Censorship Chris Hedges Forever Wars Original

Chris Hedges: Ukraine and the Politics of Permanent War

Permanent war requires permanent censorship.
War Inc. – by Mr. Fish

By Chris Hedges / Original to ScheerPost

No one, including the most bullish supporters of Ukraine, expect the nation’s war with Russia to end soon. The fighting has been reduced to artillery duels across hundreds of miles of front lines and creeping advances and retreats. Ukraine, like Afghanistan, will bleed for a very long time. This is by design.

On August 24, the Biden administration announced yet another massive military aid package to Ukraine worth nearly $3 billion. It will take months, and in some cases years, for this military equipment to reach Ukraine. In another sign that Washington assumes the conflict will be a long war of attrition it will give a name to the U.S. military assistance mission in Ukraine and make it a separate command overseen by a two- or three-star general. Since August 2021, Biden has approved more than $8 billion in weapons transfers from existing stockpiles, known as drawdowns, to be shipped to Ukraine, which do not require Congressional approval.

Including humanitarian assistance, replenishing depleting U.S. weapons stocks and expanding U.S. troop presence in Europe, Congress has approved over $53.6 billion ($13.6 billion in March and a further $40.1 billion in May) since Russia’s February 24 invasion. War takes precedence over the most serious existential threats we face. The proposed budget for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in fiscal year 2023 is $10.675 billion while the proposed budget for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is $11.881 billion. Our approved assistance to Ukraine is more than twice these amounts. 

The militarists who have waged permanent war costing trillions of dollars over the past two decades have invested heavily in controlling the public narrative. The enemy, whether Saddam Hussein or Vladimir Putin, is always the epitome of evil, the new Hitler. Those we support are always heroic defenders of liberty and democracy. Anyone who questions the righteousness of the cause is accused of being an agent of a foreign power and a traitor.

The mass media cravenly disseminates these binary absurdities in 24-hour news cycles. Its news celebrities and experts, universally drawn from the intelligence community and military, rarely deviate from the approved script. Day and night, the drums of war never stop beating. Its goal: to keep billions of dollars flowing into the hands of the war industry and prevent the public from asking inconvenient questions. 

In the face of this barrage, no dissent is permitted. CBS News caved to pressure and retracted its documentary which charged that only 30 percent of arms shipped to Ukraine were making it to the front lines, with the rest siphoned off to the black market, a finding that was separately reported upon by U.S. journalist Lindsey Snell. CNN has acknowledged there is no oversight of weapons once they arrive in Ukraine, long considered the most corrupt country in Europe. According to a poll of executives responsible for tackling fraud, completed by Ernst & Young in 2018, Ukraine was ranked the ninth-most corrupt nation from 53 surveyed. 

There is little ostensible reason for censoring critics of the war in Ukraine. The U.S. is not at war with Russia. No U.S. troops are fighting in Ukraine. Criticism of the war in Ukraine does not jeopardize our national security. There are no long-standing cultural and historical ties to Ukraine, as there are to Great Britain. But if permanent war, with potentially tenuous public support, is the primary objective, censorship makes sense.

War is the primary business of the U.S. empire and the bedrock of the U.S. economy. The two ruling political parties slavishly perpetuate permanent war, as they do austerity programs, trade deals, the virtual tax boycott for corporations and the rich, wholesale government surveillance, the militarization of the police and the maintenance of the largest prison system in the world. They bow before the dictates of the militarists, who have created a state within a state. This militarism, as Seymour Melman writes in The Permanent War EconomyAmerican Capitalism in Decline, “is fundamentally contradictory to the formation of a new political economy based upon democracy, instead of hierarchy, in the workplace and the rest of society.” 

“The idea that war economy brings prosperity has become more than an American illusion,” Melman writes. “When converted, as it has been, into ideology that justifies the militarization of society and moral debasement, as in Vietnam, then critical reassessment of that illusion is a matter of urgency. It is a primary responsibility of thoughtful people who are committed to humane values to confront and respond to the prospect that deterioration of American economy and society, owing to the ravages of war economy, can become irreversible.”

