Ukraine: Dangerous Dance of Military-Industrial Complex - Paul Jay

Great powers, especially the Americans, believe prestige and “strategic power,” in other words a pissing match, is worth sending other people’s kids to die for. This is a fight between the oligarchs on all sides. They will all find ways to make money out of the tension, even if they are playing with nuclear fire. Paul Jay joins George Clark on his podcast By George (pt 1/3).


George A. Clark

Hello, hi, how are you? Welcome on in to another podcast By George. Well, I’m happy to be able to get him back. It’s Paul Jay. He’s coming on the podcast By George Liveline. We’re doing a recording here to get this straight, get it right.

We had some technical difficulties on the internet in the previous show, but I’m sure this is going to be good. And you’re going to like this because this guy’s on top of it. He’s all over it. He’s an authority. And for folks that may not know, Paul Jay is a journalist and filmmaker. He’s the founder and host of, a video and audio, current affairs interview and commentary show and website.

Paul’s films have won numerous awards at major festivals around the world. He’s the past Chair of the Documentary Organization of Canada and was the Founding Chair of the Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival. And, of course, me, I’m a hockey guy, so I got to love Canadians, folks. Jay was the Co-Creator and Co-Executive Producer of Face Off and Counterspin, up there a nightly primetime debate program that ran for ten years on CBC News World. And, of course, he was the Founder of the Real News Network based in Baltimore. I think that’s where he spends most of his time now. And he’s currently working on —

Paul Jay

No Toronto.

George A. Clark

Oh, you’re in Toronto. Okay, great. He’s currently working on a documentary series with Daniel Ellsberg based on Ellsberg’s book, The Doomsday Machine. And I got to bring this up on screen real quickly here because it’s a nice segue. And we’ve talked about so many things.

On the front page of the New York Times just today. And this one, I want to get to Paul, and maybe we’ll just foreshadow a little bit and bring you back on to talk about it more in-depth. But it’s the situation in Ukraine. And again, Paul’s a great historian. You can straighten me out here because I’ve just got kind of a Midwestern rubes understanding or perspective on this. But you the USSR [Union of Soviet Socialist Republics] broke down because of economics, and Ukraine went out on its own. But Ukraine, a lot of people don’t understand about a third of it. Maybe half of it is pro-Russia. And they had a guy that was in charge of that country that was a friend of Russia.

In 2014, there was a coup in Ukraine. They overthrew that country. The United States was actively supporting that. I mean, they supported it, actively supported it. Now we’ve got this situation where NATO [North Atlantic Treaty Organization] and the United States are looking to have a big presence in Ukraine, which is right on the border of Russia.

And if we remember what Paul was talking about earlier with these nuclear weapons and the Cuban missile crisis as an example, look what the United States did. It went to the brink of World War III over missiles pointed at us in Cuba. Well, this is right across the border from Russia. I’m not a big [Vladimir] Putin friendly. I mean, I don’t want to be an apologist for this guy, but he’s looking at this and going, what in the hell?

And the other segue is the energy thing that Paul was talking about because there’s this Nord Stream 2 pipeline up there that’s going to run a gas pipeline into Eastern Europe. Russia wants that a lot. This United States-Ukraine involvement down there could prevent that from happening.

So you’ve got this Russian population that would like to rejoin Russia. That’s a big part of this. They’re actually, I think, pleading with Putin to bring us back in. You’ve got this situation with NATO in the United States staring right across the border into Russia, and Putin doesn’t want that with the weaponry pointed at him. And then you’ve got Nordstream 2, the pipeline. All these things are in play, and it looks like Russia has some limited options here. I mean, it looks to me like they might strike Paul. How imminent is it?

Paul Jay

First of all, you made a very serious error at the very beginning of this show, and you called me an authority. You are really wrong. I’m not an authority on anything. I’ve just had a few years of talking to a lot of smart people, and I can remember some of it. When it comes to Ukraine, I am really not an authority. But I can just put this into context somewhat because there are a lot of people that can talk about the specifics of the situation better than I do.

