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.


Why it’s so important to expose U.S. provocations in Ukraine

Executive summary:  Until the public, Congress, and the mainstream media acknowledge the extent of U.S. provocations and responsibility for the war in Ukraine, it will be difficult to get U.S. leadership to agree to support a diplomatic solution to the crisis. So lives will continue to be lost, money will continue to be wasted, and the risk of nuclear conflict will continue to rise.  Moreover, the Pentagon budget will continue to grow and U.S. preparations for war with China will continue to be unquestioned.

I exchanged email with someone who works as a researcher for a peace institute.   He acknowledged that the U.S. bears some responsibility for the crisis in Ukraine but he thinks the “the vast bulk of the responsibility for the invasion of Ukraine lies with Vladimir Putin.”  This researcher wants the U.S. to pursue a diplomatic solution to the crisis, but he thinks the U.S. should continue arming Ukraine so it can defend itself against Russian aggression.

There are several interesting points to make in response to that researcher’s positions.

First, what does “vast bulk of the responsibility” mean exactly?  Does Putin bear 67% of the responsibility (with the other 33% being the responsibility of the U.S. and NATO)?  Does Putin bear 75% of the responsibility?   90%? 99%?  The researcher is informed enough to know that the U.S. isn’t totally innocent in the crisis, but he didn’t proffer a numeric response to my request for him to suggest a percent.

These questions about degree of responsibility may seem academic and unanswerable — are they even meaningful? — but they are actually quite important.  Similar questions are routinely asked in courts of law, and one can ask the same thing about many wars:

  • World War I  — generally regarded as a stupid, avoidable, unnecessary war, so blame is shared on both sides;
  • World War II  — generally regarded as the last and possibly greatest “just” war, with  Germany (if not Japan, which the U.S. intentionally provoked) bearing almost 100% of the blame (though see Leaving World War II Behind);
  • the Vietnam War  — generally regarded as unjustified and stupid, so the U.S. bears approximately 50% of the blame;
  • the Kosovo war — generally regarded as justified, but recent revelations bring into question the nobility of even that war (in short, the Kosovo Liberation Army that the U.S. supported was, arguably, a terrorist group, and the U.S. launched the war largely to weaken a Russian ally);
  • the second war in Iraq — generally regarded as stupid and unjustified (no WMDs, no relation to 9/11), so the U.S. bears over 50% of the blame;  and
  • the war in Afghanistan — generally regarded as partially justified but, in the end, disastrous.

Some people would argue that wars are always unjust, in the sense that military invasions are always wrong and the best response to a military attack is always a non-violent response.

Getting back to the topic of the war in Ukraine, the evidence shows that the U.S. bears a substantial share of the responsibility for the war in Ukraine.  If forced to give a number, I’d say at least 33%.    Aggressive NATO expansion right up to Russia’s borders, including support for the 2014 uprising in Ukraine that overthrew a pro-Russian government, and support for far-right, anti-Russian armed groups, represent actions that any reasonable viewer would regard as extremely provocative.  Furthermore, the U.S. squashed peace initiatives in Ukraine both before and after the 2022 invasion. For years U.S. diplomats had warned that NATO expansion into Ukraine would result in war.  The U.S. would never allow Russia or China to engage in similar military and political expansion along U.S. borders.  Heck, the U.S. doesn’t even allow quasi-socialist countries to emerge in Latin America.  And  the U.S. has launched numerous wars, proxy wars and government overthrows far from its borders with less justification than Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.  Indeed, the U.S. regards the entire world as its rightful sphere of influence.

See Senior U.S. diplomats, journalists, academics and secretaries of defense say: The U.S. provoked Russia in Ukraine and the links therein for justification for my judgements above about U.S. responsibility for the war in Ukraine.

Numerous alternative media outlets and commentators (e.g., Common Dreams, Truthout, antiwar.com, Scheerpost, The Intercept, Jeffrey Sachs,  Matthew Hoh,  Chris Hedges, John Mearsheimer, Aaron Mate, Caitlin Johnstone,  Medea Benjamin, Nicholas Davies,  Consortium News, and  LA Progressive),  have published articles documenting how the U.S. and NATO provoked the Russian invasion of Ukraine.  Prior to 2022, scores of mainstream news articles documented the presence of neo-Nazi groups in Ukraine and the U.S. support for them. Since the invasion, a smattering of opinion pieces in mainstream media (including  even the New York Times) have exposed U.S. culpability in Ukraine.  Recently, more and more mainstream media outlets have been jumping on the bandwagon; see, for example, Harper’s Magazine’s Why are We in Ukraine?.

