Thursday, December 30, 2021

NATO’s cognitive warfare and the destruction of the truth

History is constrained by a series of laws. Empires fall, productive forces become obsolete after society gets ready to outgrow them, inequalities destroy societies when they get too big, the environment turns against civilizations when it’s abused too much, and so on. These principles conflict with the ideology of the capitalist ruling class, especially in the imperialist countries. And this contradiction grows bigger as capitalism’s crises intensify. So the ruling class within these countries is engineering methods for waging a cognitive war against its internal population.

Reacting to the U.S. empire’s decline—both externally and internally

These methods must, in accordance with this trend of capital compensating for its own weaknesses, continuously increase in their subtlety and scope. The re-emergence of great-power competition during the last decade has provided a pretext for this intensification of the empire’s internal propaganda. 

During the leadup to the Ukraine proxy war with Russia that Washington started in 2014, which has required an extensive effort to portray Ukraine’s belligerent fascist regime as the victim, the U.S. repealed a Cold War-era ban on domestic covert psychological operations. This has allowed for the CIA to secretly spread its disinformation throughout numerous media outlets. In 2016, after the start of the propaganda campaign about “Russian interference,” Obama passed a law which allows an agency called the Global Engagement Center to target domestic dissenting media. And in 2020, NATO added a new category of warfare to sea, air, land, and cyber: “human.” This means it now sees the battle for public sentiments as equaling the importance of these other categories.

Capitalism’s crises have prompted such an investment in propaganda. The contradictions that the bourgeois ideology needs to overcome are now greater than ever. This is because only in the 21st century, and most of all during the pandemic-era promise for a “great reset,” is capital’s idealized image so utopian. Big Tech has commodified unprecedented innovations in virtual reality, artificial intelligence, and other facets of the classic predictions about what “the future” will look like. In everything from medicine to education, tech monopolies and billionaires are presenting themselves as what can bring society out of the current calamity.

Since the high-tech sector is positioned to become the type of monopoly which will dominate capital in the 21st century, the “great reset” and its promise for a technological golden age are now the central rationales behind capitalism. The bright, hyperconnected future that technocrat capitalist institutions like the World Economic Forum are putting forth in their promotions of the reset is what the masses are supposed to latch onto, the positive space which fills the negative space in our cultural consciousness. But the hope it provides is utterly hollow, because it couldn’t be further removed from our conditions.

Throughout the pandemic, malnourished households in the U.S. have jumped from eleven to fifteen percent. During this last year’s eviction crisis, homelessness has increased for the fourth year in a row. Millions have lost their health coverage due to job losses, contributing to the USA’s still globally unsurpassed pandemic death toll. During future crises, our socioeconomic system will leave society even less prepared; the Pentagon predicts that if the country’s infrastructure isn’t updated after its decades of neglect under neoliberalism, the electrical grid will collapse under the climatic disasters of the next generation. The government lets the situation continue spiraling downwards, and towards this catastrophic scenario.

Neoliberalism is an engineered collapse of society in order to siphon wealth upwards, and the ruling class will never allow this collapse to end. The civilization that the tech monopolies oversee is one of perpetual instability, designed to repeat cycles of economic crashes and growing inequality. The ruling class has to keep intensifying inequality, because the impacts of profit decline and U.S. imperial collapse must be foisted onto the lower classes for the system to stay intact. The two trillion dollars U.S. billionaires have gained during the pandemic has made these trends more dramatic than ever. Under these conditions, the advertised techno-utopia is increasingly disconnected from reality for most.

Blunting revolutionary consciousness by vilifying existing socialism

Stalin wrote that “The development of consciousness is preceded by the development of the material side, the development of the external conditions: first the external conditions change, first the material side changes, and then consciousness, the ideal side, changes accordingly.” Naturally, since the current long depression began in 2008, Americans have started viewing socialism favorably at a rate of around forty percent. Which contrasts with socialism’s support rate of less than half of this during the more prosperous Cold War era.

Radicalization towards revolutionary consciousness is occurring among the masses, with the ideas about capitalism ushering in a technological utopia being isolated to the elites. When the only “hopeful” side of the ruling class ideology is so detached from the masses, this ideology can only maintain itself by instilling the masses with anti-communist war fever. By diverting people’s focus onto an external set of enemies, ones which represent a system that they’re told is even worse than what they live under.

The radicalization of the last decade or so has been impossible for the ruling class and its cognitive warfare agents to stop. But they have been able to blunt the growth of class consciousness, to render people’s concept of “socialism” detached from what socialism actually is. They’ve done this by normalizing a kind of anti-communism which differs from the traditional reactionary sentiment about communism blanketly being a bad thing. This type provides leeway for people to support “communism” as a vague concept, while portraying the actual projects towards communist development as not truly communist. 

Ideally for the ruling class, everyone would have that simple reactionary hostility towards the very word “socialism.” But if someone identifies as a socialist, it’s preferable for them to still accept the propaganda about China committing genocide against the Uyghurs, north Korea being a monarchical dictatorship, Cuba oppressing its people, and Stalin having been a murderous dictator. And if someone identifies as a communist, it’s preferable for them to see the socialist countries as merely pretending to be socialist, as perversions of the true Marxist vision. Within the political factions that take these positions, standards for what constitutes “socialism” are perpetually raised so that the given socialist countries can be dismissed. And the contradictions within these countries get either exaggerated, or mixed in with false claims.

