Video: White House Gaslights the Public About Biden’s Regime Change Comments

President Biden said in Warsaw that “For God’s sake, he (Putin) cannot remain in power.” The White House is now in damage control, trying to convince the public he didn’t really mean it:

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Photo: Brendan Smialowski

Of Course Joe Biden Meant Exactly What He Said About Regime Change in Russia

by Keaton Weiss

“For God’s sake, this man cannot remain in power,” said Joe Biden in Poland on Saturday in reference to Russian President Vladimir Putin. The White House quickly tried to walk back the statement, insisting that “The President’s point was that Putin cannot be allowed to exercise power over his neighbors or the region. He was not discussing Putin’s power in Russia, or regime change.” The Democratic Party-aligned media is doing their part to convince their consumers that Biden’s remarks were merely an unfortunate gaffe, and not a reflection of the United States’ true policy aims.

Funny how one of the few times Biden was coherent enough to say what he meant, his team and their media mouthpieces were forced into damage control to try and convince the public that he didn’t really mean it. Comic irony aside, Biden’s assertion that Putin must go was a revealing articulation of the all-too serious intentions of the United States to provoke Russia into a violent confrontation for quite some time.

In 2008, George W. Bush supported NATO membership for Ukraine, knowing full well Putin’s vehement opposition to the idea. Shortly into Obama’s first term, pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovitch was elected in Ukraine. Obama congratulated him on his victory, but four years later his administration would support his ousting via the Maidan Revolution which installed a more pro-Western government.

In 2015, Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton called for a no-fly zone in Syria just days after Russia started bombing anti-Assad fighters in the country – a policy sure to result in a violent exchange between US and Russian forces. She would defend this position throughout the 2016 campaign, most notably in her third debate against Donald Trump.

After Trump’s victory but before his inauguration, Senators Lindsay Graham, John McCain, and Amy Klobuchar visited a Ukrainian combat outpost to express their support for their military. Referring to their ongoing struggle against Russia, who had annexed Crimea during the aforementioned 2014 uprising, McCain promised that “we will do everything we can to provide you with what you need to win.” Graham added that they would “push the case against Russia” upon their return to Washington, and that 2017 would be a “year of offense.”

Of course, with Trump taking over for Obama just a few weeks after this meeting, those plans didn’t quite materialize. It’s hardly a coincidence that throughout his presidency, the main line of attack against Trump from Democrats and neocon Republicans was that he was a “Russian asset” doing the Kremlin’s bidding from his new home at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

When Trump and Putin appeared at a joint press conference in Helsinki in 2018, the political class roiled in anger as the two got along rather well – an event that would produce a barrage of headlines declaring Trump a traitor and a “Putin poodle” for not chastising Putin over his alleged interference in the 2016 election. One CNN article even suggested in its headline that the soccer ball Putin gave Trump as a gift was implanted with a listening device, even though the text of the piece itself explained that the transmitter chip in question was a standard feature of Adidas products – a QR code of sorts that allows customers to further explore their brand.

After their four-year tantrum of such laughably ludicrous Russia hysteria, the Democrats – thanks to a once-in-a-century pandemic which Trump seemed uniquely unequipped to handle – successfully won the White House again. With “Putin’s poodle” out of the way, the United States was once again free to carry on in its hostility towards Putin.

Notice in the run-up to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the Biden White House did nothing whatsoever of substance to try and prevent it. Biden warned of sanctions against Russia if Putin decided to invade, but simultaneously predicted he’d do so anyway. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said on February 20 that “everything leading up to the actual invasion appears to be taking place.”

The nonchalance of the Biden administration in the weeks prior to the invasion was in stark contrast to the shock and horror expressed by similar figures in response to the infamous soccer ball exchange in Helsinki between Putin and Trump. To the political establishment, the prospect of America and Russia peacefully and cooperatively coexisting is clearly more frightening than that of violent confrontation, even if such conflict escalates into a third World War. This is obvious given their outrage and indignation over Trump’s soft handling of Putin, and their glowing praise the Biden administration as it refused to engage in the kind of serious diplomacy that might have prevented war between Russia and Ukraine.

