JOHN KIRIAKOU: Those Nasty Russians

This policy is bunk.

(U.S. Air Force Photo)

By John Kiriakou
Special to Consortium News

The New York Times reported this week that Russia is preparing its public for potential war with the United States.

Moscow is “promoting patriotism” by training high school students in history and military history, according to the Times, and that Russian media outlets are saying that the country considers itself to be “surrounded by enemies” and may be forced to defend itself “as it did against the Nazis.”

Going even further, the Times added that Russia had already “massed troops on the border with Ukraine,” a lie that has been perpetuated in the mainstream media all across the United States.

Where do we even begin to pick this story apart? I’m not a Russia expert. But if I learned anything at the C.I.A., it was critical thinking and the necessity for basing my conclusions on facts.

First, every country teaches its children history, including military history. Indeed, education in the United States is rich in military history. Every student learns about the the French and Indian War, the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, the Civil War, the Spanish-American War, World War I, World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Gulf War, the Iraq War, and Afghanistan, to name just a few of our “glorious campaigns.” (I put myself through graduate school by teaching high school history for two years.)

Second, anybody who has paid any attention to the news over the past five years knows that the U.S. media have accused Russia of all sorts of misdeeds without a lot of proof. It was Russia that “stole” the election in 2016 from Hillary Clinton through Wikileaks. It was Russia that pitted Americans against each other through social media advertising during the 2020 election. It was Russia that “invaded and occupied Ukraine” in violation of international law.

Third, according to the Times and other outlets, Russian troops are massed on the Ukraine border ready to invade at the drop of a hat. That’s simply not true. There are between 70,000 and 90,000 Russian troops on the border, the same number that have been there for the past eight years. An “invasion” would require at least 300,000 troops, according to military analysts. Around 100,000 Russian troops are in Yelnya, Russia, which is 160 miles from the Ukraine border and is closer to Belarus than it is to Ukraine. There is no imminent threat of a Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Fourth, the Russians actually are surrounded by enemies. Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Romania, and Poland, all former Soviet Russian allies, are all now members of NATO. Ukraine is begging to join NATO and is the recipient of millions of dollars in U.S. military aid. Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan, also former Soviet republics, all host U.S. military bases. It should be no surprise to anybody that the Russians feel threatened militarily (after also being sanctioned and threatened constantly with “serious consequences.”)

U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds flyover at NFL game, Philadelphia vs. Washington, FedEx Field, Landover, MD, Sept. 10, 2017. (Ricky Bowden/U.S. Army)

Realpolitik aside, what bothers me most about this reporting is the Times’s focus on Russian patriotism, trying to convince us of how dangerous it is. Has nobody from The New York Times ever been to a baseball or football game?

As I noted in Consortium News last June, the Pentagon shelled out at least $6.8 million between 2012 and 2015 for Major League Baseball, the National Football League, and other sports leagues to “honor” troops with cheap stunts at sporting events. The details are listed in a Senate report.

The total tally may now top $10 million — and even reach $100 million, if you count the military’s marketing deals with NASCAR stock car racing. For millions of your tax dollars, the Pentagon is buying things like ceremonial first pitches for recent veterans, club-level seats for vets at football games, and airport greetings for returning service members.

As I said, I’m the first to admit that I’m not an expert on Russia or Ukraine. But I am something of an expert on policy having spent 15 years at the C.I.A. and another two on the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee senior staff. I can tell you that this policy is bunk. The New York Times, the Biden administration and Congress all need to back off.

The Russians don’t want war. And neither should the U.S.

John Kiriakou is a former C.I.A. counterterrorism officer and a former senior investigator with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. John became the sixth whistleblower indicted by the Obama administration under the Espionage Act—a law designed to punish spies. He served 23 months in prison as a result of his attempts to oppose the Bush administration’s torture program.