I don’t know how someone who knows the history of U.S. wars and government overthrows worldwide can look at what the U.S. did in Ukraine and not feel that Russia was correct to feel threatened. Even if the U.S. bears only 10% of the responsibility for what happened, it still has a lot of blood on its hands. After the collapse of the USSR, Russia desperately wanted to be integrated into the West and, up to the end of 2021, pleaded with D.C. to come to an equitable peace in Ukraine, but NATO needed an enemy to justify its existence and wanted to weaken Russia. The expansion of NATO provoked the war that is now touted as showing the need for NATO.

As Noam Chomsky said, “The Iraq War was totally unprovoked… In contrast, the Russian invasion of Ukraine was most definitely provoked….A host of high-level U.S. diplomats and policy analysts have been warning Washington for 30 years that it was reckless and needlessly provocative to ignore Russia’ security concerns, particularly its red lines: No NATO membership for Georgia and Ukraine, in Russia’ geostrategic heartland.”

So, you see, I am not saying that Russia’s invasion was justified.  Like many U.S. wars, it was criminal. I am just pointing out that the U.S. is far from innocent in the crisis, as the articles above show.

It’s great that the peace researcher I exchanged emails with acknowledges that the U.S. isn’t totally innocent, and it’s great he wants diplomacy.  What I told him, though, was that his push for diplomacy is unlikely to succeed unless people like him — as well as the public, Congress, and the mainstream media — acknowledge the extent of U.S. provocations. After all, if the war was almost entirely due to Putin’s aggression, then U.S. support for Ukraine is noble.

I also said that I take no position on whether the U.S. should arm Ukraine.  I should have added:  I want an immediate diplomatic solution. I don’t want to arm Ukraine to continue the suffering and the risk of escalation. I want an end to the war.  The important point is that the war was entirely avoidable, but the U.S. wanted it and extended it, using the innocent people of Ukraine as pawns in a cynical and deadly geopolitical chess game.

I hope that in this essay I have exposed four  myths concerning the Russian invasion of Ukraine:

Myth #1: In wars, such as the war in Ukraine, the blame usually lies entirely on one side. Instead, in reality often both sides share blame.

Myth #2: The Russian invasion of Ukraine was “unprovoked”.  That strikes me as a cynical lie, and it’s shameful that mainstream media outlets allow the government to get away with it.

Myth #3: Acknowledging that the U.S. and NATO provoked the invasion implies exonerating Russia for that invasion. (corollary to Myth #1)

Myth #4: Pushing for a diplomatic solution to the war in Ukraine is likely to be effective without exposing U.S. provocations in Ukraine.

Most Americans have backed President Biden and Congress’s arming of Ukraine — though that support has dwindled so that now a majority of Americans oppose more U.S. aid for Ukraine — and didn’t complain when Congress raised the 2024 Pentagon budget to close to $900 billion, while cutting social programs. (The military budget is even higher if you add the slush fund for the war in Ukraine, the costs of the Departments of Energy and Veteran Affairs, and military-related interest on the national debt.) The costs are mostly hidden, in the $33 trillion of national debt, and in the lost opportunity costs of endless wars.

Amazingly, not six months after the disastrous end to the disastrous war in Afghanistan, America was again in a war — this time a proxy war with Russia. Yet neither the mainstream media nor most of the public raised a finger to question the wisdom of the war. And the U.S. is actively preparing for war with China, escalating tensions by sending high-level politicians to visit Taiwan, arming Taiwan with weaponry, and enlisting countries such as Australia to create a noose of military power around China. What could go wrong?

This is why it’s so important to expose how the U.S. government lied about Ukraine, just as it lied about Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, and so many other wars, proxy wars, and government overthrows. Then, maybe, the perfidy of the military-industrial complex will be exposed and a saner military and foreign policy can be established.

Jeffrey Sachs’ damning video about U.S. policy in Ukraine: The U.S. Has Lost its Mind

Sachs speaks with Canadian journalists, educating them about U.S. imperialism and lies about Ukraine and criticizing the Canadian government for going along with U.S. policy in Ukraine.

Sachs worked (with support from the U.S.) as advisers for Gorbachev, Yeltsin, and several Ukrainian leaders.  In the video he talks about NATO expansion. He says plans for the incorporation of Ukraine into NATO were made as early as 1992 (I think).  He was shown detailed plans.  He also discusses the Maidan protest and, the coup (organized by Jake Sullivan, Victoria Nuland, and Joe Biden). An NGO worker in Ukraine bragged to Sachs about how the U.S. had financed the Maidan protests. After the coup, Sachs was invited to Ukraine to advise the new government.  Thereafter a civil war began in the east of Ukraine, and the U.S. poured in weapons.

