Media Criticism Ray McGovern Russia-Ukraine

Brainwashed for War With Russia

Another war has been sold to the public thanks to the Establishment media and government talking heads.
Photo by Hello I’m Nik on Unsplash

By Ray McGovern / Antiwar.com

Thanks to Establishment media, the sorcerer apprentices advising President Joe Biden – I refer to Secretary of State Antony Blinken, national security adviser Jacob Sullivan, and China specialist Kurt Campbell – will have no trouble rallying Americans for the widest war in 77 years, starting in Ukraine, and maybe spreading to China. And, shockingly, under false pretenses.

Most Americans are oblivious to the reality that Western media are owned and operated by the same corporations that make massive profits by helping to stoke small wars and then peddling the necessary weapons. Corporate leaders, and Ivy-mantled elites, educated to believe in U.S. “exceptionalism,” find the lucre and the luster too lucrative to be able to think straight. They deceive themselves into thinking that (a) the US cannot lose a war; (b) escalation can be calibrated and wider war can be limited to Europe; and (c) China can be expected to just sit on the sidelines. The attitude, consciously or unconsciously, “Not to worry. And, in any case, the lucre and luster are worth the risk.”

The media also know they can always trot out died-in-the-wool Russophobes to “explain,” for example, why the Russians are “almost genetically driven” to do evil (James Clapper, former National Intelligence Director and now hired savant on CNN); or Fiona Hill (former National Intelligence Officer for Russia), who insists “Putin wants to evict the United States from Europe … As he might put it: “Goodbye, America. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.”

Absent a miraculous appearance of clearer heads with a less benighted attitude toward the core interests of Russia in Ukraine, and China in Taiwan, historians who survive to record the war now on our doorstep will describe it as the result of hubris and stupidity run amok. Objective historians may even note that one of their colleagues – Professor John Mearsheimer – got it right from the start, when he explained in the autumn 2014 issue of Foreign Affairs “Why the Ukraine Crisis is the West’s Fault.”

Historian Barbara Tuchman addressed the kind of situation the world faces in Ukraine in her book “The March of Folly: From Troy to Vietnam.” (Had she lived, she surely would have updated it to take Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, and Ukraine into account). Tuchman wrote:

“Wooden-headedness…plays a remarkably large role in government. It consists in assessing a situation in terms of preconceived fixed notions while ignoring or rejecting any contrary signs. It is acting according to wish while not allowing oneself to be deflected by the facts.”

Six Years (and Counting) of Brainwashing

Thanks to US media, a very small percentage of Americans know that:

  • 14 years ago, then US Ambassador to Russia (current CIA Director) William Burns was warned by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov that Russia might have to intervene in Ukraine, if it were made a member of NATO. The Subject Line of Burns’s Feb. 1, 2008 Embassy Moscow cable (#182) to Washington makes it clear that Amb. Burns did not mince Lavrov’s words; the subject line stated: “Nyet means nyet: Russia’s NATO enlargement redlines.”Thus, Washington policymakers were given forewarning, in very specific terms, of Russia’s redline regarding membership for Ukraine in NATO. Nevertheless, on April 3, 2008, a NATO summit in Bucharest asserted: “NATO welcomes Ukraine’s and Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic aspirations for membership in NATO. We agreed today that these countries will become members of NATO.”
  • 8 years ago, on Feb. 22, 2014, the US orchestrated a coup in Kiev – rightly labeled “the most blatant coup in history’, insofar as it had already been blown on YouTube 18 days prior. Kiev’s spanking new leaders, handpicked and identified by name by US Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland in the YouTube-publicized conversation with the U.S. ambassador in Kiev, immediately called for Ukraine to join NATO.
  • 6 years ago, in June 2016, Russian President Vladimir Putin told Western reporters of his concern that so-called antiballistic missiles sites in Romania and Poland could be converted overnight to accommodate offensive strike missiles posing a threat to Russia’s own nuclear forces. (See this unique video, with English subtitles, from minute 37 to 49.) There is a direct analogy with the 1962 Cuban missile crisis when Moscow put offensive strike missiles in Cuba and President John Kennedy reacted strongly to the existential threat that posed to the US.
  • On December 21, 2021, President Putin told his most senior military leaders:“It is extremely alarming that elements of the US global defense system are being deployed near Russia. The Mk 41 launchers, which are located in Romania and are to be deployed in Poland, are adapted for launching the Tomahawk strike missiles. If this infrastructure continues to move forward, and if US and NATO missile systems are deployed in Ukraine, their flight time to Moscow will be only 7–10 minutes, or even five minutes for hypersonic systems. This is a huge challenge for us, for our security.” [Emphasis added.]
  • On December 30, 2021, Biden and Putin talked by phone at Putin’s urgent request. The Kremlin readout stated:
  • On February 12, 2022, Ushakov briefed the media on the telephone conversation between Putin and Biden earlier that day.
  • On February 24, 2022, Russia invaded Ukraine.

