Glenn Greenwald
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US Continues Dangerous Escalations in Ukraine, Sprinting Toward Catastrophe. Plus: Saagar Enjeti on Ukraine, Anthrax/COVID, GOP Race, Tucker Carlson, & More
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May 26, 2023
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 Good evening. It's Tuesday, May 23. Welcome to a new episode of System Update, our live nightly show that airs every Monday through Friday at 7 p.m. Eastern, exclusively here on Rumble, the free speech alternative to YouTube. 

Tonight, more major escalations in the U.S. proxy war with Russia in Ukraine as Ukrainian forces step up their incursions over the border and attacks inside of Russia. While all of this occurs, the Biden administration continues its bizarre, unstable and dangerous pattern. It first insists that it will not send a particular weapon or military system to Ukraine because doing so would be far too risky for escalating the war and dragging the U.S. further into that conflict – including risking direct military confrontation between the U.S., the country with the world's second-largest nuclear stockpile, and Russia the country with its largest – only for Biden to then turn around months later and announce that he will, in fact, send exactly that same weapons system they emphatically said they could not supply to Ukraine due to the serious dangers. They first did this with Patriot missile batteries, which Biden said at the start of the war he would never send to Ukraine, only to announce, suddenly, in December of last year, that it would send them. The same thing happened with Abrams tanks. Biden spent all of 2022 adamantly rejecting Ukraine's pleas for them only to reverse himself this year, by announcing the U.S. would send 31 tanks, just to start. And it just happened again, this time with F-16 fighter jets, which easily have the capacity to fly deep into Russia and bomb Russian targets. Biden was particularly emphatic that sending some of the U.S.'s most potent and complex fighter jets would create far too large of a risk of a major escalation, including their use to bomb Russia. Yet, last week, Biden once again reversed himself, telling President Zelenskyy those jets were coming and that the U.S. would begin training Ukrainian pilots on how to use them. 

This is the living, breathing embodiment of creeping out-of-control escalation. What is declared unthinkably dangerous and risky one month becomes official government war policy the next. On this path, it seems far more likely than not now the U.S. will find itself in some sort of direct military confrontation with Russia. How would the U.S. react if a neighboring country was repeatedly striking American soil using missiles, tanks and fighter jets supplied by China, Russia, or Iran? 

As has been the case since the start of this war, the question continues to be what U.S. interests or benefits possibly justify trifling with these increasingly dangerous risks, especially given Washington's position for two decades under both parties that Ukraine was never and never would be a vital interest to the United States. We'll evaluate the question once again in the context of these latest war escalations.  

Then, for our interview segment, we'll speak with one of the most impressive success stories in independent media, Saagar Enjeti, host of the wildly popular “Breaking Points” program, which successfully broke away from the corporate media outlet where it was born under a different name, The Hill, to find an even larger audience and greater influence as a fully independent program. 

We'll talk to Saagar, who got his start in journalism working with Tucker Carlson, in The Daily Caller, about Ukraine and the increasingly significant role of the U.S. in that war, the state of the GOP primary, and whether Ron DeSantis represents an ongoing breakaway from the GOP establishment or an attempt by that establishment to regain control of the party. We'll discuss the program we did here last night on the various mysteries of the 2001 anthrax attacks and the light it shines on the current attempt to determine dispositively the origins of the COVID pandemic. And we'll talk about the nature of independent media, including the recent decision by Tucker Carlson once he was fired by Fox to put his show, at least for now, onto Twitter.

This being Tuesday, as soon as we're done with our one-hour show, live, here on Rumble, we will move to Locals for our interactive aftershow to take your questions and comment on your feedback, something we do every Tuesday and Thursday night. To obtain access to that aftershow where we respond to your feedback and I address criticism, simply sign up as a member of our Locals community. The red join button is right below the video player here. System Update is also available in podcast form. You can follow us on every major podcasting platform, including Spotify and Apple, 12 hours after our shows are broadcast live, here on Rumble.

For now, welcome to a new episode of System Update starting right now. 


