Back in the 1960s and 1970s during the war in Vietnam, everybody knew about the “credibility gap,” which morphed into Credibility Gulch as the official story stretched ever-farther from reality.
We are seeing it again in the current war between the United States/NATO and Russia, being fought out mainly in Ukraine. It is becoming “the Mother of All Energy Wars,” according to Charlotte Dennett, who highlights U.S. determination to cut Western Europe off from Russian gas and oil. She also links it to the recent endless wars to control the world’s energy supply in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Libya and Iran, and to dominate the Eurasian landmass with its enormous deposits of fossil fuels and other rich resources.
So when Joe Biden says he is doing “everything within my power” to address “Putin price hikes,” he is stretching truth to the breaking point. He is really saying we need to endure higher prices for gas—and food, rent, clothes, and everything else—because of the reckless draconian sanction war on Russia. It is an economic war of attrition against Russia, but it is hitting the whole world. So far Western Europe is suffering more than Russia, and the poorest people in the world, especially in Africa and the Middle East, are likely to be hurt the most. This hurt will turn into a massive showdown with reality.
About the war itself, there is just one acceptable narrative in the mainstream media: that it is an unprovoked and illegal aggression by Russia. Any alternative views are “far-fetched claims from Russia” to “discredit international concerns about… war crimes,” in the words from the April 12 New York Times. In the online version of that article Ben Norton, editor of Multipolarista.com, is shown with a red line across his face, tweeting on Chinese media. It says Norton “claimed that a coup sponsored by the United States government took place in Ukraine in 2014 and that U.S. officials had installed the leaders of the current Ukrainian government.”
How far-fetched is this claim?
According to Scott Ritter, the former Marine intelligence officer who served as a UN inspector of “weapons of mass destruction” in Iraq, it is exactly what happened. He takes it further back: During World War II, he says, “many Ukrainians joined the Waffen SS and fought for the Germans. They murdered, committed atrocities against Poles, Russians and Jews. In Babi Yar more than 30,000 Jews were gunned down.”
In an interview with Joe Lombardo of the United National Antiwar Coalition and Margaret Flowers of PopularResistance.org, Ritter tells of the Ukrainian fascist movement led by Stepan Bandera, who today has become an official hero to the far-right Ukrainian government. After 1944, Ritter notes, Bandera began a resistance against the Soviets, which killed over 300,000 Russians.”
Ritter further points out that the CIA continued to fund, support and nurture the Bandera movement as part of its anti-Soviet activity right up to 1990. All this is well-documented: “CIA intervention in Ukraine has been taking place for decades,” as detailed by Richard Breitman and Norman Goda in Hitler’s Shadow: Nazi War Criminals, U.S. Intelligence, and the Cold War, published by the U.S. National Archives.
In “Seven Decades of Nazi Collaboration: America’s Dirty Little Ukraine Secret,” in The Nation, March 28, 2014, Paul Rosenberg and Foreign Policy In Focus write that “the key organization in the coup that took place [in Kyiv in January 2014] was the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists [OUN], or a specific branch of it known as the Banderas [OUN-B]. They’re the group behind the Svoboda party, which got a number of key positions in the new… regime.”
The report says the U.S. has had a long-standing tie to the OUN. In 2004 they became part of the so-called Orange Revolution, heavily funded by the U.S., which brought Viktor Yushchenko, a close Svoboda ally, to the presidency from 2005 to 2010. “The United States was very aggressive in trying to keep the nationalists in power, but they lost the election. The U.S. was spending money through the National Endowment for Democracy,” the Nation article says.
Ritter summarizes, saying of the Ukrainian far right, “The CIA grew it, owned it, controlled it.” He says the U.S. organized a coup d’etat in early 2014 on the heels of the rightist protests demanding European Union membership for Ukraine.
He highlights that U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland was caught in a phone call that was recorded, handpicking the U.S. choice to lead Ukraine. “We brought in the Banderistas,” Ritter says. “They came in armed, and overnight they turned a peaceful demonstration into a violent revolution that killed scores of people—horrible acts of violence. That’s what an insurrection looks like; it was orchestrated by the U.S. Biden got on the phone and told [the elected president] he ‘had to go.’ Now you’ve empowered these neo-Nazis, immediately passing laws at the expense of Russian language and culture. Slaughter in Odessa, attack on Crimea, move on Donbas. Thus began the Ukrainian civil war in Donbas.”
Former NATO military analyst backs up Ritter
Jacques Baud, a former officer in the Swiss armed forces who was the Head of Policy and Doctrine for the United Nations Department of Peacekeeping Operations, backs up Scott Ritter’s analysis and takes it further. He says, “Western countries have… clearly created and supported Ukrainian far-right militias. In October 2021, the Jerusalem Post sounded the alarm by denouncing the Centuria project. These militias have been operating in the Donbas since 2014, with Western support,” Baud says. “These militias, stemming from the far-right groups that led the Euromaidan revolution in 2014, are made up of fanatical and brutal individuals. The best known of these is the Azov regiment, whose emblem is reminiscent of that of the 2nd SS Das Reich Panzer Division… So the West supports and continues to arm militias that have been guilty of numerous crimes against civilian populations since 2014: rape, torture and massacres.”
