Patrick Lawrence: Late-Imperial Duplicities

There is nothing new about lying to Americans to get the empire’s business done.

U.S. President Joe Biden waving to the press pool at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland in June 2023. (White House, Adam Schultz)

By Patrick Lawrence

As I was saying to Diocletian over Prosecco just last week, it is hard to run an empire these days. You have to lie to people more or less incessantly to keep the troops minding the perimeter in supplies.

No falsehood is too preposterous to gain the public’s acquiescence. At times you have to deceive even the Senate. 

“Ah, yes, the solons,” the old persecutor replied. “It is mere ceremony with them. You can keep the senators in the dark if protecting the arcana imperii requires it. They usually prefer this, indeed. As for the vox populi, one must occasionally feign to hear it, but there is no need to pay any attention.”

“Son of a bitch,” I exclaimed, quoting the current guardian of America’s imperial secrets. “You’ve got the Biden regime to a ‘T.’” 

Did he ever, the crafty autocrat.  

There is nothing new about lying to Americans to get the empire’s business done. It was 76 years ago last week that President Harry Truman won public acceptance for Washington’s endless postwar interventions in his famous “scare hell out of the American people” speech to Congress. It was 60 years ago this August that President Lyndon Johnson faked the Gulf of Tonkin incident to justify sending ground troops to Vietnam. 

As for cutting the dolts on Capitol Hill out of the loop, we have been talking about the imperial presidency since Arthur Schlesinger coined the term in the latter days of the Nixon administration. 

Three-quarters of a century later, Joe “New Ideas” Biden has altered course not one minute on the policy cliques’ compass.  

Weapons Shipments to Israel

It has been objectionable enough in many quarters that the Biden White House has sent two on-the-record shipments of weapons to Israel for use in its genocide of the Palestinians in Gaza since the Israel Occupation Forces — we’re renaming these barbarians — began their siege last autumn.

These were for $106 million and $147.5 million; in each case the administration invoked emergency authority to bypass the mandated congressional approval. 

At this point, a decisive majority of Americans want President Joe Biden to force Israel to declare a ceasefire — which, as everyone knows, he could do in a trice.

In a poll conducted Feb, 27 to Mar. 1 for the Center for Economic and Policy Research, more than half of those surveyed thought the U.S. should stop all arms shipments to Israel — “no more U.S. money for the Netanyahu war machine,” as Bernie Sanders, the Vermont senator, put it.  

March for Free Palestine and Ceasefire in Gaza in New York City on Oct 28, 2023. (Pamela Drew, Flickr, CC BY-NC 2.0)

But never mind the populus and never mind Congress. The former are to be ignored and there are various ways to circumvent the latter. The Washington Post reported in its March 6 editions that, as arms sales to the apartheid state grew more politically perilous, Biden’s policy people have covertly authorized more than 100 separate, under-the-radar shipments.

We do not know the value of these, but each has been small enough to require no legislative authorization. 

No debate, no disclosure. We know about these transfers now only because regime officials told Congress about them in “a recent classified briefing.” Before that, Congress didn’t know anything about the shipments, either — although this seems highly unlikely. I do not see how Capitol Hill could be unaware of an op of this magnitude.

My surmise is that legislators were perfectly happy once again to surrender their responsibilities to the imperial presidency. That recent classified briefing made page one of the Post because this is the national security state’s way of easing the public into the picture.    

These shipments are obviously counter to the spirit of the law, if not its letter. But no one in the administration has felt compelled to offer an explanation since the Post’s piece appeared, to say nothing of an apology for deceiving a public increasingly critical of the regime’s Israel policy. Congress has raised not the slightest objection — Congress, as in the 435 representatives and 100 senators elected and paid to represent your interests and mine. 

Cut to historical flashback. 

Diocletian’s reign, from 284 to 305 C.E., was noted for a few things. He executed thousands of Christians and burned a lot of churches while also seeing to numerous constitutional and administrative reforms intended to make the imperial throne more imperial. 

The Roman Senate continued to convene in a building Diocletian fashioned for the purpose. But there were no more fictions or illusions attaching to its powers. One of his reforms was to make sure it had none in matters of state. The body once responsible for Roman law was down to housekeeping chores and sheer ritual. 

“Digital Creators” on a White House balcony waving Biden off to the U.S. Capitol for his State of the Union address to Congress on March 7. (White House, Carlos Fyfe)

We do not yet have official permission to conclude publicly that Ukraine has lost America’s proxy war with Russia — that remains among our Great Unsayables.

But we are allowed — encouraged, indeed — to talk about how desperately the Kyiv regime needs more American guns if it is to stop Russian advances and — I love this part — reverse them and win the war. 

