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Eric Draitser on PressTV
This week on SOTT Talk Radio we spoke with Eric Draitser, an independent geopolitical analyst based in New York City and the founder of StopImperialism.org. Draitser is a regular contributor to Russia Today, Counterpunch, the Center for Research on Globalization, New Eastern Outlook, Press TV, and many other news outlets. Draitser also hosts 'The Reality Principle' podcasts, available here.

Chinese accused of cyber-espionage, 'pro-Russian terrorists' running rampant in Eastern Ukraine, 'pro-democracy rebels' oppressed by dictators in the Middle East, the U.S. well on the road to economic recovery... To read and listen to the Western media you'd be forgiven for thinking that black is white and white is black. Regularly exposing the trillion-dollar-debt levels of hypocrisy in the corporate media, our guest this week has been on the front lines in the information war.

Running Time: 01:09:00

Download: MP3


Here's the transcript:

Niall: Hello and welcome to SOTT Talk Radio. I'm Niall Bradley. My co-host Joe Quinn.

Joe: Hi there.

Niall: And this week we're speaking with Eric Draitser. Eric is the founder of Stop Imperialism and the Land Destroyer Report. He's a regular contributor to Russia Today, Counterpunch, The Center for Research on Globalization, New Eastern Outlook, Press TV and many other news outlets. Eric is a geopolitical analyst and he has also hosted regular podcasts The Reality Principle which you can find on his website at stopimperialism.org. If you have any questions for Eric, do give us a call or you can log into our chat room and leave any comments or questions you have for Eric, myself or Joe. So with that out of the way, welcome to the show Eric.

Eric: Thank you both for having me on the program. And just a point of clarification: I contribute material to Land Destroyer but that is not my blog.

Niall: Okay. Sorry about that.

Joe: Well Land Destroyer is a great blog, so that's a good place to have your work. They do a lot of good stuff.

Eric: Absolutely. But everything else you said is accurate and thank you again for having me on the show.

Joe: Alright. It's good to have you.

Niall: Eric, there's so much going on, so many questions. I think if I was to ask you something first, I know for me ever since this Ukraine situation blew up, it's been a real eye-opener because a lot of things have shifted in focus. I seem to understand more about a lot of the criticisms I would have had with western hegemony and particularly American foreign policy, the countries around the world. So I guess we'll go straight into that issue. What's the situation in Ukraine like at the moment? They've just had elections. They've got a new President. Russia has agreed to cooperate with the new President. I should say first that at the same time, they seem to be giving this dangerous situation every chance it can to back down, to stabilize, but Putin I think is frank when he says the situation now is a civil war situation. Do you think we're already there and is there a way out of going down that road right now?

Eric: Well to answer your first question, it's a bit complicated. I mean, how exactly does one define a civil war? Is a civil war defined by violence, by internal conflict? Is a civil war defined by ideologies? Is a civil war defined by geography and secession? These questions I think are a bit philosophical. What we definitely have though is a violent struggle for the east of Ukraine particularly, you essentially can look at it as a government attempting to assert its physical and its political dominance and hegemony over a region that seems to have decided that it will reject the validity of this government because it came to power in an illegal fashion and against the democratic principles of that country's constitution.

So it's a bit complicated when we talk about a civil war but it is definitely a civil conflict and it is definitely one that is escalating and escalating particularly because of the actions of the government in Kiev. And what I mean by that is the deployment of military forces against these self-defense organizations in Donbas region that is the Donetsk region and some of the surrounding areas in the east of the country. It should be noted of course also that these regions are particularly and markedly different from the west of Ukraine in terms of its economic geography. What I mean is of course, that this is an industrial area. This is the industrial base of the country. And so when you're talking about a military force being deployed against these people and against these regions; you have a very critical economic and resource-based conflict brewing in Ukraine where the west is an agricultural heartland but mostly underdeveloped and certainly some of the poorest concentrations of working class and peasant class people in the country are in the west. While in the east, which is more closely associated with Russia, it is the industrial heartland of the country. The massive manufacturing base and most of the tax base comes from that region.

So there are deep divides in Ukraine and I think that the violence that is being unleashed by the current government is an outgrowth of some of these contradictions, some of these distinctions and some of the gaps that we see within Ukrainian society. But all of these cracks within society have really only emerged and really come to the surface because of the meddling of the United States and the west in that country because of a destabilization, because of the regime change maneuver which has really escalated all of this. And that's not even to speak of course, of the conflict over Crimea and Crimea's return to the Russian Federation.

So the entire situation really is continually evolving and really evolving by the hour, evolving by the day and I think that what our responsibility as journalists, as international observers is to really follow the trajectory of this conflict and to really document what is actually happening as opposed of course, to what the western media tells us is happening.

