J4S Nord Stream II Ray McGovern

J4S: WaPo Nord Stream Scoop, Ukraine and Nuclear War (w/ Ray McGovern)

By Diego Ramos and Max Jones / Original to ScheerPost

Joining co-hosts Max Jones and Diego Ramos on Journalists for Sale this week is Ray McGovern. The former CIA intelligence analyst turned political activist helps Jones and Ramos understand the latest developments in the Nord Stream sabotage case, exploring the recent Washington Post revelation claiming that the U.S. and European leaders knew about the attack months before and the suspect divers were under the direction of Ukraine’s top dog general. We compare the reporting to Sy Hersh’s bombshell on the sabotage and dive into what the future of the war looks like.

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This transcript was produced by an automated transcription service. Please refer to the audio interview to ensure accuracy. 

Diego Ramos [00:00:00] Hi, all. It’s another episode of Journalist for Sale. My name is Diego Ramos, joining my co-host, Max Jones and I this week is Ray McGovern. The former CIA intelligence analyst turned political activist, helps us understand the latest developments in the Nord Stream sabotage case explored in the recent Washington Post revelation, claiming that the U.S. and European leaders knew about the attack months before and the search the suspect divers were under the direction of Ukraine’s top dog general. We compare the reporting to Sy Hersh’s bombshell on the sabotage and dive into what the future of the war looks like. Make sure to follow all of our social media accounts and like comment and subscribe to help us fight the algorithm. And stay tuned for weekly interviews. Hey, Ray, thanks for joining us. 

Ray McGovern [00:00:46] You’re welcome. 

Ramos [00:00:48] So to start, I’m curious to hear your thoughts on the evolution of the official narrative regarding Nord Stream, meaning the mainstream and the government narrative. It started with putting the entire blame on Russia, as always, and then it evolved into this kind of whodunit mystery. [Sy] Hersh’s report comes out, which is incredibly detailed and meticulous article that says that the U.S. planned and carried out the attack themselves, but that’s mostly ignored. And then we have this idea of a pro-Ukrainian group with supposedly no alleged ties to the Ukrainian government leadership, getting the spotlight in March. And now the story goes that six divers, you know, one of them suspected of being in the Ukrainian military, six divers under the leadership of Ukraine’s highest ranking military officer responsible. And the U.S., Germany and other European leaders knew about this three months in advance. It’s all over the place and lacks logic. So what do you think about this revelation from The Washington Post? 

