War Mania Leads White House to Condemn US Senator as Russian Propagandist

The Republican senator cited Russian “threats,” but said going to war with Moscow over Ukraine was not in the interests of the U.S., which should go after China instead, Joe Lauria reports.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki (White House Photo/Cameron Smith)

By Joe Lauria
Special to Consortium News

The extent to which the White House will not tolerate any dissent against its war messaging on Russia was revealed when President Joe Biden’s press secretary on Wednesday condemned a sitting member of the United States Senate as a Russian propagandist for simply questioning the drive to war over Ukraine. 

Jen Psaki accused Republican Sen. Josh Hawley of “parroting Russian talking points” for sending a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken questioning the drive for war. 

“Well, if you are just digesting Russian misinformation and parroting Russian talking points, you are not aligned with long-standing, bipartisan American values,” Psaki told reporters at a regular White House briefing.   

Those values are “to stand up for the sovereignty of countries like Ukraine … their right to choose their own alliances and also to stand against very clearly the efforts — or attempts, or potential attempts — by any country to invade and take territory of another country,” she said.

Psaki added: “That applies to Senator Hawley, but it also applies to others who may be parroting the talking points of Russian propagandist leaders.”  The word “others” is ominous. It can be taken to mean any other member of the U.S. Congress, U.S. independent media or ordinary Americans. 

Such vilification is designed to take agency away from American elected officials, journalists or private citizens — who are schooled in the American world view and not Russia’s — to think for themselves, examine evidence and come to their own conclusion. 

Smearing government critics as agents of a foreign power is the oldest trick in the book. Anti-Vietnam War protestors were labelled apologists for Hanoi and critics of the 2003 invasion of Iraq as Saddam stooges.

Hawley’s letter to Blinken was actually hawkish in tone, talking about Russian “threats’ — hardly a Moscow “talking point.” He wrote: 

“The United States has an interest in maintaining Ukraine’s independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity. And we should urgently deliver to Ukraine assistance it needs to defend itself against Russia’s military buildup and other threats. Our interest is not so strong, however, as to justify committing the United States to go to war with Russia over Ukraine’s fate. Rather, we must aid Ukraine in a manner that aligns with the American interests at stake and preserves our ability to deny Chinese hegemony in the Indo-Pacific.”

Hawley asked Blinken for “clarity about the Biden administration’s support for Ukraine’s prospective membership in NATO,” which to remain “viable” must have European members  “increase defense spending above two percent of GDP … especially as the United States shifts resources” elsewhere in the world. 

The U.S. is facing some degree of resistance to war from France, Germany and even Ukraine itself. Germany refuses to send arms to Ukraine, Emmanuel Macron is talking to Vladimir Putin and wants to include Russia in a new European security arrangement, and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky says there’s no imminent invasion. The U.S. can hardly use the undiplomatic language of accusing all three of “parroting Russian talking points.”

The White House putdown of Hawley shows how the administration is shutting down debate on the issue most deserving of it in a so-called democracy, namely the question of peace or war.  That the White House target is a member of the Senate, which is constitutionally charged with declaring war, is even more alarming. 

Joe Lauria is editor-in-chief of Consortium News and a former U.N. correspondent for The Wall Street Journal, Boston Globe, and numerous other newspapers. He was an investigative reporter for the Sunday Times of London and began his professional work as a 19-year old stringer for The New York Times.  He can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @unjoe  

47 comments for “War Mania Leads White House to Condemn US Senator as Russian Propagandist

  1. Vera Gottlieb
    February 4, 2022 at 05:48

    Going after China instead??? Whatever happen to ‘live and let live’??? It isn’t China, or Russia, who have been creating disturbances all over the world wince the end of WW 2 .