Joe: Just on the idea that Eastern Ukraine as in Donetsk, Luhansk and those areas, that there's self-defense forces and a movement now to kind of break away and maybe either federalize or join Russia. It seems to me that there must have been some kind of a latent desire or movement, among the population in those regions, to be part of Russia because it seems to me that if those people were happy enough in Ukraine, or as happy as other Ukrainians, that kind of a coup in a country is a bad thing for anybody, but there were elections coming up pretty quick and they have a right to vote. I'm just thinking that there must have been something else there already, for them to take up arms in this way and try to declare independence because in another country that wouldn't happen. Sure, everybody might not be happy with the coup, but they'd be waiting on the elections and they would get the right to vote and then they would vote for their people, right?

Eric: I think that you're correct and I think that your observation is a keen one, but I would also add though that it is the way in which the government was toppled. And those who replaced that government, I think that really fomented a lot of this activity. Certainly there is this latent desire that you're referring to, and I think a lot of that comes from the fact that the eastern portion of Ukraine is predominantly Russian, that is Russian-speaking, ethnically Russian, whatever terms you want to use, they're closely associated linguistically as well as of course culturally, with Russia. And historically of course I would add.

So there is certainly that and that's always part of this equation. But I would say also that it is the nature of the government that took over in Kiev that really drove some of this, put it into high gear, so-to-speak. And what I mean of course is the rise of the neo-Nazis, the rise of the fascists, those who worship at the altar of Stepan Bandera, the infamous Ukrainian Nazi collaborator. These type of individuals who have historically had a presence in Ukraine and have had one there for many generations, but for them to rise to positions of power and for them to assume the role of what had been the role of the Yanukovych government, the democratically elected, but to be noted of course, corrupt and utterly degenerate government led by Yanukovych, being replaced by these Banderas I think escalated a lot of this.

And it drove a lot of these regions, particularly with the accession of Crimea back into the Russian Federation, I think these other regions said "Well, it seems likely that we're going to have to either go our own way or be granted a large degree of independence within some newly formed, newly constituted Ukraine." And I think that that was really the starting point. And it is from there that all of this has begun to devolve and the military attacks and all of the rest of it.

Joe: Yeah, I totally agree that the type of coup that happened and the people that were involved, that were clearly kind of right-wing, neo-Nazi type groups as you said, or Bandera followers and I can imagine that it would have revived some kind of old ghosts because you have all of these essentially ethnic Russians, Russian-speaking people in eastern Ukraine. There are people alive there still today who remember the Second World War...

Eric: Yes.

Joe: ...and the sacrifices that the Russians made against Nazi Germany, and then to have Nazi sympathizers now in power in their government, even if it's only an interim government, but they stage a coup, would have really pushed some serious buttons.

Eric: I'm sorry, I didn't mean to cut you off.

Joe: Go ahead.

Eric: I just wanted to add, because I think for a lot of us in the United States and in western Europe, World War II seems like a very long time ago in our historical memory. But I would note for people who don't speak Russian, who don't know this, in Russia and among Russian speakers, they don't refer to it as World War II. They refer to it as the Great Patriotic War. It is seen as a war for the very survival of Russia and to borrow the cultural expression of the United States, it is the greatest generation. They are revered as heroes of the country, heroes of the history of the country and protectors of Russia and Russian people.

So World War II is not a just a war for the Russian people. It is a historical sort of monument. And this is why they take so seriously desecration of World War II monuments, why they take so seriously any whiff of fascism arising in Ukraine. And that's why you saw many of these regions immediately arm themselves and prepare for some kind of a battle when they saw this government emerge.

Niall: Indeed. Given that context, it's very understandable why there was such a sharp split come to the surface, so to speak. It's so pointed for the right sector types who took over Kiev, to subsequently make a point of desecrating memorials to fallen heroes in the Second World War, the Great Patriotic War from their point of view, as a way of really sticking the knife in.

Joe: Sticking the knife in, yeah.

Eric: That's right. That's exactly right. And I would even remind people that the newly appointed representative of the illegal government in Kiev to the United Nations, what was his first point of order upon arriving at the United Nations? It was to deny the charges of Nuremberg, of the Nuremberg trials, and to describe what was conducted at Nuremberg as essentially a conspiracy led by the Soviets, a bunch of Soviet lies. So holocaust denial, glorification of Nazism, this is what you get from some, I would say some, not all, but some of the most important elements of the new government in Kiev. And of course this is a government that is hand-picked by the United States, by the west, as was revealed by the leaked recording of Victoria Nuland speaking with U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt, a few months ago where they not-so-discreetly handpicked Yatsenyuk to be the new leader of the country, for Klitschko to be off to the side. And of course that's exactly what happened.
So we have a mountain of evidence that really places Ukraine in a larger historical continuum, in a larger historical context, along with other color revolutions and destabilizations and regime change operations that the United States has carried out over the course of the last few decades. And I think it is within that context that we can really begin to understand why Ukraine matters geopolitically for both the west and for Russia.

