Dave Collum’s 2022 Year In Review, Part 2: The War In Ukraine & How Does It End?
Dave Collum’s 2022 Year In Review, Part 2: The War In Ukraine & How Does It End?
Authored by David B. Collum, Betty R. Miller Professor…
Authored by David B. Collum, Betty R. Miller Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Biology - Cornell University (Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, Twitter: @DavidBCollum),
Hello darkness my old friend. I come to talk with you again.
~ Simon and Garfunkle in The Sounds of Silence
This Year in Review is brought to you by Pfizer, FTX, and Raytheon...
Every year, David Collum writes a detailed “Year in Review” synopsis full of keen perspective and plenty of wit. This year’s is no exception, with Dave striking again in his usually poignant and delightfully acerbic way.
Read Part 1: 2022 Year in Review: All Roads Lead to Ukraine here...
To download this Part 2 as a pdf, 2022 The Year in Review: The War in Ukraine.
The War in Ukraine
The decision of one man to launch a wholly unjustified and brutal invasion of Iraq…I mean of Ukraine… 1
~ Former President George W. Bush, Freudian slipping
We are on the cusp of WWIII, what could become the most inclusive war in history, with world leaders who seem incapable of orchestrating a decisive paintball attack. Like so many, I rely on geopolitical events to learn about politics and geography. Task #1: figure out where Ukraine is located on a map. I stumbled upon this top-secret Pentagon strategy map:
Oh my God. They have already removed Russia! Task #2: resolve spelling and grammar issues. Is it Ukraine or The Ukraine; Odesa or Odessa; Kiev or Kyiv; Zelensky, Zelenskiy, or Zelenskyy; Donbas or Donbass; and Dumbass or Biden? First disclaimer: there is no chance that I can understand a border war in or near the Baltics. I take solace in that y’all are in the same boat. I am grand theorizing—creating big narratives for a hopelessly complex topic—describing the World According to Dave. I am layers into the onion but doubtlessly layers away from truths because I am fishing shit off the internet about a war said by the legendary journalist John Pilger and filmmaker Oliver Stone to be the most propaganda-slathered war in their lifetimes. 2,3 My immutable rule of thumb: if their lips are moving they are lying.
War cannot be reduced to distinction between good guys and bad guys. 4
~ Pope Francis
We can all agree that the list of victims in this war is non-statistically populated by Ukrainians. They are dying, and their world is being upended. If, however, you think that this is a simple story about good versus evil, you need a CT scan. I am especially talking to the devout members of the Sanctimony-Industrial Complex—Eric Hoffer’s fanatical True Believers—who will take any opportunity to be part of a grand movement to elevate their lives by signaling their virtue. I was on a Zoom call with a member of the clergy in which he stated that “it is Putin’s fault because Putin attacked.” I curtly told that punk-ass zealot—quite an impressive one actually— “If I have some guy in my face, and it is clear that this is not going to resolve well, my immediate goal becomes finding a way to land the first punch to ensure there is no second punch.” (I did say that.) Months later I discovered that I had inadvertently paraphrased Putin. If you think Putin is, by definition, wrong because he attacked first, you have neither read much nor thought very deeply about the Ukraine conflict or the origins of wars.
We could have hit Saudi Arabia—it was part of that bubble—could have hit Pakistan. We hit Iraq because we could. 5
~ Thomas Friedman, author and The Great Pontificator
When I get caught in conversations with those with certainty about Russia as the only instigator, I resort to moral equivalency and ask, “Which sovereign state bombed more countries and killed more people over the last two decades, the U.S. or Russia? The U.S. has militarily intervened 251 times since 1991. 6 The Obama administration bombed seven Muslim countries. Bush Jr. killed upwards of a million Iraqis. Which of those countries attacked us? (Hint: none.) The US conducted three consecutive days of airstrikes in Syria this year. The Pentagon said, “these strikes are a message to Tehran.” 7,8 That’s so odd because I didn’t even realize Tehran is in Syria, or did we bomb one country to send a message to a different country? I can hear somebody saying, “But…but…but…they were dangerous because…” Oh shut the fuck up, and go hum a few bars of Crimea River, Justin. 9 That does not give us the right to bomb them back to the stone age. There are many countries with nukes that we don’t bomb. Here are Leslie Stahl and Secretary of State Madeline Albright comparing notes on the Iraq War: 10
Lesley Stahl: We have heard that a half million [Iraqi] children have died. I mean, that’s more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it?
Madeleine Albright: I think this is a very hard choice, but the price–we think the price is worth it.
You’re right Madeline: nobody gives a shit about brown people anyway, what Chris Hedges sarcastically calls “bad victims” unworthy of our empathy. Check out this montage of virtuous members of the US press expressing why we should care about the Ukrainians unlike other victims—they are like us! 11 By the way, while Madeline was green-lighting the slaughter of children, does anyone remember the Western press airing footage of those atrocities? Any photos of the half-million bloated and dismembered carcasses of children? Agree with Madeline if you like, but statistically speaking, the U.S. leaders are the ones who should be taken to the Hague for crimes against humanity.
The greatest crime since World War II has been U.S. foreign policy.
~ Ramsey Clark, former U.S. Attorney General
So, here is my advice to the sanctimonious: drop the holier-than-thou ‘tude when you are talking about this war. While you are at it, ponder why y’all justified punishing musicians and conductors, 12,13 professional athletes, 14 or just wealthy people 15,16,17 simply because they have Roosky heritage. For Christ’s sake: why not lock them in barracks for the duration of the war like the Japanese Americans? Bombing a Russian cultural center in Paris seems a tad excessive. 18 Facebook and Instagram adjusted their hate speech policy to allow users to incite violence against Russians and Russian soldiers and turned off the spigot for anything that smacked of pro-Russia. 19 All this should seem a little jingoistic even for the most sanctimonious. 20 As an aside, are the neo-Marxists on college campuses monitoring Russian students’ well-being, or are they only concerned about Ukrainians?
As a result of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, we have temporarily made allowances for forms of political expression that would normally violate our rules like violent speech such as ‘death to the Russian invaders.’21
Take a peek at this 2022 vintage documentary 21 about a very quirky 1985 film entitled, “Come and See” 22 illustrating Russia’s experience with the horrors of war. While watching our elite try to bend Russians to our will at the expense of the Ukrainians, don’t forget that nobody knows how to suffer like a Russian. Then, lighten it up with this British comedy skit that asks the rhetorical question, “How do we know we are not the baddies?” 23
The notion that a political leader, or anyone for that matter, is entirely bad or good, is puerile. The same consideration can be given to nation-states, political systems or even models of world order. The character of a human being, a nation or a system of global governance is better judged by their or its totality of actions. 24
~ Iain Davis, independent investigative journalist
Wars are never simple. Recall that we got into the 2003 Iraq War owing to fake stories about babies being stabbed in incubators, 25 bullshit evidence of weapons of mass destruction (which, I should reiterate, does not give us the right to bomb a country), and intel from a deep source named “Curveball” who would say anything in exchange for a few of the C-notes shipped to Fallujah on pallets by the CIA. 26 Or maybe go back further to consider:
the U.S. baiting the Germans to sink the arms-laden Lusitania to enter WWI; 27
the fully provoked attack by the Japanese through a door left wide open at Pearl Harbor to enter WWII; 28
the Gulf of Tonkin fiasco to get us into Vietnam; 29
Even the Gulf War, while ostensibly to liberate the Kuwaitis from the evil Saddam Hussein, which was a trap set by our State Department: 30
We have no opinion on your Arab-Arab conflicts, such as your dispute with Kuwait. Secretary [of State James] Baker has directed me to emphasize the instruction, first given to Iraq in the 1960s, that the Kuwait issue is not associated with America.ref 31
~ April Glaspie, U.S. Ambassador April Glaspie, setting the trap on Saddam to invade Kuwait
If you want the accepted War in Ukraine narrative, turn on CNN or MSNBC. My strategy was to examine the events that pre-date the Drums of War. After the War in Ukraine began, the media coverage was bullshit (and turtles) all the way down.
In the following sections, I’ll talk about my sources and delineate the key players in this drama. We’ll then wander through some contemporary events that run counter to the mainstream narrative. Just to reiterate: from a dead cold start, there is no way I got the whole story correct. I can, however, offer up pieces of a huge jigsaw puzzle that seem to match up. I identify as a Reagan Republican, not some commie dog, although I appear to be playing one on the internet. Woof. I am challenging conventional wisdom because I wish to fulfill our dreams of being the good guys.
While trying to sort out such complex stories, I avoid reading books. I want to assemble a narrative rather than reiterate somebody else’s. Of course, even the pieces have embedded narratives and may be laced with propaganda. It is my compromise. However, I broke my no-book rule this time by reading The Rise and Reign of Vladimir Putin by Steven Myers 1 recommended by America’s favorite Roosky, Lex Fridman. I must admit it seemed remarkably balanced and unbiased until the moment Putin was elected President. From that page on, Myers had nothing favorable to say—not one positive word. It was as though a new author took control, some aggressive editing was inserted, or the Zebra changed the color of his stripes at that moment. I am still looking for a book that is neither pro- nor anti-Putin. A 6-part psychoanalysis of Putin was overconfidently overstated and biased to the core, but it had some interesting logic. 2
Some useful source materials include documentaries such as “Ukrainian Agony,” 3 “Ukraine–Masks of the Revolution,” 4 especially Oliver Stone’s “Ukraine on Fire” (2016), 5 and Stone’s discussion of Putin with Lex Fridman. 6 I also binge-watched every Putin interview and speech I could find including Stone’s multi-part interview, 7,8,9 Precious few pundits are willing to speak out against NATO. Here are capsule sketches of notable allies—comrades if you will—devils advocating their asses off.
What’s going on here is that the West is leading Ukraine down the primrose path, and the end result is that Ukraine is going to get wrecked.
~ John Mearsheimer, 2015
John Mearsheimer graduated from West Point, got his PhD at Cornell, and is on the faculty at the University of Chicago. He has been the most outspoken detractor of NATO for over a decade, asserting its policies are driving us toward World War III. 10,11,12,13,14,15,16 He passed along this Munk Debate to me in which he and Steve Walt (Harvard Kennedy School) took on Michael McFaul (former Ambassador to Russia) and Radosław Sikorski (member of the European Parliament and former Polish Minister of Defense) along with some choice private opinions of his opponents’ tactics and attitudes. 17 I will kiss-and-tell one line from that email: “It is impossible to slow this train down save for nuclear use.” Mearsheimer laments that democracies waging distant wars are consistently the biggest liars. “That, in a nutshell, is the United States.” Meanwhile, the media no longer searches for truth, having become an administrative state—a pawn of the Deep State.
Jeff Sachs at the Athens Democracy Forum: The most violent country in the world since 1950 has been the United States.
Moderator interrupting: Jeffrey…Let’s…Jeffrey: Stop now. Let’s…Let’s…Jeffrey: I’m…I’m…I’m your moderator, and it’s enough
Jeffrey Sachs is an elite economist from Columbia University who was an advisor to many of the Warsaw Pact nations in the post-Soviet Union world. 20,21,22,23,24,25 Jeff may not always be right, but he calls balls and strikes and says he cannot even get op-eds published now.
This war and suffering could have easily been avoided if Biden Admin/NATO had simply acknowledged Russia’s legitimate security concerns regarding Ukraine’s becoming a member of NATO, which would mean U.S./NATO forces right on Russia’s border.
