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Russia-Ukraine and World War in the 21st Century

This podcast explains the complexity of the conflict, and the danger of short-sighted approaches

This episode exposes strategic failures to recognize the actual elements of world war, naively focusing just on military aggression.



Good morning, Frank Kaufmann here. I want to do a brief piece on the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine. This is, in many ways, the central issue of the day. I made a podcast the day after Russia invaded. That’s available here in the Settlement Podcast. You can listen to it. I believe what I had to say then still stands and is still valuable for those of us who are interested in assessing our personal commitment and understanding of these events and to see how we might contribute if we can. 

On this particular moment, I want to exercise or express a criticism of the current popular engagement with this war. Intelligent people should know that legacy media or mainstream media is a broken enterprise. It has established itself as committed to political and narrative manipulation. It has been constantly and unerringly wrong for years on end now. That has been exposed. 

And hopefully, more and more people will recognize that in order to advance narrative and ideological biases, the media finally had to, in collusion with elected government, tech platforms, tech capacities, and media itself, they’ve had to form a coalition in order to simply censor, or oppress or prevent the expression of views contrary to the narrative that they seek to put forward. 

If one is honest, and traces such things as the history of commentary on masks that people wore, hoping to relate to COVID in that way, the history of vaccinations even, the history of what else? The election, the 2020 election. Rather than allowing open debate, the history of the disease itself, the origins of the disease, COVID-19. 

In all of the cases that I’ve mentioned, it has never been the case where in recent years, legacy media, tech platforms on which media roles or runs and governments in power, simply prevent open discussion of such things as the efficacy of medicines, the efficacy of prophylactics like masks, the efficacy of a new form of injections that are not technically vaccines. 

Rather than allow open debate, which is the foundations of science, open debate, in all of these cases, it has come to be the case that if you express a dissenting opinion from that which this coalition seeks to have held as truth, one is prevented from speaking; censored, de-platformed, cancelled. This probably, if we ever get out of it, will be recognized as the cause of a lot of death. 

For example, if there’s a medicine that works, following contracting COVID, if it works in the early stages, and that was prevented from even being discussed, those involved should properly be on trial for crimes against humanity. They’ve caused death by suppressing open scientific conversation about the efficacy of medicines. 

I said that this podcast is on Russia-Ukraine. The reason why I transgressed briefly into mentioning the issue of broken media, is because if you look at media now, vis-a-vis this war in Russia, this Russian invasion of Ukraine, it’s identical. During the past several years, there has been established in free countries in the United States and Canada and in other free democracies. Of course, they happen in established tyrannies or autocracies, this is known. 

But the fact that what are technically called free democracies have entered into a period of forbidden expression, forbidden dissent. Protesters are imprisoned in solitary confinement without charges for months and months on end. That didn’t happen in communist China or Putin’s, what do you call it, tyrannical regime. This happened in the United States of America. 

Or that you are not allowed to question the results of the 2020 election as a private citizen, just expressing a point of view. Your accounts would be closed, erased, and eradicated even if you had gone through years of trying to build up a big audience or even try to earn some money through the expression of your opinions. These were just removed, simply removed, if you publicly expressed doubts about the outcome of the 2020 election. 

So, this is contrary to a free and open society in which people are encouraged to debate and arrive at the truth through the exchange of different ideas. And theoretically, one would imagine that that which is true would rise to the top and would become popularly held. So, we’re living in a time in which this corporate bond of government power, technological power, media power, are all acting in lockstep to control what information is made available. 

That’s the situation under which people like you and I have to try to form an opinion about the reality of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. This is a tragic situation, because the military invasion of a country is a tragedy beyond imagination. It’s the most immediate, apart from natural disasters like typhoons, and hurricanes, military attack on sovereign nation in which civilians, including men, women, and children are dying and suffering as a result of military attacks. 

There’s nothing worse in our collective life as citizens in the world. And, we live in a time in which we should know for a fact that those responsible to provide information to us about something as important as this have disqualified themselves for years. They have established that they have a narrative they want to put forward and will imprison, lock, remove the rights, take away the free speech, censor, block the platform, cancel anyone with a dissenting point of view. 

And yet, now, we have the burden of trying to understand what’s going on in one of the most important things happening in the world today. Namely, the invasion of a sovereign nation by a nuclear power. We so desperately need access to information. And if people have not really worked hard to try to build a collection of information in which you can try to distill what might possibly be true, especially in important matters, a lot of people are in a difficult position. 

But, that doesn’t stop the constant refrain of people constantly expressing certitude about the realities of something as complicated as this invasion. My little quip or my little, it’s not a joke. There’s nothing to be joked about here. But my little quip was, in a single day, the entire nation of the United States has gone from being virologists, one of the most insuperable and difficult areas of science in medicine. 

Suddenly, everybody’s a virologist. Some schmo on the street is insisting that I’m an enemy of the people for whether or not I want to be vaccinated. What do they know? What do they know about the difficulty of understanding medicine at this level? And yet everybody’s an expert. This, I forget, Malone popularized the name, what is it? Mass formation psychosis, or herd mentality. The fact that you have massive numbers of people simply willing to parrot unexamined propaganda is a highly problematic reality that we’re living in. 