If permanent war is to be halted, as Melman writes, the ideological control of the war industry must be shattered. The war industry’s funding of  politicians, research centers and think tanks, as well as its domination of the media monopolies, must end. The public must be made aware, Melman writes, of how the federal government “sustains itself as the directorate of the largest industrial corporate empire in the world; how the war economy is organized and operated in parallel with centralized political power — often contradicting the laws of Congress and the Constitution itself; how the directorate of the war economy converts pro-peace sentiment in the population into pro-militarist majorities in the  Congress; how ideology and fears of job losses are manipulated to marshal support in Congress and the general public for war economy; how the directorate of the war economy uses its power to prevent planning for orderly conversion to an economy of peace.”

Rampant, unchecked militarism, as historian Arnold Toynbee notes, “has been by far the commonest cause of the breakdown of civilizations.” 

This breakdown is accelerated by the rigid standardization and uniformity of public discourse. The manipulation of public opinion, what Walter Lippman calls “the manufacture of consent,” is imperative as the militarists gut social programs; let the nation’s crumbling infrastructure decay; refuse to raise the minimum wage; sustain an inept, mercenary for-profit health care system that resulted in 25 percent of global Covid deaths — although we are less than 5 percent of the world’s population — to gouge the public; carries out deindustrialization; do nothing to curb the predatory behavior of banks and corporations or invest in substantial programs to combat the climate crisis. 

Critics, already shut out from the corporate media, are relentlessly attacked, discredited and silenced for speaking a truth that threatens the public’s quiescence while the U.S. Treasury is pillaged by the war industry and the nation disemboweled. 

You can watch my discussion with Matt Taibbi about the rot that infects journalism here and here.

The war industry, deified by the mass media, including the entertainment industry, is never held accountable for the military fiascos, cost overruns, dud weapons systems and profligate waste. No matter how many disasters — from Vietnam to Afghanistan — it orchestrates, it is showered with larger and larger amounts of federal funds, nearly half of all the government’s discretionary spending. The monopolization of capital by the military has driven the U.S. debt to over $30 trillion, $6 trillion more than the U.S. GDP of $24 trillion. Servicing this debt costs $300 billion a year. We spend more on the military, $813 billion for fiscal year 2023, than the next nine countries, including China and Russia, combined.

An organization like NewsGuard, which has been rating what it says are trustworthy and untrustworthy sites based on their reporting on Ukraine, is one of the many indoctrination tools of the war industry. Sites that raise what are deemed “false” assertions about Ukraine, including that there was a U.S.-backed coup in 2014 and neo-Nazi forces are part of Ukraine’s military and power structure, are tagged as unreliable. Consortium NewsDaily KosMint Press and Grayzone have been given a red warning label. Sites that do not raise these issues, such as CNN, receive the “green” rating” for truth and credibility.  (NewsGuard, after being heavily criticized for giving Fox News a green rating of approval in July revised its rating for Fox News and MSNBC, giving them red labels.) 

The ratings are arbitrary. The Daily Caller, which published fake naked pictures of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, was given a green rating, along with a media outlet owned and operated by The Heritage Foundation. NewsGuard gives WikiLeaks a red label for “failing” to publish retractions despite admitting that all of the information WikiLeaks has published thus far is accurate. What WikiLeaks was supposed to retract remains a mystery. The New York Times and The Washington Post, which shared a Pulitzer in 2018 for reporting that Donald Trump colluded with Vladimir Putin to help sway the 2016 election, a conspiracy theory the Mueller investigation imploded, are awarded perfect scores. These ratings are not about vetting journalism. They are about enforcing conformity.

NewsGuard, established in 2018, “partners” with the State Department and the Pentagon, as well as corporations such as Microsoft. Its advisory board includes the former Director of the CIA and NSA, Gen. Michael Hayden; the first U.S. Homeland Security director Tom Ridge and Anders Fogh Rasmussen, a former secretary general of NATO.

Readers who regularly go to targeted sites could probably care less if they are tagged with a red label. But that is not the point. The point is to rate these sites so that anyone who has a NewsGuard extension installed on their devices will be warned away from visiting them. NewsGuard is being installed in libraries and schools and on the computers of active-duty troops. A warning pops up on targeted sites that reads: “Proceed with caution: This website generally fails to maintain basic standards of accuracy and accountability.”