~ Tulsi Gabbard
Tulsi Gabbard, former Democratic Congresswoman from Hawaii recently estranged from the DNC, has a military background and has consistently taken an anti-war stance. She argues firm to the notion that NATO was the proximate trigger and could have prevented the war. 26,27 (Coda: I suspect her estrangement from the DNC might have been purchased with a promise to be a VP running mate in 2024. We shall see. I have also called out Svante Myrick as a DNC-derived presidential candidate several decades from now. We shall see about that, too.)
One of the first lessons of objectivity is to slow things down to make sure that fact is not obscured by emotion.
~ Scott Ritter
Scott Ritter is a former marine corps intelligence officer who provides technical analysis of the war that conflicts with CNN’s. 28,29,30,31,32,33 He first came under the spotlight testifying in front of an irate Joe Biden who spurned Scott’s intel indicating there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. 34 Mearsheimer referred to Scott’s Gulf War analyses as “so knowledgeable.” 35 Although Ritter’s resume has some scuff marks related to inappropriate sexual conduct, 36 his sparring with the Deep State renders such blemishes highly suspect and irrelevant anyway. Ritter has proven himself particularly prescient by predicting Russia’s military strategy in Ukraine, events that were later interpreted differently in the mainstream media when they played out as described.
NATO had ample opportunity for peace but deliberately chose war. The U.S. realized that, with Russia’s back to the wall, it would have no choice but to attack.
~ Richard Black
Colonel Richard Black served 31 years in the U.S. Marine Corps and later served in the Virginia State Senate. He does not get smeared on Wikipedia. 37 He views the Ukraine war as a resource grab of Ukraine and Russia by the U.S. under the cover of NATO. In 2022, Black wrote an open letter to Congress warning of the mounting risks of military conflict that began in 2014. 38,39,40 He decried the lure of “war profits even if it means gambling the lives of hundreds of millions of people across the globe.”
There’s this attempt to destroy Russia. We’ve decided to make it this blood-enemy that has to be eliminated because it refuses to march down the path that Europe has.
~ Colonel Douglas MacGregor
Colonel Douglas MacGregor is a highly decorated Gulf War veteran. He is known as innovative with unconventional thinking. 41 His views on the US role in the Middle East are hawkish. In brutally direct language, MacGregor supports Russia’s claims about the Donbas region going back to 2014. 42,43,44,45 The Senate blocked his nomination as ambassador to Germany, and he narrowly missed an appointment as the National Security Advisor.
War propaganda stimulates the most powerful aspects of our psyche, our subconscious, our instinctive drives…The more unity that emerges in support of an overarching moral narrative, the more difficult it becomes for anyone to critically evaluate it…When critical faculties are deliberately turned off based on a belief that absolute moral certainty has been attained, the parts of our brain armed with the capacity of reason are disabled. 46
~ Glenn Greenwald, Substack and most famous for his Snowden Tapes
Other voices dissenting against the prevailing narrative include off-broadway journalists such as Scott Horton, 47 Ron Paul, 48 Max Blumenthal, 49 Aaron Mate, 50,51,52.53 Glenn Greenwald, 54,55 Nigel Farage, 56 Pope Francis, 57,58 the Swiss Policy Research, 59 Chris Hedges, 60 European Union MEP Clare Daly, 61,62 Tucker Carlson, 63,64 former CIA analyst Ray McGovern, 65 former CIA analyst Jacques Baud, 66,67,68 journalist John Pilger, 69 Oliver Stone, 70 The Last American Vagabond, 71,72 Gonzalo Lira on the ground in Ukraine, 73,74 Whitney Webb, 75 Tom Luongo, 76 Matt Taibbi,77 pro-Soviet journalist Vladimir Pozner, 78 substack bloggers Kanekoa, 79 blogger Will Schryver (@imetatronink), 80 and even Jordan Peterson. 81
Four players are central to my version of this drama: Vladimir Putin, Volodymyr Zelensky, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), and the Azov Battalion.
Before plowing into the swamp, I’ve got to confess that for a number of years now I have found myself sympathetic to Putin. He’s no snowflake, but his moves on the global chessboard and role in Russian affairs seem decidedly logical relative to ours; he is tactically maxed out.
~ Me, 2017 Year in Review
Vladimir Putin is an enigmatic figure who I mentioned in 2014 after the Ukrainian coup and highlighting Mearsheimer’s warnings, 1 in 2015 in light of Syria and a brief shutdown of Russian natural gas, 2 in 2016 about the Drums of War becoming audible, 3 in 2017 trying to unscramble the Steele dossier and Russian collusion farce, 4 and in 2018 while analyzing the farcical stories about the Skripal poisoning and my efforts to cause an international incident by calling the Brits liars on Russia Today. 5 I have the disadvantage of knowing nothing about Russia, especially compared to those who have spent time in the region. Maybe that’s an advantage—a friend of mine with Ukrainian ties loses his shit talking about the subject—but it is a marginal advantage. I find the West’s tendency to blame Putin for everything imaginable, including an increasing number of clearly self-inflicted wounds, to be deeply troubling and dangerous. Trump’s strongest campaign plank in 2016 was, for me, his desire to “get along with the Russians”. Of course, the Deep State put a lid on that with fake Russian collusion stories.
Putin is as inscrutable as you would expect for an ex-KGB agent and current leader of Russia. My opinion of the man is largely aligned with that of Oliver Stone’s in the Stone-Fridman interview. 6 Here are some opinions of Putin masquerading as declarative statements:
Putin is probably scarred by his tough Russian upbringing, leaving him with inadequate compassion. By Western standards , he would be a sociopath. 7 Although often called a narcissist, that seems too simple. I have no doubt that more than a few who crossed him regretted it, but I am also doubtless that western media distortions are profound.
He is a Russian nationalist. While his geopolitical tactics are not soft-touch, I find claims that he is attempting to reassemble the Soviet Union are far-fetched propaganda. His famous lamenting of the collapse of the Soviet Union is usually taken out of context. He was troubled by the post-collapse chaos that could have been avoided. I see a loose analogy with the period in Britannia following the Roman withdrawal.
To Putin, loyalty is everything. It undoubtedly shuts down what westerners might consider constructive open debate. The part missed by many is that in his younger years as a subordinate he offered the same fealty that he expects today. It was central to his rise to power.
Putin’s unflinching directness is brutally refreshing in a world with more waffles than an IHOP. In his interviews, he shows little or no evasiveness.
His gravitas dwarfs that of western leaders, which include Biden, Trudeau, Macron, and Johnson. (I’m withholding judgment on Italy’s decidedly spunky Meloni.) It is a low bar to hurdle, but gravitas is a minimum requirement to rise in Russia. The pundits confounded by his popularity in Russia should look inward and ask why his image in the West is not so shabby either despite their best efforts:
He is not a madman, although rumors of recent mental demise lately lack hard data to support or refute that claim. Contemporary analyses of Putin’s physical and mental health are likely to be so tainted by the intelligence agencies as to be worthless. Judge him by his interviews.
Some analyses paint Vlad as a strict rule follower. 8 By example, a major delay in a particular decision during the war derided by the West was attributed to completing the plans “by the book.” He had the firepower to run for a third consecutive term as president by changing the rules and did not 9 (although he certainly maintained control.)
Here is a contentious assertion: in his early days as a bureaucrat it was said that he “cannot be bribed.” 10 Now he is portrayed as fabulously wealthy, but I have been unable to confirm what seems to be innuendo. Those around him, however, have benefitted enormously from their proximity to power. His top-down control of industry benefitted many close to him, but that could be a consequence of his centralized control of the economy. One can only infer that he is profiting.
His actions Ukraine could be construed as either an energy grab or defensive tactics to prevent an energy grab. 11 Regardless, the politics are very thick.
His battles against the oligarchs draw negative press. When asked about it, he simply noted, “They robbed Russia blind.” That turns out to be true: none of the oligarchs made their billions fair and square. 12 Although Kordokovsky spent a decade in Siberia, where his confiscated assets reside remains unclear to me.
I may be forced to back away from some of these points. I blame the utterly worthless western press for setting me adrift rudderless on the internet in my quest for wisdom. Here are thoughts about the War and NATO from Putin or through his spokesmen in their own words (which, admittedly, are Putin’s too). They are revealing:
Your people do not yet feel an impending sense of danger. That worries me. Can’t you see the world is being pulled in an irreversible direction? Meanwhile, people pretend that nothing is going on. I don’t know how to get through to you anymore. 13
~ Vladimir Putin
Imposing sanctions is the logical continuation and the distillation of the irresponsible and short-sighted policy of the U.S. and EU countries’ governments and central banks…The global economy and global trade as a whole have suffered a major blow, as did trust in the U.S. dollar as the main reserve currency. The illegitimate freezing of some of the currency reserves of the Bank of Russia marks the end of the reliability of so-called first-class assets…Now everybody knows that financial reserves can simply be stolen. 14
~ Vladimir Putin
When the territorial integrity of our country is threatened, we, of course, will use all the means at our disposal to protect Russia and our people. This is not a bluff. And those who try to blackmail us with nuclear weapons should know that the weathervane can turn and point towards them. 15
~ Vladimir Putin
It is extremely alarming that elements of the U.S. global defense system are being deployed near Russia. The Mk 41 launchers, which are located in Romania and are to be deployed in Poland, are adapted for launching the Tomahawk strike missiles. If this infrastructure continues to move forward, and if U.S. and NATO missile systems are deployed in Ukraine, their flight time to Moscow will be only 7–10 minutes, or even five minutes for hypersonic systems. This is a huge challenge for us, for our security. 16
~ Vladimir Putin, December 21, 2021
The Russian President made clear that President Biden’s proposals did not really address the central, key elements of Russia’s initiatives either with regards to non-expansion of NATO, or non-deployment of strike weapons systems on Ukrainian territory…To these items, we have received no meaningful response. 17
~ Yuri Ushakov, a top foreign policy adviser to Putin February 12, 2022
The dollar enjoyed great trust around the world. But for some reason it is being used as a political weapon, imposing restrictions…the U.S. Dollar will collapse soon.
~ Vladimir Putin, 2021
We are not threatening anyone…We have made it clear that any further NATO movement to the east is unacceptable. There’s nothing unclear about this. We aren’t deploying our missiles to the border of the United States, but the United States is deploying their missiles to the porch of our house. Are we asking too much? We’re just asking that they not deploy their attack-systems to our home…What is so hard to understand about that? 18
~ Vladimir Putin
Our mistake was we trusted you too much, and your mistake was you took advantage of that. 19
~ Vladimir Putin to the U.S. on NATO incursion, 2017
No matter how much Western and so-called supranational elites strive to preserve the existing order of things, a new era is coming, a new stage in world history. And only truly sovereign states can ensure high dynamics for growth and become an example for others. 20
~ Vladimir Putin
We do not care about the eyes of the West. I don’t think there’s even room for maneuver left anymore. Because both [Prime Minister Boris] Johnson and [Foreign Secretary Liz] Truss say publicly: ’We must defeat Russia, we must bring Russia to its knees.’ Go on, then, do it. 21
~ Sergei Lavrov, Foreign Minister of Russia
Do you know that 450 individuals were arrested after entering the Congress? They came there with political demands.
