Ray McGovern Robert Scheer SI Podcast

Ray McGovern: Russia’s ‘Coup’ Is Actually Biden’s Disaster

The former CIA analyst dives into the complexities of assessing a country like Russia within the US government as he did briefing seven U.S. presidents.
Ray McGovern. Photo credit: Flickr

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Understanding foreign policy in Russia is complicated. Over the past weekend, the media said Russia was undergoing a coup and then they weren’t. The leader of the Wagner Group, Yevgeny Prigozhin, was a brutal military figure, then suddenly a liberator of Putin’s hold on Russia. These entanglements in narratives require an impartial judge, someone who can make sense of it for the way it is. After years of doing this on a daily basis for the president of the United States, Ray McGovern joins host Robert Scheer on this episode of Scheer Intelligence to do just that.

As an analyst tasked with a portfolio focusing on “Soviet foreign policy toward China, Vietnam and the rest of Asia,” McGovern had to know the ins and outs of Russia. The bank of knowledge—good enough to inform the president everyday—continues to expand concerning the war in Ukraine and now these developments within Russian borders. McGovern not only discusses the action itself but everything within his famously coined “MICIMATT” complex—or Military, Industrial, Congressional Intelligence, Media, Academia, Think Tank complex.

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Robert Scheer


Joshua Scheer


Diego Ramos


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

Robert Scheer: Hi, this is Robert Scheer with another edition of Scheer Intelligence, where the intelligence comes from my guest, and actually here is a certified Central Intelligence Agency person. Official intelligence. Spent his adult life in the CIA, briefed or was the key CIA person briefing seven different or served seven different presidents of the United States. I believe you briefed about three of them. Why don’t you why don’t we begin there? You became a Russia expert, fluent in the language, and you were… Tell us what you did in the CIA. 

Ray McGovern: Well, I joined the CIA just two months before John Kennedy made that wonderful American University speech. So I served under him until the following November when he was killed. I came down to to Washington, frankly, because of his inaugural speech. I was a senior at Fordham University at the time and had majored in Russian for almost four years, did my master’s, served in the Army, and then came down. And I was really lucky because I was hired by the analysis division. And my portfolio was Soviet foreign policy toward China, Vietnam and the rest of Asia. So I served there since, well, early ’64, and was able to pretty much learn by watching and by reporting what was going on. China was what I know most about other than Soviet foreign policy. And of course, that has come in very handy now, many decades later, when the situation with China has Russia and China joined at the hip, so to speak, and nobody in Washington seems to even realize that, much less acknowledge their role in bringing these two giants together against us. 

Scheer: Well, they did something that communism couldn’t do. I mean, Putin is the guy who got elected defeating the communist candidate, and he was backed by the United States. He had been picked by Yeltsin, someone we backed against Gorbachev. And despite a whole Cold War, based on the idea that there was a unified communism driven by an ideology of world domination, the Sino-Soviet split, the shooting war and tension and fighting between communist China and communist Russia continued. And actually, Vietnam is still a communist country. We fought a whole war against Vietnam to stop communism, and we thought Vietnam was a puppet of China because after all, they were both communist countries. And what happened? After we lost the most ignominious defeat in American history against Vietnam, which again, we said was really a fight against China, Vietnam and China went to war. The Vietnamese didn’t attack San Diego as was suggested. The two communist countries went to war and they are still rivals. And the US government is now very cozy with communist Vietnam and wants Apple and other companies to move their production to communist Vietnam. So what you’re bringing up is this area that you covered, Communism turned out to be irrelevant to developing unity between countries, nationalism, old fashioned nationalism and anti-colonialism, and including, in the case of Ukraine, now turns out to be this major force, along with religious differences, as in the case of India’s problems and so forth. Obviously the Middle East. So you came in and you say you went into the CIA in ’64, of course, which is after Kennedy, but you went to a Catholic university. This is your first Catholic president. So you were in part inspired by that. But the fact is, tell us what you did as as an expert and within the CIA, as an analyst and briefing president, because that’s critical to the discussion I want to have now I’m leading up to a question of you were still briefing the president. What would you now tell President Biden? I just wanted, to get back here. Because I’ve interviewed you before, you’re a much maligned person, frankly. You get no credit for your experience, your patriotism, your service to your country in both the military and in the CIA, because you are now acquainting us with inconvenient truths, to use Al Gore’s phrase. You have stood in opposition and in fact, on a previous interview, you predicted something, the salient feature of the whole issue. Now, I want to give you credit for this. You brought it back to the Bronx, where we both grew up. And you said to me in kind of a folksy way, but I thought quite profound. You said, look, the big issue here is like in the Bronx, you got Russia. But Russia is not the issue. Russia’s going to be pushed around there, weakened and so forth. It’s their big brother behind them, like in the Bronx. You got another guy, your brother, you know, and he’s coming and that’s China. And so you just can’t push around Russia now in that way. And there’s this whole argument about hegemony and challenging U.S. hegemony in the world. And this alliance, as you point out, between China and Russia, where they are an incredible match economically. Obviously, Russia, a relatively underpopulated, I mean, extremely underpopulated country, but with vast resources of every kind. And China was just the opposite. And particularly, I know when I was in the Center for Chinese Studies at the University of California, I was a fellow there at one point and we said China could never develop it as it didn’t have much petroleum. Land was exhausted, its population was too large. Well, now, thanks to the United States, again, we did something that Marxism and communism couldn’t do. We have developed this new alliance, and they’re not alone. The number of countries that haven’t joined the criticism of Russia in this way is most of the global south. And, you know, and even India, which has its own disputes, obviously, with China, is also a major oil customer of Russia, even though Modi is now visiting with the president of the United States, the fact is he’s buying Russian oil and even Russian military equipment. So, okay, you have this vast experience. You worked for all these presidents, Nixon included. You briefed Ronald Reagan, I think you mentioned that he was not as attentive a student as he might have been, right? 

McGovern: Well, yeah, he used to sleep in. Mostly I briefed Secretary Shultz, Vice President Bush, Secretary Weinberger, and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. 

Scheer: Yeah. I’d like to establish one thing right at the beginning. We have now a Democratic president, and I’m always, you know, urge to vote for Democrats, even when I don’t like one, is lesser evil. And then this, of course, is always the great Republican menace, and that justifies. But these Democratic presidents have actually been as warlike and pro-war as as the Republicans. And what was so interesting, I remember interviewing Richard Nixon after he was president for The L.A. Times, I interviewed Reagan and I interviewed the people you work for. But as a journalist, I interviewed most of them before. But with Nixon, it was really quite interesting because this was when Reagan was president and you were briefing Reagan and Nixon, in my interview with him, I saw him in New York. I had written a retrospective about Nixon, and he invited me to come see him, believe it or not. And he knew we had our disagreements. He knew I was a strong critic of the Vietnam War and of Richard Nixon. But the whole point of that interview was he had just written a book warning about not ending this Cold War. And he was saying Reagan should stop this militant talk about maybe winnable nuclear war. And he stressed the absolute need. And of course, everybody forgets now, they see you can’t talk to Putin and he’s a monster and, you know, we have to continue that war. It was Richard Nixon who went and talked to Mao Zedong, who had been described as the most feared wild, crazy communist leader imaginable, and yet he and Kissinger went there and ushered in decades of peace and cooperation with the United States. So let’s just go where we are right now in this moment. You’re somehow back in the CIA. You are briefing the president, you know, and you go see Joe Biden. What do you tell them about what just happened in Russia, the so-called coup attempt, where Putin is, what’s going on with the war in Ukraine? I know this is short notice, but I’m Biden, brief me. 

