Another good article by Jeffrey Sachs

In Jeffrey Sach’s NATO Expansion & Ukraine’s Destruction, he quotes NATO Secretary0-General  Jens Stoltenberg saying, “So, he [Putin] went to war to prevent NATO, more NATO, close to his borders. He has got the exact opposite.”

When Prof. John Mearsheimer, I, and others have said the same, we’ve been attacked as Putin apologists. The same critics also choose to hide or flatly ignore the dire warnings against NATO enlargement to Ukraine, long articulated by many of America’s leading diplomats, including the great scholar-statesman George Kennan, and the former U.S. ambassadors to Russia Jack Matlock and William Burns.

Why does Russia oppose NATO enlargement? For the simple reason that Russia does not accept the U.S. military on its 2,300 km border with Ukraine in the Black Sea region. Russia does not appreciate the U.S. placement of Aegis missiles in Poland and Romania after the U.S. unilaterally abandoned the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty. ….

Russia also does not welcome the fact that the U.S. engaged in no fewer than 70 regime change operations during the Cold War (1947-1989), and countless more since, including in Serbia, Afghanistan, Georgia, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Venezuela, and Ukraine. …

Even Zelensky’s team knew that the quest for NATO enlargement meant imminent war with Russia. Oleksiy Arestovych, former adviser to the Office of the President of Ukraine under Zelensky, declared that “with a 99.9 percent probability, our price for joining NATO is a big war with Russia.” …

So, yes, Putin went to war to prevent NATO, more NATO, close to Russia’s border. Ukraine is being destroyed by U.S. arrogance, proving again Henry Kissinger’s adage that to be America’s enemy is dangerous, while to be its friend is fatal.

That inspired me to make:

To be an enemy of America can be dangerous,  but to be a friend is fatal.

Bellevue City Council Climate Forum (2023-09-19)

Tuesday night I attended the Bellevue City Council Climate Forum at Eastshore Unitarian Universalist Church in Factoria.

The Bellevue City Council candidates appearing at the Climate Forum

The candidates that appeared were, from the left, John Stokes (incumbent), Paul Clark (Stokes’ challenger) , Mo Malakoutian, Janice Zahn (incumbent), Betsi Hummer (Zahn’s challenger), and Dave Hamilton.

Malakoutian’s challenger, Alex Tsimerman, did not appear. ( You can find some information about him here: https://nextdoor.com/p/tZnYQBKk_Bb4?view=detail.) Nor did Hamilton’s challenger, Bill Hirt.

The church sanctuary was packed with people.

people attending

Almost all the candidates spoke well and seemed to support environmental stewardship. It was hard to tell from their answers what their policies would be. The forum was organized by environmental groups, so all the candidates spoke in support of environmental stewardship. But a couple of the candidates, especially Clark and Hummer, expressed some skepticism about whether, for example, it’s worthwhile for the city to declare a public “Climate Crisis” and about what that would entail. Likewise, they said they actions and hiring decisions would depend on metrics, on whether the actions and decisions actually yielded results.

I thought the questions were too general and made it too easy for the candidates to equivocate.

Questions asked

There was a timekeeper and one candidate repeatedly talked longer than their allotted time. The timekeeper should have been more aggressive at stopping them.

Clark repeatedly said that we need metrics to determine which policies actually work . Hummer warned that too-stringent environmental regulations would burden poor people the most. That struck me as way for people who are basically anti-environment to justify their policies by saying “We can’t do it, because it would be unfair to the poor.” But it’s clear that good environmental policies could and should be balanced by aid to the poor and should be designed in such a way that the poorer people get many of the benefits.

On the role of real estate developers, who tend to have too much power, Clark said we need to balance the need to serve the public interest with the need to incentivize developers to develop. If we move the needle too far to the left, no building will get built. If we move the needle too far to the right, it would be a giveaway to the public. Other candidates agreed that the city needs to work with developers, e.g., in the Wilburton area just east of downtown. My fear is that money will buy the election, via campaign spending, and real estate developers will buy candidates who serve them. Affordable housing, public amenities (such as green areas, sidewalks, median strips), and walkability are important goals the city council should pursue.

I submitted a question about loosening zoning regulations in residential neighborhoods to allow stores and home businesses (so people wouldn’t have to drive so much), but they ran out of time.

