Posted March 24, 2014
by Jerry Alatalo
“Yet the fact remains that war is a school of strenuous life and heroism; and, being in the line of aboriginal instinct, is the only school that as yet is universally available… What we now need to discover in the social realm is the moral equivalent to war; something heroic that will speak to men as universally as war does, and yet will be as compatible with their spiritual selves as war has proved itself to be incompatible.”
– William James (1842-1910)
Looking at events in Ukraine one finds that they end up in a place where the question “why hasn’t humanity gotten beyond these depressing situations?” comes up. Let me first emphasize that my perspective is one that holds there are no nations, every human being is essentially the same as every other, and wars are the greatest mistakes and failures humanity can commit and experience. Besides the Golden Rule – “do unto others what you would have done unto you” – a related spiritual belief is “the most basic principle of all is that of not harming others”.
One nation, the United States, has taken sanctions against another, Russia, for its annexation of the Crimean peninsula. I do not take sides on Crimea, because there is only one side – humanity. Now, there is perhaps some value in looking back at a certain action taken by the George W. Bush administration, where lies were used to create justification for a war on Iraq, and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, American soldiers, and others died. That war began in 2003, and even after it was widely known that the war was waged based on false pretenses, there were no calls for sanctions to isolate the United States.
There are people in jail now who got caught stealing $100 or because they got caught with a bag of marijuana. Oligarch oil and gas billionaires, those for whom the Bush administration started a disastrous, human nightmare-of-nightmares military war of aggression to control Iraq’s oil reserves, never mentioned the word “sanction”. Not once did any of the oil and gas billionaires mention the word “impeachment” or “war criminal”. Russian writer Leo Tolstoy of “War and Peace” fame said, “We must say what everybody knows but does not venture to say. We must say that by whatever name men may call murder – murder always remains murder… They will cease to see the service of their country, the heroism of war, military glory, and patriotism, and will see what exists: the naked, criminal business of murder!”
People in America, people in Ukraine, people in Russia, and people in every nation on Earth share the simple wish to have decent jobs, a roof over their heads, food on the table, good educations for their children, and clean water to drink. If any person on Earth sees videos of people from every nation and then gets asked to share their thoughts, they would say that all people look the same. Put a group of 50 five-year old children from Ukraine, Russia, and America side-by-side and nobody knows which is Ukrainian, Russian, or American.
Explain to those 50 five-year olds what has occurred in Ukraine and ask them what people should do. Among the responses would probably be “they should be nice to each other” or “war is really bad”. With all the “spinning” and propaganda surrounding Ukraine, perhaps nightly news talk shows should interview five-year olds – their advice seems more suited to beneficial results than advice coming from the “grownups”.
“Every child comes with the message that God is not yet discouraged of man.”
– Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941)
Lawrence Wilkerson, a former Colonel in the United States Army and Chief of Staff for Colin Powell during the George W. Bush administration, was recently on “Conversations With Great Minds” with Thom Hartmann. During the interview he spoke about the Bush White House Iraq War decision being the greatest mistake by the United States ever, including the Vietnam War which Wilkerson participated in. He says that George W. Bush most certainly should have been impeached.
Mr. Wilkerson spoke about what he learned in his study of wars since 1900, and shared that “you would not believe the number of covert operations the CIA has headed up in the past 60-70 years. It boggles the mind, the number of crimes that have been committed in the name of the American people, and with their (taxpayers) money.”
He describes Ukraine as a “basket case” run by corrupt oligarch billionaires, in direct contrast to average Ukrainians who have no desire or interest in amassing personal fortunes. Mr. Wilkerson then states that he just described America so he had to be careful how far he went with the metaphor. Thom Hartmann mentioned to Mr. Wilkerson that America’s oligarch billionaires are throwing hundreds of millions of dollars around. He asks Lawrence Wilkerson what can be done about it.
Mr. Wilkerson shares that he has recently had discussions with people of consequence about the same issue. He tells Mr. Hartmann that one of those persons of consequence said something to the effect of “until the people rise up”. During the closing moments of that interview Mr. Wilkerson described how his view is one where there needs to occur not a revolution – but an evolution.
