Caitlin Johnstone: Illusory Truth & ‘Unprovoked’ Invasion

The  mainstream media repeated assertion that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was “unprovoked” defies  facts and journalistic standards, yet has managed to permeate the collective consciousness of the West.

By Caitlin Johnstone

Listen to Tim Foley reading this article

Arguably the single most egregious display of war propaganda in the 21st century occurred last year, when the entire western political/media class began uniformly bleating the word “unprovoked” in reference to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

On February 23 of last year, the day before the invasion began, the New York Times editorial board wrote that “an unprovoked invasion of a sovereign European state is an unprovoked declaration of war on a scale, on a continent and in a century when it was thought to be no longer possible.”

After the war began, the Biden White House released a statement titled “Remarks by President Biden on Russia’s Unprovoked and Unjustified Attack on Ukraine.” Secretary of State Antony Blinken shared Biden’s statement on Twitter with the comment “Russia’s premeditated, unprovoked, and unjustified attack on Ukraine blatantly disregards the lives of innocent men, women, and children, Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and international law.”

In early March of last year, the New York Times editorial board wrote that western sanctions against Russia in retaliation for the invasion “have demonstrated that there are consequences for unprovoked wars of aggression.”

In April of last year the New York Times editorial board again repeated this slogan, writing that Putin had “ordered an unprovoked war to satisfy his ambitions of empire and the destruction of a neighboring nation.”

In May of last year the New York Times editorial board reiterated that “Ukraine deserves support against Russia’s unprovoked aggression.”

According to analyst Jeffrey Sachs, the New York Times used the word unprovoked “no fewer than 26 times, in five editorials, 14 opinion columns by NYT writers, and seven guest op-eds.” 

But it wasn’t just the Paper of Record singing from the same hymnal as the US government on Ukraine. The Guardian editorial board wrote that “Mr Putin’s unprovoked war against a smaller, democratic neighbour has resulted in 1.7 million people fleeing their homes.”

The LA Times editorial board wrote that the “most conspicuous victims of Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine are the people who will lose their lives in defending their country against a brutal (and nuclear-armed) neighbor.” The Chicago Tribune editorial board made reference to “Putin’s audacious, unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.”

The Financial Times editorial board made reference to “Putin’s unprovoked assault on Russia’s neighbour.” The Washington Post editorial board made reference to “Moscow’s disastrous, unprovoked invasion” and to “Russia’s unprovoked invasion” in two separate pieces.

Everywhere you looked, that word was being uncritically regurgitated by the western press. CNN saying “Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine has devastated the country, killing hundreds of civilians, sparking a humanitarian disaster and resulting in a wave of sanctions from the West.” Time babbling about “Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24.”

The New Yorker saying “Vladimir Putin ordered Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.” NBC News saying “Russia’s unprovoked attack on Ukraine began Thursday, after weeks of buildup.” CNBC talking about “Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.”

This is just me citing a few of the basically limitless examples I can point to of this war sloganeering throughout the mass media. The western press uphold themselves as impartial arbiters of truth, purporting to be superior to the state media propagandists of nations like Russia and China, and claiming a legitimacy that ordinary people using social media don’t have. And yet here they are uncritically parroting the talking points of the US government and taking sides against Russia. 

The western media claim to report the facts, but the way they’ve fallen in line behind the “unprovoked” narrative reveals that their actual job is to frame world events in a way that serves the information interests of their government. Which would be bad enough if that narrative was just a biased framing of a contentious issue, and not the bald-faced lie that it actually is.

During an interview last year with the Useful Idiots podcast, Noam Chomsky argued that the reason we keep hearing the western press using the word “unprovoked” in reference to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is because it absolutely was provoked, and they know it.

“Right now if you’re a respectable writer and you want to write in the main journals, you talk about the Russian invasion of Ukraine, you have to call it ‘the unprovoked Russian invasion of Ukraine,” Chomsky said. “It’s a very interesting phrase; it was never used before.

You look back, you look at Iraq, which was totally unprovoked, nobody ever called it ‘the unprovoked invasion of Iraq.’ In fact I don’t know if the term was ever used. If it was it was very marginal. Now you look it up on Google, and hundreds of thousands of hits. Every article that comes out has to talk about the unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.”

