Obama Accepting Propaganda As Ukraine Truth?

Just as relations were improving the US government seems determined to create an enemy. The propaganda regarding Russia’s dealing with Ukraine has been relentless. While Putin is no angel, he is not the crazed power hungry take over the world monster pictured by Washington. He is a fierce Russian nationalist and will act in a way to protect Russia from further NATO expansion to Russia’s borders.

I was in college during the Cuban missile crisis. I remember well how ape shit the US government went when Russian missiles were located in Cuba. We came close to a nuclear war with Russia. Students stopped attending classes and glued themselves to watching TV news. Do we really expect the Russians and Putin to accept western missiles on their borders? The Ukraine plains served Russia well when Napoleon, then Hilter, invaded Russia. Russia will not stand by and see such a buffer occupied by NATO or become a puppet state dancing to a US tune.

Is the Obama administration foolish enough to ignore Russian history and push the Russians to war?

Clueless In The Oval Office: Obama’s Shameful Tolerance Of Staff Bellicosity And Lies

By Ray McGovern, ex-CIA analyst

CIA Director John Brennan told TV host Charlie Rose on Friday that, on assuming office, President Barack Obama “did not have a good deal of experience” in intelligence-related matters, adding – with remarkable condescension – that now “he has gone to school and understands the complexities.”

Clapper Obama in Oval Office
Clapper – Obama in Oval Office

If that’s the case, I would strongly suggest that Obama switch schools. Judging from his foreign policy team’s inept and increasingly dangerous actions regarding Ukraine and the endless stream of dubious State Department and senior military cry-wolf accusations of a Russian “invasion,” Obama might be forgiven for being confused by the “complexities.”

He should not be forgiven, though, if he remains too timid to bench his current foreign policy team and find more substantively qualified, trustworthy advisers without axes to grind. He is, after all, President. Has he no managerial skill … no guts?

This U.S. pattern of exaggeration – making scary claims about Ukraine without releasing supporting evidence – has even begun to erode the unity of the NATO alliance where Germany, in particular, is openly criticizing the Obama administration’s heavy-handed use of propaganda in its “information warfare” against Russia.

The German magazine Der Spiegel has just published a highly unusual article critical of the NATO military commander, Air Force General Philip Breedlove, entitled “Breedlove’s Bellicosity: Berlin Alarmed by Aggressive NATO Stance on Ukraine.”

It is becoming clearer day by day that the Germans are losing patience with unsupported and alarmist U.S. statements on Ukraine, particularly in the current delicate period when a fledgling ceasefire in eastern Ukraine seems to be holding tenuously.

The Spiegel story was sourced to German officials who say Breedlove and his breed are making stuff up, adding that the BND (the CIA equivalent in Germany) “did not share” Breedlove’s extreme assessment of Russian actions. Spiegel continued:

“For months now, many in the Chancellery simply shake their heads each time NATO, under Breedlove’s leadership, goes public with striking announcements about Russian troop or tank movements. … False claims and exaggerated accounts, warned a top German official during a recent meeting on Ukraine, have put NATO — and by extension, the entire West — in danger of losing its credibility.”

Scaring the Europeans

The Obama administration’s erratic and bellicose approach to Ukraine caused German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande to take matters into their own hands in February to press for a ceasefire and an agreement on how to resolve the crisis politically, rather than following the U.S. strategy of having the regime in Kiev escalate its “anti-terrorist operation” against ethnic Russian rebels in the east who are supported by Moscow.

Fearing the conflict was spinning out of control – with the prospects of a showdown between nuclear-armed Russia and the United States on Russia’s border – Merkel traveled to the White House on Feb. 9 seeking assurances from President Obama that he would not fall in line behind his tough-talking aides and members of Congress who want advanced weaponry for Ukraine.

Though Obama reportedly assured Merkel that he would resist the pressure, he continues to keep slip-sliding into line behind the war hawks and letting his subordinates feed the propaganda fires that could lead to a more dangerous war, especially Gen. Breedlove and Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland, a former adviser to Vice President Dick Cheney.

In testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on March 4, 2015, Nuland presented her usual black-and-white depiction of the Ukrainian civil war, claiming Russia had “manufactured a conflict controlled by the Kremlin, fueled by Russian tanks and heavy equipment.” She added that Crimea and eastern Ukraine live under a “Reign of Terror.”

Of course, the core problem with how Nuland and pretty much the entire U.S. establishment present the Ukraine crisis is that they ignore how it got started. Nuland, Sen. John McCain and other U.S. officials egged on western Ukrainians to destabilize and overthrow the elected President Viktor Yanukovych, whose political base was in the south and east, including Crimea.

