Chris Hedges: Ukraine — The War That Went Wrong

NATO support for a war designed to degrade the Russian military and drive Vladimir Putin from power is not going according to plan. The new sophisticated military hardware won’t help.

Everything Must Go – Mr. Fish.

By Chris Hedges

Empires in terminal decline leap from one military fiasco to the next. The war in Ukraine, another bungled attempt to reassert U.S. global hegemony, fits this pattern.

The danger is that the more dire things look, the more the U.S. will escalate the conflict, potentially provoking open confrontation with Russia.

If Russia carries out retaliatory attacks on supply and training bases in neighboring NATO countries, NATO will almost certainly respond by attacking Russian forces. That will ignite World War III, which could result in a nuclear holocaust.

U.S. military support for Ukraine began with the basics — ammunition and assault weapons. The Biden administration, however, soon crossed several self-imposed red lines to provide a tidal wave of lethal war machinery:

Stinger anti-aircraft systems; Javelin anti-armor systems; M777 towed Howitzers; 122mm GRAD rockets; M142 multiple rocket launchers, or HIMARS; Tube-Launched, Optically-Tracked, Wire-Guided (TOW) missiles; Patriot air defense batteries; National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile Systems (NASAMS); M113 Armored Personnel Carriers; and now 31 M1 Abrams, as part of a new $400 million package.

These tanks will be supplemented by 14 German Leopard 2A6 tanks, 14 British Challenger 2 tanks, as well as tanks from other NATO members, including Poland. Next on the list are armor-piercing depleted uranium (DU) ammunition and F-15 and F-16 fighter jets.

Since Russia invaded on Feb. 24, 2022, Congress has approved more than $113 billion in aid to Ukraine and allied nations supporting the war in Ukraine. Three-fifths of this aid, $67 billion, has been allocated for military expenditures. There are 28 countries transferring weapons to Ukraine. All of them, with the exception of Australia, Canada and the U.S., are in Europe. 

The rapid upgrade of sophisticated military hardware and aid provided to Ukraine is not a good sign for the NATO alliance.

It takes many months, if not years, of training to operate and coordinate these weapons systems. Tank battles — I was in the last major tank battle outside Kuwait City during the first Gulf war as a reporter — are highly choreographed and complex operations. Armor must work in close concert with air power, warships, infantry and artillery batteries.

It will be many, many months, if not years, before Ukrainian forces receive adequate training to operate this equipment and coordinate the diverse components of a modern battlefield. Indeed, the U.S. never succeeded in training the Iraqi and Afghan armies in combined arms maneuver warfare, despite two decades of occupation.

I was with Marine Corps units in February 1991 that pushed Iraqi forces out of the Saudi Arabian town of Khafji. Supplied with superior military equipment, the Saudi soldiers that held Khafji offered ineffectual resistance.

As we entered the city, we saw Saudi troops in commandeered fire trucks, hightailing it south to escape the fighting. All the fancy military hardware, which the Saudis had purchased from the U.S., proved worthless because they did not know how to use it.

War as a Laboratory

U.S. President George H.W. Bush visiting troops in Saudi Arabia on Thanksgiving Day, 1990. (Public domain, Wikimedia Commons)

NATO military commanders understand that the infusion of these weapons systems into the war will not alter what is, at best, a stalemate, defined largely by artillery duels over hundreds of miles of front lines. The purchase of these weapons systems — one M1 Abrams tank costs $10 million when training and sustainment are included — increases the profits of the arms manufacturers.

The use of these weapons in Ukraine allows them to be tested in battlefield conditions, making the war a laboratory for weapons manufacturers such as Lockheed Martin. All this is useful to NATO and to the arms industry. But it is not very useful to Ukraine.

The other problem with advanced weapons systems such as the M1 Abrams, which have 1,500-horsepower turbine engines that run on jet fuel, is that they are temperamental and require highly skilled and near constant maintenance. They are not forgiving to those operating them who make mistakes; indeed, mistakes can be lethal.

The most optimistic scenario for deploying M1-Abrams tanks in Ukraine is six-to-eight months, more likely longer. If Russia launches a major offensive in the spring, as expected, the M1 Abrams will not be part of the Ukrainian arsenal.

Even when they do arrive, they will not significantly alter the balance of power, especially if the Russians are able to turn the tanks, manned by inexperienced crews, into charred hulks.

Another ‘Surge’

U.S. M1A1 Abrams tanks on a mission during Desert Storm in February 1991. A Bradley IFV and logistics convoy in background. (W. Homes, II, U.S. Navy, Public domain, Wikimedia Commons)

So why all this infusion of high-tech weaponry? We can sum it up in one word: panic.

Having declared a de facto war on Russia and openly calling for the removal of Vladimir Putin, the neoconservative pimps of war watch with dread as Ukraine is being pummeled by a relentless Russian war of attrition.