There’s a lot of talk about the U.S. empire, and a lot of people want to make the U.S. empire out as if it’s the devil. I’m not one of those people. And I think the term U.S. empire, and I’m not saying it doesn’t exist, sort of, but it gets overused, and it covers up something.

The real issue is the global capitalist system, of which the U.S., call it empire, if you want, is the dominant, by far the dominant power. Although we’ll see, because they say in 15-20 years, the Chinese GDP might surpass the American, then we’ll see. But it’s still dominant, by far dominant power. But it’s a global capitalist system.

Within a global capitalist system, different capitalist powers, countries have their own agendas. There are some serious differences that can happen even between the United States and Canada over trade. Europe is constantly competing with the United States for influence in Eastern Europe, for example, for markets in other ways.

There’s tremendous competition that takes place in terms of arms sales, with France and Germany competing with the United States and England competing. You just saw this submarine deal where the French lost this big contract to Australia.

George A. Clark

Australia, yeah.

Paul Jay

A lot of global politics is driven by two things, the arms trade and oil. And there’s some real conflicts. Now, yes, Europe, on the whole, Western Europe is under the general framework of American-led global capitalism, as is almost the entire world. I mean, what countries aren’t, except to some extent Russia.

The Soviet Union was out of it completely, more or less. And Russia, with the rise of a Russian state that could actually defend Russian sovereignty as opposed to what was happening in the free for all of the 1990s after the fall of the Soviet Union, where the United States thought they were going to be able to come in and grab all the natural resources of Russia. And, to their horror, American and Western Europe’s horror, the Russian’s, and many of them who had been in the party became oligarchs. They grabbed all the oil and natural resources, and what a piss-off that was to the West.

What is it you bloody Russians think you’re going to—

George A. Clark

Take the stuff.

Paul Jay

Steal all these resources that used to be public? No, we want to steal them, and we want to control the banking system. How dare you have your own banking system?

George A. Clark


Paul Jay

So this is a contradiction between oligarchies. An American oligarchy, various European oligarchies, the Russian oligarchy. This is a contradiction between capitalist States. Now, yes, most of Europe has found a way to work within the American system. The Russians have a problem working within the system even though they wanted to.

I mean, Russia wanted to join NATO, and they wouldn’t let them. Why? NATO was supposed to be, to quote, Gore Vidal. Fight the godless communists. Yeah, well, what happened? You lost. They’re not godless communists. Jesus, you can’t get more religious than Putin and his Orthodox Russian Church that he’s closely aligned to.

So all of a sudden you have everything you wanted. Christ is back in Moscow. So why don’t you let them into NATO? How about another question? Yeah, how about another question? Why have NATO? If the godless communists are gone, what is NATO for? Well, obviously, it’s because of arms sales. It’s excuses to pass money. Like what is it? The [Joe] Biden administration just announced a 200 million dollar subsidy to Ukraine to buy arms. Oh, you’re so generous. Who are you buying the arms from? Ukraine. It’s a pass-through.

George A. Clark

It’s a money-laundering scheme.

Paul Jay

Give the money to Ukrainians, and Ukrainians can give the money to American arms manufacturers.

George A. Clark

Yeah, same with the Saudis.

Paul Jay

Well, same with the Russians. The Russians have their own military-industrial complex, and the tenser things get on the border with Ukraine, the easier it is for Putin to justify increasing military expenditures and pleasing his own oligarchs and military-industrial complex. And for that matter, the Chinese have one too, but not as pernicious as the Americans and Russians.

Now let me say, whenever I say something like this, the Americans are in a league of their own. Nothing compares with the scale of the war crimes militarization, foreign military bases, on and on, like nothing. The Russians, Chinese, or anything anybody else does comes close.

