The Nitwits Are in Charge

Exclusive: Pundit Thomas Friedman laments that the new Cold War isn’t funny enough for him, but there really isn’t anything funny about the U.S. plunging into an unnecessary nuclear showdown with Russia over Ukraine while Friedman and his fellow VIPs misreport what’s happening, writes Robert Parry.

By Robert Parry

Sometimes I wonder if today’s crop of U.S. pundits and pols could ever rise to meet some truly urgent need of the American people, let alone the interests of the world. Everything, it seems, is done with a snigger and an attitude even as we stumble into a wholly unnecessary confrontation with nuclear-armed Russia over which batch of thieves and oligarchs gets to run Ukraine.

There’s an old joke about Washington being Hollywood for ugly people, but Washington also turns out to be Comedy Central for unfunny people. We’re left with a tedious column by The New York Times’ Thomas L. Friedman lamenting that we’re having a new “Cold War without the fun that is, without James Bond, Smersh, ‘Get Smart’ Agent 86‘s shoe phone, Nikita Khrushchev’s shoe-banging, a race to the moon or a debate between American and Soviet leaders over whose country has the best kitchen appliances.”

New York Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman.

New York Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman.

Yuk, yuk! So clever! But Friedman, the ever-clueless columnist, misses the fact there was another side to the best humor and satire about the Cold War. Movies, like Stanley Kubrick’s “Dr. Strangelove” (1964), pointed to the grim absurdity of mutual assured destruction. Even some of the goofier comedies, like “Get Smart,” parodied the supposed glamour of Cold War spy-craft.

But there was really very little funny about the very real threat of annihilation of all life on the planet, nor about the vast sums of money wasted on building up super-sized nuclear arsenals, nor about the enduring influence that military contractors and their legions of apologists then had and still have on the federal budget.

In 1953, less than three months after becoming President, Dwight Eisenhower decried the diversion of so much money and talent into the pursuit of more and more deadly weapons, saying: “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.”

Then, in his farewell address in 1961, Eisenhower warned that the nation “must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.”

We now know that both the waste and the influence survived even the Cold War’s end and they are now roaring back to life with the birth of a new Cold War. None of this, however, is funny.

Earlier this year at a New York conference on the renewed prospects for nuclear war, legendary activist Helen Caldicott had the participants watch Stanley Kramer’s 1959 movie, “On the Beach,” set in Caldicott’s native Australia. I had not seen the movie for decades and had forgotten many of the details in the tautly written drama starring Gregory Peck, Ava Gardner, Fred Astaire and Anthony Perkins.

Peck plays a disciplined but very human American submarine commander whose ship finds itself in Australia after a nuclear war has wiped out life over much of the world though the causes of the conflict remain vague throughout the movie, with the suspicion that the war might have begun as an accident involving a panicky radar man and then quickly raged out of control.

For the people in Australia, the inevitable end was coming, too, and much of the movie deals with the various characters facing not only their own mortality but that of their children and the entire human species. Despite the despairing outcome, there is a warmth and sensitivity to the film.

“On the Beach” even had a touch of genuine comedy, including a scene of drunken Australians crowding onto a favorite fishing stream for a last carousal, singing “Waltzing Matilda,” a sadly haunting song that becomes the anthem for the doomed planet.

Juvenile ‘Humor’

But the humor in “On the Beach” is not the hoo-hah juvenility that we now see in today’s mainstream yucking it up over the fun of provoking a confrontation with Russia by supporting a coup in Ukraine, followed by ethnic cleansing of ethnic Russians and then, of course, blaming everything on Russia and its President Vladimir Putin.

Friedman can’t resist the cheap poke-in-the-side of mentioning Putin “riding horses bare-chested,” which Friedman deems “an apt metaphor” for the new Cold War. If anyone wants to be taken “seriously” in Official Washington, you must mention Putin riding shirtless with a smirk on your face, just as you must sagely talk about the need to “reform,” i.e. slash, Social Security.

At least Friedman does acknowledge that “we fired the first shot when we expanded NATO toward the Russian border even though the Soviet Union had disappeared. Message to Moscow: You are always an enemy, no matter what system you have.”

But then Friedman veers back into Official Washington’s false narrative blaming the Ukraine crisis all on the diabolical Putin. Though there is not a shred of evidence that Putin wanted the Ukraine crisis, there is substantial evidence that U.S. officials and operatives were seeking to destabilize the Ukrainian government as a scheme to weaken Russia.

Yet, no “serious” pundit or pol can acknowledge that reality. You can’t mention how the neocon National Endowment for Democracy was funding NGOs inside Ukraine for years to create an infrastructure to implement U.S. policy preferences or that NED’s President Carl Gershman, in 2013, deemed Ukraine “the biggest prize” and a stepping stone toward regime change in Russia.

Nor can you mention that neocon Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland was overheard plotting with U.S. Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt how to “midwife” the ouster of elected President Viktor Yanukovych and the installation of Nuland’s favorite — “Yats is the guy” — Arseniy Yatsenyuk. [See’s “The Neocons: Masters of Chaos.”]

You also can’t mention the role of neo-Nazi militias who prepped for the coup with training in the western city of Lviv and then dispatched hundreds of militants a day into Kiev to turn the Maidan protests into a violent political clash. Nor can you reference the key role of neo-Nazi forces, such as the Azov battalion, in waging bloody attacks on ethnic Russians in eastern Ukraine.

Sadly for the mainstream U.S. press, that unpleasant reality was implicitly confirmed when the U.S. House of Representatives voted unanimously to bar U.S. military advisers in Ukraine from training the neo-Nazis of the Azov battalion. [See’s “US House Admits Nazi Role in Ukraine.”]

But the answer to that inconvenient admission of truth for The New York Times and other MSM outlets was to simply ignore the House vote, much as they also have blacked out Crimea’s referendum on a 96 percent vote to secede from Ukraine and join Russia. That gets summarized as simply a “Russian invasion.”