Ukraine has suffered nearly 18,000 civilian casualties (6,919 killed and 11,075 injured). It has also seen  around 8 percent of its total housing destroyed or damaged and 50 percent of its energy infrastructure directly impacted with frequent power cuts.

Ukraine requires at least $3 billion a month in outside support to keep its economy afloat, the International Monetary Fund’s managing director recently said. Nearly 14 million Ukrainians have been displaced — 8 million in Europe and 6 million internally — and up to 18 million people, or 40 percent of Ukraine’s population, will soon require humanitarian assistance.

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Ukraine’s economy contracted by 35 percent in 2022, and 60 percent of Ukrainians are now poised to live on less than $5.50 a day, according to World Bank estimates. Nine million Ukrainians are without electricity and water in sub-zero temperatures, the Ukrainian president says.

According to estimates from the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, 100,000 Ukrainian and 100,000 Russian soldiers have been killed in the war as of last November.  

“My feeling is we are at a crucial moment in the conflict when the momentum could shift in favor of Russia if we don’t act decisively and quickly,” former U.S. Sen. Rob Portman was quoted as saying at the World Economic Forum in a post by The Atlantic Council. “A surge is needed.”

Palpable Rot of Empire

No Man’s Land between Russian and Ukrainin forces during the Battle of Bakhmut, November 2022. (, CC BY 4.0, Wikimedia Commons)

Turning logic on its head, the shills for war argue that “the greatest nuclear threat we face is a Russian victory.” The cavalier attitude to a potential nuclear confrontation with Russia by the cheerleaders for the war in Ukraine is very, very frightening, especially given the fiascos they oversaw for twenty years in the Middle East.

The near hysterical calls to support Ukraine as a bulwark of liberty and democracy by the mandarins in Washington are a response to the palpable rot and decline of the U.S. empire.

America’s global authority has been decimated by well-publicized war crimes, torture, economic decline, social disintegration — including the assault on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, the botched response to the pandemic, declining life expectancies and the plague of mass shootings — and a series of military debacles from Vietnam to Afghanistan.

The coups, political assassinations, election fraud, black propaganda, blackmail, kidnapping, brutal counter-insurgency campaigns, U.S. sanctioned massacres, torture in global black sites, proxy wars and military interventions carried out by the United States around the globe since the end of World War II have never resulted in the establishment of a democratic government.

Instead, these interventions have led to over 20 million killed and spawned a global revulsion for U.S. imperialism. 

Pumping Money into the War Machine

In desperation, the empire pumps ever greater sums into its war machine. The most recent $1.7 trillion U.S. spending bill by Congress included $847 billion for the military; the total is boosted to $858 billion when factoring in accounts that don’t fall under the Armed Services committees’ jurisdiction, such as the Department of Energy, which oversees nuclear weapons maintenance and the infrastructure that develops them.

In 2021, when the U.S. had a military budget of $801 billion, it constituted nearly 40 percent of all global military expenditures, more than the next nine countries, including Russia and China, spent on their militaries combined.

The Pentagon. (Joe Lauria)

As Edward Gibbon observed about the Roman Empire’s own fatal lust for endless war:

“[T]he decline of Rome was the natural and inevitable effect of immoderate greatness. Prosperity ripened the principle of decay; the cause of the destruction multiplied with the extent of conquest; and, as soon as time or accident had removed the artificial supports, the stupendous fabric yielded to the pressure of its own weight. The story of the ruin is simple and obvious; and instead of inquiring why the Roman Empire was destroyed, we should rather be surprised that it had subsisted for so long.”

A state of permanent war creates complex bureaucracies, sustained by compliant politicians, journalists, scientists, technocrats and academics, who obsequiously serve the war machine.

This militarism needs mortal enemies — the latest are Russia and China — even when those demonized have no intention or capability, as was the case with Iraq, of harming the U.S. We are hostage to these incestuous institutional structures. 

Earlier this month, the U.S. House and Senate Armed Services Committees, for example, appointed eight commissioners to review Biden’s National Defense Strategy (NDS) to “examine the assumptions, objectives, defense investments, force posture and structure, operational concepts, and military risks of the NDS.”

The commission, as Eli Clifton writes at the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, is “largely comprised of individuals with financial ties to the weapons industry and U.S. government contractors, raising questions about whether the commission will take a critical eye to contractors who receive $400 billion of the $858 billion FY2023 defense budget.”

The chair of the commission, Clifton notes, is former Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA), who “sits on the board of Iridium Communications, a satellite communications firm that was awarded a seven-year $738.5 million contract with the Department of Defense in 2019.”

Reports about Russian interference in the elections and Russia bots manipulating public opinion — which Matt Taibbi’s recent reporting on the “Twitter Files” exposes as an elaborate piece of black propaganda — was uncritically amplified by the press. It seduced Democrats and their liberal supporters into seeing Russia as a mortal enemy.

The near universal support for a prolonged war with Ukraine would not be possible without this con.