The coup opened historic fissures in this deeply divided country where hatreds between the more European-oriented west and the ethnic Russian east go back many generations, including the unspeakable slaughter during World War II when some western Ukrainians joined with the Nazis to fight the Red Army and exterminate Jews and other minorities.

Despite the U.S. claims over the past year about unprovoked “Russian aggression,” Russian President Vladimir Putin was not the instigator of the conflict, but rather he was reacting to a violent “regime change” on his border and to Russian fears that NATO would seize the historic Russian naval base at Sevastopol in Crimea.

But Nuland and other neocon hardliners have never been interested in a nuanced presentation of reality. Instead, they have treated Ukraine as if it were a testing ground for the latest techniques in psychological or information warfare, although the propaganda is mostly aimed at the U.S. and European publics, getting them ready for more war.

Mocking Merkel

As for Merkel and her peace efforts, Nuland was overheard during a behind-closed-door meeting of U.S. officials at a security conference in Munich last month disparaging the German chancellor’s initiative, calling it “Merkel’s Moscow thing,” according to Bild, a German newspaper, citing unnamed sources.

Another U.S. official went even further, the report said, calling it the Europeans’ “Moscow bullshit.”

The tough talk behind the soundproof doors at a conference room in the luxurious Bayerischer Hof hotel seemed to get the American officials, both diplomats and members of Congress, worked into a lather, according to the Bild account.

Nuland suggested that Merkel and Hollande cared only about the practical impact of the Ukrainian war on bread-and-butter issues of Europe: “They’re afraid of damage to their economy, counter-sanctions from Russia.”

Another U.S. politician was heard adding: “It’s painful to see that our NATO partners are getting cold feet” – with particular vitriol directed toward German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen as “defeatist” because she supposedly no longer believed in a Kiev victory.

Sen. McCain talked himself into rage, declaring “History shows us that dictators always take more, whenever you let them. They can’t be brought back from their brutal behavior when you fly to Moscow to them, just like someone once flew to this city,” Munich, a reference to British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain’s “appeasement” of Adolf Hitler.

According to the Bild story, Nuland laid out a strategy of countering Merkel’s diplomacy by using strident language to frame the Ukraine crisis in a way that stops the Europeans from backing down. “We can fight against the Europeans, we can fight with rhetoric against them,” Nuland reportedly said.

NATO Commander Breedlove was quoted as saying the idea of funneling more weapons to the Kiev government was “to raise the battlefield cost for Putin, to slow down the whole problem, so sanctions and other measures can take hold.”

Nuland interjected to the U.S. politicians present that “I’d strongly urge you to use the phrase ‘defensive systems’ that we would deliver to oppose Putin’s ‘offensive systems.’” But Breedlove left little doubt that these “defensive” weapons would help the Ukrainian government pursue its military objectives by enabling more effective concentration of fire.

“Russian artillery is by far what kills most Ukrainian soldiers, so a system is needed that can localize the source of fire and repress it,” Breedlove reportedly said. “I won’t talk about any anti-tank rockets, but we are seeing massive supply convoys from Russia into Ukraine. The Ukrainians need the capability to shut off this transport. And then I would add some small tactical drones.”

Nuland’s Rhetoric

Before the Ukraine coup in February 2014, Nuland was overheard in a phone conversation with U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt discussing who should become the country’s new leaders – “Yats is the guy,” she said about Arseniy Yatsenyuk who became the post-coup prime minister – while also criticizing the less aggressive European approach with the pithy phrase, “Fuck the EU.”

Nuland’s tough-gal rhetoric continues, including her bellicose testimony before Congress this month, along with the alarmist (and unproven) reports from Gen. Breedlove, who claimed that “well over a thousand combat vehicles, Russian combat forces, some of their most sophisticated air defense, battalions of artillery’ having been sent to the Donbass” in eastern Ukraine.

The Nuland-Breedlove allies in Kiev are doing their part, too. Ukrainian military spokesman Andriy Lysenko recently claimed that around 50 tanks, 40 missile systems and 40 armored vehicles entered east Ukraine’s breakaway Luhansk region from Russia via the Izvaryne border crossing.

This “rhetoric” strategy follows the tried-and-true intelligence gambit known as the Mighty Wurlitzer, in which false and misleading information is blasted out by so many different sources – like the pipes of an organ – that the lies become believable just because of their repetition.

The Ukraine story has followed this pattern with dubious claims being made and repeated by U.S. and Ukrainian officials and then amplified by a credulous Western news media, persuading people who otherwise might know better — even when supporting evidence is lacking.

