Chris Hedges: Waltzing to Armageddon

The Dr. Strangeloves, like zombies rising from the mass graves they created around the globe, are once again stoking new campaigns of industrial mass slaughter.

Bus burning on a road from Kharkiv to Kiev as Russia invades Ukraine on Feb. 24. (Yan Boechat/VOA)

By Chris Hedges

The Cold War, from 1945 to 1989, was a wild Bacchanalia for arms manufacturers, the Pentagon, the C.I.A., the diplomats who played one country off another on the world’s chess board, and the global corporations able to loot and pillage by equating predatory capitalism with freedom. In the name of national security, the Cold Warriors, many of them self-identified liberals, demonized labor, independent media, human rights organizations, and those who opposed the permanent war economy and the militarization of American society as soft on communism. 

That is why they have resurrected it.

The decision to spurn the possibility of peaceful coexistence with Russia at the end of the Cold War is one of the most egregious crimes of the late 20th century. The danger of provoking Russia was universally understood with the collapse of the Soviet Union, including by political elites as diverse as Henry Kissinger and George F. Kennan, who called the expansion of NATO into Central Europe “the most fateful error of American policy in the entire post-Cold War era.” 

This provocation, a violation of a promise not to expand NATO beyond the borders of a unified Germany, has seen Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Albania, Croatia, Montenegro and North Macedonia inducted into the Western military alliance.

This betrayal was compounded by a decision to station NATO troops, including thousands of U.S. troops, in Eastern Europe, another violation of an agreement made by Washington with Moscow. The Russian invasion of Ukraine, perhaps a cynical goal of the Western alliance, has now solidified an expanding and resurgent NATO and a rampant, uncontrollable militarism. The masters of war may be ecstatic, but the potential consequences, including a global conflagration, are terrifying. 

Peace has been sacrificed for U.S. global hegemony. It has been sacrificed for the billions in profits made by the arms industry. Peace could have seen state resources invested in people rather than systems of control. It could have allowed us to address the climate emergency. But we cry peace, peace, and there is no peace. Nations frantically rearm, threatening nuclear war. They prepare for the worst, ensuring that the worst will happen. 

“The Butcher’s Cut,” illustration by Mr. Fish.

So, what if the Amazon is reaching its final tipping point where trees will soon begin to die off en masse? So what if land ice and ice shelves are melting from below at a much faster rate than predicted? So what if temperatures soar, monster hurricanes, floods, droughts, and wildfires devastate the earth? In the face of the gravest existential crisis to beset the human species, and most other species, the ruling elites stoke a conflict that is driving up the price of oil and turbocharging the fossil fuel extraction industry. It is collective madness.

The march towards protracted conflict with Russia and China will backfire. The desperate effort to counter the steady loss of economic dominance by the U.S. will not be offset by military dominance. If Russia and China can create an alternative global financial system, one that does not use the U.S. dollar as the world’s reserve currency, it will signal the collapse of the American empire. The dollar will plummet in value. Treasury bonds, used to fund America’s massive debt, will become largely worthless. The financial sanctions used to cripple Russia will be, I expect, the mechanism that slays Americans, if not immolation in thermonuclear war.

Washington plans to turn Ukraine into Chechnya or the old Afghanistan, when the Carter administration, under the influence of the Svengali-like National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski, equipped and armed the radical jihadists that would morph into the Taliban and al Qaeda in the fight against the Soviets. It will not be good for Russia. It will not be good for the United States. It will not be good for Ukraine, as making Russia bleed will require rivers of Ukrainian blood.

Pandora’s Box of Evils

The decision to destroy the Russian economy, to turn the Ukrainian war into a quagmire for Russia and topple the regime of Vladimir Putin will open a Pandora’s box of evils. Massive social engineering — look at Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya or Vietnam — has its own centrifugal force. It destroys those who play God.

The Ukrainian war has silenced the last vestiges of the Left. Nearly everyone has giddily signed on for the great crusade against the latest embodiment of evil, Vladimir Putin, who, like all our enemies, has become the new Hitler.

The United States will give $13.6 billion in military and humanitarian assistance to Ukraine, with the Biden administration authorizing an additional $200 million in military assistance. The 5,000-strong EU rapid deployment force, the recruitment of all Eastern Europe, including Ukraine, into NATO, the reconfiguration of former Soviet bloc militaries to NATO weapons and technology have all been fast tracked.

Germany, for the first time since World War II, is massively rearming. It has lifted its ban on exporting weapons. Its new military budget is twice the amount of the old budget, with promises to raise the budget to more than 2 percent of GDP, which would move its military from the seventh largest in the world to the third, behind China and the United States.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, left, visits NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, on right, Dec. 11, 2021. (NATO)

NATO battlegroups are being doubled in size in the Baltic states to more than 6,000 troops. Battlegroups will be sent to Romania and Slovakia. Washington will double the number of U.S. troops stationed in Poland to 9,000. Sweden and Finland are considering dropping their neutral status to integrate with NATO.

This is a recipe for global war. History, as well as all the conflicts I covered as a war correspondent, have demonstrated that when military posturing begins, it often takes little to set the funeral pyre alight. One mistake. One overreach. One military gamble too many. One too many provocations. One act of desperation. 

