Why You Should Believe Nothing You Read or Hear in the News!

news-icons (1)I want to make an argument as to why most of what you hear or read is biased, prejudiced and based on narrow minded thinking.  Most of what you read will not lead you to the truth but will take you down a path away from the truth.  My argument will also apply to what you are about to read.  I am biased, narrow minded and prejudiced.  So why should you read or listen to what I am about to write?  Well, let’s start at the beginning.

Like many of you reading this, I consider myself somewhat of a truth seeker.  Although, I believe few if any “absolute” truths actually exist.  Nevertheless, I read a wide variety of books and magazines.  I listen to many different sources including TV, Radio, Podcasts, TED Talks, documentaries, and YouTube videos.  I attend training sessions, conferences, and talks by noted experts whenever possible.  I also scan many different news sources each day to find a variety of perspectives concerning political events and popular news.  My friends consider me well informed and very knowledgeable on a wide range of subjects.

maxresdefaultI have been seeking the truth or what might pass as “truth” for most of my 75 years on this earth.  I was considered the “smartest” guy in the room in many of my high school and college classes.  The authorities or those that are supposed to be good judges of truth and knowledge gave me two undergraduate degrees, one master’s degree and a Ph.D. Degree.  Once upon a time, I belonged to many different professional associations and was also a member of MENSA, the so-called high IQ society.  None of my qualifications or associations prepared me any better than anyone else upon this earth to find the TRUTH.  Like most of you, I am still looking and hoping that the “Truth will set me free.”  If only, I can find it.

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A few days ago, I noticed seven different editorials on Google News concerning the Ukrainian War.  Each of the editorials was written by a professional journalist and each espoused some very critical ideas.  Some of these ideas would carry weight with readers and no doubt influence public opinion for good or bad.  Six of the journalists’ names were listed and one was not.  Now most stories we get in the news whether on TV or print are written by journalists.  Less frequently it will be some “policy” expert or high-ranking government official who will be doing an opinion piece or some type of interview.

I started to ask myself a few questions:

  • What are their professional qualifications?
  • How much influence or weight do these journalists carry?
  • How much slant or bias do these journalists carry?
  • Are journalists and the media really qualified to tell us what we should or should not be doing?

I looked up each of the journalists to see what their qualifications were.  Basically, they were professionally trained journalists and most of them had extensive experience in foreign relations.  Neither of these attributes makes them an expert on the Ukraine but it is conceivable that they might have more knowledge in some areas of foreign policy than the general public.  Again, more knowledge does not mean less biases. Here are the news sources and brief bios for the six journalists I researched:

The Washington Post- Liz Sly and Dan Lamothe

Liz Sly (born in the United Kingdom) is a British journalist based in Beirut.  She is currently a correspondent with The Washington Post covering Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and other countries of the Middle East.   She graduated from the University of Cambridge.

Dan Lamothe is an award-winning military journalist and war correspondent.  He has written for Marine Corps Times and the Military Times newspaper chain since 2008, traveling the world and writing extensively about the Afghanistan war both from Washington and the war zone.  He also has reported from Norway, Spain, Germany, the Republic of Georgia and while underway with the U.S. Navy.

NPR – Greg Myre

Greg Myre is an American journalist and an NPR national security correspondent with a focus on the intelligence community.  Before joining NPR, he was a foreign correspondent for the Associated Press and The New York Times for 20 years.  He reported from more than 50 countries and covered a dozen wars and conflicts.

The Wall Street Journal – David Henninger

Mr. Henninger was a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize in editorial writing in 1987 and 1996 and shared in the Journal’s Pulitzer Prize in 2002 for the paper’s coverage of the attacks on September 11. In 2004, he won the Eric Breindel Journalism Award for his weekly column.  He has won the Gerald Loeb Award for commentary, the Scripps Howard Foundation’s Walker Stone Award for editorial writing and the American Society of Newspaper Editors’ Distinguished Writing Award for editorial writing.  He is a weekly panelist on the “Journal Editorial Report” on Fox News.