~ Vladimir Putin, 2021
You can’t feed anyone with paper—you need food; and you can’t heat anyone’s home with these inflated capitalizations—you need energy. The United States is practically pushing Europe toward deindustrialization in a bid to get its hands on the entire European market. These European elites understand everything—they do, but they serve the interests of others. 22
~ Vladimir Putin
We are actively engaged in reorienting our trade flows and foreign economic contacts towards reliable international partners, primarily the BRICS countries. 23
~ Vladimir Putin
If the West continues to pump Ukraine full of weaponry out of impotent rage or a desire to exacerbate the situation…then that means our geographical tasks will move even further from the current line. 24
~ Sergey Lavrov, Foreign Minister of Russia
The game of nominal value of money is over, as this system does not allow us to control the supply of resources…Our product, our rules. We don’t play by the rules we didn’t create. 25
~ Alexei Miller, CEO of Gazprom
Any fourth-grade history student knows socialism has failed in every country, at every time in history.
~Vladimir Putin, 2014 (disputed)
During the time of the Soviet Union the role of the state in the economy was made absolute, which eventually led to the total noncompetitiveness of the economy…I am sure no one would want history to repeat itself.
~ Vladimir Putin, communist, 2012
Does that sound like the rantings of an unstable personality? Putin’s comments also foreshadow what the brawl is about.
War is not only a military opposition on Ukrainian land. It is also a fierce battle in the informational space.
~ Zelensky, fighting WWIII on Twitter
Volodymyr Zelensky rose to become the elected leader of Ukraine in 2019. He is a colorful character married to a hot wife, consistent with his role as a trained media star with a law degree to boot. One is struck by similarities between Volo’s TV presence to the SNL “sprockets skit.”
A highly successful 2019 presidential run rode the back of promises to clean up the corruption in Ukraine, a country said to be one of the most corrupt in the world. 26 Volo’s ties with the WEF and Klaus Schwab don’t instill confidence. 27 By Ukrainian standards, he is legitimately wealthy man, but the debate of his actual net worth is unclear. He has holdings in several companies with ties to the Ukrainian Nazis (see below), 28 real estate in several countries, 29,30 ties to the Russian oligarchs, 31,32 the backing of a sketchy Ukrainian billionaire, 33,34,35,36,37 and a series of off-shore accounts awkwardly outed by the Pandora papers. 38,39
Given the levels of corruption in Ukraine, none of this is that surprising. Rumors of him being a billionaire oligarch have been actively fact-checked, 40 but his oligarchical status seems sound. I have no trouble imagining that Volo was not a billionaire in 2021 but became one in 2022 given the massive and untraced dollar flows into Ukraine. Every time Vlad and Volo seemed to be getting along, more NATO money showed up.
Despite Jewish roots, Zelensky is affiliated with the ruthless and decidedly antisemitic Azov Battalion. My mental construct is that the Azov Battalion is akin to the Mexican drug cartels—what they lack in numbers they make up with ruthlessness. His gazillionaire patron is said to be funding the Azov boys 41 but with the big money coming in from NATO/CIA sources. 42,43 Ritter posited that the Azovs promised Volo he would die a horrible death if he didn’t cooperate.44,45 Ritter also suggested that early in the conflict the Rooskies felt they could work with Volo and positioned an extraction team nearby in case he needed help. Strange world.
We’re supposed to just veer away from the narrative that was being pushed just a couple of years ago. What the f*ck is that? What is that? 46
~ Joe Rogan, about pre-war Zelensky the Nazi
Volo was absolutely the perfect guy to win the hearts, minds, and wallets of the world, tapping into a combination of charm, fluent English, and theatrical skills. Did I already mention the hot wife? It was a brilliant campaign aided by the US tech giants and their propaganda machines, 47 the Hollywood stars, and global elite, 48,49,50 all visiting Kyiv with remarkable ease given it’s a putative war zone. Volo was even hitting up Xi Jinping to help rebuild Ukraine 51 despite China’s and Russia’s perceived relationship. I’m surprised he didn’t start a SPAC and sell NFTs. Time magazine had Zelensky as a frontrunner on its list of “favorites to win the Nobel Peace Prize,” which is funny when juxtaposed against Volo’s contemporaneous call for a full-blown war to be initiated by a 30-country alliance against a nuclear superpower:52,53
We therefore humbly call upon you, the Committee, to consider: Extending and thereby re-opening the nomination procedure for the Nobel Peace Prize until March 31, 2022 to allow for a Nobel Peace Prize nomination for President Zelensky and the people of Ukraine. 54
~ letter from 36 current and former European politicians
I once again appeal to the international community, as it was before February 24: preemptive strikes so that they [Russia] know what will happen to them if they use it, and not the other way around.
~ Zelensky, on eve of being shortlisted for the Nobel Prize
He got Time’s participation trophy:
The Ukrainians are complaining all the time that they don’t see much of the money…it’s an enormous scam.
~ Colonel Douglas Macgregor
The U.S. has been pouring money and weapons into Ukraine throughout the war that I spitball at $100 billion. 55,56 The Ukrainian lobby in Canada with backing by Chrystia Freeland dropped a billion dollars under Operation UNIFIER 57 to train Ukrainian neo-Nazis. In their denial, Canadian authorities admitted the Azov guys were not good people. Irish taxpayers are giving money for “Ukraine’s current and future needs” even though they have no ties to NATO. 58 The UK committed to 6,000 missiles and to pay Ukrainian soldiers and pilots. 59
Biden slipped up 60 and said we had boots on the ground contrary to his pledge. 61,62 Did anybody doubt this? Those sophisticated weapons aren’t gonna
shoot inspect themselves. Recall we had advisors in Vietnam in 1962. How did that work out? Two “advisors” got grabbed by the Rooskies, their whereabouts are unknown to me. 63
Although it’s not clear whether Volo simply overplayed his hand or something politically deeper occurred, but questions of waste and mismanagement of resources began surfacing. 64,65,66,67 While mooching billions, which showed up suspiciously before the bars opened every Friday night, he was threatening to default on Ukrainian debt. 68 The cash was said to “dissolve into a black hole of secrecy, corruption, deceit, and now, default.” 69 The weapons disappeared into the black market. 70 And then there is the FTX-DNC connection I described in Part 1. CBS News buried a documentary on graft associated with the military support for Ukraine because Volo’s supporters and the Military-Industrial Complex were not happy. 70,71 Protests around Europe suggested that Johannes Sixpack was growing weary of their sacrifice for a proxy war. 72
Show a little more gratitude. 73
~ Joe Biden to Zelensky
Volo showed his dark side in the pre-war era when his regime banned teaching kids in Russian in the ethnically Russian-rich eastern provinces. 74 A 2019 video shows him ranting about how his army is ready to go to war in the Donbas. 75 I have no idea if pre-war atrocities (below) committed by the Azov punks can be hung on the Zelensky regime, but the U.S. buck stops at the top.
For the truth about the Zelensky regime, Google these names: Voldymyr Struk Denis Kireev Mikhail & Aleksander Kononovich Nestor Shufrych Yan Taksyur Dmitri Djangirov Elena Berezhnaya Once again: If you haven’t heard from me in 12 hours or more, put my name on this list.
~ Gonzalo Lira, journalist of unknown credibility
While Volo was charming the world out of tens of billions of dollars, he was also doing things that you might expect from the president of a profoundly corrupt and authoritarian state:
Volo unplugged three television networks that included the voices of his political opponents even though they had showed no support for Russia. 76
He banned and seized the assets of OPPL—the second largest political party in the country and his direct opposition; they were prohibited from “all activity within Ukraine.” 77 He also included ten smaller parties in the purge. 78
Volo imprisoned local political opponents 79 and tried to extradite and imprison those abroad despite no evidence they were supporting Russia.
The dismissal of senior officials raised more than a few bushy eyebrows. 80,81
Volo banned Christianity—the Ukrainian Orthodox Church—as of December, 2022 and seized its property. 82
Ukrainian authorities threatened all-expense-paid stays in the gulags for 18–60-year-olds who used to stay and fight for the homeland. 83 Some are being shot, although this may be unofficial actions of the Azov Boys. 84
Tucker Carlson took the homogenous western narrative to task for claiming that Ukraine is a democracy 85 and took all Bible-thumping politicians on the right and sanctimonious politicians on the left for their silence. I know why many hate Tucker Carlson—I did too—but he is one of the few conservative talking heads who crosses the center line and touches third rails. He is the mirror image of Bill Maher.
The U.S. is the most warlike country on earth.
~ Jimmy Carter
One of Volo’s most inexplicable moves was to put out a hitlist—metaphorical or real is unknowable—of Westerners seemingly not buying his story. 86,87,88,89 The list includes such luminaries as Marine Le Pen, Tulsi Gabbard, Glenn Greenwald, Jeff Sachs, Scott Ritter, and Rand Paul. 90 Seems like he overplayed that hand. He also called for the prosecution of the U.S. and European megabank CEOs for “committing war crimes” because of their Russian ties 91 after reaching out directly to their CEOs to no avail. Dude: you cannot manhandle bankers like Canadian truckers.
After the fall of the Soviet Union, there was a near universal understanding among political leaders that NATO expansion would be a foolish provocation against Russia. How naive we were to think the military-industrial complex would allow such sanity to prevail.
~ Chris Hedges, very left-wing independent journalist
NATO (The North Atlantic Treaty Organization) was formed in 1949 as a post-WWII association of nations whose primary purpose was to oppose the rising power of the Soviet Union. It, by design, explicitly posed an existential risk to the Soviets, but that is not to say that NATO always behaved aggressively. After a lifetime of immersion in the Cold War, I had two thoughts when the Soviet Union collapsed: (a) “Holy shit!,” and (b) few years later, “who is going to oppose us?” Pulling away one of two equal and opposite forces produces a huge power shift. I remember reading of Jeff Sachs’s assurances to the former Soviets that there would be a Marshall Plan-like response from the West. It never materialized because, without the Soviet threat, who needs a Marshall Plan?
Explicitly calling Putin a war criminal and for his removal from power meaningfully increases the risk of either chemical or nuclear weapons being used in Ukraine. 92
~ Niall Ferguson, Harvard University and the Hoover Institute
Amidst the uncertainty of the Soviet Union splintering into a collection of directionless Warsaw Pact nations and the nervousness of a reuniting Germany, NATO promised Russia that if they didn’t push to reassemble the Warsaw Pact nations, NATO would not push eastward to absorb them. Declassified documents from US and Russian archives 93,94 revealed that Yeltsin was assured the “Partnership for Peace” was not a NATO expansion and Russia would be included.
Well, as the agreement with Yeltsin was being worked out NATO’s expansion was already secretly underway. Secretary of State Warren Christopher later said that the drunken Yeltsin had Vodka goggles on and didn’t realize that the West planned to “lead to gradual expansion of NATO.” 95 The written record backs Yeltsin. Bill Clinton started the move in 1997. 96 One of the legends of the cold war, George Kennan, called the expansion “the most fateful error of American policy in the entire post-Cold War era.” 97 The late Russian expert Stephen Cohen was hypercritical of the demonization of Russia (Russophobia). 98 Here is a young Joe Biden admitting that bringing Baltic states into NATO would be a mistake. 99 As the tweeter disrespectfully noted, “Even shit-for-brains knew.” Here’s Vice President Shit-for-Brains sometime later cat-calling Russia for their concerns over NATO’s expansion. 101
The decision for the U.S. and its allies to expand NATO into the east was decisively made in 1993. I called this a big mistake from the very beginning. It was definitely a violation of the spirit of the statements and assurances made to us in 1990. 100
~ Mikhail Gorbachev, former leader of the Soviet Union
Ukraine is strategically critical for Russia, but I cannot find evidence that Russia wants possession of Ukraine. There is, however, copious evidence that Russia perceives NATO’s control over Ukraine a profound threat. NATO’s relentless sanctions and threats against Russia over decades leaves little doubt that the Russian view is sound. 102 The U.S. could and would sever Russia’s ties to Ukraine in a heartbeat. Within the halls of power, the cold war never ended.