McGovern [00:01:53] Well, you put your finger on this nice little chronology because it speaks volumes. Let’s begin with Hersh’s report. I know Sy Hersh, he’s a friend of mine. There’s no better reporter or meticulous observer of the rules of reporting, namely protecting your sources, that there’s no one better. Okay. And that’s why precisely why sources come to Sy, so to speak. So he had it right, in my view. No one has refuted what he had said. They’ve just offered alternative stories. Okay. Now, about three weeks after Sy issued his report on Substack. No publication would receive and publish it. Fewer of prize winning. Revealer of My Lai in the works and no one would publish science. That speaks volumes as well. Anyhow, three weeks after, as I recall, I had an opportunity to brief the U.N. Security Council. Professor Jeffrey Sachs from Columbia first briefed them via video stream and then I briefed them in person. They’re sitting around that horseshoe desk. I couldn’t stop thinking about Colin Powell, and anyhow. So I reached them. And the morning of the briefing, we had a paper circulated by the Danes and the Germans and the Swedes saying, We’re deep into our investigation of the Nord Stream pipeline blow up. We don’t need any help. We got it covered. We certainly don’t need a U.N. Security Council to get involved. We got we got a cover that was circulated to everyone on the Security Council that morning. Okay. So those were the talking points. They got the memo, so to speak. Okay. So everybody talked to those talking points. And the Russian ambassador Nebenzya, said, you know, this is kind of hard to understand. Here’s an act of war. Here’s the U.N. Security Council established precisely for the purpose of looking into these things. And, you know, it’s sort of hard. What’s the hesitation? And and the Chinese representative gave him very, very strong support. I noticed that the Brazilian representative was sitting just about four people down from me, was sort of shuffling his feet and hemming and hawing. And what he said was very mediocre, like, I don’t know, pretty much I don’t really have instructions. Well, that that put that judgment off for a couple of weeks. I think about three weeks since there was a resolution had to be acted on. And so the vote finally came. And when I saw the vote, I saw I first saw the reports. Hey. Russia, for. China, for. Brazil, for. Anybody against? Nobody against. Nobody against? The 12 were all abstentions. Good. You setting a new record for abstentions, though? They were just it was just too embarrassing to vote against the resolution saying, why can’t we investigate that? So they all agreed we’ll abstain and we’ll let the Swedes and the Danes and the German. Well, the problem is, as Sachs, Professor Sachs appointed out, the Swedes are already done. The German we down there, they’re pretty. They know every inch of the bottom of the Baltic Sea there and they went down with their divers and all and, and when they came, came a bubble up to the surface. Everybody said, “Well what did you find?” And they said, “We can’t tell you it’s a national security.” We can’t even tell our Swedish citizens. So, they saved Swedes months later. Since the explosion was in September last year. Okay. So months later, they’re still even with us as Germans are helping us. The Germans are voice. That speaks volumes. And the Danes, we got it covered. Okay, So that was that was the that was the personal involvement. I had the most bizarre way. I simply spoke to the fact that Seymour Hersh has credentials that won’t quit and that attempts to impugn his veracity or his sources. Well, there are a lot of people who are doing that right then that were saying, oh, no, there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Of course there were. Sy Hersh didn’t have any [inaudible]. So anyhow, so a week or so later, the CIA and The Washington Post and The New York Times got together and say, okay, you know, everybody, we can’t keep Sy Hersh out of the news. We haven’t reported on it. The only exception was that the. Yeah, The Washington Post had an article on Jeffrey Sachs in my briefing and that session of the U.N. Security Council the next day, they mentioned our briefings. And if you get the online version, there was a live link to Sy Hersh’s Substack article. Woah. I interpreted that as somebody at the New York Times once you get the truth is that they can’t do a story on it, but look! They put on live link in the article. Okay. I took some encouragement from that. But since then, zero on what Sy Hersh has said. And they had to come up with kind of some kind of alternative story to it to deflect attention so that so if somebody said, What about Hersh, Sy Hersh, what is wrong with this? There’s another story based on good intelligence sources. And so they came up with this thing together with the BND. The Bundesnachrichtendienst, the German security service, the CIA equivalent. And it was really pretty ridiculous. What was it? Eight Ukrainians and a doctor walk into a bar? No, not a bar. It was a with a yacht, but it. Sounded like a bar. And they showed their showed a photo of the damn yacht. No one serious believes that that yacht could have been the launch point for these or whatever it was, Ukrainians. I know. Unofficial Ukrainians. Okay. Now. That that story didn’t hold water. So why did they do it? These things don’t have to hold water. You just put them out there and you could say, Oh, there’s an alternative story. And people are reading The New York Times gullible as they are. So. So Hersh is not the only source on this, this alternative story. And if it doesn’t pan out, The New York Times is kind of not going to report that. So that was the second stage. Now, the third stage is most interesting. About five days ago now. The Washington Post publishes this article which said, Woops. Now we have sources, CIA sources, among other sources. The CIA is writing the darn thing, right? They okay. And they say that a European intelligence service says there was eight Ukrainians and one doctor will not walk into a bar. They walked onto some ship and they did, they broke up, the they exploded Nord Stream. Okay. Now, this time, these Ukrainians are working for the Ukrainian military general Zaluzhnyi. Usually I call him [inaudible]. Besides, he’s been out of sight for about six weeks now, right? Where is he? Well, if you got to blame somebody, you blame somebody who’s been shot up by the Russians, probably. Okay. So, Zaluzhnyi personally supervised this destruction. So it was a Kiev. It was a Ukrainian government operation. My God. This is the biggest, the biggest event of this kind, catastrophe in recent history. And we saw it. And of course, I know the US did it, for God’s sake. Sy Hersh’s case is watertight, so to speak. So we’ve been diverted into this cockamamie story. Now they’re saying not Ukrainian, you know, Ukrainian citizens who rented this sailboat. No, no. Now they’re saying Ukrainian government is responsible for this horrendous act. Now, how do I interpret that? If I was Zelensky, I’d get out of town. They’re preparing to throw him under the bus. What they’ve done is prepared this little structure, in my view, and this is speculative, I grant you that. We gave Zelinski 98% of what he wanted. Who said that? General Milley. General Secretary Austin. They’re all said that a couple months ago. Look, we gave them everything, 98% of what we wanted. And we’re just hoping. We’re just hoping that he’ll prevail. Well, as most people predicted, he’s not prevailing tanks, but no thanks. They got tanks from German tank Leopard 2’s. Well, you may have seen in the photos they’ve been destroyed by the Russian forces, many of them, some eight, eight or nine of them had of I don’t know how many 30 or so. So though Zelensky is losing, it’s become more and more apparent that he has a prayer. He doesn’t have the chance of a snowball in hell to prevail over the Russians. So what’s going to happen now? Well, if you can if you can accuse Zelensky, who, after all, is Zaluzhnyi’s supervisor, if you can accuse Zelensky of not only I mean, blowing up the the Nord Stream pipeline, but also losing the war. Well, you know, you could still let them settle on that nice little estate in the Riviera or the Seychelles or wherever it is. But you get rid of them and you get rid of them in a plausible kind of way. Now, that might not happen for the next couple of days, but if it happens and again, this is speculative, I want you to remember where you heard it first. 

Max Jones [00:13:28] How might it happen, do you think? 