And so of course, Biden meant exactly what he said when he advocated for Putin’s removal from power; it’s the logical “best case scenario” result of the kind of violet clash between NATO and Russia that major figures in both major parties have been instigating for years. Of course, his administration has neither a strategy nor a desire to end the violence. Of course, the Ukrainian people are nothing more than expendable pawns on their imperial chess board. And of course, none of this is going to get better before it gets worse.

The White House and their media stooges are now trying to gaslight the American people by convincing them they didn’t see what they just saw. It’d be easy – and accurate – to call this Orwellian. But perhaps the even more appropriate reference would be to the Marx Brothers, who in their 1933 film Duck Soup penned the now famous line, who you gonna believe, me or your own eyes? This is the exact question the White House is asking all of us right now. But we know what we saw. We know what we heard. And those paying attention know that the United States has wanted war with Russia for quite some time, and now that they’ve got it, they of course want to see it through to its most violent conclusion.

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A War for the 21st Century: Putin’s Goals are Bigger Than Ukraine

by Russell Dobular

“If you should go skating on the thin ice of modern life,
Dragging behind you the silent reproach of a million tear-stained eyes,
don’t be surprised when a crack in the ice appears under your feet.”

-Roger Waters

When Putin attacked Ukraine, some part of me said, Of course. No way we were getting off with just a once-in-a-century global pandemic. That’s only the first seal broke. Legend has it there’s six more. 

Things fall apart.

When they do, an infernal momentum takes hold that’s impossible to stop, or even slow most of the time.

That’s what Chamberlain didn’t understand, stepping off the plane, proudly waving around his little piece of paper with Der Fuhrer’s signature on it. The thing was bigger than both of them by then. A historical inevitability.

When Shiva works up a powerful thirst, the blood will flow until she’s good and satisfied. Entropy will have its way, and many will call it justice.

From the slave markets of Libya to the killing fields of Cambodia, we’ve left a lot of pissed off people in the wake of our Pax Americana. Those who have given parents, children, and limbs to our armies will be cheering for Russia right about now and hoping that we do something incredibly stupid. Like impose a no-fly zone on the request of a corrupt comedian.

So far, cooler heads are prevailing but at the Guggenheim last week, with the kind of gesture that would make a second year art student at The New School say, “Too pretentious,” a group of 15 artists and activists threw 350 paper planes across the museum’s famous winding walkways, in order to call for a no-fly zone over Ukraine.

“Imagine all the people, demanding nuclear annihilation for all the world-er-er-her-er-errrllld.”

Artists often believe that if their cohort ran things, utopia would naturally follow. But the only examples we have from history of artists with real political power are Nero, Hitler, and George W. Bush (whose work is featured below). This does not fill one with confidence in their geo-strategic judgment as a class.

 “We had that one in Abu-Gharib for ten years. Turns out she was just a school teacher, like she said all along. So, I painted her portrait. Figured it was the least I could do. Heh-heh-heh.”

Putin has no artistic pretensions. At least none that he shares with the public. His pleasures run more towards polonium and the occasional bare-chested horseback ride.  The problem is he craps bigger than any President we’ve had in recent memory. You’d have to go back to Nixon to find an American leader with the kind of vicious sewer-rat instincts necessary to go ten rounds with Vlad. This is only Round One and Biden is already looking tired.

Putin has been plotting this moment for a long, long time, and it never had much to do with Ukraine. It has everything to do with the way the Americans unleashed their hedge funds, banks, and political consultants to pick over the bones of the failed Soviet state at the end of the Cold War. By the time they were done having their filthy way with the Russian economy, the only growth industries left were organ sales and prostitution. 

To keep the gravy train running, Bill Clinton sent his own people in ‘96 to interfere in the Russian elections by advising degenerate drunk Boris Yeltsin, who was polling at 6%. With Bubba’s help, which included securing a $10 billion dollar loan for Russia from the IMF, he went on to defeat his Communist opponent by 13%, in an election so crooked that bombed-out Chechnya was recorded to have handed 70% of their vote to the man who had ordered the bombings.

Enter Putin.

