Matt Taibbi on Putin the Apostate

Matt discusses his recent article on the rise of Putin and the current situation in Ukraine with Paul Jay on theAnalysis.news.

Paul Jay

Hi, welcome to theAnalysis.news. I’m Paul Jay. We’ll be back in just a few seconds with Matt Taibbi to talk about the conflict in Ukraine. Please don’t forget there’s a donate button, share button, subscribe button, and all the buttons.

It’s very easy to explain war by declaring your enemy as evil. In fact, I suppose that’s as old as war itself. It’s very easy to explain [Adolf] Hitler away by talking about him as the greatest evil when we all know he’s the product of German monopoly capitalism and a general crisis of capitalism in the late ’20s and ’30s. But why is it when we’re actually in the situation, we don’t talk about the crisis and products of monopoly capitalism? We are right back to good and evil again, and of course, from every side. Of course, the Western press, led by the United States, has for quite a few years declared [Vladimir] Putin to be the definition of evil. Of course, Putin says that about the Americans and about the Ukrainian government and so on, and so it goes. But it’s not.

I personally don’t think there actually is such a thing as evil. There is actual social phenomena. There’s history. There’s a system that gives rise to people who then play out what’s possible for them to play out, given where they’re at, what country they’re born in, what class they’re born in, and where the geopolitics in life is at. 

Well, Matt Taibbi has written a great piece that explains just who Vladimir Putin is and about the rise of Putin in a way that deals with the fact that he’s the product of a set of circumstances. He’s a product of U.S. and other Western geopolitical maneuvering and, most importantly, domestic developments.

In all of this— and this is what I think is interesting— even the American Left is so American-centric. There’s not an event in the world that takes place that isn’t explained either by sections of the Left, America the bad or section of the Liberal Left, America the good. Sometimes it’s not all about America. It’s also about what’s happening inside each of these countries.

As I said, Matt’s done a great piece about the rise of Putin, and here he is. Now joining us is Matt Taibbi. He’s an award-winning investigative reporter, was a contributing editor at Rolling Stone magazine and writes a top written column on Substack. Thanks very much for joining me, Matt.

Matt Taibbi

Thanks for having me, Paul.

Paul Jay

So, before we get into talking about your piece about the rise of Putin, I’ll just, for the record, say, and I think people have heard me say it before. You can say what you want to say. The invasion of Ukraine cannot be justified by either— this is me giving my opinion here— American involvement in the events of 2014, which I think were a coup but weren’t only a coup. There was a mass character that happened in 2014 in the United States. Sections of the Ukrainian oligarchy took advantage of that mass protest, which was also, I think, a protest against the oligarchy in general. But it was, in the end, a coup. And Putin, Russia, has a right to be concerned about the expansion of NATO [North Atlantic Treaty Organization]. Still, it doesn’t justify the killing of civilians and the invasion of Ukraine. So that’s me, now over to you, Matt.

Matt Taibbi

Yeah. I mean, I think what I would add is there’s been a lot of propaganda in the United States to the effect of anybody who brings up the idea that it might have been unwise to try to expand NATO to Georgia and Ukraine is dishing Putin’s narrative or hitting Russian talking points. I think Putin’s invasion of Ukraine is monstrous, barbaric, crazy. It’s irrational on a number of levels, but that doesn’t mean, I think, that our policies have been wise and that there aren’t things to criticize about NATO’s expansion. Having lived in the region throughout a lot of these decisions, I know exactly how Russians feel about this. I think there was a sort of a decision to overlook what the likely response was going to be that was very conscious on our part. So both things can be true. The invasion can be unjustified and wrong and worthy of criticism, and we can look back and be critical of our own policies.

Paul Jay

Yeah, I agree with that. Just to add, this is a battle of competing oligarchs, including American oligarchs, for control of Ukraine, not just the breadbasket of Europe and much of the world. It’s also a place which has significant industry, a significant arms industry, a large population— what is it 44 million people— it’s an important piece of Europe. All the oligarchs— and you have to start, I think, actually with the Ukrainian oligarchs and understand the split there and the battle between both sections of oligarchs, pro-American, pro-Russian, all corrupt up to their eyeballs. So are the Americans.

I agree with, and I think what you’re saying, especially for us living in North America, I go back and forth between U.S. and Canada. We have a particular responsibility when we’re living in the heart of the hegemon to critique it because none of this happens out of the context of that U.S. power. That said, it doesn’t excuse any of it. So I think we’re agreeing with each other.

Matt Taibbi

Yeah. Really quickly, I just want to add that I saw a friend of mine, Lee Fang, the other day. He was tweeting out that people are comparing this to, well, what if Russian forces had built up in Mexico and the United States had exercised its Monroe Doctrine philosophy and invaded Mexico to prevent a Russian build-up in that country? Well, that would make sense to Americans, and that’s a comparable situation. We probably also— I think people in the rest of the world would critique the United States for doing that, for engaging in a preemptive invasion of another country. I think it’s important to recognize that while there are things that are understandable about the Russian point of view, especially if you’re an American who’s grown up being taught the Monroe Doctrine is a legitimate way of looking at the world, the Russians see their sphere of influence in roughly the same way. That doesn’t excuse it. It’s just an explanation for why this all happens.

Paul Jay

I mean, we could talk a bit about it. I didn’t want to get too far into this right now because I really think your article about the rise of Putin is sensational, and I want to talk about it. There’s something about this which I don’t get. Maybe you have some insight, having been there and knowing more about Putin than I do. There was no threat of NATO going into Ukraine. I don’t buy it. It wasn’t happening. Everybody was saying, who knows NATO, that they would never get consensus to allow NATO in. There was no imminent threat of Ukraine attacking Russia. I buy that there could have been some scheme to attack Donbas, that Eastern region, mostly Russian. There were other ways to help defend Donbas if that was true. So I kind of don’t even get this being a thing to stop the expansion of NATO. Then this idea that he would then go into NATO from the other side. Oh, if he goes into Ukraine, he’ll go into Lithuania. It’s nonsense.

An article in one of the Canadian papers today said that the actual state of military readiness in these NATO countries that used to be Soviet republics, on the whole, is so bad that nobody was taking seriously that they were actually ever going to be under threat. That’s why they’re rushing soldiers there right and left. It’s ridiculous. This isn’t the days of colonization. The Soviet Empire worked because there were local ruling classes in each of these former Soviet republics that enforced the law, enforced the police state if you will. To a large extent, it was a police state. It wasn’t just the Red Army. They don’t have that in these countries. There’s no local ruling class that’s going to ally in Poland that’s going to ally with the Russians. It’s not an analogous situation.

Matt Taibbi

No, I don’t think so. Going down this road would be really complicated. Getting into the whole history of how Russians feel about NATO and what they think and what people in Putin’s inner circle likely think about is a long story. It starts going all the way back to 1989 when we were negotiating, when James Baker and Eduard A. Shevardnadze, they were negotiating over the terms of the break up of the Soviet Union and the collapse of the Berlin Wall. The Russians have feelings about what happened since then. They believe that certain reassurances were made, but none of that means that they’re on the precipice of invading Poland or the Baltic States. I just don’t think that’s going to happen. Although, that premise is based on the idea that Putin is a rational actor, which I’m now having to reconsider a little bit.