Joe: Well just on the point of U.S. involvement, as you said, there's plenty of evidence to show that or suggest that the U.S. definitely was involved in the coup behind the scenes. But it kind of seems to me that their plan went awry or they didn't fully understand the nature of the situation because if they supported this kind of coup that happened, they realized that there were these right sector groups, the neo-Nazi Banderasts who were involved in it, and they obviously didn't think ahead that this was going to provoke the kind of reaction from the Russians in eastern Ukraine and that that would start a movement to break away. As far as I'm concerned it's very possible that is going to lead the coup itself, backed by the U.S., is going to lead to the break up in some way or other, of Ukraine. And as far as I can see, that's the last thing that the U.S. wants and the Europeans want.

Eric: Well to some degree I think that's true. But again, I would say that the regime changers, the color revolutionists and those in the state department and U.S. intelligence that actually organize and execute these sorts of operations, to some degree they demonstrate hubris in the matter. That is, they feel that they can really manipulate to their own ends and that they can manage the outcomes of these scenarios. But of course as you pointed out, to a large degree they can't. And oftentimes it is the consequences of that I think, often falsely described as unintended consequences that actually are intended consequences, that is a full destabilization of a country, a rearranging of the ruling class and concentration of power in the hands of certain individuals and certain factions that are aligned with the interests of the United States and the west.

I think that that's precisely what they did. I think that's what they intended to do. And that's what they've done repeatedly, but yes, you're absolutely right in the sense that there's a definite degree of miscalculation and I think the miscalculation - and this is perhaps from my judgment here - but the miscalculation comes from a misunderstanding of how Russian President Putin would respond. The United States has grown very accustomed to having its way in foreign policy, to having its way with smaller, weaker nations and being able to manipulate them. But of course I think that they were taken very much by surprise by Putin's counter-stroke in Crimea, for example. I don't think that the United States ever thought for a second that it would depose the government of Ukraine and that Russia would come in and take control of Crimea and consolidate its naval forces and its naval foothold in the Black Sea. I think that it's that kind of a counter-move that really throws a monkey wrench into the gears, so to speak, for the United States regime change operation.

And I think that a lot of these things that we're seeing in the east are outgrowths of that. As Crimea went, there you saw the rise of the self-defense forces in the east because of course as anyone could understand, if Crimea is going to have a better future with Russia, why not us?

Joe: Yeah. So the people in eastern Ukraine were emboldened by Putin's move in Crimea. They saw Russian support.

Eric: Yeah. And I think that that was a calculated move by Putin as well. I think that Putin understood that that would happen. And I think that that's part of the leverage that Russia is attempting to maintain going into whatever negotiations are likely going to be the outcome of all of this. If Russia wants to be able to manage the outcome of this situation to its liking, then Russia's going to need to have some kind of leverage. And having control over the forces in the east is precisely the leverage that Russia is going to use.

Niall: This is more or less our analysis of it to date. Now last week we had on Rick Rozoff who writes on NATO and U.S. military movements and maneuvers and exercises around the world. He threw out another idea though that they may have had a kind of calculation in reserve whereby they could have foreseen that Putin would do what he did in Crimea, and as a result of that, the rest of Ukraine would be "theirs".

Joe: Yeah, let me just add that specifically I think what he said it was a level of strategizing that went a bit further than the standard, which was that they were happy to have Putin take Crimea because one of the stipulations for joining NATO was that a country has to have control of its territory. And with the Black Sea fleet in Crimea, Ukraine did not have control of its territory and therefore could not join NATO. But with Crimea now part of Russia, Ukraine is now whole, it has control of its territories supposedly, although it doesn't obviously with eastern Ukraine, and that it's more likely to join NATO. But I think it was stretching the conspiracy theory a bit too far.

Eric: Well, I would just say this. I think Rick Rozoff is one of the most knowledgeable people on all of these issues probably anywhere in the world. So anything that Rick says, I would take very, very seriously. Now that being said, I don't know whether they have that level of strategic vision or not. It really depends exactly who is running these operations. Of course if you follow these events closely, you see the utter incompetence and blundering that comes from people like John Kerry and the state department and others. These people are not "professionals" when it comes to this sort of operation. But certainly there are people within the intelligence community and within the military bureaucracy that do have that level of strategic vision and I wouldn't put it past them.