Negative ratings will drive away advertisers, which is the intent. It is also a very short step from blacklisting these sites to censoring them, as happened when YouTube erased six years of my show On Contact that was broadcast on RT America and RT International. Not one show was about Russia. And not one violated the guidelines for content imposed by YouTube. But many did examine the evils of U.S. militarism.

In an exhaustive rebuttal to NewsGuard, which is worth reading, Joe Lauria, the editor-in-chief of Consortium News, ends with this observation:

NewsGuard’s accusations against Consortium News that could potentially limit its readership and financial support must be seen in the context of the West’s war mania over Ukraine, about which dissenting voices are being suppressed. Three CN writers have  been kicked off Twitter. 

PayPal’s cancellation of Consortium News’ account is an evident attempt to defund it for what is almost certainly the company’s view that CN violated its restrictions on “providing false or misleading information.” It cannot be known with 100 percent certainty because PayPal is hiding behind its reasons, but CN trades in information and nothing else.  

CN supports no side in the Ukraine war but seeks to examine the causes of the conflict within its recent historical context, all of which are being whitewashed from mainstream Western media.

Those causes are: NATO’s expansion eastward despite its promise not to do so; the coup and eight-year war on Donbass against coup resisters; the lack of implementation of the Minsk Accords to end that conflict; and the outright rejection of treaty proposals by Moscow to create a new security architecture in Europe taking Russia’s security concerns into account.  

Historians who point out the onerous Versailles conditions imposed on Germany after World War I as a cause of Nazism and World War II are neither excusing Nazi Germany nor are they smeared as its defenders.

The frantic effort to corral viewers and readers into the embrace of the establishment media — only 16 percent of Americans have a great deal/quite a lot of confidence in newspapers and only 11 percent have some degree of confidence in television news — is a sign of desperation. 

As the persecution of Julian Assange illustrates, the throttling of press freedom is bipartisan. This assault on truth leaves a population unmoored. It feeds wild conspiracy theories. It shreds the credibility of the ruling class. It empowers demagogues. It creates an information desert, one where truth and lies are indistinguishable. It frog-marches us towards tyranny. This censorship only serves the interests of the militarists who, as Karl Liebknecht reminded his fellow Germans in World War I, are the enemy within.

NOTE TO SCHEERPOST READERS FROM CHRIS HEDGES: There is now no way left for me to continue to write a weekly column for ScheerPost and produce my weekly television show without your help. The walls are closing in, with startling rapidity, on independent journalism, with the elites, including the Democratic Party elites, clamoring for more and more censorship. Bob Scheer, who runs ScheerPost on a shoestring budget, and I will not waver in our commitment to independent and honest journalism, and we will never put ScheerPost behind a paywall, charge a subscription for it, sell your data or accept advertising. Please, if you can, sign up at chrishedges.substack.com so I can continue to post my now weekly Monday column on ScheerPost and produce my weekly television show, The Chris Hedges Report.

Chris Hedges
Chris Hedges

Chris Hedges is a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist who was a foreign correspondent for fifteen years for The New York Times, where he served as the Middle East Bureau Chief and Balkan Bureau Chief for the paper. He previously worked overseas for The Dallas Morning NewsThe Christian Science Monitor, and NPR. He is the host of show The Chris Hedges Report.


  1. I wish to support your efforts. I live in Japan. I possess no credit cards. I refuse to use PayPal or any similar means. I can send a cheque from a bank in the USA. I have purchased all you books, not simply as a means of support, but because of the content. Please advise means of payment, if possible by cheque.

  2. I love your articles Chris! You are one of the very few who really tell it like it is…

  3. When you allow your government to become utterly corrupted and run by madmen and psychopaths, no matter the reason, you get what you deserve.

    American illusions and delusions are going to hit the reality wall like a bug hitting a windshield at 70 mph. Half of me wants to be around to watch all the stunned and clueless sheep staggering around asking how this all could of happened, and the other half of me hopes I am not. Because all the Schadenfreude in the world will hardly make up for the level of pain and suffering that will be inflicted on us all.

    The train is out of control and the bridge over the chasm has collapsed. The Titanic is actively being steered toward the iceberg. And what are we doing, but actively supporting and facilitating the bombing of a nuclear power station….because we are the good guys???

    As far as I am concerned, we will all get what is coming to us.