 

There is a lot to say about the war in Ukraine, particularly what has now indisputably become the U.S. proxy war with Russia using Ukraine as the sacrifice or as the platform. Observing that the U.S. was intending to use Ukraine as a proxy war with Russia was once taboo to say, anyone who said it was immediately – needless to say – branded a Russian agent, or a pro-Russian propagandist, and yet now nobody disputes that characterization. How can you? It is like every hallmark of a classic proxy war and there are some really serious escalations taking place right now as we speak, escalating numbers and types of Ukrainian attacks into Russian territory using American weapons systems, including weapons systems the Biden administration repeatedly vowed not to send, only to send them. While there are greater incursions by the Ukrainian or Ukrainian allied forces into Russia, striking Russian targets and killing Russian people with American weapons, the Biden administration reversed its most emphatic decree that it would never send F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine, given their capacity to strike deep into Russian territory. By having Joe Biden announce to President Zelenskyy that the F-16s are on their way and that the U.S. will begin training Ukrainian pilots on how to use them, I think the most striking part of this war – and we will talk about a lot of this with Saagar Enjeti when he comes on in just a little bit – is that there has been no campaign of propaganda and disinformation that even compares to the one surrounding the war in Ukraine, at least since the war in Iraq. 

We spent last night devoting our entire show to just a prong of propaganda that led to that war in Iraq. The effort to falsely and thoroughly link the Iraqi government to the anthrax attacks, which the FBI seven years later said came actually not from the Iraqi government, but from the American government, from a U.S. Army lab in Fort Detrick, where, as it turns out, according to the FBI, the U.S. government was working with highly sophisticated, deadly strains of anthrax, something it had long claimed it never does, and something it still continues to claim it does not do. 

This propaganda is hard to overstate. There was just outright lie after outright lie after outright lie emanating from leading political figures and U.S. media outlets from the very start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine a year and two months ago. To underscore that, I want to show you an interview that was recently given by Jeffrey Sachs, whose establishment resume is way too long for me to recite. Basically, he became a very well-known and well-regarded economics professor at Harvard in the 1980s, where he became renowned for helping countries avoid or solve hyperinflation. He became very close to a lot of governments, including in Bolivia and Poland and then in Russia. He's been at the center of some of the most important historical events of the last 40 years. He often was hosted on the most establishment television programs. He still manages to appear on “Morning Joe”, despite the fact that he has become a real heretic when it comes to U.S. foreign policy and even the COVID pandemic, where he originally was asked to lead a COVID task force because of his views that the U.S. government mostly had it right, only to then begin questioning a lot of the core pieties. And here he is talking about the role the U.S. media has played in disseminating a level of propaganda that is at least as severe and glaring and flagrant as the propaganda that led us into Iraq. He's specifically talking about the role The Washington Post has played in that, in the context of the obvious lies that our government and our media have spread in order to avoid having Americans realize the obvious that when the Nord Stream pipeline was blown up, one of the worst environmental disasters in all of human history, an act of industrial terrorism – it was a pipeline that connects Russia to Germany to allow Russia to sell cheap natural gas to the Europeans, something that the United States has long wanted to terminate because it will then force the Europeans to buy natural gas in the United States – when it was blown up, it was so obvious it was done, at least, with the consent of, if not led by the American military. And yet, not only was that instantly denied by the corporate media, but they also actually tried convincing people of something so preposterous that nobody should be able to say with a straight face, namely that it was Russia that blew up its own pipeline – a kind of false flag claim, a conspiracy theory that when it comes to that of the United State is completely impermissible to entertain, and yet it's constantly asserted when it comes to Russia. The same thing was said when a drone attack took place over the Kremlin at the time that President Putin was inside the Kremlin and released what appeared to be a bomb near the Kremlin and we heard, “Oh, that was just Russia launching a false flag operation against itself. They attacked itself just like they blew up its own pipeline.” 

Here's Jeffrey Sachs, again, somebody whose life has been immersed in establishment sectors, at Harvard, with economics and macroeconomics, somebody who has been given access to mainstream media outlets. We're going to have him on our show very shortly. He has an extremely interesting history. Lots of misperceptions about his ideological directory, which I'll cover. But listen to what he says about the role of mainstream media outlets in this war in Ukraine. 

I should say he's talking here to Bob Wright, who is a critic of the war in Ukraine and has a show in his Bloggingheads.tv – it's been about 15 years. It was one of the early pioneers of blogging. You're able to have people on in a split-screen format to debate each other. Listen to what Jeffrey Sachs says.

https://twitter.com/ggreenwald/status/1660327241467801603

(Video. Bloggingheads.tv. May 21, 2023)

 

