I hope this is not confusing. I keep getting push back about the support for the Ukrainians and sanctions from a group that Malcolm Nance calls the “anti-war left.” I have tried to list some of the arguments this group uses for basically taking a hands-off stance about the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Similar arguments have been made by Sam Seder (Majority Report), Chris Hedges, Michael Sheer (only much worse), Oliver Stone (Note: If you want to hear the true insanity of this position, listen to the interview Sheer did with Stone) and others.
Part of the Russian disinformation about Ukraine is that it needs “denazification.” People who have adopted this line or something a little less radical, argue that dispensing guns to people will only result in arming fascist groups operating in the country. The Azov group mentioned is a nationalist neo-fascist group, but I don’t think it is part of any Ukrainian civil defense. As for distributing guns, I don’t see what alternative the Ukrainian government had. I am including this information just to make people aware that it is out there.
ANTI-WAR LEFT: The Arguments
Nothing on the MSM is true. Not one word.
No one should even be watching the coverage on MSM.
Establishing a no-fly zone would start WWIII.
NATO is an aggressive alliance that threatens Russia.
The West promised Russia that NATO would never expand beyond a unified Germany.
The U.S. military messes up everything it does and the brunt of the messing up falls on the country they are in.
No wars are justified. They are all imperialist expansion.
If you support any war you are a “war-hawk.”
By implication: The Ukrainian people can and should be sacrificed because of all of the above arguments.
Any arms sent to Ukraine will wind up in the hands of fascist groups.
Notes from: In Defense of Marxism (3/2/22)
NATO’s “expansion to Russia’s borders and stubborn refusal to negotiate” created this problem. In Defense of Marxism.
Sanctions will hurt ordinary people.
Sanctions will act by “further destabilizing the world economy and compounding the crisis of capitalism.”
“No amount of jingoism from Western imperialism…will prevent the death and destruction of war.”
Our main enemy is at home, “…NATO, and our own ruling class.”
“…we stand opposed to the root cause of war and imperialism – capitalism itself. As long as this decrepit system stumbles on, bloodshed and slaughter will always be a sad fact of life.”
Twitter: Joe Biden is the exact right person for the job. Me: Please. Twitter: I’d rather have Biden than Trump. Me: And your point is…I would rather have my cat than Trump.
Zelensky is tweeting that he is waiting for “positive signals” about Ukraine’s membership of the EU.
A pro-Ukrainian group has projected a video onto a building in London criticizing the UK for not sanctioning Putin’s inner circle.
Julia Davis, Daily Beast, is tweeting that Russian state TV is showing a panel of people reassuring the Russian people that Russia can withstand the sanctions and there won’t be any animosity between Ukrainians and Russians. As soon as Russia “wins,” they are saying, world leaders will line up to meet Putin. (Note: As somebody said yesterday, if Putin wins, God help us all.)
Correspondent Francesca Ebel tweets that friends of hers in Russia are leaving the country. Their ATM cards won’t work. Rumors are that the borders will soon be closed.
A person who identifies as being from Canada is posting videos. One of them is supposedly of a US citizen living in Kyiv, condemning Zelensky and his government for distributing weapons to “criminals.” He is saying that the “AZOV Regiment” a mercenary neo-fascist group is part of the National Guard of Ukraine and is an “officially sanctioned government approved part of the Zelensky “terror regime.” He then goes on to claim that a video shows “criminals” lynching people in the streets. I watched the video and there are men kicking and otherwise abusing men laying on the ground and another man tied to a tree, but there is no lynching in the video. The man asks for people to “please retweet!!!”
During the past few weeks the corporate news media has been studiously ignoring the disastrous military and humanitarian crisis shaping up in Afghanistan. They have been doing so, I think, because the crisis makes Biden look feckless, ruthless, and incompetent.
For so long, there was almost nothing on the corporate news, but every day it was possible to read about astonishing advances by the Taliban. Every day estimates of how much of Afghanistan was controlled by the Taliban increased, and estimates of how long it would be until the Taliban took over Kabul decreased.
I am no foreign policy expert, but even I could see that the Biden withdrawal of forces in Afghanistan was accelerating a Taliban takeover of the country.
The negotiated “peace plan” was non-existent. I never understood what was being “negotiated” with the Taliban in the first place either by the Trump or the Biden administration. One reporter late this week said that the “negotiated” peace process was not only on hold, it was in the basement with the door locked.
