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Oliver Stone: American Exceptionalism Is on Deadly Display in Ukraine

The creator of the Showtime documentary series “The Putin Diaries” speaks to Robert Scheer about the escalating crisis in Ukraine.
Oliver Stone speaking at the 2016 San Diego Comic-Con International in San Diego, California.
Oliver Stone speaking at the 2016 San Diego Comic-Con International in San Diego, California. [Gage Skidmore/ CC 2.0]

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“The crisis over Ukraine grows simultaneously more dangerous and more absurd,” Katrina vanden Heuvel recently wrote in The Nation. Rather than help de-escalate the growing conflict between Ukraine and Russia over the Donbas region, it seems like the Biden administration and U.S. corporate media have been beating the war drums. The result of any war, needless to say, would be catastrophic for all involved and would have pernicious repercussions the world over.  

U.S. reports, according to “Scheer Intelligence” host Robert Scheer, have failed thus far to understand the perspective of Russia and its leader Vladimir Putin, and do so to the detriment of everything and everyone at stake. Film director Oliver Stone, however, offers a unique insight into the crisis given his experience interviewing the Russian leader a dozen times over two years for Stone’s Showtime series “The Putin Diaries.” The Oscar winner and Vietnam War veteran joins Scheer on this week’s show to discuss the critical nuances Americans are missing in Ukraine.  

“No one really knows what’s going on in the actual sense of being in Russia’s mind,” Stone tells Scheer, “but I do think, from the beginning, this has been a defensive maneuver from the Russian side. The United States and its allies in NATO have been provoking Russia [and] have been using Ukraine as bait, as a temperature-taker of that region [since 2014]. Now we’ve reached this place where they have threatened the Russians so much that they had to react, because I don’t think Putin could have stayed in office if he had not reacted.” 

Scheer argues that one of the most toxic elements at play in this international brinkmanship is nationalism, a force he warns against, especially in the form of American exceptionalism that views and pursues  the country’s interests as “global interests.” Oliver and Scheer also examine a recent joint statement from Russia and China that they believe marks a paradigm shift in global politics. Listen to the full conversation between Oliver and Scheer as they thoughtfully discuss how U.S. nationalism requires crises like the one brewing in Ukraine to sustain its national narratives.



Robert Scheer


Joshua Scheer

RS: Hi, this is Robert Scheer with another edition of Scheer Intelligence, where the intelligence comes from my guests. In this case, Oliver Stone. And I’m going to say, on the subject I want to talk about—Vladimir Putin, Russia, and what’s going on with the Ukraine, what’s going on with the world—I’m going to say it right here, I think Oliver Stone has a viewpoint about Putin, knows about Putin in a way, I don’t know if there’s anybody else I could be calling right now. 

He did the Putin interviews for Showtime; I thought it was an incredible documentary. The New York Times, which, you know, got a very angry Russian émigré to attack it, Masha Gessen—but I have looked at this thing over and over, and I think it’s an incredible insight into another government leader that we have to do business with. And Oliver did a dozen interviews over a two-year period with Putin; I found it a candid look, and I just want to praise it as a work of journalism, which obviously the New York Times didn’t do. 

But whether we like Putin or hate Putin, we’ve got to figure out what he’s doing now. And with the recent declaration between Xi, the Chinese leader, and this Russian leader, that they have a common view of the Western alliance being, really, basically another way of describing U.S. hegemony, using NATO to really push people around. And that they have now an agreement to withstand it, means you just can’t easily say you’re going to just cut people off economically and so forth. That represents a pretty powerful coalition. 

So let me just begin with that. You know, what the hell is going on? You’re a guy who fought communism in Vietnam, you got the Bronze Star, Purple Heart, everything else. We would have thought this many years later we still wouldn’t be screwing around with some kind of Cold War scenario, but we are. 

OS: Yeah. Well, Bob, I thank you for your comments, very nice of you. You actually are one of the few people in the United States who looked at the Putin interviews, and looked at it, as opposed to criticized it without seeing it, which is what often happened. So I’ve known you a long time, and I think you and I pretty much agree on the United States’ position in the world, and what’s going on. 

So I’m going to take it from there, and just tell you what I think is going on right now. No one really knows what’s going on in the actual sense of being in Russia’s mind, but I do think, from the beginning, this has been a defensive maneuver from the Russian side. The United States and its allies in NATO have been provoking Russia for, since two years now—actually three years over the Ukraine; more. I mean, they started this in 2014. 

But they have been using Ukraine as bait, as a temperature-taker of that region. And now we’ve reached this place where they have threatened the Russians so much that they had to react, because I don’t think Putin could have stayed in office if he had not reacted. So this is a game that’s somewhat like the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962; Russia is concerned, very tense; and the United States and its allies don’t seem to be listening to its concerns, don’t seem to care about its concerns about NATO, and specifically Ukraine. 

But it’s not just Ukraine. It’s also the Baltic; it’s the constant war exercises in the Baltic region, it’s the pressure from Europe, it’s the United States—in the air, we send our bombers close to the border [unclear]. So we’re constantly provoking them, going into their territory. If we can think of it as Canada and the United States—if Canada were doing that, and sending warnings to us like this, we would be freaking out. I would think Canada is somewhat like—Ukraine is to the Russians like Canada is to the United States. In other words—yeah, go ahead.

RS: Well, let me just push this a little bit, because I say it in the intro. You actually talked to Putin. And, you know, this guy has been demonized. Because, you know, if you go back to Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four, his great fear that he discussed was the need of the new empire—whatever it was, and America fits the bill now, with its 800 bases—to constantly have an enemy. 

And the whole contradiction with Russia—at least with China, which we get along with a lot better than we do with Russia, because we need them. China took us through the pandemic; China made Jeff Bezos the richest man in the world because most of the goods that we’re consuming to get through are from China. So whether they’re communist or not communist, they’re very good capitalists, and we need China. And China has 1.4 billion people; Russia has 140 million people, it’s got a military, it’s got a big land mass. 

But the big contradiction, whereas at least the Chinese still have a communist party in power, Vladimir Putin was picked by the United States; he was picked by Yeltsin, who was the guy that the United States liked more than Gorbachev. And Putin was brought into power, basically, because Yeltsin was a hopeless drunk, and Putin at least represented sobriety and some kind of conservative, Russian Orthodox nationalism. Clearly he had broken with any communist past. 

So the inconvenience here is we are demonizing a guy who got elected by defeating the remnants of the old Russian communist system. And yet it doesn’t matter; logic doesn’t matter, facts don’t matter. We need an enemy. That’s the way I see it. And Putin is the enemy. So tell us about this enemy, because he’s clearly not a communist ideologue; he clearly doesn’t quote Marx extensively, and he’s actually a conservative, what, at best a Peter the Great, czar-type figure. 

And you’ve met him; I mean, it’s no small thing. It’s very interesting to dismiss someone of your worldwide experience—you’ve interviewed a lot of people, you’ve seen war, you’ve seen the world; and yet somehow your two years of trying to figure out Putin, and your dozen interviews, which I think is a real important reservoir of information, gets ignored. And all these people in journalism and everywhere, they’re talking about Putin, Putin, Putin, as if he’s Stalin or something.

OS: I know. I know.

RS: It’s nutty! It’s nutty, is what it is.

OS: And it’s scary. Last week I was looking at the American news, and I could not believe how bloodthirsty the journalists were. CNN and Fox both were demanding, almost demanding our leaders to take on, to get tough with the Russians, because we have taken enough [unclear] from them. As if Putin had pushed all our buttons; as if he was the aggressive one. I saw young women with no experience [unclear] in their thirties, talking about the need to really go after Russia. And then they would cut to some general in civilian clothes, or some guy from a think tank who was going to tell them what they want to hear. 

I didn’t see one person on television who was talking for peace, talking to understand Russia; I really didn’t. And it’s very, as you say, these people like Masha Gessen, who is to the right on most things Russia, are telling us what the Russian point of view is, but it’s just not true. The Russian point of view has always been consistent, and Mr. Putin has always been consistent in what he says. And he says, basically, the argument is, OK—well, first of all, I wouldn’t say that he got in to power because of us. I do think that Yeltsin, who was not as drunk and hopeless as you think—but I do think Yeltsin chose him. But the United States came down on Putin after his speech in Munich in 2007, when he said there has to be a line, and—

RS: Yeah, but that was seven years after he got elected with our blessing, and he defeated the communist party candidate. He was the anti-communist when he got elected.

OS: Absolutely, and he has no fondness for the old empire, as many of these Russia thinkers say. It’s nonsense; he has no desire to return to that; he is looking for security. Security is the mother word here. He’s a son of Russia. The Russian people demand security; they do not want to be all the time threatened by a Western power that is telling them you have to do this and you have to do that. 

But NATO is also a huge threat, because we’ve seen NATO expand since 1989 by 13 countries. And now there’s talk of course with Ukraine joining NATO and all that stuff. But the truth is, NATO is seen by the Russian people as an enemy. They bombed Yugoslavia in the 1990s, if you remember; they attacked Libya. NATO has turned from a defensive organization into a very aggressive organization. They were in Iraq; we’ve seen their activities in Afghanistan. NATO continues to be an arm of the United States to bring offensive operations. 

And this is—it’s not working, and what Putin is saying in general is: lay off; back away. You cannot run war exercises all the time on our borders; you cannot talk this language of calling us the aggressor. And that’s what’s very interesting to me, is the United States media always say—every day I see it in the newspaper or this or that—the Russian invasion, the coming Russian invasion of Ukraine. 

Now, this is outrageous, because first of all, they have no proof that Russia intends to invade Ukraine; I doubt that they would. I think Russia is concerned only with the Donbass region. The Donbass region being the eastern sector where the Russian-speaking people are threatened by the Ukrainian government. Why? Because, we saw back in 2014, they were killing them. There was quite a bit of murder going on, and the Ukrainian government did not want to recognize the historic autonomy of the eastern Ukraine, of the people who speak Russian. In fact, Russian language was banned in Ukraine, if you remember correctly. 

And there’s been a general strong, almost nationalistic attack on Russia from those years. And we know about the old Nazis, the Nazis from World War II, their inheritors are in Ukraine; there’s quite a few fascist people there who are working and putting pressure on the government to attack Donbass. You saw what happened, if you remember correctly, in Odessa, when the Russian-speaking natives were surrounded in a building and the Ukrainian nationalists burned them alive. That was a horrible moment, and what was it, 20 or 30 dead. And it was shocking to the world, and gave us the intention, showed us the intention of the Ukrainian government.