The Atlantic – Eliot Cohen

Eliot Asher Cohen (born April 3, 1956, in Boston, Massachusetts) is an American political scientist. He was a counselor in the United States Department of State under Condoleezza Rice from 2007 to 2009.  In 2019, Cohen was named the 9th Dean of the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) at Johns Hopkins University, succeeding the former dean, Vali Nasr.  Before his time as dean, he directed the Strategic Studies Program at SAIS.

Cohen was one of the first neoconservatives to publicly advocate war against Iran and Iraq.  In a November 2001 op-ed for The Wall Street Journal, Cohen identified what he called World War IV and advocated the overthrow of Iran’s government as a possible next step for the Bush Administration. Cohen claimed “regime change” in Iran could be accomplished with a focus on “pro-Western and anticlerical forces” in the Middle East and suggested that such an action would be “wise, moral and unpopular (among some of our allies)”

The New York Times – Cora Engelbrecht

Cora Engelbrecht is a contributor to the RIGHTS blog.  She recently received her BA in nonfiction writing from Wesleyan University, and now works in New York as a freelance writer, researcher, and graphic artist.  Her interest for human rights and global conflict stems from her time spent researching and writing abroad in Tanzania and South Africa.

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I next turned to the question of how much influence do journalists carry?  The story of John Revelstoke Rathom (1868–1923) is very informative in this regard.  He was a journalist, editor, and author based in Rhode Island at the height of his career. In the years before World War I, he was a prominent advocate of American participation in the war against Germany.

c9713250-e5eb-46c7-8ea9-2810435084fa-9781643139364“Rathom campaigned for the U.S. to enter World War I in support of the British.  Under his management, the Providence Journal produced a series of exposés of German espionage and propaganda in the U.S.  In 2004, that same newspaper reported that much of Rathom’s coverage was a fraud: ‘In truth, the Providence Journal had acquired numerous inside scoops on German activities, mostly from British intelligence sources who used Rathom to plant anti-German stories in the American media.’” –  Wikipedia

It seems logical to assume that since we did enter the war and since the Brits did go out of their way to bias American policy that the efforts of Rathom and others had a major influence on our decision to enter the war on England’s side. America was persuaded by the media that we should enter the war when there was substantial public opinion to stay out of the mess that Europe was in.  My own reading of WW I shows a totally different scenario than from WW II.  I have little doubt that we should have entered the war against Hitler.  However, the picture from WW I is quite different.  I think that each side had equal claims to legitimacy for their war efforts.  But the media heavily influenced our eventual entry into the war.

Next I wanted to see if anyone had opinions about the bias or prejudices that the typical journalist might have.  I found the following comment in a recent article by Politico, “Why Journalists Love War”, by Jack Shafer  03/17/2022

“NBC News reporter Richard Engel, a veteran foreign war correspondent, dropped a tweet a few days after the war began that appeared to lament that U.S. forces hadn’t strafed the huge Russian convoy approaching Kyiv, seemingly unimpressed that such a strike might launch World War III.  Reporters didn’t call in bombers at White House press secretary Jen Psaki’s Monday briefing, but the tone of their repeated questions almost made it sound like they were advocating a no-fly zone and fresh jets for Ukraine.  And the New York Post left no ambiguity about where they stood with its super-partisan “Fight Like Zel” cover headline.”

“The overwhelming majority of U.S. journalists have taken a more subdued position on the war, identifying with Ukraine against the aggressor Russians, but stopping just short of cheerleading. Even so, journalists can’t hide the seductive draw of the bloodworks.  They can’t help themselves. They love war.”