Unprovoked?

The US insists that Russia’s invasion was “unprovoked”. Establishment media dutifully regurgitate that line, while keeping Americans in the dark about such facts (not opinion) as are outlined (and sourced) above. Most Americans are just as taken in by the media as they were 20 years ago, when they were told there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. They simply took it on faith. Nor did the guilty media express remorse – or a modicum of embarrassment.

The late Fred Hiatt, who was op-ed editor at the Washington Post, is a case in point. In an interview with the Columbia Journalism Review [CJR, March/April 2004] he commented:

“If you look at the editorials we wrote running up [to the war], we state as flat fact that he [Saddam Hussein] has weapons of mass destruction.” “If that’s not true, it would have been better not to say it.”

(My journalism mentor, Robert Parry, had this to say about Hiatt’s remark. “Yes, that is a common principle of journalism, that if something isn’t real, we’re not supposed to confidently declare that it is.”)

It’s worse now. Russia is not Iraq. And Putin has been so demonized over the past six years that people are inclined to believe the likes of James Clapper to the effect there’s something genetic that makes Russians evil. “Russia-gate” was a big con (and, now, demonstrably so), but Americans don’t know that either. The consequences of prolonged demonization are extremely dangerous – and will become even more so in the next several weeks as politicians vie to be the strongest in opposing and countering Russia’s “unprovoked” attack on Ukraine.

THE Problem

Humorist Will Rogers had it right:

“The problem ain’t what people know. It’s what people know that ain’t so; that’s the problem.”

Ray McGovern
Ray McGovern

Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, a publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington. His 27-year career as a CIA analyst includes serving as Chief of the Soviet Foreign Policy Branch and preparer/briefer of the President’s Daily Brief. He is co-founder of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS).

22 comments

  1. Right on the money on all counts Ray, thank you for truth telling. So sad so much of the population is effectively illiterate on international affairs, foreign policy, and the actions of the arms manufacturers and warmongers. We will pay dearly for this ignorance as the steady march to nuclear Armageddon continues and with leadership like Biden’s and company it is virtually assured!

    1. I agree with you about Ray McGovern. I’ve gone to see him speak on numerous occasions over the past 3 decades.

      I’ll never see the link you posted, “Micael Dowd,” because I prefer to censor Carlson’s racist screeds and implied calls for violence. All that’s necessary to stomach millionaire Tucker Carlson is to ignore most of what he says. All that not to mention the downsides of the network (and its Billionaire owners) that publish him.

  2. When the world blows up in burning clouds of nuclear hellfire, all the zombie sheep will look to the sky and exclaim as loud as they can in their utter disbelief, how could this have possibly happened.

    But by then it will be too late.

    America is lost.