The equivalent applies to Venezuela, Syria, Nicaragua, Iran, Russia, Belarus, and any other given country the U.S. empire seeks regime change within; lies get accepted uncritically both by the rightists, and by the “leftists” who aren’t willing to break out of imperialist narratives. What’s unique about China, Cuba, the DPRK, Vietnam, Laos, and (in terms of historical interpretations) the USSR is that the reactionaries and the synthetic left have a special stake in vilifying them. 

Marxism-Leninism’s successes represent an ideological threat to capitalism, showing that there’s an alternative to the neoliberal paradigm. They also represent a threat to the synthetic left’s idealistic and individualistic concepts about what social change should mean, showing that a state, a democratic centralist party, and an openness towards utilizing markets are instrumental in achieving the living standard increases which have occurred within all of the socialist countries—China most of all. So the synthetic left is eager to repeat the lies the reactionaries produce about these countries.

When sensationalistic websites claim that China’s president is a billionaire—even though no conclusive research has been done to determine his net worth—the rumor will be believed not just by the reactionaries who claim that communism produces inequality, but by the members of the synthetic left, who grasp onto any narrative which “exposes” China’s communist party as not truly communist. These misinformation campaigns can even be especially effective at persuading leftists, because leftists have already taken on an opposition towards capitalism and imperialism—and therefore can be made to passionately hate the Communist Party of China if they’re convinced that it’s capitalist and imperialist.

When the U.S. media claims China is “colonizing” Africa, this fits into the consciousness of those who know colonialism is bad, but who haven’t gained the education to discern when the term is abused. The same goes for narratives like the fictitious Uyghur genocide, which is portrayed as a “settler-colonial” atrocity by imperial center intellectuals.

It’s this infusion of anti-communism within the left, especially “left” academia, that lends a sense of untouchability to the CIA’s propaganda. The falsehoods put forth by Radio Free Asia, the paid north Korean and Uyghur defectors, regime change think tanks, south Korean tabloids, biased academics, “humanitarian” non-governmental organizations, and the CIA propaganda network’s other sources are put through filters which make them appear objective. These filters, whether liberal professors, activist personalities, or “left-wing” pundits, allow anti-communists from all parts of the ideological spectrum to not have to re-examine their faith in the propaganda.

The propaganda’s targeting of both the left and the right reduces the potential for anti-communist orthodoxy to be challenged. And if anyone speaks out against these narratives, their arguments can be rendered ineffective—at least when aimed at those who’ve already been fully absorbed by imperialism’s narratives. Opposing the claims of “human rights abuses” about Washington’s regime change target countries is met with moral outrage. The dissenters get labeled atrocity deniers, in addition to traitors, foreign agents, or derogatory concepts about what a communist is. 

With how extreme these atrocity narratives are, it’s inevitable that the discourse has become so emotionally charged, with the defenders of the narratives believing they’re speaking on behalf of highly oppressed populations. Propaganda’s purpose is to make a population police itself. With the ingraining of these perceptions about communism, the CIA has achieved this goal, with NATO’s 2020 cognitive warfare report describing it in more direct terms: “to turn everyone into a weapon.”

All of these developments within our discourse have been carefully engineered. The stories about concentration camps, forced labor, and mass sterilizations within Xinjiang, sourced from highly insufficient studies which interview people whose stories are contradicted by their fellow Uyghurs within China, echo psychological operations from the CIA’s past. During the empire’s campaign to destroy the last bastion of socialism in Europe by breaking up Yugoslavia, CIA agents planted fake stories and carried out false flags in order to frame the Serbs. Through this disinformation effort, which was targeted towards Yugoslavians themselves even more than towards Americans, the CIA convinced many of the locals to celebrate NATO as a liberator.

Because the empire’s attempts to use atrocity stories to incite Xinjiang’s Uyghurs have failed to produce new terrorist attacks during the last several years, its propaganda campaign is being turned inwards. The CIA is using the myth of a Uyghur genocide to wage what amounts to a class-based psychological war against the USA’s own people. When the world’s largest workers state is seen by most Americans as genocidal, they can be swayed towards a visceral hostility against Marxist-Leninist theory and organizing. Even as their own conditions worsen, they can be influenced into becoming fanatical anti-communists—whether this takes the form of believing that communism itself is genocidal, or that communism has been hijacked by a fascist regime which is masquerading as communist. Either is sufficient for preemptively eliminating the potential for someone to become revolutionary.

Importing the propaganda & censorship tactics of U.S.-backed dictatorships

The material impacts of this cognitive warfare are both for more of the masses to behave apathetically by rejecting communist organizing, and for more of them to become radicalized towards participating in fascist paramilitarism. This is another impact that the CIA’s anti-communist propaganda has historically had abroad. 

Following the coup the CIA orchestrated in Indonesia in 1965, the new military regime invented a story about the communists having brutally tortured the country’s generals during the effort to stop the coup. After banning all media which disputed this account, the military went into communities that had previously not been hostile towards communism, and successfully corralled them into assisting in a political mass killing campaign. In the coming months, hundreds of thousands died after being caught as members of the communist party, or after being suspected of holding pro-communist leanings. Ethnic minorities like the Chinese were also targeted in the genocide.

Washington then exported this model throughout Latin America, which had already been swinging in the direction of junta rule with the 1964 military coup. In Argentina, Chile, and the other neo-colonies that the CIA transformed into dictatorships, there emerged a set of myths to vilify communists, and variations of the Indonesian dictatorship’s call to destroy communism at the root. The CIA’s psychological operations were deeply involved in the creation of these myths and slogans, but they weren’t enough on their own. The propaganda of these regimes and their Washington backers had to be distributed amid intensive suppression of the opposition press. 