Photojournalist,Documenting,War,And,Conflict

Of course, this is only one opinion.  However, it fit well with my observations.  I have noticed every day calls by journalists for increased efforts to support Ukraine that might well lead to a Nuclear War.  As I read these brash comments, I sit wondering where were the calls to intervene in Nigeria, Rhodesia, Yemen, and Cambodia?  Why are the news outlets pushing a narrative that implies world disaster if the Ukraine falls to Russia?

Listen please!  I would like to see the Ukrainians kick all the Russian asses back to Siberia or some other cold place.  However, I am not willing to start a Nuclear War over the Ukraine.  There have been too many missed opportunities by the West during the past five years that would have avoided the present war.  What is it that brings out the desire to have a nuclear confrontation with Russia?  Nothing I can see except a Democratic Party that needs to look tough and a cadre of journalists pushing a narrative for more and more support by our country for a nation that we do not even have a treaty with.

“The link between safety and ethics may not be immediately obvious, but the same ambitions and economic factors that pressure inexperienced and poorly prepared freelance journalists to enter battle zones also pressure journalists to present the news as they think that their paymasters most want to hear it.”  — https://ethicaljournalismnetwork.org/ethics-safety-solidarity-journalism — Originally published as a chapter of “Conflict reporting in the smartphone era – from budget constraints to information warfare”

A book that I am reading is “The Science of Fear” (2008) by Daniel Gardner.  The following  insight by Gardner is quite pertinent to this discussion.

9780226567198“The media are among those that profit by marketing fear – nothing gives a boost to circulation and ratings like a good panic – but the media also promote unreasonable fears for subtler and more compelling reasons.  The most profound is the simple love of stories and storytelling.  For the media, the most essential ingredient of a good story is the same as that of a good movie, play or tale told by a campfire.  It has to be about people and emotions, not numbers and reason.  Thus, the particularly tragic death of a single child will be reported around the world while a massive and continuing decline in child mortality rates is hardly noticed.” — Pg. 294

Ever since the decline of print news and the rise of the internet, the media has become a cesspool of click bait headlines, gross news reports about inane subjects, media celebrities touted as royalty and increasingly bizarre stories designed to spread fear.  There is no more morality or ethics in the news than there is in a cartel, mafia, or mega-corporation.  It is all about the money and there never seems to be enough these days.  Is the media biased is actually a very stupid question.  Right, left, central it does not matter.  They all have one agenda and that is to sell advertising for their corporate sponsors

My final question was, “Are journalists and the media really qualified to tell us what we should or should not be doing?”  My answer is that they are no more qualified than anyone else on the street or even one of your friends or relatives.  A study done several years ago and published in a book called “Expert Political Judgment: How Good Is It? How Can We Know?” (2005) by Philip E. Tetloc examined the link between experts’ opinions and how often they were right.

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Tetloc in his heavily researched study found that experts are often no better at making predictions than most other people, and how when they are wrong, they are rarely held accountable.  Kahneman and Tversky in their book “Judgment Under Uncertainty” (1982) identify dozens of cognitive biases that impact the thinking ability of human beings.  They both later won a Nobel Prize for their work in behavioral economics.  It is often the most highly educated people who suffer from these biases the most.

Thomas Kuhn’s “The Structure of Scientific Revolutions” (1962) dealt with the biases that the scientific community held regarding theories and principles.  Kuhn showed how difficult it was for the scientific community to let go of “old paradigms” and adopt new paradigms.  This was true even when all the evidence showed that the new paradigms did a better job of explaining the subject under study than the old paradigm.  Science history is full of many theories that took fifty or more years to be accepted simply due to the biases and resistance to change that is prevalent among scientists.  This is as true of scientists as it is of journalists, politicians, and the average person.

What is the answer:

A friend of mine said that the most important thing we have to do is to teach our children to question everything.  To question is the heart and soul of critical thinking.  However, we must be cautious lest we raise a nation or world of nihilists.  There is a difference between rejecting everything and questioning everything.