“Why? Because they know perfectly well it was provoked,” Chomsky said. “That doesn’t justify it, but it was massively provoked.”

Indeed, you can disagree with Russia’s invasion or believe that Putin overreacted to the situation, but what you can’t do is legitimately claim that the invasion was unprovoked. It’s just a welldocumented fact that the US and its allies provoked this war in a whole host of ways, from NATO expansion to backing regime change in Kyiv to playing along with aggressions against Donbass separatists to pouring weapons into Ukraine.

There’s also an abundance of evidence that the US and its allies sabotaged a peace deal between Russia and Ukraine in the early weeks of the war in order to keep this conflict going as long as possible to hurt Russian interests.

We know that western actions provoked the war in Ukraine because many western foreign policy experts spent years warning that western actions would provoke a war in Ukraine. There’s footage of John Mearsheimer back in 2015 urgently warning that “the west is leading Ukraine down the primrose path, and the end result is that Ukraine is going to get wrecked.” And that’s exactly how it played out.

The reason foreign policy “realists” like Mearsheimer were able to correctly predict the war in Ukraine is because they held at the forefront of their analysis the fact that great powers will never accept threats from other great powers on their borders.

This is a key point to understanding the major conflicts of the 2020s, not just between the US and Russia but between the US and China as well— and the US is the one amassing the threats on the borders of its enemies in both instances.

“The thesis of the war being unprovoked is very strategic,” foreign policy analyst Max Abrams recently tweeted in response to my commentary on this subject. “It whitewashes the role of NATO expansion, meddling in the Maidan uprisings and siding with far right extremists in the civil war. Not only does it exonerate America but it helps vilify Russia and sell the war as wholly good.”

The reason the mass media have been bleating the word “unprovoked” in unison with regard to this war is because the mass media are propaganda organs of the US empire. Their repetition of this war propaganda slogan exploits a glitch in human cognition known as the illusory truth effect, which makes it difficult for our minds to tell the difference between the experience of hearing something many times and the experience of hearing something that’s true.

Just repeatedly inserting the word “unprovoked” into Ukraine war commentary across the board causes people to assume it must have been launched without provocation, because the illusory truth effect can circumvent reason and logic to insert a narrative into the collective consciousness of our civilization.

The fact that all mass media outlets began doing this in unison, against all journalistic training and ethics, shows you just how united the mass media are in service of the US empire.

When the need to push a narrative is particularly urgent, the facade of journalistic impartiality and independence drops away, and we see the true face of the most sophisticated propaganda machine that has ever existed.

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.

48 comments for “Caitlin Johnstone: Illusory Truth & ‘Unprovoked’ Invasion

  1. lester
    August 12, 2023 at 13:22

    Our Fearless Leaders always have some pious excuse for their murder campaigns. Manifest Destiny. Promoting Freedom. Anti-Communism. Anti-Terrorism. Now ir’s defending Ukraine (not Nazi at all, don’t look at those swastikas or promises to defend the white race against Jews!). People always buy into it. Nowadays, staying out of the homeless camp is the main thing Americans must attend to, not the lester war/murder campaign. Partisan Dems have tried to persuade me that a new war every other year is notmal! Much as homelessness is not reallyu important.

    How long can this constant warfare regime go on? Our plutocrats don’t pay for it!

    • J Anthony
      August 13, 2023 at 08:21

      Yes, in fact they profit from it. Caring citizens with critical-thinking skills are falling into depression and anxiety. It is the hypocrites, willfully ignorant and too-proud that are making a lot of white-noise and causing further division among the populace. The truth is not setting us free, it’s being smothered and used as a cudgel against the actual truth-tellers.

  2. robert e williamson jr
    August 11, 2023 at 20:53

    Great call here Caitlin!

  3. IJ Scambling
    August 11, 2023 at 18:51

    Chomsky should have pointed out that the unprovoked attack on Iraq (as it turned out) was at the time accompanied by the WMD propaganda, which was certainly repeated (and questioned by inspectors such as Scott Ritter) over and over to induce “the illusory truth effect.”