As assessed by Ohio University’s Brad T. Eidahl, Chile’s dictatorship accomplished this even while allowing for an opposition press to technically exist:

In the coup’s immediate wake, journalists had their freedoms of speech and press restricted, and the regime required all new publications to secure permission in order to publish. Once approved, a publication would go through an initial stage where the regime employed a policy of prior censorship, which required the press to submit drafts of articles to the censorship office for approval. Later in the 1970s, the regime expected the press to practice self-censorship (autocensura) to control content. Under self-censorship, editors censored their own papers because they risked fines and imprisonment for printing information, including reports of human-rights violations, which the regime deemed slanderous or inflammatory. Within this otherwise repressive framework, Pinochet allowed for some opposition press outlets to function…

The U.S. has reached a point more similar to this than ever. McCarthyism has been brought back in the form of “Russiagate,” the narrative about Russian infiltration into the country. As the intelligence agencies have spuriously provided the basis for this claim, it’s been used to not just tighten censorship against anti-imperialist media, but stigmatize anti-imperialists in the popular imagination. Everyone within the core imperialist countries who challenges imperialist narratives is made out to be part of a grand conspiracy of foreign subversion. When those within the targeted countries themselves speak out against these narratives, they’re branded as bots, or judged to be pawns of the vilified governments.

Given the amount of censorship these labels have been used to justify, with media suppression going so far as to force some outlets to register as foreign agencies, it’s unsurprising that instances of self-censorship are easy to find within our institutions. After the 2018 propaganda campaign about Assad having supposedly committed a chemical attack, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons suppressed the findings of its own researchers out of desire to not contradict the U.S. government’s narrative about what happened in Syria.

This self-censorship scandal was revealed in 2019 by Wikileaks, but the revelation’s impact on the public consciousness was itself made to be limited; not just because of the routine online censorship of stories like this, but because Wikileaks has been made out to be a Russian propaganda tool. The ongoing incarceration and torture of its founder Julian Assange, who was imprisoned for exposing U.S. war crimes, has established a precedent for the consequences of genuine journalism. And just as under Pinochet, reports about these kinds of human rights violations are themselves classified as false—not because they can be debunked, but because the very act of talking about them is considered aiding a sinister conspiracy. Conversely, questioning the assertions about human rights abuses by Assad, Maduro, and other vilified leaders is considered reprehensible.

These narratives have become entrenched during the last decade, as social media has solidified its status as the hegemonic driver of consciousness. Language has been restructured to block the potential for anti-communist and imperialist narratives to be questioned, classifying all dissent against this propaganda as disinformation. As indicated by the intelligence statements that have listed U.S. inequality, corporate power, and corruption as rhetorical points in the supposed foreign subversion campaigns, this ingrained hostility towards dissent ultimately applies both to foreign and domestic affairs. When the intelligence centers and their tied media outlets warn against “foreign propaganda,” they’re demanding the citizenry adopt self-deception as a mental discipline. To view all information which contradicts the capitalist orthodoxy as suspect.

A militarized mass culture

It’s this war mentality that’s key to the survival of the worldview the ruling class promotes. Due to the deteriorating conditions of the masses, the masses can’t disbelieve in capitalism’s dysfunctionality and corruption. But if indoctrinated with the ideas that journalism exposing capitalism is foreign propaganda, and that the working alternative to capitalism is a “totalitarian” caricature of communism, they’ll compartmentalize these realities.

They’ll simultaneously recognize their conditions, while ignoring them when reality comes into conflict with the new cold war’s mindset. This mindset being that all must unite to defend against the opposing geopolitical bloc, or else this bloc will somehow make conditions in the imperial center even worse. There’s always the threat that unless you reject these foreign ideas, the foreigners will make your quality of life further diminished—whether this means through “destroying our democratic institutions,” or through bringing communist “totalitarianism” to the “free” United States.

During a stage of capitalism where Big Tech has become dominant—both in terms of monopoly capital and in terms of policing the flow of information—such a warlike mindset is natural for capital to cultivate. The high-tech sector has become deeply part of the military-industrial complex, providing the industrial base for the Pentagon’s military buildup against its rivals. The imperialist propaganda outlet the Washington Post is owned by Jeff Bezos, who has Amazon make deals with the Pentagon. Google, which suppresses search results that link to anti-imperialist sources, is seeking further contracts with the Pentagon. Facebook, which is behind much of the censorship, is building its “metaverse” with a firm that also makes military contracts. Facebook has also partnered with a NATO-backed think tank in deciding which content to suppress, and has hired NATO’s press officer as its intelligence chief. During the new cold war, a revolving door of military officials has emerged both within the corporate media, and within the platforms now primarily used to distribute that media.

The product is a mass culture resembling that of an imperialist military base. The world is separated between an in-group and an other, dissent is suppressed through potentially torturous methods, and everyone is conditioned to blindly defer to authorities. The authorities being the intelligence centers and NATO, despite many of imperialist propaganda’s adherents believing their perceptions of the targeted countries don’t come from these sources. This militaristic societal model is presented as the only way to uphold “freedom.” Which seems paradoxical, but fits into the definition of freedom that bourgeois ideology puts forth. This is a definition that’s entirely focused around individualism—and that therefore accommodates both capitalist exploitation, and the synthetic left’s idealized vision for a revolution that’s free from “authoritarianism.”