I am not a nihilist though I see a fine line between my thinking and nihilism.  I do not believe in absolute truth, but I think there are approximate truths.  As we learn more and more about anything, our truths get closer to the absolute, but we can never reach it.  I think the same way about meaning in life.  Meaning exists but only in our minds.  It will change many times during our lives.  The same is true for morality and values.  They exist but only in our minds.  Like the Velveteen Rabbit, they become real when we make them so.

Purchasing-Power-of-the-US-Dollar

I used to hold up a dollar bill and ask my students how much was it worth?   They typically replied one dollar.  I asked them why it was worth a dollar?  Answers varied, but the truth or close to it is that it is because people believe that it is worth a dollar.  In terms of labor, ink, and paper, it costs the Federal government 6.2 cents to print a dollar.  In terms of buying value, a dollar in 1926 is worth only 15.58 cents today.  However, this is not an absolute either since the current value of a dollar actually varies from state to state.  The value of a dollar varies about 30 cents from the lowest to the highest state across the USA.  In Mississippi, a dollar is worth $1.16, while in Hawaii, the dollar is only worth 84.39 cents.

So, seeing is believing or is believing seeing?  Is there a difference between perception and reality or are they the same?  Can we ever escape the Rashomon effect?  The biases in perception created by our own desires to protect our egos or the egos of others.

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There is little I have learned in my life that supports my willingness to accept anything as 100 percent factual, 100 percent truthful or 100 percent valid and reliable.  The solution is to question everything.  Do not accept anything as absolute.  When it comes to politicians, lawyers, salespeople, and journalists, we all need to be on guard.  Their built-in bias is not for the truth but for the dollar or at least 84 cents on the dollar.

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 Update:  4/29/22

Just read the following on CNBC.  This “brilliant” analysis by a guy who writes regularly for a variety of news outlets and is listed as a “Tutor” notes the following:

“I think it’s outside the realm of possibility right now that there’s going to be a nuclear war or World War III that really spills over that far beyond Ukraine’s borders,” Samuel Ramani, a geopolitical analyst and associate fellow at the Royal United Services Institute, told CNBC.

Dr. Samuel Ramani’s credentials for this brilliant piece of optimistic analysis is that he is a tutor of politics and international relations at the University of Oxford, where he received his doctorate in March 2021. Somehow this makes him an expert in what Russia will do next in the Ukraine.  His “beyond optimism” comes at a time when Putin is starting to get more and more desperate in his bid to defeat the Ukraine.  Putin is becoming a cornered rat and NATO is pushing him into more and more of a corner.  Despite this, the genius who is less than two years since he finished his Ph.D. degree says “it is “OUTSIDE” the realm of possibility that Putin will launch a nuclear strike.  It would only be “OUTSIDE” if Nuclear weapons did not exist.  Questions I have are:

  • Why is CNBC relying on the credentials of someone with so little expertise to give us such an analysis?
  • How could anyone in their right mind say that something is impossible when that something already exists?
  • What is the “narrative” behind the focus by the Western news?
  • Why is NATO supporting a war when we have no treaty with the Ukraine.

 

The Truth About the Ukrainian Crisis

Below I have put some links to some contrarian views about why the US is so involved and what is really happening in the Ukraine. We are on the brink of another disastrous war. Please share these links.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2022/02/15/path-out-of-ukraine-crisis/

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2022/01/18/stumbling-toward-war-over-ukraine-is-nuts/

Is the Confrontation Over Ukraine Joe Biden’s “Wag the Dog” Moment?

The people now gunning for a showdown with Putin were gunning for a showdown with Saddam Hussein two decades ago—with the same promises of a happy outcome.

By Andrew J. Bacevich, Feb 16, 2022

John’s Top Ten Sleepless Night Questions  – This Past Week 😊

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I woke up last night wondering and wondering and wondering.  A series of recent events had caused confusion and chaos in my sleepy mind.  I realize that I am no genius, but I could not stop thinking and pondering a number of questions which were continuing to nag me during the past week or so.  Maybe, in fact very likely, a number of my readers are much wiser than I am and can help me with my questions.  I would appreciate any thoughts that some of you might have on any of the following questions.  Your answers would help me to sleep better in the upcoming nights.