RS: Well, the real issue here—and it’s interesting. I want to talk about one of my favorite Oliver Stone movies, which doesn’t get the respect—I mean, you’ve won all these Academy Awards, I mean, three I think, and all sorts of honors. But I liked your movie on Alexander. And what I liked about it, and what I like about the whole question of Alexander, really goes to the central tension in human history: what is the role of partisanship, of patriotism, of nationalism?

 And something has happened. It was interesting, in the dispute—you know, Aristotle, of course you know, was Alexander’s teacher, and then advisor. And Aristotle betrayed, in really the pursuit of ethics, when he advised Alexander to be an imperialist, really. And in regard to the Persians, he said, you know, treat the Greeks, all of the Greek cities and so forth, as your family, as your friends. But treat the non-Greeks—that was the Persians then, basically—as beasts and vegetables, and they have no rights. 

And Alexander, because he was out there the way Oliver Stone was out there, but you were a grunt and he was leading it, and you were in Vietnam and you saw the humanity of the Vietnamese; my understanding is Alexander said, hey, these are people; they’ve got brains; maybe they could cooperate with us and so forth. It was an interesting moment. 

The U.S. is kind of in that position. We as a culture only accept our own legitimacy, our own nationalism, but we don’t call it nationalism; we call it internationalism. And anybody else in the world who has nationalist concerns—beginning with the Chinese and Russians, but it extends to anyone else—their nationalism is always threatening, is always illegitimate. 

And to my mind, that’s the issue here. Not to—I don’t want to tear down Ukrainian nationalism, and I don’t want to overly boost Russian nationalism. But you have, as you point out, in Ukraine you have people there who think that they are identifying with Russia. And you have to worry about what happens to them, and you have a clash of nationalisms. And the basic U.S. position is that we are not nationalists; everything we believe in is universal. It’s the definition of freedom and the good life. 

And anybody who disagrees—and that’s really what that Chinese-Russian statement was all about. These two countries—which by the way are closer now than they were under communism. There was a Sino-Soviet dispute when they were both ostensibly communist, but in their declaration last week of their common concern about the Western, NATO-led alliance, they’re saying that this hegemonic power of the United States, using NATO, is an enormous threat. And I think that’s something people don’t want to address. They think, oh no, we’re just pursuing human rights, which is nonsense.

OS: Yeah, absolutely. One thing that comes through in the interviews with Mr. Putin was he constantly refers to sovereignty—the sovereignty of Russia, the sovereignty of any country. It’s very important to the Russian nation. They have interests, they have national interests; everyone is allowed to have their national interests. We have never recognized their interests. On the contrary, we’ve done our best to spoil their interests, with our sanctions and our encouragement of the coup, and our financing of the coup in Ukraine. 

We’ve tried to do the same thing in Georgia, and they fought a small war against the Georgians. And we’ve tried to do it repeatedly, possibly even in Kazakhstan recently. The United States is always looking to cause tension. That is the key: tension, call it a revolution, any of these things; raise the temperature and make it possible for a coup or a regime change, which is the objective of people like Victoria Nuland, who’s an undersecretary in the department of state. 

So I think that, you know—we don’t recognize it, and we go and we play dirty games, very dirty games, to get what we want—which is, we want regime change in Russia. We’ve been referring to Putin as if he is Russia. If you look at all the news stories, they don’t even bother to say “Russia”; they say “Putin,” as if he is Russia, but that’s not quite the case. He has tensions from within, too. He has much pressure. There are factions in Russia. I know about that, and I think people underestimate the degree of difficulty in ruling a country as big as Russia. 

If Putin does not act in certain ways, they will take him down. People will not abide by it if the Russians are embarrassed in Donbass. They will not. And I think America doesn’t understand that. They think that Putin makes up all these decisions himself, he sits there and he’s like a king, a monarch. But he’s not. He works with people. He has pressures. We have to understand that. 

RS: Well, I think it really goes back to a basic arrogance which you as a young person had to confront. I mean, after all, you volunteered for combat in Vietnam; you’d been a schoolteacher there after you left Yale, and then before you went back, and then you left again. But the story of your life is really going between a notion of American innocence and virtue, and then being a soldier out there and seeing the killing of innocent people elsewhere. What Martin Luther King—here we are in Black History Month; we just celebrated Martin Luther King’s birthday. And most people, and certainly young people—you never hear it mentioned that Martin Luther King condemned the United States, at the time of his death and before that, as the major purveyor of violence in the world today. The major purveyor of violence in the world today, his government, the United States. 

Now, what we had with Gorbachev—the reason I say we liked Putin, because Putin was not with Gorbachev, he was with Yeltsin; and Gorbachev was the naïve one, and Reagan promised Gorbachev that NATO would not expand. The whole reason of NATO was supposed to be a Cold War organization. Gorbachev thought he was ending the Cold War; he was very proud of this. And Reagan seemed to accept that. And instead, this Cold War organization of NATO has grown; it’s unwieldy, because it includes Turkey, it includes all kinds of countries that you suddenly find you’re not in agreement with, and a couple of them are closer to Russia in this respect. And you know, it’s hard to organize—it’s like organizing cats or something. 

But the fact of the matter is, NATO was no longer supposed to be this vital organizing—what happened to the UN? In the joint Russia-Chinese statement, even though the Chinese had bad experience with the UN in the Korean War, they fought Korean troops and so forth—nonetheless, in that joint statement that Putin and Xi signed, they say: What happened to the UN? What is this NATO thing? What is this Western military alliance that is coming to our door? I think that’s the big issue of our time. And unfortunately, it’s only older people seem to have any memory of what the Cold War was supposed to be about, and what is it doing now.

OS: [Laughs] You’re very funny, Bob. That’s great, you have a lot of passion. I think NATO, as you say, has taken the place of the UN in many people’s minds. But it shouldn’t, because it’s an alliance with people from the West who seem to have one interest, one blinkered interest in taking over and changing things. In Libya, as I said earlier; in Iraq; in Afghanistan. They are interfering everywhere in the world, and Russia and China both recognize that and are worried about it. 

And it’s a destabilization that we keep putting out into the world. It’s what I call a strategy of tension. The concept, for example, of saying in our immediate, day by day—since October it’s been a crescendo of imminent invasion of Ukraine by the Russians. Russian invasion, invasion—the word “invasion.” This is not an accurate word. Russia was not interested in invading Ukraine at all. What they are interested in doing is protecting the people of Donbass. That’s where this thing comes. 

When the Crimean situation—if you look at the film I worked on, Ukraine on Fire, it’s very interesting; you see the people of Crimea at the hottest moment of the crisis. And you know what was happening? The nationalists, the Nazi groups, were coming into Crimea in order to cause trouble. And they saw them coming and they cut them off at the roads. We show it, how acute, how perceptive the Crimeans were. They knew who the enemy was. They stopped them from coming into Crimea. 

And you know what the Ukrainian army that was stationed in Crimea did? The United States never tells you this in the press. They stayed in their barracks; they stayed in their barracks in Crimea. There was no violence at all. Not one person was killed. There was no gunfire. Crimea went into the referendum at peace. And the referendum, as you know, to rejoin Russia, carried by a huge amount, by ninety-some, ninety-seven, eight percent. 

So why was there no violence? If it was an unhappy situation, and these people truly wanted to join the Ukraine, why was there no violence? That is a very interesting point, and people don’t recognize. Same thing is true about Donbass. People don’t recognize the murders that happened in Donbass, the artillery and the shelling, and the Ukrainian army moving in. 

The whole situation last year—the only reason the Russian invasion has been hyped by the Western press is because the Ukrainian army upped its troop numbers and its armaments on the border of Donbass. So it looked like they were about to make a move on Donbass. They were getting javelin missiles from the United States, they were getting other weapons, and they were adding soldiers. They were trained by American advisors who are there, American—all kinds of specialists are in the country. Green Berets, Special Forces—it’s an operation. The United States has put more, has put a heavy amount of investment of our energy and time into destabilizing Donbass. 

And that was supposed to be the move, I think, and I think it’s still a possibility. There was supposed to be a move in the winter, this winter, into Donbass. If they had done that, think about it, that would have been—that’s why the Russian troops were brought—actually the Russian troops were not brought to the border; that’s another lie. The Russian troops were where they were, in their barracks. Close to the border, but not on the border. 

So when—follow my thinking here—when William Burns, the CIA chief, goes to Europe in October, he takes with him these satellite photographs, which he shows to the Europeans in the belief that they would follow us in our plan. The satellite photos were completely false. Again, they transposed the satellite photos to look as if they were on the border of Ukraine. And that was the aggression charge, that the Russian troops were about to invade—which was just simply not true; they were in their barracks. They were in their bases in Russia at that point. So you have this buildup of a fake invasion, a false flag invasion, and yet you keep hearing that; that’s what concerns me. 

So think about it. If the Ukrainians go in—oh, that’s another thing they said. They said the Russians are planning a false flag operation in Ukraine to show that the Ukrainians are moving into Donbass. To show all the destruction. And that will be the reason for the Russian, quote, invasion. OK—so this is all staged. This is all staged, like an action, frankly, in Syria. We did this several times in Syria to blame the Russians for using poison gas. Same thing is true in Ukraine. They were looking—the reason the United States put that information out there that the Russians were creating a false flag and were going to invade, was because we were going to do it. We were going to support the nationalists to go into Donbass to attack the separatists. And if that had been the case, then Russia would have reacted. 

But we were preparing the world to condemn Russia for that. We were preparing the world through our propaganda, which was extensive and worldwide, that Russia was the bad guy for having come in, tried to defend the Donbass people. It was a very disgusting but typical CIA operation. Typical of them, to put—in other words, they did the same thing numerous times now; they keep doing it. It’s annoying, because people don’t see the pattern. They did it with Julian Assange. They’re doing it with—they create this flags that they are doing, and they say, “he did it.” Do you understand what I’m saying?

RS: Oh, I understand it all too well. And I do want to bring up another, a book that you wrote—I forget your coauthor, but he was a well-known historian on the history of the Cold War. Help me here. Hello?

OS: Peter Kuznick.

RS: Yeah. And what is so interesting—I mean, look, you know, we’re older guys; I’m older than you. But the fact of the matter is, the notion of American innocence and exceptionalism has reasserted itself. And once again with the Democrats—they’re much better at this than the Republicans. The Republicans seem out for markets and business and so forth; the Democrats always have this fake idealism. And what you documented in that book was a history of false flag operations on both sides. 

