Murmurs of Dissent in the Land of Make-Believe: Only Ten Congressmen Oppose the March to War with Russia

On December 4th, 2014, the U.S. House of Representatives voted on HR 758, a bill “[s]trongly condemning the actions of the Russian Federation, under President Vladimir Putin, which has carried out a policy of aggression against neighboring countries aimed at political and economic domination.” Only ten members of the House, five Republicans and five Democrats, voted against the bill. Although their opposition was not nearly as vocal as it should have been, they deserve recognition for being on the right side of a history that seems to be slipping inexorably toward an American Hell.

Republican Nays
Dana Rohrabacher (CA)
Thomas Massie (KY)
Justin Amash (MI)
Walter Jones (NC)
John Duncan (TN)

Democratic Nays

George Miller (CA)
Alan Grayson (FL)
Alcee Hastings (FL)
Beto O’Rourke (TX)
Jim McDermott (WA)

Among these ten names, we have some consistent opponents of imperial overreach, but we also have some surprises. Justin Amash, a libertarian who shows signs of picking up where Ron Paul left off, recently voted against arming militant groups in Syria, correctly noting that the purpose advanced by that bill was clearly not the defeat of ISIS but the removal of Assad. He has also been an active opponent of NSA surveillance. Florida Democrats Grayson and Hastings likewise voted against the amendment to arm the mythical Syrian moderates, although only Hastings followed that up by also opposing the Continuing Resolution to which the amendment was later attached. (Many of those who voted against the amendment actually enabled it by voting for the CR. Of course they could claim that they had no choice, just as the House leadership intended.) The vote of Hastings, a member of the Black Caucus who voted against the war on Iraq in 2002, draws attention to a name that is conspicuous by its absence from the above list: California Democrat Barbara Lee. Lee, famously, provided the sole vote against the ridiculously broad Authorization for the Use of Force Against Terrorists (AUMF) in the wake of 9/11, a cornerstone of the suite of knee-jerk reactions that – most conveniently – liberated America’s psychopathic tendencies from cumbersome internal restraints. So what was Barbara Lee thinking this time? Does she not understand the gravity of the situation? Does she not perceive the extent to which the American Empire has already committed itself to conflict with the only country on earth that can genuinely challenge its military power? Has she been brainwashed by the incredibly uniform and consistent anti-Putin propaganda emanating from America’s corporate “free press”? Is this a case of misguided racial solidarity with the First Black President? Or has she simply had enough of being chastised by chicken hawks? Whatever the reason, Barbara Lee has not just tarnished her anti-war record; she has facilitated America’s descent into an Orwellian nightmare in which the murder of the truth foreshadows the mass murder of more innocent victims of imperial avarice.

It seems that only retired Congressmen have the ability to expose the enormity of the deception being foisted upon the world by the West’s leading power. HR 758 is an example of exceptional, world-leading hypocrisy. Describing it as one of the worst pieces of legislation he has ever seen, Ron Paul exposes the bill as blatant war propaganda that denounces the Russians for doing exactly what the United States does.

The resolution condemns what it claims is a Russian invasion of Ukraine (for which it offers no proof) and Russian violation of Ukrainian sovereignty. But it was the US, by backing a coup against the democratically elected Yanukovich government in February, that first violated that country’s sovereignty. And as far as a military presence in Ukraine, it is the US that has openly sent in special forces and other military advisors to assist the government there. How many times have top US military and CIA officials visited Kiev to offer advice and probably a lot more? […]

The resolution condemns Russia for selling weapons to the Assad government in Syria. But the US has been providing weapons to the rebels in Syria for several years, with many going to terrorist groups like al-Qaeda and ISIS that the US is currently bombing! […]

The resolution condemns Russia for what it claims are attempts to “illicitly acquire information” about the US government. But we learned from the Snowden revelations that the NSA is spying on most of the rest of the world, including our allies! How can the US claim the moral authority to condemn such actions in others?