Sachs recalls how the U.S. stopped the peace deal in the spring of 2022, as told by Bennett.

Sachs says the U.S. doesn’t care about the lives lost in Ukraine. Romney said in some speech that the war is great: Russians are suffering and dying and not a single American is getting killed.

Sachs says there are three possible outcomes to the war (1) Ukraine succeeds in pushing out Russia. That would result in Russia using nuclear weapons. (2) Russia wins. That makes the war moot. (3) The war goes on forever (“American-style wars”). [Think: Afghanistan.]

“We don’t have diplomats anymore, ladies and gentlemen. We just have diplomats trying to prove that they are war mongers.” The Ukrainians “are suffering beyond belief. Their government has gambled everything of their country on the U.S. backing on the U.S. backing. It’s a terrible gamble. I tried to tell them. Ask the Vietnamese, ask the Nicaraguans, ask Afghanistan, ask Libya, ask the Syrians.” The U.S. always leaves behind a disaster.

We need to end the war by negotiations, not by an “illusory victory over a country with 1600 deployed nuclear weapons. It doesn’t even make sense.” The bipartisan consensus in D.C. is that the U.S. (which has 4.1% of the world population) can run the world. This is their literal, mind-boggling view. Victoria Nuland and her husband Robert Kagan believe it; he writes books about it.

A Canadian journalist asks Sachs: even if Canada told the U.S. to be less hawkish, would the U.S. listen? Sachs replies that Canada and other countries should do so. Leaders in France, Germany, India, and other countries know the war is a disaster, but they’re afraid to speak out. Macron has said a few things. Sachs asked a European prime minister last year why he doesn’t say something to stop the war. The prime minister said, “Because they treat us like children.”

Sachs says 80% of the world “ain’t impressed” by the war and “aren’t standing up and rooting for the United States.” They are suffering the effects of the war (inflation and hunger).

Sachs suggested that Biden pick up the phone and talk with Putin. But the American leadership behave like bullying children. Prime Minister Trudeau too should speak with Putin.

BOTH sides can be evil in a war.

On RFK, Jr. and the New York Times

Despite consistently negative media coverage, RFK Jr. easily polled a higher favorability rating (+19%) than either of the two presumptive nominees, who both are negative (-7% Biden, -10% Trump).

The NYT article that ran Monday about the RFK Jr. campaign is typical of the slant to the news. Not an opinion piece, it nevertheless reeks of the hopes and wishes of the well paid servants of the oligarchy, while ignoring inconvenient aspects such as what might best serve the interests of the working class. You know, the general welfare that all our elected officials pledge to support. The RFK Jr. campaign is a “headache” for Biden, not a representation of a large segment of the party who would otherwise be voiceless in the POTUS campaign. So much for democracy, even among the fewer than 30% of eligible voters who elect a POTUS candidate. Much less the 100 million-plus eligible voters the decrepit two-parties can’t lure to the polls.

RFK, Jr. leads far ahead of Biden and Trump, according to a poll
RFK, Jr. leads far ahead of Biden and Trump

The President has plenty of weaknesses, as does his presumptive opponent. (For that matter, so do all the “realistic” prospects on either side of the partisan divide.) What RFK Jr. is campaigning against are the systemic weaknesses that have been built in over the past 50 years, no matter which party is in office. I don’t recall the NYT ever complaining about the votes Hillary Clinton received because of the narrative the Times had helped construct about her husband. As opposed to, say, a narrative formed around the Kennedys at least partly because two family members died for their political beliefs, which differed from the prevailing wisdom of the ruling class. Yet, the idea that “Mr. Kennedy’s popularity in polls is largely because of his family” was repeated at least three times in the article. Nor are “billionaire donors” a problem so long as they are giving to “acceptable” candidates. The Times routinely celebrates bipartisan achievement when it means party elites coalescing around corporate welfare. But RFK Jr. “consorts with right figures” when he attempts to meld growing apprehension from across the political spectrum over our blank check to Ukraine into support for a policy of peace. The Times, at least 8 months ahead, with the date not firmly set, is already spinning a potential defeat of Biden by Kennedy in the New Hampshire primary as “cosmetic.” His stands on Big Pharma using its power to put profits ahead of human health, and the Dem nomination process being rigged are mischaracterized and dismissed as ”conspiracy theories” although both represent actual practice understood by much of the population. And in the case of Dem rigging, supported as their right by a court decision.