My summary about is very incomplete, and I hope others will comment and fill in the gaps.

People attending


Did the U.S. orchestrate the 2014 Maidan uprising? Or did it just back it and exploit it?

There are competing views about this.

Modern Diplomacy’s US campaign behind the turmoil in Kiev says, “Incontrovertible proofs will be presented here not only that it was a coup, but that this coup was organized by the U.S. Government:  “that the U.S. Government initiated the ‘new Cold War’.”   I don’t know the nature of that publication.

Likewise, Robert Parry’s 2015 piece The Ukraine Mess That Nuland Made in Truthout says, “Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland engineered Ukraine’s regime change without weighing the likely consequences.” Parry said that far right groups such as the Right Secktor played a large role in the 2014 regime change and will be difficult to control.

So, for nearly a year and a half, the West’s mainstream media, especially The New York Times and The Washington Post, twisted their reporting into all kinds of contortions to avoid telling their readers that the new regime in Kiev was permeated by and dependent on neo-Nazi fighters and Ukrainian ultra-nationalists who wanted a pure-blood Ukraine, without ethnic Russians.

Any mention of that sordid reality was deemed “Russian propaganda” and anyone who spoke this inconvenient truth was a “stooge of Moscow.” It wasn’t until July 7 that the Times admitted the importance of the neo-Nazis and other ultra-nationalists in waging war against ethnic Russian rebels in the east. The Times also reported that these far-right forces had been joined by Islamic militants. Some of those jihadists have been called “brothers” of the hyper-brutal Islamic State.

Though the Times sought to spin this remarkable military alliance – neo-Nazi militias and Islamic jihadists – as a positive, the reality had to be jarring for readers who had bought into the Western propaganda about noble “pro-democracy” forces resisting evil “Russian aggression.”

I’m aware of the infamous “Fxxx the EU” phone conversation with Victoria Nuland, showing the U.S. choosing the new government of Ukraine. That in itself doesn’t imply the U.S. orchestrated the uprising, though it certainly raises one’s suspicions.
But in an essay in the Jacobin, A US-Backed, Far Right–Led Revolution in Ukraine Helped Bring Us to the Brink of War, written right before the Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2022, Branko Marcetic wrote “It’s an overstatement to say, as some critics have charged, that Washington orchestrated the Maidan uprising. But there’s no doubt US officials backed and exploited it for their own ends.” Yanukovych was corrupt, the country was torn between pro-Western and pro-Russian factions, and Yanukovych had to choose between economic support from either the West or from Russia. “The driver of this [Maidan] violence was largely the Ukrainian far right,” which was integrated into the new government and the Ukrainian military.

By January 2014, even NBC was admitting that “right-wing militia-type toughs are now one of the strongest factions leading Ukraine’s protests.” What was meant to be a revolution for democracy and liberal values ended up featuring ultranationalist chants from the 1930s and prominent displays of fascist and white supremacist symbols, including the American Confederate flag.

Yet after Maidain, “Little to nothing has changed about Ukrainian corruption or authoritarianism, under either Poroshenko or current president Volodymyr Zelensky, elected in 2019 as an outsider change agent.”

Joe Lauria, editor of Consortium News, wrote Evidence of US-Backed Coup in Kiev. Fact-checking site NewsGuard had criticized Consortium News for saying that the U.S. orchestrated the coup. But NewsGuard does admit that the U.S. backed the coup/uprrising.  https://www.newsguardtech.com/feedback/publisher/consortium-news-com/ .  Also, Luria writes:

The U.S. and NATO have also trained and armed Azov since Barack Obama had denied lethal aid to Ukraine. One reason Obama declined sending arms to Ukraine was because he was afraid they may fall into these right-wing extremists’ hands. According to the green-checked New York Times, “Mr. Obama continues to pose questions indicating his doubts. ‘O.K., what happens if we send in equipment — do we have to send in trainers?’ said one person paraphrasing the discussion on the condition of anonymity. ‘What if it ends up in the hands of thugs? What if Putin escalates?”

It would take a long time to dig through and organize all the evidence and opinions about what exactly happened in 2014. My Compendium has many such links.