I would insert the Russian for “Payback’s a bitch,” here, but Google no longer provides that service.

It’s true that Russia has traditionally been ruled by one strongman or another, first under the Tsars, and then under the Party. But it didn’t have to be this way. Not this time. With the collapse of the USSR there was a hunger on the part of the Russian people to join the West and to adopt its then vaunted democratic institutions. Rock n’ Roll, blue jeans, Jefferson, all that jazz.

What they got instead was an ass-raping from Goldman Sachs, under the auspices of a US-controlled puppet government. Naturally, they turned for protection from their rapacious new American “friends,” to the devil they’ve always known. And right up until he crossed the border into Ukraine, Putin pretty much held up his end of the bargain. For two decades he made sure that if anyone was going to grow fat exploiting Russia, at least they’d be Russians.

It wasn’t much, but it was something and compared to the chaos and humiliation of the Yeltsin years, it wasn’t half bad. At least you got to keep your kidneys, and if your daughter chose prostitution, it would only be because of an affinity for the lifestyle and not because the family had run out of tires to trade for eggs.

The big question now is whether Western sanctions will have the desired effect of knocking the Russian economy right back to where it was during the giddy years when Goldman was “advising” the country into bankruptcy.

The other related question is whether a population that burned its own capital in order to deny shelter to Napoleon’s troops, and that fought the battle of Stalingrad, five men to a rifle with the understanding that when one died the next would pick it up and keep fighting, are going to be broken by an absence of Target stores and Big Macs. That probably depends on how much they perceive the sanctions to be part of a Russophobic Western crusade. 

On that score, kicking Russian children out of the Paralympics and firing Russian conductors from orchestras might not be the way to go. But going all the way back to Salem, Americans have never been ones to let common sense get in the way of a good witch hunt. Once the wood is stacked and the pitch ignited, its best for rational, fair-minded people to keep their heads down and their mouths shut until the fire burns itself out and the mob moves on to another target. Last month it was Joe Rogan, the month before that it was the unvaccinated, this month it’s everything Russian, and next month; who knows? Tweet the wrong thing and it could be you. 

No matter how the war turns out; whether Bloody Hillary gets her longed for Afghanistan Part Deux, with the Russians bogged down fighting an armed insurrection for years to come (unlikely); Russia and Ukraine come to an agreement over the next few weeks (much more likely); or some downed drone over Krakow sets off World War Three (I give it 50-50 odds), Putin will come out of this having achieved his overall strategic objective: to accelerate the decline of American power and influence.

The non-Western world has been watching our moves closely and taking notes, drawing the obvious conclusion that as long as the dollar remains the world’s reserve currency, Washington can always impose devastating sanctions on any nation that defies it’s wishes. In response, the beginnings of an alternative economic system have been taking hold.

First, Russia’s banks announced that they would respond to Visa and Mastercard pulling out of the country by switching over to China’s UnionPay. Not long after, our Saudi “allies” floated the idea of pricing oil sales to China in Yuan rather than the dollar. And while Western nations have been more or less uniform in imposing sanctions, there are a lot of non-Western nations out there like India, Turkey, Brazil, and South Africa that have diligently refrained from criticizing Russia’s actions, and continue their trade relationships.

The war in Ukraine will likely resolve in a negotiated peace over the next few weeks, but the war for the 21st Century is just beginning. Both our enemies and frenemies will continue to poke and probe our weaknesses, with the long-term strategic objective of creating a multi-polar world where the West is one power base among many and, ideally, the weaker one relative to Asia. Bringing this future into being is Putin’s true strategic objective and whatever the realities on the ground in Ukraine, so far, all signs suggest that he’s succeeding.

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Photos: CC 4.0, Public Domain (Wikimedia Commons)

Video: Post-Trump, it’s Full Steam Ahead for the Imperial War Machine

Zelensky’s speech to Congress was a call for prolonged violence in Ukraine. It seems the political establishment had war with Russia on the mind for quite some time now, and they seem pretty happy to have gotten it.