I want to reiterate this: I had hoped at this point in our history that nationalism would have receded; that people would not be dying over nationalism. And nationalism is always betrayed, until some big emperor comes up, and then they say, we’re not nationalists, we’re a civilization. But I mean, the Kurds didn’t get anything from U.S. manipulation of the Kurds in Iraq and Syria; they’re not getting a state. And nationalism was played within the old Yugoslavia, and where is the benefit there? Where is the benefit in Iraq? 

So in the name of nationalism, whether we—now we claim we care about the Ukrainians. Do we really? Does the U.S. really care about—you know, it’s interesting. The only reason I’m in the United States, [Laughs] or at least part of me, is my mother was a refugee from the Russian revolution. She left after the revolution; she was a Lithuanian. And you know what? She trusted the Russian communists, more than she did the Lithuanian nationalists or the Ukrainian nationalists, to care about the Jews. Because they certainly didn’t care about the Jews before, and a very significant number of concentration camp guards and everything were drawn from the anti-Soviet nationalists in the Ukraine and Estonia, Latvia and so forth. 

And so nationalism is always played; you’ll always find virtue on different sides. And I’m not here to celebrate Putin or Xi’s Chinese nationalism or anything else. I thought nationalism would decline. But as I see it, the main force in the world’s nationalist preoccupation is the United States. They are the ones saying, you know, we are not nationalists; we represent civilization, democracy, and freedom. But we’re going to back—you know, we’re going to back the Shiites against the Sunnis, because we think they’ll be better. Well, they weren’t better, and they also happened to be close to Iran. Or we’re going to back this faction against that faction. And nothing has—

OS: ISIS, too.

RS: Yeah, and nothing has to do with really giving voice to people. Giving voice to their concerns. They are just pawns. And I think, you know, we should really talk about the Democrats a little bit, because we drank from this Kool-Aid that somehow if we could just get these enlightened Democrats back in, we’d be in better shape. Well, the enlightened Democrats gave us the Vietnam War that you, Oliver Stone, got a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star for, you know. And saw what folly that war was; that was a Democrat war. And then they went out with the FBI and J. Edgar Hoover, with the support of Lyndon Johnson, to get Martin Luther King to kill himself because he dared oppose that war, and said it was wrong. You know, so he was going to be expendable. As long as we’re in Black History Month, let’s bring that up. 

But the fact of the matter is, there’s been no accountability. And the people who claim they are wise and believe in peace and democracy—no. They’re quite cynical. And to take somebody like Victoria Nuland, who was involved in the machinations that overthrew a Ukrainian leader who happened to get along with Russia—that was his crime. You know, he had other crimes and what have you—that wasn’t why he was overthrown. And the whole meddling, and the assumption that somehow you are on the side of virtue because you are the United States—you’ve lived your whole life with that, Oliver. You carried a gun for that, that hypocrisy.

OS: I know. I know, and listen, the behavior of the United States in all these instances that you mentioned has been reprehensible. And it’s hard for me to say it, but it’s our country, Bob. And we continue to question it for these reasons, and it seems that we keep going in this direction. We’re really blundering, blundering into a possible disaster, I’m talking about World War I-level, where because of our naivety—you know, they always say god protects puppies and innocent people and the United States of America. But, just, we’re blundering in a bad way.

RS: We’re not naïve. What are you talking about? The people may be caught up in what Huxley, the other dystopian writer, you know, in consumerism and they don’t give a damn about the world, and they don’t understand it very well. But our leaders are not naïve, they’re cynical. They’re deeply cynical. They know there was no Russiagate, and they know this is all machinations and everything. And they’re not interested, I don’t think for a second—I mean, Biden supported every irrational war. I don’t think for a second he has a greater compassion about the needs of people around the world than Republican hawks. I mean, what, the neocons, they started out as Democrats, then they became Republicans, then they became Democrats again. And they’re the same people in the State Department, and what they like is mischief. They think it’s virtuous. And it has to do with their careers, it has to do with power. I know it’s not naïve; they know darn well they’re not building a democracy there. And by the way, if you want peace and you want democracy, you’ve got to go against nationalism. You’ve got to contain it. And that’s true for Putin as well. If Putin keeps stoking nationalist feelings, that’s going to destroy Russia. And I must say, I thought this joint statement of the Chinese and the Russians was a game-changer. Because what they really said is, if we keep going down, the world goes down that road of nationalist division and stoking them and inventing them, you’re going to have disaster. And that’s what we’re talking about now, we’re talking about making not only Russia but China an enemy. You know, when the fact is the Chinese and the Russians would like to—because they’re conservative, basically, the Putin leadership—they want to follow the Chinese model. They want to produce stuff, they want to be in this market global economy, right? And that’s a vision based in trade, based on producing things, that one would hope would represent progress. Instead, we’re back in the darkest days of the Cold War because there’s a military-industrial complex, there are careerists, and they want war. They live off war.

OS: I can guarantee you that Mr. Putin is not at all interested in nationalism. He doesn’t see nationalism the way you’re seeing it. He sees national interests for Russia. And those interests are in the sphere of that area around Russia, which is [unclear] violated constantly by air exercises and land exercises, gigantic operations in the north and in the Black Sea, of Western allies, to warn Russia not to invade. The word “invasion”—it’s unbelievable, in my lifetime I remember Vietnam and I remember the New York Times writing about how dangerous Vietnam was because of the communists. But I’ve never seen the word “invasion” every day in the New York Times. Russian aggression, invasion—they did it like an Orwellian propaganda word, and they use it over and over, so that if there comes to be a fight, you will automatically register “Russian invasion.” That will be the first reaction, rather than “Ukrainian invasion of Donbass.” It’s a very sick game, and [unclear] It’s called the great game. It’s what these people do for a living; they play the great game. They raise the strategic tension wherever they can, the pot boils, and they take advantage of it.

RS: Well, I agree with that. The point I was trying to make about nationalism is that this will always be a force in the world. People find reasons to celebrate their own interests, their own culture, and attack others. The point of wisdom is to try to see past that, and to try to find common interests. And I do want to say—I want to end this by talking about your Putin interviews, because I hope anyone listening to this will watch that Showtime, four-part series, or will get the book based on it. And full disclosure, by the way—I wrote and introduction to your book, you might not remember I did. But I want to say, how—if we are thinking about war here, and what does this guy Putin want, and people ask me that all the time—you would at least have the obligation to take this work that you did, where you engaged this guy. And it’s absolute bull to say you don’t ask tough questions; that’s a lot of crap, you know. These were very good interviews. And to put somebody, this Masha Gessen who now writes for the New Yorker and is in the Ukraine kind of stoking this whole thing—for the New York Times to really, dare I say it, just pee on your work—it was just awful. And not, by the way, telling; there was no great revelation there. But the idea that we don’t have to—like reading this declaration. Any serious person should read the Chinese-Russia declaration. You may disagree with all of it, but you’ve got to read it. Five thousand words. What are they talking about? How did these two very different countries—which by the way had racial tensions historically, didn’t get along even in the heyday of communism, were shooting at each other. I happened to go from Russia to China, I was there during the Cultural Revolution, I know how they were at their border and everything else, I was in Vietnam as well. So somehow or other, they’re alarmed about us. They’re alarmed about American hegemony. And you know, one is a communist country—China, still; one is an anti-communist country, Russia, I don’t think there’s any question; Putin does not want a return to any kind of communist state of any sort. And yet this is a cry for reason, this statement saying, what are you guys doing? What is this Western alliance? Do you still think you can control the world and not pay attention to what we’re concerned about? And it’s not going to work, for that reason. You can’t blackmail them now.

OS: Yeah, thank god. But you know, objectively speaking, the United States—think about it, it’s just more secure from external danger than at any time since before World War I. We don’t have any enemies capable or desirable of using military force against us, our territory [unclear]. You know, China is not Japan, and Russia is not Germany in those years.

RS: Yeah, but Russia still has a very formidable nuclear force. And one of the things—remember, I wrote a book called With Enough Shovels about Reagan’s, the delusion during the Reagan administration about winning a nuclear war. And our indifference to something Putin talks a lot about in your interviews: the need for arms control, the need for stability. That concerns the Chinese as well. And all this Victoria Nuland stuff, and all this, you know, let’s bait ‘em, let’s bait ‘em, let’s stick our finger in the eye of the Russian bear—all that ignores the element of irrationality. 

You brought up the missile crisis, and what John Kennedy learned was hey, it could all go kaput in a matter of minutes. And that’s the world we’re playing with now. And that’s why I bring up other people’s nationalism, and the pressure from their community. Don’t forget, it was Khrushchev, who was a Ukrainian, that gave Crimea supposedly to the Ukrainian state, which was like, you know, taking something from New Jersey and giving it to New York. They’re supposed to be part of the same country. It was Stalin who was a Georgian, right, who thought Georgia should be incorporated into greater Russia. 

You know, so we just—look, I was in the Ukraine because a year after Chernobyl I was at the plant and I could not for the life of me tell who was Russian and who was Ukrainian. You know, and they had joint responsibility for creating and for mishandling this mess, OK? And it wasn’t like, oh, they’re the good guys over there, they’re actually more born in Kiev and not near the Russian—it was all garbage. They were all talking Russian, they all had the same power structure that they were part of. And so yes, it is largely an invention. 

But what I’m saying is—again, let this be a positive part of this interview, and I want to end by talking about Alexander. Because I think it’s one of your great works, and it applies here. Because Alexander was the idea that maybe there could be a good emperor. But there can’t be. It’s a contradiction in terms. You can be enlightened with the best of Greek philosophy; you can have the best intentions; you can have the widest-open eyes. But at the end of the day, whether you’re the Roman emperor, whether you’re Alexander, or whether you’re the U.S. hegemony over the world, your stated intentions have nothing to do with your capacity to contain evil. It’s just the opposite. And that was the message from Orwell, invoking about the use of the enemy, and we ought to take it seriously. 

OS: I agree. I think that’s very well said, Bob.

RS: All right. Well, thanks for doing this, Oliver. And again, can they still see the Showtime interview on Putin? Is it still up there? 

OS: You can go to Amazon, you know, just regular Amazon, and you can rent it there. I’m sure you can rent it on iTunes and all the other platforms. It’s on Showtime also, but some people don’t have Showtime. Definitely widely available. 

RS: All right. The Putin Interviews, and it’s a dozen interviews done over a two-year period. And I defy anybody to watch that. I watched it very carefully before I wrote an intro to the print version of this, you know; very carefully. I think I watched it six or seven times before I wrote a word there. I think it’s a marvelous piece of journalism. I really do. I think it’s a very important insight into a guy who, whether you like it or not, has power, has to be dealt with, has to be dealt with seriously. It doesn’t mean you cave or you give in or nothing matters. But the fact of the matter is, you won’t be able to just dismiss Putin in some simplistic terms if you watch this movie openly. 