The bottom line is that the strategic interests of the United States are to prevent Russia from becoming a hegemon. And the strategic interests of Russia are not to allow the U.S. close to its borders. 103
~ George Friedman, Founder of Stratfor, 2014
NATO and the CIA have been dumping money and weapons into Ukraine for years, 104,105 and CIA operatives have been crawling all over Ukraine, arming and training troops for a potential conflict with Russia. This is provocative, but those actions are neither legally nor tactically the same as Ukraine being in NATO. The CIA- and Ukrainian-oligarch-sponsored Maiden Coup in Ukraine in 2014 106,107 brought U.S. puppet Yatsensuk and his Nazi loyalists to power. 108,109 (Funny trivia point: The oligarch, Ihor Kolomoysky, who funded the coup owns Burisma Holdings.) George Friedman, the head of the private intelligence firm Stratfor, called it “the most blatant coup in history.” 110 That’s a high bar. It also led to some hilarity as super-neocon and Dick Cheney protegé, Victoria Nuland, 111,112 was recorded planning the swap and saying, “Fuck the EU.” She now works for Biden…or vice versa.
The extent of the Obama administration’s meddling in Ukraine’s politics was breathtaking…One can legitimately condemn some aspects of Moscow’s behavior, but the force of America’s moral outrage is vitiated by the stench of U.S. hypocrisy. 113
Ted Galen Carpenter in Foreign Affairs, 2017
The year 2014 represented a phase change. Mearsheimer says that year NATO began training thousands of Ukrainian troops per year and providing more money and weapons, eventually with the help of Erik Prince of Blackwater fame. 114 Joint military exercises were designed to facilitate “interoperability” so that they could work with NATO forces. Here are Senators Graham, McCain, and Klobuchar rallying the Ukrainian troops in 2016. 115 “Klobuchar” is Ukrainian and loosely translates as “insufferable, self-serving neocon.”
By 2021, NATO-trained troops were holding war exercises on Russia’s borders. 116 Meanwhile, between 2014 and 2022 the civil war in the Donbas killed an estimated 14,000 people as Ukrainian Nationalists put some whoop-asskyy on ethnic-Russian separatists. 117
Azov Battalion has deep roots. For a crash course on its origins, the documentary Ukraine on Fire (2016) is probably a good start. 118 An off-off-Broadway analyst—The Last American Vagabond—does an interesting, well-documented, and extemporaneous analysis, pulling together connections of fascist groups around the globe under the umbrella called the Azov Movement, all using remarkably common logos and symbolism. 119,120 This Twitter thread gives some backdrop.121
The Ukrainian Nazis—called “nationalists” by news sanitizers—trace back to at least WWII. Ukraine was split into two factions. Ukrainian “nationalists” led by Stepan Bandera in Western Ukraine worked with the Germans to battle the Soviets. They were brutal ethnic cleansers and antisemites. 122 To this day, the so-called Banderites celebrate Stepan Bandera’s birthday. 123 During the cold war the U.S. cozied up to Bandera delineated in a great book, The Devils Chessboard (see Books), 124 with the CIA providing cover for numerous atrocities. Bandera got whacked in 1959 by either the Soviets or the CIA.
While the Nazi presence in Ukraine is thoroughly documented, what may surprise some is their postwar fascist influence throughout Europe. A documentary recounting the profound role closet fascists played in founding the EU is both convincing and disturbing. 125 Prior to 2022, the existence of a dangerous Nazi population in Western Ukraine was widely covered and uncontested. Since the onset of the War in Ukraine, the press has tried to erase that history. Recall Nina Jankowicz’s role (Part 1). 126 I suspect that earlier efforts to de-Nazify the public record would have been more aggressive if NATO analysts had believed that Putin would make his move.
In the late 1980s, the Banderites rejuvenated a neo-Nazi movement and, with NATO assistance, incited civil unrest leading up to the U.S.-led 2014 coup. 127 The Banderites were also in cahoots with the cops during brutal and well-funded “Maydan” protests. Victoria Nuland et al. realized the Nazis were their best shot at giving Russia guff. 128 There are also the usual stories of George Soros being involved. Contacts with McCain, Graham, and Biden attest to the level of U.S. involvement. The CIA-led coup eventually ousted highly flawed Putin puppet Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych and replaced him with highly flawed US puppet Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk.
It was one of the most provoked invasions of our lifetimes because of the West dumping its arms in Ukraine.
~ Max Blumenthal, independent journalist
Following Ukraine’s 2014 coup, the Banderites consolidated the Azov Battalion while embarking on a campaign of terror against ethnic Russians in the Donbas, all coordinated by CIA director John Brennan. 129 Videos show them burning the trade union headquarters killing 41 people trapped inside, 130 while the police stood by. Obama praised these freedom fighters for showing “remarkable restraint.” 131 The Azovs set up headquarters in Mariupol, which, not coincidentally, was a primary Russian military target during the war. If you want a real crash course on these guys, search “Azov Battalion” on Google or Twitter setting a custom date range to pre-January 2022. 132,133 Older BBC and Time documentaries show Nazis behaving badly. 134,135 The evidence of the Azov brutality is unassailable. 136,137 Getting a reliable head count on the Azovs, however, is like counting soldiers in a drug cartel (not easy).
I will not call people in Donbas Ukrainians; we don’t need them. When Ukrainian tanks enter Donetsk, they (local residents) will be destroyed. 138
~ Ukrainian soldier who identifies as a Nazi
Attempts to rehabilitate the Banderite and Azov image include renaming streets across Ukraine after Banderite heroes. 139 The Times of Israel was not happy. The CIA’s interest in exploiting the Banderites and Azov Battalion and the lack of image rehabilitation until the War in Ukraine began may attest to the CIA miscalculating Putin’s willingness to fight. Given recent efforts to root Nazis and white supremacists out of the U.S. military—no doubt a propaganda lie for some other purpose—it’s ironic that the U.S. and Ukraine were the only votes against a UN resolution condemning the Ukrainian neo-Nazis. 140
Zelensky was also having trouble hiding the rough-edged Azov shenanigans. Western journalists from the AP accompanied Zelensky’s troops as they kidnap Ukrainians who question the regime. 141 This was for show, but some wondered what happens when the cameras are off. 142 Videos of the Azov thugs beating on civilians and torturing Russian captives are legion, 143,144,145,146 getting removed quickly but propagating like Tribbles. 147 One shows a Ukrainian field doctor saying that they are treating Russian captives who have been castrated. Another shows the Azov’s doing the nasty.148,149 In short, it is very difficult to find redeeming traits in the Azov Battalion.
Ukraine violated the Minsk deal, Zelenskiy tripled attacks on Donbas and pushed Putin to a special operation that was supposed to last a week but escalated after the West sent money and weapons to Kyiv. 150
~ Claudio Berlusconi, former Prime Minister of Italy
What prompted the invasion?
A Rand Corporation white paper described how we would get to war with Russia. 1,2 Think tanks aren’t paid by the Pentagon to study issues but rather to propagandize them. 3 Rand summarized ways to trigger incidents between Russia and NATO:
From the Russian leadership’s perspective, the theater itself could not be of greater significance; Ukraine has long been seen as a core national security concern…This Perspective summarizes the most-plausible pathways that could lead to a Russian decision to target NATO member states during the current conflict, describes the conditions under which Moscow might undertake such actions, and lays out how U.S. and NATO actions — including ongoing military assistance to Ukraine — could affect each pathway’s likelihood.
~ Rand Corporation, July 2022
Cui bono? Well, for starters, the Military-Industrial Complex benefits from the billions. Lloyd Austin was on Raytheon’s board of directors before the revolving door led him to become Secretary of Defense. 4 Former CIA Director Gina Haspel went the other direction, joining the board of BAE Systems as BAE became the chief supplier of artillery to Ukraine. 5 It is nice to see Gina land on her feet. These guys are making a killing by killing. There will never be a promised “peace dividend.”
Everything that’s being shipped into Ukraine today, of course, is coming out of stockpiles, either at DOD or from our NATO allies, and that’s all great news. Eventually, we’ll have to replenish it, and we will see a benefit to the business. 6
~ Greg Hayes, CEO of Raytheon
The barking of NATO at the gates of Russia…weapons are being tested in that land… Wars are fought for this: to test the weapons we have produced…The arms trade is a scandal; few oppose it. 7
~ The Pope on what prompted Putin’s incursion
One could ask why did Russia wait so long? If all hell was breaking out in Eastern Ukraine, why care now? The obvious answer is the seriousness of the move would give any leader pause, but there were events transpiring that prompted Russia to act.
Jacques Baud says that the shelling of the Donbas on February 16th made it clear to Putin that a big move against the ethnic Russians had started. 8 Some suggest those same events alerted the Biden administration that shit was about to get real, although it is impossible to believe the U.S. didn’t instigate the escalation.
Ukraine should renounce its NATO aspirations and declare neutrality as part of a wider European security deal between the West and Russia. 9
~ Olaf Scholz, German Chancellor in a memo to Zelensky on February 19th.
Zelensky is said to have overtly sandbagged any negotiations. While most military powers negotiate first then go to war, the Russians fight and negotiate concurrently. Destroying Kyiv or Zelensky was not in their plans because it would leave no negotiators. Russia’s goal was to de-nazify and demilitarize Ukraine, not beat them nor destroy infrastructure that would need to be rebuilt. That is also why the fighting in Kharkiv and Mariupol—the home of the Azov Battalion—became particularly intense. 10
The Biden administration is so intent on punishing Putin, it can hardly focus on the Ukrainians who are dying every day. 11
~ DIA officer
In November 2021, Antony Blinken reaffirmed Ukraine’s right to join NATO and listed Russia’s indiscretions including “continuing malign behavior.” 12 In December the Russians warned us they were “about to lose their shit” and proposed a treaty 13 asking for NATO’s assurance they would not further weaponize Ukraine anymore, and we told them to “bite me.” 14 We did not just disagree; we blew them off. This is Mearsheimer’s key point: we are no longer credible negotiators.
On February 21 and 24, Putin delivered speeches with their gripes and their need to “demilitarize” and “de-nazify” Ukraine. Steve Walt says Putin was a rational actor given that NATO’s next move was unclear. The Russians had no reason to take our stated intentions on good faith. The previous promises to exclude Ukraine from joining NATO were by handshake—that, according to Mearsheimer, is a common protocol in diplomatic circles—but Putin wanted it in writing this time (as Putin lamented in his interviews with Oliver Stone.) The written promise could be broken, but it would be harder.
Putin tried desperately to get the British, the French, the Germans, and us to understand that his Russian citizens should be treated equally before the law just like Ukrainian citizens inside this large multi-ethnic state. (But) Zelensky and his friends said ‘No. Either you become what we are or you get out.’ 15
~ Colonel Douglas MacGregor
Some think the war was triggered not by the threat of a NATO incursion per se but when Ukrainian troops started markedly ramping up shelling of ethnic Russian Ukrainians in the Donbas; 16 nine days later Putin made the move with a “special military operation.” Some analysts with nuanced views believed NATO could have stopped the war in those last few days, but NATO had no intention of diffusing the conflict. 17 It appears that Putin accelerated the attack by several days owing to intelligence suggesting imminent mass atrocities in Eastern Ukraine. 18
Use up the Irish. Their dead cost nothing.