What this produces is a society that’s deeply atomized, and that grows ever more atomized due to Big Tech profiting off of people’s socially isolated retreat into electronic hallucinations. Capital is commodifying the social ills it’s produced, selling the products in its “great reset” as the solutions to our crisis. This makes the mass consciousness emptier, and less able to unite behind a cohesive vision for what the future can look like. The ruling class has created a hole within our collective psyche. A hole it fills with hatred and lies.


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Saturday, December 25, 2021

Perpetual war is capitalism’s hope for surviving the 21st century

The ideology behind capitalism, colonialism, and imperialism is based around the idea that competition, rather than cooperation, is the natural state of humanity. That the species is destined to eternally be at odds with itself, both on an individual and civilizational level. This was the claim put forth by a faction of academic thinkers, along with their adjacent pundits and political leaders, during the last years of the second millennium: that human beings are incompatible with peace, and that our political decisions should stem from this assumption. This view was called the “clash of civilizations.”

An endless clash

These thinkers came out with this view following the end of the Cold War, and the inception of the final spike for U.S. hegemony that some of their peers considered the final victory for capitalism. The “end of history” is what this perception was called. If these two ideas were to be accepted —as much of the liberal ruling class had done and still does—they form a vision for a future where capitalism will rule forever, despite the numerous threats to capitalism which have emerged since the USSR’s collapse. This is because the “end of history” view claimed not that there would never again be any variables in history’s development, but that capitalism’s demise had been eliminated as one of those variables.

If the “clash of civilizations” implies an endless rivalry between the different cultural or geopolitical blocs, then the “end of history” accommodates this expectation by implying the imperialist powers will never go extinct within the eternal competition. The pro-U.S. bloc could undergo losses, as it has throughout the last half-century, but it will never cease to exist. It’s apparent that the pro-U.S. bloc and its intelligentsia accept these two ideas because despite Pentagon analysts themselves acknowledging the unprecedented decline U.S. influence has undergone in the last twenty years, it’s still seen as a given that the empire will go on. The Pentagon is still laying plans for wars that it implies as happening many decades from now.

If the “clash of civilizations” and the “end of history” are the dual beliefs which inform how the empire has operated for the last generation or so, the state of perpetual war which the empire has been in since 9/11 is seen as only natural. So does the prospect of the wars continuing into the end of the century, if not far longer. From the perspective of wanting to preserve the U.S. sphere of influence, unending war is part of the unavoidable order of things. 

During the stage of crisis that capitalism has been in since the perpetual war era started, constant conflict is the only way to keep the system intact. It’s instrumental not just for preventing a multipolar world and another wave of Global South revolutions, but for maintaining profits. As profits have declined since World War II, and especially since the 70s economic crash, the ruling class has only been able to maintain its capital by siphoning wealth upward through neoliberal policies. These policies have been reinforced by militarism—which diverts resources away from social services—while facilitating ways to make war increasingly profitable. 

Ever more, the imperialist powers lean onto the war economy, and during the new cold war they’ve heavily incorporated Big Tech into this. As Silicon Valley expands its power by assisting the Pentagon, it sets itself up to assume the central role behind capitalism’s preservation during the 21st century. Should the forces of labor not triumph over capital within any major imperialist countries, after the current long depression there may arise new growth and investment, where the capital that survives finds new ways to exploit the world. The high-tech sector’s innovations make it prime to become this new era’s great monopoly. Only the perpetuation of war, both for the sake of stopping revolution and for the sake of solidifying Big Tech’s capital, can carry the sector through to this outcome.

When the U.S. boycotted this year’s Winter Olympics by refusing to send its diplomats to the event, it further solidified this project. The protest, made against the games being held in Beijing over supposed “human rights” concerns, has divided the world by showcasing which countries are most loyal to Washington’s struggle against the multipolar order. So far the U.K., Canada, and Australia have joined in the diplomatic boycott, which is unsurprising given that the “Five Eyes” imperialist intelligence alliance consists of Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the U.K., and the U.S.

While New Zealand is the outlier, it’s militarily maneuvering against China in lockstep with the others. This month New Zealand’s Defense Ministry put out a report declaring that “strategic competition” and global warming “pose a threat to New Zealand’s sovereignty and other key national security interests.” It said this calls for a “predominantly reactive risk management-centred approach” so that the country can shift to a more “deliberate and proactive strategy.”

In this way, Washington’s manipulations of the politics of the Olympics have had their full desired results. The imperialist powers are united in the mission of militarily building up against China, Russia, Iran, and the smaller powers which defy U.S. hegemony. They’ll go on with this mission for as long as China remains a socialist republic, for as long as Russia is willing to challenge Washington, and for as long as former neo-colonies like Iran haven’t yet been recolonized. Since these criteria will in all likelihood never be met, the empire will never stop waging war.

This intent for permanent conflict is made clear from examining the goals behind what Washington is doing in its key warfare areas, which all pertain to the great-power competition that’s emerged with China. Washington is involved in Afghanistan so that it can prevent the expansion of China’s Belt and Road Initiative into the country. Which will require generations-long intervention projects.

Sowing chaos

The intervention tactics alternate depending on the moment, but the overall strategy remains the same: holding back the influence of Washington’s rivals by rendering the given country or region hostile towards development, investment, and diplomatic cooperation with the countries challenging U.S. hegemony. In 2021, Washington’s tactic for this in Afghanistan shifted from direct military occupation to the backing of proxy forces. It could change back if Washington’s sanctions on Afghanistan succeed at destabilizing the country and deposing the Taliban government, but the empire’s campaign towards sowing chaos will remain consistent whatever the outcome.