Russia’s threat to attack weapons convoys to Ukraine from the West; its air strike on a military base in western Ukraine, 12 miles from the Polish border, which is a staging area for foreign mercenaries; the statement by Polish President Andrzej Duda that the use of weapons of mass destruction, such as chemical weapons, by Russia against Ukraine, would be a “game-changer” that could force NATO to rethink its decision to refrain from direct military intervention — all are ominous developments pushing the alliance closer to open warfare with Russia.

Polish President Andrzej Duda, left, and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the Lask air base in Poland on March 1. (NATO)

Once military forces are deployed, even if they are supposedly in a defensive posture, the bear trap is set. It takes very little to trigger the spring. The vast military bureaucracy, bound to alliances and international commitments, along with detailed plans and timetables, when it starts to roll forward, becomes unstoppable. It is propelled not by logic but by action and reaction, as Europe learned in two world wars.

Staggering Hypocrisy

The moral hypocrisy of the United States is staggering. The crimes Russia is carrying out in Ukraine are more than matched by the crimes committed by Washington in the Middle East over the last two decades, including the act of preemptive war, which under post-Nuremberg laws is a criminal act of aggression. Only rarely is this hypocrisy exposed as when U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield told the body: 

“We’ve seen videos of Russian forces moving exceptionally lethal weaponry into Ukraine, which has no place on the battlefield. That includes cluster munitions and vacuum bombs which are banned under the Geneva Convention.”

Hours later, the official transcript of her remark was amended to tack on the words “if they are directed against civilians.” This is because the U.S., which like Russia never ratified the Convention on Cluster Munitions treaty, regularly uses cluster munitions. It used them in Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, and Iraq. It has provided them to Saudi Arabia for use in Yemen. Russia has yet to come close to the tally of civilian deaths from cluster munitions delivered by the U.S. military.

The Dr. Strangeloves, like zombies rising from the mass graves they created around the globe, are once again stoking new campaigns of industrial mass slaughter. No diplomacy. No attempt to address the legitimate grievances of our adversaries. No check on rampant militarism. No capacity to see the world from another perspective. No ability to comprehend reality outside the confines of the binary rubric of good and evil. No understanding of the debacles they orchestrated for decades. No capacity for pity or remorse.

March 24, 1986: President Ronald Reagan, right,  meeting with Elliott Abrams, center, about a trip to Central America. John Whitehead on left. (Reagan White House, Wikimedia Commons)

Elliott Abrams worked in the Reagan administration when I was reporting from Central America. He covered up atrocities and massacres committed by the military regimes in El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and by the U.S.-backed Contra forces fighting the Sandinistas in Nicaragua. He viciously attacked reporters and human rights groups as communists or fifth columnists, calling us “un-American” and “unpatriotic.” He was convicted for lying to Congress about his role in the Iran-Contra affair. During the administration of George W. Bush, he lobbied for the invasion of Iraq and tried to orchestrate a U.S. coup in Venezuela to overthrow Hugo Chávez.

Jan. 25, 2019: Elliott Abrams, left, with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, addressing the media on Venezuela. (State Department)

“There will be no substitute for military strength, and we do not have enough,” writes Abrams for the Council on Foreign Relations, where he is a senior fellow:

“It should be crystal clear now that a larger percentage of GDP will need to be spent on defense. We will need more conventional strength in ships and planes. We will need to match the Chinese in advanced military technology, but at the other end of the spectrum, we may need many more tanks if we have to station thousands in Europe, as we did during the Cold War. (The total number of American tanks permanently stationed in Europe today is zero.) Persistent efforts to diminish even further the size of our nuclear arsenal or prevent its modernization were always bad ideas, but now, as China and Russia are modernizing their nuclear weaponry and appear to have no interest in negotiating new limits, such restraints should be completely abandoned. Our nuclear arsenal will need to be modernized and expanded so that we will never face the kinds of threats Putin is now making from a position of real nuclear inferiority.” 

Putin played into the hands of the war industry. He gave the warmongers what they wanted. He fulfilled their wildest fantasies. There will be no impediments now on the march to Armageddon. Military budgets will soar. The oil will gush from the ground. The climate crisis will accelerate.

China and Russia will form the new axis of evil. The poor will be abandoned. The roads across the earth will be clogged with desperate refugees. All dissent will be treason. The young will be sacrificed for the tired tropes of glory, honor and country. The vulnerable will suffer and die.

The only true patriots will be generals, war profiteers, opportunists, courtiers in the media and demagogues braying for more and more blood. The merchants of death rule like Olympian gods.  And we, cowed by fear, intoxicated by war, swept up in the collective hysteria, clamor for our own annihilation.

Chris Hedges is a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist who was a foreign correspondent for 15 years for The New York Times, where he served as the Middle East bureau chief and Balkan bureau chief for the paper. He previously worked overseas for The Dallas Morning NewsThe Christian Science Monitor and NPR. He is the host of the Emmy Award-nominated RT America show “On Contact.” 

This column is from Scheerpost, for which Chris Hedges writes a regular columnClick here to sign up for email alerts.

The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.

53 comments for “Chris Hedges: Waltzing to Armageddon

  1. Derrick Hand
    March 20, 2022 at 07:02

    I think we are about to find out the answer to the eternal question, “What happens when the unstoppable force meets the immovable object.” It seems like the true nature of man is in its final act.