[Related: CN Editor Named on Secret ‘Disinfo’ List]

America’s two ruling parties depend on campaign funds from the war industry and are pressured by weapons manufacturers in their state or districts, who employ constituents, to pass gargantuan military budgets. Politicians are acutely aware that to challenge the permanent war economy is to be attacked as unpatriotic and is usually an act of political suicide. 

“The soul that is enslaved to war cries out for deliverance,” writes Simone Weil in her essay “The Iliad or the Poem of Force,” “but deliverance itself appears to it an extreme and tragic aspect, the aspect of destruction.”

Trying to Recoup Lost Glory

“Destruction of the Athenian Army at Syracuse,” by John Steeple Davis. (Public domain, Wikimedia Commons)

Historians refer to the quixotic attempt by empires in decline to regain a lost hegemony through military adventurism as “micro-militarism.”

During the Peloponnesian War (431–404 B.C.) the Athenians invaded Sicily, losing 200 ships and thousands of soldiers. The defeat ignited a series of successful revolts throughout the Athenian empire.

The Roman Empire, which at its height lasted for two centuries, became captive to its own army that, similar to the U.S. war industry, was a state within a state. Rome’s once mighty legions in the late stage of empire suffered defeat after defeat while extracting ever more resources from a crumbling and impoverished state.

In the end, the elite Praetorian Guard auctioned off the emperorship to the highest bidder.

The  British Empire, already decimated by the suicidal military folly of World War I, breathed its last gasp in 1956 when it attacked Egypt in a dispute over the nationalization of the Suez Canal. Britain withdrew in humiliation and became an appendage of the United States. A decade-long war in Afghanistan sealed the fate of a decrepit Soviet Union.

“While rising empires are often judicious, even rational in their application of armed force for conquest and control of overseas dominions, fading empires are inclined to ill-considered displays of power, dreaming of bold military masterstrokes that would somehow recoup lost prestige and power,” historian Alfred W. McCoy writes in his book, In the Shadows of the American Century: The Rise and Decline of US Global Power.

“Often irrational, even from an imperial point of view, these micro-military operations can yield hemorrhaging expenditures or humiliating defeats that only accelerate the process already under way,” he wrote. 

The plan to reshape Europe and the global balance of power by degrading Russia is turning out to resemble the failed plan to reshape the Middle East.

It is fueling a global food crisis and devastating Europe with near double-digit inflation. It is exposing the impotency, once again, of the United States, and the bankruptcy of its ruling oligarchs.

As a counterweight to the United States, nations such as China, Russia, India, Brazil and Iran are severing themselves from the tyranny of the dollar as the world’s reserve currency, a move that will trigger economic and social catastrophe in the United States.

Washington is giving Ukraine ever more sophisticated weapons systems and billions upon billions in aid in a futile bid to save Ukraine but, more importantly, to save itself. 

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 show “The Chris Hedges Report.”

Author’s Note to Readers: There is now no way left for me to continue to write a weekly column for ScheerPost and produce my weekly television show without your help. The walls are closing in, with startling rapidity, on independent journalism, with the elites, including the Democratic Party elites, clamoring for more and more censorship. Bob Scheer, who runs ScheerPost on a shoestring budget, and I will not waiver in our commitment to independent and honest journalism, and we will never put ScheerPost behind a paywall, charge a subscription for it, sell your data or accept advertising. Please, if you can, sign up at so I can continue to post my Monday column on ScheerPost and produce my weekly television show, “The Chris Hedges Report.”

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.


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48 comments for “Chris Hedges: Ukraine — The War That Went Wrong

  1. JeBubbie Spubbies
    February 2, 2023 at 18:04

    I would argue that your interpretation of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan is inaccurate and does not belong in a comparison to the desperate wars of a decaying empire.

    First and formost, the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan was an indigenous revolutionary state that formed independently of the Soviet Union, and even operated without material and political support from the USSR for the first few years of its existence. The DRA even outlived the dissolution of the USSR by four years. While the primary goal of the USA inciting the Mujahideen into a “holy war” against DRA was to trap the USSR into an economic and military quagmire, the secondary goal was to destroy a genuine revolutionary state that had the possibility of spreading the flames of proletarian revolution throughout Central Asia.

    Second, the USSR invaded at the behest of the DRA, they did not merely intervene to secure an apparent empire, they intervened to protect an ally. I should note that the Soviets also did so reluctantly and took two years to actually begin their invasion from when their military presence was requested. The USSR, even under the control of the revisionists, knew that the USA had set a trap for them in Afghanistan, but also knew that they could not just stand by and watch one revolutionary state be destroyed by such a strategy, and so they took a calculated risk with their intervention. This would turn out to be poor calculus, but hindsight is always 20/20.

    The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan has much more in common with the Russian invasion of Ukraine than it does the US imperial invasion of Afghanistan in 2001. Generally you know better than to play into establishment narratives, but your understanding of AES (Actually Existing Socialism) states and their histories still seems to be rooted in Western polemic narratives. This is understandable, as it’s fairly difficult to find unbiased information on these states, especially in English.