    1. What rubbish. You must have never read a work of serious non-fiction history in your life. Your embrace of hyperbole and implication that whether you witness your silly imaginary future matters outside your own head earmarks you as an unserious person.

      1. correct obviously—hedges is typically shallow, selective anti-intellectual; it has long been written and observed by average Europeans, Latin Americans that americans cannot tolerate ambiguity—neurosis–nor can they think dialectically —the failure to make proper connections encourages progressives—the most fascist in USA to confuse immorality with social progress. There is certainly no dispute here amongst Marxist-Leninists


      I’ve used the following story about use of that inclusive pronoun before on SP. In that case, I meant it more as a question in general and was misunderstood as meaning it as personal. Here I mean personal, especially since I actually grew up on reservation land.

      In the ’60s, there was a joke about the Lone Ranger and Tonto. The two run into some hostile Indians, so the Lone ranger says to Tonto, “we have to fight them!” To which Tonto replies, “what’s this WE, white man?!”

      Neither the Native nor the Wobbly in me can possibly rejoice in possibly millions of people “getting what’s coming” to them.

      This reeks of a sense of superiority and righteousness. A hateful and vengeful purity that delights in the destruction of enemies, all too easily including any perceived political heretics or the insufficiently doctrinaire. Chris Hedges has written about political versions of the old religious Inquisitions and their connection to belief in human perfectibility. By force if need be.

      That “we” in your usage also fails to consider that the “WE” of indigenous people also includes entities of the natural world. What does the “we” of animals, trees, smaller plants, fungi, slime molds, bacteria, archaea, and whatever else “have coming” to them/us?!

  4. Great article Chris. Thank you for keeping my sanity with all the propaganda bullshit that spews from these insane War Pigs! I too buy your books and would like to support Scheer Post by cheque or E transfer, I hate credit cards. Please advise….. P.S. Have you heard of Honest Reporting Canada it is an Orwellian Ministry of Truth a “grass roots” defender of Israel with a group of Zionist wordsmiths that have a pipeline to all the newspapers and media editorials. Any and all criticism of Israel is usually pounced on with weaponized Anti Semitism! Not having a pipeline to the media any and all of my letters to the editor are never printed. Scheer Post is one of the few that I can see my thoughts in print. So again thank you for being there.

  5. Thank you Mr.Hedges please continue bearing witness and taking account of the horror of this current era of human civilization your insight is invaluable. As a socialists my friends and I always find things to debate in your books and essays and we always feel enlightened at the same time. The working class has the only answer out of capitalist barbarism we have to apply it…

    1. Watch How to Start a Revolution DVD documentary (it’s not what you think) and read From Dictatorship to Democracy, the book by Dr Gene Sharp. You can buy a copy on eBay.
      Better yet, host a viewing party at your home.

    2. yet numerous Marxists consider the US working class to be conservative counter-revolutionary, stupified immoral—the enemy of any fundamental social change

  6. we’re fuc|<ed

    but in a while, they will be too, you can only oppress people for so long

  7. The 12th paragraph of this article – the one beginning with “This breakdown is accelerated by the rigid standardization … of discourse” – can form the backbone of a new Declaration of Independence. It certainly enumerates the wrongs that our government is doing.
    And the original Declaration of Independence stated that, when a government is no longer serving the needs of the people, it is not only our right, but our DUTY, to replace it with a better one.

  8. WAR, what is it good for — absolutely EMPIRE!

    And by EMPIRE I mean this “Quiet American” duopoly party Empire more fully diagnosed and described as this:

    Disguised Global Crony Capitalist Racist Propagandist Criminal Ecocidal Child-Killing & War-Starting EMPIRE, controlled by the ‘Ruling-Elite’, UHNWI, <0.003%ers, TCCers, arrogantly self-appointed "Masters of the Universe", and "Evil (not-so) Geniuses" [Kurt Andersen] — which hides Empire behind their totally corrupted dual-party Vichy-facade of faux-democracy.

    Keep this EMPIRE in mind when you listen to this classic 'Anti-War' and more importantly 'Anti-EMPIRE' song by Edwin Starr:


  9. Come on people- “It ain’t over till it’s over” Yogi Berra.

    I think we need voting ballots with check squares for no confidence votes. Might at least make the process of counting shorter. Can’t mess up the system much more than it already is. After all voting has become a kind of advance under the table sale of our freedoms to benefit the corporate moguls of commerce and power crazy despots.