Writing shortly before the vote on HR 758, Dennis Kucinich identified the same hypocrisy, and zeroed in on the bill’s intensification of the denial of reality:

Russia’s response to the terror unleashed by western-backed neo-nazis in Crimea and Odessa came after the local population appealed to Russia to protect them from the violence. Russia then agreed to Crimea joining the Russian Federation, a reaffirmation of an historic relationship.

The Western press begins its narrative on the Crimea situation with the annexation, but completely ignores the provocations by the West and other causal factors which resulted in the annexation. This distortion of reality is artificially creating an hysteria about Russian aggressiveness, another distortion which could pose an exceptionally dangerous situation for the world, if acted upon by other nations. The US Congress is responding to the distortions, not to the reality.

The overwhelming, and democratically unimpeachable, result of Crimea’s vote to rejoin Russia means nothing in the American imperial fantasy land. So deep is the trance that the numbers shown below are simply dismissed as unreal, presumably the concoctions of Pravda-style manipulation and outright coercion. Elections over there are rigged and meaningless; here, of course, they are as good as they can ever be in the best political system the world was ever privileged to witness.

Crimean referendum vote results

Proving once again that he is one of the very few American political figures who is actually awake, Kucinich proceeds to point his finger in a direction the corporate press studiously avoids:

Tensions between Russia and the US are being fueled every day by players who would benefit financially from a resumption of the Cold War which, from 1948 to 1991 cost US taxpayers $20 TRILLION dollars (in 2014 dollars), an amount exceeding our $18 trillion National Debt.

With wars re-igniting in Afghanistan and Iraq, and Syria being a staging ground for an ongoing proxy war between the great powers, the US treasury is being drained for military adventures, our national debt is piling up, and we are demonstrably less safe.

The Russian-based American journalist, Robert Bridge, laments the ease with which hysteria about an alleged Russian threat has been cultivated, and poses a series of questions for the U.S. Senate, to which HR 758 will head:

[W]hat country has been steadily encroaching on Russia’s doorstep like a wolf in sheep’s clothing since the end of the Cold War? What country has refused to cooperate with Russia in its missile defense shield in Eastern Europe, thus bringing the continent to the brink of another arms race? What country has over 800 military franchises spanning the globe, yet accuses Russia of yearning for empire? What country has launched military offensives against seven countries in the last six years, yet calls Russia an “aggressive state” because it dares defends itself when attacked by a foreign power? What country has been playing geopolitical games in Ukraine since the collapse of the Soviet Union – even sending high-ranking political figures into central Kiev to spew venomous rhetoric against Russia when it appeared that Ukraine was going to join an economic bloc with Russia, as opposed to the EU?

In the Senate, S 2277, the Russian Aggression Prevention Act of 2014, was introduced back in May and is currently in the Committee on Foreign Relations. Much like HR 758, it calls on the president to evaluate the readiness of American and NATO forces and work toward the establishment of permanent bases on Russia’s doorstep. The Senate bill intensifies the economic warfare 1 already being conducted against Russia and, in a telling section that underscores America’s intention to frack the world, expedites the export of natural gas to WTO countries. Given the astonishing rapidity with which HR 758 was passed in the lower chamber, and the obvious prospect of unbridled neocon influence in the next Congress, a bill effectively calling for war preparations against Russia will be landing on the emperor’s desk fairly early in 2015. Since Barack Obama’s anti-war credentials evaporated long before those of Barbara Lee, one should not expect to hear even the faintest murmur of dissent from the Peace Laureate himself. And so, as the Hope and Change presidency enters its final phase, there is absolutely no hope that the United States will ever change. The United States of America is an aggressive military empire, exceeding the ambitions of the Romans, the British, and the Nazis. The only remaining question is how much its already exceptional record of death and destruction will be expanded by a national psychosis that could never have taken hold in a healthy society.