McGovern: Well, Robert, I have to say first that when I was briefing Reagan’s chief advisers, I was toward the end of my career. I knew that I could retire early with a reduced annuity, and I knew what was going on in Russia, the Soviet Union at the time, because I was in touch with people who used to work for me, people who looked at Russia in a nonpartisan, independent way. Unlike my bosses, Robert Gates and Bill Casey, whose position “Haha, Gorbachev? He’s just a clever commie. The Communist Party of the Soviet Union will never, ever, ever give up power peaceably. Gorbachev, don’t be fooled by Gorbachev!” I would consult my real world analysts, the ones that pored over each and every word that Pravda printed and that Gorbachev said. And when Secretary Shultz, of course, asked me, well, actually, I’m in his anteroom. Right? This is one on one stuff. His secretary, who became a very good friend of mine, brings me a ticker. Not email, a ticker, like off the AP wire. Schultz has been invited to visit the Kremlin. Gorbachev wants to talk to him. So I bring that into the secretary, I say “Late news, Mr. Secretary, you’ve been invited to Moscow.” Next thing he says, “Well, I suppose that your bosses would say this is a lousy idea, McGovern.” “As you know, sir, I don’t always agree with my bosses.”

Scheer: Your bosses at the CIA, you mean? 

McGovern: Yeah. Yeah. Well, I was working for Gates and working for…At 11:30 every morning, I had to report to Casey what Schultz and I discussed. And the miracle was I was allowed to stay in place for four years. They knew what I was doing but I suspect that when they tried to get rid of me, they had explained that to George H.W. Bush. Oh what’s wrong with McGovern? You know, you’ve got to prepare, you know, four years of this stuff. So what I’m saying here is I’m going to impersonate McGovern in those days. I’m not going to impersonate Avril Haines, the director of national intelligence, or Bill Burns, just the consummate bureaucrat who will do whatever people tell him to do. That’s without doing that, you don’t get to be deputy secretary of state or head of the CIA. So here’s him what I would tell him. Mr. Bush Number one, General Austin, or I should say, Secretary… 

Scheer: Briefing Biden. 

McGovern: Yeah, I’m sorry. Thanks, Robert. I’m briefing Biden. Okay. So now, Mr. President, first off, Defense Secretary Ashton has a checkered career on intelligence. Let me explain: when he was head of CENTCOM in Tampa with purview over the entire Middle East, no fewer than 50 intelligence analysts filed a formal complaint with the inspector general of the Pentagon, saying General Austin, at the time four star, was polluting, the intelligence was politicizing it, was saying about Syria all the things we told him, just the opposite about. There was a formal inquiry done. Now, as the Pentagon works, you get a two star to investigate a four star, right? Right. So it came out as well. The point is, all the 50 analysts I would… Now, President Biden just you know, in terms of whether Ukraine can win, even with Abrams tanks or with F-16s, don’t pay any attention to Secretary Austin. He’s misguided or he’s just trying to tell you what you want to hear. Okay, That’s number one. Now, number two. 

Scheer: Why number one? Tell us. 

McGovern: Well, because Ukraine is is about to lose this definitively. Okay? The Russians are about to pounce on what’s left of the Ukrainian armed forces and go all the way to Kiev to attack you, but to the Dnieper River, which is the divide between western and eastern Ukraine. And then they’re going to say, okay, now you want us to go further, You want us to go as far as the Polish, Romanian, Moldovan border. Okay, we can do that, but let’s deal so well. 

Scheer: I’m President Biden and I say, wait a minute, we have all this equipment that’s come in from European countries or this is what we spend a lot of money on. And you are telling me that this Russian army that seems to be in disarray, there’s even some thought that one of their top generals have backed this wild guy with the Wagner Group. And there was this coup attempt. And we know there’s a lot of opposition in Russia. And you are telling me this war is going to go the other way. Are you over the hill, Ray?

McGovern: What I’m telling you, Mr. President, it was what the serious people within the CIA, a vanishing species. But I’m in touch with them. What they’re telling me and what I think in an honest way. Yeah. What I’m telling you is that Abrams tanks, F-16s, if they ever come, will come late to the party. Okay? Late to the party. Like months from now, it’s going to be over for Ukraine months from now, unless you escalate, if you want to escalate up to a nuclear potential war. Well, that’s of course, what you don’t want to do. You don’t want WWIII. So so the situation is not, as is described by the media or by Secretary Austin or by General Milley. Well, let me tell you this, Mr. President. We used to, in the CIA, have a military division, okay. Independent of the Pentagon. That was the division they came up with the notion that we could not win Vietnam, that there were twice as many Viet Cong under arms in the South, and we were rejected. Those were rejected by everyone, by the head of Central Intelligence, Richard Helms at the time. You know this era very well. Helms told my fellow analyst Sam Adams, Look, Sam, you want to get me into a pissing match with the U.S. Army at war. I ain’t going to do it. We’ll go with the Army’s numbers. So what happens? Tet! Three months later, the Tet Offensive shows that there are 600,000 VC under arms, not 299,000. Like General Westmoreland said. So I speak from some experience. What happened to that military division? The independent one in the CIA? Bobby Gates gave it away to the Pentagon. We also, Mr. President, used to have an independent photographic or imagery interpretation center. It was called a National Photographic Interpretation Center, NPIC, and it was the ones that discovered the missiles in Cuba. There were people there that had 30 years tenure. They knew every every trick to analyze imagery. What happened to them? I have to tell you, Mr. President, that I was around in 1996. There was a fellow named John Deutch who accepted being director of CIA just as a stepping stone to become secretary of Defense. It was all understood just a year at the CIA and now take Bob Perry’s place. Now, what happened? Well, he wanted ingratiate himself with the Pentagon. You have to work all the levers, right? So he gave the National Photographic Interpretation Center kit and caboodle the whole thing to the Pentagon. Now, you say, Mr. President, you say, well, McGovern, what are you telling me? I’m telling you, Mr. President, that you have no independent photo or imagery interpretation center. You have no way to analyze photos. But I’ll show you. I’ll prove it to you. I have a book at home. I bring it in tomorrow. It’s a book written by James Clapper, who is national intelligence director, but before Iraq, he was head of the Imagery Interpretation Unit called National Imagery and Mapping Center. Okay. Whoa. What did he write in the book? He said, well, I was as much responsible as others. But Dick Cheney was putting great pressure on us to find weapons of mass destruction. And of course, we were the imagery analysis group. We were the ones that were supposed to find them. We identified 138 possible sites, but we were never able to confirm any. Well, let me put it this way, says James Clapper. “We found things that weren’t really there.” Period. End quote. He says that in his memoir. Now, how did he got the job? Bobby Gates recommended him to Donald Rumsfeld. He did your job beautifully. Any analyst that was going to say to anybody there, no weapons of mass destruction, that was not going to be good for their career and nobody came forth. So anyhow, Mr. President, you are not being given what people who worked in the CIA decades ago were able to give a president. And that is an unvarnished, an independent, what Truman himself called an untreated, untreated version of events, telling it like it is, is what we say in the vernacular. Now, Mr. President, you got to take my word for that. But, you know, in the coming months, they’re going to show that far from Ukraine winning this battle, the counteroffensive is going to peter out and you’re going to be very embarrassed not only by the destruction of your celebrated Patriot missiles, but also your M-1 Abrams tanks. If you go that far, if the tanks ever get there. So we have the photos. I don’t know if the mainstream media. 