  1. How is rioting and destroying lives and property “Legitimate Political Discourse?”
  1. Why do peaceful civil rights protestors get beaten and arrested and scorned but Neo-Nazi groups are free to march and stage violent protests?
  1. How come we can use the RICO act to arrest and convict gamblers and drug dealers, but we can’t use it to arrest politicians who advocate or support the violent overthrow of the United States?
  1. Why can we send hit squads to take out terrorists in Syria and other parts of the Mideast, but we can’t send hit squads to Florida, Texas, and other parts of the USA to take out domestic terrorists?
  1. How come ISIS is an “official” terrorist group but the KKK, Proud Boys and Neo-Nazi groups are not terrorist groups?
  1. How come all the USA TV news on the Ukrainian Crisis constantly use military weapons, troops firing, howitzers blasting, tanks rumbling and other pictures of war as a backdrop to their news updates on the Ukrainian Crisis?

A video has been viewed tens of thousands of times in multiple social media posts in January 2022 alongside a claim it shows Ukrainian troops “preparing for potential combat” at the border with Russia. However, the video has circulated online since at least 2020 in a post by a Ukrainian military command about its troops conducting a military exercise.

7. How do we have time for a political discussion with Putin when the “analysts” say he is simply using the time to strengthen his military position?

8. Why has not one US politician from either party or end of the political spectrum commented on the beautiful moving opening ceremony and the spectacular technology displayed to date at the Chinese Winter Olympics?

9. Why are all the headlines in today’s news featuring negative comments about China and/or its role in the Olympics?  Some examples below from this mornings headlines:

  • Criticism of Zhu Yi, a US born skater, show harsh scrutiny of naturalized athletes in China – The New York Times
  • Teenage Olympic sensation Eileen Gu wins gold and crashes the Chinese Internet -CNN
  • Olympics put Chinese authorities’ press intimidation on full display – Axios
  • China’s holiday box office plunges by 23% as theaters push prices to record highs – CNBC
  • Beijing 2022: Winter Olympics hit by deluge of complaints from athletes -BBC
  • China stirs controversy with Uyghur torchbearer – The New Arab
  • Olympians accuse refs of bias after controversial penalties help China -Insider
  1. Why are US politicians more concerned about the rights of Uyghurs than they are about the rights of Blacks and minorities in America?

Does anyone in the USA know who or what a Uyghur is? Here this might help.

Who are the Uyghurs? — From the BBC World News

“There are about 12 million Uyghurs, mostly Muslim, living in Xinjiang, which is officially known as the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR).

The Uyghurs speak their own language, which is similar to Turkish, and see themselves as culturally and ethnically close to Central Asian nations. They make up less than half of the Xinjiang population.

Recent decades have seen a mass migration of Han Chinese (China’s ethnic majority) into Xinjiang, allegedly orchestrated by the state to dilute the minority population there.

China has also been accused of targeting Muslim religious figures and banning religious practices in the region, as well as destroying mosques and tombs.

Uyghur activists say they fear that the group’s culture is under threat of erasure.”