    • SPQR70AD
      February 4, 2022 at 09:12

      biden is doing this with Russia and bombing the ISIS leader to boost his rating and as human nature has indicated thru history it will work

  2. Richard Steven Hack
    February 4, 2022 at 03:40

    “the administration is shutting down debate” More evidence that the Biden administration is in on the plan to start a war between Ukraine and Russia for the agendas of the CIA and neocons. Expect some sort of provocation or false flag operation or even another Ukraine offensive against Donbass. This is a real possibility regardless of how inadequate the Ukraine forces are or how low their morale is. The CIA and neocons can use any number of people in Ukraine – the neo-Nazi battalions, the Islamic jihadists who are there, US mercenaries – to start a war even without Ukraine’s permission.

  3. Douglas Baker
    February 3, 2022 at 19:05

    Since the end of World War II to now only one country that participated in the invasion and occupation of Europe stayed and expanded its military occupation to the Russian Frontier as it created a Nazi inspired N.A.T.O. organization that has warred on the world from Afghanistan to Syria with over seven hundred Fort Apaches to play cowboys and Indians from. When the U.S.S.R. directed Warsaw Pact dissolved, N.A.T.O. should have too. As a part of Europe, the remainder of the U.S.S.R. after partial dismemberment, The Russian Federation should be an integral part of building a cohesive continent with free commerce for mutual benefit without economic warfare as economic sanctions, and citizens taxes going to sharpening swords redirected to betterment of the whole as we remember the millions displaced from their own home lands caused by United States wars of aggression and lesser millions murdered, hear the strong voice still of John Donne, “No man is an island entirely of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend’s or thine own were, any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls, it tolls for thee.”

    • Tenet
      February 4, 2022 at 06:01

      “a Nazi inspired N.A.T.O. organization”

      Ah yes, opposing the Soviet Union that had invaded half of Europe and killed 60 million people is “NAZI INSPIRED!” You communist lovers are hilarious. You think no one will think one moment longer about the propaganda lines you regurgitate.

      • TimN
        February 4, 2022 at 08:13

        “Communists?” Young fella, there ain’t been no Communists around these here parts for a long time. You want to fight? Get yourself into a rifle company and hie yourself over There. Now. Please protect us from the Commie menace!

      • SPQR70AD
        February 4, 2022 at 09:10

        Russia did not invade half of Europe. it was given to them by stalins nephew FDR. It was Hitler who stopped the russians from invading Europe. US fought WWII to SAVE the communists

        • Jim other
          February 4, 2022 at 14:03

          And I suppose it was Stalin’s nephew FDR who put all those millions of soldiers, guns and tanks from the Soviet Union that squashed the Nazi menace?

      • Don
        February 4, 2022 at 18:15

        Russia is not a Communist country. The Russian Orthodox Church is pushed by the government. You are 30 years behind in history.

  4. robert e williamson jr
    February 3, 2022 at 18:34

    I see the Biden administration’s posturing here as proof positive “the Fix” is in.

    This bullshit about, ” if you’re not with us you are against us ” sounds very familiar. Shrub said exactly the same thing before he invaded Iraq.

    We all know how well that worked out. Biden’s comment about reading the tea leaves reminiscent of Reagan and Mommy!

    Biden has cast his lot and missed the target completely. I sure hope all the rich democrats who jumped through hoops to make sure Biden got elected are proud of themselves. The ship of state is crewed by Fools.

  5. Bart Hansen
    February 3, 2022 at 18:34

    Differing opinions are often referred to as ‘talking points’ by those who resist likely facts.

  6. David Otness
    February 3, 2022 at 16:49

    That Ms Cold Fish Psaki is likely representative of so many Biden team members scurrying around in the background—think Neera Tanden for one–is an image far from comforting, complementing though it is to her icy, if not (one may speculate) AI-infused, transhumanistic, preternaturally calm demeanor as she fulfills her contractual duties as a professional prevaricator, obfuscator, and outright liar. Now that’s what I call a full-time job!