Scheer: Why the Patriot missiles because reading in the newspaper, they seem very effective and none of the Russian weapons ever seem or rarely seem to hit their targets. They’re mostly shot down. 

McGovern: Actually, Robert, speaking of shot down, those reports have been literally shot down. These hypersonic missiles that Russia has has literally shot down an entire battery of Patriot missiles. And that is confirmed. In other words, as soon as they were in place not far from Kiev, they were obliterated by one of these hypersonic missiles. That’s fact, okay? Now, who’s running these stories? Well, it’s Raytheon. What do you mean, Raytheon? I mean, Raytheon is telling The Washington Post what the print and telling the rest of the mainstream media. You know, I’ve got a new acronym and actually it’s in some dictionaries now. Eisenhower talked about the military industrial complex. Well, it’s more it’s more complicated now. And now it’s the not the MIC, but the MICIMATT got a pencil, Old fashioned. Grab your pencil. Military, industrial, Congressional intelligence, media, academia, Think tank complex. Why do I say media, as if in all caps? Because media is the fulcrum. It’s the basis, you can’t make this MICIMATT work without the media. And who controls the media? The same corporations that control Raytheon, Lockheed and the rest of them. So Raytheon has been advertising Patriot missiles ever since. Well, ever since the Iraq war in ’91, for God’s sake. They never work. They never shot anything down. And you can you can check with Scott Ritter on that because he was a Marine intelligence officer  and he told the truth. He was overruled. But finally the truth came out. There were no Scuds. There were no Scuds shot by Iraq that were downed by a Patriot missile. Despite all the lies the Raytheon Washington Post, New York Times told. 

Scheer: Okay, that’s a pretty strong claim you just made. 

McGovern: It’s factual. Yes, I can prove it. 

Scheer: Well, let’s try doing a little bit, because otherwise, I mean, I keep reading these reports, the Patriot missiles shot this, now shot down these drones and everything. They don’t hit Kiev and so forth. And you’re making a pretty extreme statement here that there’s no example of their being effective. 

McGovern: Well, Robert, in such circumstances, I’m not pulling those out of my ear, okay? I happen to be a very good friend of Scott Ritter and Doug MacGregor and others who know a hell of a lot more about what’s happening in Ukraine than I do. And it’s particularly Scott now. He was on the ground. He was there during the war in Iraq, and they were very, very afraid that Iraq would shoot Scud missiles at Israel. And they said, no, no, we can we can make sure they don’t. Well, they never got to Israel. But that was not because of the Patriot missiles. Of course, the Patriots came in later, but these very well advanced or well advertised, at least, missiles. So, you know, you have to rely on the experts with no ax to grind. And that [inaudible] has people like Scott Ritter, who is trying to explain to people what’s going on, just as he did before the Iraq war, when he came down to Washington as the previous weapons inspector responsible for Iraq, tried to tell his Senator Hillary Clinton and the head of the foreign relations, Joe Biden, that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and that this was all a big fable. So his record for honesty is embarrassingly good, embarrassing for the administration. So I rely on firsthand experience like that. Scott Ritter has no reason to dissemble about these things. 

Scheer: Okay, maybe I’m not fully understanding this because we’ve spent a lot of money for these missiles. I mean, this strategy relies on them. Frankly, you’re deceiving Ukrainian patriots, people fighting for their view of their country and their safety and security. If you tell them that this weaponry will changes everything. And that is the claim for the tanks. It’s the claim for the Patriot missiles, it’s the claim for everything and the enormous expenditure of money for these weapons. And yet you’re saying that, I mean, I just want to be careful what you are saying. They’re not effective. They don’t work. 

McGovern: They don’t work when you have hypersonic missiles within range in Russia and Ukraine. And that’s demonstrably proven. Now, in one sense, they work beautifully. Raytheon, you know, if you’re a really cynical person, buy more stock in Raytheon because those Patriot missile batteries are going to have to be replaced, right? And who is going to replace them? Raytheon, Lockheed Martin. I mean, yeah, sounds awful. But that’s the reality, folks.

Scheer: Maybe I’m not understanding you. They’re there now. They fire at incoming targets. Right. 

McGovern: Right. 

Scheer: And they’re all witnesses to this. There has to be things fall from the ground. There has to be damage and so forth, and if I understand you correctly, you’re saying there literally do not hit their targets? Or is it just the hypersonic weapons that they’re not able to hit? 

McGovern: Well, you describe what we see in photography, imagery. The Patriots can shoot very rapid volleys. I think within that, the time of one and a half minutes, they shot off about 30 of them. And then all of a sudden there’s this great big explosion and then there are no more Patriot missiles. The batteries that we’re shooting, those were shooting them off in a in a way that was pretty much ineffective. Or who are they shoot or nobody was was hit in the Russian part of the Ukraine. And then there was a big explosion. And now we have to build more Raytheon Patriot missile. So, yeah, what I’m telling you is the imagery itself shows. Now you don’t see that in The New York Times or the L.A. Times or The Washington Post. But if you if you have a modicum of interest, you go to the alternative media, like your show here, and you watch these films and then you have them interpreted by people like Colonel MacGregor or people like former Major Scott Ritter, these guys know which end is up. They just don’t get any exposure in the mainstream media. And that’s why, well, this is a cardinal point, Robert. When Eisenhower warned about the military industrial complex and the danger to democracy that would come of the aggregation of power by the MIC. He said there’s only one antidote to that, to protect our democracy, and that is a well-informed citizenry. We ain’t got a well-informed citizenry. And that’s deliberate because of the MICIMATT, the people making the weapons, selling the weapons are the same people controlling the media. 

Scheer: The reason this is such a show stopper for me as a lifelong journalist, and I spent many hours at the Pentagon in the State Department, everywhere interviewing people, including occasionally in the White House and so forth, if I understand this correctly. We are putting in this very expensive ordinance right into Ukraine. And we’re basically sacrificing, if we’re not protecting these Ukrainian troops there, we’re sacrificing them. And yet daily, we have reports of the effectiveness of this weaponry. Right? I mean, that, in fact, they can shoot down drones and they shoot down cruise missiles and so forth. 

McGovern: They’re great. Yeah. 

Scheer: But what I’m finding very difficult to accept is that… 

McGovern: Well I could… 

Scheer: Go ahead. 

McGovern: No, I can understand that. I mean. Everybody is subjected to this firehose of propaganda. What I’m saying here is that, well, you know, it’s only 20 years ago that we had the weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Right? There were none. After a five year investigation by the Senate Intelligence Committee, the chairman of that committee published a nonpartizan report saying the intelligence prior to Iraq was uncorroborated, contradicted or even nonexistent. End quote. Look it up. June 2008. Nonexistent intelligence. Well, what what could that be like? 

Scheer: But fragments are falling on buildings, right? Yeah. I mean, things are being hit in the sky and falling down and tearing up at least some apartment buildings and so forth. And what are they hitting? 

McGovern: Well, actually, the S300 missiles that Ukraine has are hitting some civilian buildings, but that’s on the way down, Robert. They’re hitting very few Russian missiles. What happens is they go up and, you know, what goes up has to come down. And that’s what just happened yesterday. Some civilians in an apartment building were killed. Okay. Those those are as likely. Ukrainian misses by these very famous S300 anti-aircraft missiles as they are Russian directed at Russian targets. Let me just finish with what I’m saying here. 