And who had the bright idea that the Taliban could be negotiated with in the first place? The group is defined by a suicidal religious refusal to compromise or negotiate with the modern world.
Let me be clear, I did not support the invasion of Afghanistan or Iraq but even I acknowledge that once you have invaded and occupied a country you can’t just walk out and leave everyone who has fought with you at the mercy of the enemy. You cannot just withdraw without considering the implications for the population you are leaving behind.
But this is precisely what the Biden administration seems to have done. They either didn’t consider the implications for the population, or they didn’t care. I’m not sure which is worse.
Reports today (Friday) are that members of the Biden administration knew that this disaster was coming. The Joint Chiefs warned them. But the Biden administration decided that the disaster was inevitable (although they have denied this reality). One official was quoted by Peter Baker as saying: It’s a tragedy, but it’s not our tragedy. Who would say something this crass and unfeeling? There is not even much of a pretense of having any empathy with the abandoned population.
And in an effort to make the chaotic, precipitous, and disastrous withdrawal look better, the Biden administration has blamed everyone in sight – except themselves.
Evidently, the defense department that costs us trillions every fifteen minutes, just couldn’t manage to plan a withdrawal from a country they had occupied that didn’t create a humanitarian crisis. How can that be?
Gen. John Kirby, in a painful press conference today, said the Afghanis had every conceivable advantage in the war. A reporter asked Kirby how the Afghanis could have every conceivable advantage and still be losing. Kirby balked at the rudeness of the question, then evaded answering it. He went on to list all the advantages the Afghanis had (airplanes, an air force, more soldiers, etc.). So, according to Kirby, the Afghanis have all these advantages and it’s just a great fucking mystery why they are losing.
The people of this country are told repeatedly that we have the greatest military in the history of the world, but that military just can’t figure out how after twenty years of supplying and training and fighting, to get the Afghanis in a position to hold their own against the opposing force.
Earlier this week I listened to a podcast where the panel was pointing out that supply lines were a problem in Afghanistan. Supply lines? Twenty years and they haven’t figured out how to secure supply lines? Even my cat knows not to go further away from the door than he can safely run back should there be a threat. And they can’t figure out secure supply lines? I just find this preposterous. What the bleeding devil have they been doing for twenty years?
A lot of the feedback on Twitter consists of people arguing that the very fact that we have been in Afghanistan for twenty years legitimates the withdrawal. But, nobody is objecting to the withdrawal, it’s the way the withdrawal is carried out.
As Paul Riekhoff said on Nicolle Wallace’s show the other night, this was a “reckless” withdrawal. Riekhoff’s honesty about the situation made me wonder if the producers on MSNBC knew what he was going to say. (The next night I don’t think Wallace even talked about Afghanistan). Riekhoff lambasted the Biden administration’s withdrawal. And Riekhoff, like Kevin Baron from Defense One, stated flatly that the administration was not “leveling” with the American people.
The refusal to “level” was painfully obvious in the Pentagon presser this afternoon with Gen. John Kirby. Kirby couldn’t even bullshit with any talent the obfuscation was so blatant. Kirby stood at the podium and spewed nonsense. He looked like a man experiencing a severe attack of piles as he fielded questions from reporters.
He was fine with questions like that from MSNBC’s Pentagon correspondent. After a day when every conceivable TV pundit repeated like a parrot: “The administration was not surprised with what happened but at the speed with which it happened” she asked if the administration was surprised at the speed with which the take over had happened. Seriously?
Another reporter doggedly tried to get Kirby to say that Kabul was “isolated.” “Would you say Kabul was isolated?” He asked repeatedly. Kirby verbally danced all over the universe refusing to say that Kabul was “isolated.” We all fucking know that Kabul is “isolated.” What is the purpose of a journalist taking up valuable time trying to get Kirby to say the word? Kirby said everything under the sun else except that Kabul was “isolated.” What goddamn difference does it make if he uses the word?
I don’t think I have seen such a blatantly pathetic Pentagon press conference since Vietnam, and even then the brass talked the bullshit with some panache. Kirby just seemed to be desperate to finish, desperately uncomfortable, resentful of meaningful questions. John Kirby is a bad liar and bullshitter. If they are going to try to pass off this level of (do you believe me or your lying eyes) bullshit, they need to get another spokesperson.
