Every now and then, I rediscover the vastness of the Internet.
All this year Id been quite interested in our conflict with Russia over Ukraine and Id also begun separately following the public statements of Prof. Jeffrey Sachs of Columbia University, but until last week I hadnt noticed his late August interview on exactly that subject. Although his appearance on Amy Goodmans Democracy Now! show had accumulated more than two million views, Id never come across it.
Id highly recommend listening to his remarks, as well as his similar presentations from earlier this month at the Grayzone and on Tulsi Gabbards new show.
Sachs has spent decades as an elite government insider, whose important and controversial role in Russia began in the early 1990s, so his views on our current predicament should be taken with the utmost seriousness. And they are stark.
As he explains it, America and its NATO allies are currently at war with nuclear-armed Russia on Russias own border. Although for now the actual fighting on the ground has been left to our Ukrainian proxies, we are providing all the other military elementsweapons, ammunition, funding, training, intelligence, and coordinationas well as contributing some of the actual combatants. During our long Cold War against the Soviets, such a scenario would have been considered the stuff of nightmares, but it is now the deliberate goal of the American government. The Tulsi Gabbard interview is appropriately entitled Russia, Ukraine and Preventing Nuclear Holocaust.
Sachs himself was born in 1954, so he had been a child during the terrifying days of the Cuban Missile Crisis, and that instance of nuclear brinksmanship naturally dominates his thoughts when he considers our current confrontation with Russia. He notes how close the world came to destruction in 1962, saved only by the caution of President John F. Kennedy. Such sentiments are utterly different than those animating todays Neocon-dominated Biden Administration, which seems eager to escalate the conflict and recently spent days casually discussing the use of nuclear weapons against our Russian adversary.
Understanding the past better allows us to assess our current circumstances. But except for the risk of nuclear war, I think that todays situation is entirely different from that faced during Kennedys presidency. In 1962, we almost blundered into a war with the Soviets, a conflict that neither side had actually sought, and our President managed to pull us back from the brink. But in our present confrontation, we have spent years deliberately provoking Russia, avoiding all attempts at achieving a diplomatic resolution and even torpedoing Russian-Ukrainian peace talks when they began in March. Todays war with Russia is not a mistake, but instead is almost entirely the result of intentional American policy.
Rather than pointing to the 1962 crisis as a model, many leading advocates of our current Ukraine strategy claim that the proper analogy to consider is that of the Second World War, waged against the wanton aggression of Hitlers Germany. Although Sachs, John Mearsheimer and other knowledgeable individuals have demonstrated that the historical facts are otherwise, nearly all American mainstream media accounts describe the Russian invasion of Ukraine as completely unprovoked, often comparing it to the German attack on Poland that unleashed World War II. A couple of weeks after the war began, I published a long article arguing that the latter analogy was actually much more appropriate than many might realize, though not in the way usually understood by its current advocates.
American Pravda: Putin as Hitler? Ron Unz The Unz Review March 7, 2022 7,900 Words Early in my analysis, I had emphasized an important point:
We should recognize that in many respects the standard historical narrative of World War II is merely a congealed version of the media propaganda of that era. If Russia were defeated and destroyed as a result of the current conflict, we can be sure that the subsequent history books would utterly demonize Putin and all the decisions that he had taken.
As most of us know, the Second World War began when Germany attacked Poland in 1939 over Danzig, an almost entirely German border city controlled by the Poles.
But less well known is that Hitler had actually made enormous efforts to avoid war and settle that dispute, spending many months on fruitless negotiations and offering extremely reasonable terms. Indeed, the German dictator had made numerous concessions that none of his democratic Weimar predecessors had been willing to consider, but these were all rejected, while provocations increased until war with Poland seemed the only possible option. And just as in the case of Ukraine, politically influential elements in the West almost certainly sought to provoke that war, using Danzig as the spark to ignite the conflict much like the Donbass may have been used to force Putins hand.
Prof. Sachs correctly points to our own government having done everything it could to goad the Russians into invading Ukraine, but over the last few years my careful investigation of the outbreak of World War II has led me to a very similar conclusion. If we consider the most reputable contemporaneous sources, we easily discover that the Roosevelt Administration played a central role in instigating the war and also its motive for doing so.
During the 1930s, John T. Flynn was one of Americas most influential progressive journalists, and although he had begun as a strong supporter of Roosevelt and his New Deal, he gradually became a sharp critic, concluding that FDRs various governmental schemes had failed to revive the American economy. Then in 1937 a new economic collapse spiked unemployment back to the same levels as when the president had first entered office, confirming Flynn in his harsh verdict. And as I wrote last year:
Indeed, Flynn alleges that by late 1937, FDR had turned towards an aggressive foreign policy aimed at involving the country in a major foreign war, primarily because he believed that this was the only route out of his desperate economic and political box, a stratagem not unknown among national leaders throughout history. In his January 5, 1938 New Republic column, he alerted his disbelieving readers to the looming prospect of a large naval military build-up and warfare on the horizon after a top Roosevelt adviser had privately boasted to him that a large bout of military Keynesianism and a major war would cure the countrys seemingly insurmountable economic problems. At that time, war with Japan, possibly over Latin American interests, seemed the intended goal, but developing events in Europe soon persuaded FDR that fomenting a general war against Germany was the best course of action. Memoirs and other historical documents obtained by later researchers seem to generally support Flynns accusations by indicating that Roosevelt ordered his diplomats to exert enormous pressure upon both the British and Polish governments to avoid any negotiated settlement with Germany, thereby leading to the outbreak of World War II in 1939.
The last point is an important one since the confidential opinions of those closest to important historical events should be accorded considerable evidentiary weight. In a recent article John Wear mustered the numerous contemporaneous assessments that implicated FDR as a pivotal figure in orchestrating the world war by his constant pressure upon the British political leadership, a policy that he privately even admitted could mean his impeachment if revealed. Among other testimony, we have the statements of the Polish and British ambassadors to Washington and the American ambassador to London, who also passed along the concurring opinion of Prime Minister Chamberlain himself. Indeed, the German capture and publication of secret Polish diplomatic documents in 1939 had already revealed much of this information, and William Henry Chamberlin confirmed their authenticity in his 1950 book. But since the mainstream media never reported any of this information, these facts remain little known even today.
During 2018 and 2019, I had discussed the origins of World War II and our entrance into that conflict in a couple of lengthy review articles:
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