    • Francesco Longo
      March 20, 2022 at 11:43

      Oh no, usually Chris is right on, but I don’t agree that Russia has some right to prevent other countries from making treaties. Look at all the Russian military actions since 1989, they’re not the good guys here. The US doesn’t run a fair capitalist system, it’s an oligarchy, and it’s not surprising that other countries don’t want to bow to US businesses and let them have all the resources. But the Russian way is much worse, just look at what happened in the Donbas, gangsters run the city and everyone lives under their thumb.

  2. Robert Emmett
    March 18, 2022 at 11:48

    When I look at the faces and hear the words of u.S. neo-conmen such as Abrams & Pompy, I sense the ruthless touch of Ameircan evil. And Ameircans themselves seem sold on it. Else how would the same soulless men & some women keep coming back, over & over, to spew their warmongering invective? Condo Rice, queen of the Iraqi fake-mushroom cloud, lecturing about invasion of another country’s sovereignty? Bizarro!

    The question of a just or lawful war has been bugging me no end. There have been hints about the severity of Russia’s “existential threat” and thus its lack of any other options in this situation with Ukraine. I believe whatever law people are counting on to justify this invasion also says something about war being the absolutely last option available to defend one’s country when all else has failed to deter an aggressor.

    I need to hear someone explain it clearly and in some detail how exactly the country with the most nuclear weapons in the world and with the advantage now of hypersonic missiles was just going to have to fold and give-up if Ukraine was admitted to NATO. (Something which NATO’s own rules say couldn’t happen anyway.)

    So then it’s something about encirclement of Russia with nuclear or potentially nuclear armaments. Something which is supposedly illegal to begin with, as far as NATO countries go. Well, is it or isn’t it? And who exactly has the power to enforce such laws and to see those weapons removed and do it in a timely way? Exactly nobody is what it looks like.

    As we’ve seen, Russia has the capability with its stand-off weapons to lay waste deliveries and emplacements of Western armaments in Ukraine. Aren’t the countries that facilitate such deliveries painting a bullseye on their own backs if they were to try to use such weapons? And how exactly do nuclear weapons moved closer to Russia obviate its own means of deterrence or ability to respond? How does this “encircling” or boxing-in of Russia force it to capitulate or somehow freeze the Russians in their tracks such that they would have no other options? This is what I most need clearly explained.

    It seems there could have been a legit case for Russia to come to the defence of the mostly Russian speaking populations suffering loss of life and being driven from their homes in the Donbass by Ukrainian military & militias over the last 8 years and which breakaway republics had petitioned Russia to join its Federation. But then Russia expanded its invasion beyond those eastern borders and is doing a similar thing to the people in western Ukraine. Now they’re the ones being shelled and driven from their homes. How is this different in any appreciable way?

    Is this pay back by Russia? And how is it legally or morally justifiable other than by waving the term “existential threat” to absolve their actions? Isn’t it the common people on either or neither side in this thing in Ukraine the ones facing existential threat, as in real, on-the-ground, immediate threats of ceasing to exist?

    So, I hedge toward Hedges’ view on this war based on what looks like lack of clarity to me. At the least, I have to give him an amen for his clarity based on first-hand experience.

    And I thank you, CN. I see what you’re doing. Leaving these comment sections open longer so old dudes like me who take longer to percolate with this stuff still have a chance to make a half-way effort to catch up. ‘Preciate it.

    • March 18, 2022 at 15:57

      Robert Emmett,

      I like your style and appreciate your line of questioning. I, too, have been scratching my head as to why Putin avail himself
      of other (less mortal) options, like threatening to cut off Europe’s gas. or nickel. There is much more to be explained. I would have bet on the Russians for a superior game of chess…. and lost.

  3. March 18, 2022 at 00:29

    This is “our” last hurrah. Nordstream is finally dead. We will supply gas to Europe. The umbilical cord is restored between
    us and Europe. European foreign policy is now directed by the Secretary General of NATO . A brilliant win by the
    merchants of death and pollution. Among them Elliot Abrams, Chairman of the Board of UEC (Uranium Energy Corp.)

  4. Ray Peterson
    March 16, 2022 at 16:43

    Yes Chris, “the moral hypocrisy of the United States is staggering”
    and in that observation, you’re being polite. And as Augustine makes
    clear in his Just-War theory there is a right and wrong: Russia is
    right and the U.S./NATO alliance is wrong. But there’s a hope
    I know you know that: “The duration of wars and their outcome
    depend on the decision of God” (Augustine, City of God, V,22).

  5. junivers
    March 16, 2022 at 14:22

    Meanwhile, the institutional torture of Assange trundles along, slowly murdering our right to know or say a damn thing by law, right in front of our eyes.

    Propitious, no?

    How long until we admit we are effectively lawless, in the so-called “West”?

    • Ray Peterson
      March 16, 2022 at 16:46

      Thanks J. for reminding us of Assange’s torment for
      truthful journalism

  6. Richard Colombe
    March 16, 2022 at 13:40

    Chris, the actions Russia are carrying out in Ukraine are not crimes. Whether or not you agree with Russia that Article 51 gives them the right of self-defense is neither here nor there, because it’s up to a court to decide the matter.