Paul Jay

Alright, well, that’s a good segue into the article. So I’m with you up until what is it, a week and a half ago or whatever the invasion was. I believe Putin was a rational actor. So tell us the story about Putin. Just give us a real sense of who this guy is and how he became the leader of Russia because we’re not hearing much other than he’s terrible.

Matt Taibbi

Sure. So just for people who don’t know, I lived in the former Soviet Union for the entirety of the ’90s. I was there for the transfer of power from [Boris] Yeltsin to Putin, for Putin’s first election and for the first few years of his rule there. I was a resident of the city of St. Petersburg in the early ’90s when he was getting his start in politics. He began as an Advisor to the first democratically elected Mayor of the former Leningrad St. Petersburg, Anatoly [Aleksandrovich] Sobchak. He worked his way up to Deputy Mayor, and that’s what he was when Sobchak finally lost the election in 1996.

There are a million stories about the corruption that went on under Sobchak. Sobchak was one of America’s favorite politicians, by the way. He was a Václav Havel type figure. He was an academic who spoke very good English. He had a literary sensibility. He was thought of as this great Democratic theorist. He was the author of the Russian Federation’s first Constitution. Putin was really his right-hand man. If you ask people who lived in the city at that time, they will tell you that his role was less Democratic than it was as a kind of bagman who went around the city basically collecting on protection rackets that the government held. Russia has always been kind of a mob state economy where the ruling political system is that there’s a strong man who gets tribute kicked upward to the boss, who allows various groups to operate and negotiate divisions between different criminal and political interests. That’s what happens in cities, and Putin was understood to be kind of the bagman for Anatoly Sobchak. That’s how he got his start.

Now, Sobchak got in trouble in 1996 and 1997. He was voted out. He was unpopular for various reasons, including that some people in the local government felt that he was, among other things, privatizing apartments to all of his friends in a way that some people considered unseemly. So he was about to be criminally charged in 1996 and 1997. Putin, who was a former KGB man, helped engineer Sobchaks flight out of the country. He went to Finland first and then ended up in Paris. This is how he evaded federal prosecution. According to Boris Yeltsin’s own biography, Midnight Diaries, this was what brought him to the attention of the Yeltsin regime, the fact that he had secured the safe exit of his corrupt boss. Around that time, Putin was essentially brought into the Yeltsin Whitehouse. Here, you’d have to know a lot about what went on in Yeltsin’s Russia in the ’90s to understand the significance.

Paul Jay

Do it as quickly as you can because some of the viewers may not know.

Matt Taibbi

In the ’90s, Russia had to privatize all of the Soviet industries. The way they did it was in this incredibly rapid fashion. They held a series of auctions where the Russian State lent money to a handful of friends of Boris Yeltsin so that they could bid and win auctions for companies the size of Exxon and Microsoft. They instantly became some of the world’s richest people. People know their names. They have names like [inaudible 00:16:05], Vladimir Putin, and Boris Berezovsky. Overnight they created an oligarch class.

Paul Jay

Some of them had been party bureaucrats themselves.

Matt Taibbi

Party bureaucrats. [inaudible 00:16:20] members. In other words, they were connected with Russian intelligence. Yes, they had all been party bureaucrats, almost all of them. The idea was, and America was sort of behind some of these transactions. We helped design these auctions. The idea was to create a super-empowered oligarch class that would help defend the nascent Russian democracy against a ravenous communist movement that was threatening to win the 1996 elections. So we sort of instantly gifted all of Russia’s wealth to a handful of people who, in turn, would back Boris Yeltsin’s 1996 presidential election campaign. He went from being at 7% in the polls to winning.

So there were all kinds of corruption going on—handing over these massive companies worth hundreds of billions of dollars. In addition to that, there was this common thievery going on in the Yeltsin administration. Yeltsin himself was taking no-limit credit cards from Swiss construction companies. There was massive looting from the state property committee, which held all the former Communist party holdings. He was worried about being prosecuted on the way out. Basically, the idea of Putin was that he was going to guarantee safe passage for Yeltsin on his way out of the country.

Yeltsin was being pursued by a prosecutor named Yury Skuratov in the late ’90s. Remember, during Russiagate, we heard all those stories about sexual blackmail and how great Putin was at that. Well, the first time he did that, that we know about involved this prosecutor Skuratov, who was going after Yeltsin over the Swiss construction firm scandal. Putin went on television as the new head of the FSB [Federal Security Service] and showed the entire country a grainy videotape of the sort of obese Skuratov cavorting with prostitutes on television, and that was the end of him. This was Yeltsin’s role. He was the hatchet man for our guy, our man in Havana, Boris Yeltsin. As such, for roughly a three-year period, almost a four-year period, the Western media was incredibly complimentary of Putin in a way that’s been completely whitewashed out of the public memory.

Paul Jay

Of course, Stephen Cohen had a line. I don’t know if it’s his or not, but what the West thought they got and wanted was a sober Yeltsin.

Matt Taibbi

Exactly. In fact, you can look at your own Finance Minister, Chrystia Freeland. At the time—

Paul Jay

No, when you mention her name, I go back to being an America. I’m a dual citizen. You mention her, and I’m back to being an American. Go ahead.

Matt Taibbi

I’m going to read a passage that she wrote in the year 2000. This is what she wrote in the New Statesman:

“It looks as if we’re about to fall in love with Russia all over again. Compared to the ailing, drink adult figure Boris Yeltsin cut in his later years. His successor, Vladimir Putin, in the eyes of many Western observers, seems refreshingly direct, decisive and energetic.”

And then she talks about how Tony Blair was complimenting him, Bill Clinton and all these other people. The World Bank loved him. This has all been forgotten.

Paul Jay

Another thing which I think has been forgotten, and remind me if I’m correct about this. Wasn’t it in the early 2000s, not only was he kind of a darling of the West, he actually was at the time NATO was expanding, negotiating in a very friendly way with NATO. In fact, he didn’t object to that expansion at the time.

Matt Taibbi

There were even quotes by him in a New York Times magazine profile where he’s asked directly about the possibility of Russia someday joining NATO. He says I wouldn’t rule it out. That’s something we’d have to consider. To be fair, there was some guardedness on the part of the expat reporter community because we all knew what was going on. It didn’t take very long for Putin to show his real colors. There were friends of mine, reporters in the Russian reporting community, who were beaten and shot at for investigating him. That was very early on. So we immediately knew what he was all about.

Paul Jay

And you knew the journalist. I always screw up her name. Is it Anna Politkovskaya?