Scheer: But there are Russian missiles and drones and so forth that are hitting targets in Ukraine. I just I mean, yeah. 

McGovern: There are, Robert, But, you know, this may sound a little funny to you, but the Russians have been very, very careful, extremely careful to the point where Putin has been criticized strongly for this. They have not been destroying civilian installations or civilian infrastructure until just about three weeks ago. Okay. Now they’re hitting decision making centers like the equivalent of the CIA headquarters in Kiev. They destroyed that. Okay. And they’ve threatened to do more of that. But up until now, they’ve been very discreet. Why? Because they don’t want to. They want to have a Ukraine that has not been bloodied to the last year gradient they’d like to have in Ukraine, at least their part of Ukraine, as they see it, willing to accept the fact that this had to be done, to get rid of these neo-Nazis that are that we put into power in Kiev. I don’t want to exaggerate here. And, you know, it’s no surprise to me that lots of people don’t understand all this, but that’s because they don’t tune in to the alternative media to the degree they have. Now, let me just finish with respect to Iraq. All I’m trying to say is these people. James Clapper, for example, well, he is a big hit on CNN now. These people were never held accountable for their their blatant lies about weapons of mass destruction or about ties between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda. 70% of the American people believed before the Iraq War that Saddam Hussein was somehow responsible for, guess what, 911, because he had these ties with Al Qaida, all made up a whole cloth. Even my friends, my my friends in the CIA at the time wouldn’t buy that one. But the Defense Department prevailed. So what happened to these folks? They’re still there. What happened to the generation that they promoted? They’re all malleable managers. They will do whatever the president wants. It’s a far cry from the independent analysis I used to be able to do with respect to the Soviet Union, at least, and far cry from what Truman intended when he talked about untainted intelligence. So that’s the answer. They’re still around. And this time there are yes men all over the place. I don’t know if there are many honest analysts left in the CIA. That’s why Dan Ellsberg, for example, appealed in his last interview with Sam Adams Associates. He got he got our prize for intelligence for integrity this year. He said, look, here’s my message. Don’t do what I did. I waited too long. Okay. I know in 1964 that this was a crock. This was a big lie. 

Scheer: You’re talking about the Vietnam War. 

McGovern: Yeah. Yeah. And I should have spoken at that, and I didn’t. I waited till 1971, So don’t do what I did. Do what? Katharine Gun, the NSA, she worked in the equivalent of NSA. GHQ, it was called in Britain. She knew that this was a crock. She knew that we were trying to get the U.N. Security Council to approve it by  suborning the members of the security… So she knew all this. And as soon as she saw that little message from NSA that said we’re going to attack and we’re going to watch all these members of the Security Council because we want them to vote for this war. She said that’s too far. She pushed the print button and she gave it to the London Observer. Wow. The next day. So Dan is saying, look, don’t do what I did. Do what Katharine Gun did. She was the third recipient of our Sam Adams Award for Integrity. Dan was very close to her and to all of our members except one. And he said that in his last substantive interview. There’s an irony here, Robert, that you being a… 

Scheer: We should be clear, you’re talking about defense intellectuals against the war or what have you. It’s sort of a whistleblower… 

McGovern: Oh, no. Well, this is, again, a tightly held secret, if you watch the major media, we instituted an award named after my former colleague, Sam Adams. He was the one that said, Mr. President, there are 500 to 600,000 Vietcong under arms in South Vietnam. Don’t believe a word that General Westmoreland is telling you. He has an artificial limit of 299,000 that he says he’s told Ho Chi Minh you can’t put anyhow. He’s lying to you. Reckon with that. So we gave Sam Adams the peace. He’s died since, but we gave him his name to this award. Coleen Rowley of the FBI, who warned her betters about Iraq before the war. And the third one was Katharine Gun. We’ve had Chelsea manning. We’ve had all manner of pretty good, very good whistleblowers as awardees. And this was our 21st award. That was to Dan Ellsberg. We gave it in a private ceremony out in Beverly Hills just two months before he died. And as I say, that was his major message. He was extremely lucid at 2:00 in the afternoon, not so much over lunch. And the person presenting the the citation and the Oscar. Our Oscar is a corner brightener candlestick holder take to shine, shine light into dark places. That’s our Oscar. Our friend who was with Dan over lunch. He told me later he was really concerned. Dan didn’t seem very, very lucid at lunch, but boy, he sure rose to the occasion. And you can look. 

Scheer: For people who don’t know, I mean, it’s because he had cancer. 

McGovern: Sure, he was in his last days. But what I’m saying is, when Dan read that when when Dan had the citation read to him, he said, Wow. I thought that this should be about the Pentagon Papers. You must have read. You must have read secrets. Secrets. What secrets? Here it is. This is the really incredible book, Secrets. Dan wrote in about 2000. And it’s a memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers. And that points out that before 1971, namely, and 1968. Dan prevented a widening of the Vietnam War up through Cambodia and North Vietnam up to the Chinese border. He says so here, apparently he forgot that he gave me this book and that I read it. Okay, So this is really interesting, I think. Anyhow, so our citation says, okay, now, Westmoreland was in town in late 1967 and he said, LBJ, all I need is 206,000 more troops than we can do it because we can’t be up there and the Chinese won’t do a damn thing. All I need is 206,000 troops. Okay? Now, people in the Pentagon. You know, some of these characters, Les Gelb, you know, who was number three in the Pentagon, saw what was coming. Les Gelb leaked to The New York Times. His article was published. The article that he leaked to Neil Sheehan and Rick Smith was published on the 10th of March 1968. And it said Westmoreland was asking for 206,000 more troops. There’s a lot of this disputation in the White House about whether they should be given. Dan Ellsberg saw that and he said, well, if somebody else can leak that information, I will leak Sam Adams’ figures. And so what he did was go to Neil Sheehan of The Times and say, look, the intelligence community was overruled by Westmoreland. They said that there were twice as many VC on the arms and they were overruled. Neil Sheehan published that on the 19th of March. 

Scheer: But we’re going to run out of time. And I just want to, because this is an interview is quite disturbing to me. And I just want to make sure I understand it correctly right now. 

McGovern: Robert, before we go on, let me just interrupt. Let me just finish. This whole thing could only take one more minute. Okay. So we talked about a key leak by Les Gelb. We learned later on the 10th of March. Ellsberg leaks the real figures out on the 19th, on the 25th. LBJ meets with a small group of people. He says, I was going to give Westmoreland the 206,000 men, but now nobody believes us. Those leaks really hurt us. I’m going to turn Westmoreland down and I’m not going to run again for president. On the 31st, he announces he’s not going to run for president. So these were consequential leaks and Dan, humble guy that he was, just tortured by by saying, well, I should have leaked in ’64. Well, he did leak in ’68 and that prevented a wider… You know what happens when you go up the Chinese border, right? You know about that, right? Okay. So all I’m saying here is that even Dan had forgotten that. And to his very great credit, he prevented what could have been a war with China back in 1968. 