  7. March 16, 2022 at 11:46

    This lays bare the hypocrisy of the parties ruling America. We seem to have unlimited funds for warfare but not for healthcare and education support that this country needs desperately.

  8. ursel doran
    March 16, 2022 at 11:22

    The Neocon warmongers banging the drums again some more, for what?
    The for what is again very obvious. MONEY for war profiteering.
    Government buying tons of very expensive armaments and giving it away to Ukraine puppets we installed.
    When Obama / Biden / Nuland did the regime change there in 2014 their guy was an installed controlled stooge.
    CIA office there has been hiring agitators ever since.
    Joe Biden ON CAMERA telling Ukraine to fire the prosecutor investigating Hunter’s crimes or he would not send the next BILLION. Done and done.

  9. mgr
    March 16, 2022 at 09:26

    I have been speaking, ranting actually (sorry, I know it gets tedious), on exactly these points for quite a while now, especially in relation to how creating Cold War 2 has stymied the utterly necessary cooperative efforts to mitigate the catastrophic climate effects that are now looming. Chris Hedges does a much better job. Thank you! Madness hardly describes it.

    The Ukraine situation is like a terra-forming effort by US neocons (in both parties) and their supporting entities to create a favorable environment for themselves. The Biden admin was a vehicle, or a Trojan horse if you prefer, for ushering in another multi-generational cold war, or, as it turns out, perhaps a very short hot one. These war mongers, with their empty, meaningless lives, anxious to die while bringing everyone with them (so long as they can stand on top of the bodies), who use living human beings as cannon fodder for their own ends, are the absolute bane of civilization. If you want to purge something, purge them. Deeply, psychologically deranged people, bereft of humanity, they are like a cancer metastasizing in the body of humanity. And they will never stop of their own accord. They are simply unable. Unfortunately, Mr. Obama avoided the hard work of doing this when he was given the opportunity. He was always pragmatic in his own self-interest. Now the bill is come due.

    Of course, a cold war is also the best environment for the rise of totalitarian and autocratic regimes which will follow especially in the United States. Surprisingly perhaps, it won’t be the Trumpists that bring this about but rather the ironically named “Democratic Party.” Of course, facebook and social media are part of this autocratic/oligarchical paradigm and are facilitating this outcome as well.

    Tragically, it was always obvious that America would have to collapse before it gave up its uni-polar status (though we hoped against hope). Well, okay, if you insist. How stupid. How self-inflicted. On the bright side (small glimmer), if we survive the crisis in Ukraine, I believe it will be the end of the US uni-polar world order. Considering where this has led us, good fucking riddance. America certainly had a huge chance to prove itself a true and worthy world leader but it consistently chose self-interest and greed instead. Perhaps with America out of the way, the world may still have a chance. If so, better sooner than later. Regardless of Ukraine, there is precious little time to make a difference for a sustainable future and American “leadership” has now proven unequivocally to lead nowhere, just to more of the same. Too harsh? Start right after WWII and make a list. The wake of destruction, continual conflict, and aversion to peace and a sustainable future that America has left behind is staggering. Now it has become so contaminated with these efforts that it seems desperate for a final act nihilism.

    • Tristan Patterson
      March 16, 2022 at 12:58

      Well said.

      • mgr
        March 17, 2022 at 02:56

        Tristan: Thank you. I so wish it were not so.

  10. alley cat
    March 16, 2022 at 09:05

    “The crimes Russia is carrying out in Ukraine are more than matched by the crimes committed by Washington in the Middle East over the last two decades.”

    At the risk of being labelled a Kremlin asset I have to ask Chris what crimes Russia is carrying out in Ukraine? Apparently Chris believes that all war is a crime, even defensive war. Fair enough, if you believe in turning the other cheek to incoming nuclear missiles. And yes, the invasion of Ukraine is a preemptive war as was the invasion of Iraq, but the former is justified by an ever-growing ring of NATO nuclear missile bases and the latter was based on homicidal lies.

    As I said in my comment to Jonathan Cook’s latest article, in which Jonathan also equated the invasion of Ukraine to the invasion of Iraq: the empire is demonizing Putin and the Russians in order to provide Americans with a moral imperative to destroy Russia.

    Don’t grease the slippery slope to nuclear Armageddon by labeling the Russian response to imperial aggression a “war crime.” Russia had only two options: (1) turn the other cheek to nuclear encirclement and surrender, or (2) fight. Who could be surprised they chose the latter?

  11. Peter Loeb
    March 16, 2022 at 08:14

    There is an answer of sorts to the Ukraine war: the current government of Ukraine must surrender and agree to
    the essence of the conditions (called “demands” in the West but reasonable as some have eloquently pointed out).
    They are only what any big power (such as the US or any other major power you wish to name) would ask. Politically
    they are not acceptable to the West which has painted itself into a corner. Any knowledge of Russian history, even a superficial
    one, argues against considering Russia as angelic. However, that never kept the Anglo-American
    allies from accepting the USSR with Joseph Stalin as its dictator (fresh from the show trials of which all the allies were
    surely well aware). Anyone on any “side” who sincerely believed that Russia would not defeat Ukraine was living in
    a fantasy. To repeat: When Ukraine surrenders, I am sure a “deal” can and will be made. I am waiting.