  3. Excellent analysis by Ray McGovern, a man who knows what he’s talking about. A related poem by poet Dale Johnson from the new Blue Collar Review —

    Poets Supporting Nazis

    It could be someone named Victoria Nuland
    did not orchestrate a coup in Ukraine in 2014
    for someone named Obama, the murderer of Libya.

    It could be Obama’s henchwoman never said
    “fuck the EU” when deciding Ukraine’s new government
    after she and her Nazis dumped the old one.
    And then she didn’t give them cookies.

    It could be no threats were made,
    no assassinations were ordered,
    water was not shut down to Crimea
    the same as Israel does to Palestinians
    and no collective punishment happened,
    fifty souls were not burned alive by Nazis in Odessa,
    the people of Donbas were not shelled for eight years,
    and they did not die, and a comedian strutting tyrant
    did not make all parties except Nazis illegal.

    It could be the United States of Liars did not lie
    despite all previous tradition of lying well.

    It could be the U.S. did not break its word,
    and NATO did not expand from 17 nations to 30
    up to Russia’s border with its missiles and bombs.

    It could be that these U.S. poets really cared
    about the peoples of Ukraine dying
    (though not those of Donbas or Crimea,
    where math also died) and they were not
    poor historians who blamed Stalin, 68 years dead,
    or the Red Army that no longer existed,
    the one that defeated Nazis in World War II.
    It could be these poets cared enough about words,
    they protested loudly, or even a little,
    when Ukraine outlawed Russian music and books
    though a third of its people speak their own
    Russian tongue. No more Tolstoy, Pushkin,
    Dostoyevsky. It could be these poets
    did not ignore that the U.S. is an empire
    that starts wars in defense of greater wealth
    for the empire, and that it started this one in 2014,
    and these poets were not dizzy in praising Nazis
    because they were told Nazis were heroes
    and were not Nazis, even though the Nazis
    said they were. O yeah. It could be
    they condemned Obama’s murder of Libya.

    It could be.
    But it wasn’t.

  4. america exposed—again
    corrupt immoral incompetent
    Russia now reintegrating novorossia permanently—soon the american carnage will be finished

  5. The Biden admin. has swung back and forth between trying to provoke war with Russia via Ukraine and China via Taiwan. Nuclear world war, US vs. two of the three world nuclear superpowers. (Yes, this is as insane as it sounds.) The Unholy War against Russia began with Hillary Clinton, who tried to overturn the 2016 election by weirdly claiming “Russian interference.” (Check info about the Clintons’ business interests in Ukraine, if you can still find it.) Corporate media have wildly spun the tale ever since.

  6. We’ve all witnessed and suffered these kinds of dictatorial and denying behaviors in our workplaces (the woodenheadedness). It was true until recently that the shop floor (any workplace, even remote from home) was the realm in our daily grind of the heaviest oppression and mind control. But lately these attitudes and domineering powers have blasted into almost every aspect of our existence. As political and socio-economic refuge shrinks people become time bombs. The war on Russia, because it is opportunistic and simpleminded, is a war on rationality.

  7. Let’s see if I got it straight.

    The (western) mainstream media and the US government control Putin’s and Xi’s actions to the extent that on the former’s whim the latter is manipulated/forced into declaring war on an undeserving but insubordinate independent and democratic neighbor, against its own (Chinese and Russian) agency and better judgment, into fulfilling a wet dream of the amorphous and invisible but ever present western capitalist Grinch (it would seem that despite the fact that communism is long gone and dead, its main propaganda tenets – the big bad capitalist dark lords and the evil machinations to enslave the ‘people’ – are alive and well. “history repeats itself, first as tragedy, then as farce”. Indeed! Marx might have been disastrous as a political theorist, but his literary brilliance is exquisite still).