    The flimsy nature of going ahead in that instance came down to the weather. It would be too hot to wait much longer, we were told in March 2023 because the weather would not be favorable. By this time despite no proof whatever of WMD, and the repeated skepticism of the inspectors, the “effect” worked well enough, and the attack went ahead into glorious “shock and awe.” So much for public skepticism on reasons for attack.

    In this case he is probably correct that the “unprovoked” canard was deliberately employed, since the case for provoked was so obvious with some investigation. But evidently the public does not have much interest in pursuing complicated political affairs, while curiously enough actually distrusting government and media sources more than ever. Nonetheless, what with busy materialistic lives and the need to consume there must be a tendency to yield to easy explanations, especially re Ukraine after a century of Russia bashing.

    Propaganda doesn’t work with an informed critical audience no matter how often stuff is repeated, but getting a populace to seriously concern itself this way is not likely when hedonism and lifestyle are THE emphasis toward being “the one indispensable nation.”

    The founding fathers apparently over-estimated likely intelligence levels of the future.

  4. CaseyG
    August 11, 2023 at 18:07

    Hmmm, An,”unprovoked attack.” That would be Bush the 2nd and his unprovoked attack on Iraq, wouldn’t it?

    And that Blinken fellow, he seems to make up things all the time. His statement “Guaido won in Venezuela…” that was really strange. He seems useless and definitely overpaid.

    There is no reason to send any more money to Ukraine—there are homeless and jobless Americans to worry about.

  5. Randal Marlin
    August 11, 2023 at 13:31

    Whenever I hear or see the word “unprovoked,” in connection with Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, I wince. To me, though, the situation is complicated and needs sorting out.
    I am no expert, but I have some good source material and I believe the following:
    (1) The majority of Ukrainians would have liked Ukraine to join the EU.
    (2) Viktor Yanukovich, President of Ukraine in 2013, spoke to an assembled group on September 4. According to a Reuters report, he tried to persuade his audience of the need to have an agreement to deepen trade and other cooperation with the EU.
    “’We will pursue integration with Europe’, he barked back, according to three people who attended the meeting. He seemed dead set on looking west.”
    (3) Three months later he did an about-face and struck a deal on December 17 with Putin. Russia would invest $15 billion in Ukraine’s government debt and reduce by a third the price of Russian gas. No doubt Putin leaned on him heavily. Here Putin is the one who might be described as provocative.
    (4) There were many Ukrainians angry at this turnabout and you had the Maidan protests, with the involvement of the U.S. State Department and the U.S. Ambassador and the resultant coup. Victoria Nuland’s famous “F…k the EU” was very meaningful given the background.
    (5) We know from the same phone call that Arseniy Yatsenyuk was the candidate favored by the U.S government to become Prime Minister: “Yats is the man.”
    (6) Yats has been described as “a rabidly anti-Russian politician.” (William S. Smith, “The American Mess in The Ukraine.”) Yatsenyuk wished to terminate Ukraine’s lease to Russia of its Sevastopol naval base, a lease that with Yanukovych would have extended to 2025.
    (7) Now that really was provocation of Russia by the U.S.
    Putin responded by invasion #1, the “green men” invasion. It was an understandable, bloodless defence of the Russian fleet at Sevastopol. Had the Ukraine army arrived first there would likely have been substantial loss of life in reclaiming it.
    (8) Invasion #2 came in 2022, with Putin’s “special military operation” with Russian tanks entering Ukraine headed for Kiev. By this time some 14,000 people were killed in the conflict between those in eastern Ukraine who did not support the government and those in the rest of Ukraine who did. Perhaps Putin could argue that the SMO was necessary because of a “duty to protect” the mainly Russia-speaking area. But why go to Kiev? It might still be argued that there was provocation here by the U.S. (including Biden’s challenge to Putin, that if Russia invaded, Nord Stream 2 would cease to exist. Biden would make sure of this.) but to me it is more clearly so in invasion #1 than #2. Biden’s challenge might have been made with the intention of dissuading Putin from invading.
    One of the reasons why “unprovoked” is repeated so often is, to my mind, that if Russia’s invasion was provoked, Article 7 of the NATO Treaty might give NATO members an out from their duty under Article 5, namely, the duty to come to the aid of another member (particularly the U.S. in this case) that has been attacked.