As reflected by the statements of Rep. Garcia of California, the Biden strategy will be to double down on the fear mongering that the US has used to sell its imperial project to voters for 75 years. “His views and worldview are dangerous.” This from someone supporting an administration that has made the prospect of both direct US involvement in another war and even a nuclear exchange much more likely through the expansionist and aggressive policies that RFK Jr. would walk us back from.

That Trump was elected once, got more votes a second time despite fulfilling very few of his campaign promises, and could conceivably succeed in a third try despite indictments and possible convictions, should have tossed the “electability” canard into the dumpster. Along with the excitement Bernie’s campaigns generated, a lesson should have been learned that the average US voter is not happy with the way our economy is shaping their daily lives. (And again, a plurality doesn’t even bother to vote, and it’s not because they are so happy, but because they have lost hope.) All “electability” has ever meant is that the candidate it’s applied to is a paid up member in good standing of the status quo. Yet here it is being trotted out by Mr Castro as if that could possibly be in doubt about Biden. Perhaps Castro should consider that his “electability” might actually be the problem, and hammering it might make things worse for him. Leadership is based on inspiring people, not convincing them you are “electable” by haranguing voters about your supposed “accomplishments.” (A “summer of events promoting his legislative achievements”? Come on. What malarky!)

Biden is not inspiring. For good or bad, to a large segment of the population, Trump is. Dems tossed aside an inspiring candidate twice in the past two elections. Yet most of the very little they have accomplished when they managed to win anyway in 2020, was based on the inspiration and support generated and mobilized by that discarded candidate. They should be leery of doing it a third time. Perhaps more to the point, they should abandon their systemic advancement of uninspiring drones, who will make no waves, to the top of their political heap.

The poll represented in the photo I posted was not mentioned in the article.

The New York Times article is here (behind a paywall).

Chat GPT-3.5, write me a poem about unbidden blessings and curses

I asked OpenAI’s Chat GPT-3.5:  “Write me a poem about the fact that both blessings from God and curses from the devil seem to come uninvited. I seem to have little control over my life.” (I don’t really believe in the God or the devil, but the metaphors are apt.)  Here’s what Chat GPT-3.5 wrote:

First version

In the realm where blessings and curses meet,
Unbidden they arrive, in life’s mystic fleet,
Neither invited, yet they dance in stride,
A tapestry woven, with fate as their guide.

From heavens high, where divine blessings reside,
To depths of shadows, where darkness does hide,
They journey forth, like whispers in the night,
Both blessings from God, and curses, their blight.

No map to navigate, no compass to wield,
We drift on the currents fate has concealed,
With little control, our vessel’s course set,
Destiny’s dice rolled, a game of chance, we bet.

Blessings, like gentle raindrops, softly descend,
Nourishing our souls, each one a godsend,
They grace our lives, with joy and tender grace,
A touch of heaven’s hand, an embrace.

Yet, lurking in the shadows, the curses creep,
Their venomous touch, like wounds too deep,
They test our strength, our faith put to the test,
A haunting reminder, life’s hardest quest.

But in this delicate dance of blessings and blight,
We find the power to endure the darkest night,
For within our hearts, a spark of resilience glows,
A flicker of hope, when life’s tempest blows.

Remember, dear soul, as life’s tapestry unfurls,
Though blessings and curses seem to rule our world,
In every hardship, a hidden blessing may reside,
And every blessing, a lesson for us to abide.

For in the ebb and flow of life’s ceaseless tide,
We learn to cherish blessings, and curses, to ride,
Though uninvited they come, in their mysterious way,
They shape us, define us, on this earthly display.

So, let us surrender to the unknown’s grand design,
Embrace both blessings and curses, yours and mine,
For it is in the acceptance of life’s sacred decree,
That we find the true essence of being free.

Second version

In the tapestry of life’s design,
A paradox unfolds, entwined,
For blessings bright and curses grim,
Seem to arrive without a whim.

From heaven’s grace, sweet blessings rain,
Like whispers from an angel’s train,
They descend upon us, unearned,
In moments when our hearts have yearned.

Yet, just as day turns into night,
The devil dances with delight,
His curses cast, like shadows deep,
Disturbing dreams, disrupting sleep.

Both blessings and curses, uninvited,
We stand as humans, all united,
For life’s path we cannot sway,
But find solace in each passing day.

In the tender bloom of dawn’s embrace,
When sunshine paints our hopes with grace,
We see God’s hand, a gentle guide,
Walking steadfastly by our side.