Jeffrey Sachs: I tell you when Nord Stream was blown up, I had a chat with a long-time friend, actually a classmate of mine from Harvard from decades ago, who was a senior reporter in one of the most important newspapers. I said, you know what? I think the U.S. did it. And he said, Of course, the U.S. did it. Who else? And I said, Humm… maybe your paper could mention something like that. It just today said the Russians did it. He said, come on, Jeff. Come on. I said, Are you kidding? Could we have a serious discussion of this? And he said to me, You know, the editors are not so interested in that. And I said – this is a friend from decades – I said, You know, when I was young, I turned to your newspaper because of Watergate, because of the Pentagon Papers, and I loved it. And he said to me, ‘That paper is so dead and gone, Jeff, you have to understand that.’ And I cannot imagine, you know, this is a really talented guy. A lead columnist, a lead journalist, I should say, and he's telling me the paper that I loved is dead and gone. If you ask me why, I really cannot figure it out why a paper doesn't want to eat the government over the head when it tells ridiculous stories like Nord Stream was blown up by six people on a boat like they tried for one day. Okay, Come on. This is... This was put up by serious media? Because it was almost a joke from the intelligence agency. Why these media are so in line with official narratives? I don't fully understand. I know all the theories – money, advertising, power and many other things – but the truth is it's dreadful compared to what it was 40 years ago. Dreadful. And it's gotten a lot worse. 

 

I think that is the key point when it comes to understanding the role of these media outlets, as he said, why are they so in line with official narratives? People often debate what is the ideology of the media. I've talked about this before. For decades, conservatives like Rush Limbaugh would insist that the media was biased in the sense that they were liberals, they were Democrats. I think that tells a part of the story when it comes to things like the culture war, for example. They're clearly biased in favor of American liberalism. These are people who went to East Coast colleges. They're no longer people who come from working-class backgrounds, primarily, it's not a working-class profession any longer at the national level. So, these are cosmopolitan people who go get educated on the East Coast. The national media live in New York; they live in Washington, so, they have the cultural views and biases of their environment. But when it comes to foreign policy, it's not really so much being biased in favor or against the Democratic Party or American liberalism. After all, it was The New York Times, and as we've shown you, Jeffrey Goldberg at The New Yorker, and so many other leading liberal institutions – foreign policy writers at liberal outlets – that took the lead role in selling the Iraq war to the American people. Their primary overarching fidelity is not to a particular political party or ideology, at least when it comes to foreign policy, that is, instead, they are completely in servitude to the U.S. security state and to the foreign policy community. That is what foreign policy and war exist for them to do: to propagate whatever these institutions tell them to say. That's where Russiagate came from. That is where so many of the frauds that we have suffocated under, including all the lies from COVID came from. This is what they exist to do, as he said, to reflect the ideology and the propaganda of establishment institutions. 

From the very beginning, there has been, as you probably recall, a series of lies told about the war in Ukraine. I would have to devote an entire show to listing them but we have a series of tweets that you may recall from the then-congressman, nominally Adam Kinzinger, who is now a CNN commentator, who from the start of the war just begun outright lying, spreading complete campaigns of disinformation. And in a way, we chose this example, because of how ridiculous it is, but in another way, because of how blatant the lie was, it was a reference to the “Ghost of Kyiv,” some supposedly heroic Ukrainian fighter jet pilot who had managed courageously to shoot down a huge number of Russian planes all by himself and he got turned into this hero called the “Ghost of Kyiv.” 

Here you see Adam Kinzinger's tweet in February 2020 right at the start of the war where he falls for an Internet scam. This is a picture of somebody who is constantly used for all sorts of Internet fake, Sam Hide, and Adam Kinzinger fell for it like the idiot that he is. 

 

The #ghostofkyiv has a name and he has absolutely OWNED the Russian air force. Godspeed and more kills, Samuyil! (@Adam Kinzinger. Feb. 25, 2022)

 

Samuyil Hyde is the Ukrainian version of the name for Sam Hide, who is constantly used by all right sites and other scam sites in a kind of frivolous way to create fakes that this moron fell for. But here he is, spreading it even more seriously. 

On the same day:

 

To the #ghostofkyiv, we raise a glass. Here is to even more! (@Adam Kinzinger. Feb. 25, 2022)

 

There have been fact-checks since then that there is no such thing as the ghost of Kyiv. There were similar lies told about the Russian battlefield being told to go fuck yourself by a group of very heroic Ukrainians who fought to the death on an island when in reality they were safely captured. The whole thing was a complete fairy tale. He'd spread that as well. And what amazes me is that this person – whom we know, deliberately told lies, just spread campaigns of disinformation while a member of the U.S. Congress to support a war, just like was done at the start of the Iraq war and for years after – after being exposed for spreading lies and propaganda on purpose, got hired by CNN, where he now works as a commentator. The network that incessantly tells you that they're there to combat disinformation, that you have to trust them to decree truth and falsity because you and independent media cannot be trusted to do it. 

