The ‘Pale Blue Dot’ is the name of the photograph of the Earth taken in 1990 by the Voyager spacecraft, some six billion kilometres away from our planet as the craft was about to leave the Solar System. The Earth appears as a miniscule dot, almost lost in the vastness of space .
The late astrophysicist Carl Sagan commented on it by saying that from out there in space, there is no inkling, no clue whatsoever, that there is life here; there is no hint of humankind’s squabbles, posturings, religions, civilizations or doctrines; there is no possible comprehension of the intensity or magnitude of human joys and wonder, prejudices and sufferings.
Sagan asked us to consider how much blood has been spilled by generals and emperors just to become temporary masters of one part of this small blue dot and how much cruelty has been visited time and time again by one set of the planet’s inhabitants on a barely indistinguishable other set of inhabitants.
And the posturings and cruelties continue.
Washington poured five billion dollars into Ukraine with the aim of eventually instigating a coup on Russia’s doorstep . When the former administration turned to Moscow rather than Washington and Europe for a financial package of assistance, Washington cashed in on its investment and facilitated the ousting of an elected government (however bad it may have been).
To the delight of and with support from Monsanto, Chevron and others, Ukraine is now laid bare for the structural plunder of its economy, which involves any IMF loans going straight into the hands of its very wealthy creditors [3,4]. It is called being ‘open for business’. It is called setting people free. It is ‘freedom and democracy’, the Wall Street version.
Current ‘aid’ packages are contingent on reforms that will have a devastating impact on Ukrainians’ standard of living and increase poverty in the country. Reforms mandated by the EU-backed loan include agricultural deregulation that is intended to benefit agribusiness corporations. Natural resource and land policy shifts are intended to facilitate the foreign corporate takeover of enormous tracts of land.
Washington and NATO are providing personnel and advice to help the Ukraine government kill and drive out those who are demanding autonomy from the US puppet regime in Kiev . Washington and its proxy forces in Ukraine are ‘ethnically cleansing’ the mainly Russian speaking separatists in the east, with up to one million having fled across the border into Russia .
Russia depicted as the aggressor
Yet it is Washington that accuses Moscow of invading Ukraine and having a hand in the downing of a commercial airliner based on no evidence at all. As a result of this invisible Russian ‘aggression’, Washington has slapped sanctions on Moscow, which are hurting Europe more they are hurting the US . But that’s the point: to de-link Europe’s economy from Russia and weaken Europe to ensure it remains dependent on or ‘integrated’ with Washington, not least via that corporate recipe for economic plunder known as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) .
The mainstream corporate media in the West parrots the accusations against Moscow as fact, despite Washington having cooked up evidence or invented baseless pretexts . As with Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan and countless other ‘interventions’, the western corporate media’s role is to act as cheerleader for official policies and wars.
It is worth mentioning that the US has around 800 military bases in over 100 countries . Russia does not.
The US has military personnel in almost 150 countries . Russia does not.
US spending on its military dwarfs what the rest of the world spends together. It outspends China by a ratio of 6:1 .
Just who is the aggressor?
By the 1980s, according to former CIA ‘asset’ John Stockwell, Washington’s wars, death squads and covert operations were responsible for six million deaths in the ‘developing’ world . An updated figure by writer Annie Day suggests that figure is closer to ten million .
Breaking previous agreements, over the past two decades Washington has moved into Eastern Europe and continues to encircle Russia and install missile systems aimed at it. It has also surrounded Iran with military bases. It is destabilising Pakistan and ‘intervening’ in countries across Africa to weaken Chinese trade and investment links and influence. It intends to militarily ‘pivot’ towards Asia to encircle China and give it the type of ‘attention’ Russia is currently receiving.
William Blum has presented a long list of Washington’s crimes across the planet since 1945 in terms of its numerous bombings of countries, assassinations of elected leaders and destabilisations . No other country comes close to matching the scale of such criminality. From Iraq, Libya and Syria to Indonesia and South East Asia, under the smokescreen of exporting ‘freedom and democracy’, the US has deemed it necessary to ignore international laws and carry out atrocities to further its geo-political interests across the globe.
Of course, South America has always been a favourite target. And today, the CIA along with the US Agency for International Development, the National Democratic Institute, the International Republican Institute, Freedom House and other emissaries of US foreign policy are currently attempting to destabilize and violently overthrow governments across that region . Democracy will not be allowed, unless it suits US interests.
