Caitlin Johnstone: Marching into Oblivion

If the war machine is alone responsible for placing checks on its nuclear brinkmanship, then there are no real checks on the nuclear brinkmanship of the war machine.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, second from right in foreground, visiting a training program for the Ukrainian Armed Forces at Lydd Army Camp, U.K., in November 2022. (NATO, Flickr, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

By Caitlin Johnstone

Listen to a reading by Tim Foley of this article.

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), which oversees the spy agencies of the United States, has admitted in a report requested by Sen. Ron Wyden that the U.S. intelligence cartel has been circumventing constitutional regulations designed to protect U.S. citizens from government surveillance by simply purchasing information collected by commercial data brokers.

In an escalation in surveillance capitalism that should surprise no one but alarm everyone, U.S. intelligence agencies have found that while the Fourth Amendment prohibits them from directly wiretapping, hacking or bugging whomever they please without a warrant, there’s nothing stopping them from simply purchasing massive amounts of data harvested by Silicon Valley tech companies which can provide them with similar kinds of information.

So that’s what they’ve been doing.

But remember kids, it’s important for you to be very afraid of TikTok because TikTok might harvest your information and give it to an authoritarian surveillance state.

disturbing Responsible Statecraft piece by Branko Marcetic notes that the civilian leadership roles in the U.S. government which have historically been responsible for reining in the more dangerous impulses of the U.S. war machine have actually been far more hawkish and aggressive on Ukraine than the Pentagon’s professional war-makers.

According to a recent Washington Post report, inside the Biden administration “the Pentagon is considered more cautious than the White House or State Department about sending more sophisticated weaponry to Ukraine.”

If only the war machine is responsible for placing checks on the nuclear brinkmanship of the war machine, that means there are no real checks on the nuclear brinkmanship of the war machine. 

If U.S. President John Kennedy had been more hawkish and aggressive than his own generals at the most perilous moments of the last Cold War, it’s entirely likely that the world as we know it would not exist today. It is bone-chilling that we are relying on the better angels of the most murderous military on earth to see us through these increasingly close games of nuclear chicken. [RELATED: Pentagon Drops Truth Bombs to Stave Off War With Russia]

As Marcetic discussed in another article last year, the insanely hawkish rhetoric we are seeing from the Western political/media class around the subject of nuclear brinkmanship is demonstrably far more oriented toward reckless confrontation than it was during the Cuban Missile Crisis. The people whose job it is to encourage restraint in these situations — the press, the diplomats, and the elected officials —are instead doing the exact opposite.

And the discourse is only getting crazier. The neoconservative think tank American Enterprise Institute is now floating the idea of giving nukes to Ukraine, which is about as evil and demented a foreign policy position as anyone could possibly come up with.

This is as influential Russian foreign policy strategist Sergey Karaganov argues that Moscow has “set too high a threshold for the use of nuclear weapons” and that “it is necessary to arouse the instinct of self-preservation that the West has lost” by “lowering the threshold for the use of nuclear weapons” and “moving up the deterrence-escalation ladder.”

Karaganov cites the fact that Belarus has begun receiving tactical nukes from Russia to show that Moscow is already moving in this direction.

This looks all the more disquieting in light of Michael Tracey’s observations in a recent Newsweek article, “The Government Keeps Lying to Us About Ukraine. Where Is the Outrage?

Tracey discusses the way fighters from Ukraine and from NATO member Poland have been ramping up attacks on Russian territory, while the U.S. government and news media deceive the American public about the fact that this is happening and how dangerous it is.

On top of all this you’ve got the empire’s increasingly ridiculous spin about the Nord Stream pipeline bombings. The mass media are now saying that Ukrainian special operations forces perpetrated the attack, and that the C.I.A. had advanced knowledge of their plans, but tried unsuccessfully to tell them not to go through with it.

Which is a narrative that just so happens to fit perfectly into alignment with the information interests of the U.S. empire. It contradicts reporting by Seymour Hersh that the U.S. was directly involved in the attack, it pins culpability on a nation with whom the west highly sympathizes who can be framed as acting in their own defense against Russian invaders, and the U.S. intelligence cartel gets to wash its hands of the whole ordeal by claiming it told the Ukrainians not to attack pipelines used by U.S. ally Germany.

It’s also a narrative that is completely nonsensical. Saying “America didn’t attack Nord Stream, Ukraine did!” is like saying “Will Smith didn’t slap Chris Rock, his hand did!”

Ukraine is completely dependent on the will of the U.S. government to continue this war; if the U.S. government draws a hard line and tells them not to do something or risk losing support, it will necessarily have to obey. It’s been public knowledge for a year now that the C.I.A. is intimately involved in activities on the ground in Ukraine, and the C.I.A. has been actively training Ukrainian special operations forces since before this war even began.

So, it’s a distinction without a difference to claim that Ukraine and not the U.S. bombed Nord Stream? — and that’s pretending for the sake of argument that we know the U.S. wasn’t much more directly involved in the attack than it is admitting. There is currently no logical reason to assume that’s even the case, and there is never any valid reason to take the U.S. intelligence cartel at its word about anything.

