have supplied to Ukraine. Let me be clear: This support means more jobs for U.S. workers and new weapons for U.S. soldiers."

Once the truth about these endless wars enters the public consciousness, the media, which slavishly promotes these conflicts, drastically curtails coverage. The military debacles, as in Iraq and Afghanistan, are largely hushed up. Once the U.S. admits defeat, few remember that these wars were fought at all.

The pimps of war who stage these military fiascos move from government to government. In between, they settle into think tanks funded by corporations and the defense industry, such as the Project for the New American Century, the American Enterprise Institute, the Foreign Policy Initiative, the Institute for the Study of War, The Atlantic Council and The Brookings Institution.

Once the war in Ukraine comes to its inevitable conclusion, these Dr. Strangeloves will try to instigate a war with China. U.S. Navy and military are already threatening and encircling China. God help us if we don't stop them. These war pimps ensnare us in one war after another - with flattering narratives that portray us as the world saviors.

They don't even have to be particularly inventive. The rhetoric follows the old script. Naively, we take the bait and embrace the flag - this time the blue and yellow one - and become unwitting agents of our self-destruction.

Since the end of World War II, the (U.S.) government has spent 45 to 90 percent of the federal budget on past, present and future military operations - the largest uninterrupted activity by the U.S. government. At least the pimps of war don't care whether these wars are reasonable or wise.

The arms industry metastasizes in the bowels of the U.S. empire, hollowing it out from within. The U.S. is reviled abroad, sinking into debt, with an impoverished middle class and the burden of a decaying infrastructure and shoddy social services.

Wasn't it expected months ago that the Russian military would collapse - due to low morale, bad generals, outdated weapons, desertion, a shortage of ammunition that forced soldiers to fight with shovels, and supply shortages?

Shouldn't Putin have been deposed? Shouldn't the sanctions have sent the ruble into a deadly spiral? Shouldn't the disconnection of the Russian banking system from the SWIFT international money transfer system have crippled the Russian economy? How come inflation rates are higher in Europe and the United States than in Russia despite these attacks on the Russian economy?

Shouldn't the nearly $150 billion in sophisticated military equipment and financial and humanitarian assistance pledged by the U.S., the EU, and another eleven countries have thrown the war oar around? How is it that presumably one-third of the tanks supplied by Germany and the U.S. were promptly turned into charred scrap heaps by Russian mines, artillery, anti-tank weapons, airstrikes and missiles at the start of the vaunted counteroffensive?

Wasn't this latest Ukrainian counteroffensive, originally dubbed the "Spring Offensive," supposed to break through the heavily fortified Russian front lines and retake vast territories? How can we explain the forced recruitment or the tens of thousands of dead Ukrainian soldiers?

Even our retired generals and former CIA, FBI, NSA, and Homeland Security officials who work as analysts for networks like CNN or MSNBC cannot say that the offensive was successful.

And what about Ukrainian democracy, which we are fighting to protect? Why did the Ukrainian parliament withdraw the official use of minority languages, including Russian, three days after the 2014 coup? How do we rationalize the eight-year war against ethnic Russians in the Donbass region before the Russian invasion in February 2022? How do we explain the killing of over 14,200 and displacement of 1.5 million people before the Russian invasion last year?

How do we defend President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's decision to ban 11 opposition parties, including "The Opposition Platform - For Life," which held 10 percent of the seats in the Supreme Council, Ukraine's unicameral parliament? How to ban Shariy Party, Nashi, Opposition Bloc, Left Opposition, Union of Left Forces, State, Progressive Socialist Party of Ukraine, Socialist Party of Ukraine, Party of Socialists and Volodymyr Balance Bloc?

How can we accept the banning of these opposition parties, many of which are leftist, while Selenskyj allows fascists from the Svoboda and Right Sector parties, as well as the Bandera-oriented Azov Battalion and other extremist militias to flourish?