So let’s leave it at that. That’s it for this edition of Scheer Intelligence. Christopher Ho posts these at KCRW. Joshua Scheer is our executive producer. Natasha Hakimi Zapata writes the introduction. Lucy Berbeo does the transcription. See you next week with another edition of Scheer Intelligence. 


  1. The absurdity of America. Every day, a new existential threat to humanity arises. Who is behind all of this? Evil dark corporate types promoting a corporate fascism to control the world. The Great Reset group of bankers and elites who are self appointed rulers of the new earth. The ones who have control over exotic technologies and are using them against humanity rather than to improve humanity. I never agreed to accept the system we live under. I was born into this mess. I do not support it and choose to deny it and all of its permutations. It has failed all of humanity. We need a new compassionate system for a new humanity.

  2. While I agree that the entrenched “Military industrial complex” has a habit of stoking fires where natural forces never would end in war; and NATO has done some dirty deeds in the past, there are nuances.

    This oldline Soviet era general Lays out truths with a genuine appeal for war avoidance & a stark warning to Putin about the consequences of war for Russia, Europe, & Putin personally by the highly respected military leader. Russian attack on Ukraine would mean war by isolated Moscow against all of NATO.
    Chairman of the “All-Russian Officers’ Assembly” Colonel-General Leonid Ivashov wrote an appeal to the President and citizens of the Russian Federation “Eve of War”.
    Ivashov correctly estimates that there is NO CURRENT THREAT from NATO:
    “As for external threats, they are certainly present. But, according to our expert assessment, they are not currently critical, directly threatening the existence of Russian statehood and its vital interests,”
    This guy was a mainstream hardline Soviet style commander, for him to come out and publicly criticize Putin over this pending military operation is simply astonishing…Putin is in a box.

    1. @Iris
      Warning Putin about what, defending his country? This warning is far more applicable to the U.S.. There is no nuance here, the U.S. has been expanding toward Russia ever since the Soviet Union broke up and the Berlin Wall came down.

    2. @Iris
      Ivashov has been described as part of the “sixth column”, where western intelligence agencies are trying to undermine and fragment Russia by promoting the idea that Putin is not patriotic enough, that he is a neoliberal in cahoots with the oligarchs, and his idea of conflict in the Ukraine is merely to distract the Russian people. In contrast the factions of the 5th column accuse Putin of wanting to return Russia to the Communist days of the USSR.

      These are once again regime change tactics in the hybrid war being waged relentless against Russia.

      However, the truth is plain to see for it is clear for anyone with half a brain and a passing knowledge of world affairs that NATO has been expanding relentlessly despite the guarantees given to Gorbachev, and that the warmongers and regime changers are in Washington DC, Langley, and London and not in the Kremlin. Wherever the Russian troops are, they are still in Russia on Russian soil, while American troops are in Europe and just about everywhere else around the globe in their 800 bases on foreign soil.

      If the past 50 years are a guide, it won’t be Russia that starts this war, though it may well be the one to end it, God forbid.

    3. in the meantime nato and the us have lost. the germans are not so stupid to start a new war. the nato has become useless, but will not die without a last and devastating conflict. if the west will survive this, than the USA will be confronted for the first time with its own expansionism. 93 percent of its existence it has been in war. let’s hope as europeans the Americans will focus their aggression on the USA-elites.

  3. While I agree that the entrenched “Military industrial complex” has a habit of stoking fires where natural forces never would end in war; and NATO has done some dirty deeds in the past, there are nuances.

    This oldline Soviet era general Lays out truths with a genuine appeal for war avoidance & a stark warning to Putin about the consequences of war for Russia, Europe, & Putin personally by the highly respected military leader. Russian attack on Ukraine would mean war by isolated Moscow against all of NATO. Chairman of the “All-Russian Officers’ Assembly” Colonel-General Leonid Ivashov wrote an appeal to the President and citizens of the Russian Federation “Eve of War”. Ivashov correctly estimates that there is NO CURRENT THREAT from NATO:
    “As for external threats, they are certainly present. But, according to our expert assessment, they are not currently critical, directly threatening the existence of Russian statehood and its vital interests,” This guy was a mainstream hardline Soviet style commander, for him to come out and publicly criticize Putin over this pending military operation is simply astonishing…Putin is in a box.

  4. Destabilization is the name of this current media Game Show
    An individual’s synopsis of what a Michael Hudson describes in his article, America’s Real Adversaries are Its European and Other Allies, in Counterpunch.
    America, still irrationally thinks that all international relationship comes down to is between what they misperceive as communism (socialism) and neo-liberal capitalism, which they don’t even comprehend any better.
    The totalitarian U.S. plutocratic, neo-capitalist, ‘exceptionalist mindset’, sees all of humanity as competitors and adversaries. For this cohort, cooperation comes about only through all forms of unilateral hegemonic imperial coercion.
    All human interactive relationships are reduced to the art of Gamesmanship: [is the use of dubious (“although not technically illegal”, according to the rules prescribed by the maker) methods to win or gain a serious advantage in a game or sport. It has been described as “Pushing the rules to the limit without getting caught, using whatever dubious methods possible to achieve the desired end”. It may be inferred that the term derives from the idea of playing for the game (i.e., to win at any cost) as opposed to sportsmanship, which derives from the idea of playing for sport alone (an activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment).] – wikipedia.
    America has attempted to push the rules for far too long now. It is only of fairly recent date that its dastardly methods are coming to light – into the open, for all to see.
    For this truth, we have the likes of fearless journalists, such as Julian Assange, and some few other others – filmmakers and publishers, to thank.
    The methods, and extent to which the U.S. regime is prepared to go in its persecution of a true journalist and publisher is brought home, for all to witness, in the extremes to which it is going, in order to apply its vengeance against the power of truth that this one individual has made obvious; in its attempt to suppress this from general public awareness; in order to perpetuate the status-quo of its deceptive practices.
    The Olympic games were created to be about sportsmanship, but here today, in 2022, in China, the U.S. is still attempting to be coercive, in order to maintain its rapidly waning economic and political global sway.
    The politics of malign economics, and the unilateral, undemocratic – disparate power, derived therefrom, however, is not a sport and bears no resemblance to the pastime of any sport.
    All outcomes of these endeavors, unlike for the sheer sport of games, have the potential for instantaneous deadly outcomes, not only for individual participants, but for all of humanity.

  5. Our entire society top to bottom has slowly been going insane for a long time now. All the while reality goes marching along in lockstep with the consequences of ignoring it. Who knows what existential threat brings the whole corrupted edifice down, there are so many, but it is clear to all but the most blind that one of them will and likely soon. Once it does the rest will follow in a pile on of pain suffering and misery.

  6. Thanks to you both. I watched Oliver’s interviews of Pres. Putin and and have also watched many of the thousands of hours of speeches and interviews, and I defy anyone actually to watch these and continue with the “Putin dictator” meme. I suspect that most of the US and UK population follow their one-sided media and just accept the lies which their families and acquaintances discuss, if they even do that. I find it very sad, and to see the patience, intelligence (I mean brainpower!), understanding of history, earnestness and willingness to explain by Putin, Lavrov, Ryabkov,spokesman Peskov, being discarded or mocked or just not listened to , is needless and dangerous. The Times article on 7 February, or FM Liz Truss on her visit to Moscow, just shows how ingrained and hubristic the UK position is ,along with the US model the UK follows.

  7. This was an interesting (and at the same time, disappointing) discussion; I was dismayed that the Nord Stream 2 pipeline was not mentioned. This pipeline is one of the obvious reasons for the U.S. (CIA-induced) and dangerous, hysteria about the so-called “Russian Invasion” of Ukraine. While the discussion between Mr. Scheer and Mr. Stone took place, no doubt, liquid gas was sailing across the ocean from the U.S. to Europe, enhancing the profits U.S. oil/gas suppliers while increasing costs of gas (heating, et al) to Europe. I am in pain.

  8. It’s pretty simple: The U.S. wants to expand its empire as far and as much as possible, and eastern Europe became available after the fall of the Soviet Union. As usual in international politics, there are no good guys here, but the U.S. is the instigator and bully in this situation, as usual.

  9. It’s interesting that both noted that Vietnam was a “Democrat” War started by JFK and LBJ. But really aren’t most American Wars started by Democrats? WWI by Woodrow Wilson. WWII by FDR. Korea by Truman. The Gulf War was by GHW Bush. The Balkans was Clinton’s War (maybe Rwanda, and also the 500,000 Iraqi children killed by sanctions by Albright as well). Iraq and Afghanstan were Bush/Cheney. Yemen, Syria, Libya, Sudan and Somalia were Obama’s (along with the coups in Egypt, Honduras and Ukraine, and the National Emergency with sanctions in Venezuela). While the Democrats tend to initiate more Wars, the Republicans tend to keep them going; and as the role of death squads and narco states showed in Latin America (where both GHW Bush and Biden played outsized roles), it is entirely bipartisan.
    What is scary is that, as Robert Scheer noted with his interview with GHW Bush, these megalomaniacs all believe a nuclear war is winnable. I remember when Scott Ritter was eviscerated during DC hearings on Saddam Hussein’s weapons. Ritter was a major investigator and briefed the Senate that Iraq had nothing major and had cooperated with the investigation. Biden et al had already made their decision to go to war, and he dismissed Ritter saying this was above his paygrade, and the reason ” I get to ride in the limousine and you don’t”.
    No matter his long history of being on the wrong side of all issues, his plagerizing and constant lying, the State Media has portrayed Biden as basically a bumbling good guy. His 50 years in DC say otherwise. Would anyone be surprised if he nuked Russia?

    1. So World War Two was an American war, started by FDR?
      I’m just going to stop there, instead of lose my $hit!
      I wish that I had access to all of the inside information that you possess, because I don’t see history quite the same way.

  10. What rubbish. You and Oliver Stone defending Putin. I personally believe the US IS pushing for a conflict but to hear you two defend “innocent Putin”. Ridiculous. Putin, the man who won’t permit a free press or election.