    • duane
      March 16, 2022 at 15:08

      Well, I think the objective of the US in this matter is to ensnare Russia in a long-term conflict, as in Afghanistan (for both Russia & US). Russia is certainly aware of this and I expect Russia to seek a quick end to the fighting. Which, horrible as it is, has been going only 4 weeks. It took longer than that for the US to subdue Iraq, even with it’s Shock-and-Awe bombardment. I don’t know enough to do more than guess, but perhaps Russia will take the land east of the Dnieper River to form a Russian-ethnic satellite state, leaving the western territory to Ukraine-ethnic people. However it goes, I hope the fighting will end soon, for the sake of all the civilians and all the soldiers.

    • March 16, 2022 at 21:21

      “When Ukraine surrenders, I am sure a “deal” can and will be made. I am waiting.”
      Peter, you may be waiting for a long time. It turns out that Zelensky is nothing but a US/NATO stooge. He can’t make a deal unless the deal is approved by the neo-Con spooks in Washington D.C. and Biden’s handlers. Read Scott Ritter’s latest article today. It is painfully clear that the US goal is complete submission and surrender by Putin and the Russian people.

  12. Aaron
    March 16, 2022 at 06:40

    Surely there are several Elliot Abrams figures trying to persuade Biden and Stoltenberg to attack Russia on behalf of Zelensky. Pandora’s box will be kicked open soon I’m afraid. As you describe, they simply do not care about the deaths or consequences, history has shown us that over and over.
    What’s weird to me, contrasted with back in the 80’s for example, is that there doesn’t seem to be hardly any concern whatsoever of nuclear armageddon. I can’t stop worrying about it. Remember back in the day, Carl Sagan would be on the prime time shows and Nightline and all that describing the horrors of nuclear winter and people had a healthy fear of it. WTF has happened to people nowadays? Like they care more about the NCAA basketball tournament, than the growing possibility of being vaporized by a Russian submarine launching bombs onto the land. The world really has gone mad, it’s not hyperbole, it truly has.

  13. Eric
    March 16, 2022 at 03:17

    “This betrayal was compounded by a decision to station NATO troops, including thousands of U.S. troops,
    in Eastern Europe, another violation of an agreement made by Washington with Moscow”

    Gung-ho Canada, ever willing to serve an empire (used to be British) also has troops in Latvia
    and ‘trainers’ in Ukraine, in addition to sending tens of millions of dollars in lethal weapons.

    Re: “During the administration of George W. Bush, [Elliot Abrams] lobbied for the invasion of Iraq
    and tried to orchestrate a U.S. coup in Venezuela to overthrow Hugo Chávez.”

    I didn’t know about the latter (referring to the briefly successful 2002 coup?), but plausible.
    And he was Trump/Pompouseo’s point man trying to orchestrate another coup in Venezuela
    — a second failure, but at great cost in lives and suffering for the Venezuelan people.

  14. rosemerry
    March 16, 2022 at 03:05

    As usual, Hedges is full of gloom and doom! Putin’s response is real DEFENCE, unlike the USA which is always aggression .
    As for Russia and China being an axis of evil, obviously the complete takeover of all the Western media, never allowing a word to be mentioned of the actual behaviour and needs of Russia and China, make this easy for the West to claim.
    These two powers, managing to work very well with most of the zone B nations ie the large majority of people who are not in the “Western liberal democracies” are the future, using peace and cooperation. If anyone really believes the present US hegemony is a benefit to humanity, let them look around the world now aand in a couple of months” time!!

  15. firstpersoninfinite
    March 15, 2022 at 22:30

    To use an oxymoron, a fantastically cogent article. I think the atomic bomb made the United States stupid, the dupes of time, the wastrels of modernity. Many of the people in western Europe, yes, post-WWII, war-torn western Europe, turned out to have better life experiences in those intervening years overall than those of us in America, the so-called rulers of heaven. The snake-oil salesmen who founded our perishing republic didn’t expect the frontier to run out, because they didn’t expect that those coming behind them would salt the earth in anticipation of that endless frontier. The pursuit of profit above reason, or even above the needs of humanity, has made ghouls of us all. Late-stage capitalism is the place where universality is ignored for the sake of incremental inclusion. When you look to sociopaths for the way forward, the way forward is off a cliff. That is where our leaders, political or monetary or religious, have led us. Never forget their betrayal, no matter the cost.

    • SomeSalt
      March 16, 2022 at 05:53

      “I think the atomic bomb made the United States stupid”

      Some are of the view that the stupidity of the “United States” had been inherent from inception, but acquisition of what they perceived to be a lateral (game changing) magic bullet, which others perceived as a linear weapon of increased potency, increased the stupidity of the “United States”.

      Those who perceived the atomic bomb as a linear weapon tended to view it as a defensive weapon, where as those perceiving the atomic bomb to be a lateral magic bullet, continue in some degree to view it as an offensive weapon which in parallel conditioned their perceptions of the roles of “The United States of America”.

      Modern day Straussians, including some who forgot the salt, continue to adhere to these perceptions as functions of their fears mulching from the 1930’s onwards, whilst some of their contemporaries resorted to inventing Superman and other comic books.

      Consequently, at least in the perception of some, the dangers of nuclear weapons are primarily held to be perceptual as much scientific literature suggests.