Writing on AlterNet.org, Nicolas JS Davies says of William Blum’s book Killing Hope: U.S. Military and CIA Interventions since World War II: if you’re looking for historical context for what you are reading or watching on TV about the coup in Ukraine, ‘Killing Hope’ will provide it .
Davies argues that the title has never been more apt as we watch the hopes of people from all regions of Ukraine being sacrificed on the same altar as those of people in Iran (1953); Guatemala(1954); Thailand (1957); Laos (1958-60); the Congo (1960); Turkey (1960, 1971 & 1980); Ecuador (1961 & 1963); South Vietnam (1963); Brazil (1964); the Dominican Republic (1963); Argentina (1963); Honduras (1963 & 2009); Iraq (1963 & 2003); Bolivia (1964, 1971 & 1980); Indonesia (1965); Ghana (1966); Greece (1967); Panama (1968 & 1989); Cambodia (1970); Chile (1973); Bangladesh (1975); Pakistan (1977); Grenada (1983); Mauritania (1984); Guinea (1984); Burkina Faso (1987); Paraguay (1989); Haiti (1991 & 2004); Russia (1993); Uganda (1996);and Libya (2011). Davies goes on to say that the list above does not include a roughly equal number of failed coups, nor coups in Africa and elsewhere in which a US role is suspected but unproven.
The Project for a New American Century (PNAC) is a recipe for continued barbarity . It discusses taking out Syria, Iraq, Iran, Somalia, Sudan, Lebanon and Afghanistan. The outcome has been chaos and death for the benefit of the Anglo-US establishment centred on Wall Street and in the City of London. The ultimate goal, based on the ‘Wolfowitz Doctrine, is to prevent any rival emerging to challenge Washington’s global hegemony and to secure dominance over the entire planet.
Two countries present a challenge in this respect: Russia and China. Both are in the process of being dealt with. Russia is currently the top priority: it is preventing ‘progress’ in Syria, Iran and Central Asia. At this time, all paths to Moscow are through Ukraine.
A former top CIA official recently stated that if the economic sanctions do not hurt Russian oligarchs enough to make them get rid of Putin then a bullet to the head would do the job . And that is the whole point of Washington’s game plan: to slap illegitimate sanctions on Moscow; to squeeze Russia’s rich and their stolen wealth till the pips squeak and they oust Putin; and to destabilise Russia via Ukraine and install a leader who will acquiesce to the US. The US can then proceed unchallenged to loot Russia again, as it did in the nineties . But this time the plan is to balkanise Russia to ensure it remains permanently crippled.
In a speech earlier this year, Putin noted that in Ukraine people came to power through the use of armed force and by unconstitutional means. Elections were held after the takeover, but power ended up again in the hands of those who either funded or carried out this takeover. Putin said that, without any attempt at negotiations, they are trying to suppress by force that part of the population that does not agree with such a turn of events.
At the same time, Putin states that Russia is presented with an ultimatum by the US: either you let our proxies destroy the part of the population in Ukraine that is ethnically, culturally and historically close to Russia, or we introduce sanctions against you.
Putin argued that such tactics are absolutely unacceptable and counterproductive. He also warned that destabilisation methods will not work within Russia itself and spoke of strengthening internal cohesion in response to attempts to destabilise the social and economic situation inside the country.
It has been a long-standing aim among certain strategists in the US to break Russia up into smaller states to carry out a ‘divide and rule’ strategy (as with Iraq and the former Yugoslavia). If this is not possible, the aim is to weaken the country and throw a blanket of disorder over Russian territory .
Putin says that Russia will react appropriately and proportionately to the approach of NATO’s military infrastructure toward its borders. He argues that the US Anti Ballistic Missile system in Europe is part of the offensive defence system of the United States and that groups of NATO troops are clearly being reinforced in Eastern European states, including in the Black and Baltic seas. The scale and intensity of such operational and combat training is growing. Putin says it is imperative to implement all planned measures to strengthen Russia’s defence capacity fully and on schedule, including in Crimea and Sevastopol.
While the mainstream media in the West set out to revive the Cold War mentality and demonise Russia as the aggressor and threat to world peace, Putin makes clear what most informed people already know: US neo-con strategists on behalf of their powerful corporations are seeking global hegemony and regard Russia (and China) as barriers to be broken apart.
