The cost of war

One of the first victim’s of war is, as we know, “truth”: Freedom of the press and freedom of information get throttled. This applies to Russia, and it applies in equal measure, if more subtly, to the West.

One of the latest sequels in the “Twitter Files” is about Hamilton 68, which:

was and is a computerized “dashboard” designed to be used by reporters and academics to measure “Russian disinformation.” It was the brainchild of former FBI agent (and current MSNBC “disinformation expert”) Clint Watts, and backed by the German Marshall Fund and the Alliance for Securing Democracy, a bipartisan think-tank. The latter’s advisory panel includes former acting CIA chief Michael Morell, former Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul, former Hillary for America chair John Podesta, and onetime Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol.

The tool, launched in 2017, “identified” some 644 Twitter accounts.

There are two components to the dashboard featured here. The first section, “Overt Promotion of Content”, highlights trending content from Twitter accounts for media outlets known to be controlled by the Russian government. The second section, “Content Tweeted by Bots and Trolls”, highlights themes being pushed by Twitter accounts linked to Russian influence campaigns.

Matt Taibi addendum

The existence of the tool was revealed by Twitter to a few independent reporters, one of whom was Matt Taibi. Twitter had uncovered that the accounts were held by real, mostly US Americans who held views that the intelligence community disliked, including those of the chief editor of Consortium News, a site I hold in high regard.

The fact that Hamilton 68 has been exposed, does not mean that suppression of information has ceased. You will find few expressions of dissent against NATO’s engagement in Ukraine. Yet, that very engagement is costing not only freezing Europeans and US tax payers – but the entire world – vastly more than most of us realise.

The world, yes, it’s still there, but reading the news in Europe or the USA, you wouldn’t think so.

The arrogance of US/NATO/EU politicians is bamboozling. What planet do they think they inhabit? If I haven’t miscalculated, the population of
USA + Europe (including Russia’s 146 million) + Oceania = 14.3 % of all humans.

Sarang Shidore from the Quincy Institute For Responsible Statecraft writes:

The ongoing Ukraine war has exposed the waning influence of the United States in the vast arc of the world stretching from Latin America to Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands known as the Global South.

Most [states of the Global South] are unconvinced or alienated by Washington’s rhetoric of “democracy v. autocracy” and the “rules–based order.” They feel particularly threatened by U.S. policies of secondary sanctions designed to limit or end their ties with U.S. rivals. But the current U.S. strategy is inadvertently pushing the Global South toward Beijing and Moscow. This is an unforced error Washington can ill afford.

But unchecked by popular dissent – since dissent about US and NATO intervention in Ukraine is suppressed – the US/EU merely proceed in suicidal fashion to pour gasoline on the Ukraine conflagration. One “red line” after another has been crossed and before long we may see the gift of F-16s to Ukraine.

There have been many Hollywood films about war heroes… alas, and there are many primitive human beings. There are still men who batter women, and there are still men, and women too, who find war sexy.

Meanwhile there is the matter of social cohesion, the unravelling of it, that is. Have you noticed? There are strikes in France, and massive protests – no wonder! In the UK there are strikes, and in Spain protesters in Madrid recently numbered somewhere between 31.000 and 300.00 (depending on who was counting).

US/EU media hardly refer to this growing social unrest otherwise than playfully: “Man ‘loses testicle’ after being clubbed by police at France pension protests“, “When are nurses next on strike? Full list of strike dates in 2023 as ambulance workers walk out today” and “Spain’s far-right Falange group faces hefty fine for public homage to fascists“).

So who is protesting, and for what? There is no doubt that resentment against “austerity” policies (now called “fiscal restraint”), and anger about the subsequent reduction of living standard, for which none of us feel we are to blame, will benefit political parties of various colours, not least those of the far right.

Traditional leftist parties feel betrayed and confused because much of the anger is often directed at them.

Glenn Greenwald recently wrote about the prominent leftwing German politician Sahra Wagenknecht, who has become so very popular on the Right. Greenwald explains that the disenchantment with leftwing parties is

a problem she blames in part on the left’s abandonment of class politics in favor of elite cultural agendas that are either irrelevant or hostile to the lives and value systems of ordinary Germans, especially those who are religious.

You will find his extremely interesting interview with Sara Wagenknecht here. (It starts after 12:22 minutes)

In this context, I would also urge you to take a look at Thomas Piketty’s analysis of the protests in France (in English).

You may be able to suppress information, but you cannot suppress – at least not for long – what people feel, if they feel cold and wet and hungry. The unravelling of social cohesion tends eventually to lead to mayhem – or to put it bluntly – bloodbaths.

Finally, on the topic of what this war is costing us all – let me refer to the greatest issue of all, that of accelerating ecological breakdown.

I ask you: Is not the so-called GREEN German Minister of Foreign Affairs one of the most aggressively Neocon politicians in Europe? Under her reign, a village has been destroyed to allow coal mining, universally considered detrimental to environmental requirements. She obviously has personal reasons for hating Russia – we all have personal issues – but she is not representing GREEN interests.

Be that as it may, I fear that Europe under NATO leadership will self-destruct, taking Africa with it down the drain.

Thomas Piketty, on the other hand, maintains that he is an optimist. In his books he has demonstrated that Europe has managed to clean up its acts in the past, and he suggests that it can do so again. See his article: Redistributing wealth to save the planet

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