Matt Taibbi

Anna Politkovskaya. I knew her. I wouldn’t say I was close friends with her, but I met with her multiple times around that time. Especially when one of his first crises involved the launching of the Second Chechen War. This was a crazy period in Russia’s history where it was kind of a wag the dog situation. The idea was that the Russian State wanted to start a war in Chechnya for a variety of reasons, to get the public’s mind off a whole bunch of things going on domestically. They launched the war, and the pretext of it, for that war, was a series of apartment bombings that were attributed to Chechen terrorists. Now, I’m like an anti-conspiracy theorist. I’m one of those people who cannot stand stories like 9/11 truth. I have a very low tolerance for that kind of story. But there was—

Paul Jay

 A little too low in my mind. But go ahead.

Matt Taibbi

Right. Yeah, I’ve been criticized for that. The Russian apartment bombing story was legit. It had teeth. There was actual legitimate evidence that Putin’s FSB had some kind of hand in those bombings, at least one that we know of. There was an incident in the city called Ryazan, where a bomb was discovered before it went off by local police who were kind of acting at cross purposes with the Feds. They tested it. They found that it contained a material called Hexogen, which is used only by sophisticated militaries around the world, including Russia. There was a car that had delivered the bomb. They got the license plate of it that was traced back to the FSB. The FSB admitted they were there and said it was a training exercise.

So friends of mine who worked for newspapers like Novaya Gazeta were investigating this. Putin started his crackdown, really, on the press over that issue, and that was where he first started to come out as a real hardcore autocrat during that time. Those quotes that I read to you from Chrystia Freeland and people like Tony Blair and Bill Clinton. The World Bank was talking about how they were going to be better off with him because he was going to defend against a centrally planned economy. This all came after stuff like that.

Paul Jay

Let me just add, because it’s not that they didn’t know about all this stuff you’re describing about Putin. It’s because they all do it, too. Maybe it isn’t quite as overt in Russia, but only because of the stage of development for no other reason.

Matt Taibbi

Yes, I think that’s a fair assessment. Look, we have a long history with the IMF [International Monetary Fund]. The World Bank has a long history of palling up with the local strongman and executing these neoliberal structural adjustment programs. The idea is that there’s unlimited capital from the West and that the local ruler gets to use it to prop up the regime. In exchange, there’s going to be free access to the markets by Western companies. There was an expectation that Putin was going to be the person who was going to be able to execute that plan. In fact, he was going to be much better at it, as Stephen Cohen pointed out, than Yeltsin, who was incompetent in a lot of unnecessary ways. Very unstable, despite having a really firm grip on power in Russia. Putin was expected to be like the sober, dependable version of Yeltsin. He was treated like that and welcomed with open arms until suddenly he became public enemy number one because he changed the deal. After Yeltsin was out, after he became President, he switched up the original deal for those oligarchs.

Paul Jay

In what way?

Matt Taibbi

So originally, they were gifted all those companies in exchange for this idea that they would back Boris Yeltsin and, by extension, this sort of plan of Westernization that Yeltsin had started down the road toward. Putin called all these people in. The same people who were gifted all of those companies in the privatization auctions and essentially said, okay, you get to keep all that stuff, but on a couple of conditions. Number one, you pledge absolute allegiance to me. Number two, none of you are going to have your own political ambitions. The third piece of that was we’re going to stop taking all the capital out of the country. We’re going to keep a little bit of it at home for development. His idea was that he basically made a bet that he would survive longer as a nationalist than he would as a sort of piece of a global system.

Paul Jay

Didn’t it, in terms of even the interests of the oligarchs as a class, make sense? You have an actual system with an actual government, with laws. You actually will be richer and make more money if there’s a government that works for you but in a somewhat systemically rational way. So even if an individual oligarch didn’t like it, it was good for them as a class.

Matt Taibbi

Yeah. I think, on the whole, they benefited from this because they had protection from a very powerful leader who was willing to squelch all opposition and there wasn’t going to be any Western interference about anything like pollution or workers’ rights or anything like that. They got to keep their monopolies in whatever industry they were in.

Paul Jay

Now, one thing I don’t know or understand about this period is why didn’t the West get a bigger direct ownership stake? I would have thought that’s what they would have expected. A very weak Russian State, and eventually, the oligarchs have to become subordinate to the Western oligarchs.

Matt Taibbi

Yeah, there was a big debate about whether or not to allow Westerners to participate in the original auctions. Obviously, they would have attracted 1,000 times the capital they actually got. They were basically limited to the capital that existed in Russia at the time, which was not much. In the end, they decided not to do that. It actually escapes me at the moment why it was it was decided that way, but it was. The loans for shares auctions didn’t allow foreign bids. 

So these massive companies like Yukos, Annexon Bank and [inaudible 00:29:00], which control huge portions of the world’s mineral reserves, petroleum reserves, timber and all these other things, we weren’t allowed to bid on it. So the Russians got to keep all of it. Then after Putin cemented his rule, it was basically, the understanding was that these companies were going to remain Russian and that they were not going to suck all of the profits out of the country and put them in Swiss Bank accounts. There was going to be some reinvestment in the country, which is why people who went back and visited Moscow ten years after 2000 were shocked to see the development. It’s a completely different city now than it was. The country is still largely the same, but there’s been significant investment.

Paul Jay

So at some point, the Russian State starts having more direct ownership in some of the oil and gas companies. I know in the military-industrial complex, I think it’s 30% of manufacturing workers in Russia work in the arms industry, but the State’s actual direct ownership starts to become quite significant. I know in the arms company, if I’m right, the State owns something like 70-80%. 

Matt Taibbi

Yeah, I’m not sure what the exact numbers are, but that sounds right. Like, you know, [inaudible 00:30:35] is one of those companies. There are a number of nationalized Russian companies. For the most part, they’re private or privatized, but, yeah, there is that. Some of the companies are quasi-public, like Gazprom. There’s certainly an enormous power base for Russia. Well, not enormous compared to a country like China. They never had the massive industrial economy that a country like China had. What they did have was enormous reserves of natural resources, which, when oil prices were high, allowed them to be a fairly wealthy country relatively. The old saying that the Soviet Union was upper-volted with rockets started to change a little bit. Russia was still extremely poor in the ’90s. The wealth discrepancy was just enormous. It still is. It’s just slightly more tenable for the ordinary person maybe now than it was before.

Paul Jay

So carry on with the story then. So why and when does Putin start to become the devil?

Matt Taibbi

Well, so the first thing was when Yeltsin was running the country, we had basically free access to the Kremlin. People who are extremely close to the United States and the diplomatic community in Moscow. These were Russian politicians, English speaking Russian politicians, many of them trained at Harvard, like Anatoly Chubais, Yegor Gaidar, Boris Nemtsov, Maxim Boycko. These people were essentially kind of ambassadors of the United States, and they were in the Yeltsin White House, affecting policy. We more or less controlled Russian economic policy for years and years and years. Putin, one of his first moves was to get rid of all the American connected, sort of Harvard trained or Ivy trained officials inside.

Paul Jay

These are the shock therapy guys?