    1. Finally a reader of this long Putin entric discussion says what needs to be said. Putin is not a communist but a Soviet: he learned his heavy-handed treatment of anybody who opposes him from the KGB before 1989. He is an autocrat who kills, or attempts to kill, people who he considers dangerous to his rule. And Ukraine invading the Donbass? A region that has been part even of the Ukrainian Soviet Republic? As to Russsian planes not bombing Syrian towns (and hospitals), I advise Oliver and Robert to see two documentary films, The last man in Aleppo and The cave. Of course only if they don’t consider them as having made with CIA support.

      1. Pierre, why do you speak this easily controverted nonsense? We Americans or you French know virtually nothing about Putin, Syria, or the Ukraine as all has been filtered and distorted by the West propagandists. Point in fact is the Syrian White Helmets, who as opposed to their characterization as heroes, are nothing more than Western funded thugs in service of Al Qaeda. The list of corrupt reporting is endless, all self-serving the ideology of Empire.

    2. @Liane
      What are you talking about? Putin is far more popular in Russia than any American leader is in the US. Voter turnout in Russia is much higher than the US, and international monitors report fair and free elections.

      You have no idea about Putin or Russia, which is not be surprising if your only source of news is CNN, MSNBC, WoPo, NYT, etc. – the purveyors of “intelligence leaks” and cheerleaders of war and regime change.

      1. “International monitors report fair and free elections.” In Putin’s Russia. Meanwhile, on here planet Earth…

    3. What do you know about the democracy in Russia to pass the judgment? Only what you being fed through corrupt and government controlled US media? Typical American approach to everything narrow-minded and primitive yet full of superiority and entitlement. I am from Donetsk and see what is being done to my home, I can never go back nor visit my father’s grave and if it wasn’t for Russia and Putin help, my homeland wouldn’t survive in this fight against Nazi Ukrainian government whose now President Zelensky is a comic, real live clown who made all his money living and working in Russia making funny movies and humorous shows laughing at Ukraine. President who has condo in Crimea worth over $2 mil on so called occupied territory and paying his dues on time every month even now, Crimea that was part of Russia since Catherine the Great won it fare and square in Turkish war 2 centuries ago and was never Ukrainian since there has not been a country called Ukraine until Soviet Union fall apart and each of the 15 Soviet Republics declared themselves as separate countries in 1991. So yes, Putin made Russia great again finally!

      1. Very nice re-cap of the current situation. After Putin chased the ‘snakes’ out of Moscow–I mean the American and European vultures who were stripping Russia bare and impoverishing millions–he was persona non grata in the West. We have endured about 20 years of constant Putin demonization so Americans believe Putin probably eats Ukrainian babies for breakfast. Who knows what bits of truth lie behind these accusations? But we do know that Putin turned the Russian economy around and muzzled the Russian oligarchs. All right-thinking people should honor him for doing so.

      2. @Ted+Tripp
        I fully agree. Every time I hear someone complaining about Putin I know they’ve been successfully brainwashed by U.S. propaganda and lies. All world leaders and large countries are bad, but the U.S. and its leaders are the worst. If you live in the U.S., that’s who you should be complaining about, not the leader of a country who’s only trying to defend his country and whose country has an economy smaller than the size of California.

        BTW, the Russiagate lies & propaganda went a long way toward getting Americans to hate Russia (again) and Putin. I would add Russiagate to the very harmful lies that have been published in the past 30-40 years and for which many powerful people should be in prison (the other two are lying that global warming/climate change doesn’t exist or, if it does, that it’s not caused by humans, and the weapons of mass destruction lie that allowed the U.S. to destroy Iraq and kill around a million people).

    4. I fully agree with Oliver Stone and Robert Scheer. The US is responsible for what is happening. I don’t believe they care about democracy.

  11. Great interview with a greater thinker and film maker. I pose this one question about the Russian seizure of Crimea. How is the Russian seizure of the strategically important Crimean Peninsula different from the 1989 US invasion of Panama and the overthrow of the Noriega government in order to secure the Panama Canal?

    1. This is a different situation entirely.
      First, Panama was a US creation, seized from Colombia to build the Canal. The only American who lived there were isolated canal functionaries or military personnel. Crimea was a part of Russia for centuries, seized from the Turks but had become Russian over time (with a minority population as well). It was transferred to the Ukraine by Khrushchev just a few years in the past.
      Second, Noriega was a CIA asset ‘gone bad’. After the Kiev coup, the Crimean people wanted no part of the Nazi-inspired government.
      Third, the Americans brutally attacked Panama to seize Noriega and impose a friendly government, killing thousands of civilians. In Crimea, Russian troops were already present in the big naval base in Sebastopol. Thus, there was no military invasion, just a protective force to keep the Nazis out. The Crimean people conducted a referendum and voted to return to Russian control.

  12. This is a welcome discussion during America’s hideous rush for war. The US has spent quite a few years demonizing Putin, intensified since 2014. I have been informed during this time by the works of Oliver Stone and the late Professor Stephen F Cohen, as well as the solid reporting at Consortium News and other alternate sites that this characterization is both unfair and dangerous. Russiagate was particularly silly and the result has been a broad acceptance by the American public that Russia is our enemy and Putin cavorts with the devil.
    All this is nonsense, of course, and now we hear cries of big bad Russian bear about to invade innocent, defenseless Ukraine. The facts of the case are different, of course. Putin, unlike the Americans, does not lie and when he says Russia has no plans to invade Ukraine, that is the truth. However, faced with a really imminent invasion by the Ukrainian army of the Donbas, Russia made it quite clear they would protect their Ukrainian cousins by destroying the Ukrainian army if they should proceed. In this Ukrainian civil war, the Americans have taken the side of the Kiev coup government and the Russians the side of the Russian-speaking separatists.
    There is a simple diplomatic solution, however, of implementing the Minsk II Accords. This would create a federated Ukrainian state where the Donbas enjoyed considerable autonomy. In this state, the Russian autonomous region would never agree to join NATO, so Russian fears of NATO expansion would be alleviated. Sadly neither the Kiev coup government nor the Americans are willing to accept this solution.

  13. Russia is not threatening the US. The US is threatening Russia. Russian troops are not in Canada, near the US border. US troops are in E. Europe, near the Russian border.

  14. Putin is not an innocent to be sure. But how many dictators and autocratic regimes do we support around the world, as long as they follow our lead? That is what is really the game that the United States plays.

  15. The militarized escalation is exclusively due to Putin’s war mongering. PERIOD!

    Even if the Russian (and its left-ish supporters ) claim that it is a direct result of the move to include Ukraine in NATO (it is not; Ukraine is a sovereign state, not a Russian satellite one; while Putin’s refusal to live with the post-Soviet Europe can be excused, the left-ish refusal to acknowledge Ukraine’s independence is not), the escalation into a militarized conflict is entirely on Putin, who had been building up the Russian military presence for months now.

    Scheer’s, Stone’s, and the reminder of the left-ish pro-Putin peanut gallery who ignored Putin’s construction of the Russian war machine on Ukraine’s eastern border up until the US finally responded by discussion on serious economic penalties, and a few thousands soldiers sent to Europe (and not even to Ukraine) are doing a disservice to themselves both in the spread of disinformation that render them little more than politicized propaganda outlet, and in the dubious moral support they provide for Putin – one of the biggest despots and tyrants of the past 50 years or so, and the most dangerous anti-democracy in Russia since the fall of the Soviet Union.


    1. Your outrage and self-righteousness based on total ignorance are in fact quite funny.

      Do you know anything about the US-backed / $5 billion / Victoria “Fcuk-the EU” Nuland coup that violently overthrew the democratic regime in the Ukraine in 2014? About the Neonazis and Azov brigade skinheads subsequently attacking the ethnic Russians and burning them alive in Donbas? About how corrupt the subsequent leaders, how bankrupt the Ukraine is, and now a failed state? Biden too had a big hand in the Ukrainian till, as did his son Hunter.

      Read up a bit on this. You could start with the writings of the late Professor Stephan Cohen. Be on the side of truth. The truth will set you free.

      1. @Moses
        Yeah, DGA is a troll on this site. I wrote a long response to their BS the first time I saw it, now I’m just going to ignore them. I think that Brietbart, FOX, CNN, or MSNBC would be a far more appropriate place for them.

    2. You are correct. It is so simplistic, Putin is the aggressor. Otherwise remove the troops and defuse the situation . It comes down to occums razor. The obvious answer is the simplest

      1. I am not sure I understand your comment, Richard. You are too clever, perhaps, with your sarcasm. Plainly stated, Occam’s Razor’s simplest solution is the one that has been at play since 1992: the Americans hate the Russians and constantly push to destroy the Russian state. This Ukraine crisis is just the latest push for regime change.

    3. Yes, leftist sympathies for Russia is what some have called the “anti-imperialism of idiots.” Leftists like Oliver Stone, Katrina vanden Heuvel, Chris Hedges, Katie Halper, Matt Taibbi, Doug Henwood, and others speak of sovereignty and threats to Russia (a country, by the way, that has 6000 nuclear weapons to protect itself), but when it comes to Eastern Europe, they shrug and ask sovereign countries to accept some kind of second-class status relative to Russia. They ignore that NATO is enormously popular in Eastern Europe (where it’s regarded as a bulwark against Russian aggression). They mention broken promises (as if Russia has kept to the Budapest Memorandum). Then they suggest that Zelinsky is corrupt, that Ukraine is a nation of anti-Semites, that resistance to the invasion is fueled (somehow) by the defense industry, that the uprisings against Russian influence in Eastern Europe have been CIA operations, etc. It’s shameful.

      It would, of course, be naive to assume that the West hadn’t influenced color revolutions and the events in Maidan Square in Kiev, but you don’t have to spend much time in Ukraine to understand that these are popular movements and that they express the overwhelming sentiments of the citizens of Ukraine.

      It’s especially frustrating when this horseshit is coming from the left (my people, as I usually see them). Members of the left that blame the US for Russian actions are making a terrible, historic mistake. And I believe it’s an error in judgement that will diminish their credibility for years to come. They’re reading from a script that was written in 1999 or 2006. And it ignores much of what has happened in Russia over the past 15 years.

      Anyway, here are a couple of links that outline this case as well as anyone could:



      Read them. The first one (on “Westsplaining”) should be required reading for anyone (you know, all the people mentioned above) who assumes they can tell the people of Ukraine and Eastern Europe what they really want and need.