  2. Paul Davis
    February 1, 2023 at 22:30

    This isn’t work for peace, as most commenters here seem to think it is. This is work for appeasement. This is work for converting every bad thing in the world into the fault of the USA (and lord knows, that would be true of a lot of them). This is work for “sure, Russia can just invade anywhere it feels like, and if the response involves the US military industrial complex then all right-thinking folk everywhere can blame the whole thing on the USA”.

    What is the actual proposal for peace here? That Ukraine just lies down and says “sure, take me however you want me dear Russia?” That Ukraine be turned into an entire national insurgency zone against Russians in the midst? Whether or not these are as cruel as the war itself is somewhat a matter of moral judgement, and good people may disagree on this, but it is certain that neither are good outcomes for anyone.

    There are no good solutions that can be imposed on this war. Russia will not quit because of any outside force. Ukraine will not quit unless beaten into the ground, whether NATO supplies it with weapons or not.

    I don’t like the M-I complex’s involvement and profiteering (as usual) from this war, but please, get a grip people. This is NOT an American war, it will not be won or lost because of America, and it will not be ended by America. It might seem odd to have to feel like bystanders in one of the most threatening conflicts on earth today, but that is essentially what we are. We may tip the likely outcome one way or another, a little, but that is all we can do here. The greatest power flex we could make would be to try to force NATO to end all support to Ukraine, and while that might end this war, what would follow may be even worse.

    • robert e williamson jr
      February 2, 2023 at 10:59

      Paul don’t lecture here please. Write the Biden administration. The U.S. foreign policy has rendered this muck!

      The willingness of the U.S. to lie about stopping communism at any cost for the last 70’s years has not been helpful.

      Beat a wounded animal long enough and it will strike back.

      Russia was defeated, a miserable failure be it’s own leadership. As I have said all along this could and should have been handled much differently.

      Thanks CN

  3. D.H.Fabian
    February 1, 2023 at 18:50

    My mind can’t grasp the logic of those who thought they could bring nuclear world power Russia (twice the size of the US) to it’s knees via a war launched by conflict-drained Ukraine (roughly the size of Texas alone) – a war strongly opposed by m0st of the world.

  4. robert e williamson jr
    February 1, 2023 at 17:02

    I have been engaged in learning about how this country has been led astray by supposed leaders. This education comes at a high cost to my any longer having any faith in the current governance of the U.S. government.

    That faith has been eroded by the truth about what I have long suspected about the CIA. What happened there happened very early on in the organizations history. Within a time span of little more than one decade portions of the organization had become a cancer growing within the bowels of government. The cancer seems to have won the day at least up till this point in history.

    The war in Ukraine will be a tipping point, if ended ‘yesterday’ we might have some chance to recover and live to make this country better. Time is wasting.

    I am wary, I seldom question Chris Hedges. I think of this as not questioning him or as being critical of him, instead my effort is to Sensationalize his work here by questioning his title for this piece. Forgiveness please Chris.

    Chris Hedges: Ukraine – The War That Went Wrong.

    I believe the title simply does not put proper emphasis on this contrived travesty. These efforts prove beyond any doubt that the Adorno dictum , ‘the wrong life cannot be lived rightly’, captures the entire effort that has resulted in this conflict.

    Lie upon lie after lie by those in D.C. who know damned well better and as with GHW Bush and many others, need to be reined in by the U.S. public.


    Detlev Claussen translated “One Last Genius” by Theodor W. Adorno

    Thanks CN

  5. J Anthony
    February 1, 2023 at 15:12

    The US dollar no longer being the world-reserve-currency doesn’t necessarily have to be a catastrophe. More people need to understand that we can transition out of that without making millions of citizens in the west suffer for it.

  6. James White
    February 1, 2023 at 06:25

    “The decline of Rome was the natural and inevitable effect of immoderate greatness. Prosperity ripened the principle of decay.”
    “While rising empires are often judicious, even rational in their application of armed force for conquest and control of overseas dominions, fading empires are inclined to ill-considered displays of power, dreaming of bold military masterstrokes that would somehow recoup lost prestige and power.”
    Cause and effect. The decline of the U.S. empire can be traced to our prosperity. This had led to moral decline with the result that our hubris rots the empire from the inside out. Every U.S. citizen needs to take a good, long look in the mirror. Each of us needs to be a better person and collectively a better nation. Honest contemplation and reflection is the only way that we might reverse our trend toward decay, and ultimate collapse.

  7. Moi
    February 1, 2023 at 01:46

    “Ukraine … civilian casualties 6,919 killed and 11,075 injured.”

    Still not a patch on the 16,000 killed by Ukrainian shelling of Donbas civilians during the Minsk accords.