Scheer: Right. And I had a lot of contact with Dan. And I respect what you’re saying. I want to get it back to the Ukraine. Sure. Of course. Okay. Because and I want to understand and we have, you know, I guess we could take a little longer if you have the time. I want to make be absolutely certain what you’re saying, because the general reporting, let’s be specific, is that the war has been going terribly for the Russians and that, in fact, you know, the only success they had was with the Wagner group, which now recently revolted or whatever you want to describe that as. And. Right. So the reporting on this is that the Russians have had a disaster that first went off to Kiev. The forces got mired down in mud and didn’t have anywhere to go. Now they’re holding on to this area where they say they have support. But, you know, the reporting on it is overwhelmingly one of, you know, even was out having air cover and all the things that Zelensky talks about, the Ukrainians talk about that they’re doing very well. The U.S. support now where they admittedly, they said the counteroffensive is stalled, is taking longer. But you’re telling me that even the infusion of all of this high tech equipment. Right. It is not going to alter these things. That’s right. And, you know, I. You’ve known a lot of journalists. I’ve been a journalist all my life. We’re not talking about people which are my people are bright. I you know, and you’ve gone out on a limb here. Right. You’re making. Yeah, it’s. It’s not the first time, but. But, but just because it’s it sounds outrageous doesn’t make it true. I mean, I. Well. 

McGovern: Robert, we’re both. Okay, good. 

Scheer: I want to explore this a little bit to make sure. Know, to make sure I know what you are claiming. Okay. 

McGovern: Okay. What I’m saying, we’re both from the Bronx, right? Yeah. And when I say it’s a crock, you know the rest of that is right. Yeah, well, now I say it’s male bovine excrement. Okay? And that way I can appear on whatever. Okay. Yeah. Now, why do people get away with these blatant lies? Because no one was held accountable for Iraq. It was not the intelligence community. It was. It was the media. 

Scheer: So I want to know about the lies. No, no. But I want to be very precise now. Okay. You’re telling me that these claims now we know 15% of the new equipment that has been put in has been destroyed that same and that includes some advanced tanks and so forth. We know that. But you’re telling me that this whole effort. And you know what? German and French and English and all this equipment coming in. Is not being effective. This is a big news story that is ignored if it’s true. And if I were your editor, I’m going to push you here is to not talking about Iraq or previous lying. I want to know, how is this being missed now? You know, how could it possibly be? Go ahead. 

McGovern: Because the media is thoroughly corrupted. Robert. It’s worse. It’s worse than it was in your time now. Well, this is what I. 

Scheer: Want to know right now. Do buildings get hit by by drones, by, you know, missiles or. I mean, there’s you observe things, right? Things. Okay. 

McGovern: Where do you get your where do you get from? Where do you get your information? 

Scheer: Well, I mean, the yes, I’m talking about what is called the mainstream media. 

McGovern: Yeah. And where do they get theirs? From Ukrainian intelligence. That’s what spewing all this garbage out. And they take it as as as accepted fact. Even the intelligence community is relying heavily. 

Scheer: On these podcasters and commentators and everything. In Russia, after all, this was the tension in this coup and with the Wagner group that that the Russians are not doing well, that their military is not performing well. You know. Right. I mean, there are there are people and I mean, Russia seems to have a pretty lively community of comment, people commenting on all of this. And there has been tension within the Russian military. Right. This is Well. 

McGovern: If you mean promotion, you. Yeah, That’s not the Russian military. No, that’s. 

Scheer: Okay. Okay. 

McGovern: That’s a viognier in an opera on the side and that sort of feckless effort to begin with. So we can dismiss that. If anything, Putin emerges in a much stronger position by virtue of the way he handled it and the way he handled it persuades me that he is supremely confident, you know, that really even let this guy go. You know, this guy who was responsible for 20 or so helicopter pilots, Russians being killed, is going to let this guy go to Belarus. Now, will he be accused of that? Of course he will be criticized for that. He says, look, the supreme the supreme objective here was to prevent blood letting. That wasn’t necessary. So we got these guys out of and we don’t have to worry about this Wagnerian, this wild Bulgarian opera anymore. The guy is Prigozhin is off to the side. His to the degree that his soldiers did a good job and won’t let them sign up for the regular army of the Russian Republic. Putin is in control here and he has weaponry. He advertises, but nobody believes it is weaponry that can decimate any U.S. tank or any leopard from Germany or any F-16 that might go in there. The danger is that Biden will escalate to the point where nuclear weapons tactical, you know, these really small nukes will come into play. That’s the real danger. 

Scheer: Okay, So, you know, we ain’t getting any younger. And, you know, we have to affirm that we still have our marbles. 

McGovern: Some of us, I mean, you and me, we’re okay. I’m not sure about the president right. 

Scheer: Now, but, you know, I’m just thinking as a as a as a writer, as a journalist, what the readers have a right to question. Okay. And I may not be hearing you correctly. But you went pretty far in this discussion. This is maybe the time to. Qualify it if it’s needed. Okay. But I think you said that that the Patriot, for instance, defense is not. You said it’s never I mean, it’s not effective against your own. Yes. I find it difficult. I have to be honest here. And generally, I’ve admired what you have said in the past. That will prove spot on. You know, we go back a long way. My interview with you. But you’re telling me that this dominant narrative now of the failure, basically, of the Russian military. And the success of American supplied technology and the enthusiasm of the Ukrainians using that technology. You’re telling me that this is not true? 

McGovern: That’s correct. I’m telling you, it’s B.S., the same as weapons of mass destruction in Iraq now. 

Scheer: Leave Iraq out of it because just because we’ve been lied to before doesn’t mean that we’re being lied to now. So I’m trying to I mean, really, I want to focus on describing the current reality. Okay. It’s sort of an ad hominem argument to suggest all they lied before. They’re lying now. I want to know. Buildings are being hit. Targets are being destroyed. Now, some of that you can say, well, who blew up the pipeline? Well, we don’t know. 

McGovern: Yeah, we know. Of course we know. Sy Hersh has the whole story. We did it. 

Scheer: But. All right. 

McGovern: You know, say. 

Scheer: Okay. Yes, I know. And I respect them. And I ran that story. But I’m saying. Or the damn. How did that get blown up? So, you know, as everyone knows, in war, truth is the first casualty. And everybody lies. All governments lie. And, you know, and so what I’m asking, though, is and, you know, look, this turns out that what you are saying here is accurate. This is a hell of an interview. Okay. But my job is to keep questioning it, even though we’re going longer than either of us expected. No, but seriously, seriously, are people watching this or listening to this? Listening to this have a right to ask what about this apparent evidence that is constantly reported on us that, in fact, what has happened in this war is that the Russians, who had a reputation from Syria and elsewhere being effective militarily, have had actually a disaster. And that’s why Putin is criticized quite a bit on by podcasters or whatever people commenting on on their Internet, despite the fact that they can be severely punished for that or arrested or what have you. And so I’m asking, as somebody familiar with Russia, familiar with that part of the world. Do you want to withdraw any of this or qualify? No, seriously. Do we? 

McGovern: Okay. Yeah. No. 

Scheer: What exactly you’re alleging about the effectiveness and the different the balance of power and how you see it? Exactly. 

McGovern: Okay. 

Scheer: What about what we said before in the previous 54 minutes? Tell me as a what you are. So I get it right. What you are alleging about this paddle. 