The Xinjiang Conflict – Wikipedia

“Since the incorporation of Xinjiang into the People’s Republic of China, factors such as the mass state-sponsored migration of Han Chinese from the 1950s to the 1970s, government policies promoting Chinese cultural unity and punishing certain expressions of Uyghur identity, and harsh responses to separatism have contributed to tension between the Uyghurs, and state police and Han Chinese.  This has taken the form of both terrorist attacks and wider public unrest such as the Baren Township riot, 1997 Ürümqi bus bombings, protests in Ghuljia, June 2009 Shaoguan Incident and the resulting July 2009 Ürümqi riots, 2011 Hotan attack, April 2014 Ürümqi attack, May 2014 Ürümqi attack, 2014 Kunming attack as well as the 2015 Aksu colliery attack.  Other Uyghur organizations such as the World Uyghur Congress denounce totalitarianism, religious intolerance, and terrorism as an instrument of policy.”  — Wikipedia

Concluding Thoughts:

John Donne’s famous line, “Ask not for whom the bell tolls” strikes me as a good reason to pursue justice everywhere in the globe.  We should never be so comfortable that we tolerate injustice in any country whether friend or foe.  Nevertheless, we should be careful about waving a flag of righteous indignation as to the houses of other countries when our own house is far from being in order.  To do so, presents a ludicrous form of hypocrisy that is evident to the rest of the world.

We need to walk a fine line between advocating for the rights of others and stepping into a conflict that we have no legitimate right to be involved in.  There are 12 million Uyghurs who may be being persecuted because of their perceived separateness.  I wonder how many LGBTQ people, how many Indigenous People, how many Black people, how many women in the USA are being persecuted every day because of their differences?  The following charts depict some statistics in respect to my question.  The numbers seem to be going up each year rather than down.

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Seeing It From Russia’s Point of View

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“This week, with Washington rejecting two of Moscow’s three key security demands, Russian military equipment massing near the border with Ukraine and NATO “prepared for the worst,” the question dominating global affairs remains: Will Russia invade Ukraine?”

“The White House answer is a qualified yes, the Kremlin’s a qualified no. Two of Western Europe’s most powerful countries, Germany and France, seem to think Putin is bluffing; a third, the U.K., seems pretty sure he’s not. Kyiv, meanwhile, is downplaying the threat of an imminent invasion by Russia. Analysts are similarly split.” — Parsing the Evidence: Will Russia Invade Ukraine? January 27, 2022

There is an old saying that you should walk a mile in another’s shoes before you judge them.  Today, we are once more on the brink of a war with Russia.  For over 100 years, Russia has been the big bad boogie man for America.  Nothing Russia does or says can be trusted, at least according to our politicians.  It never seems to occur to people that Russians want the same thing as Americans and have the same dreams and hopes as we do.

Before I go any further, I am not a big fan of Russia or Putin.  Two years ago, Karen and I had a trip scheduled to go from Paris to Moscow.  We had tickets to attend the Bolshoi Ballet.  Everything was ready to go and then Covid hit the world.  We had to cancel our trip.  We were able to get most of our money either refunded or saved in a voucher for future travel.  The Bolshoi was the first to return our money for the tickets we had purchased.  However, the Russian embassy was not as liberal with returning the money that we had to pay for our visas.  Between the Russian and Belarus visas, we were out about 1,000 dollars.

We rescheduled a trip to Spain in 2021 with the moneys that had originally been allocated for our Russian trip.  Karen wanted to go to Russia as we had planned but I was angry about not being able to get a refund for our visas and I said “F—K Russia.  Putin has a reputation for being both a strong leader and a bully.  Many liberals in this country blame him for helping Trump get elected.  It certainly seemed to me that Putin and Trump were “kissing” cousins.  I detest Trump and anyone that helped get him elected.  Thus, you see my “credentials” for disliking Putin are greater than many.

With the above caveats about my Russian attitudes, I will now mention that as much as I dislike Putin, I also do not trust any motives given by Democrats or Republicans for beating the drums of war in this country.  With Vietnam, it was the lies about the domino effect.  Still a lie used by many to justify war.  With Iraq, it was the lies about the “weapons of mass destruction.”  There have been many coups in South America orchestrated by the CIA to destabilize regimes that we thought threatened American interests.  Seldom does the public get any truth about these clandestine efforts.  So let’s look at some facts before we decide that Russia is once more the “bad” guy in the recent Ukraine problem.