In the March 8 edition of Foreign Affairs, this headline: “Time is Running Out in Ukraine.” And this subhead, well-crafted to preserve the necessary degree of delusion: “Kyiv Cannot Capitalize on Russian Military Weakness Without U.S. Aid.”

You can read the rest of Dara Massicot’s essay here if you insist, but the display language as just quoted is what Foreign Affairs wants you to know, or think you know: The $60.1 billion in additional support the Biden regime proposes will save the day and Congress must stop blocking it. 

This has become something like the running theme on Ukraine since the Council on Foreign Relations, which publishes Foreign Affairs, announced it a couple of weeks back. 

Weapons for Ukraine’s ‘Stalemate’

It is now O.K. to suggest the conflict that has literally destroyed yet another nation and another people in the U.S. imperium’s cause has reached “a stalemate,” but only if it quickly follows that more weaponry is necessary to keep the thieves and neo–Nazis in Kyiv going.

Stalemates can be overcome, you see. You only get to lose once, at which point you don’t need more guns. 

On March 14 The New York Times published “America Pulls Back from Ukraine” in its daily feature called The Morning.

“What the war may look like if Ukraine does not receive more U.S. support,” is the subhead this time. Same story: All will be lost if the U.S. does not send Ukraine more war matériel tout de suite. All can be gained if it does. 

You know, it is one thing for a  Dara Massicot to go on about the desperate need for the U.S. to ship Kyiv more weapons. That is her job at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and we can leave Ms. Massicot to her war-is-peace paradox.

It is entirely another for a New York desk reporter at the Times to do the same. As you read German Lopez’s “report,” keep in mind: You are not reading journalism. You are reading a clerk for the policy cliques normalizing the latter’s desire to resupply Ukraine as our incontrovertible reality. 

Russian armored car and a column of self-propelled rocket launchers during the 2022 invasion of Ukraine. (, Wikimedia Commons, CC BY 4.0)

Sound journalism must have multiple sources, as any first-year J–school student can tell you. Lopez’s is a one-source story allowing of no other perspective on the war other than the official perspective as the Biden regime tries to shake loose the dough from Congress.

What is vastly worse, the one source Lopez quotes is not even the usual administration official who cannot be named because of the “sensitivity” of something or other. No, the source is “my colleague Julian Barnes, who covers the war.”

Wuh-wuh-wuh-wuh-wait. First, Julian Barnes does not cover the war. From the Times’ Washington bureau he covers what the regime wants the public to think about the war, full stop.

Second, where do the Times’ editors get off having one reporter quote another reporter as the authority in a story when the quoted reporter is lock-and-stock repeating — uncritically, without qualification, in roughly the same  language — what the administration declares at every press conference concerning the Ukraine war and in every public statement?   

“With an aid package, the Ukrainians will have a much better chance of solidifying their defenses, holding the line. And in some places, they may be able to retake territory,” Barnes tells Lopez. “So it falls on the U.S. to supply Ukraine.”

He’s an original thinker, our Julian. You have to give him this. 

I have long speculated that the many Massicots, Barneses and Lopezes among us may get dressed every morning in the same locker room, so similar are the things they say. 

I wondered this again when, a day after the Times piece appeared, The Washington Post published “U.S. anticipates grim course for Ukraine if aid bill dies in Congress.” I tell you, if you switched the bylines on the Times and Post pieces not even the reporters would notice.

These people are doing not more, not less than getting the imperium’s lying done for it. Three cases in point:

One, if U.S. weaponry is so critical to the war as is proclaimed, this is no longer Ukraine’s war, if ever it was. It is America’s, yours and mine. 

Two, Ukraine has not stalemated the Russians. If Kyiv has not already lost Washington’s proxy war — my assessment — it is losing it in slow motion with no prospect of reversing this outcome. 

Three, we have a lie of omission. The Biden regime has already allocated an all-in total of roughly $75 billion for the Kyiv regime’s war effort, according to figures Foreign Affairs published recently.

This equals Russia’s 2022 defense budget and compares with the $84 billion in Moscow’s 2023 budget — this before the $60.1 billion Biden now wants. 

Given that the reported record indicates more than half of what the U.S. has already sent appears to have been either stolen or black-marketed, I have questions for Messrs. Barnes and Lopez and the squad of reporters the Washington Post bylined. 

Where is the analysis here, if crooked pols and military officers are stealing aid Kyiv says it needs to fight Russian forces? Where is even a mention of this obvious factor in the course of the war?

Where are the editors in New York and Washington who should insist their reporters address this question? And if they can report that theft is not such a factor, where is your story telling us why all the thievery has not mattered?