George A. Clark


Paul Jay

Combined. But that said, that doesn’t mean the Russians don’t have their own oligarchical-driven agenda. But that agenda is not to invade and try to occupy anybody right now cause it’s a pain in the ass. Like if it was profitable to invade, occupy and dominate countries, wouldn’t the Americans be doing it everywhere?

George A. Clark

Yeah. It didn’t work for us.

Paul Jay

It hasn’t worked since, like the mid-1800. Old-style colonization isn’t profitable because people fight back. It’s too hard to control. Now, are the Russians meddling in Ukrainian politics? Are they going to try to make it, in one way or another, have a government in Ukraine that’s more allied with them?

George A. Clark


Paul Jay

Duh. Yeah, of course. And the Americans haven’t done exactly the same thing. In fact, essentially having already organized a coup against the previous President who was aligned with Russia. And the Americans do it everywhere. God, the Americans completely interfered in the Canadian election in 1962 and dumped Prime Minister [John] Diefenbaker because he wouldn’t accept nuclear weapons on Canadian soil. Not because he had anything against nuclear weapons, but he wanted the Canadian government to control them. And so Kennedy literally sent Lou Harris, this pollster with a false name and a false passport, to the U.S. Embassy in Ottawa. And he organized the campaign of Lester Pearson, who became Prime Minister and let the nuclear weapons into Canada.

Yeah, of course, the Russian oligarchy tries to defend and expand and enrich itself, just like the American oligarchy. They just don’t have the power the Americans do. I think this is mostly sabre-rattling on the part of Putin. I think it’s as much tension as he can create. It triggers all this kind of Cold War shit in the American psyche and especially in the military-industrial complex and all the Hawks love this.

George A. Clark

It’s good for business.

Paul Jay

Now, is he really thinking to invade? This is my opinion, and what the hell do I know? I’m no expert in this area or any other, but I doubt it. I think it’s created as much tension as you can. Make it really clear that Ukraine is not going to be part of NATO, and I would guess the Americans are going to and probably already have told him quietly that Ukraine is not going to be in NATO. I think that they have to have a consensus with NATO to have a new member. There’s no way all of Europe will agree to have Ukraine in NATO. 

The bigger issue in terms of threat is these nuclear weapons systems that are in some of the countries that used to be in the Warsaw Pact and now are in NATO that can hit Moscow in four or five minutes. That is a threat. But really, how big a threat? Do they really think, does Moscow really think they’re going to fire nuclear weapons at the Soviet Union? Because there’s something the Soviet Union has, that so do the Americans have, and it doesn’t matter if they can hit Moscow or whatever in four or five minutes. It’s something called submarines.

You cannot hit the Russian submarines any more than the Russians can hit American submarines. And the Russian submarines can throw plenty of nuclear weapons into the United States anytime. So just because you have some weapons near the border, it sounds threatening, but in reality, it really isn’t any more threatening than American submarines that can already do exactly that.

In fact, the American submarines are far more threatening than any missiles sitting in Eastern Europe because the Russians know where those are, and they can target them. They can’t target the submarines. The real deterrence in this world is the submarines. Which is why Ellsberg, to go back to the beginning of the conversation. The number one thing that needs to be done immediately is to eliminate ICBMs [Intercontinental ballistic missiles] because they have no military value. They’re just sitting duck targets, or they’re going to be used in a first strike. But they can’t be used as a first strike against the subs. So you can’t even really have the first strike and not get hit yourself.

So it’s all a Kabuki theatre. It’s all bullshit. It’s all for money-making. But and here’s the big but. This can get out of control.

George A. Clark

And it can happen by accident. That’s the other part of it, Paul.