Matt Taibbi

Right. Exactly. They used to call them the energetic young reformers. That was the name that they had back then. This set him down the road to doing things like kicking out USAID [United States Agency for International Development], the International Republican Institute and the National Democratic Institute. The significance of that is interesting. Back in 1996, when it looked like Boris Yeltsin was going to lose the reelection to the communist Gennady Zyuganov, these American incidents, they spent enormous amounts of money on what they call kind of pro-democracy campaigns. There would be television commercials that were a variation of vote or lose. They had one that was called [inaudible 00:34:00], like vote or whatever. Essentially, they were pro-Yeltsin commercials.

So we funneled millions of dollars into this kind of anti-Zyuganov movement. Putin being no dummy, understood that these organizations essentially existed in Russia to advance American interests and kicked them out. It was that and the redoing of the deal with the oligarchs. It was preventing people from [inaudible 00:34:39] who we were close to from pursuing his own political ambitions. The instant we cut him out, he cut us out of the deal, and he became public enemy number one. This is very similar to the Saddam Hussein story or any of a dozen other stories involving sort of dictators we’re friends with. Then they turn on us, and suddenly they’re members of the Hitler of the month club. [inaudible 00:35:04] is another one. 

Paul Jay

Hitler was a member of that club, right?

Matt Taibbi

Yeah, exactly. He was the founding member of the Hitler of the Month club. So, yeah, in 2001, 2002, 2003, there was a little blip there with 9/11; remember, there was some sharing of information for security that kept the relationship from going completely sour. But then we start to turn against them rhetorically around that time, I would say. This all happened after I left.

Paul Jay

What was that moment of Hillary Clinton and that crazy red button? We’re going to reboot the relationship. What the hell were their expectations?

Matt Taibbi

Yeah. I forget whether the button was supposed to read. It was supposed to be [inaudible 00:36:05], I think. And it was [inaudible 00:36:07] . So they got the translation wrong. And so, instead of reboot, it was like reload. I forget what it was.

Paul Jay

That turned out to be more accurate.

Matt Taibbi

Yeah. I think [Barack] Obama always had an interest in pursuing a more pragmatic, real political type relationship with Russia. His attitude towards Ukraine is now infamous. If you go back and look at his interviews about it, he said openly in an interview with the Atlantic that Ukraine was always going to mean more to Russia than it will to us. It’s not worth going to war over, and we might as well admit that.

This was seen as a green light for Putin to go into Crimea. Still, I don’t think that propaganda line is exactly right because there was also the Maidan revolution in Ukraine and mixed in there, which some people see as a provocation that led to Putin going into Crimea. Either way, I think Obama always had this idea that the way to deal with Russia was more as a practical, potentially a strategic partner, certainly in Syria, for instance. He preferred that route. He was overruled by people within his own administration who wanted to go a different way. I think this is what we’re dealing with now; the split about how to deal with Russia that started back with the Syria crisis in 2014-15 and Maidan and Crimea.

Paul Jay

Some Russian lefty friends of mine have sort of cautioned me over the years, not right now, but up until right now anyway, not to exaggerate Putin, the individual. He represents a whole clique of bureaucrats, the whole state machine. There are a lot of people in that State that have power. Yeah, he’s the leader of it, but it’s not a situation where he’s like the Emperor, the way he’s been described, but I’m not so sure. I saw that television thing with him and the head of the Foreign Intelligence Agency of Russia. Did you see that?

Matt Taibbi

Yeah.

Paul Jay

The way he humiliated that guy makes me wonder maybe it really is or has become a one-man show.

Matt Taibbi

Yeah, this is what I heard, too. I reconnected with some old friends in the last couple of weeks. There were a lot of reports by people who cover Putin constantly. Russian reporters are indicating that even his top advisers weren’t privy to the invasion plan until the last minute. There was a Security Council meeting that they had three days before the invasion where one Russian reporter compared it to a bunch of school kids who are being given a surprise test. They looked like they had no idea what was going on. There may be something to that.

In general, I agree with you. I think it’s usually wrong to pathologize and personalize political stories. The classic example is Trump. The media loves to make so much out of his individual faults, whereas the real issue in America is they’re always systemic. Like having to do with structures and sort of administrative bureaucracies. In Russia, there may be something to the idea that he accumulated enough power in his own hands, and he’s definitely got some unusual character leanings that maybe that’s a thing that we really should be paying attention to. This isn’t necessarily an expression of a systemic desire to expand. It may have a lot to do with what he personally wants.

Paul Jay

Although I do think that is possible. I think if Putin’s gone tomorrow, there will be another sort of Putin until the West recognizes that objectively. Russia is a regional power, not just another country in Europe, because of the size of the population, which is double Germany. The massive resources, certainly the potential to be more of an industrial power. It’s not just a country with a gas station, as some people call it. There is an industrial base there, including a big arms industry, which is very competitive with the American arms industry. I was surprised to find out that 60% of India’s military hardware comes from Russia. I didn’t realize it was actually a majority.

Matt Taibbi

Yes. We’re thinking about slapping sanctions on them for buying Russian hardware, but anyway.

Paul Jay

Yeah, well, I don’t think that’s going to happen. Push India towards Russia and China. This whole policy has been pretty stupid. I keep going back and forth here because I don’t want in any way to diminish what’s happening to the civilians in Ukraine. There are thousands of people that are being killed and injured. I have, frankly, pretty much the same sympathy for Russian soldiers who are just working-class kids who didn’t know what else to do but join the army. I think it’s wrong the way we think it’s okay when soldiers die and we’re only worried about civilians. Well, they’re all bloody, more or less ordinary people forced into shitty circumstances.

Matt Taibbi

Yeah. I mentioned this in the article. Back in the ’90s, I interviewed Russian soldiers who were sent to the first war in Chechnya. Just being in the army and Russia sucks really badly. I don’t know if you know of anything about what they call dedovshchina, which is this hazing process that Russians go through, which is like way beyond anything that we have in the military. It’s sexual abuse. It’s absolutely brutal what kids have to go through. Then they got sent to Chechnya without proper equipment, without any sense of information about what the mission was for. They were selling their weapons to the enemy for food. These are Russian soldiers I’m talking about in the Chechen war. So, yeah, if you look at the POW videos involving the Russians who got sent in the first wave, a lot of them are just barely old enough to shave. They had no idea. They were told it was a training exercise and they’d be back in five days. I do have a lot of sympathy for those folks, but I have sympathy for Ukrainians, too. The whole thing is just awful on every level. It’s just strange to me the way people get excited about this. They’re into it as though it’s just not a disaster all the way around.

Paul Jay

Yeah, I think there is sometimes in the liberal Left who so often feels is in the minority, like even on the Iraq war. Clearly, even though so many people came out against the Iraq war, the majority of Americans were for it. There are occasional times the interest of sections of the Left and liberal line up with the imperialist American mainstream position, and all of a sudden, you got the wind at your back.

Matt Taibbi

Yeah, AOC [Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez]. 