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40 comments for “JOHN KIRIAKOU: Those Nasty Russians

  1. Erelis
    December 26, 2021 at 15:50

    Well it had to get here eventually. And anti-Russian propaganda is now openly blaming the Russian people/nation for bad collective behaviors. For years the Russian haters would conflate the Russian peoples with the evil guy Putin. They were one and the same and they were spoken about and written about in the same ways. What the Western world is cultivating toward both the Chinese
    and Russians is ethnic hatred. During the Cold War, there was very little ethnic hatred of the Russians aS the struggle was ideological. But now the struggle has become one fueled by emotion and resentment. Every Russian is suspect and connected to the vast conspiracy simply for being Russian.

  2. Observator
    December 26, 2021 at 13:44

    It’s important to remember that Russia has massive natural resources: abundant gas, oil, gold, platinum, and timber. It has a population of only 146 million and a military that operates on a tenth of the Pentagon’s budget to guard all that wealth. It is a plum that Wall Street badly wants to pick.

    Influential neocon and Pres. Carter’s former National Security Advisor Zbignew Brzezinski outlined Washington’s scheme for Russia more than twenty years ago. Couched in the usual deceptive neoliberal jargon, it reads, “Given (Russia’s) size and diversity, a decentralized political system and free-market economics would be most likely to unleash the creative potential of the Russian people and Russia’s vast natural resources. A loosely confederated Russia — composed of a European Russia, a Siberian Republic, and a Far Eastern Republic — would also find it easier to cultivate closer economic relations with its neighbors. Each of the confederated entitles would be able to tap its local creative potential, stifled for centuries by Moscow’s heavy bureaucratic hand. In turn, a decentralized Russia would be less susceptible to imperial mobilization.” (Zbigniew Brzezinski, “A Geostrategy for Eurasia”, Foreign Affairs, 76:5, September/October 1997)

    This is our oligarchs’ game plan. Russia must cease to exist as a national entity, fragmenting into weaker states vulnerable to external exploitation. This is regime change at its worst, to create a pretend-democracy faux free market entity not unlike the one that exists here, where the American republic once was.

  3. Aaron
    December 26, 2021 at 06:49

    All I have to say is that it wasn’t Russia that attacked the USS Liberty and killed all of those sailors. And Hitler would have won without the help of Russia, so putting two and two together, seems like Zionist media are the cause for indoctrinating Americans with unconditional love and support for Israel, and hating Russia instead. It’s the Rasputin-like Zionists Nuland and her super Zionist hubby Kagan that are pulling all the strings on the Ukrainian thing.

  4. Richard Steven Hack
    December 25, 2021 at 13:38

    “An “invasion” would require at least 300,000 troops, according to military analysts.”

    I think that figure is wildly inflated. They probably assume Russia would want to occupy the whole of Ukraine, which is almost certainly not the case. They probably also omit the capabilities of the Donbass republics who have managed to hold off Ukraine for eight years without any such number.

    A lot of military analysts I’ve read recently say Russia can annihilate the Ukrainian forces on the contact line without even crossing the border just by using stand-off weapons (long-range artillery and missiles and air power). The 150,000 or so troops Russia has available within 100 miles or so of the border would be quite enough to support the Donbass militias in finishing off the Ukrainian military, especially given total ECM and air superiority. Not to mention the Ukrainian troops are by all accounts demoralized after having sat in trenches for the past year.

    But overall, Russia clearly doesn’t want to “invade” Ukraine. However, they absolutely will if another attack on Donbass is launched. And I’m convinced that’s exactly what is in the cards.

    Zelensky is out of time. The gas transit fees are being cut off next year. He gets kicked out if he doesn’t perform a “Hail Mary.” He keeps trying to get a meeting with Putin to evade the Minsk Package of Measures, but Putin simply won’t because Russia is not a party to the Ukrainian internal civil war. Plus it’s virtually certain that the CIA and the neocons are urging Zelensky to start the war as the only means of possibly surviving another coup. They promise support but in reality intend to sacrifice Ukraine in a war with Russia in order achieve their own geopolitical agendas and to indulge the hate they have for Russia.

    In addition, NATO intends to have *ten* military exercises in Ukraine in 2022. This alone might be enough to provoke Russia into deciding to resolve the issue by solving the problem militarily. This is undoubtedly why Putin put forth his two treaty proposals at this time, rather than later.