Paul Jay

That’s my point. It can happen by accident. It can happen because they’re playing this who-can, pissing game, and it can spiral either out of control or by accident or a combination thereof. So it’s extremely dangerous. And the danger isn’t Russia invading Ukraine. The danger is this level of tension could trigger a nuclear war, even if all the best reasonable people on both sides don’t want it. And we almost had that during the Cuban Missile crisis. So they should stop the bullshit and the Democratic Party, any Progressives in the Democratic Party should speak up and denounce this Russia phobia, this harkening, the demons of the Cold War, which is what they did with this Russian interference in the elections.

Like I kept saying at the time, I don’t give a shit if the Russians interfered in the elections. If everything they said about what they did was true.

George A. Clark

It’s not worth destroying the world over.

Paul Jay

It doesn’t come close to undermining American democracy to what the American oligarchy has done to American democracy. Not even close. And it didn’t affect the real outcome of the election.

George A. Clark

All the pacts. All the money.

Paul Jay

Do I know if they’re going to invade or not? I doubt it. I think it’s good for show. I could be wrong.

George A. Clark

I hope you’re right.

Paul Jay

But it doesn’t mean it isn’t very dangerous.

Yeah, because I used to say on the show, particularly in 2020, that we live in a 2020 world. We could all be dead in 20 minutes from an accidental strike, from a nuclear submarine, or we could all be dead in 20 years from climate change. That’s the 2020 world that we live in. And like I said, Putin’s sitting there looking at Ukraine thinking, shit, it could be four or five minutes. Where he’s at?

George A. Clark

I mean, this is the tension that’s good for that complex that Paul talked about, that’s good for business, but it could end it all for everyone. And that kind of brings us full circle here with The Doomsday Machine and the movie that he’s working on with Daniel Ellsberg. Again, I want to promote that. I’m going to be looking for that movie that’s going to be a great documentary.

And again, I want to mention Paul Jay, our guest today. Thanks for coming on board the Liveline. He’s a journalist and filmmaker. He’s the Founder and Host of I’m going to super that during the show here. It’ll be a Chiron, a lower third that runs so that people can go there as well.

And, Paul, I’m just going to give it to you for other websites or URLs you would like to see on the show?

Paul Jay

Can I say one thing before we finish?

George A. Clark


Paul Jay

Because it’s been pretty doom and gloom in the last hour and twenty minutes.

George A. Clark

Yeah, it has.

Paul Jay

There’s some very important organizing going on now. There’s a lot of big strikes across the country. A lot of unions have become far more active in organizing unorganized workers. There are some really interesting organizing going on in places like West Virginia where they’re really working to elect progressives at all kinds of levels of government and eventually to challenge [Joe] Manchin or people like Manchin. That’s where we need to turn our attention.

You talk about geopolitics as we have been, and even the domestic politics and the rise of Christian fascism and all this. Most of the people involved are the sort of ordinary people that get embroiled in these things. What do they want? They want their family to be healthy. They want their kids to be safe. They want to have a job. They don’t want to worry about losing their house and going bankrupt. And amongst many of the Christians, many, they want and believe in the Jesus of forgiveness and love, not the Christianity of the Crusades, which is what Christian nationalism is.

People can talk to people. Organizing can take place. I don’t think this situation is hopeless. I don’t think we should write off the 75 million people that voted for Trump. And right now, it’s looking like even more might. Far from it.

The organizing won’t be done by the corporate Democrats. Progressives working in the party, I think, are making a contribution. I don’t see how there’s any other party that can be established in the time frame we have, except maybe in local races. And that might work even maybe in some States. I don’t know. But the threat of the far-right, we have to balance this threat of the far-Right, the rise of this Christian fascism, and the real character of corporate Democrats. But at least in some areas, it gives room to organize.

Like right now in West Virginia, there’s organizing going on, really good organizing. If Christian nationalists full-out ran West Virginia, I think those people would be in jail. I don’t think you’d have any real organizing going on in West Virginia right now. And it’s because this real fascistic force has not consolidated its control in that area. But we could be looking at areas like it was before the civil rights movement or even during— where cops would go out and assassinate organizers and activists. Trump practically called for that during the Black Lives Matter protest. Throw these people in jail for decades, I think, was his quote.