  16. Spike
    March 15, 2022 at 20:45

    Great article Chris. Thank you very much.

  17. Brockroach exterminator
    March 15, 2022 at 19:27

    Chris Hedges is a voice of sanity in a maelstrom of myopic, sycophantic, and howling warmonger-sponsered mouthpieces. Just fifteen years ago I would have had no concern that his voice (and those of other authors daring to challenge empire approved narrative) would be targeted and silenced. Today, authoritarian and unconstitutional measures are not only becoming the norm, they are applauded by the left and criticism of widespread censorship is bizarrely equated with treason. There’s a pervasive and constant sense of unease among those few of us still capable of critical thinking, and an increasing sense of isolation as we are relentlessly told that we can no longer believe what we observe with our own eyes. Thank you for writing this Mr. Hedges, and to CN for publishing it. I hope that somehow you are able to dodge the snowballing normalization of suppression and censorship and continue to share your important perspectives with the world.

  18. Susy
    March 15, 2022 at 19:07

    My God Chris. You just laid out darkest fears. I am so afraid the very worst will happen. Thank you for your excellent work.

  19. David F., N.A.
    March 15, 2022 at 19:07

    If China issues sanctions against the US, who will we make our coffee makers?

    • cfmmax
      March 16, 2022 at 20:49

      That’s something the politicians and the media don’t talk much about. If you think supply lines from China changed with Covid, just go to war with China.

  20. March 15, 2022 at 18:46

    The voice of sanity, but as with Troy’s Cassandra, probably doomed to fall on deaf ears, especially those of pseudo liberals and progressives who supported the Biden campaign in the last presidential election.

  21. Patricia Tursi, Ph.D.
    March 15, 2022 at 18:42

    Chris paints a dark picture of the reality of an insane era and especially of our insane government. Living no wiggle room for hope, the US acceptance of an unethical and ruthless world- dominating system appears to be a death knell not only for us, but for Earth and Life itself. Victoria Nuland sums it up… “F___ E.U”…. and the 2014 Ukraine Coup says, F___ all life on Planet Earth. The US joins with Nazi Forces and thumbs noses at sanity. The worst of the Nazis and Japanese researchers were not tried at Nuremberg. They were brought to the US for perpetrating Nazi goals. We now reap the consequences.

  22. Sam F
    March 15, 2022 at 16:58

    A superb article by Chris Hedges. Surely Russia can seek a quick conclusion to prevent the US making “Ukraine into Chechnya or the old Afghanistan” by capturing Ukraine’s forces at the Donbass LOC as hostages, and perhaps holding the southern coast to control the Ukraine economy, forcing Zelensky to offer the necessary treaty terms.

    But where is public policy debate? The West hears only mad propagandists, ignoring others’ goals and proposals.
    The UN does not conduct balanced debates of the facts: its faction members merely spout superficial propaganda.
    An effective and balanced debate would solve the practical problems and soundly discredit the tyrant warmongers.
    We desperately need an independent institution of balanced policy debate to present all viewpoints, facts, and arguments. See CongressOfDebate dot com for the solutions; it is in the implementation phase.

  23. Spike
    March 15, 2022 at 16:51

    Excellent Chris. Thank you so much.

  24. JonnyJames
    March 15, 2022 at 16:42

    Excellent article as usual from Mr. Hedges. Prof. Michael Hudson wrote an article recently about how recent actions by the US govt. has massively accelerated the integration of Russia/China/Iran et al., and de-dollarization. Mr. Hedges also mentions this.

    It seems now the only thing that can stop the US and its NATO vassals, is the collapse of the value of the dollar and US Treasury Bill standard. However, as mentioned in the article, this will be catastrophic for most US residents. In a crude way, the continuation of human civilization depends on the fall of the US Empire, providing they don’t “waltz us to Armageddon” or even put it into high-gear, in the fast-lane to global nuclear annihilation.

    The uninformed and propagandized masses think that a full-scale nuclear war is hyperbole, it will never happen. However, we know that we are closer to that than even 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis.

    Even during the USSR era, the US pres. had an emergency “hotline” to the Kremlin and had regular diplomatic relations with the USSR. Now we have no diplomacy. The US political elites and sycophantic media have insulted, demonized and ignored Russian leaders, especially V. Putin. Not to defend any politician, but Putin has asked, pleaded and warned for many years, especially since the US said that NATO would expand to include Ukraine. Some would say Russia has had a gun pointed at its head since 2014. And of course, few even know about the thousands of civilians the UkroNazis have mass-murdered in Donbass since then, not to mention direct provocations with Russia.

    The late Prof. Stephen F. Cohen predicted this situation in 2014, after the US-sponsored coup in Kiev that installed Banderite Nazis in power. Of course, the media ignored him and others, instead calling everyone a Putin Stooge or some other childish nonsense. The late Robert Parry covered this very well at the time – he was one of the best of the best. He saw right through the Wall of BS from the get-go.

    Rhetorical question: what if Russia had staged a coup in Mexico, installed a hostile puppet regime and then put 10s of thousands of troops and heavy weaponry on the border with the US? Then they threatened to put missiles (even conventional ones, not to mention so-called tactical nukes). What do we think would happen in such a scenario?

    Even Prof. John Mearsheimer agrees that this situation is completely the fault of the US, not Russia.
    Notice that Biden and the rest of the US political class are pouring gasoline on the Ukraine fire, instead of using diplomacy?