So, off we go again into a new Cold War that will transfer trillions of more dollars into the military-industrial complex and could push the world into a nuclear conflagration. Assuming, however, that we don’t commit nuclear suicide, there’s still the prospect for the planet’s slower death as the United States and other major nations ignore global warming in the rush for more weapon building.

There really isn’t anything very funny about any of this nor should there be despite Thomas L. Friedman’s disappointment that this latest madness isn’t amusing enough for him.

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and You also can order Robert Parry’s trilogy on the Bush Family and its connections to various right-wing operatives for only $34. The trilogy includes America’s Stolen Narrative. For details on this offer, click here.

54 comments for “The Nitwits Are in Charge

  1. Skip Edwards
    June 27, 2015 at 17:19

    From my Officer’s Training School class in Military History (Viet Nam era). What precipitates revolutation? When people of a country cannot make enough to do more than survive; when they feel downtrodden by the existing power to the point of life feeling hopeless; when they feel they have no voice in improving their condition, then revolution is the inevitable result. It always happens this way and the many will outweigh the few.

    • Anonymous
      June 28, 2015 at 06:25

      Just like things are beginning to shape up in the US — as those who see what’s going on continue to hammer away at the factual reality of corporate fascism ruling over US politics and citizens.

  2. paul wichmann
    June 26, 2015 at 08:56

    Friedman is one of the chosen people, and he happily carries the baggage associated with that – free markets, strong defense (and immediate offense), and all the rest. He also padded his wad and illuminated himself as a prophet of technological progress and flat-earth globalization. All these are inviolable positions.
    When, therefore, in this gone-mad world, complex problems come to his attention or impose themselves upon him, he has a priori allowed himself no room for maneuver. His opinion can then be nothing but idiotic contradiction or incoherent pap.

    Yet for all that he is, as far as possible, correct: “We’re having a new Cold War without the fun.”
    We don’t have permanent allies, but permanent interests (I doubt the latter, at least on evidence that our focus is not quite consistent or steady). Our interests and commitments and circumstantial alliances are myriad – we’re spread thin as a pee puddle on the highway, not only militarily, but diplomatically and (despite – or because of – our possession of all the information in the world) in the cognitive sense as well.
    Our allies have learned from Israel and Pakistan that our suggestions and orders, provided they’re given an amiable hearing, can be ignored.
    Then there’s the consequences of our ‘thumb in every pie’ foreign policy. Forget US making the world a better place. We haven’t even come close to getting what we want, for how long? We’ve wrecked the Middle East, and now the Ukraine. Is there anything left in these places worth fighting for? Maybe the Islamic State is worth fighting against, but wasn’t IT the creation of US and our allies? Yet we never fail to find ever more room on our plate. We’re killing ourselves.
    The Ukraine / Cold War II squabble is the only conflict – to this moment – that promises parity at the heights of escalation. Small wonder that even Thomas Friedman fails to make full fun of it.

  3. Louis
    June 26, 2015 at 03:35

    Thank you again Robert Parry!
    I have often wondered whether these frat boys with their sophistry, and junior high school humor could survive in an adult world. I suppose the answer is they could if they landed with some newspapers of historical credence and editors with similar moral less rudders. The history of their accuracy is almost all gone when dealing with our war machine…. Ukraine in particular.
    Could one of these cretins (like Friedman) even write an article about how 2+ billion dollars worth of bombs could help our country if it wasn’t spent blasting a desert? I sincerely doubt Friedman could.
    For those who say we should vote them out, please remember, many of these people are not voted into any office. The Kagans, Nulands, Kristrol?, S Power, Bolton, ad nauseum. Who are these people and what do they want?
    For the average american who has the attention span of a gnat it may work to talk about ‘regime change’ and reduce an entire country and all its history to one man (Saddam, Assad, Gaddafi etc) but what have we won? what have we accomplished? While these people still write about history as if we have taken over the planet for democracy, or at least the corporations. Remember, ‘democracy equals free trade’
    I tend to believe our military is the largest consumer of fossil fuels in the world and they have many refined versions of the product. So we have now a self perpetuating machine which has nothing to do with the consumer. They wage war to feed their own fuel trough. Where is the end of this madness?
    So, I’m in agreement with you Mr Parry. Many of these chicken hawks mingle at parties and waft down tobacco and adult beverages while laughing at the peril of Libya, Afghanistan, and how they ‘won’ with their regime change. The foolishness and the juvenile delinquency even mocks the very soldiers we sent over there, which irritates me to no end.
    What’s their end game? After Russia does NATO attack China, and then the ‘rogue whales’ to keep their budget rolling along?
    To end: could you please right an article on General Breedlove and quote him exactly so your readers could know what a schmuck he is please? This would be another article of something very far from humorous and would open a lot of peoples eyes to how bankrupt many of our generals are in real life. thank you.

    • Brad Owen
      June 26, 2015 at 05:32

      End game? I think all these war plans for regime changes will come to a screeching dead halt with the great stock market crash of 2015, after Greece just walks away from the Bankster demands to pay a fraudulent debt, and takes refuge with BRICS…along with the rest of us survivors from the defunct “Western Empire of the City & the Street”. A new story will then begin, and neocons will be left singing “Mister, can you spare a dime?”…people will say “Friedman who?…Tom?…Milton??…never heard of them, don’t know them.”

  4. Cassandra
    June 25, 2015 at 22:19

    I don’t know why it isn’t obvious to everyone, but it seems not to be, that Russia has been working for a decade towards a government in Ukraine which would extend her leases for her military/naval assets in Crimea. She succeeded in 2010. In 2014, the US in its turn succeeded in installing a “government” that would abrogate those leases.

    It was one of the first policy intentions announced by the junta.