  6. Vera Gottlieb
    August 11, 2023 at 12:10

    I reside in Europe. Hurts to watch Germany crawling up the Yankee arse.

    • Renate
      August 11, 2023 at 20:10

      A shame to have such a government, no PM before Scholz would have tolerated such a cabinet, and all of them, including PM Scholz, are breaking their oath of office and committing treason to the nation.
      The AfD is a conservative party but not extreme and is an outstanding opposition party. There is Alice Weidel from the AfD undoubtedly competent as is Sarah Wagenknecht on the left, both would be promising candidates to replace Scholz.

  7. Caliman
    August 11, 2023 at 11:19

    The neat trick is that, even as most people KNOW that the MSM lies and exaggerates, the illusory truth effect still works! This is because we humans are social animals and have a built in tendency to go with the flow … even if, when we think about it, we know that the provider of any specific information is wrong. As long as the message blankets society so we hear it from multiple sources, most of us unconsciously believe it.

    The few people who buck this tendency, the author and the people on this Board, for example, can only have a very limited effect in fighting against this tendency because often by standing out and being made examples of, we tend to support the creation of the hive mind! Normies don’t want to stand out and be made into examples.

  8. MeMyself
    August 11, 2023 at 10:11

    In the beginning, was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God
    And now the Word seems to be with morons as well.

  9. Tony
    August 11, 2023 at 08:43

    According to analysis by Mark Curtis, the UK Ministry of Defence has tweeted 392 times that the invasion of Ukraine was ‘unprovoked’.
    It also urges readers to ‘StandwithUkraine’.

    This can be achieved by littering the country with cluster bombs and poisoning its people with depleted uranium, presumably.

  10. bryce
    August 11, 2023 at 02:05

    The Minsk 1 and 2 protocols, which the U.S. had no part of, were perfectly reasonable, but were never meant to be implemented, as we now know.. Who could Russia possibly negotiate with at this juncture, given the nature of the U.S. lust for weapons profits and more control of Europe?
    Another good reminder from Caitlin that the truth should not be forgotten..

  11. Bob Newly
    August 10, 2023 at 22:48

    I agree, Western media complicity with government strategy in this war is total. It’s akin a dictator getting 110 percent of the vote.

    I was initially a true believer regarding Viet Nam. I joined the Marines and was jolted by the harsh reality of war. But I remember that after a honeymoon period, a large segment of the press, as it was called then, became quite critical of the war. Same with Iraq. But this time, the media is supine, groveling at the master’s feet.

    A lot of the BS is so crass and demonstratively untrue I initially hoped against experience that my fellow citizens would laugh it off. I was wrong, again – they bought into it wholeheartedly. It’s disheartening. Even reading a paper I once respected, The Guardian, is difficult to read, especially the comments section where anyone who dares express fear the war could lead to a nuclear Armageddon is branded a Putin bot, while arm chair hawks earn points spewing nonsense like, “Ükraine is fighting for all of us,” and my favorite, “Appeasement never works.” Actually, the much maligned Chamberlain bought the UK and France some time, though not enough.

    Along with “Unprovoked” add, “Russia’s war in Ukraine.” and “Putin’s war in Ukraine”.

    • Robert
      August 12, 2023 at 03:50

      Agree with your comments 100%. And Yes, it is Disheartening to know that the majority of European and American people still believe the “unprovoked war” mantra. I was not a fan of Walter Cronkite but he broke the dam back then and we are in desperate need of a Cronkite now. However, there are no journalists of that stature left, and I’m not aware of anyone who is in what we consider to be today’s top level who gives ANY indication of breaking ranks. They are missing the opportunity of a lifetime because the truth of our initiation of this dirty proxy war will eventually come to the fore.

