The March of Folly

I’ve come to believe that our leaders are insane.

What the latest developments on and off the battlefield make undoubtedly clear is that the US and NATO are willing to use Ukraine for as long as it takes to achieve the stated aim of leaving Russia “weakened” or even achieving regime change, no matter the damage knowingly inflicted on Ukrainians, Russians, the Global South, and their own citizens.

Starting a land war with Russia is never a good idea as a certain Mr. Hitler and General Napoleon could attest but neither is invading Iraq or attempting to occupy Afghanistan.

Of course historians have written enormous volumes on the folly of elites. Barbara Tuchman addressed the kind of situation the world faces in Ukraine in her book The March of Folly: From Troy to Vietnam. If she were still alive, she surely would have updated it to take Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and Ukraine into account.

“They were deaf to disaffection, blind to the alternative ideas it gave rise to, blandly impervious to challenge, unconcerned by the dismay at their misconduct and the rising wrath at their misgovernment, fixed in refusal to change, almost stupidly stubborn in maintaining a corrupt existing system. They could not change it because they were part of it, grew out of it, depended on it.”

Here we are headed into winter with the threat of nuclear war a real possibility, doubling down on support for a corrupt regime in a bankrupt failed state infested with Nazis, running out of weapons, facing economic decline, collapse even, a cold winter, rising inflation. Does that sound like something designed by smart or sane people? And it didn’t just suddenly happen–it’s been building for years.

In truth it goes back to the first Cold War. C. Wright Mills wrote of a “crackpot realism”, where US foreign policy mandarins evoked national security to build a military/industrial/complex bent on nuclear supremacy and to disguise the operations of the corporate and financial deep state. “For the first time in American history, men in authority are talking about an ’emergency’ without foreseeable end.”

And just like the first Cold War, the corporate media is a large part of the problem. All the cool kids love war. I mean check out this editorial. The New York Times, which consistently supports every American war, has published an op-ed by a neoconservative think-tanker titled “Biden’s Cautious Foreign Policy Imperils Us“.

This would be Joe Biden, who has never met a war he didn’t back and who has been consistently vowing to go to war with the People’s Republic of China if it attacks Taiwan, and whose administration has been pouring billions of dollars into a world-threatening proxy war in Ukraine which it knowingly provoked and from which it has no exit strategy. With this administration’s acceleration toward global conflict on two different fronts, one could easily argue that Biden actually has the most bellicose foreign policy of any president in history.

You know you are living in a profoundly sick society when the world’s most influential newspaper runs propaganda for World War Three while voices pushing for truth, transparency and peace are marginalized, silenced, shunned, and imprisoned. Absent a miraculous appearance of diplomacy, historians who survive to record the imminent nuclear war will describe it as the result of hubris and stupidity run amok.

It’s “crackpot realism” once again, where the conventional wisdom is that the US needs more war and any leader–like Trump–who calls for ending NATO, is portrayed as an authoritarian madman. It’s also the idea among elites and the chattering-class that endless war for empire is the norm and anyone who suggests otherwise is either a Russian sympathizer or a kook.

The neocons who are running amok have never known anything but American hegemony. The Wolfowitz Doctrine, set up after the fall of the USSR, made it US policy to ensure no other superpower develops which can rival US supremacy. It is part of a long term neoconservative plan for continued U.S. supremacy over the world. These same small group of neocons rotate in and out of power, parked in places like the Council on Foreign Relations or Brookings or the AEI, before being called back into government. They have been as welcome in the Obama or Biden White House, as the Bush White House. The Cold War, for them, never ended, and the world remains binary – ‘us and them, good and evil’.

And now the plot thickens:

“Three offshore lines of the Nord Stream gas pipeline system have sustained unprecedented damage in one day,” Nord Stream AG, the operator of the network, said on Tuesday in what one German official has suggested is a “targeted attack”. Nord Stream 2 suffered a gas leak which was then followed by a drop of pressure on Nord Stream 1. The company also said that “it was impossible to estimate when the gas network system’s working capability would be restored.” As both Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2 both suddenly lost pressure last Monday, Swedish seismologists registered multiple explosions. The pipeline director reports unprecedented damage. Clearly this is deliberate sabotage.

Gee, I wonder who done it?

US official statements offer a clue. Here’s Victoria Nuland in January. “One way or another Nord Stream 2 will not move forward”. And Biden in February. “If Russia invades…then there will be no longer a Nord Stream 2. We will bring an end to it.” Reporter: “But how will you do that, exactly, since…the project is in Germany’s control?” Biden: “I promise you, we will be able to do that.”

And now US Secretary of State Blinken has said the pipeline damage presents a “significant opportunity” for Western Europe to abandon Russian natural gas in favor of liquified natural gas from the US.

This fits a pattern. As empires come to the end of their life cycle desperation sets in. The Big Picture reveals the US in absolute panic, with“elites” willing to resort to anything – outrageous lies, assassinations, terrorism, sabotage, all out financial war, support to neo-Nazis – to prevent their descent into a geopolitical and geo-economic abyss. Disabling NS and NS2 represents the definitive closure of any possibility of a German-Russia deal on gas supplies, with the added benefit of relegating Germany to the lowly status of absolute US vassal. If we’re going down then so are you.

Meanwhile, no one is pointing out that the present moment is more dangerous than the Cuban Missile Crisis and we seem to be sleepwalking towards Armageddon.

Sorry, marching towards Armageddon.

Update: US officials keep warning that Russia will use nukes but this is projection. It’s the US that would be forced to use atomic weapons because they lack the requisite conventional ones. Russia, because of it’s advanced conventional weapons, such as hypersonic missiles, has escalation dominance.

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