    The psychopaths in Warshiton will risk the lives of BILLIONS of people in a desperate attempt to maintain Full Spectrum Dominance. It’s all or nothing, Ukraine is just a pawn in the Grand Chessboard (Brzezinski, 1997 a must-read)

    At this point, we can only hope for a miraculous outcome, it is very hard to be optimistic. It’s one day at a time from now on.

  25. Lois Gagnon
    March 15, 2022 at 16:16

    We live under the tyranny of ghouls. When will we break our chains?

  26. Realist
    March 15, 2022 at 16:15

    “Putin played into the hands of the war industry. He gave the warmongers what they wanted.”

    Seems to me Putin was caught in an inescapable trap which we the public had seen baited by Washington over the course of nearly a decade. Had he not interceded, Zelensky had 150,000 troops encircling the Donbas ready to escalate the already ongoing bombardment which had claimed at least 14,000 lives since 2014. Those troops are still firing upon the two Russian enclaves of Donetsk and Luhansk.

    If Putin failed to protect his own people from the ongoing Ukrainian genocide (which the German chancellor sneeringly laughed at) he would have lost power right then and there, as the late Russian history scholar Stephen F. Cohen with many contacts in both Russia and Ukraine made clear already years ago. Putin is not a self-proclaimed despot, but an elected official subject to numerous competing interest groups. The hard liners in the Kremlin would have ascended to power and the present war against Ukraine would not be carefully controlled to limit civilian casualties. It would probably be more like an American scorched earth “Shock and Awe” exercise killing tens of thousands rather than hundreds and laying waste to all infrastructure.

    Failing to draw the line in the Donbas (by recognizing its independence and giving it requested protection from Ukrainian aggression) would also have encouraged Ukraine to do exactly what it publicly announced it would do, and that is directly attack Russian forces in Crimea. Zelensky had another 200- or 300-thousand troops in the North and West of the country, all outfitted with the latest Nato weaponry and training, to attempt this. Moreover, Zelensky was convinced that Nato would soon enter the fray on his behalf. I direct you to his many public entreaties and later recriminations of the US and Nato for breaking such promises to him.

    So, Putin was going to be faced with a Washington-instigated, -armed, -trained and -funded war involving Ukraine, the US and Nato regardless of what he did. In retrospect and in light of captured documents, it turns out that he moved just days before this offensive by Ukraine was scheduled to happen. Putin would be fighting this war today, not of his own volition but due to circumstances contrived entirely by his self-declared enemies, regardless of what he decided two or three weeks ago.

    Moreover, Washington and Nato still control whether the fighting is limited in time and confined to the Ukraine or whether the conflict expands to all of Europe and ends when the last clock stops ticking. It just depends upon how insane and reckless the warmongers in Washington choose to be. With most of Nato now mobilising and even recruiting new members, it would seem to anyone who looks for cause and effect that America and its European pawns actually want a world war, be it conventional or nuclear. Perhaps they feel that such a chance, with the entire West hoodwinked or strong-armed into ganging up on Russia and backed to the hilt by their brainwashed populations, will never come again and they are going for all the money. I’ve read that they don’t think that Putin has the guts to use nukes against them, which, they think, is the only way he can avoid a loss against such odds. He seems to be an honest and moral man unlike the coopted menagerie of Western tin pot tyrants, and I suspect he may back down rather than avoiding a loss at the cost of all civilisation. But two things are certain in such light. i) His already much preyed-upon people will pay a terrible generational price to the dishonorable barbarians from the West, and ii) history may note but never praise the West for such deceit and hypocrisy, just as it notes what the Romans did to Hannibal and Carthage but never praises such bald murder and outright genocide.

    • alley cat
      March 16, 2022 at 09:58

      “…I suspect he may back down rather than avoiding a loss at the cost of all civilisation.”

      A very thoughtful, eloquent, comment. My thought is that Russia is fighting for its existence, so retreat is not an option. Backing down would only embolden the U.S. and NATO to escalate their aggressions, and the Russians know it.

      Alex Mercouris put it very succinctly. In a showdown between the US/NATO and Russia using conventional weapons, whoever is losing might escalate to tactical nuclear weapons in the hope of ending the conflict without resorting to an all-out nuclear attack that would likely end in the extinction, or –near-extinction–of homo sapiens sapiens (doubly-wise humans).

      • Tristan Patterson
        March 16, 2022 at 21:55

        I agree. The first instance would be a small city destroyer. from a short range mobile unit. That would be Putin saying something to the effect of “If we can’t exist securely, no one can”.

        • Realist
          March 17, 2022 at 05:07

          That is the ultimate crux of the matter, is it not? If our civilisation cannot exist then no human civilisation shall exist. Is that how Putin would decide? If it were me, and the fate of America were at stake, sorry, but America has proven to me that it is not worth destroying everyone else to avenge. In fact, the selfish greedy bastards running this place have proven time and again that they are the least worthy representatives of the human race to survive and persist. Putin may have greater love of human kind than any American alive, or not. How can I know until he acts? I would not condemn him whatever his choice. With our society’s steady support for pure evil over many decades and vast distances, I’d say we have forfeited our collective right to mercy. We have no right to demand or expect it when we never give it. I realise that unlike most Americans I am judging the matter based upon OUR OWN actions and motives, NOT the other guy’s. I think I see the same principle at work in most of you here who agree with me. What is OUR worth? Have we upheld OUR honor, and our responsibilities? Geez, sorry, but I see us weighed in the balance and found wanting. We should NOT expect mercy. Will we receive it yet again, lucky selfish bastards that we are? I know, the good are always punished with and because of the bad. May they somehow find justice.