  5. December 25, 2021 at 11:20

    The US bases in the 3 Stans are more of a burden than an asset. Logistics!

    • Kiwi Pom
      December 25, 2021 at 15:25

      I think we can see that the US bases in the 3 Stans have all been closed due to pressure from the host governments.

  6. Michael kotis
    December 25, 2021 at 10:23

    After the Afghanistan debacle and all the lies the admin and pentagon they been feeding the Americans for 20 years now more than ever appreciate your exposure to the facts thank you

  7. Guy Thornton
    December 25, 2021 at 10:11

    I unashamedly love America, as a concept. As youngsters, my wife and I moved to the USA (1982) to operate a business and met nothing but welcoming, friendly people…our three kids were born there…and I was so happy to propound to all who would listen to me how much I loved the place.

    But the USA, as I see it, has been hijacked by an evil, dark force….straight out of Tolkien…ridiculous as it sounds. Sometimes when pondering this I go right through a wormhole and wonder whether the entire American degeneracy could have been engineered by their enemies. Is it possible that the Russians or Chinese could be so clever as to have hollowed out the USA from the inside? Fanciful admittedly, but what could explain the current US insanity?

    • MarkinPNW
      December 25, 2021 at 14:56

      “Is it possible that the Russians or Chinese could be so clever as to have hollowed out the USA from the inside?” Well, that was the claim of Soviet defector Yuri Bezmenov; that 85% of the Soviet KGB budget was to do exactly that. He may be right about the KGB budget, but I think the main forces were the American CIA programs to try to learn and apply population control such as Operation Mockingbird, MKUltra, and the Laurel Canyon Project.

    • Carolyn Zaremba
      December 26, 2021 at 00:12

      Capitalism in fatal decline.

    • Altruist
      December 26, 2021 at 04:13

      Great comment by Guy Thornton, which so well juxtaposes the wonderful American people and their evil overlords – indeed the country has been highjacked and needs to be reclaimed.

      But I don’t think outside “enemies” are to blame, rather I think the answer is to be found in the symbiosis between government and special interests and lobbyists, which has resulted in the government beiong corrupted and essentially run by such special interests and lobbyists, which represent various sectors of big business and also foreign countries (but the “friends” other than the “enemies”), which also include the military-industrial complex which Eisenhower warned about. It’s also not due to the fatal decline of capitalism, as another commenter asserted, as capitalism is in robust health – only the market system is warped by a similar symbiosis with government, which has resulted in the worst performing health care systems among industrialized nations worldwide (worse outcomes at the highest costs, with profits going to big pharma companies, insurance companies etc.), the most expensive higher education system on earth, but on the other hand, overwhelming leadership in IT and the new economy, the economy of the future, due partially to initial government support for development of the internet.

    • Daniel
      December 26, 2021 at 10:33

      We need no outside forces to hollow us out from the inside. Plenty of insanity and evil forces capable of the task – and befitting from it – right here in the USA.

      • Rex Williams
        December 26, 2021 at 19:11

        Rotting from the inside, Daniel.

        Back in the dark days of Bush with lies and misrepresentations the order of the day when Iraq became the target, the Neocons held forceful power for years. Wolfowitz, Perle and company. Almost all were Israeli controlled, totally subservient to the long range objectives of that parasitic state. Well, as we all know, those objectives in play for 50 years are now in place, through the control of both Houses of American government.

        Now we see the return of such influences in the government of this feeble and easily led President Biden. Right among them is “doughnut dolly” Nuland and her ilk, reinstated with a role of influence again under the control of the rightwing zealot, Blinken. These people aren’t American loyalists with a schedule for peace and honest government. Once, not that long ago, these people were in a minority position in government but now, on best estimations they control 0ver almost 73% of the power in the halls of Washington, with all the strings being pulled by a foreign state called Israel.
        Every reader of this respected news provider, CN, knows that is true.

        While they are there and are not treated as traitors to the USA, what is happening now will continue, with a world war the end result.
        What a wonderful country it could be again….without them.

    • Black Cloud
      December 26, 2021 at 15:42

      Unmitigated greed brings its own reward.