The campaign will continue to encompass not just Afghanistan itself, but the region as a whole. This is the crucial part of the strategy for holding back significant BRI investments in Afghanistan. Because even if the Taliban suppresses the terrorist groups Washington has been activating in the country since the troop pullout, China will still be deterred by the attacks on their workers elsewhere. In Pakistan, Chinese nationals are frequently killed by militants while trying to complete development projects, which Washington’s own think tanks (like the Council on Foreign Relations) observe to be a decisive factor behind why the BRI will keep stalling within Afghanistan. Washington’s bombings and drone warfare within Pakistan and other places are as essential to sowing terrorism as the covert backing of these militant groups. Without these provocations, which overwhelmingly kill civilians, the local populations couldn’t be radicalized into becoming militants.

The same tactics of terrorist backing, economic sabotage, and “counterterrorism” warfare are being used to prevent China from rebuilding Syria, which Assad desperately needs after a decade of war. Due to Syria’s economic crisis caused by Washington’s proxy war, and to the ever-tightening imperialist sanctions against Syria, China is being held back from committing to investment in the country. For as long as the costs of investing within these places remains so severe, China won’t be assured that it would see benefits in return. So is the case in Yemen, where Washington continues to back the Saudi offensive due to its viewing Yemen as a ground for proxy warfare with Iran—and as another front in the campaign against the BRI. Washington needs to bring and perpetuate instability within these countries in order to keep a multipolar world from fully emerging.

The imperialists are especially concerned with bringing this model for sabotaging the BRI to south Asian countries like Myanmar, where the military government has been implementing Chinese development projects. Washington is sowing terrorism in Myanmar, and in other countries throughout the region, with the hope of reversing their progress. Of making them as compromised as Afghanistan, Syria, or Yemen. 

For this reason, Washington’s proxy war on Lebanon is focused not just on getting the anti-Zionist Hezbollah out of the country’s government, but on wresting away China’s influence. The public relations campaign that imperialist leaders like Emmanuel Macron carried out following last year’s Beirut explosion shows the U.S. bloc is willing to exploit any tragedy within the country in order to get its way. The same destabilization tactic is now being applied to Iraq as the U.S. ends its combat operations within the country; due to the conditions the Iraq invasion created, Iraq is teetering on the edge of civil war, which the U.S. sees as a favorable route for stopping the spread of Iranian and Chinese influence.

This desire for chaos applies even more to Ethiopia, which has been developing towards economic independence through the BRI. With Ethiopia being a highly influential country in the horn of Africa, destroying this progress is a top priority for Washington. Which is apparent from its backing of the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front—a terrorist group that started its 2020 insurgency during harvest time so it could sabotage crops, has been hoarding food aid, and uses the country’s famine as a propaganda tool for vilifying the Ethiopan and Eritrean governments.

The ideal end goal in the region would be a military intervention, but Washington will be satisfied merely if its proxy succeeds at creating a Libya-esque failed state. Through its meddling, Washington has already brought much of the rest of the horn of Africa into such disarray. And as Latin America increasingly embraces China, Washington is applying such destabilization measures to countries like Haiti, which has been subjected to a preemptive counterrevolution via this year’s Colombian-perpetrated assassination of its previous president.

Latin America’s anti-imperialist countries are targeted more severely, with sanctions being perpetually tightened against Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela while the U.S. sows mercenary subversion within their borders. Mexico, Peru, and Bolivia are being attacked in more subtle ways, involving the backing of their internal bourgeoisie and of their reactionary militant factions. Honduras has joined them now that a leftist has again been elected as its president, and Chile also just became a target after electing a candidate who aims to dismantle neoliberalism.

Especially in Latin America, U.S. Cyber Command is part of these destabilization campaigns. This goes both for attempts to recolonize countries that have broken free from imperial control (like when the U.S. sabotaged Venezuela’s electrical grid during the 2019 coup attempt), and for attempts to hold onto neo-colonies (like when Colombia experienced internet outages while protesters were trying to expose this year’s police brutality within the country). Israel uses the same communications and infrastructure sabotage tactics against Gazans.

In accordance with the hidden nature of modern imperialism, where the imperialist powers are portrayed as being economically independent despite their constant drive to enforce a sphere of influence, all of these hybrid wars are covert. It’s never acknowledged by the U.S. that the electrical and internet outages are Cyber Command’s doing. And the CIA creates a layer of plausible deniability between itself and the terrorists it backs, with this concealment sometimes involving funding the terror through CIA front groups like the National Endowment for Democracy. This was the case for the NED-funded Hong Kong riots of 2019, which then got replicated in other south Asian regime change targets like Thailand. The U.S. sanctions on Sri Lanka and Cambodia are to prepare them for similar subversion efforts. Extensive ties to China are what these three countries have in common.

The hybrid wars depend on regional U.S. puppet states, which themselves conceal or deny their roles behind the destabilization operations. When Pakistan reports that India is backing terrorists within its borders, India portrays these reports as disinformation. When Yemeni officials say their country has been a victim of Israeli destabilization schemes, the Israelis continue portraying themselves as agents of peace who are being targeted by malicious propaganda. Because Colombia’s foreign operations (such as the Haitian assassination) are carried out by the country’s mercenaries, it can claim to not be culpable, even though Colombian mercenaries have long been integral to U.S. foreign policy. 