We are marching toward dystopia and oblivion, and we are doing it in ways that have no historical precedent. We’re in completely uncharted waters, and things are only getting crazier and crazier.

What a wild world. What a time to be alive.

Caitlin Johnstone’s work is entirely reader-supported, so if you enjoyed this piece please consider sharing it around, following her on FacebookTwitterSoundcloudYouTube, or throwing some money into her tip jar on Ko-fiPatreon or Paypal. If you want to read more you can buy her books. The best way to make sure you see the stuff she publishes is to subscribe to the mailing list at her website or on Substack, which will get you an email notification for everything she publishes.  For more info on who she is, where she stands and what she’s trying to do with her platform, click here. All works are co-authored with her American husband Tim Foley.

This article is from and re-published with permission.

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

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7 comments for “Caitlin Johnstone: Marching into Oblivion

  1. Michael brian Chebo
    June 21, 2023 at 09:14

    Thank you

  2. Packard
    June 21, 2023 at 08:44

    Rhetorical question of the day:

    If either Poland or Estonia were to surreptitiously, yet unilaterally start a nuclear WW III with Russia, would we Americans still be on the hook to fight in it as a co-member of NATO?

    Asking for 330 million close, but innocently naive friends.

  3. Robert
    June 21, 2023 at 04:12

    The Fog of War and the First Casualty of War is the Truth are going to be repeated as long as there are humans on planet earth.

    Vietnam was the first American war of my adulthood. It took me a few years to realize we were being lied to about progress being made with the RVN army carrying its weight and the enemy force body counts. And of course the lies multiplied and eventually resulted in a lost war and debacle of an exit.

    As minor as two incidents may seem, I think the current state of affairs in Ukraine were almost predestined to occur when, on Day 1 Western media trumpeted the preposterous story of the Ghost of Kiev and it was just a bit later when they glorified the 8 (?) Dead Hero’s of Snake Island. As we recall the Ghosts exploits were a week’s worth of page one news. The admission that he didn’t exist was one day page 30 news. Also recurring page one for the Snake Island bravery and award ceremony for their families, but page 30 when Russia announced that the Hero’s had actually surrendered and where can we drop them off.

  4. wildthange
    June 20, 2023 at 21:23

    There could be nothing more dangerous than the western world dominance and religious control is at risk of evaporating into an real world rational order. The full spectrum dominance strategic planning chasing the super-power rainbow is at risk and we may do just about anything for our war gods and profits to keep control. This is also a war of a cultural self defined superiority complex.

  5. Valerie
    June 20, 2023 at 16:37

    “What a wild world” indeed. The “Budapest Memorandum” of 1994 (which i happened upon by accident) is quite a revelatory document. For example:

    “Until Ukraine gave up the Soviet nuclear weapons stationed on its soil, it had the world’s third-largest nuclear weapons stockpile,[10][11] of which Ukraine had physical but no operational control. Russia controlled the codes needed to operate the nuclear weapons through electronic Permissive Action Links and the Russian command and control system, although this could not be sufficient guarantee against Ukrainian access.[12][13] Formally, these weapons were controlled by the Commonwealth of Independent States.[14][15] Belarus only had mobile missile launchers, and Kazakhstan had chosen to quickly give up its nuclear warheads and missiles to Russia. Ukraine went through a period of internal debate on their approach.[4][16]”
    (Wikipedia – Budapest Memorandum.)
    (As an aside, Donald Blinken was the US Ambassador to Hungary at the time.)

    So this latest mishmash of hostilities and stupidity is an historical conundrum with multiple facets, which to the average person like myself, is baffling. But at the end of the day, the fact remains, we are all subject to the governance, dictates and signatures of a few people on bits of paper. And the planet is at the fingertips of equally controlling entities.
    And sheep have a reputation for being dumb.

    • michael888
      June 21, 2023 at 07:05

      I have seen several pundits claim that the Budapest Memorandum (not treaty) gives Ukraine rights to re-arm with nuclear weapons. That is not true.
      Before the Memorandum calling for joint protection of the former Soviet states, “Russia, the U.S., Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine signed the Lisbon Protocol to the START I treaty, ahead of ratifying the treaty later. The protocol committed Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine to adhere to the NPT as non-nuclear weapons states as soon as possible.” The Memorandum was not binding like the START I treaty, it was an understanding (Minsk I and II were actual treaties, but meaningless as neither the US nor Ukraine honor treaties (and now neither will Russia nor China honor treaties they don’t like). Russia dropped massive Ukrainian debt in return for giving up the nukes.
      The Memorandum was abrogated several times by the US (no surprise), with the CIA initiating the Orange Revolution (Coup), installing a US Puppet President (Yushchenko) married to a CIA/ State Dept official. Later of course the US- backed the Maidan Coup (overthrowing the democratically elected government), installing Good Puppets Poroshenko and Zelensky. As Nuland noted the US had put $5 billion into Ukraine (a lot of money in Ukraine). Belarus also complained about US sanctions in 2013, which the US laughed at.

      • Valerie
        June 21, 2023 at 12:38

        As i said, many facets to this whole episode Michael. Nothing is ever as it seems it would appear, if you dig deeply enough. Unfortunately, i’m useless at history.

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