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Image: ABC7 News

After Trump and Russiagate, The War Machine is Back in Business

by Keaton Weiss

The Trump era was one of unrelenting malaise for the political class. Democratic politicians roiled in resentment and righteous indignation at every word and deed of the 45th President. The beltway media became, more nakedly than ever before, a propaganda arm of the DNC, and central command for the #resistance.

And while both the party itself and its media mouthpieces did pay some attention to Trump’s policies on immigration, climate, and economics, these were hardly their main grievances. Why would they be? After all, now that Trump’s out of office, Biden has caged more children at the border than his predecessor, licensed more drilling permits, and has essentially made permanent Trump’s massive corporate tax cuts (he proposed raising corporate taxes from 21 to 28%, still 7 points down from the pre-Trump rate of 35%).

Mostly, the establishment signaled grave concern about Trump’s violation of “norms” and degradation of our cherished “institutions.” Nothing exemplified this more than the Russiagate narrative which consumed liberal media outlets for more than two years after his inauguration.

Those outside this corporate media bubble could fairly easily assess Russiagate as a pathetic exercise in collective self delusion fueled by sour grapes over an unlikely election defeat. And surely, to the humiliated Clinton campaign staffers who feared they’d never get a job in Washington again after losing perhaps the most winnable race in modern political history, this is exactly what it was.

But to the real power players in American politics, it was much more than that. Branding Trump a “Russian asset” wasn’t just expensive psychotherapy for Hillaryworld. Rather, it was an expression of what Trump actually represented to these people: a wrench in the imperial war machine that needed to be removed as soon as possible. This makes especially good sense considering the timeline of events leading up the Russia-Ukraine war.

In 2014 the United States supported the ousting of Ukraine’s pro-Russian President via the Maidan Revolution. When audio surfaced of a State Department official and the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine discussing political strategy for the incoming Ukrainian government, an embarrassed Obama administration accused the Russian government of leaking the tape. Of course, they did not deny the authenticity of its contents, because they couldn’t – the recording did in fact prove U.S. meddling in the rebellion and its aftermath.

In the Summer of 2016, when Wikileaks dropped a trove of emails confirming DNC bias against Bernie Sanders during the primaries, the Democratic Party’s response was copied from the same playbook: they accused the Russians of perpetrating the hack and subsequent leak, while failing to dispute the validity of the disclosed materials themselves.

During the general election, the Clinton campaign and its media allies repeatedly hammered Trump as a puppet of the Kremlin, and insisted that Russia was pulling for his success. When Trump won an upset victory that Fall, a development Putin himself would later publicly admit he was happy about, Clinton campaign insiders immediately convened and decided to blame Russian interference for their defeat.

In the interim weeks between Trump’s election and inauguration, New Year’s Eve 2016, Senators Lindsay Graham, John McCain, and Amy Klobuchar traveled to a Ukrainian combat outpost to express their support for Ukraine against Russian aggression, and pledged that 2017 would be a “year of offense” (video below).

The first two years of Trump’s presidency were then overshadowed by the Mueller investigation, which liberals insisted would establish “collusion” (a deliberately vague term with no actual legal meaning) between the Trump campaign and Russia that would render their victory illegitimate. After two years of non-stop hype, the published findings produced no such result, though it did provide evidence that Russians promoted Trump’s candidacy and damaged Clinton’s.

With the Mueller Report having been mostly a dud, Democrats then impeached Trump for allegedly extorting Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky into investigating Hunter Biden in exchange for $400 million of defense aid Congress had approved for his country. Trump’s actions were seen as politically motivated given that Joe Biden was his likely 2020 opponent, but they were also viewed as part of a series of actions to weaken Ukraine in its years-long standoff against Russia. Months prior to the phone call in question, Trump had ousted his Ukrainian ambassador, Marie Yovanovitch, after hearing rumors that she was badmouthing him and predicting his eventual impeachment.

While impeachment didn’t result in Trump’s removal from office, the 2020 election did. And sure enough, just over a year into Biden’s first term, here we are.

In the days and weeks before the invasion, Biden both threatened harsh sanctions against Russia if they invaded, and simultaneously predicted that Putin would be undeterred and invade anyway. This was not a serious attempt at diplomacy; this was going through the motions of a performative negotiation sure to fail and result in war.