Sacrificing the most vulnerable 

These proxy warfare countries themselves intertwine in their warfare operations. Colombia is a major benefactor of Israel’s military technology, which has allowed for the testing of the “Plan Colombia” anti-guerrilla military operating model. While this model has been embraced as an imperialist route for putting down insurgencies worldwide, Israel has further exported its innovations in militarism by sending weapons to Ukraine. This has had consequences parallel to the atrocities committed by Colombia’s death squads and armed forces.

Because U.S. foreign policy elites are operating off of the beliefs that conflict is unavoidable, and that liberalism’s triumph must be ensured at all costs, they accept that these cold war maneuvers will come at an extreme human toll. During the last era of great-power competition, millions of lives were lost to Washington’s military interventions, proxy wars, sanctions, and installations of genocidal dictatorships. So it’s always been a given that the inhabitants of the formerly colonized world, as well as those caught within cold war fronts like Ukraine, will bear the main costs of the new geopolitical clash.

It’s in Ukraine where this has been most viscerally apparent. Within half a year after the coup that the U.S. orchestrated in the country in 2014, the new fascist regime retaliated against the successful referendum for Russian annexation by surrounding the city of Luhansk, then subjecting it to constant shelling for several months. During this time, water and electricity were cut off, and no supplies were allowed in or out. The siege, whose purpose was effectively to punish the locals for voting to join Russia, overwhelmed the city’s infrastructure while leaving 200 dead. It took seven years to recover the bodies from the mass grave, since the war continues to this day and the site has remained chaotic.

The victims were killed not by the Russians, but by the Ukrainian Army, which also facilitated war crimes in the neighboring villages by assigning Nazi militias to violently occupy them. As the country has descended into failed state status, with the pandemic accelerating the process by overwhelming an inadequate healthcare system, these militias have filled the power vacuum. Which has allowed for more persecution of dissidents, journalists, Jews, Romas, and the LGBT community, all under the guise of deterring “Russian aggression.” These paramilitary atrocities are participated in jointly with the official armed forces, which regularly shoot refugees along the Belarusian border. 

The parallel abuses that the region’s other NATO-backed reactionary regimes Poland and Lithuania commit against refugees serve the same purpose: picking off the individuals who’ve become disposable within the global order that the imperialists have created. These refugees are fleeing to inner Europe, both from the countries to the south and from within Belarus itself, because NATO has rendered these places largely unlivable. Washington is now using the humanitarian fallout to drive this destabilization further, imposing more sanctions on Belarus for allegedly weaponizing the migrant crisis. NATO and the E.U. won’t rein in the region’s far-right regimes, because they’re crucial assets in the military buildup against Russia. Arms budgets have been surging in the Baltic states since Russia again became a challenger to Washington, while Poland and Ukraine have become Washington’s key allies in the region.

This sacrificing of those who flee the destruction imperialism causes has been intensifying in correlation with the decline of U.S. hegemony since the USSR’s fall. When the Berlin Wall came down, there were six physical walls along borders or in occupied territories worldwide. Now there are at least sixty-three. This exponential growth has partly been a byproduct of the new cold war’s military buildup; as places like Scandinavia have joined the drive towards militarization, they’ve tightened their borders, with Norway having built a border fence with Russia in 2016. (Which is only a correlation, but is still an echo of the last cold war.) It’s also been caused by the tightening of U.S. immigration laws that started in the 90s, and the founding of Immigration Customs Enforcement during the first years of the “War on Terror.” These have produced the country’s ever-growing migrant detention centers, as well as the heavy militarization of U.S. border policy, which has seen troops stationed along the southern border since 2018 with no end in sight.

Washington’s militarization of the lands these migrants are fleeing furthers the humanitarian cost of the war the empire is waging. Imperialism’s role behind the refugee crises goes beyond the sanctions, the proxy wars, and the invasions. Since 2007 with the introduction of AFRICOM, the U.S. has been intensifying its military buildup throughout Africa, Latin America, Oceania, and southern-to-western Asia. The military occupation has been the most destructive in Africa, facilitating drone strikes which frequently kill civilians and enabling U.S.-friendly despotic regimes like Uganda’s dictatorship. In Somalia, the warfare AFRICOM facilitates has settled into a self-perpetuating cycle where Washington cultivates terrorist groups, “fights” those groups through drone strikes which mainly kill non-combatants, then brings further terrorism by giving propaganda ammunition to the jihadists.

Washington’s militarization of these other regions has brought similar consequences. SOUTHCOM’s cooperation with the Bolsonaro regime has made another dictatorial coup within the country more likely by fortifying the country’s internal militarization. And Washington has been propping up India’s brutal BJP regime due to India being vital in countering China. The BJP’s colonial occupation of Kashmir and genocide against Muslims are simply seen as more costs of perpetuating the war. Washington’s anti-Chinese military adventurism surrounding India, and use of India as a regional proxy warfare tool, wouldn’t be possible if the U.S. didn’t court the regime.

Entrenching an arms race

This cold war military buildup is where the empire is pivoting as it pulls out of the so-called “Middle East.” Its resources are being diverted to building up AFRICOM, and to thickening the direct military encirclement of China. It’s why right after the U.S. has supposedly made a major step towards ending the wars by officially withdrawing from Afghanistan, the country’s military budget is being further increased by the billions. The decrepitude of U.S. infrastructure and the economic deprivation of the country’s people throughout the pandemic aren’t deterring this trend either; imperialism’s 21st century role has called for militarism to be not just redirected, but continuously expanded.