And when the devil’s shadows loom,
Engulfing us in moments of gloom,
We gather strength, our souls held tight,
To weather storms and face the night.

Though control may seem elusive, dear,
Within life’s tempest, void of clear,
We find our purpose, courage strong,
To dance amid the rights and wrongs.

For in the midst of the unknown,
Our spirits rise, resilience grown,
With faith as anchor, hope our light,
We navigate through darkest night.

So fear not, dear soul, in the ebb and flow,
Both blessings and curses freely bestow,
For in surrender, we find release,
And in acceptance, we find our peace.

In every twist and turn we trace,
The tapestry of life finds its place,
With blessings from God and curses grim,
Uninvited, yet we’ll find joy within.

Chat GPT wrote “The Battle Hymn of Peace”

My prompt to Chat GPT: Write me alternative lyrics to The Battle Hymn of the Republic critical of U.S. militarism, endless wars, NATO expansion, overseas bases, and government overthrows.

Version #1:

Mine eyes have seen the ravages of wars so cruel and vast,
Where power and greed collide, and innocence is surpassed,
With each new conflict brewing, under banners held up high,
We question motives hidden, as countless lives pass by.

Oh, let us rise against the tide of endless strife and pain,
Challenge militarism’s hold, break free from this refrain,
May justice guide our actions, as we strive for lasting peace,
For unity and empathy can bring the wars’ release.

(Verse 2)
From NATO’s expanding reach, to bases overseas,
We witness sovereignty erode, beneath the guise of peace,
Yet freedom cannot flourish, when coercion’s at its core,
Let’s seek a world united, where trust and love restore.

Oh, let us rise against the tide of endless strife and pain,
Challenge militarism’s hold, break free from this refrain,
May justice guide our actions, as we strive for lasting peace,
For unity and empathy can bring the wars’ release.

(Verse 3)
The echoes of government overthrows resound throughout the years,
Leaving nations torn asunder, soaked in bloodshed, fueling fears,
But true democracy must foster voices, not impose its will,
Let’s honor sovereignty and tread with caution, until.

Oh, let us rise against the tide of endless strife and pain,
Challenge militarism’s hold, break free from this refrain,
May justice guide our actions, as we strive for lasting peace,
For unity and empathy can bring the wars’ release.

Together we can change the course, rewrite the history’s page,
Through dialogue and understanding, we’ll break free from this cage,
The Battle Hymn of peace we sing, united hand in hand,
For a world free from violence, where all can firmly stand.

Oh, let us rise against the tide of endless strife and pain,
Challenge militarism’s hold, break free from this refrain,
May justice guide our actions, as we strive for lasting peace,
For unity and empathy can bring the wars’ release.

Version #2

Oh, I’ve seen the nation’s folly, its endless thirst for war,
From distant shores to foreign lands, it spreads its iron ore,
With bombs and guns, it claims to sow the seeds of liberty,
But the world is left in ruins, drowning in hypocrisy.

Glory, glory, end this endless charade,
Question the militarism, the choices we have made,
Let’s stand against aggression, seek justice and embrace,
A world where peace and empathy forever find their place.

(Verse 2)
NATO’s expansion knows no bounds, a march to dominate,
While shattered lives and broken dreams are left to seal their fate,
Overseas bases dot the earth, a symbol of our might,
But they breed resentment, not harmony, casting shadows in the night.

Glory, glory, end this endless charade,
Question the militarism, the choices we have made,
Let’s stand against aggression, seek justice and embrace,
A world where peace and empathy forever find their place.

(Verse 3)
Governments are toppled, the result of hidden schemes,
Democracy eroded, as power pulls the strings,
Let us not forget our past, the lessons we have learned,
That freedom cannot flourish when the innocent are burned.

Glory, glory, end this endless charade,
Question the militarism, the choices we have made,
Let’s stand against aggression, seek justice and embrace,
A world where peace and empathy forever find their place.

In unity we’ll rise above, and break this endless chain,
To forge a path of harmony, where love and hope remain,
With open hearts and outstretched hands, we’ll heal the wounds of old,
And build a future based on peace, where truth and justice unfold.

Glory, glory, end this endless charade,
Question the militarism, the choices we have made,
Let’s stand against aggression, seek justice and embrace,
A world where peace and empathy forever find their place.

Version #3:

Mine eyes have seen the horror of endless wars afar,
Where young men and women perish, beneath a distant star,
They march in foreign lands, fighting for a cause unclear,
As politicians make decisions, devoid of conscience or fear.