Paul Jay

Well, actually, I don’t know where she’s been on Ukraine. Sanders came out with some stuff that wasn’t too bad. Sanders came out saying Russia’s security interests and the expansion of NATO are fully reasonable. He talked about the Monroe Doctrine. Why? Has she done anything differently than that?

Matt Taibbi

No, she had the Ukrainian flag pin and wore it during the State of the Union address, which I guess everybody did, but still.

Paul Jay

Yeah, I agree. That is an example of what I’m saying.

Matt Taibbi

Yes. It’s not wrong to be sympathetic with Ukraine by any means. I just think that there are a lot of people who are ginned up and thinking that there’s a military solution to this, and there isn’t. There’s no way to fix this, but with bombs and missiles, that doesn’t lead to a worse scenario.

Paul Jay

Well, let’s go back to this Putin conversation and where we started it. You and I hadn’t talked to each other about it, but I think we had pretty much the same conclusion. Putin, as a rational actor, would not violate international law in such an absolute obvious way. If he did anything, maybe he goes into Donbas and protects Donbas. I have no idea whether Donbas was really under threat. I guess it could have been given there certainly is a history of such threats from the Ukrainian government. I’m saying, okay, I can believe that. I don’t know it, but I can believe it. But then you go in, and you defend Donbas. You don’t invade the rest of Ukraine.

I know his argument. He has to smash the Ukrainian armed forces. The way to protect Donbas is to demilitarize Ukraine. This is ridiculous because if he succeeds and then withdraws a zillion dollars of arms goes right back into Ukraine again. I mean, it will be even more so. It will be a field day for the American military-industrial complex. The only way this thing makes any sense to me is that it is part of the equation. It will also be a field day for the Russian military-industrial complex, and the price of fossil fuels will go through the roof. If you look at Cheney’s role in the lead-up to the Iraq war, I never believed the Americans would invade Iraq. It shows how good I am. I kept saying it’s not rational. Everybody that knows the situation says you cannot win. You will not be able to install a pro-American government. Even grabbing the oil, you’ll have trouble grabbing the oil.

I didn’t get— I did these interviews with Bill Black about the banking crisis. I think you know Bill. He’s certainly a fan of your stuff.

Matt Taibbi

Yeah, we know each other, definitely.

Paul Jay

He wrote this thing. You don’t understand the 07/08 crisis by trying to understand what was good for the banks. You have to understand what was good for the bankers.

Matt Taibbi

Right.

Paul Jay

I think the same thing for the military-industrial complex. The invasion of Iraq wasn’t good for American geopolitics strategically. It was good for Dick Cheney. It was good for Halliburton. It was good for these goddamn oligarchs that are thieves themselves. I guess the Russians, Americans and the Ukrainians— I mean, that’s where I think we have to at least I want to try to take this conversation. This is a global system of how stuff is owned. We can’t keep on with a system where these oligarchs of all these countries own the commanding pieces of the economy and thus the politics. The bigger threat here, and as much as this is terrible, what’s happening to the people of Ukraine and, of course, in Yemen and many other places, but certainly, those two are outstanding. The climate crisis is facing us within this decade, and it’s completely off the radar now.

Matt Taibbi

Yeah, I would argue nuclear war is up there, too, and this is not making that situation any better either. None of this makes a whole lot of sense unless there’s some other motive that I don’t really understand. Most of the people that I talked to before the invasion thought that Putin’s massing of troops on Ukraine’s border was a game that he was playing. That he was trying to drive a wedge between America and Europe because Germany was seeking greater ties with Russia who has a cheap energy source. They were trying to get that gas pipeline through. The Americans, on the other hand, had no interest in that pipeline. On the contrary, they were very much opposed to that happening and wanted to expand NATO, theoretically, at least, into Ukraine. I think the Europeans probably would rather have Ukraine stay away from NATO and keep the cheap energy. I think what Putin— we all thought what Putin was trying to do was exacerbate these tensions by threatening war and forcing the United States to overplay its hand. This move into western Ukraine was what completely threw everybody. It was one thing to recognize Donbas, Donetsk and Luhansk; those two regions, but to bring the war to the other side of the country was totally mind-blowing.

It’s very difficult to understand what the upside is there unless you’re counting on there being a long insurgency, and that’s somehow positive for you. I don’t understand why they would do that. I actually agree with the much-criticized University of Chicago Professor, John Mearsheimer, who says that he doesn’t think that Putin has designs on all of Ukraine. I still kind of doubt that, too, even though they’re conducting a war over there.

Paul Jay

He can’t. He can’t. What, he’s going to get into a long-term occupation of Ukraine and an endless war?

Matt Taibbi

No, it doesn’t make any sense. I think he wants to install a government that would be subservient to him. But why do that? Why not just move into Luhansk and Donetsk?

Paul Jay

I don’t get it. Unless you want— like I firmly believe in some conspiracies. In fact, the Iraq war shows what was a bigger conspiracy. Claiming there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and trying to enforce that throughout the various agencies to say that there are weapons of mass destruction. It was a total lie—a full-scale conspiracy. Even when Valerie claims her husband comes back— I interviewed him— and he comes back and says there’s no yellow [inaudible 00:52:00]. They have a whole conspiracy to demolish [inaudible 00:52:05] and Wilson and slander them.

Matt Taibbi

Credible.

Paul Jay

War is conspiracy and lies. That’s one of the tactics of war. It’s just another weapon in your arsenal. Lie through your teeth and conspire because you can’t have it. I don’t think there’s such a thing as a war without these things.

Matt Taibbi

Right.

Paul Jay

But that being said, this war in Ukraine, unless various oligarchs and interests wanted it, was so avoidable. To start with, the Ukrainian government could have declared neutrality and taken NATO off the table because it was never happening anyway. So they’re defending a fiction. Take it off the table. Two ridiculous even sounding like you might want nuclear weapons someday. How insane is that? I don’t believe there ever would be. I don’t think it was true. There were words that came out of Zelensky’s mouth that sounded something like that. Three, recognize that there needs to be a legitimate referendum in Donbas, and so what? So they’re in independent republics. So you try to win them over economically unless you want endless conflict with Donbas. It’s never going away with Russia there. So the Ukrainian government had everything in its hands not to have this happen and didn’t do any of it. Russia, I don’t buy any of their arguments. There was no imminent threat from Ukraine. Donbas maybe was under threat. There were ways to defend that. And the other thing—

Matt Taibbi

 If you remember, there was a long conflict where a lot of people died in those regions.

Paul Jay

Good reason to think.

Matt Taibbi

Yeah.

Paul Jay

I actually don’t think, even if a nuclear weapon was in Ukraine, what the hell would it change? Nuclear weapons are all over the place in Russia. They pick up 27 seconds or something. As long as there’s such a thing as Russian submarines with the ability to wipe out the United States, it makes no real— unless I’m wrong, but I’m doing this film with Ellsberg now, and I know more than I used to about this. As long as you’ve got the subs, you’ve got the deterrent. Nukes in Ukraine, nukes in Poland, here and there, okay, it sounds terrible, but the truth is you can still wipe out your enemy. So what big difference does it make? And then, of course, the Americans. Every single word out of the Americans is hypocritical. Although Putin has given them a great gift. Now all of a sudden, we can’t say never believe American intelligence agencies. You can never say that again.