  12. Andy
    August 10, 2023 at 22:27

    Caitlin, you had me until ‘true face of the most sophisticated propaganda machine that has ever existed’. I very much appreciate your take on things but naming patriotic brow beating and informational media monopoly sophisticated kind of lost me.

    It may be that Chomsky took the path of linguistics simply as a response to how faulty the use of language and sentiment alway was when originating from establishment commentary. It’s important, words have meaning, and there are sentiments and intention behind those words.

    I find, just by a scan of the structure of establishment sentences and thought construction, within a second or so, the words expressed are neglect of truth, fact or historical meaningfulness, and elicit an entirely construed purpose.

    Its no wonder why McLuhen and Baudrillard are still not taught in journalism and media studies: once you get it, the words are literally less desirable than shit under a bed, and any evidence backing those statements of even less value.

    Let’s agree to replace media propaganda as sophisticated with what it really is; the demand to accept it as fact, or be found an enemy of common group think.

    This, by the way, was super evident with the passing of Sinead O’Connor, which spoke absolute truth but was demonized by even the commonest of folk.

    Super sad, and even more sad to watch the most commonest of folks and everyone one else, eagerly swallow this poison, then continually return to the trough for more.

    Please sir, can I have some more?

    Sophisticated my ass, in this particular case.

  13. wildthange
    August 10, 2023 at 20:57

    Making a treaty with Russia that later gets explained as a stalling tactic to prepare for war seems reminiscent of a non-aggression pact once used to stall for preparation against Stalin. That kind of 20th century diplomacy is out of place and a serious risk to human civilization in the 21st century.

  14. RWilson
    August 10, 2023 at 20:43

    In addition to the sheer number of times one hears “unprovoked”, there is the number of trusted sources we hear it from. It’s hard for the TV news watcher to believe so many trusted sources are all lying. That situation would rival a James Bond movie, in which a small group has taken over the country’s press and politicians.

    This excellent article will help that happen.

    It seems to me the key to breaking the grip of this group is to get the public to realize there is such a controlling group.

  15. August 10, 2023 at 19:26

    I wonder how the US would react if the Russians stationed troops and missiles near our border. Oh, wait. They did, didn’t they? In Cuba, back in 1962. And how did we respond? Um, now I remember. We threatened to start WWIII. Fortunately, cooler heads prevailed in Moscow and they backed off thus averting WWIII.

    Anyone taking bets on cooler heads prevailing in the US?

    • CaseyG
      August 12, 2023 at 16:53

      Hi. W.R. Knight:

      It was Kennedy and Kruschev, who without government interference, were able to turn a conversation into action and without starting a war. Unfortunately, some in high positions decided that a President could not make such decisions. It is amazing how so often those very replaceable government officials are more interested in power than in democracy. : (

  16. Richard Romano
    August 10, 2023 at 19:09

    Very well said!

  17. ray Peterson
    August 10, 2023 at 18:55

    ” Massively provoked but doesn’t justify it” (beloved Noam Chomsky).
    But his moral judgment contradicts Augustine’s
    “Just War Theory. ”
    War is justified if it’s repeatedly provoked by one side, and that
    same side refuses to negotiate while the other side (Putin) tries to reach
    a peaceful settlement.
    A tough call for sure, but the truth hurts.

  18. James White
    August 10, 2023 at 18:28

    The Josef Goebbels observation that ‘a crowd will believe anything if it is repeated constantly,’ is a central feature of the now continuous CIA-Deep State psychological operations. The lies are even more formidable when amplified by the legacy press, in unison no less. You have to be a competent logician and on constant guard to avoid falling for the subterfuge. Most people don’t have those capabilities. The spin masters rely on that fact. There are masses of people who still believe that Trump was compromised by Russia. This despite the fact that 100% of the evidence produced showed that Hillary Clinton and her campaign created the lie, which the Deep State picked up and ran with. One by one all of the lies were exposed. But how many people pick up on the accusation, and then lose interest by the time the truth is revealed. A weakness exists in our information age. The sheer volume of information available is overwhelming to the average person. You know they are lying when they hammer the same point ad nauseam. For example: The legacy press will never mention election fraud in 2020 without using the the words, ‘debunked’ or ‘unproven allegations’ of voter fraud. They are so desperate to control your thoughts that they are prosecuting Trump simply for stating his -opinion- that fraud did happen in 2020. The goal is always the same. To flood the information zone with a lie and repeat it until no one can think of the subject without also recalling the lie. The Ukraine war is full of these blatant, obvious, in your face lies. Over time, reality chips away at the crumbling wall of disinformation, propaganda and Psychological Operations. The half million dead souls in Ukraine are beginning to register in people’s minds. Collectively, we are a little slow on the uptake. I keep waiting for the people of Ukraine to wake up one day and realize that they have been the victims of a cruel hoax. A widespread and massive fraud by the NATO, the U.S. and E.U.