McGovern: First off, and please don’t close me down on this. The reason I adduce the Iraq example is because it’s a mirror image of the media lying and being fed by the intelligence community that matters. Now, there’s something that I have that you don’t have, Robert. You have a much longer record of objectivity and fearless reporting. What I have I was two years an Army infantry intelligence officer. Okay. Now, let me be very brief here. This may sound corny, but the first thing we were drilled into that was drilled into our minds. You do an estimate of the situation. You get a map and you find out where Ukraine is relative to Russia and where the U.S. and Western Europe are. And then you try to figure out how many Russians are under arms and how many how many Ukrainians could be stood up. And then you say, well, are they motivated? And then you say, well, what kind of weaponry they have? And then you say blocks. Now, locks, not like locks and bagels that were usually in the Bronx. Okay. This is lines of communication and control and supply, actually. Now, there’s no way that Russia facing an existential threat from NATO and the U.S. and Ukraine can lose this battle. And, you know, for proof. Well, don’t believe me now. Check with me in three weeks and see where the situation on the battlefield is, because the Ukrainians are almost down to their last soldier. And the question will be, where do the Russian army stop the Dnieper or do they go all the way to the Polish border? So check with me in three weeks on that. Don’t trust me now. Okay. But the cardinal thing is that Americans have been misled. And, you know, I’m really glad that whether you’re playing devil’s advocate here or whether you’re I’m really glad you’re posing these questions, because I am supremely confident. Ain’t because McGovern knows everything. It’s because McGovern knows guys who know everything. Scott Ritter. Colonel MacGregor. Just like when I was briefing Schultz, I could say I know these guys who are serious analysts don’t pay any attention to Gates and his boss, Casey. I listen to me and them because we’re giving you the straight scoop. Now, again, my record is there for everyone to see what people call me as some sort of devotee of Putin. But that’s that’s only because what he and I say tend to coincide much more than what John Kirby and others say on behalf of the administration. 

Scheer: Okay. But just let’s nail what you are saying. And yes, this is you know, it’s pretty brief time. You’re saying in three weeks or so there might be some resolution or breakthrough or. 

McGovern: No, no, no resolution. What I’m saying is Ukraine has thrown just about everything they have at at the battle. 

Scheer: The first they deny this, right. They say they’ve withheld most of the new stuff they’ve got. They’ve withheld most of the troops that have been trained by the U.S. and its allies. Right. They say only this is still a probing effort. 

McGovern: Yeah, that’s B.S.. They put their crackerjack units trained and equipped by Natal for the preceding six months at the apex of the battle, tried to break through the three lines that the Russians had created there. Couldn’t get past the first. Okay. It’s available in imagery. You’re going to have to take my word for it, but you can’t take the mainstream media word for it. So what’s going to happen is Ukrainians are losing. Now, most people say, well, is that really a bad thing? It’s a bad thing. If Naito and specifically the US which controls Naito at their next meeting, it’s two weeks away in Lithuania, of all places. Okay. Now, if they if they elect to up the ante, the only way to go is to threaten tactical nuclear weapons. You know, these small things just the size of for Shima or Nagasaki and them. 

Scheer: Up to now, it’s Putin who has been threatening nuclear weapons. U.S. How long. 

McGovern: Runs for Liz Truss, prime minister of Great Britain, for what was six weeks or seven weeks back, a half year ago. Okay. She said, you know, I’m very happy. I am happy to press the nuclear button despite what the terrible results would be. I’m happy to do that. She was she was talking openly. It was then that only then a couple of days later where Putin said, look, please remember, we have nuclear weapons, too. Okay. Now the Russians have a doctrine. And the doctrine says if the state of Russia, if if we are faced with an ignominious defeat, that’s when we will use nuclear weapons. Okay. Now, he said that even recently. Now, what did John F Kennedy say about that In his American University speech? He says we want to avoid at all costs a situation where a nuclear power is facing a humiliating defeat or the use of nuclear weapons. So here’s here’s the plan. Let’s let’s say McGovern is completely wrong. Let’s say the Russians get driven out of Ukraine. What is Putin going to do? Then the nuclear option comes not only for the U.S., of course, but will Putin say that his doctrine is operated and where they threaten or actually use as a small nuclear weapon? I would say we’d have to we’d have to consider that the answer to that. Yes. And that makes things very, very, very, very, very, very it’s a gutsy, as I. 

Scheer: Understand, what you’ve just done in this discussion before. We say that the U.S., the West. Would consider the use of tactical nuclear weapons if it’s not going well. And in the Ukraine. 

McGovern: That would be the question that would be up. So, you know, it is a two way thing here. Both both people have you know, Robert, this is unique in the history, in all history. No nuclear power has threatened another nuclear power with an existential defeat never before. This is the first time now it came close in Cuba. And there’s a direct analogy there. But we avoided that. We avoided that because John Kennedy turned to his diplomats like Llewellyn Thompson, Ambassador Thompson back from Moscow. So look who doesn’t want to war deal with them. And they dealt with them and avoided it this time. My God. I asked a psychiatrist friend of mine, Robert, I said, now, you know, I worry about Joe Biden’s, you know, as a compos mentis. And this psychiatrist said, Right. That’s a matter to in his when he was fully compos mentis, he was still being guided by these idiots like Blinken and Sullivan and Nolan and those. So what does it matter? They’re in control. And my God. Nolan, for example. Well, as Sy Hersh has said, she’s gone off her rocker. So I’m putting on a watch and all this stuff and I’m saying, My God, how can we depend on a rational reaction from Washington that makes things very labial, as the German said, very itsy bitsy, as we used to say in the Bronx. 

Scheer: So your prediction here is I mean, okay, look, it’s just so different. Then the conventional wisdom. That anyone listening to this, I think, or most people. Would would wonder. I mean, really, how could it be so different? Now, you’re right. There have been plenty of times in history where what we were told turned out to be exactly incorrect. That’s true. I personally wrote about the Gulf of Tonkin and when it first got revealed 20 years after the fact that there had not been that cold for second Gulf of Tonkin attack, which was the excuse for expanding the war into Vietnam, Daniel Ellsberg actually wrote about what he learned from my reporting on that. I interviewed the Captain Hurricane, the boat and so forth and so on. So I’m familiar with the ability of any state to lie effectively any state. However. We are in real time here. Real time. And the conventional wisdom. In including right today in The New York Times as we’re talking, they’re talking about this Wagner group and so forth, actually had the support of the most popular general who had been pushed down and that, in fact, Putin is now very weak and that there are others in the military and the Russia that are supporting him and so forth. And and I’m not dealing with you know, I’m not playing devil’s advocate. I don’t think the devil needs advocates. I’m just being a logical reader. Of news. And I’m putting myself in the shoes of somebody listening to this. And, you know, and it really goes to a very basic question, which, you know, obviously Orwell and Huxley and others raised and being concerned about a dystopian future in the West is whether we can be deceived to this degree, because this would really mean that an entire press corps, people on the ground, many of them, right, are not reporting this. 

McGovern: There’s no one on the ground. 

Scheer: What does that mean? 

McGovern: There’s no one in the school. Lugansk there was no reporting on how 14,000 Russian speaking people were killed since the coup in Kiev that we orchestrated in February of 2014. The press, I’m sorry to tell you this, I thought you know this, Robert, but the press is thoroughly corrupt. They’re run by the same people who make tons of money who are profiteering on the war. Now, if this hadn’t happened as recently as to two decades ago, that would be kind of understandable. People would be going. 

Scheer: Okay, but Ray, we’re going to run out of time, though. And, you know, I can’t push this, you know, because, I mean, people well, first of all, I don’t even know if they’ll stick with us to this, but I want to just nail this. You’re telling me, okay, we’ll know you. You basically think you said that that the. Claim of Ukraine and backed by the US is they have not committed their major trained force of I guess it’s 60 or 80,000 people have been trained. They have not committed the major new weaponry that they have. Most of it right. They’re holding this back while they’re doing probing attacks on the lines. Right. And and basically, up to now, the war has been described as a military disaster for the Russians. Right. Has been described that way. And, yes, there is a statement that they’re making less progress than they expected to they running into these minefields and so forth. But but they say most of what they’ve got has not been committed. I think the figure is 60, 70%. You’re denying that. What are you basing it on? 