How do we deal with the anti-Russian purges and arrests of alleged "fifth columnists" across Ukraine, when 30 percent of the Ukrainian population is Russian-speaking? How do we respond to the groups of neo-Nazis who, backed by Selensky's government, harass and attack the LGBT community, the Roma population, and anti-fascist demonstrations, as well as threaten city council members, media, artists, and foreign students?

How can we condone the decision by the U.S. and its Western allies to block negotiations with Russia to end the war, even though Kiev and Moscow were clearly close to negotiating a peace treaty?

In 1989, during the collapse of the Soviet Union, I reported from Eastern and Central Europe. We assumed that NATO had now become obsolete. President Mikhail Gorbachev proposed security and economic agreements with Washington and Europe. Secretary of State James Baker of Ronald Reagan's administration, along with Hans-Dietrich Genscher, the German foreign minister, assured Gorbachev that NATO would not expand beyond the borders of a unified Germany.

Naively, we thought that the end of the Cold War meant that Russia, Europe, and the United States would now no longer have to provide massive support to their military. However, the so-called "peace dividend" was a chimera.

If Russia did not want to be an enemy, it simply had to be forced to become the enemy. The pimps of war recruited former Soviet republics into NATO by portraying Russia as a threat. Countries that joined NATO - which today include Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Albania, Croatia, Montenegro, and northern Macedonia - retooled their militaries, often with the help of Western loans in the tens of millions of dollars, to be compatible with NATO's military equipment. This generated billions in profits for the arms industry.

In Eastern and Central Europe, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, there was a consensus that NATO expansion was unnecessary and a dangerous provocation. It made no geopolitical sense. Economically, however, it made sense. War is a business.

A secret diplomatic cable - leaked to WikiLeaks and subsequently published - dated Feb. 1, 2008, from Moscow and addressed to the Joint Chiefs of Staff, NATO-EU Cooperation, the National Security Council, the Russia-Moscow Political Collective, the defense minister and the foreign minister made it unequivocally clear that NATO expansion would risk conflict with Russia, primarily over Ukraine.

"Russia not only perceives encirclement (by NATO) and efforts to undermine Russia's influence in the region, but also fears unpredictable and uncontrolled consequences that would severely affect Russia's security interests," the cable reads. "According to experts, Russia is particularly concerned that the strong disagreement in Ukraine over NATO membership - with much of the ethnic Russian community opposing membership - could lead to a major split that could result in violence or, in the worst case, civil war. In that case, Russia would have to decide whether to intervene - a decision it does not want to make."

"Dimitri Trenin, deputy director of the Carnegie Moscow Center (think tank in Moscow focusing on domestic and foreign policy, branch of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace; translator's note), expressed concern that Ukraine was potentially the most destabilizing factor in Russian-U.S. relations in the long term, given emotions and sensitivities about its NATO membership," the cable says.

"The fact that membership had not yet been settled domestically in Ukraine created a gateway for Russian intervention. Trenin expressed fears that elements within the Russian establishment might feel called upon to intervene, leading to U.S. open support for opposition forces and thus putting the U.S. and Russia in a classic confrontational posture."

Had the Western alliance kept its promise not to expand NATO beyond Germany's borders, and had Ukraine remained neutral, the Russian invasion of Ukraine would not have occurred.

The pimps of war knew the potential consequences of NATO expansion. However, war is their only vocation - even if it leads to a nuclear holocaust with Russia or China. The war industry is our most dangerous enemy - not Putin.

Editorial Note: This text first appeared under the title "They Lied About Afghanistan. They Lied About Iraq. And They Are Lying About Ukraine." at The Chris Hedges Report.

Chris Hedges is a journalist, Pulitzer Prize winner and New York Times best-selling author. He was formerly a professor at Princeton University, an activist, and an ordained Presbyterian minister. Among his books are bestsellers such as "The Wages of Revolt: The Moral Imperative of Revolt," "The Empire of Illusion: The End of Education and the Triumph of Spectacle," and "American Fascists: The Christian Right and War with America." His book, "War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning," has sold 40,000 copies and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Association Award for nonfiction. He writes a weekly column for the Internet magazine Truthdig and hosts the program "On Contact" on RT America.
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