Sadly, it's not only folks on the Right who are all too easily played by disinformation, particularly after years of Russian propaganda that has been all too credulously repeated by some media outlets on the far-Left. That may become clear on today's lively, largely caller-based BradCast. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]
Last week marked the one-year anniversary of Russia's horrific, imperialistic invasion of its sovereign neighbor, Ukraine. Some on the Right have begun to call for an end to U.S. financial and military support for Ukraine's self-defense, despite the ominous, all-too-familiar echoes of a new battle for democracy v. autocracy in Europe. At the same time, many in what used to be known as the anti-war movement on the Left have similarly fallen for Kremlin propaganda, thanks to a years-long effort by Moscow to sow disinformation through state-funded media programming and other methods.
One of the most effective arguments fostered by Putin and friends is that if the U.S. and Europe continue to support Ukraine amid Russia's invasion, it could devolve into a nuclear World War III. We discussed that matter specifically last week on The BradCast, with longtime nuclear weapons policy analyst, Stephen Schwartz, former Executive Editor and Publisher of The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists (proprietors of the notorious "Doomsday Clock" and opponents of nuclear weapons.) Schwartz noted --- as we share in a brief clip today from last week's program --- that, even amid the dangers of the Cold War, there was never a time when the U.S. turned a blind eye to an adversary, simply because they were armed with nukes.
As he told me last week...
So, the way I see it --- and I'm no big fan of war, at all --- is that if we listen to Putin and say, 'Okay, you're right. We can't risk nuclear war, so we're gonna stand back and let you carve up Ukraine however you want. And, hey, if you want to take Belarus and Moldova, who are we to stop you?' I think that would be a terrible terrible precedent for the rest of the world. Not only with regard to what Russia might do in the future, but other countries that have nuclear weapons or might want them and have leaders that have authoritarian ambitions for power and territorial gain who might say, 'Hey there's something to this nuclear threat-making! We should do that.'
Even during the Cold War, when we and the Soviet Union back then had many thousands more nuclear weapons than they do now --- certainly there were problems like the Cuban Missile Crisis, the closest we ever came to nuclear war, and other incidents --- but we did not sit back and say, 'Okay, you've got nuclear weapons, we are not going to get involved with you in any way, shape or form.' We didn't say, "Okay, we can't do anything because you might annihilate us.'
We need to show that nuclear weapons are fundamentally useless, not just for prosecuting war, but also for blackmail. Because otherwise the future world that we're gonna live in, brought to you by nuclear coercion, is gonna be far worse than anything we dealt with during the Cold War.
Schwartz' argument is a compelling one, of course, from someone who has watched the U.S. and Russia closely for decades now. But it is one that, apparently, fails to convince many of our listeners who have been steeped, for too many years, in anti-American (versus anti-war) Russian propaganda.
That becomes clear once again as we open the phones up to callers here at KPFK in our live Southern California listening area, particularly to those who may disagree with my belief that we need to continue supporting the battle for democracy in Europe, before the rise of Russian autocracy moves even farther beyond it's own borders. (Just last week, as discussed today as well, documents purportedly from the Kremlin were leaked, detailing Moscow's plan to take full control over neighboring Belarus within this decade.)
My opposition to war has not changed for decades. I stand in stark opposition to wars of aggression by imperialistic countries against sovereign nations. I opposed the U.S. war on Iraq for that reason, and I oppose Russia's war on Ukraine for the same reason.
But, in opening up the phone lines today, specifically, to folks who disagree with me...well, you'll decide who has this argument right, me or them. It leads to a number of very lively conversations/debates. As usual, I welcome your thoughts in response to today's show in the comments below or via email...
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)