    And why can’t we insist that the job of president must require satisfying basic job competency? The candidates these days don’t even have to fill out a job application. WTF!

    1. If wishes were horses Beeline. While were at it, ice cream and candy for everyone! What part of we have no say is giving you trouble?

    2. yogi bear= a prominent american philosopher
      “the american world view is nihilism w a happy ending”. Alan Bloom

  10. With a third of Pakistan under water, with much of Europe in a devastating drought, along with the Western US, with the Arctic and Antarctic ice sheets melting….the unbridled militarism, and its vicious consequences that we witness will come to a grinding halt when the planet has had enough. What we are seeing now from climate disruption is surely only a prelude of what is to come. And the people in control, around the planet, are oblivious to what lies ahead.

  11. Chris:

    You are overestimating the strength of the MIC. The Ukraine war has shown how incompetent the US military is, as all indications are that Russia is annihilating the Ukrainian forces. The US tried to prepare Ukraine as a bludgeon against Russia for 8 years (!) and cannot match Russian expertise in combined arms. Russia has the “full spectrum” dominance the US desires, as according to Larry C Johnson ( https://sonar21.com/there-is-no-fixing-stupid-when-it-comes-to-ukraine/ ), Ukraine’s army is exhausted, press ganging old, ill-trained or still wounded soldiers to the frontlines and unable to call for air support or supplies, as Russia is able to use its air force, drones and missiles to target Ukrainian logistics and airfields.

    As you’ve written, the US military is mostly “… fiascos, cost overruns, dud weapons systems and profligate waste.”: it’s about keeping the money flowing much more than creating durable, effective combat systems. Please check your sources and take a closer look at both the economic and military capabilities of Russia and China. Russia is trying to avoid civilian infrastructure and casualties as it wants the goodwill of the global South and East. The fact that Ukraine is targeting a nuclear power plant (Zaporizhzia) and risking a meltdown shows how cornered they are.

    The Russians are preparing for a drawn out war, but hopefully the Ukrainian frontline collapses and more troops surrender or rebel against their commanders. My understanding is morale along the Ukrainian lines is extremely low due to constant bombardment and failure to relieve or resupply:
    see for example https://sonar21.com/new-batches-of-ukrainian-troops-quitting-the-fight-as-russia-grinds-on/.

    The US is desperate to contain Russia and China as it has a small window while the Dollar is still widely used and the Eurasian economic union is in its infancy. I believe you’ve said yourself that China will surpass US GDP by 2030, and some observers believe China far surpasses the US in real terms already. US and European societies are pulling themselves apart while China and Russia, whatever their faults, are resisting western sanctions and increasing ties with each other and the world. See for example Pepe Escobar’s article about economic corridors connecting Asia and the Middle East: https://thecradle.co/Article/Columns/14439

    1. GDP—nominal is a nearly irrelevant measure—unfortunately idiots believe otherwise

  12. hedges the shallow liberal—gibbering irrelevance unable to comprehend significance


      “idiots” “shallow liberal” “gibbering irrelevance”
      I presume you have some objective standard for such pronouncements. Perhaps a philosometer with a politometer analogue gauge. One without a red line (pun intended) that pings on ad hominems.

      Wait–never mind! Clearly that “comprehend significance” implies the god-like ability to judge what is or isn’t significant. If only we ignorant proles and the wrong-headed intelligentsia would do it your way, we’d become perfected. Ironically similar to the assumption of capitalist fetishists regarding perfect information about and perfect access to markets.

      No wonder my grandfather was a Wobbly. Or my own reaction to that theoretical “vanguard of the working class.” We can see the dogmatic left obviously doesn’t like us as is, considering us working class types too stupid to run our own revolution. An unmitigated sense of superiority akin to that of right wing economic determinists.

      1. Mr. H is a rare journalist who clearly identify the folly of America’s numerous unnecessary wars. MS media is guilty and complicit in our disastrous trillion$ wars.
        Fortunately, Scheerpost and Chris is not party to these ridiculousness that damages America’ s future and directly hurts the bottom half of Americans.
        Example… water crisis in Mississippi that should have been fixed long ago, but hundreds of $90 million F35 is more important
        We comprehend only the significance of priorities for MI complex.