      1. @Tom Williams
        First and foremost, the West’s gross overreaction to the Russian invasion is so over-the-top that there are no words to describe it. Every U.S. invasion over the past 20+ years, and there have been several, has been totally unjustified and halfway around the world from the U.S., unlike the Russian invasion, yet no one except us anti-war activists screamed about any of them. No sanctions against the U.S., nothing. Destroying Russia’s economy is an act of war and either is or should be a human rights crime because it could easily kill a large number of people, and drive even more into abject poverty. It could also lead to nuclear war, as Russia has openly made statements recently, made specifically for the West, to the effect that it is willing to launch nuclear weapons if it feels threatened with being destroyed. Only a psychopathic Dr. Strangelove- or General Riper-type would risk that, but we have psychopaths running the planet, in the West just as much as in Russia. China has been the only sane voice in this among the major countries.

        Second, I see no one who sympathizes with Russia. We’ve all said that the invasion was wrong, because we’re anti-war. But we also recognize that U.S./NATO aggression in expanding eastward and placing major weapons close to Russia are the root cause of the invasion. There’s a huge difference between a reason and an excuse, and we’re identifying reasons for the invasion, not excusing it. Are you unable to deal with nuance and/or keep conflicting thoughts in your head? Minimizing these legitimate concerns as you did removes all credibility from your arguments. You have to deal with the root causes of problems in order to solve them and to be credible, simple as that.

        Third, NATO is popular in eastern Europe? NATO shouldn’t even exist. It should have been disbanded when the Soviet Union collapsed. Alternatively, Russia should have been admitted into NATO when it asked for it. NATO certainly should not have expanded eastward after the U.S. promised that it would not do so.

        Fourth, the Ukrainian coup would not have happened if not for U.S. and Ukrainian Nazi involvement. One of the Nazi leaders said that only the Nazis in Ukraine were willing to fight, and that if not for them the demonstrations would have been nothing more than a parade. Add to that the fact that the U.S. PICKED the next leader of Ukraine, and your comments about the proclivities about the Ukrainian people become meaningless.

        Finally, your derogatory comments about some of the very few actual reporters — as opposed to propagandists and stenographers for the establishment and the military/intelligence/industrial complex, which make up almost the entire press corps nowadays — combined with the rest of your comments belie your claim that you’re a leftist. Your rant just sounds like, USA, USA! to any objective observer.

      2. I am replying to Jeff below.

        To suggest that Russia has been cornered or surrounded and was driven to react is to sympathize with its leaders. As Slavoj Zizek has noted recently, responding to “people who call themselves leftists,” there is “an element of truth” to saying that NATO has encircled Russia and has fomented color revolutions, but “saying only this is equivalent to justifying Hitler by blaming the unjust Treaty of Versailles. Worse, it concedes that big powers have the right to spheres of influence, to which all others must submit for the sake of global stability.” To make that argument is effectively sacrifice Eastern Europe to Russian aggression. Call it what you will, but it looks like sympathizing to me.

        NATO is quite popular in Eastern Europe whether you think it should exist or not. This is well documented, and it’s obvious to anyone who’s spent time in that part of the world. Western Europe and the US did not expand NATO as so many of these critics like to say. Countries in Eastern Europe joined. They have asked to be part of this organization because they believe that NATO is a bulwark against Russian revanchism (which is real and not just a response to NATO).

        Yes, some assurances were made that NATO wouldn’t move east. People sometimes call it a “gentleman’s agreement” because it wasn’t an official treaty or promise. The Budapest Memorandum, on the other hand, was a signed agreement. In it, Russia promised not to use force against Ukraine. These authors almost never mention Russia’s broken promise.

        I don’t know if you’ve ever been to Ukraine, but it would be hard to argue that movements like the Orange and Maidan Revolutions were not popular. There were elements of the far right involved, but it was a broad coalition. The far right currently makes up a tiny percentage in their legislature, and need I say it, the country’s president is Jewish. It’s hardly a neo-nazi regime, and the Revolution of Dignity was not some US-Fascist putsch.

        The US undoubtedly played a part, but it’s absurd to say that the US picked Yanukovych’s successor. After Yanukovych was removed from office by the Ukrainian parliament (in a vote of 328 to 0), Poroshenko was elected. It was a landslide. His apparent corruption does not change the terms of his rise to power. The US played an unsavory role through Victoria Nuland, but this does not mean that the developments in Maidan square were not popular among the citizens of Ukraine, and it does not mean that Ukraine is somehow less than democratic.

        Regarding Iraq, etc., the Russian invasion of Ukraine feels in many ways similar. I wish the world had imposed sanctions on the US. It was a monstrous crime, and I wish the perpetrators would be held accountable. At the same time, I would not argue that Iraq (or another other coalition) provoked it through its alliances or sabre-rattling or corruption or anti-semitism or terrorist support. The US was alone was responsible then as Russia is now.

        Concern about nuclear weapons and Putin’s threat to use them is something to take very seriously. But we should place blame on Putin for threatening to use these weapons rather than suggesting that the west is to blame for holding him accountable for acts of aggression. I hope there’s a negotiated peace. But in my mind, it can’t be one that rewards Russia for invading another country.

        Anyway, call it a rant if you want (it was a bit ranty, I suppose). Blaming the US and Western Europe for Russia actions, however, completely occludes the rights of sovereign nations to determine their own fates. “People who call themselves leftists” should speak out in favor of the self-determination of the people of Eastern Europe rather than acting as accomplices to their subjugation.

        As I’ve noted, the left is making a mistake. I consider myself a leftist, so this is particularly painful. I think it’s going to destroy their credibility for years to come.

      3. Tom Williams seems to think he has a superior version of events than Vladimir Putin; he seems to know better that Russia was in any danger and that the Donbas was under threat. What he does is dismiss Putin, the head of state of a major Eurasian country with an inability to judge events. I think this is an unfortunately dangerous arrogance. If Putin’s intelligence tells him a fact, for Tom to deny that fact and that intelligence is unworthy of intelligent living in this world.

      4. @Tom Williams
        Again, you are obviously not capable of distinguishing a reason from an excuse. You minimize the root cause of the problem, then claim it’s all Russia’s fault, and as I said, end up with nothing more than USA, USA! We are not merely “suggesting” that Russia has been surrounded by the U.S. tool NATO, we are pointing it out as an INDISPUTABLE FACT. That doesn’t excuse the Russian invasion, it shows the reason for it. Big difference that you clearly don’t get.

        And yes, the oppression and mistreatment of Germany after WW I WAS the root cause of the rise of the Nazis and Hitler. It doesn’t excuse that rise or anything they did; it shows why they happened in the first place. That’s why the allies treated Germany and the other losers of WW II totally differently, helping them to rebuild instead of making their people miserable.

        Your comments about the 2014 U.S.-sponsored coup are irrelevant distractions. The facts are that once the demonstrations started, the CIA and Ukrainian Nazis got involved and ran things. A leader of one of the main Nazi groups said in a public forum that the coup would never have happened if not for the Nazis, because they were the only ones willing to fight. As to the U.S., are you really that naive that you fail to recognize the military and intelligence superiority and power of the U.S.? The opposition in Ukraine was no match for them once they got involved, and if you think that was just a coincidence that Nuland said that Poroshenko was the guy the U.S. wanted and then he just coincidentally became president, I’ve got some great deals on bridges for you. If you ignore the massive power of the U.S., your analysis will be fatally flawed. To be clear, I never said that the demonstrations and attitudes against Yanukovych were not popular, they obviously were at least to some extent. But those demonstrations were mainly about Yanukovych’s corruption. Those demonstrations were only organic in the beginning until the CIA got involved. After that, it was a U.S. coup, which I’m sure included psyops.

        Your comparison of the U.S. invading Iraq to Russia invading Ukraine is ridiculous. Iraq is halfway around the world from the U.S. and never threatened the U.S. in any way. That invasion was mainly for oil and secondarily for other financial and geopolitical concerns. Ukraine is on the Russian border, and the U.S./NATO has surrounded Russia, including placing weapons nearby. The only reason that I oppose Russia’s invasion is that I’m anti-war. As I’ve said ad nauseam here and elsewhere, there are no good guys here, including Ukraine and especially the U.S. or NATO, and certainly not Russia.

        Big countries are evil, world leaders are evil, simple as that. None of these entities ever does anything that’s overall positive for the planet, and they all constantly do great harm. But that said, if any country in the past 25 years had a good reason for an invasion, Russia had it in this situation. That doesn’t excuse the invasion, but it shows who the underlying problems in the region are (in addition to Russia).

        How about we agree to break up all large countries into much smaller ones and just leave each other alone? As I said to my wife when Russia invaded, no country should be larger than 50 people, then we wouldn’t have any of this crap.

        Your comment about the use of nuclear weapons means that you’d rather risk nuclear war than do anything that “rewards” Russia for invading Ukraine. This is Dr. Strangelove/General Ripper level psychopathy. Avoiding nuclear war is infinitely the most important thing here, and if you can’t agree to that, there’s no point in further discussing any of this with you. People who place other concerns above preventing or avoiding nuclear war should be locked up for the good of the Earth and all the life on it.

        The one area where we agree is that small groups of people should be able to determine how they want to live and under what type of government. But geopolitics creates very complicated issues in situations like this, because the powerful large entities — the U.S., E.U., NATO, and Russia — largely control this region of the world. Again, I’m opposed to that sort of thing, but in discussing this we have to deal with reality in addition to stating what we’d like or what our goals are. And if countries in eastern Europe just want to join NATO and/or ally with the U.S., they’re not trying to be independent entities, they’re just trying to join one of the large evil ones.

        The overall problem with your attitude here and that of the west in general is that, at best, you give short shrift to the many more and far worse things that the U.S. has done over the past 20 or so years, but then advocate for totally destroying Russia, as the sanctions are intended and likely to do. This is the most hypocritical crap I’ve ever seen in geopolitics, and that’s saying a lot. Russia at least has good arguments for why it invaded; the U.S. has none, and the U.S. invasions have caused far more harm — changed Libya from the highest standard of living in Africa to an open slave market — and killed far more people, one million in Iraq alone. As an American, you should be focused on those atrocities, not Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. It’s fine to say you oppose the invasion, we’ve all said that. Then it’s time to work on getting the U.S. to stop bombing Somalia and to get out of Syria. Any western country or people who obsess on the Russian invasion of Ukraine are hypocrites of the highest order.

        Sorry, no time to edit this, please excuse typos.