George A. Clark

Dog whistler.

Paul Jay

That is what they will do. And Progressives who think there’s no difference between the Democratic Party and the Republican Party, I think, are being delusional. The level of repression will be far greater. Why? I’ll go back to an earlier point, and then I’ll be done.

Not because the corporate Democrats are nicer guys. They like to think of themselves as nicer guys, and that does play somewhat of a role. No, it’s because their constituency in the big cities won’t go along with that kind of shit, so they can’t play the same role that Republicans play.

And as I say in terms of how they see themselves, they’re great believers they can have capitalism without its excesses. They really believe it. And, of course, it’s nonsense, but they think so. It’s a very complicated situation, but it’s not hopeless by any means. We, all of us need to figure out how to, if you can’t actually get trained to organize yourself, support people that are.

I said in my New Year’s message. We, at, are really going to try to focus more on letting people know who are the organizers, what are the obstacles they’re facing, and try to articulate better some of the issues that are confusing people that are getting duped by this rising fascism or duped by corporate Democrats. Because I said before the last election, yeah, people should vote for Biden, but without illusions. And those illusions are very dangerous. So we got to speak the whole truth, not just some partisan truth.

George A. Clark

That’s great. That’s a great place to leave it. And folks, go to Subscribe, get the newsletter, contribute, support Paul’s work so that we continue to get this kind of truth-telling. Paul Jay, thanks again for coming on this edition. Long version here of podcast By George.

Paul Jay

Thanks very much, George.

George A. Clark

And folks, if you like podcasts By George and guests like Paul Jay, go to Just pick an icon, a platform there where you’d like to subscribe, click on the little badge. It will take you straight to that location. Facebook is a good example, YouTube, Stitcher, Spotify, even places like that. And you’ll get each and every episode and be notified when new shows are released.

But that’s going to do it. We’re going to leave it there for right now. This is just going to be the first segment we’re going to come back with Paul, and that’ll be in the next episode. Come up and make sure you don’t miss that one because this is great, but this is the end of this particular segment.



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  1. How’s it going Paul,

    I’m an ordinary citizen (Dublin Ireland) trying to get a hold on all aspects of this big theater/puppet show of geopolitics and what I understand to be the corporate capture of democracy, whether it is left or right or center, of which your indication/opinion of been delusional is taken on board

    Can you clarify and broaden your thoughts on: because the constituencies in the big cities wont go along with that shit: as it seems to be based on having a lot of faith in the people of the constituencies.

    Also on a greater scale these constituencies did not have much effective push back (if there was any) for example with the democrats sabre ratting/dog whistling of NATO, and war mongering that went on in Libya, come to think of it these constituencies did not have much effective push back relating to Obama’s position of lets look forward, in relation to bankers getting off free and the constituencies among those footing the bill.

    I’ll be honest it is coming across that there seems to be more faith in the Corporate capture of a democratic presidency than a republican one. Should it not be that corporate capture should be battled and defeated instead of settling for the lesser of both evils.

    Best Regards.

  2. Some reality for Paul: Here are the 2021 military budgets by country:

    The United States ($778 billion)
    China ($252 billion [estimated])
    India ($72.9 billion)
    Russia ($61.7 billion)
    United Kingdom ($59.2 billion)
    Saudi Arabia ($57.5 billion [estimated])
    Germany ($52.8 billion)
    France ($52.7 billion)
    Japan ($49.1 billion)
    South Korea ($45.7 billion)

    Please note the comparative military budget of Russia and the U.S. Russia is 8 per cent of the U.S. I have supported this channel but I am seriously beginning to wonder in what world it functions. Please do actual research to defend the preposterous positions you take. 800 military foreign U.S. military bases? The DNC and the GOP stumble over one another to see who can give the U.S. military more cash. Pelosi is ramming through JUST NOW a 500 million gift to the Ukraine.