This is not the first known liar they've hired. They got hired James Clapper, President Obama's senior national security official, after he got caught lying to Congress, three months before we began the Snowden reporting, by telling the U.S. Senate, falsely, that the NSA does not collect data on millions of Americans when in fact, three months later, we showed that the NSA is doing exactly that. So, there was another proven liar inside the government that CNN hired. 

Probably the most prolific chronic liar of the Trump era when it comes to media is a woman named Natasha Bertrand, who was a hardcore Russiagate or who promoted every single fraud that became part of Russiagate from Trump and the Alfa Bank to Russian bounties in Afghanistan to the Steele dossier. And every time she lied, she got promoted. She went from Business Insider to MSNBC. Then she ended up at The Atlantic, where Jeffrey Goldberg, who's now the editor-in-chief after telling his eyes that led to the Iraq war, got promoted. Then she ended up at Politico, where she was the first to break the CIA lie that the Hunter Biden laptop was Russian disinformation. She, too, got promoted or hired to CNN after getting caught lying. These people are not getting hired by CNN, despite the fact that they're liars. They're getting hired precisely because they're liars. It's a requirement for the job. That’s what these media outlets exist to do, as Jeffrey Sachs just said. They're there to say whatever is necessary to be in alignment with and promote the agenda of the establishment, the U.S. security state, even if it means outright lying, like trying to convince you of the absurdity, the face of absurdity, that Russia blew up its own pipeline.

Let's take a look at what I referenced earlier as the overarching question here, which is why is it that the United States is willing to risk and trifle with these incredibly grave dangers with the world's largest nuclear stockpile? We're getting closer and closer to direct military confrontation. You now have Ukrainian soldiers with highly offensive weapons, highly sophisticated weapons enabled by the United States, supplied by the United States, going into Russia and bombing and killing Russians inside Russia. And they're now going to have F-16s sent in, delivered by the Biden administration, after a series of bizarre reversals that shows how unhinged this war policy is. And what is particularly bizarre about this and I want to talk to Saagar about this when he comes on, because I genuinely think it's mystifying in a way, is that, for at least a decade, in Washington, bipartisan Washington, the view of the bipartisan class in Washington and the foreign policy community was that there is no vital interest for the United States in Ukraine. This doctrine of vital interest is crucial. It says where are we willing to go to war? For what are we willing to go to war? Which countries are vital enough to our interests to risk justifying military confrontation? And there's nothing in Ukraine that has ever been considered a vital interest to the United States, to the point where, in April 2016, that very same Jeffrey Goldberg, who rose to become the editor-in-chief of The Atlantic after getting caught telling multiple lies while at The New Yorker, he was one of President Obama's favorite journalists, this neocon. Obama sat down with him to discuss what Jeffrey Goldberg titled “The Obama Doctrine - The U.S. president talks through his hardest decisions about America's role in the world.” And one of the things Jeffrey Goldberg badgered him about was Obama's refusal to do more for Ukraine, to arm Ukraine, to punish the Russians for taking Crimea. And Jeffrey Goldberg kept saying, why didn't you do more to protect Ukraine? Why didn't you do more to arm Ukraine, to use Ukraine to hurt Russia? And here's what Obama said: 

Obama's theory here is simple: Ukraine is a core Russian interest, but not an American one, so Russia will always be able to maintain escalatory dominance there. 

“The fact is that Ukraine, which is a non-NATO country, is going to be vulnerable to military domination by Russia no matter what we do,” Obama said. 

I asked Obama whether his position on Ukraine was realistic or fatalistic. “It's realistic”, he said. “But this is an example of where we have to be very clear about what our core interests are and what we are willing to go to war for. And at the end of the day, there's always going to be some ambiguity.” He then offered up a critique he had heard directed against him, in order to knock it down. 

I think that the best argument you can make on the side of those who are critics of my foreign policy is that the president doesn't exploit ambiguity enough. He doesn't maybe react in ways that might cause people to think, Wow, this guy might be a little crazy.” 