      5. I did read them. The first seems to be ‘westsplaining’ the ‘westsplainers’. Whoever the author is, he does not rise to the level of John Mearsheimer, Katrina vanden Heuvel, the late Stephen F Cohen, and many others. The author seems to parrot the US government media narrative that there was no problem with NATO, that the US is a benign actor, Putin and the Russians are unreasonable, and the aggression is all Russia’s fault. Facts show otherwise.
        As to the second, I have read this guy before and he is rather pathetic, but at least he is honest. He ignores the influence of whatever you want to call them, the Azov Battalion, the Right Sector, and so on. I just call them Nazis for simplicity. The influence of the US and the weaponization of the Nazis to control events in Maidan realized a coup that with following events destroyed any legitimacy of a Kiev government in the Ukraine. Following the coup and then developing perfidy on the part of America, events in the Ukraine devolved into Russia’s attack. Facts on the ground suggested that the Ukrainian military was preparing for a final assault on the Donbas, and that was the ultimate ‘straw breaking the camel’s back’.

      6. I’m not sure what you mean by “rise to the level.” I am always astonished, however, when leftists suddenly become realists when we start talking about Eastern Europe. If you substituted Chile or Guatemala for Ukraine and the United States for Russia, they would sound like Henry Kissinger. Somehow everyone has a right to self-determination except when it comes to Eastern Europe. And then to resolve the cognitive dissonance, they start talking about Fascism or corruption or whatever.

        The Maidan and Orange revolutions involved broad coalitions. Was there US meddling? Was there a far right contingent? Of course. But they were enormously popular and anyone who has been to Ukraine in the last decade could see that. As I note elsewhere on this thread, the Ukrainian parliament removed Yanukovych from office in a vote of 328 to 0. His successor (corrupt though he was) was elected in the landslide. The US meddled and bullied (as they do–the Victoria Nuland call was deeply unsavory). I never suggested that the US was a benign actor. I find their role in the world quite insidious most of the time. But the fact is that NATO is viewed differently in Eastern Europe, and the left should listen to the people (often leftists) in that region when they voice their concerns about Russian revanchism.

        Also, Ukraine was “preparing for a final assault on the Donbas,” eh? And something that hadn’t happened proved to be the last straw? Sounds to me like Condoleezza Rice when she proclaimed that “we don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud.” Or perhaps it’s akin to Oliver Stone intoning that “they have no proof that Russia intends to invade Ukraine; I doubt that they would.”

        It’s exasperating to see leftists rationalize Russian aggression in this way. It’d be great if you all started listening to people from Eastern Europe and Ukraine instead of accusing them of Fascism to justify disregard their claims to self-determination.

      7. It is clear to me that the popular Maidan Revolution was hijacked by US supported Nazis; it is also clear that Nuland’s boast of $5 billion invested for “democracy promotion” was accurate; it is further clear that the deal offered to the Ukrainian people by the Europeans would have further destroyed the Ukrainian fragile economy (as it has become in the eight years aftermath), i.e. they were fooled.
        Furthermore, the massing of Ukrainian troops on the Donbas ‘line of control’ and artillery bombardments in February were not the imagination of some Kremlin bureaucrat. Due to the diminished state of Ukrainian government, increasing levels of weaponry, unwillingness of the West to negotiate, and threats to Donbas, for good or evil Putin had to act.

      8. “… for good or evil Putin had to act.”
        brilliant! beautiful!
        I don’t think I’ve ever read a more logical rationalization for a war crime against common folk. ideologists, gamers, anyone who reasons-from-a-conclusion or who has never experienced war in person are appreciative.

      9. I just state the reality. I am not Putin, nor did I invade anybody. If you claim that Putin was motivated by madness or desire for territory, you spout war propaganda. By not acknowledging the facts of the case, you decrease chances of stopping this war.

  16. War is the health of the state in spades. ‘Ka ching!’ sings the chorus of military contractors and blood banks and other Fortune 500 predators as they cash in on the slaughter. ‘Wag the dog’ whisper weasels in high office as opportune crisis deflects from failure to manufacture consent to power by any other means than out of the barrel of a gun. ‘Love it or leave it!’ shout the superpatriots on the home front as we the people get marched along into never-ending enforced necessity of national security, with fascist fists in our faces more easily forgiven and forgotten when it’s all for our protection (like other states of emergency such as wars on viruses, or climate change).

    Lines on a map largely drawn by wars past deceitfully define our identities in present conflict. Yet we are nothing more than pawns on the grand chessboard of geopolitical wheeling and dealing among the “masters of mankind” (Adam Smith), who easily sacrifice us for their imperial interests. Biden and Putin are both graduates of ‘global shapers’ grooming by the WEF, and the legally organized crime of class rule against humanity.

    It’s class war, past and present, which truly defines our predicament. And until we fight that war, we’ll keep losing.

    1. @Joe blow
      The problems caused by the U.S. in Ukraine actually started under Obama. Biden is just continuing it. Don’t know whether Obama supported Nazis — and to be clear, some of these groups are actual Nazis, not Neo-Nazis — but it doesn’t matter. The U.S. deposed a democratically elected leader and replaced him with “our guy,” which is as wrong and immoral as it gets.

  17. I’m disappointed in this article. It seems like folks here pretty much believe that wars are fought because of nationalism etc.. Nationalism is the surface smoke screen perpetuated by propagandists.

    Get a grip. The Dunbass region of Ukraine has 57 billion tons of coal reserves which would last them around 500 years. Energy is a big deal and who ever can get their paws on it has an advantage. The coal industry currently makes up around 30% of the Ukrainian economy and I don’t think that they would just give it up.

  18. Complete dribble joint jo session. How much are you, Scheer, and Oliver Stone getting paid from Putin? This is like Hitler sympathizers.

    1. ScheerPost and Robert Scheer receive zero money from any Russian or any other governmental-affiliated agencies, but thanks for asking. The funny thing is that you can actually be against militarism in all its guises, you don’t have to pick a team.

      1. Lol at moderator…moderator isn’t on team Hitler, but he isn’t against Team Hitler. Good for Moderator.

        Putin is a pathetic tiny man living in the path and leading only for selfish reasons. Oliver’s sympathetic ‘middle-ground’ was always questionable. Now a large blight on his legacy.

      2. Moderator is against Team Putin, and authoritarian oligarchic nationalism in general . And against Team Hegemonic American Imperialism also. Also, Hitler is dead, probably, by now.

  19. This interview hasn’t aged well. Turns out Putin is like Stalin. And Oliver Stone is like Trump.

    1. Hmm, Deltabrain. You really don’t pay much attention to world events nor to history. Try getting your brain out of the delta to see what is really going on.

  20. According to several of Scheer’s comments, he remains an anticommunist and someone who thinks the return of the Russian Orthodox Church was a good thing for Russia. As a Marxist I find this objectionable. Other than that, interesting interview.

    1. I agree that Robert Scheer sometimes talks too much; on the other hand, he is a fascinating character in his own right with a wealth of lived experience.
      As far as religion and Putin, I am reminded of the right’s constant criticism of “Godless Communism.” Looked at historically, the Russian Orthodox Church was every bit as much of an exploiter of the peasantry as any Czarist aristocrat. Philosophically, the “opiate of the masses” was and still is an efficient means of social control. Neither of these truths diminish the role of religion in human lives, and we see that now the Church is back in business, but hopefully neither exploiting nor confounding the masses.

      1. @Ted+Tripp
        In response to your final sentence: There’s no chance of a church not doing something harmful. Religions, and especially the monotheistic religions, propound a vehemently anti-spiritual attitude and propaganda, mixed with totally unfounded superstitions. You could say that this is personal choice, but the problem is that people act on the attitudes they’ve been brainwashed with, in this case overpopulating and otherwise wrecking the planet and killing the life here combined with colonialism. And of course colonialism. I understand that some churches do SOME good, but overall the world would be exponentially better off without religions, starting with the natural environment and traditional indigenous people.

  21. Since I can’t edit my comment, I also want to mention that Scheer talks too much in his interviews instead of letting the person he is ostensibly interviewing get a word in edgewise.

  22. “to discuss the critical nuances Americans are missing in Ukraine.”

    Discussing nuances of the latest authoritarian crisis isn’t how we deal with authoritarianism, that is, from the tribal/village chief, world over, for all the millenia, to the leadership of the latest reigning champion of empire in Washington DC. We deal with the whole krock-o-kaka that is authoitarianism, by releasing ourselves from the ropes we tow the blocks of authority’s pyramids. But we really don’t want to free ourselves, do we? As long as the plunder-pudding pours in through our front doors, we’ll keep lapping it up, and get back to the all-important analysis. Nature is still waiting for us to participate in its order-building process. The whole establishment, all the institutions and all the infrastructure will be dismantled, replaced. Anti-authoritarianism. Anarchism. Libertarian socialism. The power and control for each to meet his needs, to fulfill his destiny, into the hands of each, out of the clutches of state and capital. Power and control in the hands of each and every one, means self-determination, means equality and autonomy. Universal respect for the intrinsic worth and free will of all of life, leads to equality and autonomy, individual power and control. This is anarchism.

  23. Well this didn’t age well (in so many ways). Sure, Putin won’t invade. These two are as wrong about that as they are about everything.

    They’ve learned all the wrong lessons from history, hilariously cherry-picking facts and mostly-inventing patterns to weave a fantasy that dictatorships are better than deeply-flawed democracies.

    They’re apologists for actual surveillance police states: Russia under Putin and China under Xi. They prefer them over a (very imperfect) U.S. This would be laughable if it weren’t so sad that these two are 75 and 85. Wisdom is absent. Fortunately they now have almost no influence.

    Biden bad, Putin and Xi good. How long would these two absolutely childish old men last in Russia or China?

    Their starry-eyed certainty reminds me of so many (young) Americans who were infatuated with the USSR and even traveled there in the 30’s to live. The *vast* majority were completely disillusioned, of course. Those who stayed were mostly killed. They were black-and-white thinkers who ascribed complete good intentions to one side and complete evil to the other.

    The bigger truth is that western democracies today are better, even though always struggling against crony corporate capitalism and the ugly legacies of structural racism and exploitation which definitely exist and continue,than what we see in the Russian and Chinese dictatorships. The behavior of the U.S. has been reprehensible, yes, but not even on the same level as a world led by either of these totalitarian states. A world with either or both of these dominant would absolutely be a dystopia, a much worse planet in every way.

    Idealism is alive and well and has always been in tension with nationalism and greed in the U.S. — it has never been fake or pretend as Sheer claims. He loses every ounce of credibility when he denies this obvious fact. Russia and China have been much more attached to the whims of czars and emperors, chairmen and presidents-for-life.

    I wonder if these two could ever see and admit that what is really going on is that they are infatuated with strongmen, to autocrats and authoritarians. And immune to anything good like the struggles that are so frickin’ obvious in U.S. history and culture (though they’ve totally been beneficiaries), and, in short, trapped in a black-and-white mindset.