~ King Longshanks, Braveheart
Jumping ahead a little, during the war NATO fanned the flames by calling for the accelerated inclusion of Finland and Sweden. 19 A neocon was ranting that the Kremlin didn’t give a shit, arguing that Russia’s obsession over Ukraine was hypocrisy. What this NATO pimp failed to grasp was that he was making the case for Ukraine being a special issue to Russia. Also, the Kremlin did object strenuously to NATO’s overtures to Finland and Sweden and had previously expressed grave concerns if Sweden and Finland started getting weaponized. 20 Some suggest that the move toward Sweden and Finland is evidence that Ukraine is soon to be under Russian control and that NATO is repositioning for the next brawl. 21 Whatever.
The Drums of War
The war started out paradoxically. In breathless press conferences, Jake Sullivan claimed the attack was coming, and the reporters simply did not believe him given the total lack of evidence provided. British defense secretary Ben Wallace said it is “highly likely” that Russia will attack Ukraine. 1,2 By contrast, the Chinese Foreign Ministry claimed “the U.S. has been fanning the threat of war, artificially creating a tense atmosphere, which has dealt a serious blow to the economy, social stability and living conditions of the people of Ukraine.” 3 The Chinese, of course, would never lie. However, even the Ukraine Defense Chief noted, “Our intelligence sees every move that could pose a potential threat to Ukraine. We estimate the probability of a large-scale escalation as low.” 4,5 David Arakhamia of Kyiv’s parliament said he was now “99.9% confident that nothing will happen.” 6,7 Zelensky claimed that the U.S. was “provoking panic” and demanded to see firm proof. 8,9 A Russian spokesperson requested facetiously, “I’d like to request US and British disinformation—Bloomberg, The New York Times and The Sun media outlets —to publish the schedule for our upcoming invasions for the year.” 10 Zelensky then suggested the war would start February 15th, but that was later claimed to be sarcasm emerging from his comedic roots. 11 He’s a hoot.
This veneer of chaos and confusion, however, is consistent with the general idea that the US—Oops. I meant NATO—was itching to spark a proxy war that nobody else was thrilled about. A German accused the U.S. of wreaking havoc deliberately to disrupt Russian attack plans. 12 My spidey sense was piqued by two independent emails sent to me from unrecognized sources noting that (a) there was already shelling in the Donbas region of Ukraine by Ukrainians, and (b) large Ukrainian forces had been amassing for months. This was common knowledge, but I knew nothing about the ongoing civil war at that moment in my journey.
Putin is not intentionally attacking civilians…he is mindful that he needs to limit damage in order to leave an out for negotiations. 13
~ William M. Arkin, March 22 Newsweek
The Russian state department eventually sent a flight to D.C. to pick up their “Russian intelligence agents” from the embassy, 14 and the war started, but at a crawl. If you wanna see serious war footage check out Baghdad on Day One 15 of the Iraq War or even watch Saving Private Ryan for the ninth time. I drove my wife nuts every night declaring, “This doesn’t look like a war to me.” The media covered human interest stories about how awful it was, showed photos of burned-out cars and the occasional explosion in the middle of some street or vacant lot that looked like a stick of dynamite (or M-80) was detonated rather safely. 16 The larger explosions seemed to miss their targets, 17 and huge explosions were so far away that there was no evidence of what blew up.
I know it’s hard … to swallow that the carnage and destruction could be much worse than it is, but that’s what the facts show. 18
~ DIA analyst
It’s odd that the windows survived a car-flipping blast (top), while it appears that a MOAB turned a goat grazing in a vacant field into pink mist. Early footage from Mariupol looked more like grinding poverty from decades-long destruction and decay than a fresh war zone. 19,20 Nightly news footage was highly repetitive showing the same buildings from different angles: is that all the media could find? On-the-ground interviews were either content-free stories or featured people who seemed unaware of what was happening while expressing mixed emotions about Putin versus Zelensky. 21 A British journalist went looking for the war and found shelling of Ukrainians by Ukrainians. 22 Another found neither the war nor other journalists. 23
I can hear you saying, “Well, what about these horrors you idiot?”
Well, those are horrific scenes, but they are (a) Detroit; (b) Ukraine, 2022; (c) Baltimore; (d) Donbas, 2014; (e) the South Bronx; (f) Mariupol, 2016; (g) Yemen; and (h) Minneapolis, 2020. See how easy it would be for the media to dupe you? I was not alone in my doubts. A powerful analysis by William Arkin of Newsweek makes a strong case that Putin was pulling his punches to avoid infrastructure destruction and civilian casualties. 24
Heartbreaking images make it easy for the news to focus on the war’s damage to buildings and lives. But in proportion to the intensity of the fighting (or Russia’s capacity), things could indeed be much worse. 25
~ U.S. Air Force officer
Scott Ritter, the U.S. marine who drew scorn from Joe Biden for saying Iraq did not have weapons of mass destruction, 25 predicted Russia’s WWI-like invasion strategy. In particular, he said with Russia’s small invasion force they did not intend to occupy territory. Ritter also predicted that Putin would draw Ukrainian troops into the cities to defend them. Once accomplished, he would avoid urban warfare circling the cities. You may recall the western press slobbering over Putin’s retreats as evidence Russia was getting toe tagged. MacGregor concurred with Ritter that calling Russian moves “retreats” is silly. 26 Both Colonel MacGregor and CIA analyst Jacques Baud noted that Ukraine was fighting for territory while Russia was fighting to demilitarize and de-Nazify Ukraine with an interest only in tactically important territory. 27 Retired Colonel David Johnson of the Rand Corporation and the Modern War Institute at West Point insinuated that the western press is looking through beer goggles. 28 Battles in the Donbas were said by blogger Will Schryver to be akin to the Maginot Line in which the Rooskies dealt with long-prepared fixed fortifications so efficiently that the strategy “will be studied in war colleges” for years to come. 29
Before moving on to specific events, here are some random observations from early in the conflict that caught my eye as odd or unexpected:
In May, a Russian soldier was convicted of a war crime for shooting a 62-year-old civilian. 30 This is an oddly small crime for war.
Despite headlines and breathless narratives, it proved exceedingly difficult to discern which battles were being won and by whom in the early days of the war. Videos showed blurred-out street signs. 31 Putative Russian tanks lacked the traditional markings. It was the fog of war.
A Reuters story describing how Ukrainian troops repelled a Russian incursion in the Sumy region showed a picture of guys with paintball guns. 32,33 Apparently, ”Big Paintball,” also known as the “Paintball-Industrial Complex,” is getting its cut. Recall that ABC showed a hellacious fight against Syrians…filmed at a military gun range in the Midwest. 34 Americans got duped by those images too.
The United Nations reported 596 deaths three weeks into the war, including 43 children. Biden’s Afghan drone strike in Afghanistan killed six kids in a microsecond. I suspect the Iraq War took out more than 596 people in the first 20 seconds.
Long-range artillery is very, very important. But so is the hand-to-hand insurgency that we are hoping to see in eastern Ukraine, in the territory that’s already been occupied by the Russians. 35
~ Senator Richard Blumenthal, armchair quarterback, volunteering?
A pregnant woman in Ukraine scrambling from the horrors of war turned out to be a prominent Instagram model Wagging the Dog. 36
Two British mercenaries (MI6 maybe?) were arrested by the Rooskies and taken to court for trying to kill Rooskies.37,38 Seems like a logical charge to me. A couple of Americans got picked up too. 39
Ukrainians standing next to a long-defunct factory refused to evacuate because they were “waiting for the Russians to arrive and put the factory back into production.” 40 The plan is that “they will soon be repairing Russian tanks, and then they will have bread on the table again.” They also griped that only the wealthy and those ideologically supportive of the Kyiv regime could evacuate.
“Heroic Ukrainian freedom fighters” on Snake Island who flipped off the Russian navy and were said to be “martyred” by the Rooskies are doing fine after all. 41
A putative Russian attack on the holocaust museum did not hold up to scrutiny by the Israeli press. 42
Russian attacks on a nuclear plant made no sense given the Russians controlled it, and UN inspectors invited in by the Russians found no problems either. 43 Anyone can hit the “broadside of a cooling tower.”
The media does not allow any word against Ukrainian actions. I’ve asked around to friends and they say, ‘Yeah Jeff. Of course, it is the Ukrainians shelling the plant. 44
~ Jeff Sachs
Claims of mass rape of Ukrainians by Russian soldiers played well on western news outlets 45 but did not age well when westerners checked the story, eventually leading to the firing of the Ukrainian official offering up these fibs.46 The propaganda defeat 47 was simply ignored by some human rights groups looking for clicks. 48
Putative mercenaries were occasionally identified but whether they were ex-military westerners with Ukrainian sympathies or State-sanctioned NATO troops is difficult to say. 49,50
The Biden administration’s accusations of genocide by Russian troops 51 were called bullshit by French President Macron and by our Pentagon and U.S. intelligence officials. 52
A German journalist is looking at a three-year prison sentence for writing about Ukraine with a Russian slant. 53 Remind me: which country is a totalitarian state?
Gold teeth attributed to a Roosky torture chamber were traced to a dentist who had collected them over his multi-decade career. 54 The photo also featured a dildo that was pulled from…never mind.
Ukraine’s Post Office issued a postage stamp commemorating the bombing of the Kerch Bridge connecting to Crimea the day the bridge was bombed. 55 That stamp may become a valuable collectible. It was also Putin’s 70th birthday. 56 Somebody has a sense of humor.
While Zelensky and NATO blamed mass graves on torture, reporters noted that the graves were orderly and looked like the victims died from artillery wounds. 57
Western reports that the Rooskies were going to use a dirty bomb—a normal bomb impregnated with radioactive debris—never materialized and never made sense because a dirty bomb would offer no tactical gain.
Images of dead Ukrainians strewn alongside a road in Bucha lit up the international presses. The problem is that the Ukrainians “liberated” Bucha on March 31 and had it “fully under control” according to the mayor. The bodies, however, did not materialize until three days later. OK. Shit happens, but the Ukrainian National Police are tight with the ruthless Azov boys known for killing Ukrainians. 58 A former French special ops guy says it was Ukrainians, not Russians, doing the killing. 59
Odesa is a port city on the Black Sea of critical economic and military importance to both the Ukrainians and the Russians. The day after the Russians signed a grain export deal with Turkey, the port suffered an attack. U.S. officials blamed Russia for destroying a shipping port of great importance to Russia. Zelensky agreed with NATO because he won’t bite the hand that feeds him money and weapons. 60 The Russians and Turks countered that it was completely nuts to accuse Russia of attacking port critical to their needs. 61 Russia eventually admitted to hitting a “military target…Harpoon missiles,” claimed “nobody died,” and assured the world the grain deal was still on.62,63,64
Some events need more than a bullet. When a Russian missile landing in a train station killed over 50 Ukrainians, I was reminded that if you wish to learn, post a tweet with an error or omission in it, 65 and sit back and watch:
Within minutes military guys quickly noted it is a two-stage unguided “Tochka” missile, and I was seeing only the jettisoned stage. I learned that the Tochka missiles had been decommissioned by the Rooskies more than five years ago and only the Ukies were using them now, 66 which has been contested. 67,68 Apparently, it is trivial to calculate the origin of the Tochka missiles by knowing where the two stages landed and extrapolating backward, which pinpointed this missile’s source to the heart of Ukrainian-occupied territory. 69 The Rooskies came to the same conclusion, but, of course, that has been blocked by Western censors because hearing the other side of any story is counterproductive. 70 The recurring theme is that Ukrainians kill Ukrainians, especially when billions in aid are at stake.