There is one assertion in these pieces — finally, something — that distinguishes one from the others. The Post story, taking things further than the Times or Foreign Affairs, reports that “absent more American military support, ‘countless lives’ will be lost this year as Kyiv struggles to stave off collapse.”

This comes from the usual unnamed “senior official,” who tells the Post, “Here’s the bottom line: Even if Ukraine holds on, what we really are saying is that we are going to leverage countless lives in order to do that.”

Do we all understand? Ending support for a war that is already lost or is ineluctably headed that way will not save lives: It will cost lives. The interior logic here is that it is out of the question for Kyiv to negotiate a peaceful settlement with Moscow, as the Kremlin has proposed on numerous occasions.

This has long been advanced as another “normalized” reality. It is, once again, one thing for an administration official to make this repellent case and entirely another for reporters to repeat it uncritically. 

The Biden regime is stuck this time having to deal with lawmakers tired of sending money to crooks. And the media clerks who are supposed to cover it are stuck lying to the public in the service of the regime’s case.

Are we surprised to read, here and there, that the policy cliques are already considering ways to circumvent Congress once again? 

I am not.

Patrick Lawrence, a correspondent abroad for many years, chiefly for the International Herald Tribune, is a columnist, essayist, lecturer and author, most recently of Journalists and Their Shadows, available from Clarity Press or via Amazon.  Other books include Time No Longer: Americans After the American Century. His Twitter account, @thefloutist, has been permanently censored. 

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This article is from ScheerPost.

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

11 comments for “Patrick Lawrence: Late-Imperial Duplicities

  1. Vera Gottlieb
    March 30, 2024 at 12:42

    How sad…’honesty’ used to be the ‘best policy’. Now it is DISHONESTY…

  2. Paul Grenier
    March 30, 2024 at 00:08

    Great essay. One can’t help smiling at the irony that the U.S. constantly talks about defending democracy. But when the government and its press provide to the public little more than a constant stream of lies, and it is upon those lies that ‘public policy’ is based, then the ‘democratic process’ itself can only itself be a lie.

  3. Ricardo2000
    March 29, 2024 at 16:22

    H. L. Mencken (1880 – 1956): “Nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public.”

    William Casey (CIA Director 1981-1987): “We’ll know our disinformation program is complete when everything the American public believes is false.”

    Continuing Mr. Lawrence’s enumerated Imperial lies:

    Fourth, Ukrainians have NEVER shown any interest in war with Russia. Zelenskiy was elected by 73% on election promises to end corruption, and, negotiations and peace with Russia. Zelenskiy would have polled near 90% if Lugansk, Donbas, and Crimea had voted. Washington should have supported this democratic mandate, but supported their Nazis who threatened to lynch Zelenskiy if he negotiated with Russia.

    Fifth, Ukrainians have denied support to Biden’s Genocide by leaving the country in the millions since 2004. Ukrainians have definitively sneered at Washington’s greedy, traitorous Ukie oligarchs, their political traitors, and their Bandera Nazi gangsters.

    Ukrainian destruction was contemplated months into Clinton’s first year. 
    The Barry R. Posen Plan is an absolutely chilling strategy displaying callused indifference to Ukraine’s fate. 

    1993: The Barry R. Posen Plan for War on Russia via Zombie State Ukraine — Mendelssohn Moses — The Postil Magazine


    This plan is currently implemented in Ukraine, and in eastern Europe since 1993. 
    An extremely accurate plan for Russian destruction using former Warsaw Pact countries as NATO forward bases. 
    This plan describes using Partners for Peace, and, NATO admissions as creeping threats to Russian security.
    Barry R. Posen, a Clinton foreign policy moron, described the whole concept as “inherent irrationality”,
    because it demands Ukrainians destroy their country.

    No wonder Clinton and the Demo untermensch pushed this project hard into the hands of Bandera Nazis,
    who define the term: “inherent irrationality”. 
    I can only assume the Republicans held out for China as their slice of the geopolitical genocide pie.

  4. Robert
    March 29, 2024 at 11:12

    Thanks for the article. Expresses my opinion to a T and better than I ever could. This is a mind bogglingly stupid war for Ukraine to willingly enter, and the Ukraine government, by agreeing to be the US proxy, did enter it willingly. There are very, very few positives to come out of this debacle but I will mention four: 1. The BRICS definitely have determined that the pace of its creating a multi polar world needed to accelerate. 2. Along with the multi polar world comes the more rapid decline of the USD as the worlds reserve currency, along with the need for an alternative currency and increased trading using local currency. 3. Global South countries, almost without exception, have determined that Western hegemony can be broken. That was unthinkable as little as 5 years ago. 4. Global South countries seem also to come to understand that even with an absurd $880 billion dollars per year budget, the US Department of War is not nearly as powerful as once believed. Just as the mighty Roman Army eventually succumbed to a territory too large to defend, the US military, even with $880 billion behind it, is spread way too thin to accomplish what the residents of DC expect it to accomplish. Just ask the Houthis of Yemen for their assessment.