    The left-ish, Neo Progressive attempts to deprive all but some mystified western ‘elite’ of any agency – the Russians and Chinese do not act on their own interests and intentions, and the Western public is incapable of identifying an obvious, decades long subterfuge (that only extremely talented and gifted left-ish pundits and flock are able to see through) – is not only irrationally (i.e., alt-fact-based) dumb (i.e., easily refuted, obviously self-serving, etc.), but extremely insulting to all but the left-ish gifted few and the war mongering Grinch.

    The obvious Orwellian underpinning of it would have been funny if it wasn’t so depressingly ‘Twilight Zone’ outlandish and sad…

  8. In 1994, the US, UK, Ukraina, and Russia agreed the Budapest Memorandum, which stated that in return for Ukraina giving its nuclear weapons to Russia—disarming itself—the US and UK would guarantee its safety from interference by Russia.

    In 2014, a meeting was called in Paris, pursuant to the memo, to discuss Russia’s violation of the memo which it had done by infiltrating “separatists” into the Donbas. Putin’s foreign minister, Lavrov, who was already in Paris, demonstrated Putin’s contempt by not bothering to show up for the meeting or even do a quick look-in.

    Ray McGovern must never have listened to Putin’s psychopathic, megalomaniacal, anti-historical claims about Ukraina and his (Putin’s) plans for the future of that country and its people.

    Putin is a psychopath. Psychopaths are individuals who, though present at all times and in all places in history, have received very little attention even though, despite their vanishingly-small numbers (about 1% obligative through 15% voluntary/opportunistic) they are responsible for perhaps 90% of all intentionally-caused human misery.

    Conventionally, psychopaths are said to “have no conscience”. More accurately, they do not have a human, or even mammalian, emotional repertoire. They are like crocodiles in human shape.

    Robert Hare PhD, the world’s expert on psychopaths, gives a canonical example of how dissimilar psychopaths are from humans: a psychopath, waiting on a street corner for the light to change, witnesses a car that goes out of control and causes horrible carnage. Blood and body parts everywhere, people screaming and crying, others trying to give aid to the victims. The psychopath, spattered with blood, thinks to himself before walking away, “damn! I just had this suit cleaned”.

    That is Putin.

    Psychopaths seek positions of institutional power because the thing they want most is the authority to control others. If they can, they become cops, military officers, judges, priests, politicians, prison guards, heads of business and industry, or government officials.

    They have a certain progression in their behavior. First they make promises they have no intention of keeping. Then, when no one believes their promises anymore, they use combinations of escalating threats and violence to force compliance with their demands. If they decide they haven’t enough power to take the violence any further, they may rely on their fellows in high places to save them, as the UK’s Jack Straw did in releasing Pinochet (“I let him go for humanitarian reasons: he is ill”, an illness that did not seem to bother Pinochet during the remaining 6 years of his life.)

    People who start the blame clock only _after_ Putin sent Russians into the Donbas to break it off from Ukraina are, whether they know it or not, the “useful fools” beloved of psychopaths the world around. No matter who you are, it does you no credit to let yourself be used that way. Ray McGovern, with his years at the CIA, should certainly have known better.

  9. The US public has been duped by the National Security State for ages and still has not woken up. This has allowed a small coterie of MIC condotieri to run the nation’s foreign policy for the benefit of the oligarchy and without any concerns for the nation at large.
    A criminal syndicate (Mafia) is what is running this country and they will only stop once they have unleashed WWIII.

  10. There is such a think as lying by omission.
    The author conveniently leaves out the facts that do not fit the narrative , such as the 1994 Budapest Memorandum in which Russia guaranteed Ukraine independence and territorial integrity in exchange for Ukraine renunciation of the ex USSR nuclear weapons in its possession, the 1997 NATO Russia Foundation Act that clearly stated that NATO can accept any country (not excluding Ukraine and Georgia , say) as a member.
    Also, invading a country (Ukraine) on the basis of what a defensive alliance of sovereign nations (NATO) may do to upgrade weapons on the territory of two of his members seems delusional, more so when NATO commitments under the same 1997 Act include not stationing nuclear weapons on the territory of new members and they met this commitment without exception.
    The one country clearly guilty of unprovoked aggression and threatening use of nuclear weapons is Russia.

