By Ray McGovern, March 12, 2022
Toward the end of a March 8 interview on The Critical Hour, I opted to address an important issue that has not been given the attention it deserves; namely, the reality that the pervasive attention given to the violence in Ukraine carries a huge “Opportunity Cost”.
Economists use the term to refer to missed opportunities — like earmarking millions of dollars for don’t-care weapons, when the dollars could be used for health-care or day-care — what Dr. King called “programs of social uplift”. Recall that a year before he was murdered, King warned that “a nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death”.
The Mother of All Opportunity Costs
Spiritual death is bad enough. What about physical death? Most human beings would deplore any agonizing physical death — by starvation, for example. And most humans care about what’s in store for children and grandchildren. An exceedingly selfish minority may care only about THEIR children and grandchildren. Sorry, folks; on climate change we are all in this together — that is, unless you are above 70 and don’t give a rat’s patootie about ANY children.
By the “Mother of All Opportunity Costs” I refer, of course, to the abject failure of us adults to stave off or even substantially attenuate the faster-than-anyone-expected doom of global warming, while we go on blithely filling the pockets of war profiteers with our taxes. That’s what ALL coming generations (including the one-percenters who live in gated communities) are doomed to experience, if we continue to let our attention be focused almost exclusively on things like the East-West power struggle centering on Ukraine. (This assumes that nuclear war/nuclear winter, by design or miscalculation, does not come first.)
Lightening Flashes of Trust
The day of my interview with The Critical Hour (March 8) happened to be the day on which the Director of National Intelligence, Avril Haines, presented the intelligence community’s annual threat briefing.
Fresh in my mind was the priority attention she sensibly gave to the existential issue of climate change a year ago. Several days after she oversaw last year’s threat briefing, Haines showed she was capable of broader thinking. Here’s what she said in a major speech on April 22:
“Climate change knows no boundaries, respects no national borders, and cannot be addressed by any one nation on its own. We must work together on the challenge before us. … working with my colleagues across every department and agency in the United States, including state, local and tribal authorities, we intend to make this a whole-of-government effort – working not just to protect American national security but to protect human security around the world.”
The following day, eager for the slightest sign that some senior official had her/his head screwed on right, I sent this tweet:
Sadly, even if Haines had the courage of her convictions and brought her concerns to the White House, there is virtually no chance they would have any impact on Pentagon decisions. The Military-Industrial-Congressional-Intelligence-Media-Academia-Think-Tank (MICIMATT) complex rules.
This year we saw no such outspokenness from National Intelligence Director Haines or her minions. The 2022 threat briefing relegates this quintessential issue to page 21 (of 30), on which this tepid “insight” sums things up:
“The combination of environmental degradation, rising temperatures, changing precipitation patterns, and other climate effects is likely to lead to an array of human challenges such as food and water insecurity and threats to human health.”
Pope Francis Gives It a Try
Most Popes are reluctant to call a spade a spade. Pope Francis is different. But, alas, to quote Josef Stalin’s famous question — “How many divisions does the Pope have?” — the answer is fewer even than Avril Haines has. (Besides, the Vatican is often excellent with rhetoric, but woefully deficient in getting the faithful to implement it.)
Francis did give it his best shot in a speech before both houses of Congress on Sept. 24, 2015, when he made bold to say:
“The main problem is the blood-soaked arms traders.”
Members of House and Senate rose as one to applaud. To those who know how the system works, the enthusiasm of those congress-people, who profiteer on tension and war, was giving hypocrisy itself a bad name. In my mind’s eye, I could see them checking their pockets to make sure the most recent checks from Lockheed and Raytheon had not slipped out with all the clapping. It was the “C” in MICIMATT on display.
Add a Lack of Trust to Avarice
If we are to meet the challenge of climate change identified by Director Haines, it cannot be addressed by any one nation on its own. As she noted, “we must work together not just to protect American national security but to protect human security around the world.” The sad news today is this requires a modicum of trust.
After the Biden-Putin summit in last June I wrote a piece entitled “Will the MICIMATT Douse ‘Lightening Flashes of Trust’?” (See: https://original.antiwar.com/mcgovern/2021/06/18/will-the-micimatt-douse-lightening-flashes-of-trust/ and https://original.antiwar.com/mcgovern/2021/06/16/trust-lacking-at-blah-summit/ )
It was a given that the MICIMATT would do all it could to thwart anything that might jeopardize its ability to profiteer on tension and war. But what about the “lightening flashes of trust”?
At Putin’s press conference immediately following the June 16 summit, he was asked if he had reached “a new level of trust with the U.S. president”. In answer, Putin quoted Leo Tolstoy:
“Tolstoy once said, there is no happiness in life, only lightening flashes (зарницы) of it — cherish them. I believe that in this situation some kind of family trust is not possible. However, it seems to me we have seen “lightening flashes” of it (“зарницы” промелькнули).
Two weeks earlier, Putin had pointed to the political pressures any U.S. president faces in trying to carve out a less acrimonious relationship with Russia. He asserted that “to a certain extent, Russian-American relations have become hostage to internal political processes in the United States itself.” (Emphasis added.)
“I hope it ends someday. I mean the fundamental interests in the field of at least security, strategic stability and the reduction of weapons dangerous for the whole world are still more important than the current domestic political situation in the United States itself.”
Trust is Gone; Are Chemicals Ahead?
Clearly, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the economic sanctions imposed on it have begun a new chapter in East-West relations (with its most significant feature so far being China’s support for Putin). We now should report signs of the worst — from both sides — if only in an asttempt to head it off.
Gilbert Doctorow, and astute analyst of Russia, warned on his blog today that it is “highly likely” the United States is about to carry out a ‘false flag’ operation in Ukraine in which it will accuse the Russians of using chemical weapons. (See:
https://gilbertdoctorow.com/2022/03/13/false-flag-chemical-attack-in-ukraine-a-coming-attraction/ ). This, of course, is a terrifying prospect, but Establishment media in the West do seem to be laying the groundwork for it.
At the UN this week, not all were convinced — notably China — by the U.S. delegate’s attempt to rebut Russian claims of more nefarious activities at the “biological research facilities” in Ukraine mentioned by Under Secretary of State Victoria Nuland Tuesday. What better way to detract attention from those labs, and in the process perhaps even thwart any investigation of the evidence Moscow says is possesses? With Establishment media buy-in (a given) the diversion would be a slam dunk, so to speak.
And so, if you hear reports of a Russian chemical attack in or near Ukraine, well, kick the tires.
Of interest in this regard is the unusually detailed warning/prediction that Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu included in his formal State of the Armed Forces speech to Putin and senior generals/admirals on Dec. 21, 2021 (See: http://en.kremlin.ru/events/president/news/67402 )
“ … The presence of over 120 members of US private military companies in Avdeyevka and Priazovskoye, Donetsk Region, has been proved reliably. They are setting up firing positions in residential houses and social facilities and are preparing the Ukrainian special operations forces and far-right armed groups for active hostilities. Unidentified chemical warfare agents have been delivered to Avdeyevka and Krasny Liman for the purpose of provocations. …” [Emphasis added.]
Fasten your seatbelts.