    • michael888
      August 12, 2023 at 06:51

      The “legacy press” is now State Media (run by the State Department and CIA since the anti-domestic propaganda law, Smith Mundt was “modernized” in 2013 and the Countering Foreign Propaganda and Disinformation Act was passed in 2016). Alt sites like consortiumnews, scheerpost, even, and a host of comedian sites (Joe Rogan, Russell Brand, Jimmy Dore, Dave Smith, etc) will soon be squashed by the Biden administration so the Official Narrative is the ONLY narrative.
      Ukraine has been a colony of the US (no sovereignty, no independence) since Yushchenko was installed by the CIA in 2005. Zelensky is just the latest US Puppet Dictator.

  19. Jeff Harrison
    August 10, 2023 at 18:26

    Well said, Caitlin. Russia seems to be doing fine. Their economy is recovering, their inflation is low. The West, not so much. They are all awash in debt, inflation is shooting up and their armories are running low. While I understand that The West wanted to “strategically defeat” Russia, break her up and pillage her as they have done to so many other countries that they have made colonies, I think something funny happened on the way to the forum.

  20. alley cat
    August 10, 2023 at 17:21

    “[T]hey know perfectly well it [the invasion] was provoked,” Chomsky said. “That doesn’t justify it, but it was massively provoked.”

    Using deadly force to defend yourself is justified under the law in most countries, assuming you can show that circumstances warranted it. There are pacifists who oppose all violence, even in self-defense, but they are a tiny minority. Would they be so pacific if their family was under attack?

    The Russian president has a responsibility to protect the Russian people, regardless of any pacifist inclinations he might harbor as an individual. He would be a sorry excuse of a leader if he didn’t honor that responsibility.

    If you want to criticize Putin, criticize him for not intervening sooner, in 2014, after the U.S.-supported Maidan coup put neo-Nazis in powerful positions in Ukraine’s military. It would probably have saved hundreds of thousands of lives.

    The Russian intervention in Ukraine was both morally and legally justified, although most Americans are too cowardly, or too brainwashed, to say so in public. And if you think that the Russians will ever allow the U.S. to turn Ukraine into a hostile, nuclear-armed, fortress on Russia’s border, you are delusional.

    Just don’t ask the rest of us to die for your delusions.

  21. Jorge Scordamaglia
    August 10, 2023 at 16:46

    There is one thing is very clear in my mind, every partner in crime of the American Evil Empire in Europe and everywhere else, have won a well deserved place in hell for their treasonous actions. They are worst than their master which at least, is fighting for world domination.

  22. RomfordRob
    August 10, 2023 at 15:47

    It would be highly amusing if this massive lie did not result directly in war and death on a huge scale. I call this the Billy Bunter effect. The US government turns into a series of Billy Bunters that infamous hero of Frank Richard’s Greyfriars School tales that I read when I was 8 years old. Bunter would be in the habit of stealing the food of his schoolmates and when challenged would vehemently deny involvement furnishing details of the thefts only the thief could know. However, comparing Blinken to Bunter is unfair. Bunter is not a war criminal.

    • Geoff
      August 10, 2023 at 23:03

      Bully Blinken Makes Bunter appear like a saint.People who call out disinformation ,espoused by the sanctioned mainstream media should lie awake at night waiting for that knock on the door.