    I’m left with “Something’s not ‘right’ about this ‘person.'” Then as well, I’m struck by her particularly presumptuous statement in using the word ‘bipartisan’ in the context of not only polls I’ve seen putting ALL U.S. citizens as standing in the vicinity of 80% being against this fools’ errand of presuming to go to war with Russia, but as well as of a few years ago, the numbers showed only approximately 25% of U.S. voters identifying as Dems, with the Reps being of similar percentage numbers. Only in the Halls of Duopoly can such certitude of ‘bipartisanship’ be asserted—which illustrates how far above and beyond this minority of pretenders have elevated themselves and their (bold and underlined) concerns apart—separate–from the rest of us.

    Psaki’s endless loop/Mobius strip daily conveying of the Biden administration’s pugnacious belligerence—said ‘administrators’ being the “whiz kids” ala Neera-ilk and their Military/Technocracy enablers (who knows where Joe truly is?)—are always leaving out the actual end result of its current Russia policy’s one known certainty—NATO’s and Ukraine’s immediate and consequential military defeat. A strategic ‘plan’ seemingly based solely on ensuring continuing conflict and inevitable further-ensuing misery for all Ukrainians—nothing whatsoever about an actual resolution of these very obviously U.S.-instigated geopolitical problems. (That’s catastrophic disasters to those actually affected/afflicted.) Unless the U.S. actual endgame is to disappear all of us by “pushing The Button” and ending any and all human problems. What part of “this continued policy is tantamount to suicide” don’t these über-wonks understand about modern nuclear weapons?

    I call what the Dems and their fellow warmongers are doing ‘feeding the Beast,’ a very bloody and stomach-churning affair to which its survivors, its yet-living human victims—young, old, in-between, including the perpetrating soldiers thrown into its cage, mere toys for the bloodthirsty. The haughty class, the Jen Psakis, along with her fellow “I was just following orders” sociopathic cannibals’ doctrinaire attitude of singularity, no doubt are carried in Jen’s feverish @33 F head as a ready blithe rejoinder to her every day, everywhere, dealings in death and destruction, enabling her to say knowingly, and always from the comfort of her own lair at the tip of the top of the D.C. power bubble—“You have to break a few eggs to make an omelet.”

    “We felt is was worth it”- Madeline Albright. “We came, we saw, he died…” (Cackle, cackle, cackle.) – She Who Will Not Be Named—yet lurks dark fog foreshadowing always closely by. How many of them were Girl Scouts at one time, I ask myself?

    Finally—does this never end—but in destruction and wailing?—another little dig Jenneera got in by demonizing/denigrating Hawley in particular: he’s seemingly survived his brush with iniquity for his fist-pumping at the Capitol a year ago on January 6th. He’s a clear and present rising threat to the Democratic Party organism. They recognize him for a likely formidable Presidential candidate opponent following his tenure as a powerful committee chairman in the aftermath of this coming debacle for the Dems. He’s whipsmart and not nearly as outwardly terrifying as Senator ‘Shitting in Tall’ Cotton. Watch this one. I know the Dems are.

    • Marshall T Smith
      February 4, 2022 at 11:41

      Excellent! I wonder how closely Neera Tanden coordinates policies and strategies with Vanita Gupta. The organizational skills of both must also be aided by others with election law “experience”.

  7. Andrew Peter Nichols
    February 3, 2022 at 16:28

    McCarthy would be delighted…

  8. Rob
    February 3, 2022 at 15:52

    This is McCarthyism in its purest form—accusing a critic of being a traitor and an agent of an enemy power. Jen Psaki is a person to beware of. Hence, I predict that she will have a bright post-White House career spewing propagandistic tripe, probably on MSNBC or CNN.

    • Robert Emmett
      February 3, 2022 at 19:09

      As a side biz, she may inhabit the gaming universe as her own superstar avatar, multi-leveraged & highly promoted as Mean Clown Face, to pursue & punish traitors in the far corners of the galaxy.

