By Bill Dores
The Soviet Union no longer exists. The Russian Federation is not socialist. But the U.S. military and political establishment is deliberately provoking confrontation with the largest former Soviet republic. The corporate-owned media are egging it on.
What drives this seemingly irrational course of action is the same thing that drove the President George W. Bush regime to invade Iraq in 2003: financial need. And cold economic calculation.
Not the financial need of the hungry and homeless, of the millions who need jobs at living wages, of those who can’t pay their rent or mortgage or must choose between heating and eating.
It’s the financial need of giant banks and corporations to pump up their profits, stock prices and the value of their invested capital amid a global economic slowdown caused by capitalist overproduction.
I was watching “12 Years a Slave” with my almost 11 year old son yesterday, and within minutes of watching the movie he begged me to switch it off, specifically, during the scene where the lead character, Solomon Northup, wakes up to find himself shackled and whipped into enslavement. Although my son has a higher tolerance for TV violence than I do, he was particularly distressed by this scene, or to quote his words “disturbed because he was being forced against his will and I put myself in his place. I can handle violence but not slavery”.
It got me thinking about how justice is not merely experienced rationally, but also originates in our emotions and intuition which we express as moral outrage. It also reminded me how justice-seeking, compassion and outbursts of moral indignation are defining features of childhood which society—capitalism specifically—tries to control and harness as we grow up through various mechanisms. Emotional/intuitive justice is eclipsed by purely rational, western liberal notions of justice as “fairness” as found in “procedural” justice.
The mechanisms capitalism employs to enforce this shift include western theories of “human nature” which perpetuate the myth that the default human character is one marked by aggression, the hunger for power and self-interest, and is hence, naturally disinclined to social and economic justice, and requires hegemonic political power to restrain it.
Another mechanism is the psycho-pathologization of justice-seeking behaviour and the refusal to submit to domination, by branding them “disorders” like “anti-social personality disorder” and “oppositional defiant disorder,” whose hallmark “symptoms” are the “failure to conform” to social and political norms and in the case of the latter, “arguing” and “anger”.
The mainstream media is also guilty of disabling our gut reaction to injustice. Western media coverage of imperialist military aggression and political domination serve to at once justify and rationalize these injustices while desensitizing us to the suffering of their victims. It also achieves this by dismissing anti-imperialist leaders as demagogues who command “personality cults”, and in so doing, reducing the just causes they represent to the irrational impulses of the raucous mob.
Our inherent sense of justice is also stifled by western academic standards which require “emotional distance/detachment” in the social sciences, so that we are forced to adopt neutral positions in the face of gross social and political injustices. Thus for example, intellectuals who decry the injustices of American and Israeli aggression and occupation are discredited as “emotional”, while those who publish papers on how best to secure US “national interests” are deemed “scholarly”. In this manner, works guided by notions of naked self-interest and brute power are elevated to the status of “knowledge” while those guided by a social conscience are stigmatized as irrational rambling.
As people who pursue justice, we should always strive to naturalize moral outrage, by inculcating it in our children and refusing to be stigmatized medically or professionally for expressing it. We must work hard to retain those child-like outbursts of moral outrage which are the essence of our humanity.
President Obama is on the receiving end of scorn for remarks made during a high-profile speech in Brussels on Wednesday in which he defended the U.S. invasion of Iraq in an attempt to chastise Russia for recent developments in Crimea and Ukraine.
Speaking to the international community about the ongoing crisis in Ukraine and fending off repeated accusations that the U.S. has lost its moral authority given the invasion of Iraq and other breaches of international law in recent years, Obama said:
Russia has pointed to America’s decision to go into Iraq as an example of Western hypocrisy. Now, it is true that the Iraq war was a subject of vigorous debate, not just around the world but in the United States, as well. I participated in that debate, and I opposed our military intervention there.
But even in Iraq, America sought to work within the international system. We did not claim or annex Iraq’s territory. We did not grab its resources for our own gain. Instead, we ended our war and left Iraq to its people in a fully sovereign Iraqi state that can make decisions about its own future.
But instead of tamping down accusations of hypocrisy, Obama inflamed it.
Remember when Obama was the “anti-war candidate”? Me neither.
If you turn on CNN or FOX News, read the New York Times or listen to NPR, you aren’t getting the real story. Here are 10 things the U.S. corporate media won’t tell you.
The U.S. government planned the coup in Ukraine.