Similarly, Official Washington’s chorus of loud demands for ignoring Merkel and sending sophisticated weapons to Ukraine continues to build with the latest member of the choir, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper.

On March 4, Clapper broke the important ethos of professional intelligence officers scrupulously avoiding policy advocacy when he told an audience in New York that the U.S. should arm the Ukrainians “to bolster their resolve and bolster their morale that, you know, we are with them.”

Clapper offered this endorsement as his “personal opinion,” but who cares about James Clapper’s personal opinion? He is Director of National Intelligence, for God’s sake, and his advocacy immediately raises questions about whether Clapper’s “personal opinion” will put pressure on his subordinates to shape intelligence analysis to please the boss.

We saw a possible effect of this recently when journalist Robert Parry contacted the DNI’s office to get an updated briefing on what U.S. intelligence has concluded about who was at fault for shooting down Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over eastern Ukraine on July 17, 2014.

Blaming the Russians

In prepared testimony before the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Assistant Secretary Nuland had insinuated that the Russians and the ethnic Russian rebels were to blame. She said, “In eastern Ukraine, Russia and its separatist puppets unleashed unspeakable violence and pillage; MH-17 was shot down.”

This may have been another example of Nuland using “rhetoric” to shape the debate, but it prompted Parry to ask the DNI’s office about what evidence there was to support Nuland’s finger-pointing in this tragic incident that killed 298 people.

Kathleen Butler, a DNI spokesperson, insisted that the U.S. intelligence assessment on MH-17 had not changed since July 22, 2014, five days after the shoot-down when the DNI’s office distributed a sketchy report suggesting Russian complicity based largely on what was available on social media.

Parry then sent a follow-up e-mail saying: “are you telling me that U.S. intelligence has not refined its assessment of what happened to MH-17 since July 22, 2014?” Butler responded: “Yes. The assessment is the same.” To which, Parry replied: “That’s just not credible.” [See Consortiumnews.com’s “US Intel Stands Pat on MH-17 Shoot-down.”]

But the DNI’s response does make sense if later U.S. intelligence analysis contradicted the initial rush to judgment by Secretary of State John Kerry and other senior officials blaming Russia and the rebels. The Obama administration might not want to surrender a useful propaganda club to bash Moscow, or as Nuland might say, an important piece of anti-Russian “rhetoric.”

As for Brennan and his appearance before the stuffy Council on Foreign Relations fielding questions posed by Charlie Rose as the “presider,” the CIA director seemed more concerned about the flak his agency has been getting for having a cloudy crystal ball and not anticipating how the Ukraine crisis would unfold, saying:

“Now I know that many would like the CIA to predict the future — answering questions such as ‘will Crimea secede and be annexed by Russia’ and ‘will Russian forces move into Eastern Ukraine.’ But the plain and simple truth is that … virtually all events around the globe, future events — including in Ukraine — are shaped by numerous variables and yet-to-happen developments as well as leadership considerations and decisions.”

But the prospect of CIA analysts seeing events clearly – both understanding what may have caused an event in the past and perceiving the complex forces that may shape the future – are diminished when the U.S. intelligence community becomes politicized and exploited for propaganda purposes, when it gets enlisted into “information warfare.”

Obama could surely use some experienced, mature help in putting an end to this potpourri of you-pick-your-favorite-statement about “Russian aggression.” The disarray and deceit on such an important issue does nothing to bolster confidence that he has been tutored well, that he understands the value of sober intelligence work, or that he is in control of U.S. foreign policy.

Read more: Propaganda war is dangerous

US Foreign Policy Towards Russia Revives Cold War

What could the Obama administration be thinking? The eastward expansion of NATO over the years alarmed Russian leaders, but cooperation between the US and Russia continued to grow. That is until the US and the EU tried to place the Ukraine firmly under western control.

Nuclear missiles
Nuclear missiles

With Obama, the provocation of the Russians reached a new level. One the Russians under Putin will not ignore. Doesn’t anyone in the Obama administration know the history of the Ukraine? That it was part of Russia for 500 years? That it is clearly viewed as a buffer nation, one that the Russians will not tolerate as a member of NATO. Whatever you may think of Putin, he is a clever, tough, and yes, ruthless leader. It is not wise to demonize such a man and to underestimate his ability.

According to the US, Russia is being isolated from the world community and punished by crippling sanctions. Let’s get real here. Sanctions have hurt the Russian economy, but have fueled Russian’s pivot to the east and to nations the world over who see Russia as a more dependable ally than the bullying US. Russia is busy building its own powerful group of trading partner nations including China, Iran, India, Brazil, and Egypt.