  23. John Woodford
    August 10, 2023 at 15:16

    She’s done it again! Hit the nail on the head. This shoddy journalism is yet another big threat to our democracy!

  24. Adams
    August 10, 2023 at 15:12

    This is just brilliant. And she doesn’t even name the numerous FP experts, former Secs of State, and well informed others of various FP schools of thought who predicted over the past 20 years that NATO expansion would lead to a violent Russian reaction and possibly to a new cold war and even nuclear war. She sticks with Mearsheimer, a FP realist, and Chomsky, who could be considered an idealist, leaving out, for instance, George Kennan: “…, the intellectual father of America’s containment policy during the cold war, perceptively warned in a May 1998 New York Times interview about what the Senate’s ratification of Nato’s first round of expansion would set in motion. “I think it is the beginning of a new cold war,” Kennan stated. ”I think the Russians will gradually react quite adversely and it will affect their policies. I think it is a tragic mistake. There was no reason for this whatsoever. No one was threatening anybody else.”

  25. Drew Hunkins
    August 10, 2023 at 15:06

    Anyone who thinks the Washington-Zio-militarist empire did not poke, poke, poke and prod, prod, prod the Kremlin for at least eight years into launching its Special Military Operation is a brainwashed imbecile.

  26. Robert
    August 10, 2023 at 14:06

    I wish every American would read this article because after reading the article including the specific provocations (NATO expansion, our role in Maiden coup, shelling of Donbass) no reasonable person could ever say unprovoked war again. As Caitlin mentions, they could still argue that Russia was wrong to invade, but that’s a big difference.

    The U.S. and NATO were desperate to get a successful Russia into a war. The hysteria coming out of Washington D.C. over the NordStream 2 pipeline was certainly a tip off that the United States government, almost across the board within 3 consecutive White House administrations, were not acting rationally.

    Like every war, mysteries will not be answered. With this debacle, the two primary mysteries for me are:

    1. How in the world could US/NATO convince Zelensky and his Generals that going to war against Russia was going to work out better for Ukraine than complying with the Minsk Agreement?

    2. How in the world could the US convince Sholtz of Germany to stand passively by as Joe Biden informed the world that we were, in fact, going to destroy Germany’s economic lifeline of reliable, inexpensive gas?

    • August 10, 2023 at 15:35

      “1. How in the world could US/NATO convince Zelensky and his Generals that going to war against Russia was going to work out better for Ukraine than complying with the Minsk Agreement?”

      Wrong question; should be, “how in the world could US/NATO convince Zelensky and his generals that going to war against Russia was going to work out better for them than complying with the Minsk Agreement?”

    • Douglas
      August 10, 2023 at 16:20

      1 & 2 Crushing Russia with sanctions would create the spoils that all on board could have a hand in plundering. The gas would be back managed by Germans.

      • Robert
        August 12, 2023 at 04:37

        You might be correct that the key element of the successful persuasion of Zelensky and Sholtz revolved around our CIA/State Department and NATO convincing them that “to the Victors goes the spoils” and that they would be part of the benefactors of a broken into parts post Putin Russia . You’ve provided the most plausible explanation yet. Well, the end result is that both Zelensky and Sholtz rolled the dice, did not do any risk assessment, and ended up making a very, very bad bet with some very unscrupulous characters.

        Still it is a bit hard to believe that the would be salesmen (Burns/Blinken/Nuland/Stoltenburg) have the talent to pull that off.

    • Valerie
      August 10, 2023 at 16:37

      You’re right Robert. Mysteries indeed. I tried to answer both your questions with “dollars”, but even that doesn’t fit. Because both of those idiots have destroyed their countries. For what? Have they been promised eternal life?

    • August 10, 2023 at 19:55

      Zelensky and his generals didn’t need convincing. They wanted the war from the beginning in order to win back Crimea and assure they didn’t lose the Donbass forever. However, what they were counting on was for NATO, with US backing, to win the war for them. It didn’t quite work out that way. Instead, we simply gave them weapons with which they could pursue the destruction of their country.