The new arms race paradigm will solidify, expanding into the Arctic as global warming makes the region more open to international contestation. This applies to the nuclear aspect in addition to the conventional aspect. The military budget’s ongoing rise indicates as such. It remains to be seen whether the Biden administration will in any way reverse Trump’s plans for a drastically expanded nuclear arsenal throughout the next decade, and its decision will depend on how it judges the nuclear reduction actions of its rivals—which will obviously be skewed.

The empire will never listen to the warnings from scientists, who judge today’s nuclear tensions to be more dangerous than the ones from the previous cold war. Perpetual brinkmanship is the only route it will pursue, and this is clear not just from its military buildup but from its growing rejection of de-escalation measures. Throughout the War on Terror and the new great-power competition, Washington has engineered a decline of diplomacy, fostering a culture within its own foreign policy bureaucracy which focuses more on military maneuvers than on diplomatic statecraft. 

The effects of this show through in that unlike during the last cold war, Washington is now essentially uninterested in detente. U.S. officials can only envision more arms buildup, and they see even the warming of the planet through the lens of grand warfare tactics. Further militarizing the Arctic and the Pacific is now viewed by foreign policy elites as a top priority in the face of the climate crisis, which they regard as an opening for China and Russia to gain geopolitical leverage.

The more entrenched the arms buildup paradigm grows, the more this orthodoxy of militarization being crucial for responding to the environmental crisis proliferates within Washington’s sphere of influence. NATO 2030, the plan to effectively assimilate Japan, south Korea, Australia, and New Zealand into the treaty organization, is facilitating this process. It’s not enough to get these U.S. allies within China’s hemisphere to build up their militaries, which they’ve already been doing. They have to be officially absorbed into the rest of the bloc.

In these countries, NATO 2030 will establish a role for NATO that’s more involved in their internal policies, and that’s particularly focused on their climate responses. This comes from the view NATO has adopted that global warming is a “threat multiplier,” which serves as a rationale for the interventions the Pentagon aims to carry out in the coming decades. These interventions will target countries which are both especially vulnerable to climatic catastrophes, and have been seeing BRI benefits. Bangladesh fits both of these categories, and was consequently named in a 2019 Pentagon report about where the U.S. might intervene in response to the climate crisis.

NATO 2030 is about creating a narrative precedent for these future wars by waging warfare simultaneously under the guise of climate “humanitarianism,” and to advance the imperialist bloc’s interests by sabotaging the BRI. Both of these goals fit with the “threat multiplier” view towards global warming, since global warming is seen as a warfare tool by Washington’s adversaries. The empire can further its geopolitical maneuvers, while claiming to be advancing “human rights.” Which are already viewed as synonymous goals, due to Washington’s cultivated image as the upholder of global human wellbeing.

With this regionally expanded version of Washington’s Cold War alliance, all of the new cold war’s tactics—destabilization, occupation, exploitation of humanitarian crises, proxy warfare, paramilitarism, brinksmanship, drone strikes, bombings, scorched earth invasions, blockades—get solidified as the measures the imperialists invest in. They’ll continue with these activities until proletarian revolutions sweep the formerly colonized world, and then become capable of reaching the core imperialist countries. Throughout this transitional process, the imperialists will fight ever harder to reverse history’s progression, all while claiming that their decrepit neoliberal paradigm represents the future.


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Monday, December 20, 2021

Fascism’s new rise, NATO’s war escalations, & human rights abuses

From footage caught earlier this year of a fighter on the Ukrainian side firing in the trenches next to a Nazi flag

From footage caught earlier this year of a fighter on the Ukrainian side firing in the trenches next to a Nazi flag

In 2019, UN special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights Philip Alston predicted a “climate apartheid” scenario. He said that “democracy and the rule of law, as well as a wide range of civil and political rights are every bit at risk. The risk of community discontent, of growing inequality, and of even greater levels of deprivation among some groups, will likely stimulate nationalist, xenophobic, racist and other responses.” His conclusion was that “human rights might not survive the coming upheaval.” Just two years later, with the pandemic and the correlating intensification of geopolitical tensions, this assessment about crises producing horrors throughout the 21st century has been proven right.

Was Alston being hyperbolic when he said that human rights, as a blanket concept and not in a limited sense, will be totally annihilated by the political reactions to global warming? From a literal perspective, he was; bastions of humane policies have and will continue to exist in the places that have been freed from imperial control. Particularly in socialist countries like the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, which honest north Korean defectors have described as having the best human rights in the world. But he was right in that throughout the capitalist world, especially the parts of the capitalist world that the imperialists control, structural violence is going to be massively exacerbated by the century’s cataclysms.

The pandemic alone has given Washington and its aligned regimes ample opportunities to commit atrocities. Colombia’s state-backed paramilitaries have been taking advantage of the pandemic lockdowns to kill activists. The abuses of Indian law enforcement during the pandemic has exposed the human rights threat that the country’s police pose, especially under the genocidal Hindu nationalist BJP regime. A probe has recommended that Bolsonaro be charged with genocide for his deliberate worsening of the pandemic, which has disproportionately harmed Brazil’s colonized people. In the notoriously unsanitary U.S. migrant detention centers, deaths have surged since the pandemic’s start, a dynamic that’s also applied to the migrant detention facilities of other colonial powers like Australia. Through its bombings of civilian centers and arbitrary bans on medical equipment, Israel has been destroying Gaza’s means for fighting Covid-19. Colonialism and imperialism are exploiting this crisis to kill off the undesirables.