Now that being said, I think a historical perspective really informs all of this because really remember that Crimea is a region that has been fought over for multiple centuries by multiple empires for a vast number of reasons and all of them being strategic. Crimea is one of the most strategically important regions really anywhere in the Eurasian landmass. And so whether it was the Ottoman Empire attempting to control Crimea so that it could control the Black Sea trade routes, whether it was the Russian empire and the British Empire fighting a war over control of Crimea, I think Crimea has always been at the center of it. And I don't think that the United States and the west would just concede Crimea entirely to Russia for the purposes of pulling Ukraine into NATO, unless of course they already had some kind of a backroom deal in place.
But I don't necessarily see that as being the case. It's possible. I would leave the door open to that possibility, but I think what's more likely is that they thought that they could take a Kosovo-style operation and make it on a much larger scale in Ukraine. That is to say, create a vast NATO colony out of Ukraine and do it in a de facto way, and the de facto way being that association agreement that they presented to Ukraine in November, which though it was an economic partnership agreement, was also a military cooperation agreement as has been noted by a number of analysts who went through that thousand page document. And so I think that if you want to put Ukraine into that NATO context, we should think about it in the vast NATO context like a Kosovo, like a Georgia, as opposed to necessarily seeing it as some kind of an overarching backroom deal.

Joe: You talked about Crimea being very strategically important throughout the past few centuries to various different empires. Is it any different today in terms of its strategic importance to Russia in the modern world? It gives Russia access to the Mediterranean. Is that it?

Eric: Yeah, well first of all, half of Russia's navy is in Crimea at Sevastopol. It is the Russian Black Sea Fleet. This is what the Russian empire fought the Crimean War for; control of Crimea, allowing Russia control, access to the Black Sea and access to the Mediterranean, which of course means military and commercial, if need be, access to Europe via maritime trade routes. That has always been historically important. It was also historically very important as a crossroads between east and west, a trading and commercial center as well and particularly the city of Odessa, which is not in Crimea, but which is also in Ukraine south on the Black Sea coast also very important for all of these reasons.
And so Crimea is really significant for that reason. And also remember Russia does not have tremendous warm water military and naval power. That is to say, the Russian ports in the Far East are seasonal ports. The Russian ports in the north, on the Baltic, are not always necessarily reliable in the winter. So what you're looking at is perhaps the most important naval outlet for Russian military power and Russian power projection. And that's the way that it has always been.

Joe: Eric, we have a call on the line. I'm going to go ahead and take it here, okay?

Eric: Sure.

Joe: Hi caller, what's your name and where are you calling from?

Caller: Hi Joe. It's Clay from Indianapolis. How you guys doing?

Joe: Hey Clay. Welcome to the show.

Niall: Welcome.

Clay: Thanks.

Niall: What's your comment or question?

Clay: Well I had question. I just want to get Eric's take on why he thinks the western media is painting Russia in such a bad light, specifically like Kerry's comments and things like that.

Joe: Did you get that Eric?

Eric: Yeah, I did. Well I think that there are a number of reasons. In order to be able to whip up support for the Obama administration and for the U.S. policy in Ukraine, which undoubtedly, just on a very instinctual level is not particularly popular among Americans, in order to do that, they have to employ the media apparatus, which is part and parcel of the imperial system. And the media apparatus really operates, at least with regard to Russia, on a set of principles that go back to the Cold War. Russia phobia is something that, although perhaps latent over the course of the last 20 years, is certainly very much ingrained in the social and cultural DNA of the United States. And in order to bolster the U.S. position and to shape public opinion in support of the U.S. position, they have to make Russia into the villain and make Putin into the reincarnation of Stalin or Hitler, or whomever, to make Russia into the reincarnation of the Russian empire or the Soviet Union, and to play on these very old and very tired stereotypes, of course completely leaving out for the American public, the fact that Russia and the United States have tremendous areas of cooperation, hundreds of billions of dollars' worth of contracts between Russian and western oil and gas companies, hundreds of billions of dollars in terms of other forms of cooperation.

So although the situation economically and politically and strategically is different than it was in the Cold War, the stereotypes are still there. The cultural residue of the Cold War is still there. And that's what the media machine is using to demonize Russia in this case. Of course the reason being - and I guess this goes back to your initial question - the reason being because the United States knows the shallowness and ineptness of its own policy and knows that its own policy in Ukraine is not only morally but politically and diplomatically very difficult to legitimize. And so they need to have public opinion on their side and the media is how they do it.