McGovern: I’m saying that there easy forces have already been committed and push back with horrendous casualties. I’m saying that they’re making this stuff up, that they just probing along these lines. I’m saying that the Russians have had six months to fortify those lines, that the Ukrainian forces have no chance without air cover, without artillery to prevail. I’m saying that in a month’s time we’ll see whether I’m right or whether I’m wrong. What I’m also saying, Robert, and this is really important. Most Americans have been led to believe that Putin and the Russians are evil incarnate. It was all based on a lie about Russian intercepting or Russian hacking into the Democratic National Committee computers. Okay. Now, why do I say all that? Because that has been disproven in chapter and verse by by testimony, under oath, by the head of the cyber firm that we’re supposed to look into this hack. It concluded there was no hack by Russia or by an antibody else. Has The New York Times reported that? No. As a matter of fact, I wrote a report about it at the time. While link to the to the House Intelligence Committee testimony has been deleted. So even if they want to look up whether McGovern was telling the truth or not, you can’t do that anymore because the House has deleted that link. What am I saying here? I’m saying that for six years the Americans have been prepared for the kind of confrontation that they came at once with Russia. And so if Biden decides to escalate and God knows he might on the advice he’s getting, then the majority of American people will be quite persuaded that was the evil Russians. Look what they did. They were unprovoked, a lie. They had other options. Another lie. They felt an existential threat. And this is precisely what a nuclear power does when it feels and exerts such a threat. And I can prove it. It’s just that I can’t get into The New York Times. 

Scheer: One final thing, because you started life as an analyst on Russia and China. 

McGovern: Right. 

Scheer: And the real big game here. It’s really not about Russia, you know? It’s about our relation to China. That’s right. Project for the New American Century. The Bible of the neoconservatives. Back in the nineties, China was the big target. And even though we went through decades of China, supplied us with almost everything we wear or using this computer, my desk, my shirt wasn’t by my design. I just bought it on the internet or someplace made in China. The real target here seems to be China and and China’s challenge with Russia to my notion of U.S. hegemony. And so I just want to end this by. Going back. You know, when you went to the CIA, what, 1964, Right. 363. And this is before Nixon went to China, when they were considered still the red ants and, you know, and bent on conquest of the world and shouldn’t be at the U.N. and you couldn’t deal with them. And we’d gone through the Korean War where we leveled every structure in Korea and so forth, went right up to the Yalu and so forth. I just read like the McGovern view of our relations to China and how it connects with the current situation, because this is something I would not have expected. I interviewed and I interviewed Reagan. I interviewed the first president, but all of them seemed to think the opening to China was a good thing, you know, a very good thing. Now we have the closing to China. And my own feeling is the story that is being missed is that we really are out to prevent China from being a modern country. I think it’s informed by racism and a view that these people can never live peacefully or something. But I’d like your take on it and I won’t interrupt and I will end with that. So really, looking back on the trajectory of your adult life, Catholic kid comes out of Fordham University. I’m over at City College. We we, you know, didn’t think you guys were capable of critical thought or what. But nonetheless, here we are at this old age and and looking back on the under US-China relationship and to Russia and you were the guy briefing and being involved in informing, what, seven presidents. Did you ever think we’d get to this moment with China? And what is this moment? 

McGovern: Robert, thanks for the opportunity here. I feel very privileged to have had as my first job evaluating Russian relations with China. I learned a lot. Okay. Now let me tell you that during the sixties, there were loggerheads. They were shooting at each other across the border. China was claiming that 1.1 million kilometers of Chinese territory in what is now Siberia was stolen from China under unequal treaties in the 17th century. And China was right. Okay, So there was a irredentism as well there. We thought they would always hate each other. We thought that they would never get together. But thanks to people like Blinken and Sullivan, and no one could draw them together. Now, let me explain. I was after my portfolio on Sino-Soviet relations, I became chief of the Soviet foreign policy branch in 1970. Whoa. 

Scheer: CIA? 

McGovern: Yeah. CIA. Now, I mean, what a wonderful time, because Nixon and Kissinger were trying to figure out, well, hey, they hate each other. Russia and China. You think we can take advantage of this? And we said, well, I mean, China must be very worried because we used to count to five divisions, four Russian divisions on the Chinese border. Now we’ve got 42. I mean, yeah. So long story short, Nixon goes to China, Kissinger fixes it up, and they say, well, you know, maybe we have to get together. You know, we can give you some intelligence stuff that can monitor what the Russians are really doing and let’s get a more decent relationship. And they do. That’s in 1971. Nixon goes in January of 1972. And then there’s a summit in Moscow talking about strategic arms limitation. Okay. Now, Kissinger asks us in early 72, you think the Russians are interested. 

Scheer: In us being the CIA, right? Your division of the CIA? 

McGovern: Yeah, I’m in. I’m chief of the Soviet foreign policy branch. And the big thing going is whether the Russians are serious about arms control. And I have three people in my branch that I’ve seconded to this enterprise, one to the delegation, whether it’s in Helsinki or in Vienna, one to the military people working downstairs in the in Langley and the other one to report under my tutelage to the muckety mucks in Washington, Director of CIA and the others. Okay, all the Russians interested. So we tell Kissinger. Yes, they’re interested. How can you tell? Well, we can see more flexibility not only in the negotiations, but on things like. Berlin, for God’s sake. We’re going to have a fourth power agreement. Berlin never happened before. Why? Because the Russians are worried now that the Chinese will steal a march on them in terms of developing close relations with you. So it’s not only a wish to avoid an arms race with abmas all over the place, but a willingness to make sure that that their relations with the United States do not fall into a state of complete disrepair. So go for it. Now, I was privileged to be in Moscow in May of 1972 for the signing of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, which was the cornerstone for strategic stability for the next three decades. I was euphoric. I mean, it was just an incredible thing that happened. And why did it happen? It happened partly because the Russians were afraid that the Chinese would develop closer relations with the U.S. then they could. Now, fast forward. What happened? Well, we wrote books back then. We said that the Russians and the Chinese would hate each other forever. And Tony Blinken and Jake Sullivan and Victoria Nuland read those books. And so they thought that the Russians and the Chinese would hate each other forever. And so when almost exactly two years ago, when President Biden went to Geneva to meet President Putin one on one in person, they told him, look, you know, we’ve got a big advantage. You know, the Russians and the Chinese hate each other and you can play on that. So what does Biden say after he talked to Putin and said, well, no, I it’s not appropriate for me to say exactly what I call poaching. But he’s got a big problem. He’s got they’ve got a several thousand mile border with China. They know that China aspires not only to be the most powerful economic but powerful military. He’s got the Chinese are squeezing Russia. Now, I would love to burn a fly on the wall when I put change. Stop looking at the TV and turn to his associates to say, Huh? Anyhow, they spent the next year and a half trying to prove to the U.S. that, no, no, it’s not a conflict anymore and it’s not a squeezing. It’s a fraternal embrace. Okay. Two years later, now we’re talking. Two weeks ago, Blinken goes to China. He arrives in Beijing on the second anniversary of when Biden told Putin, You’ve got to worry about China and what happens while Blinken gets the cold shoulder is read the riot act by the Chinese and they say, look, don’t even think, don’t even think of arming Taiwan to the point where they become a real threat to us. Observe the one China policy, which Blinken reasserts. It comes back and he says, Well, I tried to sort of engender a better relationship with with China, but, you know, I couldn’t even get you invited, Mr. Biden. I couldn’t even get you invited to China. And we can’t even open the military link, the direct link that we had with the Chinese. So, you know, we’ve tried, but we have succeeded. So what do I say now? I’m saying that the triangular relationship back in the day, we used to say there’s Russia, China and the US used to be sort of equilateral. Right now it’s isosceles if you remember your geometry and we’re on the short end of it. And now the Chinese as I see them, I know a little bit about China. Now what they’re saying is, look, as we would say in the Bronx, can’t we Can we just get along? I mean, you’re from City College. I’m from Florida. Can’t we can we just get along? Or how about a how about a win win habit that ever occurred to you? Well, I’ll just end by saying when? When doesn’t fit into the concept of being exceptional or even indispensable. And after two months in office, Biden got up and he said, you know, China, China, China is trying to be the primary power in the world. That’s not going to happen on my watch. Well, why not, for God’s sake? 