McGovern [00:13:31] Well, the military is had been sort of dragged into a what’s the word, a crazy escapade against a much more potent force with no air defense. With no real defense against what the Russians can throw against them. The Ukrainian military is running out of weaponry, running out of rockets, running out of just about everything. Do they do they expect to get them from the West? Well, they keep asking. They have 98%, but they keep asking for that last 2% right? Well, the West can’t do it because they don’t have it in production. Okay. The bottom line here and it’s pretty scary and pretty, pretty damaging is that when you get into a war. You know, you’re supposed to do some basic things like think, well, you know what I’m up against and how long is it likely to last and how many bullets do we have and how many rockets? And can we prevent the Russians from destroying our anti-aircraft? You know, all I mean, I was an infantry officer, all right. Infantry intelligence. And it sounds corny, but we had to memorize what we had to do first, and that was make an estimate of the situation. Okay. How was that? Well, I mean. I mean. Where’s the enemy? How many are there? What kind of arms does he have? What kind of arms can he expect to have over the longer run? Okay, now, how about train? Where can you attack? And when can you attack? In Ukraine? Well, there are four months of the year you can’t possibly attack, because you could sink in the mud. Right? Sink about six feet down in the mud. Okay. How about. How about the weather? Oh, that does it do it, doesn’t it? Don’t you get the worry about the weather? Okay. And then the LOCS. Now. L It’s not the lox you have with bagels in the Bronx where I come from. No, this is LOCS. Okay. Lines of communication and control. Now, logistics is always de-emphasized because it’s not mellow or dramatic, but it’s essential if you don’t have good lines of communication and control. You ain’t got a fighting force that lasts very long at all. The first thing you do is you look at a map and you say, Oh, this you Oh, there’s Russia right there. My God. Where the U.S.? With the U.S. Over here. Oh, yeah. We get Germany and Britain, but they don’t have much, you know. You know, they don’t have any real army. I wonder why I don’t have any [inaudible]. Because they weren’t afraid to. The right of the Russians. They weren’t afraid of the Russians until Russia reacted to the coup in Kiev in 2014. Okay. Then all of a sudden, this synthetic fear of Russia grew under the tutelage of people like Victoria Nuland and the State Department. All of a sudden, they became afraid of the Russians, afraid the Russians going to invade the Baltics. I mean, in the Baltics. I mean, I don’t know why the Russians would invade the Baltics. Okay. Are they going to invade Poland? Well, they tried. That didn’t work out really well, and there’s no reason. So the Russians will not invade any place. What the Russians are going to do is defend their own frontier against NATO infringement, including ballistic offensive ballistic missiles in Poland, in Romania, and God forbid from the Russian point of view, in Ukraine itself, ballistic missiles that could reach Moscow as state of the art now 5 to 7 minutes when hypersonic missiles become available to the U.S., five or even less minutes. That’s shooting to the target. Okay. Now, you may recall. Well, let me just say this last thing on this. People say You know, you could set up a scenario where, let’s say the Chinese, let’s say the Russians had decided to make Mexico a part of their alliance. And they put they put a short range and medium range missiles on the border with America. Oh, how about that hypothetical? I said, Hey, guys, if you’ve been. Around a while, that’s advantage of having this kind of hair. Okay, This happened already. You’re right. The name is Cuba. And I was not far from Cuba. I was at Fort Benning at the time as an infantry intelligence officer in the Army. And a lot of my friends were down in Key West ready to pounce on Cuba. And most of the equipment in Fort Benning at the Army Infantry Training Center was not there. We had no weapons to train on. Even the the newly crafted. What? Oh, there was a new kind of a grenade launcher, man. Wait a minute. I don’t have to throw this? Everything’s cool. Yeah, we want to train on that. We even were eager beavers right, there weren’t any. And so we asked the sergeant, Oh, where are all weapons down to a division. Came over here last couple of weeks, took all the weapons, and they’re down at Fort West now, Key West ready to go to Cuba. No, that didn’t happen. Why didn’t that happen? Because John Kennedy. And Nikita Khrushchev. Had a modicum of trust. They had communications in those days and it was teletype, but at least they could communicate. Okay. And when John Kennedy said this is an existential threat for me, for the United States, I don’t want Washington, D.C., then Norfolk, Virginia, our naval base in Savannah. I don’t want them to be susceptible to a strike by an offensive strike missile in five or 7 minutes, because that’s what it would have taken. These were SS Four’s pretty primitive by today’s standards, but they did the job okay, and they had. A megaton on the top of it. Yeah. Yeah, that’s a lot more than we dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki anyhow. So. So Kennedy and Bobby talked to Dobrynin and other people said, look, you know, you better turn back because this is an existential threat. Sotto voce, we have all of McGovern’s friends there in Key West. And, you know, we will openly threaten nuclear war. No. Lastly, Nikita, we’re going to put in a we’re going to call it a quarantine, but it’s really a blockade. We know that’s illegal under the international law. We know that the international law, Castro in Cuba, has the sovereign right to have whatever it wants, kind of missiles, whatever he wants kind of the alliance was enjoying, you know, with all that. But they try to understand this is an existential threat to us. It’s not to you. For you, it’s nothing ventured, nothing gained. Get those damn things out of there. We’re going to blockade. Don’t even try. Don’t even think about trying to get through the blockade now. What happened? I’m on tenterhooks. You know what happened was Khrushchev talked to his folks and said, Well, look, let’s work out a deal. So we have a sort of face saving solution here. Let’s get Kennedy to promise not to invade Cuba. And in return for that promise, we will withdraw all of these weaponry. That was the deal. Later, on the side, Bobby worked out the deal with Dobrynin, the ambassador, the Russian and Soviet ambassador, that they would also withdraw Turkish, the medium range ballistic missiles that we had in Turkey. They were becoming obsolescent anyway. That was part of the deal. It was kept secret because we, as Kennedy insisted that it be kept secret. And so quietly, four months later or so, and those those missiles were withdrawn. Now, what’s my point here? My point is, you don’t have to do a hypothetical. Okay? My point is this has already happened. My point is this was an existential threat to the United States. It was not an existential threat to Russia. So what did Khrushchev do, he said, okay, guys, let’s do a face saving thing. Let’s get those damn missiles and their warheads back into the Soviet Union, which happened. Now, this time it’s an existential threat to Vladimir Putin. Okay. It’s very clear, he’s made it very clear. And if you look at the map and you look at the kind of missilery we were putting in already in Romania, pretty much already in Poland. We have photos of these sites. Anyhow, I did a whole briefing on this. So what we have here is a situation where there’s a direct analogy that you wouldn’t hear that from from major media. But this happened before there was a solution that was possible and worked out. This time, the situation is even more perilous. Why? Because there’s no communication, okay? And because there’s no trust. And because instead of savvy guys advising the State Department. Llewellyn Thompson, this is now history, okay? Llewellyn Thompson was the best Soviet analyst since George Kennan. He was ambassador to the Soviet Union just before the Cuban Missile Crisis. John Kennedy, to his great credit, insisted Ambassador Thompson be a part of all the discussions, including those of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, which are chomping at the bit to destroy, to kill how many million Russians worth with a nuclear force? So Thompson was there and he played a major role. Look at the great counselors who played a major role in telling Kennedy, look, Khrushchev is feeling the bind, let him off easy on this. Don’t reply this way. He’s probably got his generals sitting right behind his back just like you. President Kennedy, you have your generals sit there watching what you’re doing. So in other words, there was a solution made possible by this combination of forces, the old trust, communication and wise advice. Now, who’s advising Biden? Blinken? My God. Number one, I don’t think he was even in the Boy Scouts, for God’s sake. He certainly never had a military uniform on. How about Sullivan? The same. How about Biden? Well, how many deferments did Biden have during Vietnam? Do you guys know? How many how many did Cheney have? Five. How many Biden have? Five. What I’m saying here is that there’s that no military experience and there’s also the absence of people to advise Blinken, to advise Biden to the degree he can take advice. I mean, there’s no Llewellyn Thompson. Now, what you have are or previous ambassadors to Russia, the likes of what’s the McFaul. Michael McFaul. Look. He has a substack that he calls McFaul’s World. It is indeed McFaul’s world because it doesn’t correspond in any real sense to the reality. And his head of a big think is ahead of a big institute that has lots of money at Stanford. And he’s really proud of all that. So they’re listening to the wrong people. So that’s why I could say with 6 decades, count them, behind me. I could say in an alarming kind of way that we’re closer to a nuclear conflict now than we were in 1962. And that’s as close as you get. 