The media told us a gripping story as Ukrainian troops from the Azov Battalion were under siege in the Azovstahl steel mill in Mariupol. The Russian siege eventually flushed them out. 71 Of course, Putin’s demilitarization and de-Nazification plan made this group and Mariupol primary targets. The civilians were offered a free pass out multiple times and, when they finally got out, were surprised to find the rest of the city going about its business. The civilians were referred to by amnesty international as “human shields,” which is said to be a common practice of the Ukrainian troops. 72,73There were rumors of Western military officers captured too. 74 I would not underwrite the health or life insurance policies of the Azov captives on that bus to Siberia.
Russia is the most likely suspect. 75
~ John Brennan, former CIA Director and the model of honesty, on the pipeline
Jeff Sachs: The destruction of the Nord Stream pipeline…I would bet was a U.S. action, perhaps U.S. and Poland. 76
Tom Keene interrupting: Uh, Jeff, we’ve got to stop there.
Pipelines, Bridges, and Other Infrastructure
By now pretty much everybody knows that the Nord Stream II Pipeline providing natural gas to Europe, and the Kerch Bridge providing critical access to the Russian satellite Crimea, were blown up. I suspect that neither was as damaging as first thought. 1 The West’s immediate reaction was to blame Russia for blowing up its own infrastructure, which is absurd.2 Fact-checkers attacked “rumors circulating on online forums popular with American conservatives and followers of QAnon,” which is comically stupid. 3,4 Some say the Brits did it for us, but Navy activities in the area days before the explosion are suspicious. 5,6,7,8 The unfiltered Jeff Sachs noted, “We are seeing the behavior of a highly secretive part of our government. There is no doubt.” 9,10 Whether the strike was carried out by the US or one of our proxies—NATO bitches—is irrelevant. Joe Biden and neocon Victoria “Fuck the EU” Nuland made statements months earlier that were hard to walk back: 11
If Russia invades…then there will no longer be a Nord Stream 2. We will bring an end to it. 12
~ Joe Biden
If Russia invades Ukraine, one way or another, Nord Stream 2 will not move forward.
~ Victoria Nuland, neocon
MacGregor, 13 after noting the sophistication and tonnage of explosives required to damage the pipeline, asks rhetorically, “Would the Russians destroy their own pipeline? 40 percent of Russian gross domestic product generates foreign currencies that come into the country to purchase natural gas, oil, and coal…The notion that they did I think is absurd.” Well, Poland’s former Minister of Defense Sikorski seemed sure who did it:
The Kremlin and Russian state media are aggressively pushing a baseless conspiracy theory blaming the United States for damage to natural gas pipelines in the Baltic Sea in what analysts said Friday is another effort to split the U.S. and its European allies. 14
~ Associated Press, lying their asses off
As to why we blew it up seems rather straightforward: “Berlin was drifting away from the alliance,” threatening to stop sending equipment to Ukraine, and preparing to cut a deal. 15 The Germans can now ponder their next move this winter while they shutter industries and freeze their asses off burning firewood 16 to heat their houses. Seems a shame they just shut down their nuke plants. I would be pissed off and self-loathing. The US should benefit from soaring natural gas prices while Germany complains about U.S. profiteering. 17 With three of the four pipelines delivering Russian natural gas to Europe out of commission, Hungary is now the only EU member state still receiving Russian gas. 18 By blowing up Nord Stream II, we have forced Germany to be a “vassal state” of the U.S.
Over the long run you want to change the structure of your energy dependence. You want to depend more on the North American energy platform—the tremendous bounty of oil and gas that we are finding in North America. 19
~ Condoleezza Rice, 2014, to Germany
The United States considers the most dangerous potential alliance to be between Russia and Germany.
~ George Friedman, founder of Stratfor, 2014
When the Soviet Union toppled, one of the nightmare scenarios was that their dilapidated bioweapons labs were in collapsing buildings, secured by rusty padlocks, and staffed by heroin addicts possibly looking to raise cash on the black market. This threat is nicely described in Richard Preston’s 2001 nail-biter, Demon in the Freezer. 1 Of course, the West had 30 years to decommission those labs in Ukraine, and you would not dawdle despite what CNN says. 2 Well, it appears that there are several dozen U.S.-sponsored bioweapons labs in Ukraine (and 336 worldwide). 3,4,5 Those who expressed concerns (like Tulsi Gabbard) got hammered for such hare-brained “Russian-backed conspiracy theories.” 6
However, the Nunn-Lugar Agreement cleared these labs for use in 2005. 7 The Pentagon fessed up to there being 46 Ukrainian biolabs, 8,9 and the Rooskies have known about them for years. 10 We were scrambling to get the good stuff back to the U.S.—you know, the deadly shit like modified coronaviruses—before the war started. 11 Any thought that this is just wild-eyed conspiracy theory was snuffed when Victoria Nuland sheepishly and with cautious word choice admitted they exist: 12
Uh, Ukraine has, uh, biological research facilities. We are now in fact quite concerned that Russian troops, Russian forces, may be seeking to, uh, gain control of [those labs], so we are working with the Ukrainians on how they can prevent any of those research materials from falling into the hands of Russian forces should they approach.
~ Victoria “Oh Fuck!” Nuland, testifying to Congress
Jeff Sachs, jumped into the fray again, this time asking the World Health Organization (WHO) to intervene. 13 Seems germane given that Sachs ran the commission that confirmed the Sars-Cov-2 virus came from such a lab and that the WHO was in full ass-covering mode. Both the Chinese 14 and the Russians 15 drew attention to U.S. bioweapons research leading to the covid pandemic including many of the authoritarian implications. 16 The BBC says that healthy newborns in Ukraine have been scooped up and become part of stem cell production facilities. I wonder who sponsored those? 17 All roads really do lead to Ukraine.
We have approached a fateful moment in world history, not because of global warming, Covid, overpopulation, white racism, or any of the “crises” that an ignorant media hypes, but because we face nuclear war originating in the total stupidity of Western elites.
~ PC Roberts, former Assistant Secretary of the Treasury
The great powers have taken over and practically destroyed the UN order over the past several decades. I assume that we’re leaving the phase of the special military operation and approaching a major armed conflict, and now the question becomes where is the line, and whether after a certain time—maybe a month or two, even—we will enter a great world conflict not seen since the Second World War.
~ Aleksandar Vucic, President of Serbia
In the decades following the Cuban Missile Crisis, no sane person considered nuclear weapons to be tactically viable. All diplomatic channels were designed to avoid Armageddon. Apparently, there are now insane people in positions of power. It is crystal clear that Russian authorities, whether it be Putin, Lvarov, Medvedev, or the Minister of Whatever, are speaking with one voice that to a major degree is Putin’s:
I’m Vladimir Putin, and I approve this message.
NATO’s many disparate voices are problematic when it comes to delicate diplomacy. Let’s bullet a few (double entendre intended):
Polish officials claim that the Biden administration is open to letting Poland host U.S. nuclear weapons—”nuclear-sharing.” 1 Poland, as you might recall, is on Russia’s doorstep. 2,3 Poland’s European Parliament Deputy Radoslaw Sikorski emerged from his lair yet again, suggesting we give some nukes to Kyiv: “The West has the right to give Ukraine nuclear warheads so that it can protect its independence.” 4 My allergic reaction to Sikorski in the Munk debate against Mearsheimer just crystallized. The Russians noted that a nuclear conflict will destroy the European continent. 5
Republican Senator Roger Wicker said he wouldn’t even rule out a pre-emptive nuclear strike against Russia. 6 Who the fuck asked you?
Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin’s stated goal is to weaken Putin. 7
I am here. Standing here. On the Northern flank. On the Eastern flank. Talking about what we have in terms of the eastern flank in our NATO allies and what is that state at this very moment. 8
~ Kamala Harris in Poland, preventing WWIII
In what may have been the scariest op-ed of the year, Uber-neocon John Bolton called for the assassination of Putin: “The whole regime must go.” 9
Biden said, “For God’s sake, this man cannot remain in power.” 10 The Washington Post called it “the most defiant and aggressive speech about Russia by an American president since Ronald Reagan.” Bullshit: Reagan never called for regime change. Also, that was a nice try equating those two polar opposites.
Globalists are marching us relentlessly toward this nuclear Armageddon. 11
~ Richard Black in an open letter to Congress
Lindsay Graham called for Putin’s countrymen to “take him out.” 12
Ukraine’s top military chief suggested, “There is a direct threat of the use, under certain circumstances, of tactical nuclear weapons by the Russian armed forces. It is also impossible to completely rule out the possibility of the direct involvement of the world’s leading countries in a ‘limited’ nuclear conflict.” 13,14
We United States aids Ukraine and her people so that we can fight Russia over there, and we don’t have to fight them over here. 15
~ Adam Schiff, 2020
New York City began playing duck-and-cover anti-nuke ads this year. 17 Those were insane 60 years ago.
The odd part is that the nuclear talks are largely stemming from NATO. Many have argued that Russia would not use nukes—they are not tactically sound—because they have better options. 18,19 Oddly, Mearsheimer is not in that camp. He thinks a nuke might be the proximate trigger that brings everybody to the negotiating table.
The U.S. is hastening the Deployment of new nuclear weapons in Europe.
~ Politico Headline
Hats off to French President Emmanual Macron for keeping his head while everybody else was losing theirs by refusing to call Russia’s actions genocide: “If Russia had that objective or was intentionally killing civilians, we’d see a lot more than less than 0.01 percent in places like Bucha.” U.S. intelligence concurred: “[Genocide] has so far not been corroborated by information collected by U.S. intelligence agencies.” 16
Who is winning?
Quite frankly, I have no idea who is winning this war. With the lack of critical analysis of Russian army movements, the confusion is profound. Undocumented NATO “advisors” doing “onsite weapons inspections” and possibly firing those weapons that are well beyond the skills of the Ukrainians” 1,2,3 appear to have caused serious damage. However, Ritter, MacGregor, 4 and ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern 5 claim that the Russian losses, while more than they expected at the outset because of the flood of NATO weapons, are grotesquely overstated by Zelensky and the western press. MacGregor estimates the Russian-to-Ukrainian kill ratios of 5–6:1 (October) and that as of early December Ukraine had lost an estimated 100,000 troops. 6 Rumors of Russians running out of tanks went silent as swaths of new tanks appeared. 7 Putin was said to be in huge political trouble or as strong as ever in Russia, depending on who you asked. The claim is that the Rooskies aren’t mudders, but once the ground freezes they will play like the Packers on Lambeau Field. After the bridge and pipeline attacks, Putin ratcheted up the offensive, and the real war appears to have arrived. He appears to be surgically destroying their infrastructure sufficiently to make this winter very unpleasant.
It is of course in the nature of things that, apart from the relative strength of the two armies, a smaller force will be exhausted sooner than a larger one; it cannot run so long a course, and therefore the radius of its theater of operations is bound to be restricted.
~ Carl von Clausewitz’s, 19th century, describing gambler’s ruin applied to war
The insanity of the statements coming out of the many mouths of NATO leaves me breathless. Putin may have misjudged Ukraine and Washington’s resistance to negotiate. The bellicosity of the self-appointed voices of NATO blowing hot air on the flames means the end of this war is not yet in sight. If you want Putin to say, “Fuck it: let’s tear up the joint” in a green-goblin strategy that is how I would do it. Sherman took the war to the people by marching on Atlanta. Putin may be following that script now. With negotiation down the drain, the prospects for a peace have become grim and could get worse.