    • Anonymous
      June 26, 2015 at 02:00

      Now if all the major news networks would begin incessantly repeating facts and stop telling lies in concert, then maybe…

  5. lynne gillooly
    June 25, 2015 at 11:45

    Everyone on this site NEEDS to share Robert Parry’s honest analysis regarding Ukraine. The only way for the truth to get out to the mainstream is for many more Americans to know the truth.
    The MSM is owned by a handful of giant corporations that do a good job of controlling the message they want us to believe. it is up to all of us to share, share and share Robert’s excellent work on what is really going on.
    Let’s all try to get the truth out to as many Americans as we can. This is just too important.

  6. Mark
    June 25, 2015 at 07:37

    Ask yourself — what is the “biggest” common denominator of US mass-media networks, Wall Street bankers, the military industrial complex and US politicians from either major party?

    Americans have all been conditioned (read propagandized) to believe the truth is a conspiracy theory and a lie — but for those informed, the truth and obvious answer to the question of greatest common denominator among those seperate powers cited, is ‘support for Israel’ — unequivalent support for Israel — and what is nearly seven decades of ongoing war crimes enabled by a pro-Israel press/media along with the other powers, that have consistently and intentionally skewed and misrepresented various truths to the American public — often misrepresented with outright lies as reported right here on

    Anyone would be in error to say that all the evidence pointing to ‘support for Israel’ as the greatest common denominator, is merely a conveniently large coincidence enabling people to wrongly point a delusional and paranoid finger. The only reason anyone would refuse to acknowledge the simple and obvious truth which the overwhelming evidence supports — is that the truth disgusts them so much that they can’t bare to acknowledge it.

    The truth should disgust fair minded people and, again, the real conspiracy is to lead and keep good people away from the truth.

    The question is how to get these facts to be understood in the minds of the public — hopefully to precipitate remedial action — there must be a better way to fight this war than having those who see the truth keep talking only among themselves.

    This is a precarious time in human history and the combination of political, economic and war inciting lies, along with all those who prevaricate and espouse those lies, are the enemies of rational and civilized humankind and any honest chance for temporary or lasting peace.

    • Stefan
      June 25, 2015 at 08:38

      Totally agree

    • Gregory Kruse
      June 25, 2015 at 09:18

      Israel uber alles.

      • Mark
        June 25, 2015 at 10:59

        Are you being sarcastic? Or are you not aware that Israel being thought of as a “US ally” is all part of the Grand illusion as presented?

        The US has supported Israel at a cost to US taxpayers and others — of trillion$ to date and untold human suffering (our own and others). We’ve received nothing but trouble in return while further damaging our reputation and credibility, such as it ever was, by blindly enabling Israel’s crimes and then shielding Israel from any responsibility and prosecutorial actions — all washed up nice and tidy by the “US” news and mass-media as discussed in the article above.

        • Stefan
          June 25, 2015 at 15:37

          Formally, USA and Israel do not have a formal treaty of alliance.

          Not because USA does not want it, but because Israel doesn’t want it.

          Why is that?

          Because a formal treaty of alliance, under US law, puts obligations and legal restraints on the ally nation – Voices in USA could refer to these laws in order to have Israel abide by international and US law, thus put legal pressure on Israel legally, else, could cut military and economic aid.

          Israel does not want that. Israel wants to continue with its war crimes AND receive economic and military aid from the US, without being under the increased pressure and scrutiny under a formal reaty of alliance.

    • Brad Owen
      June 25, 2015 at 12:15

      I thought about it. I think the “money racket”, rather than Israel, is the common denominator. I think Webster Tarpley has performed a more accurate historical trace on the roots of the “money racket.”
      The roots trace back into old Imperial Rome (and its’ wealthy, Imperial, ruling families), through to Venice, after the collapse of the Western Roman Empire, where it (these wealthy families) resided for about a thousand years, playing havoc with the Byzantines and Charlesmagne’s Empire, Mid-east satraps, crusades and such. Then, after the War of the League of Cambrai, some of these wealthy Venetian families migrated to Netherlands…and finally from there into England, in the company of William of Orange, setting up London’s central bank… all of this basically re-hashing the Western Roman Empire (Gibbons “Decline & Fall” basically telling the, now, Imperial Brits how to get it right this time). The American Revolution was a monkey wrench into the plan, but they’ve since recovered…and Wall Street was cut in for a central “piece-of-the-action” in this, still-existing, trans-national, Western Empire of The City & The Street. If we had a magic wand that, if we waved it and all Jews&Zionists everywhere disappeared, we’d still have EXACTLY the same problem today: and THAT is my main objection to the “everything is Israel’s fault” argument. If anything, the Israel issue is just one of the Western Empire’s MANY scenarios for management of their global Empire. The harried Jew has been busy for the last couple of millennia just running&hiding, trying to stay alive. Some of the cunning sociopaths among them managed to find a way to become part of the “money racket” and stay alive that way. But I just don’t believe the Israeli “tail” is wagging the Imperial “Dog”. The dog is wagging this tail…for some other purpose than grand plans for a “Greater Israel”. It’s a great distraction from the REAL players-of-Empire. I know you’ll have an encyclopedic rebuttal of this POV…I’ll just let others review it. Don’t do it for my sake, I’m following a different trail. Good hunting.

      • Mark
        June 25, 2015 at 14:57

        Campaign funding “money” is exactly how Israel’s AIPAC lobby controls republicans and democrats in US politics — including threatening any political opponent of a sitting US representative that does not go along with Istael’s plans — plans like invading 2003 Iraq with Syria and Iran being part of that same original 1996 PNAC plan ‘New Strategy for Securing the Realm’. Also look up ‘Wolfowitz Doctrine’ and the ‘Yinon Plan’ as well as ‘The New Pentagon Papers’.

        In who’s interest is it that the “US news industry” has been propagandizing the US public on Israel’s behalf for what is generations? And on who’s behalf does the US media not call a slaughter a slaughter in regards to Israel’s 3 separate attacks on Gaza over the past 6 years — the press is extremely biased for Israel to the point of telling blatant lies and mischaracterizations enabling war crimes.