Jones [00:26:58] Yeah. And so and speaking of a lack of communications and how dangerous that is, I think that now we have even less communication than we did during the Cuban Missile Crisis. And we’re in a you know, we’re in a proxy war with the biggest nuclear power in the world. And so, you know, there was there was an admission in this Washington Post piece that the US possibly escalated the war more than corporate media had previously reported. By alluding to U.S. complicity in the allegedly Ukrainian plot was what they’re claiming now. But there was a clear effort in the post phase to paint a picture as the U.S. of being cautious and resistant to escalations. And, of course, they don’t include the story that the U.S. and U.K. blocked efforts by Russia and Ukraine to make peace at the start of the war, according to and that’s according to a former Israeli prime minister who played a role in fostering the peace talks. So, like, what’s clear to me in this Washington Post piece is that there is an awareness of the danger of these escalatory measures. There’s clearly they they’ve they stated several times in the Post piece, you know, the U.S. doesn’t want to escalate the war. Ukraine wants to escalate the war. The U.S. is restraining Ukraine. They’re making the U.S. appear as though it’s very aware that these measures taken are very dangerous. But despite this, the media, though, they have this total complicity in the war is constant funding. And they also don’t really report on the fact that Moscow and Washington have practically no communication with Russia. And if anything, they were part of the, you know, the culture that actually made that the case, because, I mean, they basically criminalized. I mean, the media demonized it and the government criminalized communication with Russia essentially or effectively after the prosecution of Michael Flynn. So what do you think of this? Like the media and the government seem kind of aware of how dangerous these escalatory measures are, yet they’re completely, especially the media, completely complicit in all of the things that contradict with that awareness. 

McGovern [00:29:12] I think you’re right. Up until now, the media has been totally complicit stoking the fires for this war. The question now, of course, is what has changed? If the media, Washington Post and by the way, The New York Times picked up that story about the Ukrainian government being involved in blowing up Nord Stream. So there’s oh, it’s it’s both. If that’s kind of a straw in the wind and if they’re citing people like General Milley, you see they have they have a lot of guidance from people that are in contact with not only the CIA, people in the White House and the Defense Department. And I think it’s a mistake to regard all this as a monolith. It is sort of the deep state, but there are all kinds of little counties in this deep state, if you will. Okay. And the ones that that propound this this charge that Zelensky’s government itself was responsible for blowing up Nord Stream. And the ones who have shown reluctance to kneejerkedly blame Russia for this dam explosion near Zaporizhzhia. That speaks to me that there are people in the Washington Post that are susceptible to urgings from people like General Milley. People who know what war is like unlike Blinken, not Sullivan, Nuland, Biden himself. They don’t want to get in a war with Russia. And I believe that their hand will be stronger in the coming days. After 12-15 more Leopard 2 state of the art German tanks are destroyed. Okay. It’s a massacre so far, and there’s every indication it will continue to be a massacre. Now, do they want to send M, whatever it is, M-1 tanks or state of the art tanks into the fray? Well, they sort of promised that. But what happens when the Russians capture one of those things? Oh, we get that figured out. We’re taking all the sensitive technology out of the M1. There we go into the Ukrainian. They have they’ll have they’ll have four gears in there, three forward and one reverse in case of an attack from the rear. Made a joke. That’s a joke. Again, anyhow, the M-1’s, will they go? I don’t know. But if they go they’re going to be targeted just like these Leopards. They’re going to be destroyed and maybe one will be captured. And what, when, wherever they have their will be given to, to Russia and well, China and Iran, whatever. So I think that what we’re seeing. Is they take this guy Jack Teixeira right? This guy in Cape Cod. Okay. Now we know that he was showing off for his friends and divulging really sensitive information. But we also know that somehow or other, a lot of that information was given to The Washington Post. Memory serves 40 reports, accurate the like. And they’re curating them and their fixing out what to show and all this stuff. And so we get some reports like this like the Ukrainians really did Nord Stream 2 like like the DIA, the Defense Intelligence Agency says this war can’t be won by either side. It’s gone on into next year. It’s not clear what’s going to happen. It’s that’s the Defense Intelligence Agency and then General Milley. Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff saying, oh, these F-16s are a wonderful aircraft. We could give Ukraine, 16 of those, or maybe with them, 36. But, you know, Russia has a thousand, a thousand type aircraft like that. A thousand aircraft of that type, actually, they’re pretty sophisticated. And so now you’re just just saying. Just saying. So Milley, of course, has in the past said neither side could win this war. I mean, so will it be possible in another week when Zelensky, having gotten 98% of the armaments that he needed, is still losing badly on the battlefield? Will it be time then for sensible people, kinds of people who feel these reports, The Washington Post, to come to the fore and say, Joe, Joe, wake up, Joe. I mean, Mr. President, wake up. Okay. Now, here’s here’s the deal. It’s not working with this counteroffensive. We know that your chief intelligence people, Avril Haines, the director of national intelligence. We know that she told you she’s very optimistic that because the Russians are running out of equipment and arms and they have no indigenous capability to produce these things. And we know she told you that. We don’t know what happened. But but they’re beating the hell out of our friends in Ukraine. The question is, do we want to let them go all the way to the Dnieper river? Do we want to let them take Odessa, or is it time to cease fire, Go to the Vatican and say, okay, you guys are right. Are you ready to give us your good offices? Okay, we’ll at Geneva or whatever. We’re starting to talk about a cease fire and and we’ll start talking about resolution. So that would be the sensible thing I see coming out of these next couple of weeks, the unsensible thing. And, you know, we can depend on Washington and often opt for the sensible thing would be to escalate. Now what does that mean? That means the Russians go in the Dnieper river. Okay. And then they find out if there’s any reason for to to suspect the U.S. will negotiate. If it’s zero, they go to the they go to the border of Poland, of Romania, of Moldova, and they kind of sit there and say, okay, we’re willing to negotiate now. Now, there’s a downside to that for Mr. Putin. He’s a sensible person. He didn’t want any part of occupying western Ukraine. I mean, they’re hostile to the Russians. They hate them. But if he has to pacify that part of the Ukraine, he can. And, you know, despite his reluctance to do it, I think he will, unless he sees some sort of bending on the part of the U.S. lest there, of course, is that there’s a supreme irony. John Mearsheimer calls it a supreme paradox. Okay. And here’s the paradox: U.S. policymakers want Russia to lose. And they want to avoid World War III. You can’t have both. What do you mean, you can’t have both? If Russia is about to suffer a terrible loss, which I think is less than 10%. Okay. But let’s let’s assume that. What are they going to do? Well, they’ve already said they have nuclear weapons. They have tactical nuclear weapons. That’s when we have World War III. So, Mr. Biden, you can’t have it both. You can’t avoid World War III, as you say, you want to and also defeat the Russians completely with respect to Ukraine. You get the paradox? It’s really easy to understand. It’s the supreme irony. If Russia loses, everybody loses because there’ll be a nuclear war. 