Interviewer: What are the realistic options now available?
John Mearsheimer: There are no options. We’re screwed.
How does it end?
I could imagine it ending in a whimper like every big news story that becomes inconvenient. I am sure Kanye, Prince Harry, or Will Smith will provide critical cover. Somebody will use the N-word. One of the profound problems, however, is that we do not seem to have concrete plans or motivation to end this war. NATO is comprised of multiple countries. Their human weaponry includes legions of loose cannons loaded with double-digit IQs, all trying to get their 10 minutes of fame by supporting no-fly zones, sending in U.S. troops, delivering nukes to Ukraine, pre-emptively striking Russia, and whacking Putin.
Even assuming Russia ignores the high noise levels, NATO exists to oppose Russia. Serious spokespersons have openly stated that their goal is to weaken or destroy Putin and Russia. This is an existential risk for Putin and Russia by definition. Russia must win and will fight to the death.
We urge you to pair the military and economic support the United States has provided to Ukraine with a proactive diplomatic push, redoubling efforts to seek a realistic framework for a ceasefire.
~ 30 Congressional Democrats in an open letter to Joe Biden
Into this politically treacherous plot enters The Squad—the four newly minted Congressional nitwits—and 26 other DNC-spawned representatives with an open letter suggesting the most coherent idea to date: NATO and Russia should get to the negotiating table to end the war. 1 They got it dead right. Had something changed fundamentally? Nope. The letter was unvetted by the people that matter; within hours they were back peddling, 2 and within a day they withdrew the letter as some sort of clerical mistake. Apparently, House democrats and their friends in the Military-Industrial Complex were unready or unwilling to end this war. 3 It was a monumental fuckup both coming and going.
The Congressional Progressive Caucus hereby withdraws its recent letter to the White House regarding Ukraine. The letter was drafted several months ago, but unfortunately was released by staff without vetting…As Chair of the Caucus, I accept responsibility for this. Because of the timing, our message is being conflated by some as being equivalent to the recent statement by Republican Leader McCarthy threatening an end to aid to Ukraine if Republicans take over.
~ Progressive Democrats’ Retraction
They couldn’t even hold out for *24 hours*. What a complete humiliation. Joe Crowley must be sitting in his lobbyist office cackling each time this happens.
~ Glenn Greenwald on the Democrats retracting their call for peace negotiations
The one person who seems to have a limited say is Zelensky. The chaos preceding the war when the Ukrainians seemed confused by U.S./NATO rhetoric presumably occurred during a period in which Zelensky and Putin were having discussions. It is said that Putin and Zelensky were working out a deal in April when Boris Johnson showed up to let Zelensky know that no such deal would be tolerated. 4 NATO wanted its war, and no NATO puppet was gonna muck that up.
Ukraine and Russia have largely resolved their differences, but the Biden admin is in the way.
– William Arkin, Newsweek, April 2022
Russia is open to negotiations over Ukraine, but any agreement with Kyiv would have little credibility because it could be rescinded by the West. This means that any possible settlement should be primarily discussed with the U.S.
~ Kremlin Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov said on Sunday
Zelensky’s claim that they would “fight to the last Ukrainian” was boilerplate rhetoric to generate Western support. However, Ukraine passed a referendum stating that they would not negotiate with Putin: “we [Ukraine] are ready for dialogue with Russia, but with another president of Russia.” 5 You never shut down communication channels. He was daring Vlad to kill every last Ukrainian. I’m not sure the Ukrainian soccer moms would sign off on that, but Vlad might.
I would never want Ukraine to be a piece on the map, on the chessboard of big global players, so that someone could toss us around, use us as cover, as part of some bargain.
Volodymyr Zelensky, too late
The best thing we can do if we want the Russians to let us be Americans is to let the Russians be Russian.
~ George F. Kennan
Economic Death Spiral
Economic Death Spiral
Authored by Robert Stark via Substack,
Fed Trap: Financial Collapse or Hyper Inflation?
With this banking crisis,…
Authored by Robert Stark via Substack,
Fed Trap: Financial Collapse or Hyper Inflation?
With this banking crisis, which has serious Lehman vibes, it is a good time to revisit my article, Is This The End of The End of History, from March of last year. The article dealt with the theme of collapse vs stagnation, and historical cycles, in light of the Ukraine war, the post-pandemic climate, the onset of inflation, and speculation about economic collapse. A point of mine, that has especially been vindicated, is that “a delay in the Fed raising interest rates, could cause a short term rally in stocks, further expanding the bubble. The bigger the bubble, the worse inflation gets, and the longer the Fed keeps delaying raising rates, the worse the crash will be down the road.” For the most part, most of my geopolitical and economic forecasts have come true, though I actually predicted an economic collapse to occur sooner, which actually vindicates that point, that kicking the can down the road will just create a much worse crisis.
Despite countless signs of economic volatility, the recent bank failures, with shockwaves to the entire financial system, are a turning point, where it is clear that there is going to be a severe economic downturn. For instance, Elon Musk recently said, lot of current year similarities to 1929, and Moody’s cut the outlook on the entire U.S. banking system to negative from stable, citing a "rapidly deteriorating operating environment." Even the perma bulls, mainstream media, and financial “experts,” can no longer deny the obvious signs of economic peril. However, the bullish propaganda was still strong as recently as January, which was really the bulls’ last gasp, with the monkey rally, in response to the Fed only raising interest rates by .25 points, plus economic data showing record low unemployment plus a dip in inflation.
It is important to emphasize that the same figures in media, banking, and government, who were recently shilling a soft landing or mild recession, were previously saying that inflation is transitory. It is especially laughable to think that there are people who take someone like CNBC’s, Jim Cramer, seriously, who in 2008 told his audience don’t be silly on Bear Stearns, right before it crashed, and more recently shilled for Silicon Valley Bank, and is still predicting a soft landing. A lot of the recent propaganda is practically identical to right before the 08 crash, as well as during stagflation in the 70s, and even before the Great Depression, as the media has vested economic and political interests in propping up the markets. The financial YouTuber, Maverick of Wall Street, brilliantly uses this “self-love” gif of Jack Nicholson, from the film, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, as a metaphor for whenever perma-bulls see any data that may signify a Fed pivot, causing stocks to rally. As the desperation really kicks in, expect further talk of a soft landing, as well as more rallies in stocks, as we saw in response to the bailouts, as well as desperate investors switching back and forth between the NASDAQ and S&P500, which happened in 08. So any return to bullish sentiment is actually a sign of greater economic catastrophe. The stock market rallying over bad economy news, as a sign of a potential pivot, just further shows that the markets are not a good metric for the health of the economy. Not to mention that the top 1% own over half of all stocks.
It has always been the case with bubbles, that the greater the size of the bubble, the more copes to deny reality, and the more vested interests there are in preventing the inevitable crash. Certainly many corporations and banks have made economic decisions based upon an assumption of a soft landing or Fed pivot. This also explains the gaslighting to justify that the 2010s economic boom, especially in tech, was based upon productivity and innovation, when it was primary due to Fed monetary policy, plus data mining in the case of Big Tech. While it is silly for conservatives to blame wokeness as the primary culprit of bank failures, wokeness and bullshit DEI jobs, are a symptom of the corruption that Fed policy enabled.
Fed Balance Sheet: Return to QE
The current banking crisis is triggering more stock buybacks, and a return to Quantitative Easing with the bank bailouts, including plans to inject another $2 Trillion into the banking system, on top of the $300 billion increase in the Fed’s Balance Sheet, in just the last week. This seems counter intuitive, as QE caused inflation, but the economy is so addicted to the “Cocaine,” that is cheap money. So basically quantitative tightening is being implemented and interest rates raised to stop inflation, but as soon as the first major economic disruption of raising rates is felt, then a return to financial policies to further prop up the bubble, causing more inflation. Now the Fed is trapped with two bad options, raise rates or pivot, both of which will lead to inevitable economic doom.
Populists can talk about nationalizing the banks into public debt free banking, and Austrian School libertarians can call for ending the Fed, and returning to a gold standard. While it is true that the Federal Reserve is a corrupt system, that is quasi private in how private banks own shares, the reality is that we are stuck with this system of relying upon the Fed’s interest rates, for the incoming economic crisis. If the Fed continues raising rates, there will be a liquidity crisis, with more bank failures. While interest rates were close to zero, banks used uninsured deposits to both invest in securities and purchase bonds, and thanks to fractional reserve banking, banks are only required to hold a fraction of deposits. So when rates rose, bonds fell in value and unrealized losses surged, so the banks were not able to pay off their depositors.
Regional banks make up about half of all US banking, so any contagion in the banking system, as people and businesses move their deposits to mega banks, deemed “too big to fail,” could trigger a Depression. One of the main reasons that the economy has not crashed sooner is because more people have been tapping into their savings and maxing out their credit cards. However, high interest rates will cause many people to default on their credit card debt, which will exacerbate the banking crisis. Not to mention Auto loans defaults wiping out credit unions, and the potential for another mortgage crisis, due to rising mortgage rates. There is a ripple effect, as far as rising interest rates being felt by debt holders, and now is just the tip of the iceberg. This could end up being a multifaceted debt crisis, in banking, corporate debt, personal debt, and government debt.
Besides the Fed likely pivoting soon due to the banking crisis, higher rates will make interest payments on the National Debt too expensive to pay off, risking a default on government debt. Overall levels of debt, both public and private, are much worse than when Fed Chair, Volcker, raised rates very high to successfully quell inflation. Any freeze in Federal spending or a default on the national debt, in response to the debt ceiling, will crash the economy, and any major extension in the debt ceiling will accelerate inflation. There is a good chance that inflation will be tolerated, with the dollar greatly devalued, to make government debt cheaper so that creditors eat the costs.
Source: Peter G. Peterson Foundation
A tight labor market is the main case that the bulls make to prove a strong economy. However, the official BLS jobs numbers are “baked” to exclude those who have given up on seeking employment, as well as counting 2nd or 3rd jobs. Not to mention that the BLS numbers were exposed by the Fed as overstating 1 million jobs during 2022. Even if one accepts the “baked” numbers, layoffs have a lagging effect on unemployment, including by industry (eg. tech layoffs before service sector). Now new jobless claims have grown at the fastest pace since Lehman'. It is also noteworthy that just about every recession has been preceded by low unemployment numbers. The increase in layoffs will put further pressure on the Fed to pivot, which on top of increased unemployment benefits, will cause inflation to surge again. This creates another doom loop, as inflation leads to more unemployment, as consumers are forced to cut back on spending.
While bulls can say that this time is different from past crashes, all of the signs are pointing to this crisis being much worse than previous crashes. For instance, the economic recovery, after Volcker was done raising rates to fight inflation, was possible because of lower levels of debt, but the US has never entered a recession with debt/GDP at 125% and deficit/GDP at 7% in at least 85 years. Also the fallout of the 2008 crash was mitigated by a strong dollar, which also minimized the effects of inflation last year, but inflation will surge if the dollar is weakened. Despite signs of a pivot, the Fed has been moving much faster to fight inflation, then in the past, even with Volker. This crisis is also unique in that rates are being raised while entering a severe recession, and inflation could coincide mass layoffs. While the general assumption is that severe economic downturns are deflationary, financial commentator, Peter Schiff, makes a compelling case as for why an Inflationary Depression is a likelihood. Under this nightmare scenario, which would be much worse than even the Great Depression, inflation will negate any of the remedies that ended past crises, such as the New Deal, quantitative easing in 08, and the covid stimulus. Other signs of economic peril include, the steepest yield curve inversion since the early 80s recession, which is a barometer that has predicted just about every single recession, a major decline in ISM manufacturing sales, a big decline in savings rates, and Americans’ credit card debt approaching a record $1 Trillion.