There is no evidence in modern American foreign policy that Obama that that's how people respond. People respond based on what their imperatives are, and if it's really important to somebody, and it's not that important to us, they know that, and we know that,” he said. There are ways to deter, but it requires you to be very clear ahead of time about what is worth going to war for and what is not. Now, if there is somebody in this town that would claim that we should consider going to war with Russia over Crimea and eastern Ukraine, they should speak up and be very clear about it. (Jeffrey Goldberg. May 2, 2022)

 

And Obama describes it that way because it's facially absurd that we would consider going to war with Russia over Crimea and eastern Ukraine. Obama said they should speak up and be very clear about it. He wanted them to say that. These militarists in the Republican Party, like John McCain and Lindsey Graham and Marco Rubio, who were attacking him for not doing more to confront Russia, he said stand up and say, if you believe it, that we should risk war with Russia over Ukraine. 

 

The idea that talking tough or engaging in some military action that is tangential to that particular area is somehow going to influence the decision-making of Russia or China is contrary to all the evidence we have seen over the last 50 years. (Jeffrey Goldberg. May 2, 2022)



 In other words, it's so absurd that we would go to war or risk war with Russia over who rules eastern Ukraine, that Obama was daring his critics to stand up and say it because, of course, they didn't want to say they were willing to risk war with Russia over Ukraine. And yet that's exactly what U.S. policy has become. We are risking war with Russia, undoubtedly, indisputably over nothing more than the question of who rules various provinces in eastern Ukraine. The reason Obama didn't go to war with Russia or didn't really take strong action against Russia when it annexed Crimea was because he knew that the people of Crimea wanted to be under Russian rule, wanted to be under Moscow rule, just like the people of Kosovo wanted independence from Serbia. And the precedent we set was that the people of this province want independence enough, they should have it. That's why Kosovo is now an independent country. And it's indisputably true that Crimea and the people in it consider themselves far more Russian than Ukrainian. It's long been true as well for the people of eastern Ukraine. And so why would we possibly continue to trifle with war with a nuclear-armed power over any of this? 

It wasn't just Barack Obama who thought this. There was a president after him, named Donald Trump, who thought the same thing. In fact, when Trump saw the Republican Party's platform when it came to Ukraine, it seemed like it was written by neocons – John McCain, Marco Rubio, Lindsey Graham and that crowd – basically saying, We will always arm Ukraine. We will stand by Ukraine. Trump thought that was insane. Just like Trump thought it was insane that the U.S. is trying to overthrow Bashar al-Assad in Syria and risk confrontation there through the CIA. Trump's position was why would we try to change the government of Syria? We should cooperate with Russia and Syria to kill ISIS and al-Qaida. Why would we want to change the government of Syria? He thought the same thing about Ukraine. He expresses it in Trumpian ways but it was the same position Obama had, which was risking war with Russia or harming the United States to protect Ukraine from Russia is insanity. And so, he had the GOP platform changed and, amazingly – and this is when I really began realizing how insane the establishment become when it came to Russiagate – they used the change in that platform, which just reflected Trump's view of pragmatism in media to avoid words that weren't a direct threat to the United States, to claim that this was proof somehow that Trump was in the Kremlin's pocket. That he took the same position Obama did, which is there's nothing in Ukraine worth going to war with Russia over. 

From The Washington Post:

 

“Trump Campaign Guts GOP’s Anti-Russia Stance on Ukraine” 

 

The Trump campaign worked behind the scenes last week to make sure the new Republican platform won't call for giving weapons to Ukraine to fight Russian and rebel forces, contradicting the view of almost all Republican foreign policy leaders in Washington. (The Washington Post. July 18, 2016)

 

Oh, perish the thought! “Republican foreign policy leaders in Washington” have been so correct about everything you would never want to contradict them. This was a major prong of Russiagate. The fact that Trump basically adopted Obama's view against the GOP establishment, against the Democratic establishment that said Ukraine is not a vital interest to the United States. We should not risk anything, much less war with Russia to care about what happens there. What changed in Washington that we have now gone from we will never send Patriot missile batteries, we will never send Abrams tanks, we will never send F-16s to, one after the next, sending all of those? 

Back in March 2022, at the start of the war, the establishment figure, Niall Ferguson wrote an article in Bloomberg that expressed the view that at the time was considered evil, which is basically that the United States only has one goal in Ukraine, which is not to protect the Ukrainian people. The inspiring script, the moralistic narrative, the fairy tale we were fed just like we were told we were going to Iraq to deliver democracy to the Iraqi people, we were going to war in Libya to bring democracy to the Libyans, we were going to try and take out Bashar al-Assad with the CIA secret war because we wanted to help the Syrian people – we're not in Ukraine to help the Ukrainian people. Niall Ferguson said after talking to both British and American senior foreign policy officials that the real reason we're in Ukraine was the opposite. It was to sacrifice Ukraine, to destroy Ukraine, in order to bleed Russia. The country suffering the most from this war, really, the only country is Ukraine. Their entire country is being destroyed. Their people are dying in huge numbers. Their buildings are all being blown to bits, at least in the parts where this war is. And the people who are benefiting most are the elites in the West. They have a new war for their arms manufacturers, pundits get to feel Churchillian and purposeful and strong writing in favor of this war from a safe distance. But this is what Niall Ferguson said at the very beginning: the real goal was to sacrifice Ukraine and Ukrainians and not protect them. 