Ramos [00:37:41] You know, I want to get to the sort of sort of looking at this Washington Post story in a vacuum, I guess are taking it at face value for maybe the Hersh piece doesn’t exist. And in previous interviews, you called the attack an act of war against Germany. And I agree, and I think many others do as well. So if we were to take this report at face value, it was and it really was this group of Ukrainian divers under the leadership of the Zaluzhnyi, the top dog, and they blew up the major energy source from a country that has provided them billions in aid and tanks, like you said, the leopard and drones ammunition. Yet they want more funding and they want to still integrate into NATO. But they’re committing these acts of war against the people who are helping them out. And in the story, you know, I mean, they don’t mention this, but supposedly you can, I guess, decipher that the U.S. didn’t do anything to prevent it, or at least if they did, they didn’t succeed, obviously. Well, like I said, in the vacuum of this of this story, but they you know, they’re going to still continue funneling money into here. So, you know, what does this say about the leadership in Europe where they’re willing to forego, you know, citizens welfare for the sake of the proxy war? And do they do do these leaders even have any agency? 

McGovern [00:39:04] Well, there is no leadership in Europe. It’s a sad thing to say. I watched some really good leaders in my day. de Gaulle, [inaudible] and some people who really had the interests of their people for first and foremost in mind now, there aren’t any now. So with respect to this particular report, remember, it’s just a story, okay? It’s a story. Now, you can’t really divorce what Sy Hersh has said from this story. You have to look at it in the full context. Why is this story now surfacing? Well, in my view, it’s to put a red light and set on Zelensky’s computer saying, look, you know, we don’t blame you for this. We’re going to blame you for the defeat you’re about to incur as well. So these stories can’t be taken at face value. Let’s take Scholz. The chancellor of the of Germany, now he knows. He was there on February 7th, 20[2]2 when he was at the next lecture and to Biden when Biden was asked by that very, very brave Reuters woman reporter Mr. Biden, you what’s going to happen to the to the Nord Stream pipeline? And he says, well, it will if the Russians invade Ukraine, it will cease to exist. And she says, well, how can you do that? You don’t control. He says, look, trust me. It will cease to exist. Then she turns to chance the choice she’s Herr Chancellor, [inaudible] Well, what do you think about that? And Scholz goes, first and foremost, we they do everything together. Together we do anything important. We do together. Next question. Now. Okay. So let’s take that at face value. Okay. So did Scholz ask Biden when the press conference was over? Mr. President, what do you mean here? Are you gonna blow up the pipeline? And if he did that by, we’re going to blow up a pipeline. Or they say, Not now, it’s only February. Give us a little time. We have to, we know we can do it now. We’ve just learned that it’s really stupid, you know, this very sensitive thing he Said. We know it, but, you know, give us some time. So was Schultz aware I mean, the question that German people should be asking, what did you know and when did you know it that the U.S. was going to blow up our pipeline, our main source of gas and some oil? So when you have this cover story here and you ask how that might affect people like Scholz, well, Scholz knows better, but he’s willing to participate in this cover story because the other one is even worse for him. You know, the fact that he may have known that the U.S. may have done it. So it’s it’s a smoke and mirrors. But that’s what the CIA operational people do and that’s how they work with The Washington Post and the New York Times to spread the smoke and the mirrors. I’m not sure Diego, that I answered your question, but I hope I answered it in some some manner. 