Clay: Wow. So do you think it's totally intentional? Do you think that maybe they're just leaving some of the facts out? And talk about maybe the people behind this. It's not the whole United States, but there are certain people in power, whether it's those in control of the media, or policymakers. Who do you think is really behind all that?

Eric: Well, it's a great question. I think that what you're getting at gets to the nature of mainstream media in the United States and its corporate power and corporate control that dominates it. I forget exactly, it's six corporations that own nearly every media outlet in the United States, at least every major media outlet. And these corporations are, for the most part maybe with very few exceptions, they're on the same page politically because they take orders politically. And again, this goes into whatever people's political affiliations are determines how they describe these things but I think it could be described as a ruling class, a corporate oligarchy, a corporate ruling class that controls the media machine, just as it controls the political machine, just as it controls the financial machine.

And it is this ruling class that sees a conflict with Russia and a conflict with the east as really the defining issue, the defining struggle of the 21st century, at least of the first half of the 21st century. And these are people to a large extent who have an imperialist mindset. They come from an imperialist tradition. They are the inheritors of an imperial order and they see their role in the world as being those who are guardians of U.S./Anglo-American whatever-you-want-to-call-it western imperial hegemony. And they see the rise of Russia and the rise of China and the rise of India and of Brazil and of these other centers of power as the number one threat to their own hegemony.

I believe it was Plato who said that the only function of oligarchy is to maintain and further the oligarchy. And I think that that is really what we're looking at and the media is a central piece of all of that. And I think that what you're touching on is the most important point. They see Putin as the number one threat against their hegemony in the world today.

Clay: Okay. Thank you. I totally agree with that. In order to have control of the commoners, they have to have a common enemy that they can point at and then surrender their will to the government, to the media, that kind of thing.

Eric: And I would also add that their terrorism/Al Qaeda narrative is being further discredited every day, every month and every year. The war on terror is a mostly debunked concept. And I think that to a large extent big bad Russia, the Russian Bear, and big bad Vlad Putin makes for a very, very good bogeyman.

Clay: Certainly. And it's something that's more concise instead of the hidden Al Qaeda camps and whatnot certainly. The giant Russian Bear, very good. Okay, well thank you so much Eric.

Eric: Thank you.

Joe: Alright Clay, thanks for calling.

Clay: And thank you SOTT. Bye-bye.

Joe: So Eric you're saying that it's not about freedom and democracy?

Eric: (laughing)

Joe: You're talking about global hegemony but its global hegemony of freedom and democracy, right?

Eric: Well.

Joe: That's what they want to spread.

Eric: If democracy was something that the United States had been spreading then I think you wouldn't see the situation of the Native American population that you see today.

Joe: So just on that point...

Eric: The United States has never been interested in spreading freedom and democracy. If the United States was interested in that, the United States wouldn't be an imperial power.

Joe: Yeah, they wouldn't have bases in about 80% of the countries around the world but they have a narrative that explains that and I don't know if they believe it or not. But just on the Ukraine situation, what is the reasoning? You talk about global hegemony, but what are the specifics? What do they get out of it? Is it just naked greed?

Eric: Well I think that there are many factors that go into the strategic calculus of Ukraine. I think one of the primary ones, just in a longstanding policy now of about 25 years of NATO's eastward expansion and NATO's eastward expansion being really sort of a tool, by which they isolate, alienate, dominate and control Russia. And that has always been the case. We can go back to the late 1980s and the unwritten agreement between George H.W. Bush and Mikhail Gorbachev when the Soviet Union decided to concede the end of the Berlin Wall and the reunification of Germany, Gorbachev had sought assurances from the United States that NATO would not extend eastward, that it would not consume the Baltic states, that it would not move towards the borders of Russia, which of course although the United States agreed to that in principle, that's precisely what has happened.

I think that the eastward expansion of NATO on the one hand shows sort of the imperial hubris of the United States and of the west, the idea that they could just keep moving further and further eastward and that there would never be any repercussions for them. Of course in the 1990s the absorption of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, the bringing in of Poland into NATO's sphere of influence and then of course later the former Soviet Republic of Georgia, the former Yugoslav territory of Kosovo and so forth. Bringing all of these territories into NATO filled these people with a sense of invincibility. I think that Ukraine was really the next step in this larger process that they saw as essentially their long and drawn soft power march towards Russia.

I think that Putin really, in many ways, embodies a reaction against all of this. What Putin embodies for the majority of the people in Russia - if you look at his approval ratings, they're sky-high at the moment - what he embodies is a resurgence of Russian power on the world stage, that Russia is not a weak country to be pushed around by the United States the way that it was in the immediate aftermath of the Soviet Union and throughout the 1990s. And so Putin really represents national pride.