  27. Dienne
    March 15, 2022 at 16:07

    “The Ukrainian war has silenced the last vestiges of the Left.”

    No, we’re still here. It’s just revealed the liberals for the right-wingers they are. There have never been that many true leftists, but those of us who are see through this charade and are doing our best to speak out.

    • Eric
      March 16, 2022 at 03:08

      Yes, the left hasn’t disappeared, it’s just witheringly small and powerless.
      (Except in Latin America.) Will the pendulm ever swing back?

  28. Malcolm powell
    March 15, 2022 at 15:36

    Speaking of waging war to protect democracy, when was Stoltenberg elected to run Europe?

  29. evelync
    March 15, 2022 at 15:31

    Chris Hedges best yet. Thank you!

  30. Steven
    March 15, 2022 at 15:30

    At least you termed it “predatory” capitalism. But why tarnish the term capitalism like that? It really should be termed predatory cronyism, or just cronyism. We should call things what they really are. The cronyism that we actually operate under is nothing close to true capitalism.

    • Dienne
      March 16, 2022 at 13:05

      Any sort of modifier of capitalism like “predatory” or “crony” is redundant. A system that seeks profit about all else can be nothing other than predatory, run by a small group of mutually interested oligarchs. Regulations can help forestall the complete breakdown, as happened with the New Deal, but capitalism will always seek to undo such regulations and control the powers that create them.

      • Steven
        March 16, 2022 at 17:51

        Without profit motivating commercial enterprises we would all be living pretty much at a subsistence level.

        • Steve
          March 16, 2022 at 23:23

          But Steven, you can have “profit motivating commercial enterprises” without capitalism.
          Trading, in other words.

          Global trade was developing nicely before modern capitalism emerged.

          • Steven
            March 17, 2022 at 09:07

            Voluntary trading is capitalism. Capitalism was developing nicely before it was perverted by cronyism. What I regret is to see people conflate cronyism with capitalism.

            • March 17, 2022 at 15:13

              I agree completely with your comment. There really is no good definition of capitalism, like there is for communism, socialism, fascism. My stance is that capitalism is the system of allowing the aggregation of monies to facilitate industry. Steve (above) seems to think one can have trade without capitalism. Or as I view it, somehow manufacture the complex products of today and the ships they are transported on without a corporation. How much is it going to cost for Intel to build a new semiconductor fab in Ohio? How many different disciplines are required just under that one roof? Not to mention the thousands of other disciplines required to supply it? We either have capitalism to bring the money together to make this happen or you pay you doctor with chickens or pigs. Forget about automobiles.

              Regarding the actual article:
              While I agree that the people claiming to represent me are doing a horrific job of doing so, I don’t buy into the man made climate change hysteria at all. The data do no support that conclusion. Can we agree that pushing us into war is a separate debate from worshiping the politicians who publish the IPCC reports. Michael Crichton did an excellent job of pointing out that the IPCC reports did not summarize the results of actual scientific research (as footnotes) in his book “State of Fear.”

              One should step back and acknowledge at least that the same people pushing us into war over Ukraine are the same ones shutting off our energy supplies. They are the same people who are still pushing absolutely useless procedures like wearing masks to mitigate a virus.

              As much as I hate to be a “conspiracy theorist”, it does appear to me that the war in Ukraine is just a continuation of the steps being used to break the U.S. Also keep in mind that there are multiple benefits to the powers that be should they succeed in breaking Russia. It isn’t just the act of feeding the Industrial Military Complex. Russia has enormous wealth of extractable, valuable minerals and they have gold already extracted. If you can get the military to go in and steal their gold, it will certainly help offset some of the ridiculous monetary policies our fearless leaders have inflicted on us.

  31. Carrie
    March 15, 2022 at 15:00

    Yeah, but what about Iraq and what about Afghanistan?

  32. Mike Maddden
    March 15, 2022 at 14:57

    The grim truth.

  33. Shar Leahey
    March 15, 2022 at 14:35

    This article by Chris Hedges is so powerful a piece of writing that I printed it and carried it to my Congressman’s office and handed it to his aide personally. I’ve been calling NJ Senator Menendez about his legislation to send 13.6 BILLION American taxpayer dollars to Ukraine. This insanity feels like a runaway train but we must try to stop it.

  34. John Neal Spangler
    March 15, 2022 at 14:33

    We will have to fight the rush towards war by speaking up for truth. In this fight we really do have the choice, Victory or Death. Keep writing tweeting facebooking etc. Write your Congresspeople.

  35. Linda Curtis
    March 15, 2022 at 13:28

    This is a beautiful call that we learn from history, knowing that most of humankind will not or cannot do so. I applaud you in trying as I am in my own small way.

    I thank you so very much, Mr. Hedges. I wish the world could read this.

    Linda Curtis, longtime Texas political independent

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