U.S. State Department official Victoria Nuland was caught on tape plotting who would be the next head of Ukraine. She bragged that the U.S. had spent $5 billion funding the so-called democracy movement there. Senator John McCain went to Kiev, spoke at rallies and was photographed with the leader of the fascist Svoboda party.
Neo-Nazis dominate the new government.
The openly racist, anti-Semitic and pro-Hitler Svoboda party is one of three major parties in the government. Svoboda led the street actions that forced elected President Yanukovych to flee. The Right Sector, armed fascists who have beaten opponents and vandalized public property, are now in charge of the military. Immediately after the coup, Ukraine’s chief rabbi, Moshe Reuven Azman, urged Jews to flee Kiev.
There has been no Russian invasion.
Washington officials have threatened Russia for “invading” Ukraine. It’s a Big Lie meant to cover up U.S. involvement in the coup. Russia has a major military base in Crimea, a predominately Russian ethnic area, and is legally allowed to station up to 25,000 troops in the country. Russia has said it may act to protect civilians if they are threatened by the neo-Nazis in Kiev. That is all.
Language rights and opponents under attack.
After the coup, the government’s first act was to ban the use of Russian and other minority languages. The Communist Party and other opposition forces have been threatened with banning. Opponents of the coup have been beaten, disappeared, or had their offices and homes vandalized and burned.
Coup leaders hired snipers to justify their takeover.
A leaked call between Estonian and European Union officials reveals that people behind the new government hired snipers to kill protesters and police in Kiev. President Yanukovych was blamed for the killings and this was used to justify the coup.
Wall Street and Big Oil want to control Ukraine – and Russia.
Oil and gas pipelines in Ukraine bring fuel from Russia to Europe. Big Oil wants to control the pipelines to cut the flow from Russia and hike their own profits. The U.S. has even offered the new government gas from dangerous fracking drilling here! The Pentagon wants to set up NATO war bases on Russia’s border. They want to break up Russia too. Wall Street would love to get its claws deeper into Ukraine and Russia – to drive up profits and push down wages for workers here and there.
Power for the 1%, misery for workers.
The new regime has appointed wealthy oligarchs as governors of rebellious regions of Eastern Ukraine. It’s also agreed to an IMF austerity plan drafted by Washington to cut workers’ pensions, unemployment insurance and social programs – just like the cutbacks workers from Detroit to Greece face.
Billions for coup in Ukraine, cuts for food stamps in U.S.
In early February, Congress and the Obama administration agreed to cut SNAP food assistance benefits for hungry families by $8.7 billion. Just weeks later, they announced $10 billion in assistance to the neo-Nazis in Kiev. Secretary of State John Kerry personally delivered the first billion on March 4.
The U.S. war buildup.
The Navy has deployed the USS Truxton, a warship armed with guided missiles, to the Black Sea. Six F-15 fighter jets and 60 military personnel have been sent to Lithuania, in addition to those already stationed there. The U.S. and EU are imposing sanctions and travel bans on Russian officials. Hillary Clinton, an architect of the movement behind the coup and likely 2016 presidential candidate, compared Russian President Vladimir Putin to Hitler. When preparing for war, the U.S. always uses this bogus comparison to demonize leaders of opponent countries.
People across Ukraine are fighting back.
People in Eastern Ukraine and throughout the country are organizing against the coup. Some have taken over regional and city buildings and refused to hand them over to the new authorities. Others are marching on military bases and demanding that the troops not obey the commands of the neo-Nazis in Kiev. Some are calling on the Russian government to protect and assist them. The people of Ukraine remember well what Nazi rule was like during World War II, and they will not stand for it again.
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Money for jobs, food, housing and education – not war and occupation!
Turkey has given a US Navy Warship the green light to pass through the Bosphorus within the next two days as tensions in Ukraine’s Crimea region continue to divide world powers.
Turkish sources, speaking with the Hurriyet Daily News on Wednesday, declined to elaborate on the name of the US warship. The same officials told the daily on condition of anonymity that the ship in question was not the USS George H.W. Bush nuclear aircraft carrier as suggested in some news reports, as it did not meet the standards specified by the 1936 Montreux Convention in terms of weight.
On Wednesday, the Russian Black Sea Fleet Staff confirmed to the Itar-Tass news agency that a US destroyer was expected to enter the Black Sea later this week.
Washington — US lawmakers said Monday they will introduce a “critical” economic support package to Ukraine authorizing $1 billion in loans to the nation in the grips of a geopolitical face-off with neighbor Russia.
Republicans and Democrats agree: Money for neo-Nazis and war, not for SNAP food assistance.