After speaking to Lawrence Wilkerson, Thom Hartmann then interviewed Joseph Cirincione, about his involvement with the nuclear non-proliferation group Ploughshares Fund. They talked about how, during the 1980’s and the Ronald Reagan presidency, Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev came very close to an agreement to eliminate all American and Russian nuclear weapons. Mr. Cirincione pointed out that before the fall of the old USSR, the American anti-nuclear movement was very strong, and that one million people gathered in New York’s Central Park for demonstrations.
Once the USSR collapsed, the anti-nuclear movement in America diminished to a large extent, and hasn’t regained its former membership. Cirincione shares that Barack Obama has put together the most ambitious nuclear non-proliferation plan of any president in history. There are challenges to that plan, namely contracts for building a new generation of nuclear weapons, submarines, ships, etc.
The potential price tag for this new generation of nuclear weapons would be around a trillion dollars over several years. Thom Hartmann notes that is an amount which equals the nation’s total student loan debt, and if redirected could give generations of college students a free education. The two men agree that hardliners and neoconservatives are standing in the way of nuclear risk-reduction actions, then Ciricione talks about Obama’s constraint of getting out of the hole the George W. Bush administration had dug for America by going to Iraq and its trillions of dollars price tag, as well as squandering United States credibility and legitimacy.
Mr. Cirincione touches on the upcoming Nuclear Security Conference in the Hague, Netherlands, where a summit takes place with the leaders of 50 nations attending. He believes the greatest nuclear risks in the world are in Pakistan, the nation which is continuing to build nuclear weapons including smaller ones which increase the chances of transport without detection. Pakistan needs help with its economy, efforts to prevent any confrontation with India, and the United States must leave Afghanistan – a major factor in Pakistan’s political problems.
Scott Rickard is a person described as a former U.S. intelligence linguist. During a separate interview than the one here on RT, he describes the perception that Russia has “invaded” Crimea as propaganda. In that interview he mentions the Oliver Stone documentary “South of the Border” (previously posted on this blog). He touches on the documentary’s portrayal of South American nations’ overcoming of Western financial dominance, Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez’ shutting down organized crime shipping of heroin through Caracas, and compares the current situation in Venezuela to a potential repeat of Libya or Iraq. Mr. Rickard goes on to say he thinks Israel has involved itself in Central and South American affairs through arms shipments and banking actions.
On Ukraine’s pipelines, Rickard notes that money paid by Russia to cross Ukraine will be lost, because it will go to repay IMF loans. He believes Russia has shown great restraint. Ukrainians will experience the effects of austerity measures established to repay IMF loans; pensions have already been cut in half for some. Crimea may have been a major focus of the groups behind the coup in Ukraine because of its high strategic importance; he notes that Ukraine has all the infrastructure in place and Crimea is seen by the West as the place where heavy business would be transacted.
Libya and Gaddafi became a challenge to the IMF and World Bank because Gaddafi was able to loan his many billions of dollars to African nations at 0% interest.
Rickard also touches on the software developed for Facebook, Twitter, Skype, Google, Yahoo, etc. that allows blocking of users’ actions that could result in Arab Spring movements like the first Egyptian mass demonstrations that led to the removal of Mubarek. Western nations, notably the U.S., do not want to see a repeat of Egypt, where a friendly leader became thrown from office. Rickard believes the same software is used to allow messages that create/lead to mass movements that western nations are in favor of.
Rickard share with the interviewers his discovery of Facebook’s ability to block certain search terms, thereby disallowing users from finding articles on certain issues. He wrote articles on the USS Liberty, told those he knew to do the same, then afterward typed “USS Liberty” in the search box. No results came up, giving what Rickard calls “proof” that the blocking of certain issues, and users’ ability to research or find information/writings on those issues, is now happening.
The preceding paragraphs are notes from listening to interviews of Lawrence Wilkerson, Joseph Cirincione, and Scott Rickard. Before today I had never heard of Mr. Rickard – the following video is a recent RT interview.