Putin has also stated that those forces which are lining up against Russia should remember that Russia is a nuclear power . With that in mind, Washington believes it can win a nuclear conflict with Russia. It no longer regards nuclear weapons as a last resort but part of a convention theatre of war and is willing to use them for pre-emptive strikes .
Washington is accusing Russia of violating Ukraine’s territorial sovereignty, while the US sends military and intelligence help to Kiev and has its military, mercenary and intelligence personnel inside Ukraine. It is putting troops in Poland and has tabled a ‘Russian anti-aggression’ act that portrays Russia as an aggressor in order to give Ukraine de facto membership of NATO and thus full military support, advice and assistance .
If Russia does decide to intervene to protect ethnic Russians, NATO/the US and Moscow could come face to face on the battlefield. The strength of Russia’s conventional forces in its own back yard would surely place NATO on the back foot. Staring defeat in the face, the US could well resort to the nuclear option.
Washington’s aggression amounts to a gamble with all our lives. There would be no winner, only nuclear Armageddon for the entire planet.
Washington is pressing ahead regardless and with a renewed sense of urgency as Russia begins to try to take the legs from under the US by trading oil and gas and goods in roubles and other currencies . Once the dollar loses its value because no one needs it to buy oil anymore, the petrodollar system is dead and the US economy will nosedive.
Gaddafi and Saddam were taken care of partly because their plans or actions would or were serving to undermine the dollar’s status as the world reserve currency. Iran is a key target because of this too. Whenever a country threatens the dollar, the US does not idly stand by. Both China and Russia are abandoning the dollar. Washington’s sense of urgency to deal with both is palpable.
Fooling the public
Unfortunately, most members of the Western public believe the lies being fed to them. This results from the corporate media amounting to little more than an extension of Washington’s propaganda arm. The PNAC, under the pretext of a ‘war on terror’, is partly built on gullible, easily led public opinion, which is fanned by emotive outbursts from politicians and the media about ‘saving’ this or that group of people from some tyrant or the simplistic good versus evil narrative about ‘terror’. We have a Pavlov’s dog public and media, which respond on cue to the moralistic bleating of condescending criminals that masquerade as respectable politicians and who rely on the public’s ignorance to fuel their barbarity in the name of ‘protecting civilians’ from an impending bloodbath, while these politicians then sanction numerous bloodbaths under the lie of ‘defeating terror’ or tyranny.
Why for one moment would ordinary people believe that the Anglo-US Establishment cares about ordinary people in Libya, Afghanistan, Syria or elsewhere and go in to ‘save them’ when it clearly regards its own people with suspicion and contempt.
The post-war Keynesian consensus has been gradually dismantled, leading to the offshoring of millions of jobs and leaving millions in debt, in poverty, thrown onto the scrapheap or used as fodder to fight wars for the rich under the banner of ‘protecting freedoms’, while those very freedoms at home are stripped away by illegal mass surveillance and the curtailment of freedoms and rights.
Yet the lies persist and are too often believed.
Former US Ambassador Ukraine John Herbst has spoken about the merits of the Kiev coup and the installation of an illegitimate government in Ukraine. Earlier this year during an interview for RT, he called the removal of Ukraine’s democratically elected government as enhancing democracy . Herbst displayed all of the arrogance associated with the ideology of US ‘exceptionalism’ and Washington having the right to act in any way as and when it deems fit (like instigating coups under the guise of democratic uprisings no doubt). Like Obama, Kerry, Clinton, Nuland and others, he also displayed complete contempt for the public by spouting falsehoods and misleading claims about events taking place in Ukraine.
Herbst, Nuland and their ilk would do well to contemplate their country’s post-1945 record of war mongering and destabilisations of democratic governments, which has led to millions of deaths, its global surveillance network exposed by Edward Snowdon that illegally spies on individuals and governments alike and its ongoing plundering of resources and countries supported by militarism, ‘free trade’ or the outright manipulation of every major market .
If Herbst specialises in lies and doublespeak, the same could not be said of another former ambassador. The former British Ambassador to Uzbekistan Craig Murray has called the UK a rogue state and a danger to the world.