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Russia is ready to go to war!

The newspapers, Biden, and our Secretary of State Blinken are all shouting to the rooftops that Putin and the Russians are poised for war.  The former defense minister under President Zelenskyy from 2019 to 2020 for the Ukraine, Andrij Zagorodniuk, was interviewed by an NPR reporter the other morning and he said, “It just isn’t so!”  He gave the following reasons.

  1. Ukrainian estimates of Soviet troop strength are too small for them to attack without serious loses. The Ukraine has nearly 280,000 combat ready troops and Russia has only 125,000 troops on the border.  The Ukraine army is the third largest in Europe after the Russian and French Armed Forces.
  2. The Ukrainian intel shows no evidence of enough medical units necessary to support a sustained war.  He does not believe that Russia would attack without medevac units available.
  3. He doubts that Russia would attack just before the beginning of the Olympic Games.  China is a Russian ally, and they have a vested interest in the Olympics generating favorable publicity for China.  If Russia attacks the Ukraine, the publicity around the Olympics would be vastly overshadowed by the news following the Russian attack.

Why has Russia massed its troops on the border of the Ukraine?

Once upon a time, there was two big alliances of countries in Europe.  There was the North American Treaty Organization (NATO) and there was the Warsaw Pact.  These alliances consisted of countries with treaties to protect the other members of the alliance.  NATO had about 20 members and the Warsaw Pact had nine members.  With the end of the Russia hegemony over much of Eastern Europe, many countries left the Warsaw Pact.  Several of these former Soviet allies joined NATO.  The number of NATO countries now stands at 30 members.  The former Warsaw Pact has been reorganized and is now called “The Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO).”  It consists of six member countries, the largest of which is still Russia.  To say that the Warsaw Pact has been downsized would be a gross understatement.

“The CSTO is a much weaker organization in military terms than the Warsaw Pact was. According to NATO histories, in 1984 the Warsaw Pact ground forces had six million soldiers serving in 192 divisions, as compared to 4.5 million NATO soldiers serving in 115 divisions. Approximately one-third of Warsaw Pact forces were Soviet, while approximately twenty percent of NATO forces were from the United States. The Warsaw Pact also had a significant preponderance of battle tanks, artillery and attack helicopters. At present, NATO member states have a total of approximately 3.5 million soldiers, while CSTO member states’ militaries have just over one million soldiers. About 40 percent of current NATO troop strength comes from the United States, while approximately 85 percent of CSTO troop strength comes from Russia.”  Russia and Collective Security: Why CSTO Is No Match for Warsaw Pact — 5-27-2020, Dimitry Gorenburg,  Harvard Kennedy School for International Affairs.

So now we have the USA attempting to convince the Ukraine to join NATO.  Imagine if you will Russia attempting to get Canada or Mexico or Peru or Brazil to join CSTO.   What do you think we would do in the USA?  Do you remember what happened with the Cuban Missile Crisis?  In this event, Khrushchev went ballistic because the USA attempted to place missiles on Turkey’s borders facing Russia.  Russia decided to retaliate by sending missiles to Castro who was a Russian ally.  Cuba is only 90 miles from the USA border making it easy for any missiles to strike American targets.

Then President Kennedy faced off against Khrushchev.  Many people think the victory went to Kennedy since Russia withdrew their missiles.  What is less well known is that Kennedy withdrew our missiles in Turkey and agreed to Khrushchev’s demand that we promise not to invade Cuba.  The resulting publicity in America made it look like a wild-west gun fight with the clear winner being the USA.  The truth was hardly ever mentioned.

Consider the scenario we have now.  Putin has made several demands in respect to protecting Russia.  These demands hinge on the relationship between the Ukraine and the USA.  Putin understandably does not want to see a neighbor as close as the Ukraine is to Russia become any closer to either NATO or the USA.  Again, what would we do if Mexico wanted to become a Russian ally?  For the USA, negotiations hinge on three key points laid out by Secretary Blinken.

