Are We the Baddies?

Nearly two decades ago, the British comedy series “That Mitchell and Webb Look” featured a sketch in which two Nazi SS officers on the Russian front during World War II experience a crisis of conscience when they realize that they may not be on the right side. Examining the silver skull on his cap, one officer uncertainly asks the other, “Hans … are we the baddies?”

Many Americans will get a similar feeling after reading the Feb. 8 report, “How America Took Out the Nord Stream Pipeline,” by the renowned investigative journalist Seymour Hersh. Hersh reports that President Joe Biden, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, Secretary of State Tony Blinken, and Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland devised a covert plan to destroy the Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline, a joint project that would have delivered Russian natural gas to Germany and the rest of Europe.

According to Hersh’s sources, the U.S. Navy’s deep-sea divers planted explosives on the pipeline in June near the Danish Island of Bornholm, using the cover of a joint NATO exercise to disguise their activities, and then remotely detonated the bombs in September, just as the European appetite for continuing the endless trains of money and war materiel to Ukraine was beginning to fade. “As long as Europe remained dependent on the pipelines for cheap natural gas, Washington was afraid that countries like Germany would be reluctant to supply Ukraine with the money and weapons it needed to defeat Russia,” Hersh wrote.

The White House, Central Intelligence Agency, and Pentagon immediately issued their standard denials of Hersh’s reporting, but his reputation for revealing the truth of covert government activities is second-to-none. Hersh uncovered the My Lai massacre in Vietnam and the secret bombing of Cambodia, Pakistan’s secret nuclear program, the torture program at Abu Ghraib, and the facts about the killing of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan, among many other stories.

Furthermore, despite the improbable U.S. government narrative last fall that Russia bombed its own pipeline, it was obvious to many observers that the United States and its allies were likely behind the Nord Stream 2 bombing. Chronicles’ own politics editor, Pedro Gonzalez, wrote an online article, “A Day of Infamy in Europe” on Sept. 29, pointing out the obvious signs that the United States was behind the sabotage, including the ominous hints spoken publicly by President Biden and Nuland, and even surmising—correctly, according to Hersh’s reporting—that the U.S. used the BALTOPS 22 joint NATO exercise to conceal the sabotage.

The import of this story should not be lost on Americans. It appears that our government has attacked the civilian infrastructure of an allied country and a member of the NATO alliance—Germany—for the purposes of maintaining a geostrategic advantage over both Europe and Russia. Such an attack would be many things: an act of international terrorism, a war crime, a betrayal of an ally and of the NATO treaty, an attack on a nuclear superpower, and an impeachable offense by President Biden. Above all, it would be an evil action, revealing the utter moral bankruptcy of the claim, oft repeated by both neoliberals and neoconservatives, that the United States government acts as a moral force in the world, spreading abroad freedom, democracy, and the high principles of the American Founding Fathers.

In fact, the U.S. corporate state media and military complex has been remarkably effective at hypnotizing and distracting Americans from the reality of the situation in Ukraine. It has ignored the Nord Stream 2 issue and instead focused obsessively for a week straight about the made-up threat of supposed Chinese spy balloons flying over the U.S.—this was a Wag the Dog-style distraction campaign, assisted by Air Force fighter jets firing $400,000 missiles to shoot down what, at press time, appear to have actually been $12 weather balloons flown by Midwestern hobbyists.

The gaslighting continued in the European Union headquarters in Brussels in mid-February, where the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman, General Mark Milley, delivered this statement:

NATO and this coalition has never been stronger. And Russia is now a global pariah, and the world remains inspired by Ukrainian bravery and resilience. In short, Russia has lost. They’ve lost strategically, operationally, and tactically. And they are paying an enormous price on the battlefield.

Contrary to Milley’s statement, Russia is decidedly not a global pariah. The Western financial sanctions on Russia have had virtually no effect the Russian economy. Russian GDP shrank only modestly in 2022, by 2.2 percent, and is expected by the International Monetary Fund to expand this year and next, exceeding U.S. growth. This is happening because most of the world’s non-Western economic powers declined to support the U.S.-led sanctions against Russia—China, most significantly, but also countries that are putatively U.S. allies, including India, Israel, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and even Mexico.

Nor, contra Milley, has Russia lost the war in Ukraine “strategically, operationally, and tactically.” As of press time, Russian forces are surrounding the city of Bakhmut in Ukraine, and a slow but relentless westward push, bolstered by hundreds of thousands of newly mobilized troops, is underway. In the same briefing at which Milley spoke, U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin admitted that Ukraine is running short of ammunition. “Ukraine has been at this for a year, and so they have used a lot of artillery ammunition,” Austin said. “We are going to do everything we can working with our international partners to ensure that we give them as much ammunition as quickly as possible.”

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg was even more frank about Ukraine’s supply problems. “The war in Ukraine is consuming an enormous amount of munitions and depleting allied stockpiles,” Stoltenberg said. “The current rate of Ukraine’s ammunition expenditure is many times higher than our current rate of production. This puts our defense industries under strain.” Stoltenberg also didn’t appear to have gotten his talking points down pat when he revealed the truth about what the U.S. corporate state media likes to call Russia’s “unprovoked war of aggression against Ukraine.” Speaking to reporters outside of the NATO headquarters in Brussels, Stoltenberg said:

The war didn’t start in February of last year. The war started in 2014. And since 2014, NATO allies have provided support to Ukraine, with training, with equipment, so that Ukrainian forces were much stronger in 2022 than they were in 2014. And of course that made a huge difference when President Putin decided to attack Ukraine.

The reality Stoltenberg is referring to is that the current Russo-Ukrainian War started in February 2014, when the U.S. fomented a coup in Ukraine to overturn the election of pro-Russian president Viktor Yanukovych, and in the subsequent years empowered the neo-Nazi elements of the Ukrainian military—the Azov Battalions inspired by the World War II-era far-right leader Stepan Bandera—to bomb, shell, and murder the pro-Russian Ukrainian civilians in the Donbas.

Lamentably, Americans on both the left and the right—confused by the relentless propaganda, ignorant of the background of the conflict, or harboring knee-jerk distrust of Russia—have felt compelled to support Ukraine as the victim in this war. But that support is slipping. After the start of the war last year, 60 percent of Americans supported sending weapons to Ukraine, according to a poll by the Associated Press and the NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. That support has dropped to 48 percent as of February. As Americans learn more about the corrupt history of America’s involvement in Ukraine, one can hope that they will ask the same question George Washington posed in the final line of his Farewell Address of 1796:

Why, by interweaving our destiny with that of any part of Europe, entangle our peace and prosperity in the toils of European ambition, rivalship, interest, humor or caprice?

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