  8. Paula
    January 31, 2023 at 22:37

    Please, all you wise and wonderful people, begin talking about how to address the powers. I did in earlier submissions, but to repeat; do what they did; infiltrate city and county governments, put your people out there and fund them. I suppose such efforts presuppose that people “know” what is happening and coming after their freedoms. They have “captured” minds that could be uncultured is you spoke to their needs, their concerns, their fears and most of them that might save us are rural people. Huh?
    That advantage of the viral video by Veritas and build on it and keep telling your audiences who want a better world to run for office and take nothing from anyone associated with corporate powers. And get to, involve our most vulnerable and hared hit populations; rural, poor whites, sorry to put them first because other populations have suffered long and hard. Do what Fred Hampton was doing and why he got killed at only 23 years old. He was bringing us all together. Fred Hampton is my number one soul of rap. If you can find him, listen.

  9. TRogers
    January 31, 2023 at 20:12

    From a bird’s eye view it appears this war is being directed by the bankers who control our money creation, our corporate press, and our corporate politicians. They thought economic sieges would prevail, but their plan collapsed. Now they are desperately trying to direct the military operation, very amateurishly.

    According to The Duran’s excellent analysts, American and British politicians are pushing for war, while their militaries are trying to hold them back.

    The principle politicians pushing for war are the Neocons, who also pushed for the wars in the Middle East. The Neocons are famous for their unquestioning support for Israel and its wars, despite its well-documented and on-going crimes. Since Zelensky has said a goal of the Ukraine war is to make Ukraine a “big Israel”, does this somehow connect the Neocons’ support for wars in the Middle East with their support for war in Ukraine?

    What is the background of these Neocons, and what is their agenda?

  10. CaseyG
    January 31, 2023 at 18:29

    I wonder—– what if when war was declared in America —all those in Congress had to suit up and go to fight. What a thoughtful and peaceful Congress and a better world we would see. No one would go to war when their own asses were on the line.

  11. Drew Hunkins
    January 31, 2023 at 17:45

    “According to estimates from the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, 100,000 Ukrainian and 100,000 Russian soldiers have been killed in the war as of last November.”

    Chris’ numbers are off base here.

    According to Pepe Escobar, Ukraine’s head of the military reported to the Pentagon that 232,000 Ukie soldiers/fighters on the Ukie side have been KIA. CIA sources say 305,000 Ukie soldiers/fighters on the Ukie side have been KIA. Chinese intel stated that “irretrievable losses” for the Ukie soldiers/fighters on the Ukie side exceed 500,000 and may have reached 680,000.

    Russians KIA are estimated to be 15K to 20K.

    All of these figures are since the SMO began back in Feb. 2022.

    In other words, Russia’s decisively and soundly winning this war convincingly.

    The heartless and hegemonic Washington empire has sent Ukrainians into a meatgrinder.

    • Chris
      February 1, 2023 at 14:06

      While I agree with you, I think Chris just quoted that figure so it’s not disputed by the typical liberal russophobe types. In either case, the point is that hundreds of thousands of human beings are dying as a result of this unnecessary war, sustained by the US and its “allies”.

      • Drew Hunkins
        February 2, 2023 at 16:25

        Fair point

  12. James P
    January 31, 2023 at 15:37

    So why all this infusion of high-tech weaponry? We can sum it up in one word: Greed.

    This entire conflict, like all the others, is little more than unvarnished greed.

    When this ‘customer’ runs out of cash, the US arms market moves on to the next cash cow.

    • cfmmax
      January 31, 2023 at 19:42

      Not certain but I wonder if it isn’t the American taxpayer paying for all this.

    • Paula
      January 31, 2023 at 21:29

      Yes, greed is the factor and more power as well because it makes no sense otherwise to send weapons that takes years to learn to operate and fix when something goes wrong. Is not the US as well as Zelensky sacrificing Ukrainians just to sell off their country and its resources to Black Rock and Goldman/Sachs and all the neocons they are part of? And all the while focusing people’s attention on a pandemic whose rushed vaccines are killing our young and old and in-between. Would love some more education on this/these matters.

  13. Arch Stanton
    January 31, 2023 at 15:25

    Superb writing again Chris

  14. Rudy Haugeneder
    January 31, 2023 at 12:46

    Most people I know, actually a vast majority, fully support Nato and want a larger war against Russia. And most of these people were once among past legions of anti-war folks who today would rather kill Russians than even think about peace: Not even think about it. Of course, they and the people they love, aren’t fighting and don’t think they ever will be, which is currently true if one ignores the increasing chance of nuclear war which, if it doesn’t kill them (us) directly, will destroy our civilizations and so forth. The coming months are interesting and I, as a senior with almost nothing of importance to lose (least of all a remaining decade or so of physical and probably mental decay — remember the world senile?) doesn’t worry too much, perhaps because I don’t have grandchildren or great grandchildren to think about. And no, I am not poor and if I chose, could purchase a new reduced-price self-driving Tesla if I wanted, but won’t.