From 30,000 feet, we can see pretty well what’s been going on this past decade in Eastern Europe. The United States was stirring the pot, provoking Russia into conflict, and then Donald Trump came along and, for a short while, ruined their plans. With him out of the way, it’s now full steam ahead.

By the liberal media’s own admission, Russia likely would not have invaded under a second Trump term. As MSNBC’s Chris Hayes explained:

“When Republican politicians say that Putin would not have invaded Ukraine under Trump, they are probably right, but for the wrong reasons. Putin likely would not have invaded because he did not need to. Because Trump was his ultimate gift doing everything Putin himself wanted to do: elevating Russia, denigrating NATO, delegitimizing Ukraine. Without him in the White House, Putin took matters into his own hands.”

Given liberals’ satisfaction that Biden is now President and their admission that Putin’s invasion of Ukraine likely would not have happened under Trump, we can safely assume what the aforementioned timeline suggests: that the political establishment has been wanting a violent confrontation with Russia for quite some time, and that they’re happy to have finally gotten it.

That Trump was the “ultimate gift” to Putin is the line of attack still being used against him by Biden loyalists spells out very clearly that they’d rather Russia be dealt with by force than through diplomatic exchange.

In addition to the $6.4 billion in military and economic aid immediately following Russia’s invasion, Biden responded to Zelensky’s speech to Congress by pledging an additional $800 million for Javelins, anti-aircraft systems, and AT-4 anti-tank weapons – a hefty and perhaps overdue payday for the Military Industrial Complex.

Perhaps this explains the upbeat mood in the room as a beaming Nancy Pelosi introduced sketch comic-turned-freedom fighter Volydymyr Zelensky to make an impassioned case for prolonged combat in Ukraine, and more U.S. intervention.

The Trump presidency was hardly a picnic for anyone, but it was especially miserable for the masters of war who were denied a new arena for four long years of stagnation. With him gone, their time-out is over, and they’re obviously very excited to be back in business.

We discuss Zelensky’s speech and related topics in episode 136 of the Due Dissidence podcast. Click the player below to hear our full conversation, and subscribe to our podcast on any major podcast player.

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Video: Ro Khanna Smears Journalist After Embarrassing Interview on Russia-Ukraine War

The Gray Zone’s Max Blumenthal caught up with Congressman Ro Khanna on the streets of D.C. and asked him about his positions on the Russia-Ukraine war. He then took to Twitter to smear him after the impromptu interview didn’t go well.

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Images: Twitter, The Gray Zone

Working People of Russia, It’s Time to Rise Up Against Your Oligarchs

by Kristoffer Hellen

The great Lenin once said “There are decades when nothing happens, and there are weeks when decades happen.” Now we are living in such a moment. Putin’s risky ploy to overturn American unipolar global hegemony has crashed onto the rocks of poor planning and Ukrainian resistance and is turning into a catastrophe of historic proportions. Decades of history have been unleashed, but as Marx said, “Men make their own history, but not in circumstances of their own choosing.” On this knife’s edge of history, things could go in one of two radically different directions.

Putin’s war has been a windfall for imperialists the world over. They now have a new justification to bloat their military budgets to unprecedented levels. They are sure to usher in a dystopian future of unimaginable militarism and state repression.

But only if we let them. There has never been a more opportune time for the working people of the world to rise up and take power.

People of Russia, you have nothing to gain from being part of a capitalist empire. Ending American global hegemony will not improve your lives in any way. This is a fight of capitalists—the working class has no stake in it.

As an American from the wealthiest empire in world history, the working people of my country have not seen any gains in our standard of living. On the contrary, the more the capitalist class consolidates its stranglehold, the more desperate our plight becomes. The oligarchs of America and I have no common interests. They are my enemy. You have no common interests with your capitalist oligarchs either, especially the one at the top.

Putin’s propaganda wants you to believe that if the Russian Empire is revived, it will benefit all Russian people. Putin has said that the collapse of the USSR was the biggest geopolitical disaster of the 20th century. It is, but not for the reasons he wants you to think.