    Absolute shameful brain-dead crap. That’s what this conversation was — but it’s crap that is uncensored. Could it be that these two self-congratulating geniuses believe for a moment they’d be uncensored in the two police states if their opinion deviated from the party line? Answer: they do believe this — but only because they’ve escaped reality.

    1. @a
      It is in fact YOU who is incapable of nuance and sees the world in black & white (or you’re just a troll here). Here’s a quote from another recent Hedges column: “Russia was baited into war but that does not absolve its criminal act of aggression.” How is that in any way being an “apologist” for Russia? Just because we call out the lies and propaganda of the U.S. and the rest of the west doesn’t mean that we support Russia or Putin. What nonsense!

      On the other hand, you clearly disagree with out politics, so maybe you’re just concocting BS in order to try to propagandize people with the establishment line of, USA, USA!!! Either way, your comments have no merit. And BTW, a lot of people didn’t believe that Russia would invade Ukraine, and many of us think that Putin has lost his mind for doing so.

      1. Your reply makes zero sense — it is not related to what I wrote. I do see your paranoia, though. I’ll just let it stand.

      2. Your reply makes zero sense — it is not related to what I wrote. I do see your paranoia, though. I’ll just let it stand.

      3. @a
        You said that Chris Hedges was wrong about “everything.” You also said that he claims, “Biden bad, Putin and Xi good.” My response was a direct response to that. Can’t tell whether you can’t think straight, you’re just an establishment/Democratic Party troll, or some combination of them.

        And BTW, screw your lesser-of-evil BS. Just because one country or system is worse in some ways that you value doesn’t mean that another one that’s also bad (your “deeply-flawed democracies”) doesn’t also need to be fought and changed radically. It’s clear that you also can’t think critically and/or you’re just a Democratic Party shill. And to be clear about my position here, the Democratic Party is just as much the enemy as the Republican Party.

    2. For starters, your contention that Russia and China are somehow ‘authoritarian’ states seems to excuse the American experience. If you cannot perceive that the very fact of American hegemony and thirst for world control are in fact the greatest danger facing the world today. It is not hard to hold two thoughts at the same time. American actions leading up to Putin’s attack on Ukraine are in fact, the indirect cause of Russian ‘aggression’ (in quotes because it is more apt to refer to Russian defense). Hating on Putin is now America’s favorite pastime and they have infected Europe with the same. Thus, no practical solution can ever be found because the Russian actions are by definition irrational. However, Putin had very good reasons, clearly stated well before and after the invasion of Ukraine, for his actions, however difficult those may be.
      Of course war is never good, but in this case, some answers might emerge. On the other hand, if Russia is walled off from the West, Europe will be diminished and Europeans will suffer. Russia will turn to Asia and the new Cold War will be solidified. All this because of a warped ideology emanating from Washington.

  24. I really liked this article. One thing I was hoping someone could provide, is evidence that American Advisors, U.S. Green Berets and Special Forces were in Ukraine last year, as Oliver Stone claimed.

  25. “The United States and its allies in NATO have been provoking Russia [and] have been using Ukraine as bait, as a temperature-taker of that region [since 2014]. Now we’ve reached this place where they have threatened the Russians so much that they had to react, because I don’t think Putin could have stayed in office if he had not reacted.”

    Ergo, the US and NATO shouldn’t have had provoked Russia using Ukraine as bait since 2014, so that Putin – a mass murderer by decree, globally corrosive misanthrope, pillager of generations of Russian people and a literal existential risk to all mankind – could safely stay in office. It’s as if Stone admits he’s either gone senile, or that Putin’s a pal now. Or both. The mind curdles. Oliver Stone, ladies and gentlemen.

    It is truly amazing and depressing at the same time, how many of the people I grew up admiring are now turning out to be at best irresponsible has-beens long-detached from reality… and symmetrist hypocrites of dubious relations at worst.

    I have a feeling the final list will be long. If there’s anybody left alive to write down the names before this is over.

  26. Thank you both, Robert Scheer and Oliver Stone, for openly talking about what is really happening. War is never a solution and no one wins.
    But this is a conflict between the US and Russia. No one, leaders in the west, has really tried to listen to Putin and has tried to find an agreement.

  27. It is curious you use the phrase, “Putin–a mass murderer by decree…” I think you meant something else, but it does strike me that the mass murdering evidence for Putin is just that, a “decree”. Since Putin chased the Western vultures (like Bill Browder), they have hated him for spoiling their party.
    What we see now is a continuation of that hatred. The Americans have clear designs for regime change and the break-up of Russia into small, US finance capital compliant states. This crisis in the Ukraine is just another step to realize this perfidious goal.

  28. Yet; Innocent Ukrainian civilians are currently being brutalized by russian military and its a crime. All nationalists are idiots. “Nationalism only allows for affirmations, and every doctrine that discards doubt or negation is a form of fanaticism and stupidity.” — Jorge Luis Borges

  29. “No one really knows what’s going on in the actual sense of being in Russia’s mind, but I do think, from the beginning, this has been a defensive maneuver from the Russian side.”

    Putin’s been defending the heck out of innocent women and children! Non-combatant Ukrainians will be defended all the way to St. Peter’s Gate at this rate. But Oliver, you’re forgiven, since “No one really knows what’s going on in the actual sense of being in Russia’s mind,” Actually, I wasn’t aware Russia had
    a mind. Could it be the Royal Mind of Vlad the Great? Naaah… you’ld’ve figured that out from all that interviewing.

    I’m a simple relativist, an empiricist w/ ethical bounds loosely defined by evolutionary precepts. And what I find destructive (after seven decades of observation, launched by attending a Serious Revolution at 5 yrs old) is ideology. They are passable tools for analytical purposes. But very dangerous in the minds (& hands – especially the hands!) of extremists whose personalities drive them to the top. You are mystified by Putin while overlooking his psyche or (heaven forbid!) his faith.

    I won’t even get started on the reverse chauvinism. It’s as near-perfect as any old ideology. Pretty trick to find blame via a single principle.

    By the way, what’s got the wimpy European Socialist Democracies all nervous? Oh, never mind, I think I know. Thanks anyway,

  30. The problem with your comment and your analysis is that it is merely a parrot of the government media narrative with slight basis in reality. You reject easily provable assertions by the Russians that they acted in mind of Russian security and the security of ethnic Russians in the Donbas. That NATO has expanded to threaten Russia and that the Ukrainian army was poised to annihilate Donbas resistance, are not myths. That there could still have been a diplomatic solution and that Putin acted hastily is also probably also true–all depending on how serious the Ukrainians were about their Donbas assault.

    1. NATO has expanded because for former USSR vassal states, that’s the most effective defense against Putin’s primeval urge to recreate the Russian Empire. No matter how one cuts it, as lousy US foreign policy may be, there’s a worse alternative much closer & even more dangerous.

      1. “And if countries in eastern Europe just want to join NATO and/or ally with the U.S., they’re not trying to be independent entities, they’re just trying to join one of the large evil ones.”

        I highly recommend that you talk to people from Eastern Europe about this. Apparently, the self-determination of independent nations is important when they’re being attacked by the US, but if it’s Russia, then some nations have to accept that they’re less equal than others. Or to put it otherwise, they have every right to decide their own fate as long as they don’t ask to be part of NATO and as long as their interests don’t conflict with Russia’s.

        I don’t really feel like squabbling about all this much more.

        I question your dogmatic account of Maidan, however. The far right and the US played a role, but so did the left. The far right currently makes up a tiny percentage of the Ukrainian parliament, and their president is Jewish. To treat these events as a CIA-sponsored Neo-Nazi coup is to distort a complex picture. As Zizek pointed out, there’s an element of truth there, but these reductive characterizations only rationalize dismissing the rights of the Ukrainian people to self-determination.

        Regarding nuclear weapons, it’s Russia who’s threatened to use them. The US made similar threats in the case of Iraq. In both cases, the leaders who made those threats should be held to account. And (beyond this conflict) the world should embrace denuclearization. I’m not sure what you’re proposing otherwise. Should the world trade Ukraine for assurances that Russia won’t initiate a nuclear holocaust? Especially when Russia has been repeatedly dishonest? What about Moldova? Or Lithuania? Or Latvia? Or the rest of Georgia?

        It’s amazing that so many people seem willing to buy Russia’s bullshit claims about how threatening they find NATO when they’re sitting on an arsenal of 6000 nuclear weapons. One might question why NATO’s security guarantees are threatening anyway. They come into play if someone (like Russia) attacks a member state. From the vantage point of the people of Eastern Europe, they are a bulwark against Russian aggression (which has a long, traumatic history).

        The claim that Russia was driven to this by the expansion of NATO relies on a counterfactual. Can we really be certain that if NATO were smaller, then Russia would be acting differently? It’s comforting to believe so, but it’s a “just-so story” and little more.

        Zelensky’s right in saying that talking is the only way to resolve this (and to avoid this). I worry very much about any solution that concedes anything to Russian aggression. I’m not sure that they have “good arguments” (as you say) for starting this war any more than the US has had good arguments for its imperialist adventures.

        Regarding my alleged “the West is the best” argument, I’m sorry, but that was not my claim. Nor was it implied in my account. There are, of course, plenty of reasons to be suspicious of the West and NATO (I have often voiced those suspicions), but the politics in Eastern Europe do not align easily with frames of reference (left or right) in America and Western Europe. The anti-NATO and anti-American position in this instance often looks like an excuse to ignore the voices of people in Eastern Europe who stand to lose everything. It often becomes a rationalization of Russian imperialism under the guise of opposing the American kind.

        It’d be great if there were easy moral choices here. Where you fall in this case will depend on your values. I believe that the left should be speaking out for the self-determination of the people of Ukraine and Eastern Europe. This means recognizing that NATO is popular in this part of the world precisely because many of those countries view it as key to securing their self-determination. In my mind, the left has been hugely disappointing at a crucial moment. Volumes could be written on the reasons why, but as of now, in my mind, they are finding high-minded reasons blame the US for Russian actions with little to offer in the way of alternatives. It’s embarrassing, and as I’ve said, I believe it will hurt their credibility for a long time to come.

  31. It’s always nice to see actual events prove so many commentators, prognosticators and “experts” wrong. Today we know Putin is a killer. Today we know NATO is united and rightly alarmed about Russia. Today we know Russia cannot continue under its current political leadership and claim moral superiority. And so Mr. Stone has been busy back-pedaling all of his recent pre-war pro-Putin “he will never invade” statements, because the position of backing or even sympathizing w Putin has become morally untenable.

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