This is the perfect storm with inflation, stagflation, recession, a potential debt crisis, as well as energy and supply chain issues. With this bubble to end all bubbles or too big to fail on steroids, the Fed has two choices, cause a liquidity crisis by shrinking the money supply, or letting inflation rip. While raising rates appears to be the least bad of these two options, further rate hikes are futile with the return of QE. A combo of QE plus interest rates having to remain high, is what could lead to that scenario of inflationary financial collapse, that Peter Schiff warned about. Though most likely it will either be long term stagflation or a deflationary Depression. This is not a hyperbole, nor clickbait, but a Depression is a very real possibility, especially if policy makers continue to kick the can down the road, to prop up the bubble.
* * *
Three Years To Slow The Spread: COVID Hysteria & The Creation Of A Never-Ending Crisis
Three Years To Slow The Spread: COVID Hysteria & The Creation Of A Never-Ending Crisis
Authored by Jordan Schachtel via ‘The Dossier’…
Authored by Jordan Schachtel via 'The Dossier' Substack,
Last Thursday marked the three year anniversary of the infamous “15 Days To Slow The Spread” campaign.
By March 16, yours truly was already pretty fed up with both the governmental and societal “response” to what was being baselessly categorized as the worst pandemic in 100 years, despite zero statistical data supporting such a serious claim.
The Moment That Shook the World: "15 Days to Slow the Spread" (March 16, 2020)— The Vigilant Fox ???? (@VigilantFox) March 16, 2023
Fauci: "In states with evidence of community transmission, bars, restaurants, food courts, gyms, and other indoor and outdoor venues where groups of people congregate should be https://t.co/T9CGrYFNjv… https://t.co/SwDYBgN438 pic.twitter.com/k5oaU36YAR
I was living in the Washington, D.C. Beltway at the time, and it was pretty much impossible to find a like-minded person within 50 miles who also wasn’t taking the bait. After I read about the news coming out of Wuhan in January, I spent much of the next couple weeks catching up to speed and reading about what a modern pandemic response was supposed to look like.
What surprised me most was that none of “the measures” were mentioned, and that these designated “experts” were nothing more than failed mathematicians, government doctors, and college professors who were more interested in policy via shoddy academic forecasting than observing reality.
Within days of continually hearing their yapping at White House pressers, It quickly became clear that the Deborah Birx’s and Anthony Fauci’s of the world were engaging in nothing more than a giant experiment. There was no an evidence-based approach to managing Covid whatsoever. These figures were leaning into the collective hysteria, and brandishing their credentials as Public Health Experts to demand top-down approaches to stamping out the WuFlu.
DeSantis on Covid lockdowns: “So I call and say, ‘Deborah [Birx], tell me: when in American history has this been done?’ And she says, ‘It’s kind of our own science experiment that we’re doing in real time.’”— Dr. Eli David (@DrEliDavid) March 14, 2023
Lockdowns were Fauci's “science experiment”????pic.twitter.com/K7H8NIBPaV
To put it bluntly, these longtime government bureaucrats had no idea what the f—k they were doing. Fauci and his cohorts were not established or reputable scientists, but authoritarians, charlatans, who had a decades-long track record of hackery and corruption. This Coronavirus Task Force did not have the collective intellect nor the wisdom to be making these broad brush decisions.
Back then, there were only literally a handful of people who attempted to raise awareness about the wave of tyranny, hysteria, and anti-science policies that were coming our way. There were so few of us back in March in 2020 that it was impossible to form any kind of significant structured resistance to the madness that was unfolding before us. These structures would later form, but not until the infrastructure for the highway to Covid hysteria hell had already been cemented.
Making matters worse was the reality that the vast majority of the population — friends, colleagues, peers and family included — agreed that dissenters were nothing more than reckless extremists, bioterrorists, Covid deniers, anti-science rabble rousers, and the like.
Yet we were right, and we had the evidence and data to prove it. There was no evidence to ever support such a heavy-handed series of government initiatives to “slow the spread.”
By March 16, 2020, data had already accumulated indicating that this contagion would be no more lethal than an influenza outbreak.
The February, 2020 outbreak on the Diamond Princess cruise ship provided a clear signal that the hysteria models provided by Bill Gates-funded and managed organizations were incredibly off base. Of the 3,711 people aboard the Diamond Princess, about 20% tested positive with Covid. The majority of those who tested positive had zero symptoms. By the time all passengers had disembarked from the vessel, there were 7 reported deaths on the ship, with the average age of this cohort being in the mid 80s, and it wasn’t even clear if these passengers died from or with Covid.
Despite the strange photos and videos coming out of Wuhan, China, there was no objective evidence of a once in a century disease approaching America’s shores, and the Diamond Princess outbreak made that clear.
Of course, it wasn’t the viral contagion that became the problem.
It was the hysteria contagion that brought out the worst qualities of much of the global ruling class, letting world leaders take off their proverbial masks in unison and reveal their true nature as power drunk madmen.
And even the more decent world leaders were swept up in the fear and mayhem, turning over the keys of government control to the supposed all-knowing Public Health Experts.
They quickly shuttered billions of lives and livelihoods, wreaking exponentially more havoc than a novel coronavirus ever could.
In the United States, 15 Days to Slow The Spread quickly became 30 Days To Slow The Spread. Somewhere along the way, the end date for “the measures” was removed from the equation entirely.
3 years later, there still isn’t an end date…
Anthony Fauci appeared on MSNBC Thursday morning and declared that Americans would need annual Covid boosters to compliment their Flu shots.
NEW - Fauci: Americans will likely need "a booster shot once a year."pic.twitter.com/Ec0zSWhV2b— Disclose.tv (@disclosetv) March 16, 2023
So much of the Covid hysteria era was driven by pseudoscience and outright nonsense, and yet, very few if any world leaders took it upon themselves to restore sanity in their domains. Now, unsurprisingly, so many elected officials who were complicit in this multi-billion person human tragedy won’t dare to reflect upon it.
In a 1775 letter from John Adams to his wife, Abigail, the American Founding Father wrote:
“Liberty once lost is lost forever. When the People once surrender their share in the Legislature, and their Right of defending the Limitations upon the Government, and of resisting every Encroachment upon them, they can never regain it.”
Covid hysteria and the 3 year anniversary of 15 Days To Slow The Spread serves as the beginning period of a permanent scar resulting from government power grabs and federal overreach.
While life is back to normal in most of the country, the Overton window of acceptable policy has slid even further in the direction of push-button tyranny. Hopefully, much of the world has awakened to the reality that most of the people in charge aren’t actually doing what’s best for their respective populations.
From the bed sheets to the TV remote, a microbiologist reveals the shocking truth about dirt and germs in hotel rooms
The filthy secrets of hotel rooms and why you might want to pack disinfectant on your next trip.
For most of us, staying in a hotel room is either something of a necessity – think business travel – or something to look forward to as part of a holiday or wider excursion.
But what if I told you there’s a large chance your hotel room, despite how it might appear to the naked eye, isn’t that clean. And even if it’s an expensive room, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s any less dirty.
Indeed, whoever has stayed in your room prior to you will have deposited bacteria, fungi and viruses all over the furniture, carpets, curtains and surfaces. What remains of these germ deposits depends on how efficiently your room is cleaned by hotel staff. And let’s face it, what is considered clean by a hotel might be different to what you consider clean.
Typically, assessment of hotel room cleanliness is based on sight and smell observations –- not on the invisible microbiology of the space, which is where the infection risks reside. So let’s take a deep dive into the world of germs, bugs and viruses to find out what might be lurking where.
It starts at the lift
Before you even enter your room, think of the hotel lift buttons as germ hotspots. They are being pressed all the time by many different people, which can transfer microorganisms onto the button surface, as well back onto the presser’s fingers.
Communal door handles can be similar in terms of germ presence unless sanitised regularly. Wash your hands or use a hand sanitiser after using a handle before you next touch your face or eat or drink.
The most common infections people pick up from hotel rooms are tummy bugs – diarrhoea and vomiting – along with respiratory viruses, such as colds and pneumonia, as well as COVID-19, of course.
Toilets and bathrooms tend to be cleaned more thoroughly than the rest of a hotel room and are often the least bacteriologically colonised environments.
Though if the drinking glass in the bathroom is not disposable, wash it before use (body wash or shampoo are effective dishwashers), as you can never be sure if they’ve been cleaned properly. Bathroom door handles may also be colonised by pathogens from unwashed hands or dirty washcloths.
Beware the remote
The bed, sheets and pillows can also be home to some unwanted visitors. A 2020 study found that after a pre-symptomatic COVID-19 patient occupied a hotel room there was significant viral contamination of many surfaces, with levels being particularly high within the sheets, pillow case and quilt cover.
While sheets and pillowcases may be more likely to be changed between occupants, bedspreads may not, meaning these fabrics may become invisible reservoirs for pathogens – as much as a toilet seat. Though in some cases sheets aren’t always changed between guests, so it may be better to just bring your own.
Less thought about is what lives on the hotel room desk, bedside table, telephone, kettle, coffee machine, light switch or TV remote – as these surfaces aren’t always sanitised between occupancies.
Viruses such as the norovirus can live in an infectious form for days on hard surfaces, as can COVID-19 – and the typical time interval between room changeovers is often less than 12 hours.
Soft fabric furnishings such as cushions, chairs, curtains and blinds are also difficult to clean and may not be sanitised other than to remove stains between guests, so washing your hands after touching them might be a good idea.
If all those germs and dirty surfaces aren’t enough to contend with, there are also bedbugs to think about. These bloodsucking insects are experts at secreting themselves into narrow, small spaces, remaining dormant without feeding for months.
Small spaces include the cracks and crevices of luggage, mattresses and bedding. Bed bugs are widespread throughout Europe, Africa, the US and Asia – and are often found in hotels. And just because a room looks and smells clean, doesn’t mean there may not be bed bugs lurking.
Fortunately, bed bug bites are unlikely to give you a transmissible disease, but the bite areas can become inflamed and infected. For the detection of bedbugs, reddish skin bites and blood spots on sheets are signs of an active infestation (use an antiseptic cream on the bites).
Other signs can be found on your mattress, behind the headboard and inside drawers and the wardrobe: brown spots could be remains of faeces, bed bug skins are brownish-silvery looking and live bed bugs are brown coloured and typically one to seven millimetres in length.
Inform the hotel if you think there are bed bugs in your room. And to avoid taking them with you when you checkout, carefully clean your luggage and clothes before opening them at home.
As higher-status hotels tend to have more frequent room usage, a more expensive room at a five-star hotel does not necessarily mean greater cleanliness, as room cleaning costs reduce profit margins. So wherever you’re staying, take with you a pack of antiseptic wipes and use them on the hard surfaces in your hotel room.
Also, wash or sanitise your hands often – especially before you eat or drink anything. And take slippers or thick socks with you so you can avoid walking barefoot on hotel carpets – known to be another dirt hotspot. And after all that, enjoy your stay.
Primrose Freestone does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.africa europe covid-19
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