Now whether you like or dislike that and whether you like or dislike Putin, that is what he represents for the Russian people. And what that translates to in terms of geopolitics is standing up to NATO. It is protecting Russian interests, protecting Russian-speaking people against NATO aggression. And that is how the Russians have really framed all of this.

So of course the geopolitical angle, the strategic angle, trying to originally pry part of the Russian navy away from Russia, that is controlling Crimea, but it's certainly much, much larger than that. Ukraine is home to some of Europe's most fertile and productive agricultural land anywhere on the European continent. And of course companies like Monsanto and ConAgra and other major big agri-businesses of the western world, they want to get their fangs into the Ukrainian heartland as well. And actually they're already doing it now that they have their people in power.

Of course also Ukraine is vital to Russia's gas delivery infrastructure to Europe. Something like 80% of Russia's gas that goes to Europe today, goes through Ukrainian pipelines. Now those Ukrainian pipelines are not controlled by Russia as they are in Belarus. They are controlled by Ukraine. So it is partially a means of leveraging Russia in terms of its energy delivery, which is a major part of their GDP.

The list goes on and on. I could name at least 10 other economic factors that are vital to all of this. The untapped shale gas potential in Ukraine is significant. Of course Chevron and BP and the other corporations want to get in on the fracking game in Ukraine, just as they have all over the west as well. And so there are many, many reasons for it. Of course when you see an operation of this size, there are always overlapping interests and interests within interests and factions within factions that want to get their piece.

Joe: Okay, if you had to explain to somebody in the U.S. or Western Europe what the problem is with NATO, why in NATO member countries, the expansion of NATO, for the people on the ground, what's the drawback? What's the negative? Why is that a problem?

Eric: Well I would start that conversation by asking "What is NATO for?" If people could provide a very good answer as to what NATO is for, then maybe you could begin a debate about whether or not NATO is a good thing or not because NATO was established as a means of checking - at least this is how they sort of sell the idea of NATO - as a means of checking the communist east, Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union in the aftermath of World War II, that NATO was really the power projection and the collective defense of Western Europe against Soviet aggression. That is the function of NATO, at least in the NATO Charter going back to the late 1940s.

So if that power block of the east doesn't exist, why exactly do we still have a NATO? And then you get into the nuances of what exactly NATO does and how exactly NATO operates. Why is Turkey a part of NATO? What is the role of a country like Turkey in a security alliance that is supposedly about the Atlantic security space? So you begin to get into very real questions about what NATO is. And then you start to get, I think, the fundamental point that NATO is really a euphemism for a western imperial system. That is an empire that is not specific to one nation, but an empire that is controlled by western capitalism and western capital. NATO is the military arm; it is the enforcement arm of western capital and the western system.

Joe: Most recently what we saw happening under the aegis of NATO was the bombing of Libya. And it's pretty clear that that was essentially for the big business, the multi-national businesses or corporations in the U.S., particularly oil. You know that there's an ulterior motive when you hear the tired old accusation of "He was attacking his own people". Five or six years ago Gaddafi was fêted in Paris with Sarkozy and stuff. He was fine, there was no problem. He'd been in power for 35 years at that point. But within five years suddenly the guy has turned around and he started to kill his own people, type thing. That whole thing was trumped up, to use a phrase that Kerry used recently.

So for me that's an example of what NATO does. It unjustifiably sequesters or uses other countries, in Europe in particular, to justify, to provide a veneer of justification or legitimacy to an attack on another country that has some resources that are needed or wanted by the west.

Eric: That's absolutely right. And I think Libya is a perfect example of exactly what I was just describing. And in fact it's a good example for a number of reasons because everything that you mentioned is true in terms of the corporate interests, in terms of the economic, the financial interests that wanted to get their claws onto the Libyan state. But there are also very real political and geopolitical strategic reasons for it. It's a base from which to destabilize all of North Africa, which is exactly what has happened since then. The conflict in Mali, the conflict in Nigeria, the conflict in Chad; these things are really outgrowths of the violence and the overthrow of Gaddafi and the spreading of that conflict all through the region. And Algeria of course, the terror attacks in Algeria as well.

And so although there are very powerful interests that wanted to enrich themselves in Libya, there were also intelligence interests and military interests that wanted to see Libya become a base of destabilization for all of North Africa that would allow for the spread of Africom, and of course Africom being the United States military power projection throughout the African continent. And that's exactly what you've seen. You've seen the proliferation of Africom in places like Mali, in places like Nigeria and elsewhere because of what happened in Libya.
So from the perspective of the imperial thinkers, it's a win-win. Not only do we get to enrich our corporate friends, we get to put our military guys in place and of course the larger context being as a means of checking China and China's incredible power and influence in Africa through its investments.