Glory, glory, U.S. empire’s demise,
We must question the path we tread, open up our eyes,
Let us stand against militarism, seek peace with open hearts,
For true strength lies in compassion, not tearing nations apart.

(Verse 2)
We’ve built a web of bases, strewn across the Earth,
A symbol of dominance, of unchecked imperial worth,
But do these outposts of power bring security or peace?
Or do they fuel resentment, making tensions never cease?

Glory, glory, U.S. empire’s demise,
We must question the path we tread, open up our eyes,
Let us stand against militarism, seek peace with open hearts,
For true strength lies in compassion, not tearing nations apart.

(Verse 3)
Governments have been overthrown, in shadows cast by might,
Democracy upended, as sovereignty takes flight,
But who are we to judge, and claim a righteous hand,
When our own actions echo in distant foreign lands?

Glory, glory, U.S. empire’s demise,
We must question the path we tread, open up our eyes,
Let us stand against militarism, seek peace with open hearts,
For true strength lies in compassion, not tearing nations apart.

Let us learn from history’s lessons, and the mistakes we’ve made,
Instead of waging endless wars, let’s mend the peace we’ve frayed,
In unity we’ll find our strength, with empathy we’ll strive,
To build a world of justice, where peace can truly thrive.

Glory, glory, U.S. empire’s demise,
We must question the path we tread, open up our eyes,
Let us stand against militarism, seek peace with open hearts,
For true strength lies in compassion, not tearing nations apart.
Maybe a poet could tweak these lyrics to improve them.

AI, the great equalizer

Many people fear that AI will replace workers and will be used to surveil, control, or even kill people.

As Geoffrey Hinton, the “godfather of AI” and the inventor of many of the techniques used in generative AI says, fears that AI will be used to spread disinformation and to make the rich even richer.

Those are all valid concerns.

But there’s a huge potential upside to AI that left-leaning people especially should appreciate.

If AI surpasses human-level performance on most skills — which seems likely to happen — this will require a radical restructuring of our economy and society to make sure that people don’t starve to death. Socialism and redistribution of wealth will become necessities that even Republicans will have to accept.

Furthermore, until now, humanity has been divided into winners and losers. Some people are better than others at sports, at math, at music, at fighting, at entrepreneurship, at programming, at writing, or at a myriad of other skills. In the not-too-distant future it is likely that everyone will be bested by AI in all those skills. This is already happening in the realm of art and image generation. It seems inevitable that it will happen in other fields.

Imagine a future in which AI surpasses humans at musical composition, at literature, at engineering, at math, at dance, and at scientific discovery. I believe it is coming.

Such a future will be a great equalizer. No longer will some people feel superior to others and feel worthy of being rewarded with more money, power, and adulation. Instead, everyone will be inferior to the AI programs that run society. Truly, all the important work and thinking will be done by AI and robots.

Humans will be able to just sit back and enjoy life: food, dance, procreation, exercise, and entertainment (with robots or virtual actors performing AI-generated content).

Humans will be forced to have the proper humility. Hierarchy will be dismantled.

Of course, unless the AI programs that run society are programmed to have our best interests in mind, an AI-driven world will instead be a dystopia.

There is, however, another possible future for the relation between AI and humans.   I is possible that people and AI will  merge, via direct neural connections, or via immersive virtual reality headsets.  In either case, AI would not be our masters. Rather, we would be enhanced by AI: smarter, more knowledgeable, and more inter-connected.  Political questions of who controls things will still remain.

Chat GPT-4, write me a poem about U.S. hypocrisy concerning the Russian invasion of Ukraine, given the history …

Write me a 12 line poem about the hypocrisy of the U.S. concerning the Russian invasion of Ukraine, given the U.S. invasion of Iraq and other countries, the U.S. occupation of one third of  Syria,  the presence of about 800 U.S. military bases overseas, and the history of provocative NATO expansion.

In webs of power and politics entwined,
Hypocrisy emerges, with secrets aligned,
As Russia invades, Ukraine’s sorrow unfolds,
Echoes of past deeds, hypocrisy unfolds.

For Iraq felt the weight of a foreign hand,
And lands far beyond witnessed the same brand,
In Syria, a third grasped by occupation’s might,
The world watches, questioning what is right.

Around the globe, 800 bases take root,
A projection of strength, yet hypocrisy’s suit,
And NATO’s expansion, a provocative dance,
History’s echo, feeding discord’s advance.

Let’s seek truth beyond the veil of deceit,
Where empathy and justice may find their seat,
For in recognizing hypocrisy’s reign,
We can strive for unity, healing the pain.