Ramos [00:43:10] Yeah. Yeah, definitely. And I think the thing that I was mostly getting as like even if people, let’s say, did not believe Hersh’s account and they wanted they stick to whatever mainstream narratives come out, this is this is showing full complicity from German leadership, U.S. leadership at this point. So, I mean, this is this should it shouldn’t this be a massive revelation for the people like, you know, especially since most people will probably believe that. 

McGovern [00:43:39] Well, yeah. You know, with respect to the Germans, they need a way out of this thing, too. So, you know, if I’m not sure how this news story is playing in in Germany, I haven’t talked to my German friends about it. But let’s say it gets some legs. And the Germans want to avoid the embarrassment of having still more Leopard 2 tanks destroyed. Yeah, that’ll help. That’ll help them kind of disengage from Zelensky and let some guy come in there that can make a deal with the Russians. The Russians don’t want any part of Western Ukraine. Let me suggest what may be in the offing if people in Washington get their heads screwed on. Right. Finally back in October. Vladimir Putin was asked at Monday’s very long press conference as he was asked by a Serbian journalist. Pretty clever, actually. It looked like a canned question, but the journalist said, Mr. President Putin, I’m planning to go on vacation in Odessa. And I was wondering, do you think I should apply for a Ukrainian visa or or a Russian visa? Very clever. Hmm. So? So. Putin says, ah Odessa, a beautiful city, a pearl of a city. You know, when I look at Odessa and it’s been harmed, but not so much so far. But when I look at Odessa I say, well, you know, yes, it could be it could be a [inaudible]. Translated from the Russian. It’s an apple of discord. You know, if your guys studied mythology or the Trojan War or any like, but look it up could be an apple of discord, okay? Or it could be a way to address mutual grievances and work out some sort of accommodation. Putin says that. Now, if I’m right and Putin’s being in any way truthful about this, this is kind of a feeler. Right. He should look Odessa is on the western side of the Dnieper. Okay. Without it, yessir. There’s no possibility of a viable Ukrainian state because there would be no access to the sea. It would be a a farm for the rest of Europe. That’s what Ukraine would become. Okay. So is Putin saying look, we can take Odessa. We’re going to move. Far west up it to the upper, but will will be willing to deal on the yes if you know if you could give us satisfaction that your long range artillery will stay back 100 miles or so from the Dnieper. Why don’t we make the an international city out of the Odessa where we can make sure nothing untoward happens and we can still use it as a commercial outlet? How would that be? What does it do? 

Jones [00:47:09] What does that mean for Odessa to be an international city? 

McGovern [00:47:14] Well, there is precedent. You know, if I recall correctly, Trieste up there by Italy and Yugoslavia was an international city after the war. You could work these things out so that there’s a joint administration of these key cities so that commerce can flourish. That could be worked out. And it has been worked out historically. So whether it’s that or whether the Russians say, ah, in return for this, you can have Odessa, just don’t put any weaponry in it. That would be a possibility as well. In other words, the Russians are willing to deal with any part of Western Ukraine. I mean, they’re not like Rumsfeld or Cheney or those [inaudible] who thought that they could they could occupy a country like like Iraq or Afghanistan. So, you know, how far Putin goes, all depends on how sensible the U.S. reacts to the defeat that this counteroffensive will, will show and how far they’re willing to say. All right, Zelensky, you bundle up your cash like Hamid Karzai did in Kabul. Get on a plane and we’ll make sure you have safe passage to the Riviera or wherever he ends up. I think that’s in the cards. Remember where you heard it first. 

Jones [00:48:49] Yeah. Like one thing that you said earlier about about the Hersh The Washington Post story existing within the context of the her story. I think it’s interesting because it kind of has all the hallmarks of like like a big exposé, like something like a groundbreaking story. And it exposes the government for lying on something that they previously claimed in Germany, for lying for the actor that they said it was claimed was involved. It’s actually not them, it’s someone else. And it has all these hallmarks of when you look at it from the perspective of Hirsch, this story existing before and it almost becomes not such a bombshell. It becomes like like it seems like it’s actually doing some PR work for the government, actually obfuscating some of the claims that Hersh made, which which is just something that I found interesting. And I’m glad that we got your opinion on that. And in terms of one of the claims or one of the things you said, you said this counteroffensive, if it fails, which you said it likely will, that maybe there’s a chance for some sensibility to begin emerging and for people to suddenly maybe wake up in government and actually realize that maybe we shouldn’t be pushing this thing as far as we have been. And I hope that happens. But I don’t know how hopeful I am of it because it just seems like at every point where there’s been some kind of awareness, like like there wasn’t awareness at first that we shouldn’t be sending certain weapons to Ukraine that can go into into Moscow. And then we sent them those weapons. And then maybe people thought, oh, well, they won’t go into Moscow. Now they have gone into Moscow. There’s been drone attacks into Moscow that though they were intercepted by Russia, they still were targeting civilian infrastructure, which like Nord Stream, I think is a terrorist attack or a terror attack. And I wanted to get it. So there’s a there’s I have these two passages here from the Times in The Washington Post about the the the drone strikes going into Moscow, which I find kind of frightening because so and so I’ll just read them to you. So in the in the Times reporting of the drone strikes, they said “the reality of the war in Ukraine has largely been perceived as distant for much of the Russian republic. But the attacks on Moscow could change that and possibly even threaten overall support for Mr. Putin’s handling of what the Kremlin has called the special military operation.” So implicit in this account is like a strategic rationalization for targeting civilian infrastructure with deadly weapons. You know, saying, you know, the reality is that targeting these civilian infrastructures will have the effect of actually pressuring Putin to call off the war. I don’t really understand that. I think that if anything, it would unite Russia more in favor of the war, like 9/11 did for the American public, for the war on terror. But and then The Washington Post had an even more frightening account where they said while Ukraine denied involvement, they said, quote, “While Ukraine denied involvement in the drone attack on Moscow, the dueling strikes on the capital cities appeared to mark a threshold moment as residents of Russia’s capital experienced direct consequences of their nation’s hostilities for the first time.” And then they go on to quote an adviser to Zelensky, who said Moscow residents deserved whatever came at them. And both of these comments suggest that somehow Russian citizens bear responsibility for their government’s actions, even though we’re constantly told that Russia is completely authoritarian and despotic and that the civilians have no ability to dissent from their government without facing major repression. And as Glenn Greenwald pointed out, they’re kind of invoking the same logic that Osama bin Laden used to justify 9/11, that the citizens bear responsibility for the actions of their government. So do you feel that there are, like, dangers in the way that the media is reporting on these escalations? And if so, like, how how are these things so dangerous, the way that the media’s reporting on them, if you agree that that they are. 