 

 

 

“American officials are divided on how much the lessons from Cold War proxy wars like the Soviet Union's war in Afghanistan can be applied to the ongoing war in Ukraine.” David Sanger reported for the New York Times on Saturday. According to Sanger, who cannot have written this piece without high-level sources, the Biden administration “seeks to help Ukraine lock Russia in a quagmire without inciting a broader conflict with a nuclear-armed adversary or cutting off potential path to de-escalation. CIA officers are helping to ensure that crates of weapons are delivered into the hands of vetted Ukrainian military units, according to American officials. Reading this carefully, I conclude that the U.S. intends to keep this war going. The administration will continue to supply the Ukrainians with anti-aircraft Stingers, anti-tank Javelins and explosive Switchblade drones. It will keep trying to persuade other NATO governments to supply heavier defensive weaponry. (The latest U.S. proposal is for Turkey to provide Ukraine with the sophisticated S-400 anti-aircraft system, which Ankara purchased from Moscow just a few years ago. I expect it to go the way of the scuttled plan for Polish MiG fighters.) 

Washington will revert to the Afghanistan-after-1979 playbook of supplying an insurgency only if the Ukrainian government loses the conventional war. I have evidence from other sources to corroborate this. “The only end game now,” a senior administration official was heard to say at a private event earlier this month, “is the end of Putin regime.” Until then, all the time Putin stays, Russia will be a pariah state that will never be welcomed back into the community of nations. I gather that senior British figures are talking in similar terms. There is a belief that “the UK's number one option is for the conflict to be extended and thereby bleed Putin.” Again and again, I hear such language.

 It helps explain, among other things, the lack of diplomatic effort by the U.S. to secure a cease-fire. It also explains the readiness of President Joe Biden to call Putin a war criminal. (March 22, 2022)

 

And that indeed is exactly what ended up happening. The reality is the only identifiable U.S. interest was achieved in the first month of the war, which was when the U.S. coerced Germany, and then Europe, to cut off the Nord Stream 2 pipeline and to start buying natural gas from the United States. Everything else after that has been trying to do to Ukraine what the United States did to Syria: leave it in ruins by bleeding out the war just long enough, in order to weaken Russia. That is what everything is about, why we're sending $100 billion in weapons, they're depleting our own stockpiles and most dangerously of all, increasingly risking all sorts of new escalations. 

We have for you the articles that show how Biden would one month declare he refuses to send the weapons system I mentioned and then months later send the rest. As I told you, the last week brought the worst reversal of all, the most severe and by no means necessarily the last one. We're right now giving them fighter jets, F-16 fighter jets. And of course, the Ukrainians are supposedly promising not to use it to strike deep into Russia. They've repeatedly violated those promises in other ways, using American weapons to strike Russian targets inside Russia. And there are few greater escalatory dangers than that. 

As always, the question becomes who is benefiting from this war? It is definitely not you, as American infrastructure crumbles, but the CIA is benefiting, arms manufacturers in the West are definitely benefiting and it's hard to tell who else beyond that. But what is for sure true is that the core doctrine of Washington, a bipartisan foreign policy in Washington, has radically changed, seemingly overnight when it comes to the question of Ukraine. And the only real explanation I can find is that the Democratic Party fed for so long an anti-Russian animus as a result of Russiagate, they really became convinced that what they regard as the greatest, the most cataclysmic event in recent U.S. history – the election of Donald Trump in 2016 and the defeat of Hillary Clinton – was due to interference by Moscow. And this is payback for that. We seem to be willing to risk blowing ourselves up over the question of who rules provinces in eastern Ukraine, in the Donbas, where the people of that region have always clearly had greater loyalty to Moscow than to Kyiv. And whatever the motive is, ultimately – and ultimately, it was very hard to tell the motive in Iraq: people had different motives for why we invaded that country and occupied it for over a decade – you can see what escalation is unfolding right before your eyes. Never with congressional debate, let alone debate of the American people. In fact, before the midterms, Kevin McCarthy, trying to win the speakership position in the midterm, signals that he would impose limits on the flow of money from the United States to Ukraine, the most corrupt country in Europe. As soon as he won and the Republicans won that election and he got to be the speaker, all of that stopped, and he's now aligned with the biggest hawks and warmongers in the Republican Party saying, “I've always been on the side of Biden when it comes to the war in Ukraine, and I always will be. We stand with Ukraine until the very end.”