In the theater of global strife and sway,
Hypocrisy takes hold, concealed each day,
As Russia marches on Ukrainian lands,
Past echoes of invasions from distant sands.

The U.S., Iraq’s soil once claimed in might,
And elsewhere, interventions took their flight,
While Syria’s soil bears witness to control,
A fragmented land that yearns to be whole.

800 bases, scattered far and wide,
A web of presence, with interests implied,
NATO’s expansion, a provocative course,
Stirring tensions, amplifying discourse.

Amidst the tangled threads of global play,
The paradox of power casts its gray,
Let’s strive for fairness, beyond nation’s pride,
And seek a world where truth and peace coincide.

Amidst the tangled webs of power’s play,
Hypocrisy unfolds, casting shades of gray,
Russian boots tread on Ukrainian soil,
Yet memories of Iraq remain in turmoil.

In Syria’s land, a fraction under sway,
While foreign bases dot the world’s display,
Provocative strides by NATO’s expanding hand,
The dance of geopolitics, a shifting sand.

800 overseas bases, they stand tall,
A stark reminder of the empire’s sprawl,
But let us ponder on the paradox we see,
As we question what it truly means to be free.

In search of harmony, let truth be sought,
For hypocritical actions leave us caught,
Let’s strive for peace, transcending boundaries,
And shape a world that values true equities.

Jimmy Dore on the hypocrisy of the U.S. occupying Syrian territory while criticizing Russia

In this youtube video U.S. Building ANOTHER Illegal Military Base in Syria, Jimmy Dore ridicules U.S. hypocritical criticism of Russia’s invasion and occupation of parts of Ukraine, when the U.S. continues to occupy a third of the sovereign nation of Syria.

Jimmy Dore is  sortof like a left-wing Rush Limbaugh or Tucker Carlson. But many things he says are accurate. The youtube video summary says: “Unbeknownst to most Americans, the US military is currently occupying a third of the nation of Syria and, based on recent news, it looks like the U.S. won’t be leaving any time soon. That’s because the military is reportedly building a new military base in Syria’s northern province of Raqqa. Jimmy and Americans’ Comedian Kurt Metzger discuss the U.S. military’s ongoing occupation of Syria and the sheer hypocrisy of doing so while criticizing Russia for invading Ukraine”

Dore mentions a base in Raqqa. Washington moves to revive Islamist militia in northern Syria: Report by The Cradle (a Beirut blog) says

According to a 20 December report released by Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar, the US is currently attempting to rebuild Liwa Thuwwar al-Raqqa (Raqqa Revolutionaries Brigade) – a former Islamist militia opposed to Damascus….. the plan aims to compromise Russian efforts at mediation between the SDF and Turkiye by “pulling the rug out from under” Moscow’s proposition to Ankara. Russia’s proposition calls for a pullback of the Kurdish militia and the deployment of the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) along the Syrian-Turkish border…..

Essentially, the rebuilding of the Raqqa-based militant group serves the US “desire to prevent any Russian or Syrian governmental attempt to advance towards the strongholds of American influence,” Al-Akhbar said in a newer report released on 22 December.

Washington’s scheme to revive the group comes as the US is continually attempting to strengthen the foothold of its occupation in Syria, particularly in the city of Raqqa, where they have been planning to construct a new military base.

On 15 December, US lawmakers introduced the Countering Assad’s Proliferation Trafficking And Garnering Of Narcotics Act (CAPTAGON Act), which aims to expand Washington’s draconian Caesar Act sanction policy against Damascus, but this time under the pretext of combatting the country’s drug trade.

For what it’s worth, the Iranian Mehr News Agency article US forces prepare to build 1st military base in Syria’s Raqqa  says “The London-based Syrian Observatory For Human Rights (SOHR) has reported on its website that the US forces are preparing for announcing their first military base in Al-Raqqa, after having withdrawn from the province over three years, during “peace Spring” operation in 2019.”

To be clear, in order for the U.S. to be occupying a third of Syria, it must have, in some sense, invaded it. And one often hears the complaint that if  Ukraine negotiates a peace deal with Russia now, it will legitimatize Russia’s occupation of Ukrainian territory. But, the status quo legitimatizes U.S. occupation of Syria, and the U.S. helped overthrow governments in Yugoslavia and, of course, in Iraq, Afghanistan, and (via proxies) all over South America.

Dore shows a video clip of Donald Trump saying about Syria “We’re keeping the oil. We have the oil. The oil is secure. We left troops behind only for the oil.”   But it’s unclear whether anything Trump says has any validity.