Joe: Yeah, so I suppose what it comes down to is it's kind of a moral question in a sense that it's trying to convince anybody that NATO is not so good, that it's not something that should be supported or should be allowed to spread. Essentially it is a moral question in that okay, people in Western Europe and in the U.S., NATO is no threat to them. But it's what NATO is doing around the world and whether you have any kind of empathy or concern for the suffering of other people in other countries at the hands of NATO.

Eric: I would agree entirely. I think that when it comes to questions of war and peace, ultimately it's always a moral question. It's always a question of morality, a question of ethics and a question of political idealism. And I think that that's how it needs to be thought of. But also when it comes to this, you get people who want to present you with a purely Machiavellian argument. "Well you need NATO because you never know when Russia will rise and seek to destroy western capitalism" or whatever it is they might say. And other than this being utter nonsense I think it betrays essentially a complete misunderstanding of how the world works today and the place of Russia and China within the global system. And I think that is why you see the power centers of the west so particularly perturbed by Russia and China signing this massive gas cooperation deal and all the other cooperation deals that are emerging between Russia and China, precisely because of what we talked about earlier.
Western hegemony, a hegemony that had become sort of the norm by which all of these people understood how the world works, that hegemony has fallen away. The global order is changing dramatically and it is becoming a multi-polar global order. And a multi-polar world is something vastly different from what all of us have grown accustomed to over the last 20 years and oftentimes it is the policymakers and the strategic thinkers and planners in Washington and in the west who are going to be the absolute last people to see that that is the new reality.

Joe: Yeah, I bet. It seems to be the case already. Eric, we have another call on the line here. Hi caller, what's your name and where are you calling from?

Caller: Hello, Charles from Missoula, Montana.

Joe: Hey Charles. Welcome to the show.

Charles: Thank you. Hey, you're kind of going in the direction that I'd hoped you'd go because a lot of the stuff you've been carrying, at least in my case, has been stuff that's been covered in the news and a lot of us are on top of that stuff already. But kind of just a little bit of a comment on what you said earlier; to me it's pretty clear from the rabbit holes I've gone down over the years that it is this one-world government thing, or one corporation. They want to get rid of nationalities. They want to get rid of democracy. They just want to run the show. And you look into the Council on Foreign Relations, you look into the Bilderbergers working on the European Union back in the '50s, the Round Table group, these organizations, it's pretty much one government and nobody's out of the club. You're under our thumb and we call the shots.

And it seems like that's just been going on. And the other point is that Russia, originally the Bolshevik revolution was funded by Wall Street. So sometimes there's this thing in the back of my head, is like "What is this scenario that is playing out? Is it really what's going on or is even the supposed enemy part of the game, part of the stage, part of the show and they know what the outcome's going to be?" And that's what I wonder about Russia and China. Are they on this inside group that they know down the line everyone is going to be onboard anyways? And then you look at whether it's NATO - NATO basically is selling guns for the corporations that build guns and weapons and all that. If they can create a conflict - they have a twofold thing I think. One thing is total control of the whole planet under one corporate head and the other aspect is "Hey, if we can create a conflict, go in, create these artificial civil wars, then we can sell guns to both sides." That kind of stuff is going on.

But really my question was, or where I wanted to kind of throw a ball into the conversation was, I'd like to pick your guys' brains of where you think this is going because clearly the Russia/China thing is going on. Maybe they're really out of this corporate one world government total the company controlling everything, a few elites running the show and the rest are all serfs. Or maybe there really is a geopolitical shift, where there's going to be a whole new thing with Russia and China. That's kind of the question. I'll listen off the air.

Joe: Okay, thanks Charles.

Niall: Thanks Charles.

Charles: Thanks folks.

Joe: Eric, I suppose that's a question. Is there some level of charade going on here that the leaders in Russia and China are just kind of play acting to some extent and that ultimately there's someone above them or something?

Eric: Well, I think that there are actually probably a number of questions sort of embedded in that. First and foremost I would say that I do not believe that Putin and the Russian government are on the same page or in cahoots with western interests on the larger scale. And I think that Bilderberg is a good place to start. Take a look and do a real analysis of the attendee list at Bilderberg this year or even in recent years and look and see how many Russians are actually on that list and then do your research and follow exactly who those Russian individuals are. Almost exclusively, the only Russians that you ever see at Bilderberg are Russian oligarchs and/or Russian western cultural icons like a Gary Kasparov, the famous chess champion, and leader of the anti-Putin opposition. So what you find is that the Russians generally, that are at Bilderberg, that are at these types of summits, they are the anti-Putin Russians. So the Putin power block is something that is absolutely outside of the power structure that the caller is referring to.