        All of this is tied in with Wall Street, the IMF (controlled by pro-Israel bankers) the MIC and corporate profits — and profits — they are all partners in crime on some level, politicians and all — does anyone really think the people that head these politically connected and powerful groups don’t know the US media is lying about the reasons behind our foreign policies and actions? And why is it none of these “news organizations” speak up and tell the truth?

        Does anyone ever wonder why the US media never interviews ANY of the many US representatives or ex intelligence and military people out there that are against Israel’s policies and the trillion$ in tax dollars supporting Israel costs the US? The US media is one long time shill for Israel’s propaganda — even starting before 1948

        Is there anyone who really believes the same old US media/Israeli propaganda that Iran is going to Nuke Israel as soon as? Which is based on the same kind of slam dunk evidence Israel supplied against Saddam Hussein leading up to 2003! Why is it republicans have vowed to un-make any nuclear peace treaty with Iran because of Israel’s paranoia and for the sake of Israel’s desires?

        This is all about economic and military hegemony around the globe. The common denominator of all of these powerful groups is their support of Israel — this is the common denominator — all promoted by the the same pro/Israel Western “news” networks — and profited from by US and Israeli (among others) weapons and security industries, with banks and corporations, and whatever it is the media perceives to gain.

        And you are correct these people, including the Israelis themselves and the other groups mentioned are all sellouts and being controlled by the prospect of monetary and material gain through war profiteering and land/resource grabs, death and destruction… One big happy family of criminals — Israeli and US governments with the media, the MIC and banking and corporate interests.

        And no matter what do remember, when it comes to certain Orwellian realities, some realities are deceitfully meant, by the powers that be, to remain outside the realm of acceptable possibility and reasonable conversation — especially concerning Israel and her supporters, their goals and aspirations…

      • Mark
        June 26, 2015 at 07:47

        A bit more for Mr. Owen or anyone else to consider:

        Brad’s statement is an outright contradiction and denial of history that has already taken place:

        “If we had a magic wand that, if we waved it and all Jewsandzionists everywhere disappeared, we’d still have EXACTLY the same problem today: and THAT is my main objection to the “everything is Israel’s fault” argument.”

        I get the distinct impression you don’t consider the lives of Palestinians, as impacted by “theharriedjew”, to be worthy of consideration? What part exactly did Palestinians play in “harrying” thejews to deserve having the Eurozionists violate their human rights, property rights and lives in general in Palestine? It does appear that you’ve consumed enough ziopropaganda to blind you to certain realities while having a false picture in your mind regarding all of Eurozionism’s influence and ensuing ramifications due to its “creation of itself” just over a century ago.

        “If” there had been no invasion of Europeszionists into the Mid-East – then they would not have planned for decades before committing terroristic massacres and expulsions of Palestinians in 1947-48 – which have continued to this day through the mischaracterized and illegal “settlements”. There also would have been no coercing of American politicians by the zilobby and no need for the Arabs to blame the great American enabler as America has proven itself to be – the major Arab complaint against the US since Israel declared statehood on Palestinian lands in 1947-48 – the world trade towers could still be standing – and there would have been no US invasion of 2003 Iraq that killed over a million to date directly and indirectly – and the US would not presently have Syria and Iran in their sites on behalf of the Eurozionists plan of 1996. If Eurozionists had stayed in Europe none of these other events would have taken place.

        How can anyone claim Eurozionists have had no measurable impact on the entire world? Entirely without merit, Mr Owen’s statements misrepresent the current reality that exists in various corners around the world due to Eurozionists having created themselves and taken the actions they have.

        Why does anyone suppose Israel is trying to make it a crime to speak or publish the truth, about their past historical actions and ensuing consequences, by eliminating free speech in Europe, Canada and Australia where Israel is concerned?

  7. June 25, 2015 at 03:11

    A big difference between the Cold War of the 1950s and 60s and the Cold War of today, is the way most journalists in the corporate media are covering it.

    I very much doubt very many young children of today are aware of the possibilty of atomic bombs falling from the sky in the same way my schoolfriends and I were. At the age of seven the fear of atomic bombs falling kept me awake at night.

    In the 1950s and 60s photos and film of the deaths and destruction caused by Hiroshima and Nagasaki were still fresh, and featured regularly in the media. They were yet to become part of history in the way they have today.

    Our parents and the parents of our friends had all been victims of the war in one way or another. Many lives had been lost, and men, who had been prisoners of war in Japanese camps were our fathers, uncles, teachers and shopkeepers. Many of our grandfathers had fought in the trenches in WW1, less than forty years previously. To put that into perspective, the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki occurred seventy years ago.

    In Britain, the centres of many of our cities were still bomb sites. Some still lay completely flattened, scattered with piles of bricks and rubble that had once been shops, factories and homes. In Coventry city centre, which I often visited with my father, very few buildings were left standing. Even in the mid-1950s it was still much of a mess. Every day we were reminded of war by the scars of war. All our media outlets still featured the horrors of war regularly.

    Since that time generations have grown up without those stark reminders. War is literally a game for heroes; played out on computer, TV, and movie theatre screens. The victims of real war are hidden from sight, shamefully shunted home in coffins and body bags, hidden from view. The injured are ignored and neglected; treated like failures for not having the decency to die. Mentally traumatised and physically incapacitated by war, many are left to rot in the streets by those who avoided the call to war when their time came in Vietnam.

    Yes, it is the media that is to blame. Pundits like Thomas Friedman can snort, smirk and snigger all they like, but there are those of us know they have shirked their responsibilties in the most despicable and cowardly of ways. People die and get horrifically injured in war. Now is the time to heed the call to report it accurately, and stand up against it.