US policies of demonizing Russia and President Putin are dangerous. Especially since we had a heavy hand in organizing and financing a coup that overthrew a duly elected Ukrainian President to be replaced by our puppet, Petro Oleksiyovych Poroshenko. Picking a fight with a nuclear armed Russia over a nation within their sphere of influence is risky business that only Neocons could want.

Nuclear Specter Returns: ‘Threat of War Is Higher than in the Cold War’

By Markus Becker in Munich

The Ukraine crisis has dramatically worsened relations between NATO and Russia. With cooperation on nuclear security now suspended and the lack of a “red telephone,” experts at the Munich Security Conference warn any escalation in tensions could grow deadly.

The scientists had no idea that their experiment could spell the end of civilization. On Jan. 25, 1995, Norwegian and American researchers fired a rocket into the skies of northwestern Norway to study the Northern Lights. But the four-stage rocket flew directly through the same corridor that American Minuteman III missiles, equipped with nuclear warheads, would use to travel from the United States to Moscow.

The rocket’s speed and flight pattern very closely matched what the Russians expected from a Trident missile that would be fired from a US submarine and detonated at high altitude, with the aim of blinding the Russian early-warning system to prepare for a large-scale nuclear attack by the United States. The Russian military was placed on high alert, and then President Boris Yeltsin activated the keys to launch nuclear weapons. He had less than 10 minutes to decide whether to issue the order to fire.
Yeltsin left the Russian missiles in their silos, probably in part because relations between Russian and the United States were relatively trusting in 1995. But if a similar incident occurred today, as US arms expert Theodore Postol warned recently, it could quite possibly lead to nuclear catastrophe.

Deep Mistrust

“Five or six minutes can be enough time, if you have trust, if you have communication and if you can put this machinery immediately to work,” former Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said on the sidelines of last weekend’s Munich Security Conference. Unfortunately, he argued, this machinery works very poorly today, and there is great mistrust.

When asked what would happen today if the 1995 missile incident happened again, Ivanov responded, “I cannot be sure if the right decision would be taken.”

Deep mistrust has developed between the West and Russia, and it is having a massive effect on cooperation on security matters.

In November 2014, the Russians announced that they would boycott the 2016 Nuclear Security Summit in the United States. In December, the US Congress voted, for the first time in 25 years, not to approve funding to safeguard nuclear materials in the Russian Federation. A few days later, the Russians terminated cooperation in almost all aspects of nuclear security. The two sides had cooperated successfully for almost two decades. But that is now a thing of the past.

Instead, Russia and the United States are investing giant sums of money to modernize their nuclear arsenals, and NATO recently announced that it was rethinking its nuclear strategy. At the same time, risky encounters between Eastern and Western troops, especially in the air, are becoming more and more common, a report by the European Leadership Network (ELN) recently concluded.

“Civilian pilots don’t know how to deal with this,” explains ELN Chair Des Browne, a former British defense minister. “One of these incidents could easily escalate. We need to find a mechanism in which we can talk at the highest level.”

US General Philip Breedlove, NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe, is calling for a new “red telephone” with Moscow. Zoom
REUTERS
US General Philip Breedlove, NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe, is calling for a new “red telephone” with Moscow.
Brown, together with Ivanov and former US Senator Sam Nunn, a veteran of international disarmament policy, published an analysis in early February. The trio recommends “that reliable communication channels exist in the event of serious incidents.” In other words, these channels currently do not exist. Recently, Philip Breedlove, the head of NATO Allied Command Operations in Europe, even called for a new “red telephone,” alluding to the direct teletype connection established in 1963 between the United States and the Soviet Union after the Cuban missile crisis. A direct line had been set up between NATO and the Russian military’s general staff in February 2013, but it was cut as a result of the Ukraine crisis.

‘A Very Dangerous Situation’

“Trust has been eroded to the point of almost being destroyed,” said Nunn. “You got a war going on right in the middle of Europe. You got a breakdown of the conventional forces treaty, you got the INF (Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces) treaty under great strain, you got tactical nuclear weapons all over Europe. It’s a very dangerous situation.”

In late January, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists set its “Doomsday Clock” to three minutes to midnight. The last time it was set to that time was in 1983, “when US-Soviet relations were at their iciest point,” as the group of scientists explained. The only other time when the situation was even worse was in 1953, when the clock was set to two minutes to midnight. Unchecked climate change and the “nuclear arms race resulting from modernization of huge arsenals” pose “extraordinary and undeniable threats to the continued existence of humanity,” the group’s statement read.

Read more: Nuclear Conflict