      I can only guess the answer to your second question. I suspect that Biden promised Sholtz that he would make up for the loss of Russian gas with LNG exports from the US. Clearly, that would benefit our fossil fuel industry and add hefty bonuses for the executives.

    • Sam F
      August 11, 2023 at 04:36

      US government branches and agencies are not controlled by any consideration of domestic or foreign public interest. They are primitive tribes serving preposterous tribal narratives serving only as disguises, controlled entirely by direct and indirect bribery. The US has no understanding nor wish to understand government organization to serve the people, nor rational policymaking. It is a contest of crime gangs populated entirely by crooked and utterly selfish personalities.

      • J Anthony
        August 13, 2023 at 09:56

        Ain’t that the truth! I refer to them as “corporate gangsters.” Worse than any black-market cartel, as they are able to maintain a veneer of credibility and self-righteousness among the citizenry.

  27. Eddie S
    August 10, 2023 at 13:39

    Exactly right Caitlin! To me, one of the many galling & frustrating things about this is that nowadays we have SO many modes of media that one would think that the general public would develop some healthy skepticism about things like US international motives and seek out alternative sources — especially after such a blatant example as the Iraq invasion/ war. Where are the epiphanies (ie; “Hmm… I supported the government back in ‘03 about Iraq and I was straight-up duped, played for a sucker! I think THIS time I’ll be a lot more cautious/skeptical about what they tell me!”)

    • Doug Belknap
      August 10, 2023 at 15:43

      1. & 2. With Russia defeated by the sanctions the spoils would there for all to plunder for a long long time.

    • W. E. Watson
      August 10, 2023 at 18:40

      Something is working in the background. It is not easy to pin down. A friend of mine who I know for decades and have only love for told me, that for all she knows, “Putin is the Anti-Christ”. That has a great potential to unite a lot of people to go along in the western hemisphere. In the eastern hemisphere, there are far fewer populations that would consider Putin as such, as their worldview does not contain this belief. It is also a topic that I cannot discuss with her, since I respect her views – but am concerned that her support of the war against the alleged “Anti-Christ” will spectactularily backfire.

    • MrQRO
      August 11, 2023 at 06:29

      What you forget is; a)Most Americans are extremely ignorant, and b)Not very interested in thing beyond their immediate gaze.
      Question.. What’s the difference between ignorance and indifference? Answer.. I don’t know, and I don’t care!

      • Randal Marlin
        August 11, 2023 at 22:56

        Brilliant, memorable question. Hadn’t heard it before.

  28. W. E. Watson
    August 10, 2023 at 13:31

    “Unprovoked” is the sibling of “safe and effective”. Both were, and still are, used to fabricate consent. The “unprovoked” to funnel billions of public funds into the coffers of the military industrial welfare complex, the “safe and effective” to equally funnel billions of public funds into the pharmaceutical disease complex.
    Both complexes and the aligned mass propaganda instruments peruse psychological projection to cover up their glaring hypocrisy in the face of the immeasurable suffering, hardship, pain and death they are responsible for.
    Ultimately, the Ukrainian chicken will come to roost in those countries responsible for the slaughter of both Ukrainian and Russian Slavs. And they will be well armed.

    • VallejoD
      August 10, 2023 at 16:10

      Well said. Well said.

    • Steve
      August 10, 2023 at 21:38

      Don’t forget their cousin ‘mostly peaceful’.

      That’s the one that really started off this era of the media BLATANTLY and SHAMELESSLY lying (as opposed to their old method of doing it on the sly).

      You could claim ‘mostly peaceful’ about anything.

      The blitz of London during WWII was also ‘mostly peaceful’. Bombers only flew over about 1 hour a day. The other 23 were quite pacific.

      Dropping the atomic bomb on Hiroshima was ‘mostly peaceful’.

      The Peoples Temple (Jim Jones) was a ‘mostly peaceful’ religious organization.

      The Partition of India was ‘mostly peaceful’.

      What a nonsense and fundamentally dishonest turn of phrase.

      • W. E. Watson
        August 11, 2023 at 23:19

        Don’t forget another relative of the bunch:
        “Speaking on condition of anonymity.”

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