So, we have a great guest for you. There he is, Saagar Enjeti. 

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THURSDAY, APRIL 11 - EPISODE 255

Endless War and US Security State: W/ Sen. Ron Johnson and Rep. Davidson

Full transcript available for paid supporters: HERE

 

WATCH THE EPISODE

Intro (7:53) 

Interview with Senator Ron Johnson (13:30)

Interview with Representative Warren Davidson (43:30)

Outro (1:22:33) 

 

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FRIDAY, APRIL 12 - EPISODE 255

Mike Johnson Enables Warrantless Spying on Americans. War Between Israel/US and Iran? PLUS: Lee Fang on Ukrainian Smear Campaign

Full transcript available for paid supporters MONDAY

 

WATCH THE EPISODE

Intro (7:03)

House Enables Warrantless Spying (12:40)

War With Iran (46:26)

Interview with Lee Fang (1:06:18)

Outro (1:30:04)


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Endless War and US Security State: W/ Sen. Ron Johnson and Rep. Davidson
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Good evening. It's Thursday, April 11. Tonight, we speak to two members of Congress about a variety of issues involving the war in Ukraine, the war in Israel, the U.S. Security State, warrantless domestic spying and much more. 

The first is the Republican Senator from Wisconsin, Ron Johnson, who started back in 2022 supporting the idea of U.S. aid to Ukraine for its war with Russia but has since become one of the most vocal and stalwart opponents of sending more aid there. We'll talk about what motivated that change and his views of current U.S. foreign policy. 

Then we speak to Congressman Warren Davidson, the former Army Ranger who now represents Ohio's eighth congressional district, a job he has held ever since. His predecessor, former Republican House Speaker John Boehner, retired in 2016, where we spoke extensively not only about the evils of U.S. foreign policy but also his view on the vote that took place in the House yesterday that we reported on last night, show that blocked renewal of the FISA spying law without any meaningful protections, warrant requirements or reforms. 

As I've been arguing for some time, one of the most significant and one of the most overlooked developments in U.S. politics, especially when it comes to foreign policy and civil liberties, is the radical realignment among left and right, liberals and conservatives, Democrats and Republicans when it comes to who supports the military-industrial complex in the United States and who does not, who supports the U.S. posture of endless war and who does not, who support vesting vast and unaccountable powers in the hands of the U.S. security state, and who does not. Both of our guests tonight are in many ways highly illustrative of this realignment. Senator Johnson, for instance, is not just an opponent now of the U.S. role in the war in Ukraine, but also a thoughtful critic of imperialistic American foreign policy over the last several decades, which he insists Washington needs to study much more to understand its foundational mistakes. Meanwhile, Congressman Davidson has become one of the most scathing opponents of what he calls the neocon consensus in Washington. In some ways, his foreign policy critique of American wars and militarism could almost be called “Chomskyesk” and, notably, it's almost impossible to hear similarly fundamental principled critiques of U.S. foreign policy, the military-industrial complex and the U.S. security state from any Democratic member of Congress, it is almost impossible to note that this critique is, I should say, is not always applied with complete consistency. 

I asked each of these lawmakers why their arguments against funding the war in Ukraine, that we cannot afford to fund more foreign wars, that it brings no benefits to American citizens, that it jeopardizes our standing in the world and does not apply equally to our current policy of financing and arming Israel's war in Gaza, which most Republicans and most Democrats support. In other words, even if one sides more and empathizes more with Israel over the Palestinians, why shouldn't Israel pay for its own wars instead of having Americans pay for them? Both gave thoughtful answers, even if not fully convincing, and I appreciate how willing they were to reconsider and think about in the interview, their stances on those questions and how they might align or not align with their broader principles. 

Both of these interviews, I believe, are highly illustrative of the realignment I described and why these clear changes in the DC consensus are starting to become ever more promising. We recorded both interviews last night after our live program, and we are delighted to share them with you. 

For now, welcome to a new episode of System Update, starting right now. 

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Elon Musk Goes to War with Brazil’s Censorship Regime. PLUS: 19 Republicans Defy Speaker Johnson to Kill Renewal of Domestic Spying Bill
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Good evening. It's Wednesday, April 10. 