  5. Jeff Harrison
    March 28, 2024 at 23:34

    Patrick, Patrick, please. What you say is only sorta true. In addition to the billions and billions that the US alone has donated to the Ukraine, our vassals in “The West” have donated billions and billions as well. What’s another couple of billion?

    Anticipate an RF retaliation. It won’t be like the Ukies who kill civilians. They won’t have any electricity, trains, or water.

  6. Andrew
    March 28, 2024 at 21:05

    An excellent essay. I’ve always noted that in the Roman Empire when an emperor would become too tyrannical the Praetorians would dispense with him and find the first old senator they could and raise him to the purple. As long as he did what the Praetorians wanted, he would enjoy a long reign. If not, he would be dispensed with and the process would start over. Biden is literally that old senator.

    And while we’re on the Romans, the whole Ukraine debacle brings to mind that old Calgacus quote: “Robbers of the world, having by their universal plunder exhausted the land, they rifle the deep. If the enemy be rich, they are rapacious; if he be poor, they lust for dominion; neither the east nor the west has been able to satisfy them. Alone among men they covet with equal eagerness poverty and riches. To robbery, slaughter, plunder, they give the lying name of empire; they make a desert and call it peace.”

  7. March 28, 2024 at 20:56

    Again – BRAVO Patrick Lawrence. Displaying genuine journalistic protocol, you clearly illuminate the propaganda machinations of the imperial press corps that lull an insouciant population, deceiving itself to be intelligent and informed, into accepting it’s self destroying policies.

  8. Joseph Tracy
    March 28, 2024 at 20:11

    Good writing, humor, the glaring but ever freshly revealed hypocrisy of imperial hubris and the syncophants of ,… what is it? where are we?.. Babylon, Rome, the Inquisition, the Reich, the angloshere? What permutations of violent decline are we not filling out in triplicate? Is victory over Oceania, The Russians, the fiendish Orientals finally just another 60 billion dollars away?

    How can an entire society fail to see that they are paying out to fools their own and their grandchildren’s stake in freedom, all in order to build and imprison themselves in a panopticon of surveillance and lies, to fund opulence for those who own the everything, everything except the sense to realize they too are going down with this last titanic cruise ship.

  9. CaseyG
    March 28, 2024 at 17:14

    Make up aa war, and then tell people how well it is going and say the other side is disgusting and weak and can’t win jack—-AND THEN–one day media declares the US won! And then the US looks around for somewhere else to make up a war disaster and with all this —the sad Americans will go–“Oh we’re winning , so no need to write about it.
    This is how, the war, the truth, and insanity get all mixed up and no one wins—but each side declares they won.This sounds like what Biden is doing.

  10. Susan Siens
    March 28, 2024 at 17:08

    Another excellent essay from Patrick Lawrence. It must be stunning for actual journalists to see what their former colleagues are up to, but it’s no surprise to us deplorables out here who know that the NYT has never been anything other than a voice for the ruling class. I’ve often thought of going to a library — if I had access to one — to read old NYTs, especially the editorial pages. When I read an editorial defending the use of bovine growth hormone in the 1980s — written undoubtedly by someone who knew zilch about agriculture — I wondered how many idiotic editorials have been manufactured in that hellhole.

  11. Caliman
    March 28, 2024 at 16:29

    “Do we all understand? Ending support for a war that is already lost or is ineluctably headed that way will not save lives: It will cost lives. The interior logic here is that it is out of the question for Kyiv to negotiate a peaceful settlement with Moscow, as the Kremlin has proposed on numerous occasions.”

    The extent of the evil of this conception is only realized when one considers that almost all wars eventually end through negotiation and settlement. This one is no different. At some point, Uke and Rus officials will sit down, negotiate something that will be not ideal for either, and then the guns get put down.

    Russia has been ready to do this since before the war. Ukraine was ready two years (and hundreds of thousands of dead) ago. But USUK was not done “degrading” Russian power, beggaring Germany, and tying European satraps closer to itself and incidentally making tens of billions of $$ for the Masters, all at the acceptable cost of many dead Slavs.

    Jefferson’s quote comes to mind: “Indeed I tremble for my country when reflect that God is just: that his justice cannot sleep for ever: that considering numbers, nature and natural means only, a revolution of the wheel of fortune, an exchange of situation, is among possible events: that it may become probable by supernatural interference!” … Nemesis can’t be too far away now …

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