McGovern [00:52:47] Well, let me pick up on Osama bin Laden first, even though it’s sort of just tangential. When the 9/11 Commission report came out, I had been asked to comment on it on the BBC about half hour after came out. So I paged through it really quickly and the index and I saw well, you know, there was one section where they talked about they had gotten Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. Okay, who is he? Well, he was the mastermind behind all this stuff. And and while they were preparing the report, they grabbed them and the people writing the report said to the CIA, oh, let us talk to him. We want to know why he did it. Why he did. It. And I said, No, no, no, you can’t do that. No, no, no. We’ll talk to him. So are these terrorism questions. And on page 147 of that 9/11 report, it says. Contrary to what American analysts initially thought, namely that Khalid  Sheikh Mohammed had an affair of the heart or people call him a towelhead while he was getting his degree in engineering at the University of North Carolina. One of their branches escapes me now. Greensboro, UNC Greensboro. What Khalid Sheikh Mohammed told us was that he arranged this out of deep hatred for U.S. policy shaped by Israel. Period. End quote. You didn’t see that in the New York Times, The Washington Post said you right there, look it up. One page 147, the 9/11 report. So what I’m saying here is that the Times and the Post, of course, as you know, are very selective in what they report. Now, on this one, let’s see you were talking about earlier or whether citizens and those kinds of things matter. I think that those drone attacks on the Kremlin was significant, but I think we already see the results of it. The Russians have unleashed really, really fierce attack on infrastructure in Ukraine that they had not touched before. Contrary to what you read in the major media, the Russia’s been really, really circumspect on attacking things other than directly military related targets. Okay. Now they’re hitting things like the headquarters of the Ukrainian military intelligence, right in Kiev there. They know where these places are. They can attack them at will. And that’s what they did in reaction to these failed attacks against Putin himself with the Kremlin. So the proof is in the pudding. Who has dominance here? Well, even Obama, you might not remember this. Even Obama said, look, we should not get involved in Ukraine where Russia is the dominant figure. We should really pick where we’re going to be involved and not get involved where we don’t have any existential interests. And the Russians do have such interests. Obama said that, now he had a vice president at that time. I forgot was his name is. Oh yeah, it was Biden, right? I mean, didn’t you read that memo? So there’s another aspect here. But two more like to mention. Biden is under the gun in many ways. This stuff about Hunter, his son, and maybe he himself getting 5 million each out of this deal with Burisma. He was standing up there at Yale or Harvard and saying, you know, high all you got to fire that inspector general or not. I got 6 hours before my plane leaves. Guess what happened? They fired the son of a bitch. And Biden now feeling that his oats. Right. So? So he’s down in Florida inspecting hurricane damage. This is October, October 5th last year. And the mayor of Fort Myers, Florida, comes up to him, says, Joe, so glad to see you hanging tough there. And the mic is open and Biden is heard to say. Nobody F’s with, you know what the word is, right? Nobody F’s with a Biden quote unquote. Now, what kind of puerile, well, adolescent may be kind of remark is that. Okay. So we’re dealing with a person that that is not fully grown up and feeling his oats and has these advisors who are in the same category. I asked a psychiatrist friend of mine, I said, well, I’m worried that the Biden is not compos mentis anymore. What do you think the implications of that are? And he said, Doesn’t matter. What do you mean, it doesn’t matter. He says, what you. He was letting Blinken and Sullivan do this stuff before he was you know, before he was deteriorating. So what makes I mean, they’re in charge. Nuland is running this stuff. What makes you think different that he’s compos mentis or not,  that’s how bad it is. Now, last thing I want to mention is something that nobody ever mentions, but is probably as important a factor as any of these things. And it’s China. I just mentioned one little episode about three weeks ago, Jake Sullivan shows up in Vienna to talk to China’s very top diplomat. Actually, it’s a member of the Politburo is about as high as you can go in China. They spend 8 hours talking. Okay. What’s it all about? Well. I think somebody like Jacob Sullivan is becoming possible to to realize that he’s picking a fight with two major powers, not only Russia. But China. And that maybe that maybe that’s not so smart. No matter how smart you are, no matter what Ivy League school you went to, you know, that may be worse than Vietnam when the best and brightest got bogged down, but at least there were taken to the edge of superpower like now. What did Putin say about this? At that same interview I mentioned before, it was about a [inaudible] conference, October, late October last year. He’s asked that, you know, President Putin now, I don’t know if this was canned or not. This didn’t seem canned. President Putin, what do you think of the notion that the U.S. is taking on China at the same time it’s taking on us and Ukraine? And I’ve got Putin’s answer pretty much memorized. That’s what we used to do as Soviet Russian analysts. Putin said, you know. I can’t figure it out. I think they’re crazy. It’s weird. At first I thought it must be some subtle kind of plan here, but I no longer think so. I think it’s just arrogance and a feeling of impunity. Period. Now, I agree with that. There’s no other explanation. It’s arrogance and a feeling of impunity. Okay. It doesn’t matter what I think, doesn’t matter what McGovern thinks, for God’s sake. If Putin thinks that if Putin thinks these guys are crazy, whether or not Biden himself is compos mentis, what does that say, what does he say to his generals? You know, these guys are crazy, okay? They never had any military service. They’ve never wore military uniform. They don’t know what war is like which we do know what war is like. So what are the implications for us? Well, suffice it to say, they have to be on very high alert and expect the worst to defend their country. That’s really important because China is now weighing in. They’re intercepting our battleships going… Battleship, that’s archaic, isn’t it?  