The capitalist reforms and privatization of the 1990s ushered in the worst suffering of the Russian people in decades. The rise of Putin brought greater stability, but only thanks to the coincidence of rising oil prices on the global market. With those profits, Putin was able to buy off the Russian working class.

The agreement was that you would get political stability in exchange for your non-participation in Russian matters of state. Now he has abused that power to launch an imperialist invasion that you did not ask for, to resurrect the Russian Empire for the benefit of the Russian capitalist class. He has betrayed you, as capitalists who claim to serve your interests always do.

Russian working people, this is not your fight. World history stands on a knife’s edge. At a time when the world needs to immediately end its dependency on fossil fuels in order for life on earth to survive, we must reject all capitalist imperialism. Let us seize this opportune moment to remake the world to serve the interests of working people. Working people of the world have nothing to lose but our chains. We have a world to win. Now is the time to rise up and say:

No to NATO imperialism!
No to American imperialism!
No to Russian imperialism!
No to all capitalist imperialism!
No war but the class war!

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Photo: @IlyaYashin, Twitter

If Yemeni Lives Matter, Biden Won’t Visit Saudi Arabia to Beg for More Oil

by Keaton Weiss

According to new reporting by Axios, President Biden is considering a trip to Saudi Arabia this Spring in order to mend relations and convince the Kingdom to produce more oil to offset a potential U.S. ban on Russian imports following their invasion of Ukraine.

If we lived in a country of informed citizens with uniform respect for all human life, that would be the whole story in a nutshell. There’d be no need to elaborate on the rank hypocrisy of even considering such a visit. Unfortunately, polling indicates that less than 40% of Americans are even aware that the Saudis are targeting civilians in their war in Yemen. The slaughter, now in its eighth year, has been deemed the world’s worst humanitarian crisis by the United Nations.

And so essentially, the United States is seeking more product from a rich brown country committing genocide against their poor brown neighbors in order to compensate for a boycott against a white superpower attacking their white neighbors. The only sensible interpretation of this is that Yemeni lives don’t matter – not to the Biden administration, the media, or the West as a whole.

CBS correspondent Charles D’Agata’s description of Ukraine as a “relatively civilized, relatively European” place in order to elicit sympathy from a public who’s reacted to warfare in majority-brown countries like Iraq and Afghanistan with relative indifference is the most egregious, but hardly the only, example of racial bias in the media’s reporting of this crisis.

Among the general population, there’s a similar discrepancy in attitudes towards intra-continental white-on-white warfare and its inter-civilizational counterpart. Support for Ukraine and its people has been overwhelming, dwarfing the levels of sympathy for “less European” countries in similar situations in recent history. For example, 74% of Americans support welcoming Ukrainian refugees. In 2015, when the Obama administration announced plans to admit 10,000 Syrians fleeing war and persecution in their home country, only 28% agreed with the decision.

Most pertinent to this particular matter, 80% of Americans support a ban on the importation of Russian oil, but 71% say gas prices should factor into our approach to the conflict. This means in order to prevent prices from soaring even higher than current projections predict, we’ll need to make up for any loss in supply caused by a Russian ban.

And so we’re considering sending our President to the Saudi Kingdom to beg hat-in-hand for more oil. The suggestion has already attracted sharp criticism, most notably from Rep. Ilhan Omar, who said such a trip would be “wildly immoral” and that “Yemenis might not matter to some geopolitically, but their humanity should.”

If Biden does end up going, the White House would justify it as a necessary compromise of values for the sake of pursuing a greater good. Of course, this invites the obvious question that if we’re willing to set aside our principles – and sell out the Yemeni people – for access to oil, then why not entertain the moral compromise of engaging in real diplomacy with Russia in the hopes of ending the violence and preventing a potential World War?

The Kremlin recently announced their terms for ending their assault on Ukraine. They include Ukraine codifying a promise not to join NATO or the EU, acknowledging Crimea as part of Russia, and recognizing their separatist regions as independent. Capitulating to these demands at this point would be a great moral concession considering Putin’s war crimes against the Ukrainian people. But it too would be in service of a greater good.