The part of the U.S. empire’s recent atrocity escalations that bodes worst for the coming decades is its warfare tactics along the periphery of Europe. To counter Russia, the imperialists have been engineering a series of humanitarian crises throughout the region, then exploiting these crises for propaganda purposes. This has centered around the creation of conflicts and economic conditions which have forced record amounts of people to flee their homes. 

The European Union has been complicit in Washington’s wars to destabilize Africa, southwest Asia, and eastern Europe. It’s backed not just the NATO interventions of the last two decades, but the U.S.-engineered proxy war in Ukraine—which began after Washington carried out a 2014 coup in Ukraine that installed a belligerently anti-Russian regime. This regime, put in place by an ultra-nationalist faction called Euromaidan, has fed off of and fed into the country’s crises. Its acceleration of post-Soviet neoliberalism has further eroded the country’s social services, and its attempts to suppress the pro-Russian separatists who want liberation from a new Ukrainian fascism have further destroyed the country’s capacity to handle Covid-19. The locals in eastern Ukraine, who are living through a pandemic mega-surge, aren’t fooled by the propaganda telling them to blame Russia for their misery; they blame the government NATO imposed upon them.

The signs of a catastrophe like this were here from the start of the new cold war. The initial human costs of the maidan’s rise were described this year by journalist Russel Bentley in response to the recent discovery of mass graves from the war:

In the summer of 2014, the Ukrainian Army launched a major offensive to isolate the cities of Eastern Ukraine and seal the border with Russia. The people of Lugansk and Donetsk had voted in a referendum to secede, as they regarded the newly imposed Ukrainian government as illegitimate and had close economic and cultural ties to Russia. During this attack, the city of Lugansk (pop. 400K) was surrounded and under siege for several months. Water and electricity were cut, no people or supplies were allowed in or out, and the city was subjected to constant shelling by heavy artillery. 

Hundreds were killed, and the infrastructure was overwhelmed. The Lugansk city officials were forced to make a mass grave in which more than 200 people, mostly civilians but also some militia members, were buried. The victims were killed primarily by the Ukrainian Army including by shellings—not by the Russians. War crimes were also committed in neighboring villages, including some occupied by right-wing militias that Kyiv had to rely on because many Ukrainians did not want to join the army to fight their own people.

This is how far the NATO-backed fascist regimes will go should war grant them the opportunity to massacre people with impunity. Through their anti-Russian military buildup, Ukraine’s parallel ultra-nationalist governments in the region are pushing to attain this opportunity, and they’re already effectively waging war against migrants and internal undesirables. Ukraine has so far gone the furthest in this wave of anti-migrant abuses, with Ukrainian soldiers having been revealed this month to be shooting Belarus border fleers. Poland isn’t far behind, with the brutal border policies of the country’s ruling far-right Law and Justice Party having recently prompted a Polish soldier to defect to Belarus out of moral objection towards his country’s treatment of migrants. Lithuania’s fascist regime has been committing human rights violations against migrants which keep growing in their acknowledged numbers.

All three of these regimes have been carrying out assaults against their marginalized populations for many years. Since 2008, Lithuania has banned Soviet and communist symbols, which in 2009 prompted European Parliament member Georgios Toussas to comment that “History has demonstrated that anti-Communism and the persecution of Communists are invariably the precursors of a general assault on working people, democratic rights and popular freedoms.” 

Since then, Ukraine and Poland have also progressively worked to outlaw communist symbolism, organizing, and speech. Which has naturally precipitated human rights abuses not just within NATO’s cold war battles, but within internal legislation. Ukraine’s regime has enabled the paramilitary targetings of Jews, Romas, and the LGBT community, as well as directly carried out torture against alleged traitors. Poland has implemented “LGBT free zones” that are designed to encourage hate crimes by enshrining religious bigotry into local laws, and was named the world’s “most autocratizing country” this year by the Democracy Index. 

The Index measures this by a country’s levels of free and fair elections, civil society organization repression, freedom of academic and cultural expression, government censorship efforts, government dissemination of domestic false information, and respect for counterarguments against the regime’s policies. It’s no coincidence that the pandemic, which has enabled U.S.-backed repressive regimes worldwide to erode liberties, began just prior to when Poland reached this point of unsurpassed speed in descent towards dictatorship.

Such is the context behind NATO’s “humanitarian” effort at subduing Russia and Belarus: the countries which are being used as the foremost military buildup tools against Putin and Lukashenko have grown into some of the most despotic, brutal regimes on the planet, all under the model of liberal “democracy” that Washington champions.

If this is how far the imperialists have taken their atrocities throughout the last decade or so of neoliberal economic collapse, geopolitical escalations, and pandemic waves, it’s hard to imagine the levels the abuses will reach by mid-century or onward. In their intensifying wars, nuclear tensions, anti-immigrant policies, and internal repression, provoked by capital’s contractions and the decline of U.S. hegemony, the imperialists have created a feedback loop of violence. One that will be made exponentially faster with each year of unprecedented climatic catastrophes.


If you appreciate my work, I hope you become a one-time or regular donor to my Patreon account. Like most of us, I’m feeling the economic pinch during late-stage capitalism, and I need money to keep fighting for a new system that works for all of us. Go to my Patreon here.