    • Susan Siens
      January 31, 2023 at 16:37

      And the way so-called antiwar folks became pro-war is that they were never genuinely antiwar, it was just a fashionable place to hang their hats. I watched this all through the antiwar movement during the American war in Vietnam; I would guesstimate that 90 percent of activists had no critical analysis, no deeper understanding of why their country was murdering peasants in Southeast Asia. They certainly did not want to be drafted and they wanted to be cool.

      How depressing your comment is! but not surprising.

      • Paula
        January 31, 2023 at 22:06

        As true as what you say might be, we cannot, as a country see ourselves free when the rich land owners ad infinitum are still trying to avoid all the taxes they can by legislation, of course. Our country was founded on dissent and dissent is patriotic. But our original dissent was against taxes. Hmmmm. I do not think at all that dissent should be founded on rich men not wanting to pay taxes to more rich men in Europe. Landed gents set the stage, but dissent for them and for the rest of us is a matter of patriotic pride, or should be. And no matter where it came from, it was right and needs protection.

    • J Anthony
      February 1, 2023 at 15:22

      Sorry to hear about your friends/associates, I’m still trying to wrap my head around that. Why were they once anti-war, now pro-war? Is it a partisan issue?

  15. shmutzoid
    January 31, 2023 at 12:42

    Hedges frames issues in the most relevant terms. The US is most definitely an empire in decline/decay in desperation mode. It tries to shore up its fading economic/diplomatic influence with dangerously unpredictable militarism. There is no telling how far it’ll go in attempting to maintain global dominance – i.e., will it resort to nukes??? (a known unknown!)

    There’s a coterie of Hedges’ detractors who tire of his seemingly pessimistic views and lack of ‘solutions’ offered. To me, his writings are heartfelt and thought provoking lamentations. ‘Solutions’ are beyond the scope of any one person’s ability to affect change. If global capitalism is the problem (and, it is), then NO plan/solution can be imagined without the emergence of a global worker consciousness which recognizes its solidarity as potentially the greatest social force in the world. Calls for mass civil action and mass general strikes found in Hedges’ writing hint at this truth.

    • Paula
      January 31, 2023 at 22:20

      To shmutzoid: We need to start like they did, locally, city council members, county commissioners. That’s how they did it. I’ve read the books, have you? Democracy In Chains, Dark Money, How Democracies Die. Most all talk about, in some part of takeover of small town newspapers who no longer cover city or county news. Change must come from the bottom up as those in control well realized and got them to where they are now. We need to use their strategy against them and just because it took them years to infiltrate, doesn’t mean it will take years to de-infiltrate. We are our better human halfs and we need to start now.

      • shmutzoid
        February 1, 2023 at 12:58

        Yes, from all accounts the counter -revolution in the US began with Lewis Powell’s memo of 1971. This was a reaction to the social movements of the 60s – civil rights, feminism, anti-war activism. Powell advocated for a decades long takeover of ALL US institutions – judicial system, education, local/state governments, Congress. Fifty years into their ‘long game’ and here we are.

        A similar leftist ‘long game’ emanating from within the Dem Party is not possible. The Dem Party exists to squelch any true lefty mass movement, redirecting social discontent and channeling it back to their party for, er, ‘solutions’. We have two major capitalists parties both representing the interests of finance capital/corporations. Dem Party leadership (regardless who it is) works hard to limit success in primary elections of those who are ‘too progressive’. Programs of social uplift never quite become policy/law, let alone any truly radical reform measures.

        No, electoral politics offers no hope for radical change. Occupy Wall Street was an organic rising up of people everywhere that at least gave us the language of the 99% vs the 1%. This expression of societal need for fundamental change, which cut across racial, gender and other identity lines, was viscously put down by Obama in coordination with Homeland Security, FBI and local police depts. ……. It is THIS kind of genuine solidarity of working people that scares the Dems more than anything else – certainly more than anything offered up by the GOP. ——- In the end, it WILL take global Occupy-style solidarity on a massively larger and sustained scale to win any concessions from our political elites. With global capitalism still in place, that’s the best we could hope for.

      • J Anthony
        February 1, 2023 at 15:29

        That’s exactly right…from the bottom-up, from the local-out, and it will snowball from there. It’s the only way. The two-party system is designed specifically today to preserve the status quo. Some say go 3rd-parties, but how when the duopoly has mechanisms in place to either co-opt or destroy any 3rd-party effort? (see the Green Party, Tea Party, Peoples’ Party, or the DSA for prime examples)….no, this is only going to work when masses of ordinary citizens and budding activists work outside the “official channels” to build something. This is hard, hard work, which discourages people, but there are no other viable options.

  16. Mike
    January 31, 2023 at 12:36

    Does anyone seriously believe the American government won’t use American tank crews and American pilots? Training takes time. HIMARS is likely operating by using Americans. America will eventually kill too many Russians. Something will go wrong if America stays on this road. Ukraine is not worth even the risk of nuclear war.