Dore then shows a video clip of Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for the Middle East Dana Stroul saying, “The United States still had compelling forms of leverage on the table to shape an outcome that was more conducive and protective of U.S. interests.  And we identified four. So the first one was the one third of Syrian territory that was owned via the U.S. military  with its local partner, the Syrian Democratic Forces…. And that one third of Syria is the resource-rich, the economic powerhouse of Syria.”

According to a report in The New Arab, “The US-led coalition against the Islamic State group will build a new base in the northern Syrian province of Raqqa, sources close to a coalition partner force have said.”

Dore mentions the “crippling economic sanctions” that a recent Quincy Institute panel also discussed. Despite the devastating earthquake.  The Quincy panelists acknowledged that the Syrian people are suffering terribly from the sanctions, while the Syrian leadership continue to live in luxury, But the U.S. is unlikely to remove them, lest it allow Syria to rebuild and lest it hand Assad, Iran, and Russia a victory.

Interestingly, Dore quotes an antiwar.com article that says, “ISIS also holds no significant territory, and the Syrian government and its allies would continue to fight the remnants of the terror group if the US withdrew.”  It’s all confusing. We’re allying with extremist Islamic groups and dealing with multiple players: the Syrian government, various Islamic groups, Kurds, Turkey, Iran, and Russia.

While the Arab countries want to make peace with Syria — witness the recent Arab peace deal with Syria, brokered by China —  the U.S. wants to continue to weaken Syria and its allies Iran and Russia.

Dore says the U.S. is the “world’s terrorist and whatever you say about Putin, you have to say a thousand times about the United States. Because that’s how propagandized you are. You think Putin is a worse war criminal than George Bush, Dick Cheney, Barack Obama, Joe Biden, and Donald Trump….. And if you’re for this Ukraine war, you’re a sucker.”   I wouldn’t phrase it so harshly.

A look at the US military mission in Syria and its dangers  says the U.S. helped create the SDF (from Kurds): “On any given day there are at least 900 U.S. forces in Syria, along with an undisclosed number of contractors. U.S. special operations forces also move in and out of the country, but are usually in small teams and are not included in the official count.   They are trying to prevent any comeback by the Islamic State group, which swept through Iraq and Syria in 2014, taking control of large swaths of territory. … U.S. forces advise and assist the SDF, including in securing the detention facilities, and they also conduct counterterror missions against the Islamic State group and other al-Qaida-affiliated militants, and carry out strikes on Iran-backed militias that have attacked U.S. facilities. ”

Al Jazeera says  “In addition to the SDF, the US has covertly armed and trained Syrian opposition forces, although that was severely reduced in 2017, and limited only to groups directly fighting ISIL.”  And it says, “The Syrian government has constantly expressed its opposition to the US role in Syria, and demanded US forces withdraw.”

Newsweek’s article Syria Demands an End to America’s Last ‘Forever War’ from April 4, 2023 discusses the issue of U.S. presence in Syria:

New questions surrounding the U.S. deployment in Syria have also been raised in the wake of Russia’s war in Ukraine. The U.S. has led international efforts to condemn the presence of Russian troops in Ukraine as illegal and to arm Ukrainian forces fighting to oust them from the country.

Asked about the application of international law to the U.S. presence in Syria, [White House National Security Council Strategic Communications Coordinator John] Kirby told Newsweek that “we’ve talked about this for, regrettably, now several years” and defended the current U.S. policy.

“They are there under appropriate legal authorities to defend American national security interests and the president has requisite legal authority to have them there,” Kirby said. “And that hasn’t changed.”

It’s fair to say that U.S. backed and armed forces (SDF) that control territory and we still have a significant presence of troops, though less than five years ago.  Whether the U.S. presence rises to the level of “occupying the country” is unclear. But one has to ask: who gave the U.S. permission to station any troops in a sovereign foreign nation?

By the way, according to NPR,  some U.S. troops are still in Iraq.

Rep. Adam Smith (personal communication) downplays the presence of U.S. troops in Syria, saying that they’re few in number and Dana Stroul’s quote was from 2019. Her views don’t reflect the current situation, he said.   But, according to the Department of Defense, “Souls is the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense (DASD) for the Middle East. In this role, she leads the development of U.S. Department of Defense Policy and Strategy for Bahrain, Egypt, Israel, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Palestinian Authority, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, United Arab Emirates and Yemen.”

Jim Dore on U.S. occupation of Syria, in light of U.S. criticism of Russian occupation of Ukraine
Jim Dore on U.S. occupation of Syria,
Jim Dore on U.S. occupation of Syria