  11. Curious… I have a question about the 2014 Ukrainian coup. Was it “orchestrated” (i.e. CIA operation) or just “supported” (i.e. US didn’t mastermind it, just applauded)? The Nuland-Pratt conversation doesn’t show “orchestration” per se, imho. Thoughts?

  12. oh, sweet ray mc, ye trying to outshill p. lawrence? this war was “sold” to us? funny, my sources say this war was needlessly IMPOSED on Ukraine, who posed no threat to russia.
    ye only preaching to yer fellow shills here, even a 7th grader can see through yer lies and stop dropping the name of yer brother as if that somehow improves yer shitty pro-russian shilling. as someone just said: if russia stops fighting, there will be no more war. if Ukraine stops fighting, there will be no more Ukraine…
    go stink up some other sphere, ray, ye are a pathetic liar.
    @bob scheer
    man, what went wrong? i remember a time when ye had integrity. and these days? scumbags like scott ritter and shills like pat lawrence give us a relentless indiscriminate shilling with kremlin talking points and propaganda.
    Bob, if ye were against the u.s. invasion of Iraq -i sure was – or afghanistan -i sure was – then why has yer scheerpost become a russian propaganda outlet justifying putin’s aggressive war and warcrimes over and over again?
    and yer censorship? Bob, it is worse than in russia, cause at least in russia ye are given rules. don’t call this war a “war”. okay.
    and on yer shitty site? random posts of mine, which were fact-based take-downs of shills like p.lawrence, were censored. i asked why.? ye were too arrogant to respond. the implication being: “cause we don’t like what ye say” which is the very definition of censorship. how can ye randomly delete posts which just ain’t kremlin enough and deny the folks who actually tried to engage in intelligent discourse even just a simple explanation of the “WHY”? and then ye have chris hedging on about censorship in the media and ye yerself are worse than youtube or twitttere CAUSE AT LEAST THEY POST THEIR RULES AND YE DO NOT!!!
    what is the purpose of continuing this shitty little website which is committed to excusing the inexcusable, whitewashing russia’s aggression, torture, looting, attacking civilian targets etc? are ye that senile now that ye do not even comprehend what has happened to yer integrity? just what is ‘INDEPENDENT’ about yer media, when 90% of the articles, and 95% of the comments, are trollish pathetic attempts at supporting putin no matter what?
    i suggest ye go to Amy Goodman’s “democracy now” once in a while. though a woman, she could teach ye a lot about having the balls to be truly independent. she has more balls than ye. far more. you have become the laughing stock of those media who are still independent enough to call a “war” an actual “war”
    now go ahead and censor this, i expect no less from ye. and then celebrate yerself and yer “independence” like the deranged , senile ghost of what ye used to be which ye have become. but by all means do not respond to this, cause ye would only embarrass yerself. some of us would prefer to remember ye for who ye once were, not for the pathetic empty shill ye have become.

    1. Lots of personal invective, no facts….a sure sign that the facts are against him. It amuses me to see the mental contortions people put themselves through to squirm around the fact that, in supporting the US’s version of events in this situation, they are the “shills”–shills for the multinational vampire corporations that run the US government and want to get their fangs into Russia and suck her dry like they started to in the 90’s.

      Putin stopped that, and the corporate shills will never forgive him for that–nor will they admit that it’s their main motivation for attacking and demeaning Russia.