Guided missile destroyer and so forth, going through the Taiwan Straits. They’re challenging us in the air. And when we say, oh, that’s dirty pool, you shouldn’t do that. They’re saying, sorry about that. What the hell are your planes and your ships doing in our neighborhood? Get the hell out of there. So that’s a change in tone. It’s no longer China is issuing countless warnings. They’re doing stuff on the ground, in the air, on the sea. So my hope is that after two years of education, what’s today? June 11th? Wow. It’s almost exactly two years since Biden met with Putin in Geneva. Now, there’s a related little thing on that, because when Biden got finished meeting with Putin, he had his own little press conference. And what he shared was he said, you know. I understand that. Putin, really, Russia has real problems. They’ve got China. They got a multi-thousand mile border with China. They know that China aspires to be not only the primary economic power, but military power. They got a problem with China. Now, not be appropriate for me to tell you exactly what I told Putin but, you know, that’s the reality that he’s getting on a plane now to go home and his staff says Come on Let’s go, Joe, We’ve got to go. No, no, no. I want to say something about the press you said. I just want to make sure that you’re clear on how Russia is being squeezed by China. Now. I don’t know where the hell he got that. I can just, I would love to be a fly on the wall when Putin turned to his advisors after watching that on the tube and said, Huh? I mean, hello, Blinken were reading about, reading out of textbooks that. Some of which. I wrote 3 to 4 decades ago. Yeah, the Chinese, the Russians, or at loggerheads, I thought, and my colleagues as well, that they never get along, that the dispute was forever. Not so when you have a common enemy, you trim your sales. As a matter of fact, their alliance is appropriately described by both of them as having no real end at the top and being what they say being more exceptional than any other kind of alliance in the world. So what I’m saying here is that this redounds to the situation in Ukraine far against what most Chinese experts told me in January of 20[2]2 before the Russians invaded Ukraine. They saw me, Ray. The Chinese have this principled policy. Westphalia. Westphalia in 1648, for God’s sake. The Europe they’re killing of, they said, Look, the better way to do this. Let’s not violate international borders. Let’s have sovereign states. So the Chinese, that’s their bedrock principle. You don’t invade other countries. Okay. So what happens? Putin goes up to Beijing on the 4th of February, 2022, and he says, Look. The West just diddled me on the Minsk reports. Now they’re bragging about it. They’re assembled to run into the Donbas. The uptick in artillery strikes against Russians people there is very noticeable. The Americans are putting medium range ballistic missile bases in Romania and Poland. I should have done this before, but I’m going to do that, I’m going to do it now. I’m going to have to go into the Donbass and clean that place out, just want to let you know. What do you think? Xi Jinping looks at him and says. You mean after the Olympics are over, right? Well, of course! The Olympics are over. On the 20th of February 2022, 21st of February, Donetsk and Lugansk become independent countries and ask for help for from Russia. Two days later, there’s the invasion. Now you know there’s a fallacy post hoc ergo propter hoc. In other words, just because something happens after something doesn’t mean that it’s because of something. I find that I find that chronology really telling and the more so. In as much as China did not condemn, did not condemn the invasion of Ukraine and instead of saying, oh, borders are sacrosanct, this is terrible, this is sovereignty, blah, blah, blah. They said, we now judge everything according to its specific circumstances. Well, oh, wow. That’s a 180 degree change in Chinese rhetoric for about two months. Now they’re back to sovereignty, sovereignty. But, you know,  gave the light to the people, thought that China would not condone, much less give the go ahead the green light to do that. That’s big. People sort of realize now, I hope and I’m thinking that’s why Sullivan went to Vienna to talk with this, the highest Chinese diplomat there is. Okay. 8 hours. So maybe he’ll get some religion, come back. And while Blinken is off somewhere, maybe Sullivan whispering in Biden’s ear. Hey, Joe, the jig is up. Yo, we really don’t want to get involved in a war on two fronts with two major nuclear powers. Let’s see if we can. Let’s see if we can end this thing in Ukraine at least. And then if they, you know, arms makers and the Navy want to go after China, let’s deal with that then. Let’s get rid of this thing with a cease fire and some talks. 

Ramos [01:09:12] Well, I think that’s a great place to end that. Ray McGovern, we really appreciate you taking the time to come and talk to us and hopefully you can come back again sometime soon. 

McGovern [01:09:23] Well, thanks, Diego. And if you get any reaction to this or any of your young colleagues have any hints as to how I can make myself a little bit more understandable, let me know. 

Jones [01:09:36] Thanks Ray. 

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Diego Ramos

Diego Ramos, ScheerPost managing editor and New York bureau chief, is a journalist from Queens, NY. He graduated from the University of Southern California in 2022 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. He has previously worked at BuzzFeed News and was managing editor of Annenberg News at USC. He’s covered and researched myriad topics including war, politics, psychedelic research and sports. 

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