We make clear that there are core principles that we are committed to uphold and defend – including Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and the right of states to choose their own security arrangements and alliances.”

  1. Ukrainian sovereignty
  2. Ukrainian territorial integrity
  3. The rights of states to choose their own alliances and security arrangements

Consider these three “non” negotiable principles that we are using that could bring us to the brink of a Third World war.

First of all, when did Ukrainian sovereignty become a core principle of American politics?  According to Micah Zenko who is a fellow in the Center for Preventive Action at the Council on Foreign Relations, the USA has repeatedly violated the sovereign rights of Pakistan, Iraq, and Afghanistan.  We have a doctrine called the Monroe Doctrine that we have used to violate the sovereign rights of numerous countries in South America including Columbia, Peru, Honduras, Panama, Nicaragua, Mexico, and many others.  All of a sudden, we are concerned enough to go to war with Russia over the sovereign rights of the Ukraine?

If you look at the key points of the Monroe Doctrine you can see how hypocritical Blinken’s principles are:

“Monroe made four basic points: (1) the United States would not interfere in European affairs; (2) the United States recognized and would not interfere with existing colonies in the Americas; (3) the Western Hemisphere was closed to future colonization; and (4) if a European power tried to interfere with any nation in the Americas, that would be viewed as a hostile act against the United States.” — Brittanica

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It seems that we reserve the right to meddle in the sovereign affairs of our neighbors in this hemisphere, and we also now claim the right to meddle in the sovereign affairs of neighbors in the Eastern Hemisphere.  Blinken’s third principle about the rights of states to choose their own alliances is just as hypocritical and even more ludicrous.  We may say that we support the rights of other nations to enact treaties and alliances, but in reality we often do everything we can to undermine these efforts.

“The United States enters into more than two-hundred treaties each year on a range of international issues, including peace, defense, human rights, and the environment. Despite this seemingly impressive figure, the United States constantly fails to sign or ratify treaties the rest of the world supports.” — On International Treaties, the United States Refuses to Play Ball, Council on Foreign Relations.  — by Anya Wahal, January 7, 2022

What is really going on here?

My friend Bruce wants to know why we are pushing a policy that could potentially result in a war that ends life as we know it on earth.  Is it ego, politics, economics, power, stupidity, or a combination of all of them?  I honestly do not know.  I do know that 2 + 2 equals 4 and that the facts of this situation are out of proportion to the potential consequences.

My friend Denny wants to know why the media is so hell bent on pushing a narrative that only looks at one side of the issues and that seems to applaud the most dangerous rhetoric possible.

All three of us want to know why there has not been more skepticism in the media towards the efforts of politicians to push this potential conflict forward.  This morning on NPR I listened to an uncritical interview with some politician from Pennsylvania who thinks sending 50,000 American troops over to the Ukraine would be a good idea.  According to this brainless idiot, we must “Nip it in the bud.”  The old domino effect is still used to push a narrative of impending disaster if we don’t do something right now.

Is it too much to ask, to see both sides of the story?  Is it too much to ask to expect to see facts and not just hyperbole being used by our elected officials?  Where are the journalists that are paid to present both sides of the story?  How long did it take for them to discover that there were no weapons of mass destruction?  Will we be in a war over the Ukraine before the media finds the real reasons behind this conflict.

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Finally and most importantly, why are there two standards at play here?  We have one standard for Russia and another standard for the USA.  Are the lives of our citizens so cheap that we are willing to put them on the firing line once more for a political or economic cause?  Are the lives of Russians and Ukrainians so cheap that we can use them as cannon fodder for our own national objectives?  What if our goals and strategies were to help both Russia and the Ukraine find ways to work together more effectively instead of becoming the middleman in a war?

If you think I am making any sense with this blog, I encourage you to share it with others and to send it to any politicians out there who may be willing to listen to reason. 

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