Conservatively, I usually say “U.S.-backed uprising.” But I wouldn’t be surprised if it was U.S.-orchestrated.  A lot of what the CIA did was classified, and, indeed, the New Yorker’s Is the F.B.I. Truly Biased Against Trump? contains a telling and suggestive paragraph on the U.S. government’s efforts to suppress information about exactly what happened in Ukraine:

According to [FBI agent] Buma’s statement, shortly after Russia invaded Ukraine, on February 24, 2022, he was told to terminate relations with one of his most valuable sources in that field, Dynamo. The order came from both his supervisors and the F.B.I.’s Foreign Influence Task Force, and, per Buma, superiors told him that the shutdown of Dynamo was based on “highly classified information from the National Security Agency” which he could not access. They also said that it was part of a broader effort, around the time of the invasion, to close off many “sources related to Russia/Ukraine matters.”


Summary of Jeffrey Sachs interview with Andrew Napolitano about the CIA, JFK, and Ukraine

CIA Manipulation of Public Opinion

Here’s my summary:

The security state (CIA and Pentagon) run the government more than the White House does, especially when the president is old and weak, as is Biden.  Congress mostly follows what the White House wants (on foreign policy) [and funds the security state extravagantly].  The peoples’ voices barely matter.

The Constitution says that the public must get to know how money is spent, but the government hides a lot of CIA stuff.

Truman created the CIA in 1947 but in 1962 he wrote an oped for the morning edition of WA Post denouncing it as out of control. The oped was withdrawn from the evening edition.  JFK criticized the CIA a few months before his death.

Napolitano asked: Does the intelligence community have a stranglehold on Congress by dirt it has on it?  Sachs didn’t reply directly. Instead, he said that the CIA had two parts:  intelligence gathering, and a secret army. The first part was needed. The second part is out of control.

We have gone off the rails.  Regime change operations. Psyops. Relentlessly false information. Murder.  The facts never see the light of day.  The (Frank) Church Committee exposed some of the CIA shenanigans. We’ve been engaged in nonstop regime operations. The one in 2014 got us into a dangerous war.  “We never heard the truth about that.”

Rogue parts of the U.S. gov may have killed JFK.  The Warren Commission’s magic bullet theory is completely wrong. An 88 year old Secret Service agent recently said the magic bullet theory is wrong because he found the bullet in the back of the limousine and put it on the stretcher. [The BBC covers the story here: Ex-Secret Service agent reveals new JFK assassination detail.]  Alan Dulles (the CIA director fired by JFK) ran the Warren Commission.

Interestingly, the American people never bought the story, because it was so absurd.   But basically they got away with it.  Biden is too old and weak to control the CIA, “And we face a very serious problem.”   Both parties are terrified of the intelligence community, “and they are in a sense paid off” via military jobs in congressional districts.

Sachs says he admires Rand Paul so much for speaking out and telling the truth on many things. But he can’t find any colleagues to help him. They don’t even dare to have a  discussion about Ukraine, despite the many lies told.  [The peace movement needs to engage with Rand Paul more!]

UK, Australia and other Anglo-Saxon countries follow the U.S. lead, blindly and against their self-interest.

Napolitano showed a video clip of Admiral Kirby, spokesperson for the National Security Council, saying at White House press conference recently that the goal of the U.S. continues to be to expel Russia from all of occupied Ukraine. Sachs says that’s a lie and Kirby and others know, including senior members of Congress, know that Russia will never give back Crimea. So Kirby knows he’s not telling the truth — “thereby the smirk.”  Sachs says that Kirby doesn’t explain why we’re in the war, why we toppled the government — another regime change operation in 2014.  Why we pushed NATO enlargement into Ukraine against a clear Russian redline that our own diplomats said was a reckless move and a dangerous move.    Sachs smiled and said that there was a recent gaffe when NATO Secretary Jens Stoltenberg spoke to the EU parliament last week and said, ‘Yes, this is a war because of NATO enlargement.’   Oops, said Sachs (putting his hand over his mouth), Stoltenberg just said what the Putin apologists say.  We overthrew a government that wanted neutrality.