  17. Valerie
    January 31, 2023 at 11:09

    “Ukraine requires at least $3 billion a month in outside support to keep its economy afloat, the International Monetary Fund’s managing director recently said.”

    Who is funding that I wonder. The IMF?

    As to a nuclear holocaust, we have seen near misses in the past caused by malfunctions in equipment. So with this “panic” mode now overtaking the US, it’s a very dangerous time. One false alert could mean annihilation.

  18. January 31, 2023 at 10:48

    Yes, the walls are closing in on “journalism” in the Atlantic realm. But that is not what we really need right now. After a lifetime of watching the oligarchy slowly decline, with no serious opposition to it, just a lot of stupid journalism or ‘activism’, I am starting to see things opening up. A core of people are starting to reject the liberal ‘plural truth’ nonsense and seek objective truth. From that they are forming a clear vision of post capitalism and the way to get there.

  19. Gerald
    January 31, 2023 at 10:45

    Don’t all American wars go wrong? Even looking at the state of Iraq and the hefty price the US paid and pays for its conquest one has to admit it was a Pyrrhic victory no? I’m not sure the Pentagon nor the MIC are THAT interested in winning, it is sheer chaos and damage that they appear to delight in creating. Maybe that’s my mind working overtime and that all I am really seeing for the last 70 years or so is continued incompetence and failure, if so why would Ukraine be any different … guess what, it isn’t. The US military, post war, is a collection of myths and stories it tells itself about itself. Its complete over reliance on ‘overwhelming air power’ crushing states without AD or modern airforces has rather painted a somewhat lopsided picture, Ukraine has illustrated just how that would go down in Russia. The US’ pathetic artillery has shown us another truth of how they wouldn’t cope with non stop counter battery shelling by a) running out of shells very quickly b) pieces that simply cannot cope with more than a few hours of combat before literally shaking themselves to apart or melting important components. The US may well want to forget this episode and march on Shanghai or Peking but that isn’t going to help them as they will receive the same welcome there but with over a billion more people to fight against.

    • Paula
      January 31, 2023 at 22:57

      It seems to me, Gerald, that too many leaders of too many countries are trying to cover their own asses in a climate change that will escalate whether a nuclear war does or does not happen. And that is the crux of the matter. It’s why we’ve delayed addressing climate and why we’ve hidden free energy inventions around the world beginning with Tesla, the man. Free energy ideas are real but if you look up patent history, you will see they were always denied. CT (conspiracy theory) or not, at least it needs exploring. We need truth more than anything else in the world and right now.

  20. Vera Gottlieb
    January 31, 2023 at 10:25

    It shows ( among other things) how destructive arrogance can be PLUS the believe of being ‘exceptional’…or should it be ‘exceptionable’?

  21. Drew Hunkins
    January 31, 2023 at 10:17

    The “Chamberlain appeasement” b.s…

    The idea that anyone who’s against Washington fomenting hostilities on Russia’s Western border region is Chamberlain-like is the biggest laugher and off the charts distortion and downright lie. It’s a popular smear technique that’s being plastered all over social media by the handmaidens and paid shills of the Washington neocon/Ziocon imperialists.

    Hitler invaded Poland and Czechoslovakia to rescue ethnic Germans who since 1930 had been getting slaughtered and butchered by fascists funded, armed, and supported by the biggest and bloodiest empire the globe had ever seen? Yeah right.
    And those same ethnic Germans were under imminent threat of invasion by a 100,000 strong army again supported by the biggest militarist empire the world had ever seen? Give it a rest.

    To conflate Putin’s liberating SMO in Ukraine — in which he was eagerly invited in by the Donbas ethnic Russians — to Hitlerian conquest and invasion is to deceive the world. Sick basta rds are running with this canard all over the internet and Western Russophobic mass media.

    • Paula
      January 31, 2023 at 23:00

      Do you think possibly, everything is a rich man’s trick? I mean, why we go to wars and the events that might be staged to garner support to do so? Seriously, tell me what you think.

  22. John Reuter
    January 31, 2023 at 10:16

    Mr Hedges. Clearly, this statement is incorrect:

    “According to estimates from the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, 100,000 Ukrainian and 100,000 Russian soldiers have been killed in the war as of last November.”

    • Susan Siens
      January 31, 2023 at 16:40

      Yes, I would like clarification. Colonel MacGregor said many Ukrainian soldiers have died because of their wounds and the lack of medical attendance, exacerbated by the shortage of gasoline needed to carry wounded men off the field. Somehow I can’t quite believe the Russians are that incompetent when I see them taking medical supplies to civilians in need.

    • Drew Hunkins
      February 1, 2023 at 10:25

      Chris’ numbers are off base here.