  9. Michael.j
    February 3, 2022 at 15:12

    It’s difficult for me to have sympathy for either party. Both are continuing the push for empire, and both are using cliches to support their staked out position. The net difference when one or the other captures office it will be more of the same. It’s pretty remarkable how little of these people actually think things through,

    While we blow over $1 trillion/year on essentially nothing, it’s estimated that if we were actually attempting to reach zero carbon emissions by 2050, we would have to be spending the same amount on that per year attempting to save humanity. That required amount will expand quickly each year we dally, until there is no more hope. Why again are we worrying about hegemony?

    To me this shows that we are no smarter than chimpanzees with clothes.

  10. rosemerry
    February 3, 2022 at 13:14

    The ignorance and hubris of the USA in its” long-standing, bipartisan American values,” of threats, attacks, invasions, occupations, economic sanctions of any designated adversary it chooses, show that it has no respect for anyone other than itself (and probably a minority in the USA, since they are not asked).
    This incident also makes a mockery of the USA’s pretense of support for free speech.

    • Julian
      February 3, 2022 at 20:08

      Agreed – ignorance and hubris expand into an otherwise empty space.
      When it comes to sanctions against Russia, I recall a commentator some time ago remarking that the only thing not sanctioned was Putin’s dog.

  11. olivio deoliveira
    February 3, 2022 at 12:48

    An idiotic statement of course, but I can’t find it within me to defend Hawley even if my life depended on it. I will leave them to tear each other to pieces.

  12. mgr
    February 3, 2022 at 12:39

    “…long-standing, bipartisan American values”: War and concentrating wealth.

    “…to stand up for the sovereignty of countries like Ukraine … their right to choose their own alliances”: Cuba and other South American countries as well I guess which could soon be hosting Russian armaments.

    “…but it also applies to others”: Taking down names for a midnight visit. Freedom an democracy, US style from the president’s spokesperson.

    “…schooled in the American world view”: We make the rules, you follow them.

    • February 3, 2022 at 13:07

      Excellent interpretation. Thank you

      • mgr
        February 3, 2022 at 16:28

        AA from MD: Thank you. Consider also her statements in the context of polls showing 70% of the American public are against the idea of the US fighting in Ukraine. A new Cold War with Russia is not the idea of the American public. It is a policy being fomented by ardent Russiaphobes in the Democratic administration of Joe Biden and shoved down the American people’s throat. These are the people Biden has chosen.

        The American ambassador to the UN lied to, distorted and tried to deflect the international community about what is going on in Ukraine. Few are buying it. The White House spokesperson, Psaki, is doing the same to the American people. I guess the Nuland agenda is not panning out as they hoped and the Biden admin is becoming ever more desperate. Besides having no shame, it’s also embarrassing to watch. This is the democracy that America is trying to export? Who would want such a thing..?

        • February 3, 2022 at 21:10

          @ mgr
          All of your observations are the sad truths reflecting the absurd and intentional creation of wealth disparity and the resulting dominance of our government by oligarchic corporate “citizens” using our national largesse to produce and distribute weapons, munitions and tools of war that cause the deaths of hundreds of thousands of hapless victims, callously of course, written off as merely “collateral damage”. This latest iteration of inhumane criminal international colonializations reeks of moral and ethical criminal hypocrisy and serial depravity.
          Psaki is nothing more than the cosmetic mask on this morbidly obese pig that is our current publicly elected government; merely one of the sordid stars of the sick political soap opera feeding the sheeple their unfortunate diet of propagandistic slop. Which of these named actors, in this sad piece of political theatre, is worthy of even a passing notice, let alone some pretensive inquiry into their substanceless psychobabble. We must all become better than this!?
          As Usual,
          Thom Williams (aka Ethan Allen)

  13. blimbax
    February 3, 2022 at 12:01

    Psaki was responding to a question and the question itself is remarkable. I have transcribed it (although my transcription may be a bit off here or there due to the way the questioner spoke):

    “Senator Hawley put out a statement today saying that the president should take NATO membership off the table for Ukraine, that it wasn’t in U.S. interests to do that. Do you think that sort of rhetoric, that sort of position by a U.S. senator right now is helpful in this showdown between the West and Russia?”