Matt Taibbi

I know it’s a nightmare because this is like Christmas morning every day for military propagandists and intelligence propagandists in America. This is the eternal gift that will keep on giving for a generation. Never again will we be able to say that it’s irrational to bring a country into a military alliance or to build up and spend money on weaponry and intelligence, that sort of thing.

There’s a lot to be concerned about, though, with this. I think the American public is not recognizing the scale of some of what’s going on. The idea of just sort of willy-nilly, getting companies like Google and Apple to shut off services to the entire country, all of Russia, on the premise that we have to inflict pain on the population so that they overthrow their leader. Are we ready for other countries to apply the same logic to us who might decide to cut off services to us for some reason? I worry about this thing that we’re hearing from people like Fiona Hill, that we’re already in World War Three. We have to do everything possible short of open armed conflict. They will get to that, too. People they’ll get to calling for a no-fly zone, and American troops deployed to the region. I’m confident of that. It’ll just take a while.

Paul Jay

I don’t know. I can’t believe I’m about to say something positive about Marco Rubio. Never in my life would I have imagined it. Rubio last Sunday, on [inaudible 00:56:43], came so very forthrightly against the no-fly zone. He just said, if you have a no-fly zone, you’re declaring World War III, and you better be ready for all-out nuclear war. He was very firmly against it, which suggests at least there’s some rationality left in even some of the right-wing elites. At least they’re worried about nuclear war. On the other hand, the level of hysteria. The fact that they either fired or removed the lead opera singer of the Metropolitan Opera, a Russian woman, because she wouldn’t sign a document denouncing Putin. 

Matt Taibbi

Yeah, It was like a loyalty oath. 

Paul Jay

This is worse— I mean, it’s at the very least McCarthyite. I mean, that’s insane.

Matt Taibbi

Yeah, it’s straight out of catch-22. It’s the loyalty oath. The Canadian Hockey League barring Russians and Belarussians from the draft and the International Federation of Cats barring Russian cats. I mean, kind of crazy. The stuff that really makes me nervous, though, is the whole Visa/Mastercard banking services being shut off. Like the cyber-war ideas that we’re kind of unleashing. That makes me very nervous.

Paul Jay

Well, it’s clear they want regime change in Moscow, and I don’t know enough about what’s going on in Moscow to know if it’s possible. There’s actually a part of me, honestly, that I don’t think I’d mind regime change—the fall of Putin at this point. I know a lot of people are going to write in and say, how dare you say that. I just think about the danger of nuclear war. If there’s a lack of rationality in Moscow and the hysteria that’s developing in Washington right now, I don’t think there’d be this careful planning of nuclear war right now. But, boy, shit can happen.

Matt Taibbi

I’m kind of with you like. If Putin was not in power tomorrow, I’m certainly not going to shed a tear about that guy. I think he’s been repressive, autocratic, and anti-democratic from the beginning. He’s had a severely negative impact on Russia’s history and recent history. Notwithstanding our foreign policy mistakes in the region. 

Just to get back to the original subject of this conversation, my attitude when I was there and what I observed and so many of my friends who are expats who lived in Russia observed, at the time, is that our policy towards Russia and Ukraine was so focused on controlling these countries, on making sure that they went down a certain path, that they elected the right people, and that they adopted the correct policies. We pressured them so much into cutting off healthcare and free energy subsidies for apartments and free higher education and all kinds of other things as part of our shock therapy doctrine. It was central to our whole idea of how we got on with Russia, that we were going to make sure that somehow our people were in charge.

There was a profound resentment that grew out of that from the Russian people. It was part of the reason that Putin enjoyed popularity because he was seen as somebody who was standing up to the West. I always thought that was a massive mistake, this idea. We should have— I think what we should have done is envisioned a Russia that was independent but could be a strategic and economic partner in some way. We didn’t do that. I think we wanted to make Russia into a vassal State, and that backfired.

Would I be sad if Putin was no longer the leader? Of course not. But these people who want regime change in Russia all stem from the same problem that they had at the beginning. Do you know what I mean? They thought it was their responsibility to decide who gets to sit in the Kremlin.

Paul Jay

The United States wants to maintain hegemony in Europe, and Russia is so big, they’re an actual rival in Europe. But I got the solution to all of this.

Matt Taibbi

What’s that?

Paul Jay

Nationalize all the major fossil fuel companies. Phase them out quickly, as quickly as possible. Get the world off fossil fuel, and then Russia will have to have a different kind of economy, as will Canada and some other places, including Saudi Arabia. And that will force on Russia, not the kind of distortion of politics that fossil fuel economies create, and it will also change American politics. So I’m going to dedicate theAnalysis to nationalizing fossil fuel companies. I don’t know who gives a damn about what we do here. But that said, it’s the solution to inflation. How many wars are fought over oil? The military-industrial complex, what the hell would they fight over if there wasn’t a fossil fuel economy? I’m sure they’d look for something. But yeah, nationalize. In these extraordinary times when you can destroy the banking system of a country, you can change everything overnight that no one would imagine. Okay, let’s really do it. Let’s get rid of fossil fuel, and you’ll change the whole politics. And, of course, not to say the least, actually save organized human society from the climate crisis.

Matt Taibbi

It sounds like kind of a two-for-one. I’m all in favor of phasing out fossil fuels. I think that’s a great idea. We haven’t done enough to try to make that happen. The hypocrisy of bashing these foreign autocracies while we’re dependent on countries like Saudi Arabia is unbelievable to me that we still persist in that. It would be great if we didn’t have to do that. We don’t have to do that, but it would make it even easier not to make those horrible decisions. 

Paul Jay

Well, thanks so much, Matt. Let’s do this again soon.

Matt Taibbi

Of course. Anytime. Thanks, Paul.

Paul Jay

Go to Matt’s Substack. The article was called Putin the⁠—

Matt Taibbi

Putin the Apostate.

Paul Jay

Putin the Apostate. It’s really an important piece to read, so check Matt out there. Thank you for joining us on theAnalysis.news, and again, you got to donate for us to keep doing it. The most important thing is to get on our email list. Those of you know Matt wrote this piece about how YouTube was screwing around with our videos. Thanks to Matt’s piece, two of the three videos got back up again.

Matt Taibbi

Excellent.

Paul Jay

On the other hand, we’re sure they’re still screwing with our view count. Like our subscribers never change. Even when we have a story that breaks through, and we used to break through with like 80,000-90,000 views. Now a breakthrough for us; we’re lucky to get 10,000. Still almost no new subscribers ever. In a month, if we pick up 100 new subscribers or even 50, we’re doing well. Even when we’re doing videos that are doing 10,000-15,000.