So if we’re willing to denigrate the humanity of the Yemeni people by expanding our business dealings with those committing genocide against them, then – assuming all lives truly matter equally – we ought to be willing to commit a similar offense against the dignity of Ukrainians, especially since such a sacrifice would be in pursuit of a much nobler goal than cheap oil: a more peaceful world. To approve of the former but not the latter is to admit that brown Arab lives are simply not as precious as white European ones.

Middle Easterners are used to being discarded in this way. Funding for Israeli defense passes with virtually unanimous support despite its apartheid-like treatment of Palestinians. Barack Obama still enjoys astronomical popularity despite having bombed Libya into a failed state with open slave markets (mention this to your average white liberal and they either won’t know about it or won’t care). And as Donald Trump threatened to upend the world order they’ve been molding since 9/11, Bush-era neocons like David Frum, Bill Kristol, and Stephen Hayes have been thoroughly rehabilitated by the political establishment despite having spread the misinformation that started the Iraq War, which killed hundreds of thousands of civilians.

A Presidential visit to Saudi Arabia to ask for more oil would be the latest example of Western disregard for human life in the Middle East. If difficult times call for difficult decisions, we should make the moral compromise that averts WW3, not the one that helps pay for it.

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In a Duel of Dying Empires, Could Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine Have Been Prevented?

After weeks of building up his forces in a way that screamed, “This is not a drill,” Vladimir Putin finally gave the order on Thursday morning to invade Ukraine. This was perhaps the single greatest act of white-on-white violence since the release of Taylor Swift’s Welcome to New York album.

The sanctions from Western powers rolled in fast and furious, right alongside the obligatory dumb takes. Stephen King wasted no time bringing his own Master of Shitlibbery perspective to Twitter:

Despite their posturing, it’s hard to believe that even the most loyal of Biden’s supporters honestly feel he’s up to the task of mastering a wily opponent like Putin.

After Putin gave a speech this week, explaining and justifying his decision to invade Ukraine, the Western press predictably used it as a pretext to label Putin as crazy and out of touch simply because much of the speech contained exaggerations and ahistorical claims regarding Ukrainian independence. But lies and exaggerations are par for the course in war propaganda and considering Putin’s longevity as head of state in what is essentially a country of gangsters, it seems foolish to believe that his words weren’t calculated for maximum domestic appeal.

Wall Street had a bad minute or two as Russian artillery began to bombard Ukrainian cities in the wee hours of Thursday morning, but they needn’t have worried. Later in the day, when Joe Biden announced the raft of sanctions that we had been led to believe were going to destroy the Russian economy, every trader on the street cursed themselves for selling in the morning. By the closing bell, the Nasdaq had swung from an over 3% loss, to a 3.4% gain, its biggest one-day move since November 2008.  

While Germany did place a hold on the Nordstream 2 natural gas pipeline, at the same time joining the UK, US, and France in targeting Russian sovereign debt, banks and oligarchs, Putin has evidently been preparing for such an eventuality for quite some time. For the past ten years, Russia has been reducing its debt and building up reserves of foreign assets, so that it can now withstand a regime of Western sanctions, possibly for years. In order to truly have an impact on Russia’s economy, the sanctions would have to target Russian oil and gas sales, and/or cut the country off from SWIFT, the international banking system that underlies trade. Neither can be done without the effects rebounding back on the West, which is both heavily dependent on Russian energy supplies, and deeply invested in Russian assets.  

Putin surely thought all this through before making his move. To suggest otherwise is ridiculous. China will be watching these developments closely and thus far liking what they see as they consider their own options regarding long-standing thorn in their side, Taiwan. If the West won’t take the financial hit that would come with meaningful sanctions against Russia, our biggest customer doesn’t have a lot to worry about. And boots on the ground? In Asia? They know we don’t have the stones for that anymore.

No, Ukraine isn’t the start of World War III. It’s the warm-up act. The big show hasn’t started yet, but it’s getting closer and with this week’s events its features start to take on definition.

We reacted to the news of the Russian invasion in our latest podcast episode. Click the player below to hear our full conversation, and and subscribe to our podcast on any major podcast player.

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Photo: JBouchez (CC 4.0)