    In other words, the questioner (I hesitate to call him a ‘journalist’) was asking Psaki to focus on the “helpfulness,” or lack thereof, of Hawley’s rhetoric. In essence, the questioner was asking whether Hawley was being sufficiently loyal. The question is alarming and says a lot about the state of what passes for journalism these days.

  14. Joseph
    February 3, 2022 at 11:14

    This is a revival of Russiagate, the pseudo scandal that has consumed our Government and media for the last few years in order to justify the obscenity of our spending on National Defense/ Offense. Our country has been hijacked by evil powers who are determined to suck us dry while our leadership in the world plummets. The wars we are fighting are not in our national interest.

    • TimN
      February 4, 2022 at 08:15

      Exactly. Russiagate 5.0 at this point. Might be 6.0; I’ve lost track.

  15. county Kerry
    February 3, 2022 at 11:14

    “If you are not with us, you are against us.” The Biden Administration

    • Robert Emmett
      February 3, 2022 at 19:10

      Sterling bipartisanship, what? snk

  16. February 3, 2022 at 10:43

    The Biden administration is proving to be one of the worst in my lifetime (and I voted for Jimmy Carter). They are hyper-belligerent, and may be even more militarily aggressive than Trump was. We all knew Biden was going to be a weak president, now we know for sure that he is a weak president who tries to bolster public support through war mongering. I just hope this dangerous plan continues to fail the administration.

    • TimN
      February 4, 2022 at 08:18

      I make no distinction between Trump and Biden. At this point Biden is worse. If Sarah Sanders had made the kind of imbecile remarks that Psaki routinely makes, the liberals and Dems would be howling mad. What rank simpletons and hypocrites they are.

  17. Derrick Distance
    February 3, 2022 at 10:42

    I rarely can agree with Hawley, but on this topic and his letter to Blinken, he was spot on. Psaki and the White House are way off base with their response to Hawley on many levels.

  18. Randal Marlin
    February 3, 2022 at 10:40

    I remember how, to get the American people and the rest of the world to support the 2003 war against Iraq, the George W. Bush administration fed the public about Saddam Hussein’s alleged al-Qaeda connections and imminent use of weapons of mass destruction.
    Dissenting voices who pointed out the flimsiness of the rationalizations were viewed as disloyal, even traitorous.

    That was the time when the loathsome Nazi, Hermann Goering, was quoted as have said something with a color of truth.
    Goering: “Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.”
    –Nazi leader Hermann Goering, interviewed by Gustave Gilbert during the Easter recess of the Nuremberg trials, 18 April 1946, quoted in Gilbert’s book Nuremberg Diary

    • vinnieoh
      February 3, 2022 at 12:53

      That (the Iraq propaganda) was also the first thing I thought about upon reading the above from Psaki. In an exquisite stroke of serendipity I finally picked up “The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich” during the period between 9/11 and the Iraq invasion (“Shock and Awe”.) That book had sat on my bookshelf, unread, for many years; reading it then, at that moment, the sense of recognition was frightening.

      How many here remember, during the last presidential campaign, Biden’s first appearance on-stage at the “debates” (sic)? He clearly signaled two very important things: first, there would be no “Medicare for All” or single-payer, or any proposal that would stop the raping of the US public in the name of “Health Care;” second, he really got animated when he proclaimed his undying cold war super hawkishness. Afterwords that night I got seriously, depressingly drunk.

  19. Dan D
    February 3, 2022 at 10:40

    Does Psaki’s comment regarding Hawley extend to Ukrainian President Zelensky who has questioned the “official” line that a Russian invasion of Ukraine is imminent?