Tonight: a virtual war has erupted between Elon Musk and X on one side, and virtually the entire Brazilian establishment and the Brazilian left with which they're united on the other. As we have been reporting for two years now, the censorship regime that has been imposed in Brazil—the world's fifth most populous country—all centralized in the hands of a single Supreme Court judge, is more extreme, more repressive, and more lawless than anywhere in the democratic world. And that's saying a lot given how much censorship has spread. That's just one indicator of how extreme the Brazilian censorship scheme is. 

This platform Rumble decided last year that they would rather block Brazilians from viewing its content, despite having built a large and growing Brazilian audience, rather than face massive fines and even criminal threats of prosecution for failure to comply with the avalanche of censorship orders they were receiving virtually daily. 

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That message is what people in Brazil now see when they try to access Rumble, a message saying Rumble is not available in the country because of censorship orders. Rumble announced that it would no longer serve as a weapon in the censorship regime and would block access for all Brazilians, at least for those who don't use VPNs, pending its judicial challenge of the censorship laws that it has now brought.

Last week, the independent journalist Michael Shellenberger, working with two separate Brazilian journalists, released the Brazilian part of the Twitter Files. It documented how internal Twitter lawyers in Brazil were growing increasingly alarmed at the politically motivated censorship orders from the court that they were being drowned with routinely, and they were worried about the consequences they might face from failure to comply. We interviewed Shellenberger last week about his reporting. He was in Brazil at the time, and he was interviewed by multiple media outlets in Brazil, usually in a very hostile manner, far more interested in attacking his character and methods than addressing the substance of his revelations. 

Elon Musk saw all of this—obviously, he pays attention to the Twitter Files—and responded to all of that over the weekend by launching a series of very vitriolic attacks on this one Supreme Court judge overseeing the censorship regime, calling him a tyrant and urging his impeachment. Musk also vowed that X would prefer to disobey unjust censorship orders and even leave Brazil than continue to be used as a weapon in service of this regime. The same decision that Rumble made concerning Brazil last year. That, in turn, provoked very aggressive threats from this judge. He declared Musk to be a target of a pending criminal investigation involving fake news and disinformation. He just inserted Musk into this pending criminal investigation as one of the targets of the criminal probe. He also ordered X employees in Brazil to be questioned by the federal police and explicitly threatened them in writing, with arrest and prosecution if X permitted any banned voices to return to the platform. All of this demonstrates the severity of the growing censorship regime, not only in Brazil but throughout the democratic world. Precisely because Brazil has been so extreme is why it's so relevant to Americans, because it's being used as a laboratory to see how far control over the Internet and online speech can go. Europe and the United States have embarked on their own online censorship regime. We have been reporting on that extensively to the point that it's now at the Supreme Court. What is being done in Brazil is a harbinger of what is coming to the West. We will report on everything that happened here and explore its quite significant implications. 

Then: Republican House Speaker Mike Johnson has long been a vocal and steadfast opponent of the U.S. Security State, generally in its attempts to censor the Internet and spy on Americans in particular. Shortly before becoming a speaker, we interviewed him on this show, and he was very clear about his views on these questions. Yet since being elected Speaker, Mike Johnson has seemingly changed his views in quite radical ways on many key issues. He was a longtime opponent of providing more U.S. aid to the war in Ukraine, yet now is working to ensure that Joe Biden's $60 billion request for Ukraine is approved in the House, even if that means relying on Democrats and Democratic protection to do so. Earlier today, Speaker Johnson tried to bring to the floor a vote to renew the domestic spying powers of the NSA and the FBI and to do so without allowing even a single reform, safeguard, or warrant requirement. In other words, Speaker Johnson worked hard to give the Biden White House and the U.S. Security State what they were demanding for renewal of their domestic spying powers and spying on Americans, which was originally enacted during the Bush administration in the name of the War on Terror, and to renew it without any reforms or protections at all. But Mike Johnson had a serious surprise today: his own caucus delivered a major and quite unusual defeat to the House Speaker, with 19 members defecting and preventing the speaker from bringing the bill to the floor. It is likely that some domestic spying bill will eventually pass, though it's not guaranteed and we'll explain what happened today in Congress that dealt a serious blow to the efforts suddenly led by Speaker Johnson, to hand the FBI all these spying powers they want without a single reform. We also will have various members of Congress on over the next week or so to talk about the war in Ukraine, to talk about the FISA law and related issues as well. 

For now, welcome to a new episode of System Update, starting right now. 

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