So under the conditions of a genuinely broken media, no matter who you are, on what side you are, go through the newspapers day by day by day, for the past three or four years, and see how many things that were censored and forbidden or actually dead wrong, dead wrong. Again, and again, day by day by day by day the story changes. And suddenly things that are affirmed as true, were actually cause for criminal imprisonment of people for even saying things that now we know are absolutely true. 

So, as I was saying, my little quip, or my little joke on this was that in a single day, everyone has gone from becoming expert virologists to experts on Central Asian political history. How did that happen? How did people suddenly have perfect certitude about one of the most ancient, one of the most conflicted, one of the most difficult areas? Everybody’s an expert on Ukraine and saying what we should do and how we should be militarily involved. What do people know? 

I would bet even from the people I’m watching on TV speaking authoritatively about what the US military position should be and whether sanctions work or something like that, I’d like to just pick a random reporter off one of these talking head news shows, and ask that person, what are all the names of all the Caesar ocean borders around Ukraine? 

Or, name me all the countries on the borders surrounding Ukraine. And yet, they’re speaking to me as experts on Ukraine. Okay. So, my first point is a simple one. We are living in an era of herd mentality and mass psychosis formation, in which suddenly somehow whole populations full of people just parrot what they’ve heard. But what they’ve heard from media, tech, and government, a violation of constitutional rights on a consistent basis for years, they’re parroting something which any simple examiner will recognize as broken. 

And under those circumstances, under the conditions of broken meeting information, and under the circumstances of evident, instantly producible mass formation psychosis, we’re supposed to be forging our opinion on the Ukraine. America was until recently had rebuilt its military capacity, but in a certain way, it’s a soft nation. It’s we’re so rich, all of our military are professionals. They’re higher there, they’re well-trained, they’re experts, they’re incredible soldiers, and our military gear is incredible. 

But it’s not a country like that. I don’t know what would happen if somebody invaded America. I don’t know where the fighters would come from. I read another thing that I forget who said this, they said, ‘You expect someone to defend America to the death, to be out on the frontlines and in the trenches, when they can’t even get over someone using the wrong pronoun for them? That that breaks them down for weeks. They’re weeping in public media for days and days, can’t breathe, because someone used the wrong pronoun for them. Where are we going to find defenders of the United States’? 

So, here’s the main point of what I want to describe in this podcast; all this instant expertise is problematic. America is a relatively, I don’t want to call it a weak country, but it talks a loud game. It threatens a loud game. It’s very squeamish. It doesn’t want our soldiers anywhere. If a military command tried to, it’s another thing. Another thing, I didn’t plan to speak about this. 

But we have a military that’s just more determined to try to parade transgender generals in an infantry and fire admirals while at sea. Navy admirals at sea, firing them for not taking an mRNA injection prior to its FDA approval, things like this. And so, America has a big taste for being a tough guy threatening people. But it doesn’t have a big taste for being in any way involved militarily. 

The problem is that physical military aggression is prehistoric, it’s medieval. The shock of what Russia did is that you have to say, ‘Are you kidding me? In the 21st century, in 2022, you’re physically attacking a sovereign nation with your army? Why don’t you just get on horses with jousting spears’? 

If you ever see in any circumstance, an individual who has been so reduced in their capacity to deal with a situation that they resort to physical violence, it’s just plain brutish. The only thing you can say about such an individual is he lost it. If you’re in a bar or restaurant or out in the park, somebody insults you, we just saw it on the Oscars. He lost it. You say he lost it. The Academy, ‘Oh, we don’t condone violence of any sort’. 

They spend billions of dollars producing the most gory, violent things. You can’t turn on anything that the academy produces almost, that’s exaggeration. There’s nothing but pure violence. But they condone, ‘We don’t condone violence’. We don’t condone violence. Any occasion in which someone has left the capacity to engage in the confines of social reality and just resort to physical violence, it’s purely primitive. It doesn’t matter if it’s an individual, it doesn’t matter if it’s a nation. 

So, Russia’s attack on Ukraine is nuts. It’s nuts, it’s the same thing you’d say about the guy in the park or the guy in the bar. It’s like, what happened to that guy? He’s actually hold off and punched this guy in the teeth. Of course, the guy was a jerk. But you know, he was a loud mouth, he was a wise guy, he’s talking all night long, and somebody needed to do something with that guy. But, you don’t punch him in the mouth. It’s a low thing. And on the international level, Russia did. Regardless of the legitimacy of its claims, it’s a low thing to do. 

And so, people who are expert on talking about how to stop this militarily, it already shouldn’t exist. But you’re going to get a bigger guy to punch the other guy in the mouth? Is that the way it works? What has to be done is that the conflict has to be stopped. All intelligence should be dedicated to stopping the conflict. Stopping the conflict, by all means, by every means. That means advancing the negotiations, being involved in negotiations, serving the negotiations. 