These forces occupied the port city of Mariupol on the Azov Sea. It is strategically located at the southwestern edge of the Donbas, on the highway to Crimea and Odessa. Mariupol has a significant Russian majority, and the 15,000 troops of the Azov regiment deployed there (but who do not live there) are seen as brutal occupiers, Ritter said.
The Russians have done everything possible to create humanitarian corridors, in accord with international law, Ritter said. “But the Ukrainian government and Azov have tried to close them. Azov used civilians as human shields, which meant the Russians had to assault residential buildings. The Ukrainians have said it’s ‘indiscriminate shelling’—like the case of the maternity hospital, which is off limits by international law ‘unless used for unpermitted purposes,’ for instance, as a civilian target. Azov was using it for military purposes.” Jacques Baud cites the testimony of civilians from Mariupol who said that the maternity hospital was taken over by the militias of the Azov regiment, who chased out the civilian occupants, threatening them with their weapons.
The other case is a large historic theater in Mariupol. Ritter said the narrative is that 1000-plus civilians were there; the Russians said “we know they’re there and ordered our military to not attack it. No airplanes flew over the theater.” Ritter said Azov blew off the roof to create a scandal of atrocity. “When you examine forensically the destruction doesn’t look like the result of a bomb but of explosives in the roof—a false flag operation,” he said.
“Most of the civilians are dying because Ukrainians are digging into civilian neighborhoods, forcing the Russians to blow up buildings, put down artillery barrages, and so on, killing civilians,” Ritter said. “But the numbers would be even lower if the Ukrainians obeyed the law of war… There’s one side that says we’re trying to preserve civilian lives and civilian infrastructure. We have the other side that says ‘if you collaborate with the Russians you will be killed.’”
Whose war crimes?
The cases of Bucha and Kramatorsk are especially notable. In both cases the Ukrainian government accused Russians of unspeakable atrocities, which were immediately echoed by Western governments, politicians and media, calling for Putin to be tried in The Hague for war crimes. What really happened?
In late February Russian and Ukrainian troops fought on the outskirts of Bucha, northwest of Kyiv. Russian troops took control of the city, then on March 30 the Russians withdrew. While they were there for several weeks, Ritter says the Russians “had good relations with the local people. It was peaceful. The Russians said ‘we traded our dry rations for their dairy products.’ The citizens of Bucha would give them eggs, milk and cheese, and the Russians would give them dry rations—flour, salt, sugar, meat, and so on. This was going on, then the Russians left. Anybody who engaged in that type of interaction with the Russians was now viewed as a collaborator,” Ritter said.
On March 31 Bucha’s mayor declared the city “liberated” from Russians, calling it a major victory for Ukrainian defenders, with no Russian troops left in Bucha. The announcement made no mention of murdered civilians in the locality. On April 1—two days after the Russians left—the Ukrainian national police announced they were going into Bucha “to carry out a cleansing operation to liquidate the collaborators.”
Ritter said there is a videotape of a senior political figure announcing on social media to the citizens of Bucha, “‘stay in your homes. The national police are carrying out a cleansing operation. Do not panic. Stay in your homes.’ She repeats it over and over again. Why? Because the police are in the streets, gunning people down, kicking in doors of people who were collaborating, and killing them.”
On April 2 the Ukrainian foreign minister claimed Russian troops shot and killed civilians before they left on March 30. Within minutes Western politicians were condemning Russian “war crimes” before looking at evidence and before there could be an investigation. The Russian government immediately demanded a UN Security Council meeting and called for a forensic investigation. The UK, as interim president of the Security Council, blocked the request.
Western media photos of the Bucha massacre show most of the deceased bodies wearing white armbands. Civilians used these to signal they were not hostile to Russia. The corpses were lying next to bags of humanitarian aid provided by Russian forces. In some photos fresh blood is visible, Ritter observed—the corpses had not been there for days.
On April 8 in Kramatorsk, a small Donbas city, a missile in use by Ukrainian forces hit a train station while civilian populations were evacuating. Reports said 50 people died and another 100 were wounded.
Kyiv immediately blamed the attack on Russia, but pictures of the missiles quickly made their way onto social media and were identified as Tochka-U missiles, which are currently used only by Ukrainian forces. Following this attack, the Investigative Committee of Russia announced they would open a criminal case to investigate the premeditated dissemination of false news about the Russian armed forces at the site.
Who’s to blame?
Jacques Baud says “the American and European political leaders deliberately pushed the Ukraine into a conflict that they knew was lost in advance—for the sole purpose of dealing a political blow to Russia… The objective was the closure of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, announced on February 8 by Joe Biden, during the visit of Olaf Scholz; and which was followed by a barrage of sanctions.”