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  1. As Americans enjoy the lowest gas prices seen in years, very few of them realize the price they may be paying in the long run. Saudi Arabia’s deliberate depression of oil prices, although it poses a threat to America’s frackers in the short term, is clearly part of a coordinated effort to weaken Iran and Russia, both of which earn substantial revenue from their oil sales. Ever quick on his feet, however, Mr. Putin’s recent announcements of further gas deals with China and now, most shockingly, with Turkey, all excluding the petro-dollar, point to an alternative, multi-polar world free of American hegemony. The clock is ticking for the American empire, and the neocons know they have no time to waste.

3 Comments

  1. Reader01

    Nice to see you back. World War 3 is already happening. It’s been happening, in slow motion, for some time now. This whole ordeal with Russia, which really escalated into a media circus with the US’s covert provocations in Ukraine, is really just an escalation of the overall terms of this wider conflict. Ongoing information warfare, currency wars, Syria, Snowden, etc. The thing that a lot of don’t realize and are just starting to figure out is that Russia is historically at a very weak point. Most of the US thinks of Russia as the instigator and provocateur of conflict in Ukraine. This is absurd and divorced from reality. The US saw an opportunity and they took it. The fact that they did just proves what I’ve been saying for years now.. Russia is weaker than ever and getting more and more irreverent on the world stage with each passing day. What’s the end game? What’s the tipping point? Who, where or what are the wild cards? My opinion? Iran is the tipping point. And not just overt conflict, but even if this “non-attributable” action, which is all the rage these days alone with the cyber vectors, spills into Iran it will go overt sooner rather than later. At that point the conflict would spread regionally. In my opinion India is a potential wild card and they will only continue to become more and more important on the global stage. In my opinion, the US is the hope for saving this world and the only hope to save the US from within the US itself. No one will ever change the US from the outside. Occupy was destined to fail. It never posed any legit threat of revolution on any level. And the sectors of it which did were swiftly met with having their homes raided, being framed for crimes and whatever else is par for the course in a 21st century cointelpro. That movement was infiltrated from top to bottom before they even made it to any form of direct action. The so called “Tea party” is little more than a horde of useful idiots and general bigots all brought together by the glue of corporate Astroturf. Some of them are just nasty people, most of them don’t even know who or what is in their own best interest. The American public at large are the most.. I don’t even know what to say. Let’s just say the vast majority know very little about very little and most of the very little they do know is actually not true anyway. Their reality is based on little more than corporate-state funded mythologies and petty consumerism and a plastic engineered corporate culture. Almost everything they ever hear or see from birth to death is corporate generated content. So who what is to save US? Save America.. and therefore save the world? After all, the United States has to potential to be a really truly great nation. An example for everyone else. The US could easily have the best education, health, social and/or public services, infrastructure, etc in the world. (spoiler: it has none of those things.) Not only does the US have plenty of resources to transform life at home, but plenty left over the change the whole world for good. Of course this is the exact opposite of reality. This “black rage” we are seeing now.. I believe this is real face of our planetary saviors. I believe if there is any hope for the world it lies in the hand of the descendants of the people brought here not as human beings, but as slaves, as property.

    1. editor

      Thank you for a thoughtful, multi-layered comment.

      Yes, I have often thought that America’s only hope for salvation is the very same demographic group that had the courage to finally overturn the obscenity of segregation that made such a mockery of the country’s professed principles. Surely it is no coincidence that the black community is so carefully contained – imprisoned at disproportionate rates by a warped criminal “justice” system, ghettoized by a society still riven with a racism that also enables the mass murder of colored people in foreign lands, and exploited by corporations profiting from toxic junk food guaranteed to reduce life expectancy. Dr. King would have resisted all of this; naturally, he was eliminated. To see legions of black Americans loyally turn out to vote for Barack Obama is to witness the ultimate victory of the ruling class that Gore Vidal once described as the cleverest in history.