Scheer: And the leader of China is nothing more than a dictator. And it’s really quite amazing because, after all, Nixon and Kissinger went and negotiated a whole new world order. What? Mao Tse-Tung. A whole new world order. They, they, they, they. Which was Mao. Who, I mean, has a reputation of being one of the most violent, bloodthirsty dictators in human history. And the media came back talking about the different beers they had sampled or the spicy northern Chinese food or ping pong playing competition. And so there was no longer the demonization stopped. Stopped right now. And I’m going to conclude this on this. The reason I like talking to you and I’m going to check week after week, is McGovern crazy or not? Here you’re going out on a limb. HARRIS-PERRY Yeah, but the fact of the matter is your perspective. Really? You know, you’re a good Catholic boy, but the devil is why I don’t see myself as an advocate for the devil. That whole language doesn’t work, because what it really denies is the legitimacy of competing nationalisms. I just want to throw in what I think is an important idea, which is what the pluralism is about, whether it’s Indian nationalism, whether it’s Cambodian nationalism, is used to be represented by Prince Sihanouk or, you know, Hun Sen or Russian nationalism, which clear or Ukrainian nationalism. Nationalism comes in lots of different forms and sizes and so forth. No, but you nodding your head, skeptical. But the fact of the matter is, it’s not for us to tell people when they can have nationalist feelings is for us to tell people when their nationalism is racist, anti-Semitic, violent, destructive of the people. It’s not for us to tell you you can’t feel very loyal to a notion of France, you know? So for us, you know, or to Haiti or wherever you’re living and and going back to your expertise, it seems to me the one thing that we’ve both seen in our lives is this notion of American exceptionalism, that not only is our nationalism the only legitimate one, it’s not even nationalism, it’s universal. We represent not American nationalism. We represent freedom. We represent the only way to govern. We represent the only in life. We are never imperialists. We are never racist. Even when we had a segregated armed forces in World War Two. Something I bring up often when people say, wait a minute, the U.S. Army, during this great war for freedom and everything, why was it racially segregated? We the Navy, was not so good until two years after the war when Truman’s order people like, oh, I didn’t know that, you know, you know, so but yet we look back at our history is Hillary when Donald Trump said he’s going to make America great again, Hillary Clinton said America has always been great. Well, that’s the whitewashing of history, you know, and what is at stake now and why? I like talking to a former CIA person who briefed or was involved with seven presidents ever. It’s been ever so that when we dropped the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Oh, yes, this changed all of human warfare. It’s the first time we really thought the planet might not survive, but it was justified. Most people just thought it was justified. It would shorten the war, could use it, and so forth. It’s ever been. So we we commit mistakes. They would probably say Iraq might have been a mistake about the war, but it is always an assertion, whether you’re Republican or Democrat or whatever, you don’t. We have the secret sauce of freedom. We that we define freedom and everyone else. That’s our nationalism is freedom. So it’s not nationalism, it’s universal. Everyone else’s nationalism, right? Is provincial and dangerous and wrong and obviously ridiculous, whether it’s modern India, whether it’s, you know, Z in China, I think maybe way, way to wrap this up, we’ve gone for almost an hour and a half. I think that’s what you’re bouncing up against here, that you were a guy who was supposed to inform or be part of informing seven different presidents about a world reality in which, you know, we’re an interesting country. We do a lot of things right, But we are not the center of all wisdom and virtue. Is that not what you came up against? 

McGovern: Yeah, I think you have encapsulated it. I would add one comment on racism. I think you’re absolutely right. You referred to Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Now, let it be known that racism was as much responsible for Truman’s decision to do that as any other factor. The war had been won. We had intercepted Japanese communications which indicated to us without any doubt that all we had to say was, All right, if I keep your damn emperor, we won’t hang him from from a lamp post. All right, Give up. And they would have. Now, there was an interest in deterring the Russians from coming into Japan at the time, But the real thing was this. Truman was a racist through and through. He never referred to any African-American as anything other than using the N-word. Okay. And MacArthur, Eisenhower, Admiral Leahy, all told Truman, don’t do it for God sake. Don’t use this on civilian people. So who was with Truman on this? Well, there was a fellow named Jimmy Burns, and he was from the state of South Carolina. And he said, You, Mr. Truman, we got it. We got to do this. And Truman And he decided, yeah, let’s let’s unleash the U.S.. It was yeah, And it was from Georgia. From where’s that place? Down at South Carolina. Okay, Now, just fast forward here. General Wes Moreland, who I’d referred to before running our war in Vietnam. It was interviewed a couple of years later, and he’s sitting there and he says, you know, the Oriental. The Oriental doesn’t put the same price on life. Life as in the Orient. Huh? Okay, now that that just filters right through all our stuff. And how about my life? The massacre in My Lai. When the Pentagon reported that it was between 285 and 503 Orientals were massacred at My Lai. So Orientals are. They’re not the same as us. You don’t have to go back to the Yellow Peril, but it’s still there. And racism plays a major part. And what we decide to Bob, how we decide to to inflict injury on and you know, the Russians have been so blackened over the last eight years that they qualify as being great, as being other than us in an almost racial sense now. So it’s divided the world into two now. People talk about multipolar world. That’s right. I mean, it is, but it’s also a bipolar world. And I don’t mean in the psychiatric sense. What I’m saying is this. You have the lily white West. Against the rest of the world. Okay. Now it’s going to come to a no good. And because the rest of the world, people of color represent about 80% of the people. And China has a lot of a lot of stuff going for. Okay. So let me just finish my segment here with a quote from one of my favorite Rudyard Kipling’s little thing. It’s very brief. Okay. It is not wise for the Christian Kuwait to hustle the Asian green or the Asian brown for the Christian riles and the Asian smiles, and they wear the Christian down at the end of the fight. Why is it Tombstone white with the name of the late deceased and the epitaph Drear A fool lives here. We tried to hustle the East. 

Scheer: Well, okay. Thank you, Ray McGovern. And it’s an hour and a half, I think was spent. And, you know, we’ll see some of your predictions and how this works out. Thanks for doing this. I want to thank Laura Kondourajian and Christopher Ho at KCRW, the NPR station in Santa Monica, for hosting these podcasts. Joshua Scheer, our executive producer. Diego Ramos, who writes Introduction. Max Jones does the video. And I want to thank the J.K.W. Foundation and the memory of Jean Stein, very important writer, journalist, thinker, independent for contributing money to help these shows get going. See you next week with another edition of Scheer intelligence. 

McGovern: Thanks. 

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