Matt Taibbi

That makes no sense.

Paul Jay

It makes no sense. There’s got to be BS with the algorithm going on. Anyway, I’ll whine about that more another time.

Matt Taibbi

No, I’m with you on that one. I think there are a lot of shenanigans going on with that kind of stuff, and it’s almost a completely uncovered story, which is amazing. But yeah, I’m sorry that you’re dealing with that.

Paul Jay

Alright, thanks a lot, Matt. And thank you for joining us on theAnalysis.news.

Matt Taibbi

Take care.


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13 Comments

  1. We are about to enter the great silence. Matt and you will continue the smear. Matt will draw on the Yeltsin period as if that makes him an expert on today’s Russia. You will continue the nonsense that “Every knows Ukraine would not join NATO” Even though no one would put that in writing, just as no one would implement the Minsk Accords.

    Meanwhile, DDOS attacks continue on anything Russian here or in Russia. How convenient that no one ever listens to Russia or Putin. You consistently fail to listen to Russia.

    The Bio labs scandal will be interesting to watch. But I am sure some dodge will avail itself.

    Yes, we are entering the Great Silence. Destroying Yugoslavia raised no qualms, either from you or Matt. Of course Serbia NOW wants to be part of NATO.
    I put it to you again, invite Scott Ritter on. He DOES NOT CHARGE. Learn how Russia fights a war. It does its best to keep local admin intact. It even allows the Ukraine flag to wave.

  2. Hi Paul,

    I wanted to add to the observations you and Matt make, in terms of how the US and Russian elites gain from the Ukrainian war:

    *Capitalism thrives on scarcity: The Ukrainian war is helping speculators profit, including the large US multinationals. Prices of commodities like oil or wheat are rising due to the war, but also Covid, climate change and lack of competition. Both the US and Russian economic elites stand to gain from inflated commodities.
    *War increases authoritarian powers: Since 9/11, the US has used crises to transfer more power to its intelligence and police agencies. Both Russia and the US gov’ts have used Ukraine as an excuse to silence or ostracize dissent. RT, a Russian news service, was registered as a foreign agent, and has recently shutdown.
    *The US has successfully divided Europe from a partnership with Russia: Despite going against its own economic interest, Europe has followed the US in stopping trade with Russia. It’s possible that in time Russia will renew ties with Europe indirectly through China and its new Silk Road.
    *Ukraine is symbolic of the greater struggle between the US and Russia/China for dominance:
    Ukraine and Russia are frontmen in the power struggle between the US and China. The irony is that the US is more dependent on trade and finance with China, than Europe is on Russia.

    The power struggle between the US and Russia/China can be seen as a tipping point for globalization, as the US tries to isolate its economic and political rivals. Further, allowing dissent in the media is crucial if we are to face climate change honestly: just like in nature, a mono-culture often leads to disease and death, but diversity allows resilience and survival.

  3. Do either of you understand Russia and WWII and Germany? As an earlier comment pointed out, has either of you actually listened to Putin? I do not think so. And now we know publicly. even in the Congress, that U.S. has bio labs in Ukraine, by none other Nuland herself.

    This discussion is an unverified smear job or Putin and Russia. Very, very disappointing. The show is over guys.

  4. Liberals 2002: “Saddam is a bad and mad man, (something about not invading Iraq), and a reminded that Saddam is a bad and mad man.”

    Liberals 2022: “Putin is a bad and mad man, (something about understanding Russia), and a reminded that Putin is a bad and mad man.”

    I really enjoy these shows but those “Saddam/Putin = bad man” statements show the –deep– level of neo-conservative propaganda we live under. I remember how the liberals in 2002 spent 75% of their time attacking the remnants of the North American ‘left’ for being “pro-Saddam” and 25% denouncing the invasion……

    Why not just skip those war-enabling statements and discuss the topic?

  5. I think Russia is attacking as a kind of massive temper tantrum for being constantly punished and isolated from the world economy. A massive country like Russia with a GNP less than Italy … and all because for one reason or another the US and NATO puts ever heavier sanctions on them, as well as calls their sytsem corrupt and their leader and evil murderer, and this is pushed around the world like BS Right-Wing propaganda on AM radio in the US.

    Russia is seeing their country strangled, and whether NATO is advancing or not, Ukrainians are being bought by flash and BS from the West, and their White Nationalist Nazis do indeed exist and are armed and taking actions.

    I would imagine that Russia sees Ukraine as being split way from its economic influence, and that over time, probably quickly Ukraine would grow to have a GDP larger than Russia, and eventually join NATO too, and Russia would be left out in the cold, so to speak.

    What is the West going to be happy with? What should Russia be and why is there absolutely nothing out there in the media talking about what it is the West has planned for Russia should they be able to oust Putin?

    Would Russia just be transformed into one big or many smaller dictatorships like ther surrounding countries split off from the USSR? How is that going to benefit Russians? How will it benefit the West? Why is there absolutely no attempt to work with Russia? America has the same attitude we have about any country that doesn’t do what we want it to do and become capitalist … like Cuba, Venezuela, Russia … they are under eternal attack and sanctions.

    What are they supposed to do? Where is this supposed to go, and why is it worth gambling ( of course ) with European, Ukrainian and Russian lives, while the US sits back like we did in WWII putting all the pressure on Russia.

    At this time the cracks in the American mythology are so apparent, what is the new state of equilibrium supposed to be at the end of this?

  6. In the beginning of this video the statement is made that the Western Press has declared Putin to be evil, and I am familiar with that. Then the statement is made that, of course Putin says that about the Americans and the Ukrainian government.

    I am not that familiar with Putin’s statements, but I actually have not heard rhetoric like that from Putin. Does Putin really make those kinds of statements? Listening to part of his address to Russia I did feel the intensity of his fear and hate of the Nazis in Ukraine, and anger and frustration at NATO and the West for dismissing him for so long a while.

    Is there some reference to Putin’s comments that someone could recommend, because the more I look at this situation the I want balance and facts – and all I am seeing is provocative war-mongering comments speechs. I recently saw the documentary “Ukraine on Fire” which seems to build a sensible logical care for Russia, but I am sure there is propaganda in that as well. It seems uniquely American this good v. evil with us or against us kind of dangerous thinking.

    We the people seem to never get enough information to be able to draw the line about any situation that involves foreign relations and war. We get a cartoon version of the world, and a chorus of unconditional backing from the peanut gallery, voices that are most likely picked or faked in order to amplify the unity of the country for war.

    What is going on in Ukraine today terrifies me, but more than that what is considered normal in our country is more Orwellian that I ever thought we would get to, and it is here today, and gambling with our lives after stealing our money right now.