A few months back, he told a meeting at St Andrews University in Scotland that the British Government is deeply immoral and doesn’t care how many people its kills abroad if it advances it aims . Moreover, he said the UK was a state that is prepared to go to war to make a few people wealthy. He said that the actions he witnessed as a senior diplomat had changed his world view and it was now “impossible to be proud of the United Kingdom.”
He added that Libya is now a disaster and 15,000 people where killed when NATO bombed Sirte, something the BBC never told the public.
Murray told his audience what many already know or suspect but what many, many more remain ignorant of:
I’ve seen things from the inside and the UK’s foreign interventions are almost always about resources. It is every bit as corrupt as others have indicated. It is not an academic construct, the system stinks.
Murray was a British diplomat for 20 years. But after only six months, he said that in the country where he was Ambassador, the British and the US were shipping people in order for them to be tortured and some of them were tortured to death.
As far as Iraq is concerned, Murray said that he knew for certain that key British officials were fully aware that there weren’t any weapons of mass destruction. He said that invading Iraq wasn’t a mistake, it was a lie.
It was a lie just like the ongoing demonisation of Putin and Russia is based on a series of lies. The BBC lied about Libya by not telling people the truth about NATO’s slaughter (or the real reasons Gaddafi was targeted). Furthermore, the utmost is done to conceal from the public what Murray revealed: that the ruling elite doesn’t care how many people its kills abroad if it advances it aims, that of enriching itself even further.
Yes, prepared to sacrifice mainly working class young men’s lives to go to war for the wealthy. The working class whose jobs were sold to the lowest bidder abroad three decades back on the back of Margaret Thatcher’s treachery, again for the benefit of the wealthy. Who in their right mind would sign up to fight for Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, Monsanto, BP, Barclays and the like. Not many. However, economic conscription is always guaranteed to swell the fighting ranks. If that isn’t possible, just roll out the flag, show some video of an alleged atrocity and patriotic sentiment or contrived sense of fear will neatly serve to conceal the actual reality from the public.
And that is what is relied on: a public kept ignorant, misinformed and distracted by sport, infotainment and consumerism. A public that is encouraged to regard what is happening in Syria, Iraq, Ukraine, Afghanistan, Libya, etc, as a confusing, disconnected array of events in need of Western intervention, rather than the planned machinations of empire which includes a global energy war and the associated preservation and strengthening of the petro-dollar system .
Catastrophic events that send the world into turmoil happen on ‘just another day’. Pearl Harbour or 9/11 took place while millions of ordinary folk across the world were just going about their everyday business on ‘just another day’. An Israeli missile attack on a neighbourhood in Gaza or a drone attack on unsuspecting civilians in Afghanistan: death, destruction or war comes like a bolt from the blue as people shop at the local market or take their kids to school on ‘just another day’.
Will it be ‘just another day’ when the next nuclear bomb is exploded in anger, an ordinary day when people are just going about their daily business? By then it might be too late to do anything, too late to act to try to prevent a rapidly unfolding global catastrophe on a scale never before witnessed by humans.
Yet so many appear too apathetic and wrapped up in a world of gadgets, technology, shopping malls, millionaire sports players and big-time sports events to think that such a thing could be imminent.
Are they so preoccupied with the machinations of their own lives in cotton-wool cocooned societies to think that what is happening in Ukraine or Syria or Iraq is (after endless news reports) just too boring to follow or that it doesn’t really concern them or it is ‘not my problem’? Do they think they are untouchable, that only death, war and violence happens in faraway places Syria or Iran?
Could any of us even contemplate that on some not-too-distant day a series of European cities could be laid waste within a matter of minutes? It isn’t worth thinking about.
But it is. That is where we could end up if Washington continues with its provocations.
The USSR backed down over stationing missiles in Cuba because it knew the US would not; it was on Washington’s doorstep. This time, when pushed to the limit Russia will not back down because events are on its doorstep. Its very existence as a state is at stake.
It leads us to wonder whether the US would be prepared to back down if faced with possible defeat in Ukraine/Europe by conventional Russian forces, if the worst case scenario comes to pass? Would it or indeed Russia use the nuclear option. Would either risk destroying humanity in the process?
Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves. The Earth is the only world known so far to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment the Earth is where we make our stand. Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space .
The above is an updated and extended version of an article that was originally published in early September