  8. Mary Tracy
    June 25, 2015 at 01:55

    Different approaches by President John F. Kennedy and President Richard Nixon–

    In a letter to Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev, 1 December 1963, Kennedy’s widow Jacqueline wrote: “The danger which troubled my husband was that war might be started not so much by the big men as by the little ones. While big men know the need for self-control and restraint, little men are sometimes moved more by fear and pride.”
    William Manchester, The Death of a President

    After the Bay of Pigs fiasco, President Kennedy said to his friend, Assistant Navy Secretary Paul Fay: “Nobody is going to force me to do anything I don’t think is in the best interest of the country. I will never compromise the principles on which this country is built, but we’re not going to plunge into an irresponsible action just because a fanatical fringe in this country puts so-called national pride above national reason. Do you think I’m going to carry on my conscience the responsibility for the wanton maiming and killing of children like our children we saw here this evening? Do you think I’m going to cause a nuclear exchange — for what? Because I was forced into doing something that I didn’t think was proper and right? Well, if you or anybody else thinks I am, he’s crazy.”
    Paul Fay, The Pleasure of His Company

    President Richard Nixon and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger discussed bombing the dike network in a 1972 conversation on Operation Linebacker II, later published by Daniel Ellsberg:

    Nixon: We’ve got to quit thinking in terms of a three-day strike [in the Hanoi-Haiphong area]. We’ve got to be thinking in terms of an all-out bombing attack – which will continue until they – Now by all-out bombing attack, I am thinking about things that go far beyond. I’m thinking of the dikes, I’m thinking of the railroad, I’m thinking, of course, the docks.
    Kissinger: I agree with you.
    President Nixon: We’ve got to use massive force.
    Two hours later at noon, H. R. Haldeman and Ron Ziegler joined Kissinger and Nixon:
    President: How many did we kill in Laos?
    Ziegler: Maybe ten thousand – fifteen?
    Kissinger: In the Laotian thing, we killed about ten, fifteen.
    President: See, the attack in the North that we have in mind, power plants, whatever’s left – POL [petroleum], the docks. And, I still think we ought to take the dikes out now. Will that drown people?
    Kissinger: About two hundred thousand people.
    President: No, no, no, I’d rather use the nuclear bomb. Have you got that, Henry?
    Kissinger: That, I think, would just be too much.
    President: The nuclear bomb, does that bother you?…I just want you to think big, Henry, for Christsakes.

    • Evangelista
      June 25, 2015 at 22:13

      The danger that troubles me (OK, I’m exaggerating) is that nuclear war may not be started by big or little men: Can you imagine Hilary Clinton and Vicky Nuland in the War-room?
      Hilary: They’ll say we don’t have any balls if we don’t…
      Vicky: I’ll say you don’t, if you don’t…

      (And somewhere far, far away, out about Neptune, the crew in a UFO said, “Ooooh! That was a big one!”

  9. Mary Tracy
    June 25, 2015 at 01:05

    The media, back in the early 1960s, seemed to have a strangely caviler attitude about the possibility of nuclear annihilation. The “brave” bumper sticker slogan, “better dead than red” was the operative credo for many of America’s elite. Even diagnosable antisocial types, like Joint Chiefs of Staff General Curtis LeMay, achieved revered status among some of the elite, with his expressions of brinkmanship and favoring of nuclear war (as if it was no big deal) — although, to the Washington Post’s credit, it did report on a couple of these:

    “At a Georgetown dinner party recently, the wife of a leading senator sat next to Gen. Curtis LeMay, chief of staff of the Air Force. He told her a nuclear war was inevitable. It would begin in December and be all over by the first of the year. In that interval, every major American city — Washington, New York, Philadelphia, Detroit, Chicago, Los Angeles — would be reduced to rubble. Similarly, the principal cities of the Soviet Union would be destroyed. The lady, as she tells it, asked if there were any place where she could take her children and grandchildren to safety; the general would, of course, at the first alert be inside the top-secret underground hideout near Washington from which the retaliatory strike would be directed. He told her that certain unpopulated areas in the far west would be safest.” –Marquis Childs, nationally syndicated columnist, Washington Post, 19 July 1961

    “Well, maybe if we do this overflight right, we can get World War III started.” –Curtis LeMay, speaking to RB-47 ‘Stratojet’ crew member Hal Austin of the 91st Strategic Reconnaissance Wing, cited by Paul Lashmar, Washington Post, “Stranger than ‘Strangelove’: A General’s Forays into the Nuclear Zone,” 3 July 1994, C9

    • Evangelista
      June 25, 2015 at 22:05

      I have always liked that “certain unpopulated areas in the far west would be safe…” line. The fact that in those areas, east of the Hanford Nuclear Reservation, for example, and where the salt from the salt-cooled breeding and research (cutting edge) reactors in California leached into groundwater, the people were dying in what would have been droves if the population had been any denser, from nuclear-waste and fallout induced cancers (whole families and their cattle and sheep in some instances), made that line a classic example of unwitting (and witless) satire.

  10. Pablo Diablo
    June 24, 2015 at 23:41

    According to the United States Congress, The COLD WAR cost the USA 3 Trillion dollars, killed 50 million people, and created 56 million refugees in proxy wars. But, they concluded that it was worth it because “we won”. Very funny, HAHA. Sick bastards. The neocons and their corporate sponsors make money off of war, lots of money. WE PAY.

    • Evangelista
      June 25, 2015 at 21:57

      Have you ever seen the Gahan Wilson cartoon of the last soldier against a background of anihilation and mushroom-clouds, who is saying, “I think I won!”?

      Where I am in the USA, with the economy imploding, the government imobile and the mainstream-media babbling baby-talk, I see a kind of civilian counter-part to that cartoon scenario.

  11. Jeremy Rabie
    June 24, 2015 at 23:05

    As someone living half a world away, the USA scares the proverbial out of me. The US inspired advance of NATO forces closer to the Russian borders was a calculated and provocative act. But the Russians won’t be easily bullied – like the Afghanis, or Iraqis, or Vietnamese, Somalis, or Panamanians…and many other poor, third world countries the empire usually likes to bring democracy to. The Russians pushed the Nazis back from the walls of Moscow to the Reichstag in the bloodiest war in history. I really hope the saner Americans prevail. Otherwise none of us will be around to enjoy the fruits of man-induced climate change.