      As for Russia, though, I do not concur that it is becoming irrelevant. If it had continued under the leadership of Yeltsin-like stooges, handing over the family jewels to Western corporate interests, then Russia could well have become the pitiful, spineless, thoroughly subservient source of extractive wealth that the West wants. But Vladimir Putin has done much to prevent his country from meeting that fate, and now finds himself in a fight to the death with an America that is determined to prevent the Eurasian Integrationists from building a huge continent beyond America’s control.

      Opinions differ on whether Putin can succeed. Mike Whitney, who has a knack for following the stories that really matter, wrote recently that the U.S. has been singularly determined and rather successful in enervating Russia. But Michael Hudson, one of the few economists worth listening to, believes that America’s attacks are counter-productive, driving Russia away from the West and encouraging the very integration eastwards that the U.S. is so keen to prevent. He feels that Russia does not really need U.S. dollars, so the plunge in the ruble is not necessarily a fatal blow. Others have noted that Russia can survive an oil-price war. And Pepe Escobar’s reporting on the building of the new Silk Road(s) – a story conspicuously absent from the western corporate narrative masquerading as “news” – makes it clear that Russia is essential to the realization of China’s goals and therefore to the emergence of a vibrant, non-American alternative. All the non-aligned countries of the world are watching closely.

      Thus, the outcome of this new Cold War is absolutely pivotal to the fate of the American Empire. We both know what the United States is capable of when its imperial interests are at stake, and we both see Iran as the likely locus for the Cold War to become hot. But the Empire’s increasingly explicit obsession with Russia itself suggests that the psychopaths controlling America’s arsenal no longer see proxy wars as effective in arresting the world’s movement to the East. Quite simply, they are running out of time. They have become desperate, willing to risk everything in a last, pathetic, contemptible grasp for power. We are living in exceptionally dangerous times. Peace on Earth and goodwill to all men? Not bloody likely.

  2. Reader01

    The Obama thing.. yes, but I believe there’s more to it. I think one cog can be changed out for another and nothing will change. I think he’s scared. I think he’s aged decades in a span of months. I think his campaign for “hope and change” may have been the best marketing fraud I’ve ever seen. These little things he’s sliding through cracks, like this Cuba thing, I think give a glimpse into what kind of president he wishes he could be in the absence of an invisible hand. I think it’s obvious at this point that Obama takes orders rather than gives them.

    Maybe irreverent was too strong of a word. Russia has vast natural resources and a highly advanced domestic military industry, but beyond that? My point is really to hit at this myth of Russian resurgence. Russia is weaker than they have been in a long time and getting weaker in relation to their peers. They’re far from being irreverent because of those first two points, but beyond the energy and military industry?

    I agree that Russia can survive the economic onslaught. It seems like the US’s agenda in Russia’s primary sphere of influence and gateway to the West, Ukraine, is quite short sighted while Russia is thinking on a very macro scale. The US has no chance of defeating Russia in Ukraine (short of Russia’s entire collapse) and as time goes by that will become more and more apparent. In the long run the absolute best case scenario for the West is a split, a partitioning of Ukraine into East and West “buffer zones,” but the thing is that neither side wants this, especially not the West. This could have already happened, all Russia had to do was snap it’s fingers to make it so.. but they aren’t. They’re in for the long haul. Ukraine is critical to Russia’s survival and strategic defenses. Not to mention the deep cultural significance. But again, the fact that this little adventure has even got this far just highlights my point about Russia being at a weak point.

    Yes, but it’s important not to lose focus on the real end-game; China, not Russia. It doesn’t look like their little NGO sponsored trickery stands any chance of working in that theater. The proxy war nubbins in Africa and ongoing currency, cyber and war of words.. At what point does China shift modes from the “Peaceful Rise” to something else? Something a bit more forceful? We’ve already seem glimpses of this in their backyard where they are completely intolerant of any incursions.

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