  7. An important, incisive discussion. However, it is not just a matter of oligarchs and fossil fuel. Too
    simplistic. There lies much in the bear baiting (see Diana Johnstone’s analysis in Consortium News) and 8 years in the Donbass with 14.000 dead (10.000 + ethnic Russians). You should do programs on Zelensky, the chauvinistic Ukrainian state versus a multiethnic reality: Ukrainian, Russian and Surzhyk (fascinating mixed socioethnic dialects). Within the Ukrainian state Poroshenko and Zelensky never came to negotiations with the Donbass Russians (Minsk Accords). I know it is provocative to say but as presidents that makes them state terrorists against an ethnic minority.
    Until the weeks leading up to the invasion the nascent multipolar world was chugging along,
    the Eurasian Express. Whether events slow down or speed up the development of Eurasia I don’t have a crystal ball. The US and EU are in decline so there was and is still danger in their actions. There will be too many innocent victims now. Investigate Putin’s statement that no conscripts have been sent to the Ukraine. An interesting aspect if true. MSM reporting would indicate that the Ukrainians are hardly firing a shot. Who did the shooting on the Maidan? I am not naive to think that Russian shelling has not led to civilian victims. However, some Ukrainian elements like on the Maidan have no scruples and shoot at innocents and put the blame on the invader. What about it?

    To end on a positive note: Welcome to Eurasia! Next stop, Shiazhuang. Stop over and take a bunch
    of flowers to Bethune’s and Kotnis’ graves.
    Finally to reveal my ideological convictions, where is Jean Jaurès now they we need him,
    along with Rosa L. och Karl L. ?
    Respectfully yours,
    AEB

  8. Paul, NATO IS in Ukraine and so is the USA. Heard of the bio weapons labs? Further Nato is ON Russian borders as are US nuclear weapons.

    If the US wouldn’t countenance Soviet Nukes a mere 90 miles away from “our shores” ie Key West, WHY would Russians and Putin put up with US NATO nukes On The Russian Border!?

    The Nazis aren’t only in Ukraine. All these stand with (Nazi) Ukraine rallies in The Euro North American plazas are the most heinous demonstrations of radical right wing extremist white supremacist Cia Christian capitalist Nazi rallies since Hitler charmed his admirers at successive Nuremberg rallies in the 20s and 30s.

    Forget Orange Man Bad as Hitler. America IS Hitler and has been since WWII and the Cias Operation Paperclip if not well before with genocide of the Indians and theft of their land, African slavery and the US anchluss if the Sudetenland northern half of Mexico.

    Then there are Hiroshima and Nagasaki, chemical and bio weapons in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Yemen, Gaza, and an entire heinous list of coups and regime change ops that resulted in millions of deaths by US sanction terrorist. Indonesia for example. Or Greece. Guatemala. Or Iran.

    Wake the fuck up!

    Paul you are either FOR the Nazis or AGAINST them.

    1. Bully Thomas Prentice! Let’s not forget the US capitalist, NAZI bxms, Sloan of GM, Prescott Bush, Henry Ford, very early on! Let’s not forget FDR’s abandonment, along with the “democracies” of Europe, of the Spanish Republic. How about reparations for the damages sustained by subsidiaries of US corporations from allied bombing during our great, patriotic war?

  9. The context of Russia’s military operation was aggression by the US and NATO since 1989. I don’t think I am being too legalistic to remind those who call Pres Putin’s response aggression that threatening another country with weapons on borders from which it has been the victim of European invasions not three but four time (including the Crimean War of 1858) is, in international law, aggression. Threatening is a criminal act, whether done by an angry next-door neighbor or by another country – especially one that has committed the murder of millions of people since the end of WW2 and the destabilization and toppling of more than a dozen other countries. The US since the end of WW2 has been led by EVIL people, people who regarded others whole lives they ended and made miserable as expendable, whether on the island of Timor, in central America, Belgrade, Panama, Haiti, or Venezuela – to give a partial list. Noam Chomsky called our Presidents “indictable war-criminals”, all of them, and with ample justification.
    Pres Putin reacted to the aggressive threat of NATO, to the lying of the US, to the weakness of US puppets, Macron and Scholtz who came to him with nothing after he made clear that “red-lines” had been crossed. I strongly suggest following the reports of Alexander Mercouris, on theduran dot com or on youtube on this war. Mr Mercouris is, in my view, not at all biased in Pres Putin’s favor, but he offers good reporting.

  10. Always good to hear some different perspectives. I know Matt has experience with Russia in particular. I find myself agreeing with him less and less these days, but that’s another story I guess.

    Paul. Ukraine was never going to be let into NATO. Yes, indeed. But it doesn’t really matter, this is a dejure v. defacto distinction. Ukraine was, 100% factually, defacto being integrated into NATO, and Russia finally said no mas. IDK why Russians speak Spanish, but it’s my story, gotta keep it light in dark times. Americans constantly mistake strategic patience for weakness. Putin is now speaking in the only language Americans can understand, and that’s force. Do you hear me now? Just look at how Russia is acting in it’s military operations, it’s quite clear that they absolutely would not have done this unless they felt like it was their the very last straw. We’re going to need to sit around and put our thinking caps on and get to the bottom of all the reasons why Russia felt that way, but it’s abundantly clear that this is what happened. What’s sickening to me is Zelensky and the way he’s been acting. This cheerleading in the West to fight what is certainly a losing and pointless battle with Russia down to the last Ukranian, especially when Russia’s actions have made it clear they’re not taking this lightly and willing to make things much more difficult for themselves. Just intuitively, when you learn about this guy, where he’s from, his path to this moment, strongly gives the vibes of someone that US intelligence was developing and cultivating for a long time, ala Lenin Moreno. What’s also alarming is the seeing the scale and scope of 21st century war propaganda up close like this. It’s difficult to find any accurate or worthwhile information about what’s happening. This has exposed just how deep the US’s tentacles are in Western Europe, just how powerful the US influence machinery is within the Anglosphere at least, and throughout Europe. Exposes the myth and sham of a lot of free market ideology when you see US private sector working hand in glove with various state apparatus in such a blatant manner. There’s a lot of that we can see from this event, but there’s even more that we’re missing, like what really is happening and why. There’s clearly more happening here than most superficial analysis in the public domain has caught on to.

  11. I think that good and evil are meaningful terms, not in a metaphysical way but in a practical way. Yes, people raised in an elite social environment may see things differently than I do, but I don’t care how they see things. I care what they do! For me, what they do cannot be mitigated by how they see thing or their class. If what they knowingly do needlessly harms others, they are E V I L.

  12. As a relief from the hard news , I raise the following question: are journalists more odd than other people in their attire, or do they appear so because we “followers” are more aware of them? I give a few examples, one I remember from my teens: Walter Winchell and his fedora, Mr and Mrs America. On the front pages today, at least on the internet, I think of George Galloway who wears what I think is called a Homburg, a black one; and of course Matt Taibbi and his derby. I can think of people who could have worn a hat of some sort, Mikhail Gorbachev, who has a distracting birthmark on his crown. Such head-wear does become a personal trade-mark when one is in the public eye. Is the AC in a TV studio drafty on one’s top? I think the topper is a symbol of liberation from convention: “I wear what I please, and I write or say what I please”. If so, fine!

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