    • Evangelista
      June 25, 2015 at 21:52

      As long as the Russian side continues refusing to rise to the NATO bait and just standing commenting on the bizarrity of the Western posturing, popular European skepticism is going to continue growing, and with it European disinclination to participate in any military venture. The more NATO pushes up to the borders andpuffs and bellows, the less they have support behind them. I predict that if NATO attempts an “Over the Top, Boys! Come On!” rally and charge, it will be a classic anti-war nightmare, where the ‘troops’ just stand looking, and saying “What’s ‘e on about?”
      This does not mean the threat of Russian Nuclear response is not serious. I think everyone in Europe pretty well knows that if Russia was invaded and it situation started to look deadly-grim, Europe could expect fallout.

  12. Evangeista
    June 24, 2015 at 22:48

    I am afraid I have to disagree:

    First, I disagree we have a “Cold War II”: We are, my friends, entangled in World War III. WWIII has been ‘on’ since 1991, after Gorbachev made his sane and sensible attempt to break off Cold War I, when he recognized that maintaining empire was too expensive, costing too much both economically and in animosity, and so disolved the Soviet Empire, looking to the West to recognize the value of a new, more neighborly, economically interactive world order, with the money that had been going to maintain arms going to the consumer economy. The West assigned Gorbachev’s idealism to ‘weakness’ and defined his overtures ‘capitulation’. The West declared ‘victory’ and when Russia opened itself to western integration, invaded, grabbing for spoils, for control where it could be takenand financing grabs for control, that Western owners could control through controlling the new oligarch owners, or through majority share ownership, or through financial foreclosings. Instead of the ex-soviet economies being helped up, they were destroyed completely.

    This was the beginning of what is now called “Hybrid Warfare”. next came installing and tailoring governments in ex-soviet satellites, and moving the borders that were negotiated to remain static in toward Russia. The NATO expansion. The whole a new kind of economic and political ‘blitzkrieg’, of a slower order, but still depending on the attacked parties’ confusions and disorders making them unable to meet the focused assault.

    WWIII has followed the traditional “J” pattern, with Russia falling back and going down, then beginning to get a grip on the assault situation, and becoming able to meet it. Putin was instrumental in the Russian recovery of balance, and he, with Lavrov, and others directing the present Russian ‘line’ seem to have a developed a feel for Hybrid Warfare and developed effective defensive techniques. They stopped the rapacious capturings of Russian assets, they developed techniques to meet the Western initiated protest ‘revoutions’.

    Today Russia has stopped the assault and is holding its lines against the aggressors. It is not counter-attacking, it is maintaining its ex-soviet defined ideals and principals, to remain a new Russia, to avoid empire, to recognize and work with others as ‘partners’, to help where it can, but not dominate, to respect others’ sovereignties. This has been up-hill, because Russia’s neighbors were all abused under the Soviet Empire and are all wary, but Russia appears to have stayed its course, refusing to make any moves toward re-asserting any authority outside its own borders.

    It is for this, an dthrough this Russia is ‘winning’ today. The elements of the West who have been warring have been pushing to ‘force’ Russia to show aggression. They have been presuming it and they have been declaring it. Russia has responded with self-control and restraint. The nations around Russia are beginning to believe the new Russia really is a new Russia, and that the New Russia does respect others and does not want to dominate or build, or rebuild, an empire, and the sane and rational of the European ‘west’ are recognizing it, too. The Western Aggressors are becoming less successful and meeting a kind of resistance they were not prepared for. They have been becoming more shrill, more strident, more hysterical. They have become more nakedly aggressive. They have been putting their foot in it, again and again. They have been losing control and are continuing to lose. The Western aggressors reated the Ukraine situatiion, their revoution and the crew they put into power threw Crimea into Russia’s arms, if you recall; Russia’s ‘green men’ did nothing but peace-keep there. The Ukrainian ‘anti-terrorist’ operations, against civilians, to drive them to emigrate, created the civil war, which the West backed ‘government’ has lost twice, and had to capitulate to stop to stop-loss. The Hybrid-Warfare ‘Sanctions-Front’ the West opened blew up with a back-fire, and the cutting off (or threatening to) of SWIFT services bloomed a Russian-Chinese,Indian, Brasilian alternative, which all the Western Warmongers’ allies had to join to assure their economic futures, since all trade with the nations the WarMongers have pushed to hedge against economic war activities. Again and again the Western Warmongers, trying to be aggressive have put their foot in it and then slipped and fallen on their faces, while Russia has stood peacefully, refusing to be baited.

    This is not funny? I’ve been laughing for months, even while feeling sorry for the victims of the Western Warmongers, who do not deserve to be toyed with as the Warmongers, including the Friedmans and WaPos and NYT-wits are toying with them.

    • Gregory Kruse
      June 25, 2015 at 09:15

      So you disagree about two things, what to call it, and whether it’s funny.

      • Evangelista
        June 25, 2015 at 21:40

        Yep. Calling the real war that has been being waged at low-heat aginst Russia, with intent to position the West (by ‘West’ I mean the global-elite commercial-aristocracy that is attempting to bring an international corporate feudal-structure back to thw world, where they have all and the peasant-serf-peon people only eke by) to attack Russia militarily (‘Napoleon and Hitler just started from too far back, so if we push the borders right up close and then just bang in…’) is downplaying what has been and is really going on. We need to call the spade a spade, not a ‘wide-footed alpine-stock’, and recognize that the wielders are endangered-species stealers, not picnickers. And if Friedman, Nuland and the aggressor-think-tankers doing one Wiley Coyote class ‘clever-idea’ that blows up in their faces after another is not funny it is only because there is real warfare, destruction and murder involved, or one is not amused to see aggressors getting tangled in their own snares.

  13. Gordon Pratt
    June 24, 2015 at 22:27

    Fine piece. But what is the bit about global warming doing at the end? Is it a product placement? Or a confession of religious faith?