  8. December 25, 2021 at 08:35

    Spot on.
    I wonder how the nasty russians to this date did not infiltrate a mini-sumarine in St Lawrence river right on the brim of the Canada/USA border.
    And another one smoothly navigating under the water of the Rio Grande.

  9. December 25, 2021 at 07:50

    Thank you for this and I hope Americans (if at all are interested in knowing a thing or two) should listen to their own(you) and understand the situation as is,by taking words of their MSM outlets and those of the Biden Administration with scepticism that it requires.Otherwise,the U.S which has made me the world a dangerous place,are ready this time to bring annihilation to the rest of humanity.But most importantly,in whose interests is the U.S working to destroy not only U.S itself but humanity? And after that,what would they gain from it? Personally, I think the days when U.S could boss countries around is over. It’s better if they understand that and instead focus on the on bettering the lives of Americans who are in dire need of those dollars that are being wasted on the already faded hegemony.

  10. December 24, 2021 at 22:17

    Thank you John for pointing out that “The Emperor has no clothes”. It is so frustrating to confront the main stream lies without end. Enjoy your holiday.

  11. Robert Emmett
    December 24, 2021 at 15:35

    Oh heavens forfend. Not the vaunted Times about which so many are all up in vapors over their “revelations” that drones kill so many more innocents than we had imagined? Something documented for years that doesn’t officially become “news” until the so-called paper of record reports what’s long been ignored.

    And now we read current administrators use “Russiagate” to justify jabbing the tip of their spear down Ukraine’s throat. A useful pack of lies positioned for its true purpose as casus belli?

    Bunk abounds.

  12. Jeff Harrison
    December 24, 2021 at 12:27

    Yes, I agree we shouldn’t but we’re doing everything possible to start one.

  13. Alex Cox
    December 24, 2021 at 12:03

    Excellent sentiments, John. Merry Xmas!

  14. Vera Gottlieb
    December 24, 2021 at 11:52

    How about all the military hardware that NATO has advanced closer and closer to Russia? What is good for the goose ain’t good for the gander? I worry a lot more about the Yanx starting a war than Russia.

    • dhinds
      December 25, 2021 at 18:57

      The Muricans are attempting to create the appearance of a pretext

      That’s what the charade is about.

    • Black Cloud
      December 26, 2021 at 15:44

      Imagine the US reaction if Canada and Mexico joined the Warsaw Pact.

      US hypocrisy knows no bounds.

  15. December 24, 2021 at 10:54

    Accurate, no doubt. And embarrassing for us as a People. We tolerate the corporate media that incessantly lies to us as an art form when we could boycott the providers of products and services that enables it, and we elect the politicians who hire the bureaucrats who populate the Deep State and who send some of the best among us out to die, be maimed or psychological destroyed in senseless military adventures and perpetual deployments. We are the world’s bane.

    • Carolyn Zaremba
      December 26, 2021 at 00:17

      I got rid of my television 10 years ago. I don’t vote for any capitalist party. Be careful with the word “we”. I don’t consider myself a part of it. I support the Socialist Equality Party and have done for decades. Not everyone falls for the lies of the imperialists and their bought and paid for media.

  16. Helga Fellay
    December 24, 2021 at 10:42

    Thank you, John Kiriakou, for stating the truth in this country which persecutes truth tellers.

  17. Jennifer Powell
    December 24, 2021 at 10:37

    Dear John,

    You forgot Julian Assange. Julian Assange is responsible for the Russians. Nowhere in either of the two superseding indictments is there mention of anything Russian. But Julian Assange is responsible for the Russians. It’s all over twitter.

    Merry Christmas John! Looking forward to your books in April 2022 (p.s. everyone, he’s writting four hot books, check them out of Amazon pre-order).


    • Jon Adams
      December 24, 2021 at 18:39

      was that sarcasm?

    • Carolyn Zaremba
      December 26, 2021 at 00:18

      I hope you are being sarcastic about Assange.

    • Daniel
      December 26, 2021 at 10:36

      I think we can assume when someone on CN refers to Twitter as a reputable gauge of reality in the US that it is indeed sarcasm.