  13. So Washington’s military expenditure of >US$800 billion per year has, by opportunity cost, caused the defunding of US public institutions including social welfare, public health, education, libraries, infrastructure maintenance (collapsing bridges etc) and so on. Average Americans are facing increasing pain which will only worsen. There is an epidemic of homelessness. Bail out the billionaire bankers but evict mortgage defaulters who were suckered into predatory loans. Privatize profits but socialize losses. Well boohoo, too bad, so sad. Let us not forget that the US permanent war economy has caused at least 6 million deaths in other countries over the past 20 years
    and that does not even count the multiple millions killed in Vietnam and Korea before that.
    There is only one solution. AmeriCANs must rise up against and get rid of the AmeriCUNTs. Get rid of the Neocons and their ilk.

  14. entirely missing from Chris Hedges exalted position, which mere mortals cannot fathom the depth and wisdom of, is the notion that if the invader, namely Putin, JUST STOPPED INVADING this war would be over. see, Chris, imagonna try a little LOGIC here: if Ukraine decided tomorrow they don’t want to be invaded anymore, nothing would change. if i remember right, the Ukrainians never took a liking to this invasion from the start… in short, this war, this invasion cannot be stopped by the Ukrainians. [other than to roll over, but when it comes to the Palestinians’ fight against a superior force ye are all supportive! death to the Invader! what a Hypocrite ye are!]
    in Ukraine,l for some racist reasons, this logic does not apply, right? this war, in yer mendacious words, is prolonged by the USA. if only the USA would stop blahblahblahblahblah
    never mind [looping back here] that the INVADER, namely PUTIN, could stop this war right now this minute by,err, stopping to invade. just a phone call. my logic is impeccable…
    so how come that Chris hedges, the impeccable, the exalted, who begs for money on substack but will so absolutely NOT lower himself to actually converse with these folks whose money he begs for, how come this self-same chris hedges does not call for PUTIN to end this war? would that end yer paycheck, chris? ye sold out that completely?
    ye were my hero once, after the ‘Gaza diaries. in which ye lobbied strongly, and righteously, for the rights of Palestinian children to live. yer present abject, miserable, partisan, paid-shill, cowardly failure to in ANY form, just ANY FORM, lobby for the rights of Ukrainian children to live, is going to stain yer reputation forever. what, them Ukrainian kids be children of a lesser God? them a lesser race? do explain! [just joking, cause Chris, him exalted. him no longer talk to ordinary folks, just begs their money…

  15. At any future time do you plan to address how many in this country haven’t recovered from the housing collapse of 2008? [I have had to pay $17,000+ in interest every year since January 2008. 4.75% and owe $350K. Only 500 goes toward principal . I’m 80 with an income under $44K.]

  16. The Left and the Right both have echo chambers. And though I much prefer the Left’s-conformity to heterodoxy is alive and well on the Left.

    So Hedges is obviously right about the permanent war machine. The media often is a haven for lemmings and corporate shills.

    But Hedges should not be worried about media censorship. That unfettered, unprincipled excuse for something- Tucker Carlson surely aligns with US non-involvement in Ukraine. Plenty of Russian bought factions in the Republican Party oppose the war. And there are of course legitimate pacifists that oppose war in general. And Trump- if elected- will surely get back at Ukraine for not helping him politically. And he after all- is the epitome of principle in the Republican Party.

    The Left really does have a problem with Biden- they can’t understand him.

    But more importantly- some on the Left can’t understand why the Ukraine invasion is an unmitigated humanitarian disaster, without any justification and pivotal to the defense of Europe. Not one serious critique from Hedges and others has seriously and effectively challenged this assessment. They may go back historically and speak of “provoking” Russia by allowing Eastern Europe self determination. They may point to the presence of nuclear weapons near Russian soil- and then quickly bring up the Monroe Doctrine- but this is not at issue. Putin has made his objectives and rationale clear. Or they may point to the benefits of appeasement to avoid a nuclear war- truly a winning recipe in history- Not. The war may well widen- but appeasement will make it more, not less likely.

    But what particularly angers me is how Hedges and others minimize the suffering of the Ukrainian people and throw it against the US War Machine. But in one sense they are right. If there is a justification for the war machine- Ukraine is evidence of it.

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