    • Dwight
      June 24, 2015 at 23:22

      I assume Mr. Parry mentioned global warming because he thinks it is a serious problem that is being neglected, and that rather than spending money and attention on military confrontation, we should cooperating with other countries to address global warming. What the Pope said was about what is said in the 1992 climate treaty that the President signed and the Senate ratified. So it’s as much a confession of faith in U.S. law. A leap of faith, to be sure.

    • Gregory Kruse
      June 25, 2015 at 09:02

      The military is the biggest contributor to carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas production, especially during war. Just imagine how polluting WWII was. Next time around will be worse.

    • June 29, 2015 at 12:20

      Just how the hell is a statement or comment about global warming a product placement, or a confession of religious faith???

      In a 2009 study 97 to 98% of about 1000 actively published peer-reviewed climate scientists in agreed that global warming caused by humans is real, and we have to deal with it sooner or later.

      How is something that is agreed upon by a nearly universal consensus among scientists a statement of religious faith???

  14. Michael Gillespie
    June 24, 2015 at 21:41

    In the coming political season Republicans are going to tell us again and again that the USA’s economic, military, and political hegemony is at risk because Barack Obama and the Democrat Party. That’s one of their Big Lies.

    The rise of China as an economic, industrial, and military power since WWII; the increase of economic and political cooperation between China and Russia; and the increasingly obvious structural weaknesses of the US economy cannot be laid at the feet of Obama or the Democratic Party alone, although Glass-Steagall was repealed on President Clinton’s watch.

    Both military power and diplomatic influence flow from and are dependent upon economic power based on sound, diversified industrial and agricultural sectors. The USA’s economy is weak primarily because US political, business, and financial leaders made big mistakes, decisions that led to the nation abandoning its diversified industrial base and exporting millions of US manufacturing jobs. It was President Reagan (Reagan was not so much a president, actually, as an actor who played a president on TV – he was good at taking orders and delivering speeches prepared for him) who declared that heavy industry was dirty, manufacturing was the past, and America’s future was in finance (read: bubble economics and fraudulent financial instruments). Reagan broke the back of the American labor movement by decertifying the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization (PATCO) in 1981.

    If you want to place blame for the USA’s economic difficulties; if you wonder why China is now building a blue water navy including aircraft carriers and already has more nuclear-powered attack submarines than does the USA; if you are confused about why US neocons have incited a destabilizing civil war in Ukraine, picked an unwinnable fight with nuclear-armed Russia, and demonized Russian President Vladimir Putin; if you are worried that China (the world’s most populous country) and Russia (the world’s largest country) are increasing their military and economic ties; if you are surprised China has founded a new development bank (that US allies are rushing to join) to compete with the US-run World Bank and is inking important new economic agreements with India, Pakistan, and across Asia and Africa; if you are unclear on the development of the BRICS bloc (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) as a counter-weight to US economic policies, well, you can thank the damned fools who gutted America’s vital, diversified industrial base; exported millions of good-paying American manufacturing jobs, many of them to China; reduced the American labor movement to a shadow of its former self; and repealed Glass-Steagall, severely undercutting both the American middle class and the US economy. Which is to say, you can thank rich Republican and Democratic neoconservatives for the nation’s problems.

    “It’s the economy, stupid” has to be more, much more than a clever political slogan.

    • Anonymous
      June 24, 2015 at 22:25

      I’m glad China, Russia, India and others are opossed to, and offering alternatives to, what is the evil empire — I hate to see conniving, morally degenerate criminal psychopaths achive what they consider success,

      When every opportunity and option (including healthcare and educational options) in a person’s life is determined by the amount of personal wealth one has, then greed and selfishness enhanced by criminal behavior should not be too much of a surprise.

      As difficult or impossible as it might be to eliminate wealth advantage in our social structure, doing so would eliminate a large percentage of any real or perceived need to lie, cheat, steal or kill to be competive in our society.

      What is surprising is that so many Americans know the system is failing us but have been propagandized to believe criticizing the system is somehow unpatriotic — even when the system itself has become what would be defined as “un-American”.

    • Brd Owen
      June 25, 2015 at 06:01

      Well said. Reagan’s idea (spoon-fed to him by his handlers, no doubt) that America’s future was in finance never made sense to me, on the face of it. Such a future may be for some small city-state, but for a continent-sized Nation of 300,000,000+ people???…ridiculous. Such a country needs must be occupied with the idea of how those 300,000,000+ people (they being the ACTUAL wealth of our Nation, ESPECIALLY including the unspoiled immigrants…financiers being mere “score-keepers” of our efforts) are going to wrest their physical/material living from their 3,000,000+ sq. miles of Planet Earth (with a generous surplus-for-Charity), which will always be done by industry & agriculture, NOT finance…(NOR war, which is NEVER good for REAL business).

  15. Stanley Miller
    June 24, 2015 at 21:28

    Great column by Robert Parry. He is usually excellent but went even further with this one.

  16. Catherine Orloff
    June 24, 2015 at 21:26

    Excellent insights, as always, by Robert Parry. It is a crime that this documented interpretation of events in the Ukraine is systematically ignored by the mainstream media, which have become largely instruments of government propaganda, at least regarding U.S. foreign policy.

  17. Mark
    June 24, 2015 at 21:01

    All things are in motion and in the continuous state of change. All things have a certain destiny regardless of the fact we may not know exactly what it is ahead of time. Don’t believe it? You’ve been conditioned to think otherwise; but Just think of your own life and how it was destined to begin without you having one thing to say in the matter concerning time and place or the natural characteristics of mind and body you were given.

    If you thought your life and others you care about, along with all life on this planet we’re being put in jeopardy by a few careless and arrogant self-serving, self-entitled religiously racist and social class bigots, what would you be willing to give up or completely sacrifice to lessen that threat and possibility?

  18. Abe
    June 24, 2015 at 20:24

    “Well, suck on this!” That, Charlie, is what this war was about. We could have hit Saudi Arabia! It was part of that bubble. We could have hit Pakistan. We hit Iraq because we could. That’s the real truth.