Napolitano showed a clip from a CBS News interview with Gen. Milley (chair of Joint Chiefs of Staff), who said he talks with the Ukraine armed forces senior commander one to three times a week.  The video showed the situation room of the Pentagon. The staff there monitor intelligence collected from Ukraine. The video showed monitors apparently showing the location of Ukrainian forces.  Napolitano asked Sachs if it was reckless to show the maps.  Sachs says his concern is different. “It was completely knowable and predictable that the U.S. was sending Ukraine into a bloodbath this summer.”  If you consider Russia’s echelon defenses that it dug in and its air superiority, you’d know the counter-offensive was doomed.  The U.S. is not telling the truth to ourselves and the American people. Senators Mitt Rommney and Max Blumenthal said we’re getting our money’s worth in this war. But we’re sending 10s of thousands of Ukrainian young people to their deaths. We are bankrolling a bloodbath of Ukrainians.

Another video clip shows Zelensky saying they waited too long for weapons, so the counter-offensive was too late, so the Russian laid good mines, etc.  Naopolitano says Ukraine is a vassal state that we’re paying for.  Zelensky failed miserably.  The war started in 2014 with the coup. Within a few days of the start of the February 2022 phase of the war. Zelensky soon realized he should neogiotate. He tried to negotiate an end to the war, but the U.S. pressured him to stop negotiating.  Zelensky made a mistake by listening to the U.S. and now Ukraine is being destroyed. It’s a bloodbath. Nobody is speaking honestly.  U.S. leaders say that Ukraine just needs more time. Sachs says it’s a lie.  The truth is that this is a terrible blunder that the U.S. pushed Ukraine into. Biden doesn’t tell this truth. “Biden was there from the very start, because he was part of the overthrow group in 2014. It was Biden, it was Nuland, it was Blinken, it was Sullivan. Way back then, same team, under President Obama — same crowd. They’re there today. They made a horrific, horrific set of miscalculations, and they won’t tell the truth because now we have an election coming up — an election that President Biden shouldn’t be any part of anyway because  he’s too old and absolutely should not be president again”.

Sachs says he’ll appear with Napolitano next week too.


Some short AI-generated videos: Trump and Hillary kissing, etc

I made these short video clips with Pika Labs text-to-video tool. Some of the source images were made with Midjourney image generation.

In response to David Ignatius on the strategic windfall from the war in Ukraine

From an opinion piece in the Washington Post by Washington Post associate editor David Ignatius:  The West feels gloomy about Ukraine. Here’s why it shouldn’t:

Meanwhile, for the United States and its NATO allies, these 18 months of war have been a strategic windfall, at relatively low cost (other than for the Ukrainians). The West’s most reckless antagonist has been rocked. NATO has grown much stronger with the additions of Sweden and Finland. Germany has weaned itself from dependence on Russian energy and, in many ways, rediscovered its sense of values. NATO squabbles make headlines, but overall, this has been a triumphal summer for the alliance.”

To which my response is:

David Ignatius of the Washington Post says the war in Ukraine is a strategic windfall for the U.S.

Indeed, the war was planned and provoked by the U.S. to weaken Russia.

Chat GPT, write me a poem about militarism and the corruption of Congress

Chat GPT, write me a poem about the bipartisan incompetence, corruption and hubris of Congress, where the only things Democrats and Republicans can agree upon is huge military budgets and endless disastrous wars.

(I edited Chat GPT’s output in about a dozen lines.)

In the once hallowed halls where power resides,
Bipartisan folly and corruption collide,
A Congress divided, yet united in shame,
Incompetence their legacy, hubris in reign.

Democrats and Republicans, hand in hand,
Agree on Pentagon budgets, a militarized stand,
Endless wars they embark upon, reliance on force,
While the nation’s soul withers, without remorse.

Ideals once noble, now buried in mire,
As partisanship burns, like a raging wildfire,
They squabble and bicker, each seeking their gain,
But on endless war, they agree in disdain.

The halls echo with promises, empty and cold,
As the wheels of progress screech to a halt,
Lobbyists whisper, their pockets grow fat,
While the common folk struggle with burdensome stat.

Oh, Congress, once noble, what have you become?
A theater of greed, where the people are undone,
The military-industrial complex is on a roll,
Leaving scars on the nation, an unending toll.

Yet still, there is hope, a flicker of light,
In the hearts of the people who yearn for what’s right,
To rise above partisanship, corruption, and greed,
And reclaim the nation’s soul, to fulfill its true need.

Let us demand better, let our voices be heard,
For a nation united, for the common good stirred,
Away from the wars, the budgets so vast,
Toward a future where peace is steadfast.