  18. December 24, 2021 at 10:30

    Bravo, Mr. Kiriakou!

    I joined a delegation to visit Russia in 2017. Everywhere we went, and that included many toasts, the Russians told us repeatedly that they valued friendship with Americans. If they had their way these tensions would soon dissolve into mutual trust and respect.

    Last year James Douglass’ iconic book, JFK and the Unspeakable was translated into Russian. It instantly became a best-seller. Perhaps many of Russians recall President Kennedy’s “Peace speech” at American University on June 10, 1963, which ended with these words:

    “But we shall also do our part to build a world of peace where the weak are safe and the strong are just. We are not helpless before that task or hopeless of its success. Confident and unafraid, we labor on – not toward a strategy of annihilation but toward a strategy of peace.”

  19. December 24, 2021 at 10:11

    Sadly, John, there are some Americans who do want war – or at the very least, a cold war. War is very profitable for some people and when you can wage war somewhere else (not at home, of course), it is both profitable and glorious.

    • Carolyn Zaremba
      December 26, 2021 at 00:20

      Any war with Russia would be a nuclear war, in which case it will not be “somewhere else”.

  20. torture this
    December 24, 2021 at 09:24

    If Russia wants to stop aggression from the West, it will probably need to put its troops a lot closer to Washington (maybe their submarines in the Potomac are enough, though). This is the first I’ve heard that the their troop numbers on THEIR SIDE OF THE BORDER with Ukraine hadn’t been increased by tens of thousands. The outrage was obviously ridiculous since Russia would have nothing to gain by invading, but that I didn’t suspect it was all lies makes me wonder if I’ll ever fully wake up. John’s one of the many reasons I’m delighted to have CN to support! Good morning!

    • Carolyn Zaremba
      December 26, 2021 at 00:21

      Drink more coffee.

    • Litchfield
      December 26, 2021 at 18:10

      The idea that the USA should lecture Russia (or any other nation) as to where they place their troops within their own borders is totally absurd.

      It is doubly absurd in light of the USA’s troops (and their flimsy proxies such as NATO) stationed throughout the world in other nations, including near to Russia’s borders.

      This presumption of the Americans is the very essence of Chutzpah and, actually, delusion.

  21. Sadiq
    December 24, 2021 at 09:13

    Good summary, thank you for.
    During the past two and a half decade I have learned how to read the BBC and other MSM as “reliable sources of information”.

    For example I saw a host of articles about how dirty old mullahs in Afganistan raped young girls twenty years ago and the US (UK, etc.) invaded Afganistan later. Since then I call the notion a “media barrage”.

    No need to list all cases I just would mention two of this year.
    Around last summer the BBC started worrying about Tigray. I was instantly aware that the US (UK etc.) are up to something in Ethiopia.
    A few months ago I read the articles about Ukraine and Russia.
    The threats that IF Russia tries something in Ukraine they are going to face serious consequences. As I saw myself a Ukrainian military convoy carrying T-72 tanks and a few BMPs, from the Chech Republik to Slovakia, it is clear that Ukraine is arming herself.

    A possible scenario that Ukraine tries to retake the Donbass perhaps next spring, but not until the winter is over. In case the rebels would be unable to withhold the Ukrainian attack Russia would interfere militarily. A quite good reason for new sanctions.
    (Just mention about the last sanctions that the farmers of East-middle Europe suffered them.)

    • Altruist
      December 26, 2021 at 05:03

      Very good comment, especially regarding inflammatory stories in the MSM as a “leading indicator” of the next target areas, as well as concernint a potential retake of the Donbass as being the hidden background to the current tensions on the Russian front.

      • Litchfield
        December 26, 2021 at 18:13

        I think the term for this is something like “pre-programming the public,” or “seeding” the news.

        Of course it is a type of psy-op, one that depends on “willing executioners” in the media.

  22. December 24, 2021 at 08:57

    “We’ll know our disinformation program is complete when everything the American public believes is false.”

    – William J. Casey, CIA Director (1981)

Comments are closed.