    In May 2003, Friedman appeared on a special episode of The Charlie Rose Show taped in Silicon Valley

    • Dwight
      June 24, 2015 at 23:06

      Thomas Friedman has long been an advocate of war crimes and wars of aggression (the ultimate crime per Justice Jackson).

      Norman Solomon and FAIR catalogued Friedman’s horrible statements during the 1999 bombing of Kosovo, an event which warrants revisiting in light of what is happening in Ukraine.

      So, Friedman explained, “if NATO’s only strength is that it can bomb forever, then it has to get every ounce out of that. Let’s at least have a real air war. The idea that people are still holding rock concerts in Belgrade, or going out for Sunday merry-go-round rides, while their fellow Serbs are ‘cleansing’ Kosovo, is outrageous. It should be lights out in Belgrade: every power grid, water pipe, bridge, road and war-related factory has to be targeted.”

      He added: “Like it or not, we are at war with the Serbian nation (the Serbs certainly think so), and the stakes have to be very clear: Every week you ravage Kosovo is another decade we will set your country back by pulverizing you. You want 1950? We can do 1950. You want 1389? We can do 1389 too….”

      Bombing civilian infrastructure is a war crime. The question of whether the bombing of Serbia was a war of aggression may be less clear, but it is worthy of debate.

      • Peter Loeb
        June 25, 2015 at 05:28


        Dwight Eisenhower’s too-often cited remark about the “military-
        industrial complex” was an extremely clever way of avoiding
        civilian responsibility completely. (Namely his own.)

        Gabriel Kolko in his carefully documented book THE ROOTS OF
        AND POWER (1969) carefully argues that primary decisions are
        made not by the military but but civilian decision-makers with the
        President himself In charge. This is supplemented by the NSC
        (National Security Council) to which the military had an advisory role.
        Instead, the military did as they were told. Note that legislation for
        both the NSC and the Defense Department came under the Administration
        of Harry Truman. The relationship has evolved over time but remains
        essentially the same. To be brief, civilian authority makes basic decisions.

        (Issues become more complex when examined in detail by Kolko
        and by others and are not gone into in depth here.)

        For many, it is more “comfortable” blaming the military for the atrocities,
        plunder etc. of war. But to be blunt, there would not have been
        a Vietnam War without civilian decision. The military carried out
        its instructions. The same holds for all other wars, Iraq, Afghanistan
        as well as for so-called “interventions”.

        —-Peter Loeb, Boston, MA, USA

        • Bang on
          June 25, 2015 at 07:24

          I mostly agree. But (see WR Knight’s comment) look at how few people have bothered to vote. The Republicans have not made it that difficult to vote yet. If the voting public were not so stupid and lazy, and would pull their gormless faces out of their i-phones and tattoos just long enough to pay attention, and vote…

        • Rob
          June 25, 2015 at 11:38

          “Dwight Eisenhower’s too-often cited remark about the “military-
          industrial complex” was an extremely clever way of avoiding
          civilian responsibility completely. (Namely his own.)”

          Do as I say, not as I do.

          I have no doubt that Ike was sincere in his warning. His original draft referred to the “military-industrial-congressional” complex, but he decided that it was impolitic to mention Congress’s role in the process.

        • Skip Edwards
          June 27, 2015 at 16:52

          You miss the central part of Eisenhower’s warning. That was the MIC controlled the civilian government. $$ Trillions are made off of wars and the horribile, resulting destruction. Some of those profits are used to purchase the “puppets” who pose as candidates as our “elected” representatives and then perpetrate these same wars for profit. Friedman, et al,

    • Rob
      June 25, 2015 at 12:07

      Yeah, that clip more or less sums up what a boob Friedman is. Sam Seder even uses it in the intro to his great podcast “The Majority Report.” Sam, like many of us, has an abiding dislike for the man who is the truest model of the corporatist liberal hawk.

  19. Rob
    June 24, 2015 at 19:41

    I always have trouble deciding who is the most overrated pundit–Thomas Friedman or David Brooks. Right now, the title belongs to Friedman, but that could change with Brooks’s next column.

    • Skip Edwards
      June 27, 2015 at 16:31

      Our small town paper regurgitate the likes of Friedman, Brooks and other NYT’s and MSM columnists propaganda on a weekly basis. I encourage readers to start barraging their local papers to carry the works of Parry and others like him or cancel their subscriptions. I intend to take this article to my paper on Monday.

  20. June 24, 2015 at 18:36

    These guys are just snots and frat boys. So that is the character of their “humor”..
    They are intellectually not adults.

    2LT Dennis Morrisseau USArmy [armor – Vietnam era] retired. POB 177 W Pawlet, VT 05775
    802 645 9727 [email protected]

    • Stefan
      June 25, 2015 at 06:30

      They appeal to an audience of millions of fools who are impressed by bad taste and poorly constructed jokes. This audience, brought up on propaganda and entertainment, value jokers and jesters more than cracking up a book and reading about great great people and achievements that could inspire them for dealing with the problems of today.

      These intellectual midgets that occupy the media and other influential places are not fools. These shenanigans know how to amuse the masses and indulge them in an imagined exceptional status and superiority, easily hoodwinking the clueless into the next catastrophe.

  21. W. R. Knight
    June 24, 2015 at 18:29

    The nitwits have been in charge for a long time. But the voters who elected them (and those who didn’t vote) are even dumber.

    • paulmeli
      June 24, 2015 at 18:43

      “…the voters who elected them…”

      The voters get to select from a menu of pre-corrupted (bought) candidates, who then go on to act as if the little people are better of when they decide what’s good for us. It takes an exceptional citizen indeed to navigate through all the propaganda and B.S. we are fed from the day we are born.

      You are being way too hard on the average schmuck who is hanging on by his fingernails just to survive.

      The People need representatives that aren’t corrupt and actually do give a rat’s ass about the future of the planet.

      • R. Seckler
        June 25, 2015 at 11:26

        I wholeheartedly agree. The Average Joe is not astute enough to tell the difference between propaganda and reality.

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