Now the question is when and how will it end. The U.S. and its NATO allies are rushing weapons and other equipment, including anti-aircraft and anti-ship missiles, and drones to Ukraine. Military officials, politicians and the press mainly talk of sending more weapons—not of finding a lasting, diplomatic solution to the crisis.
Biden has said “this battle will not be won in days or months, either. We need to steel ourselves for the long fight ahead.” That was after declaring Russian President Putin “cannot remain in power.”
This was public confirmation that the U.S. goal in Ukraine is “regime change” in Russia, no matter how long, or how many Ukrainian and Russian lives it may take—or how many people become refugees, or how the world economy will be damaged.
There is also a danger that the war will expand. All too many U.S. and NATO politicians are ready to send troops into Ukraine, risking nuclear war. Meanwhile, the U.S. also seems poised to extend the war to include China. These options are recipes for even greater disaster. Russia will continue to defend Russian speakers in eastern and southern Ukraine who have been victimized by neo-Nazi assaults. It will stop when Ukraine has been demilitarized and “de-Nazified.”
It is possible the people of Western Europe will press for an end to the sanctions, which threaten to strangle their economies. The Chinese view is that “the EU will become the biggest victim of the Russia-Ukraine conflict. It will have to bear the brunt of the conflict. Therefore, as the Ukraine crisis develops, the differences between the U.S. and Europe will become inevitable once the public opinion in major EU countries changes.”
China may have a role as mediator, based on its very significant trade relations with all parties to the conflict. That could help.
What Will Change Public Opinion?
Cutting through the propaganda that keeps people believing the official narrative has only begun. The testimony of authoritative and credible observers like Scott Ritter and Jacques Baud has not yet surfaced in mainstream media anywhere in the West. It has to be suppressed, as part of the Big Lie strategy the U.S. government and media have used in war after war from 1898 to now. From “Remember the Maine” (Cuba 1898) to the “Gulf of Tonkin Incident” (Vietnam 1964) to “Weapons of Mass Destruction” (Iraq 2002), the Big Lies have been enough to “justify” truly unprovoked aggression by the U.S.
The official phrase “unprovoked invasion of Ukraine” appears constantly. Noam Chomsky found that a Google search for this phrase returned “about 2,430,000 results” in less than half a second. Searching for “unprovoked invasion of Iraq” yielded about 11,700 results in even less time. In fact, as Max Parry wrote recently in CAM, “If there was ever to be an end to the ongoing ethnic cleansing and war crimes in the Donbass region, a Russian intervention became almost inevitable.”
Bipartisan Big Lie
“We lied, we cheated, we stole… It’s part of the glory of the American experiment,” declared former U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo back in 2019, bragging to a college audience in Texas. That unusual admission reflects the long-term, ongoing bipartisan official U.S. approach to both war and peace.
The case of Julian Assange is part of the pattern. Assange is now facing extradition from England to the U.S., after years of torture, charged with “espionage” because he publicized information about U.S. crimes in Iraq. Assange faces up to 175 years in prison (a virtual death penalty) for practicing honest journalism. His case is barely mentioned in the mainstream media. If the U.S. cared about honest journalism, Assange would get a prize.
The U.S. strategy of using Ukraine to attack Russia has existed for a long time. Former National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski summed it up in his 1997 book The Grand Chessboard: “Ukraine is a new and important space on the Eurasian chessboard… because its very existence as an independent country (means) Russia ceases to be a Eurasian empire.”
Victoria Nuland, currently U.S. Under Secretary of State and former foreign policy adviser to Dick Cheney, has been the key U.S. point person for using Ukraine to attack Russia. She coordinated spending billions to foster and finance the 2014 fascist coup in Kyiv, and famously handpicked a new Ukrainian president. From passing out cookies to the fascists to saying “Fuck the EU,” Nuland has been the loose cannon that makes it hard to keep the official narrative believable.
How all this will end remains difficult to predict. Margaret Kimberley, editor of Black Agenda Report, says “Joe Biden and his foreign policy team of incompetent ideologues hope to convince Americans to accept food shortages, rising gas prices, and the risk of a hot war. The steady diet of dangerous nonsense is a necessity for them. The game is up if the people begin to question what they are being told.” She adds that the latest opinion poll shows Biden with a 33% approval rating. “The average person may not be well versed in the history of U.S. policy towards Russia, but they know when things don’t add up,” Kimberley says. “Rambling, incoherent speeches punctuated by shouts of ‘war criminal’ and ‘genocide’ don’t cut it when working people can barely afford to put gas in the tank. We are left with a mass gaslighting effort that has created the desired effect of generating fear and or hatred towards Russia, but that hasn’t increased satisfaction about the country’s direction.”
Public opinion, both in the U.S. and Europe, will eventually turn against the official Big Lie. The question remains: can public opinion—and pressure—change soon enough to prevent global disaster?
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About the Author
Dee Knight is a member of the DSA International Committee’s Anti-War Subcommittee.
He is the author of A Realistic Path to Peace (just out from Solidarity Publications), and a memoir, My Whirlwind Lives: Navigating Decades of Storms.
Dee can be reached at: email@example.com.