    Frankly, I am speechless at some of the undocumented positions taken here. No empire? Have you read the PNAC, Project for the New American Century, the centerpiece of U.S. ambition for complete hegemony. EIGHT PER CENT of the U.S. military budget! I know whose generals are getting fat and happy over U.S. war Mongering.

    1. I refer to the PNAC documents all the time, and of course, the U.S. military budget far exceeds all others. That does not mean, as Ellsberg often says, there are no military-industrial complexes in Russia and China. Militarism and nationalism play their role in most countries, even Canada. The point I was making is there is a global capitalist system, in which the U.S dominates and is by far the most aggressive, guilty of countless war crimes. But similar economic motives operate in other countries as well.

      1. My problem with your statement of the issue is the following comment:

        “Well, same with the Russians. The Russians have their own military-industrial complex, and the tenser things get on the border with Ukraine, the easier it is for Putin to justify increasing military expenditures and pleasing his own oligarchs and military-industrial complex. And for that matter, the Chinese have one too, but not as pernicious as the Americans and Russians.”

        I could just as easily claim that there has always been a military industrial complex. From the earliest civilization, organizations have always profited from making weapons. Is that a helpful observation? I do not think so.

        Eisenhower did not discover anything new. What he voiced was an abnormal growth in the power and intersection of U.S. weapon manufacturers and the military—and so began the revolving door between the U.S. military and companies profiting off of the likes of Raytheon. There is simply no other way to explain Lloyd J. Austin III, a former lobbyist of Raytheon.

        This complex has become a dangerous political force. You said as much in the Weinstein piece you celebrated the generals as an appropriate response to Trump. In the U.S., the line between the military and political is non-existent. At least Truman had the guts to fire Macarthur.

        The issue of Ukraine and NATO is simply papered over with the claim that both sides have armies; therefore, Russia is as guilty as the West. In short, Putin now has the excuse to feed his military industrial complex. Really? How should it deal with the U.S. sanctions and encirclement?

        How to can it escape the Swiss system? Even Trump sanctioned Russia. You must be aware of Trump’s Russian sanctions. In fact he summarily, closed various Russian consulates and residences across the U.S. (Sometimes I see Trump as an inept, staged opposition.)

        The U.S. feeds its already metastasized cancer. We identify this cancer by the size of its military budget, a budget that seems to have no limits.

        I see the West as aggressive and dangerous, willing to risk WWIII in order to keep its cancer growing.

        1. Of course the U.S. is far and away more aggressive and dangerous in the world, and on the Ukraine issue. That doesn’t take away the fact that arms manufacturing, including sales to the state and for export is an important part of the Russian economy. One report I saw stated 20% of all manufacturing jobs.It has to play a role in shaping Russian foreign policy. Canada has a much smaller military budget than the United States, but that doesn’t mean the Canadian military-industrial complex doesn’t heavily influence Canadian foreign policy. The Russians are spending a trillion dollars on upgrading their nuclear weapons. You can say it’s because the Americans are doing the same thing, in fact they started this new arms race under Obama. But the Chinese are not spending at anywhere near these levels on nuclear weapons. Why are the Americans doing it? Because it makes money for the aerospace/war industry. It’s not necessary because the only real deterrence that’s needed are nuclear submarines. Why are the Russians doing it? You think it’s not for some of the same reasons? I can understand why the Russians might be investing in submarine technology, because that’s where the real issue lies. Why more ICBMs?

          History has made the US the dominant power within a global capitalist system, that doesn’t mean the other capitalist powers don’t have similar ambitions. Hell, the Canadian elite would love to be the global hegemon, it’s just not the cards it was dealt.

          I am not suggesting that the US and the Russians have equivalent guilt or responsibility over the crisis in Ukraine. The demands being made by Russia are reasonable, while the insistence on the right to expand NATO is not reasonable. NATO itself is not reasonable.

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