  13. War will stop when armies lay down their weapons and refuse to fight their fellow man.
    Refuse to be pawns in a rich man’s quest for ego.
    They enslaved us to china. Then laughed at our plight.
    Told us to dig deep and suck it up.
    Biden said he did not care if the whole world starved in his quest to conquer Russia.
    Not to mention preserving his son, Hunter’s, position on the Ukraine Energy Commission.
    And yet, people still hup hup hooray him.
    This is a war no one can win.
    Biden is so smug he believes he can best China.
    All they have to do is shut down our supply lines.
    Pelosi talks about how much she hates the Chinese.
    Big talk for a person dependent upon them for everything.
    We turned the other cheek while Zolenski committed genocide on the Donbass, and slaughtered 14,000 people because they spoke Russian.
    Then when Putin showed up as promised, Zolenski went crying like a baby, help me, help me.
    We are neutral. You have to defend me.
    No, my friend. You cannot have it both ways.
    Zolenski should have been made to sign a cease fire months ago.
    But what do I know?
    I am but a lowly woman.
    If we do not stop this, we will not live to regret it.

  14. Let’s see if I got it straight.

    The (western) mainstream media and the US government control Putin’s and Xi’s actions to the extent that on the former’s whim the latter is manipulated/forced into declaring war on an undeserving but insubordinate independent and democratic neighbor, against its own (Chinese and Russian) agency and better judgment, into fulfilling a wet dream of the amorphous and invisible but ever present western capitalist Grinch (it would seem that despite the fact that communism is long gone and dead, its main propaganda tenets – the big bad capitalist dark lords and the evil machinations to enslave the ‘people’ – are alive and well. “history repeats itself, first as tragedy, then as farce”. Indeed! Marx might have been disastrous as a political theorist, but his literary brilliance is exquisite still).

    The left-ish, Neo Progressive attempts to deprive all but some mystified western ‘elite’ of any agency – the Russians and Chinese do not act on their own interests and intentions, and the Western public is incapable of identifying an obvious, decades long subterfuge (that only extremely talented and gifted left-ish pundits and flock are able to see through) – is not only irrationally (i.e., alt-fact-based) dumb (i.e., easily refuted, obviously self-serving, etc.), but extremely insulting to all but the left-ish gifted few and the war mongering Grinch.

    The obvious Orwellian underpinning of it would have been funny if it wasn’t so depressingly ‘Twilight Zone’ outlandish and sad…

  15. Critical quotes have been omitted from this version of Ray’s article. Your version reads:

    On December 30, 2021, Biden and Putin talked by phone at Putin’s urgent request. The Kremlin readout stated:
    On February 12, 2022, Ushakov briefed the media on the telephone conversation between Putin and Biden earlier that day.

    The original version reads:

    On December 21, 2021, President Putin told his most senior military leaders:

    “It is extremely alarming that elements of the US global defense system are being deployed near Russia. The Mk 41 launchers, which are located in Romania and are to be deployed in Poland, are adapted for launching the Tomahawk strike missiles. If this infrastructure continues to move forward, and if US and NATO missile systems are deployed in Ukraine, their flight time to Moscow will be only 7–10 minutes, or even five minutes for hypersonic systems. This is a huge challenge for us, for our security.” [Emphasis added.]

    On December 30, 2021, Biden and Putin talked by phone at Putin’s urgent request. The Kremlin readout stated:

    “Joseph Biden emphasized that Russia and the US shared a special responsibility for ensuring stability in Europe and the whole world and that Washington had no intention of deploying offensive strike weapons in Ukraine.” Yuri Ushakov, a top foreign policy adviser to Putin, pointed out that this was also one of the goals Moscow hoped to achieve with its proposals for security guarantees to the US and NATO. [Emphasis added.]

    On February 12, 2022, Ushakov briefed the media on the telephone conversation between Putin and Biden earlier that day.

    “The call was as a follow-up of sorts to the … December 30 telephone conversation. … The Russian President made clear that President Biden’s proposals did not really address the central, key elements of Russia’s initiatives either with regards to non-expansion of NATO, or non-deployment of strike weapons systems on Ukrainian territory … To these items, we have received no meaningful response.” [Emphasis added.]

    On February 24, 2022, Russia invaded Ukraine.

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