      According to Pepe Escobar, Ukraine’s head of the military reported to the Pentagon that 232,000 Ukie soldiers/fighters on the Ukie side have been KIA. CIA sources say 305,000 Ukie soldiers/fighters on the Ukie side have been KIA. Chinese intel stated that “irretrievable losses” for the Ukie soldiers/fighters on the Ukie side exceed 500,000 and may have reached 680,000.

      Russians KIA are estimated to be 15K to 20K.

      All of these figures are since the SMO began back in Feb. 2022.

      In other words, Russia’s decisively and soundly winning this war convincingly.

      The heartless and hegemonic Washington empire has sent Ukrainians into a meatgrinder.

  23. Black Cloud
    January 31, 2023 at 09:34

    Define “wrong”.

    Military industrialists would argue that this war (and every other war that has gone “wrong”, from Korea to Afghanistan) have been hugely successful.


  24. jamie
    January 31, 2023 at 08:48

    Nice article, it is important that we analyze the past in order to understand the future. It is even more important to then identify how cultural traits evolve and remain embedded into that culture. How those traits affects and then shape the society, the people’s perception, their behaviors, personal growth and their ability to be efficient in adapting; ultimately, to even transcend life.
    We have to take seriously the psychology behind it, how the environment (natural as well constructed) affects our evolution and therefore our destiny, e.g. how hedonism affects our brain, the chemicals behind it (why did we became adrenaline/dopamine junkies?)

    We have to do this work perhaps not for us directly, but for other cultures that will follow; to teach them to learn from our mistakes more than our successes, to find and strive for harmony in this world, to give humanity the “quiet time” it deserves to feel, to appreciate, to grow, to be in touch with who we are as animals in a natural environment. To redirect education toward such “enlightment”. Afterall, what allowed life on earth it is some sort of “quiet time”, harmony, a balance of forces.

    I think we have to accept that our actions are influenced by something far greater than us, natural laws that we have no control over. The level of complexity we have reached without even knowing it, it is sure an important cause of what is happening today; our inability to understand, cope and adapt in such complex world we have created; or perhaps, life has its own way of regulating itself, who knows

  25. JohnA
    January 31, 2023 at 04:07

    “According to estimates from the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, 100,000 Ukrainian and 100,000 Russian soldiers have been killed in the war as of last November.”

    US propaganda. Russia has been husbanding its human resources, using artillery. Zelensky has no qualms sacrificing manpower in various meatgrinders along the frontline for purely PR purposes.
    In reality, Russian losses are relatively low, Ukrainian losses are extraordinarily high.

    • Jonathan
      January 31, 2023 at 15:41


      • IJ Scambling
        January 31, 2023 at 18:28

        See Colonel McGregor January 30, 2023:

        150 thousand Ukraine dead plus 35,000 missing in action. No specifics here on Russian dead, but previously (Jan 27) he indicated approximately 16-25,000 dead and 25-40,000 wounded.

        McGregor is a respected military expert with sources in the terrain under consideration.

        In the reference below he also speaks of Russian fire-power vastly exceeding Ukraine’s plus other comparisons.

        This link is useful because it’s to a written piece by McGregor versus a speaking piece via you-tube interview.


  26. Bob
    January 31, 2023 at 00:10

    Great article I think you would have to be politically brain dead not to see the USA in in self-destruction mode.
    The current government is destroying the USA from within. Russia has to do nothing other than watch the USA collapse.

    • Vera Gottlieb
      January 31, 2023 at 10:27

      The US is rotting away…Sadly it is taking along too many innocent folks.

      • Susan Siens
        January 31, 2023 at 16:43

        You are both so right. Even the New York Times carried an op-ed with this message, that we are our own worst enemy. And what is it with the huge spending from the Biden administration? Is this to gut every decent program that is left?

  27. Carolyn Grassi
    January 30, 2023 at 22:52

    Thank you, Chris Hedges, for your on-going works for peace. I will share your article with friends. There are so few voices for peace and diplomacy in the U.S. and NATO. Shocking that many progressives in Congress stay silent. Thankfully Medea Benjamin of Code Pink continues to speak for peace, but like yourself, she has very little access, if at all, to MSM. Your ministry for peace is so needed. I am sure your father would be (is) proud of you. Blessings! (the song comes to mind: “All we are asking is give peace a chance….”)

    • John Ressler
      January 31, 2023 at 09:44

      Agree with your comment but will add this – when the “progressives in Congress” are silent, that makes them fake progressives. Real progressives DO NOT EXIST in the Democratic Party – they are eliminated. Peace doesn’t stand chance when so many people still believe the BS offered by NYT, WaPo, NPR and PBS versions of our troubled world. After years of trying to “share articles with friends” only to be ignored and verbally blasted, I come to sites like this and a couple of others for the non-fairy tale version of the world I live in.

    • Valerie
      January 31, 2023 at 11:20

      There’s an anti-war rally in Washington DC on february 19th with many great speakers:


      My favourite anti-war song is by Edwin Starr – entitled simply “War”.

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