In the midst of this chaos, let us find our way,
To a brighter tomorrow, a new kind of day,
Where the halls of power echo with truth and compassion,
And the people’s welfare takes precedence with passion.

Short note about government secrecy on Ukraine

This New Yorker essay Is the F.B.I. Truly Biased Against Trump? about the FBI’s investigations of Rudolph Giuliani and Hunter Biden has a couple of telling paragraphs:

According to [FBI agent] Buma’s statement, shortly after Russia invaded Ukraine, on February 24, 2022, he was told to terminate relations with one of his most valuable sources in that field, Dynamo. The order came from both his supervisors and the F.B.I.’s Foreign Influence Task Force, and, per Buma, superiors told him that the shutdown of Dynamo was based on “highly classified information from the National Security Agency” which he could not access. They also said that it was part of a broader effort, around the time of the invasion, to close off many “sources related to Russia/Ukraine matters. ”

Judging from the tone of Buma’s statement, he had become convinced that the demand to sever ties with Dynamo was another part of a shadowy conspiracy to protect Giuliani, even at the cost of depriving American officials of potential information about the unfolding war. “I believe that the intelligence that was suppressed could easily have influenced U.S. decisions surrounding the conflict.”

It seems more likely to me that the investigation was shut down not to protect Giuliani but, rather, to hide information about what was going on in Ukraine.  I can only imagine the unsavory things the CIA and related groups did in the shadows to provoke Russia’s invasion.

Comments on Aaron Maté ‘s interview with John Mearsheimer

John Mearsheimer: Ukraine War Is A Long-Term Danger

The main point of Aaron Maté ‘s interview with John Mearsheimer is that  the U.S. miscalculated about how easy it would be to defeat Russia via arming Ukraine and imposing sanctions. Both sides are in a position where they’re now unwilling to negotiate or give up land.  Losing the war, or losing the Donbas and Crimea,  is an existential threat to Russia. So if  Ukraine were to prevail in the war — not likely, given the current situation  in which the Ukrainian counteroffensive is faltering– Russia would likely be strongly tempted to use nuclear weapons.  Other threats come from the high investment the West has put into winning this war; the West is likely to continue arming Ukraine.  It would be humiliating to allow Russia to win.   That’s a possibility, since Ukraine is stressed; despite the tens of billions in weapons, Russia has an advantage. Another threat come from the possible entry into the war of Poland and Belarus. At best, the war war can end in an ugly stalemate that continually has the risk of escalating into a hot war.

I thought the following statement by Mearsheimer was wise.   Maté had asked him whether President Biden had any room to negotiate with President Putin, given Biden’s refusal before the invasion to negotiate about NATO expansion.

JOHN MEARSHEIMER:  Well, let me make a quick point.  I think your description of the American position in December 2021 and in the run-up to the war in February 2022 is correct.  But it’s also important to emphasize—and people in the West don’t want to hear it, but it is true—that the Russians were desperate to avoid a conflict.  The idea that Putin was chomping at the bit to invade Ukraine so he could make it part of Greater Russia, it’s just not a serious argument.  The Russians did not want a war, and they did, I believe, everything possible to avoid a war.  They just couldn’t get the Americans to play ball with them.  The Americans were unwilling to negotiate in a serious way.  Period.  End of story.

Mearsheimer goes on to say, ” I think that first of all, both sides are so deeply committed to winning at this point in time that it’s hard to imagine them negotiating any kind of meaningful peace agreement.” The U.S. promises to eventually allow Ukraine to join NATO. “So, we are playing—we, meaning the West—are playing a key role here in incentivizing the Russians to destroy Ukraine. It makes absolutely no sense to me from a strategic point of view or from a moral point of view. You think of the death and destruction that’s being wrought in Ukraine, and you think that this could have easily been avoided. It makes you sick to your stomach just to contemplate it all.”

Maté and Mearsheimer discuss the near-total censorship in U.S. mainstream media of opinions critical of the war in Ukraine. Mearsheimer says:

I was deeply opposed to the Iraq War in a very public way, in late 2002 and up until March 2003, when the war started. And it was tough to make a case against the war in public in those days. It was tough to be heard, but it is much tougher to be heard today. The climate is much more Orwellian…the mainstream media is committed to policing the marketplace to make sure that people who disagree with that conventional wisdom are not heard, or if they are heard their arguments are perverted or countered immediately.