And, it seems that we should have learned (with the best military in the history of the world) that the solution to a badly thought-out war is not (or should not be) a badly thought-out withdrawal. Evidently not.
But the thing that keeps sticking in my craw and going through my mind for the past few days is why? How could the Biden administration be so inept as to create this situation? Who was this precipitous withdrawal designed to please? I just can’t think of anybody placated or pleased with this hair-brained withdrawal. Why, after breezing through the deadline in May that the Trump administration had set, did Biden rush headlong into this withdrawal that seems so badly planned.
I will give just one example. On another podcast about Afghanistan the commentators were pointing out that the Taliban ratchets up fighting in the Spring and then makes a big push over the summer. Then, I suppose because of the weather, they retreat to bases in Pakistan in the fall and fighting dies down. The panel members were pointing out that if Biden had just waited over the summer and pulled out most of the troops in the fall, it would have helped immensely. So, what was the problem with that small change?
And there another thing that keeps going through my mind. This is in response to a comment made on the Majority Report (a great podcast). The guest was saying that there are many competing factions represented within the Biden administration – progressives (damn few), conservatives, moderates, hawks. When some policy or appointment comes up that sparks strong opposition among these groups, they fight it out vociferously. Fine. But when all this fighting and debate occurs, when positions are entrenched, Biden evidently does not step in and make a decision so everybody can go on. Biden refuses to take make a decision that might alienate somebody and so everybody retreats to their respective corners. The result is that nothing gets done. The example that was being talked about was an appointment that had remained vacant for months.
I can’t keep from wondering if something like that happened here. There was such strong disagreement about what to do, everybody was fighting and pushing and Biden just walked away (sort of like he’s doing in Afghanistan) and nothing got done. The withdrawal just ticked on without Biden taking control. It was easier to do nothing than to make a decision. Now, the administration is facing not only a humanitarian crisis, but a political disaster.
I have watched Fox News, OANN, and that other channel of Steve Bannon’s in the past two days. You can bet they are making hay over this situation. And, to my great discomfort and consternation, I agree with some of the commentary.
A final thing that makes me uncomfortable about this situation is how similar it is to the way Democrats are handling the serious threat Republicans pose to the continuation of democracy.
Democrats are so engorged with hubris, so convinced that the world is the way they want it to be, they are leading us into disaster at every turn.
I fear that they are going to do with Republicans exactly what they are doing with the Taliban – negotiate without reason, rely on the good intentions of murderous men determined to assume power at all costs and then when these men pull off a religious based authoritarian take over, wring their hands and say it was not the outcome they had anticipated.
This is by far the best podcast out there. I know the corporate media is seductive, but your time would be better spent giving this a listen. Sam Seder puts together some of the most interesting and pertinent interviews available.
“Sam hosts writer and political analyst Jared Yates Sexton to discuss his new book, American Rule: How a Nation Conquered the World But Failed Its People, and why the foundational myths of American Exceptionalism have such a hold on the populace.
Sam and Jared explore the stories Americans told themselves throughout the country’s history, from how the process behind writing the Constitution to how the “Mound Builders” stories helped justify indigenous Americans’ slaughter. The two consider how these stories have shaped the populace’s thinking and why it’s essential to reject politics as a spectacle.
If you really want to learn something about politics and the coming “election,” I suggest you start listening to podcasts. The corporate media is useless. They are intellectually masturbating on top of a pile of verbal garbage waiting to catch fire.
This is a particularly fascinating episode of the Majority Report, where Sam Seder interviews Stuart Stevens who has just come out with a book entitled “It was All a Lie” about the Republican party.
Stevens maintains that the party was not hijacked by Trump, but then goes on to try to defend policies of the Republicans that have been a standard feature of party theory for decades.
Stevens also uses the standard Republican device of oversimplification and magnification of the position of the other side to try to make his points. Example, I don’t think people in this country support open borders. Seder never says this and the Democrats never advocated “open borders.” This is much like the current “abolish the police” characterization of the de-funding movement.
Stevens has written a book called “It was all a Lie” but demonstrates so well in this interview that he hasn’t learned anything. Trump is the extension of Republican policy that has been a part of the party ideology for over half a century.