If you have a stake in the matter, if you’re the United States, or you’re the EU, the main concentration of all of our resources, of all of our intelligence, of any influence we may have internationally, is to stop this at the soonest possible moment. And then all the difficult matters, geopolitical matters have to be resolved and attended to. Okay. But free countries like Germany and NATO, the US, they’re trying to diminish Russia’s capacity or support military. 

They’re hoping that there’s enough attrition in the Russian military. They’re hoping that the war becomes unsustainable for the Russians, they can’t afford it, cut off their oil, money, which was so miserably done I won’t even go there. It did not diminish their capacity to perpetrate war in the short term by any means. But that’s the instant thing is these are the toughest sanctions we’ve ever and first, they’re meant to deter, then I never said they deter. Again, not the point. 

The point is that an act of economic returns is participating in the war. The reason being is because, as I said, if war is brutish, the way nations still aggress against one another is by economic manipulation. And there’s something even higher than economic manipulation, that’s tech intelligence information. So if we’re in a war, just because we’re not sending boys onto the soil, no matter how many gaffes that say that we’re gonna send, just because we’re not sending boys and women into Ukrainian soil, doesn’t mean we’re not in the war. 

The economic integration of all global powers, big and small, is you either have a world at peace or you have a world at war. Establishment of economic sanctions is an act of war, it’s economic war. It’s in the war. But even higher than our economic integration, look at what the economic sanctions have done. Like who would have ever dreamt that the richest country in the history of the world would have a president of the United States standing up and telling his entire population; ‘Expect food shortages’. That means you’re in war. 

There’s going to be massive starvation for those countries, including African countries, including all the great causes of the poor and the impoverished. Because of the absolute ruination of energy, fertilizer, agriculture in that area of the world. Just because we’re not sending planes, or it’s not the question of whether, ‘Yes, send. Make Ukraine defend itself’. Fine, it’s such short thinking. Economic actors being in the war, the whole world becomes at war. 

People in America suffer, children starve. That’s what’s being at war. And then higher than that is the technological and information integration of the world. If you have an enemy, just because these guys on TV, ‘You’ll never use nukes’. It doesn’t matter. You don’t need nukes, all you need to do is cripple the entire electric system in eight US cities. Somebody can’t do that, some jerk in a Ukrainian basement could do that I guess, I imagine. 

How about closing all the banks? How about how about closing all the fuel supplies? Just with a virus, the Israelis crippled the Iranian nuclear in science progress with a Stuxnet, with a virus. If you want to know what war is, it would be far less concerning if some missile penetrated US airspace, some missile from Russia and landed, you know, near a suburb. Yeah, there would be a big bomb near the mall and a lot of people would die. 

But it’d be far different than crippling the entire like economic system just with an attack on the technology along which the rails on which the entire world economic system exists. So, what one would have imagined that we’d never be in a place where we’re doing something so brutish, as sending planes over and bombing people. Hopefully, we thought we were at the end of that. But we’re not at the end of the risk and danger of conflict. So for example, these economic sanctions, ‘Oh, how smart. Oh, we’re going to prevent Russia from being able to perpetrate the war’. 

And then instantly we get on the brink of losing the value of the petro, dollar. The complete destabilization of the entire global economic system. Like days later, Saudi Arabia’s in negotiations with China to establish a different currency base for the movement of energy all around the world. It’s suddenly that, ‘Oh, I’m so smart. We’re not going to really send soldiers or planes. We’re not going to protect Ukrainian airspace, we’re just going to give sanctions’. 

Suddenly, America is on the brink of losing its basis or foundation for its economic basis of engagement in world affairs. And China of all places would become currency basis for, got to mute for a siren, hold on please. Sorry, that’s life in New York. So, there you have it. My basic point is this; war is brutish, the reaction that thinks, ‘Oh, we’re not getting into a war is naive and errant’. 

More profound is economic, international warfare, because the entire global economic system is very fragile and tied together and relies on harmonious cooperation, even if contentious, even if competing. But that’s war. The entire information system, the entire technology system, all of banks, all of air control, shipping control, all of this is computer based. If you’re at war, the danger is the crippling of systems that keep normalcy. We don’t know how many systems running on computers are just protecting our capacity for cars to run, for trains to run, and I’m troubled by instant expertise. And I’m troubled by short sightedness on this and misunderstanding, what’s the nature of war in our time. 

When conflict arises, the point is to settle it as fast as possible. That’s the mission of all people outside of the fight that’s taking place. And to imagine that it’s confined to stopping military aggression, which is the smallest thing. It’s pieces of metal, it’s planes dropping on pieces of ground and harming and injuring people. It’s small compared to the damage that can be done with a single flick of the switch. 

Thanks a lot for listening. My prayer and my ask is, let’s be more learners than experts, and let’s understand. Let’s have a longer, broader, longer term vision, and a higher and more complex assessment of what Russia has brought the world into with this physical military attack. Thank you very much for listening. Be back with you again soon.