    • Don Durivan
      February 3, 2022 at 11:18

      Exactly Dan, and thanks for inserting this. I would say “Think before you speak, Jen Psaki. ”

      Don D,
      Boston area

    • TimN
      February 4, 2022 at 08:21

      Yes, actually. Zelensky was dressed down but US apparatchiks for his remarks. Zelensky needs to be careful. I’m sure his replacement is already being groomed in case he veers off script again.

  20. Feral Finster
    February 3, 2022 at 10:37

    Psaki is demanding that everybody toe the neocon line and that if you don’t, then you are not really an American.

    Straight out of Goering:

    We got around to the subject of war again and I said that, contrary to his attitude, I did not think that the common people are very thankful for leaders who bring them war and destruction.

    “Why, of course, the people don’t want war,” Goering shrugged. “Why would some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best that he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece. Naturally, the common people don’t want war; neither in Russia nor in England nor in America, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship or a Parliament or a Communist dictatorship.”

    “There is one difference,” I pointed out. “In a democracy the people have some say in the matter through their elected representatives, and in the United States only Congress can declare wars.”

    “Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country.”

  21. John Puma
    February 3, 2022 at 10:30

    Ms Psaki’s aforementioned “long-standing, bipartisan American values” … defined as the 24/7/365/105-year USSR/Russia “hate” commencing with the Russian revolution … and failed US (plus allies) 1917 invasion to try to thwart it.

    How does a country survive its own cosmic hypocrisy of executing a coup in a country (Ukraine 2014) and the crowing about “stand(ing) up for the sovereignty of countries like Ukraine”?!?

    • Tony Romano
      February 3, 2022 at 11:12

      Excellent point… I keep hearing the administration pontificating about the sovereignty of Ukraine… I guess they only mean the sovereignty since 2014. Forget Russian misinformation for the moment… We are being buried in U.S. misinformation

    • Lois Gagnon
      February 3, 2022 at 15:45

      Is that what Orwell referred to as double think?

  22. Nancy Parris
    February 3, 2022 at 10:14

    I do not like Hawley or his politics but this bullying tactic by the White House is despicable. Hawley proposed according to your article a more sensible solution to the problem. We need people speaking out against this war .

  23. February 3, 2022 at 09:57

    Hawley is still a hawk, only it’s China, for the moment. It is strange that Russian hatred is so visceral among our opinion makers that they cannot even consider the benefits of drawing Russia away from China. Many do, of course, and are still warmongers, but at least they might achieve greater separation of Russia from China.

    Regarding China, the belligerents in Washington keep getting louder and louder. Most of the complaints are that they are doing the same imperialist things we have aways done, only on a far smaller scale, for the moment.

    Reflecting how the West and Japan treated China before its emergence, it is easy to imagine China’s resentment at their humiliation and its effect upon their actions.

    Rapprochement should be the order of the day.

    Loved the movie Sand Pebbles.

    • rosemerry
      February 3, 2022 at 13:27

      I am sure you saw the calls made to Chinese FM Yang Yi by both Blinken and Nuland, asking him (!!) to intervene demanding that President Xi Jinping request Pres Putin not to invade Ukraine!!!! Yang of course was furious, but the fact that “US diplomats” (obviously a contradiction in terms) would do such a thing when they treat both Russia and China with no respect and have no idea of history or protocol, helps us understand why the USA relies completely on threats and violence as its foreign policy.

      • Eddy
        February 4, 2022 at 05:33

        That very same disease is what kills the American kids at school, where beligerants practice the same behaviour they see in their adults and leaders of their nation. Where everything is attempted to be resolved by bullying, and then guns and bombs if the threats don’t work. Constantly amazes me, that every time there is a shooting of this nature, people wring their hands in consternation but fail to identify the elephant in the room. Incredible.

    • TimN
      February 4, 2022 at 08:40

      The Sand Pebbles! Great movie.

  24. Black Cloud
    February 3, 2022 at 09:25

    McCarthyism worked before, so why not run that play again?

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