And I think that, again, we get into this question of terminology. The one world government thing, I don't generally use that term because I think it's much more nuanced than that. I like to call it an imperial ruling class because there are factions within the class and factions within that faction. For example, the neo-cons are certainly not the same thing as Brzezinski and the Brzensinki-ites. They have in many ways different world views, although they are equally imperialistic. They have slightly different interpretations of how that should be carried out.

But I think that the caller is touching on the important point, and that is that it has a corporate character to it and that the notion that nations become subordinated to corporate interests and to corporate control, that is absolutely, 100% the case. And I think a prime example of that would be the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Look at the actual details of what the Trans-Pacific Partnership will put into place. It will sanctify the rights of multi-national corporations above and beyond the rights of individual nations that are party to that agreement. And the Trans-Atlantic Partnership is actually in many ways, even worse than the Trans-Pacific Partnership. And taken in total, what you see then is an economic framework for what the caller is describing, this sort of a corporate controlled, a pseudo-entity that is a corporate entity controlling international commerce and of course thereby controlling international politics.

Now I think of course it's very important to remember that the Trans-Pacific Partnership, China's not a part of it. Of course Japan and the Philippines and Malaysia and many of the other countries in the region are all part of the Trans-Pacific Partnership. China excluded. What does that tell you about what that policy and what that framework and what that world view says about how they view China? China is the regional enemy. China is the rising power. And the Trans-Pacific Partnership is intended to isolate it in the same way that they're attempting to isolate Russia through these various sanctions.

So I would not say that it's all a charade. I think that there are elements of that, but what I would say is that what we're looking at is a global struggle or really a struggle for power and influence on a global scale. And the reason why we see such vicious anti-Russia sentiment in the media is precisely because Russia is an obstacle to consolidating that power, an obstacle in Eastern Europe, an obstacle in Syria, an obstacle in Venezuela, an obstacle in many places where the United States is attempting to assert itself. The same with China; you see China as an obstacle to U.S. interests in Southeast Asia, China as an obstacle to U.S. interests in Syria.

So this is how the conflict is shaping up. It is one over hegemony in the 21st century and whether or not there's going to be continuation of U.S. dominance or whether we'll actually begin to see some kind of a true balance of power. And this is really what I'm most interested in as an American and as somebody who's interested in peace. I want to see a balance of power in the world so that my country doesn't get to go around everywhere it wants, killing whomever it wants, toppling whatever governments it wants, whenever it wants.

Joe: Absolutely. Well said.

Niall: Well said.

Joe: Yeah, on that point I kind of think of competition - for all the capitalists in the west and the U.S. and Western Europe, isn't the essence of capitalism competition? That it's healthy for capitalism to have competition? You can't have monopolies, right because it's not good for business, not good for the country. It's not good for the economy. You need competition. There has to be competition. And here Russia is providing some healthy competition to the U.S. monopoly. Why does any capitalist in the west have a problem with it?

Eric: That's right and don't get me wrong, I'm certainly not holding up Russia as the beacon of anti-capitalism. They're just as capitalist as anybody else.

Joe: Absolutely, yeah.

Eric: The Chinese being just as capitalist as anybody else. This is the absurdity of the conflict that we're seeing erupting now. And this is what Putin has stressed repeatedly. Why are they - meaning the United States - why are they perpetuating this conflict? Don't they know that we have a global economic system where everybody is interconnected, where our prosperity is connected to their prosperity? Now this is partially political posturing on his part. I don't think it's quite so simple. But I think the gist of his idea is true. There is a global capitalist system and Russia is a very big part of the global capitalist system. China is a far bigger part of that global capitalist system. And again, we could talk about how to struggle against capitalism, but just even within the framework of capitalism, it's an absurd policy that the United States is following.

Joe: Eric, we have one more call here. I think I'm going to go to it.

Caller: Hello?

Joe: Hi caller, what's your name and where are you calling from?

Caller: Hi, my name is Zoya and I'm calling from Belarus.

Niall: From Belarus, welcome.

Joe: Topical place to be.

Zoya: Yeah, Ukraine is my neighbor, so it's pretty close to heart, the whole issue. Okay, so since Belarus is Ukraine's neighbor, everyone here has been following whatever is happening in Ukraine rather closely. And amazingly, the situation here is very stable and quiet except for several isolated cases near the Ukrainian border. You know, when people try to cross it and they were robbed and everything. But the quiet is obviously also due to several steps that Putin took, like for example, placing several of Russia's fighters in Baranovichi military base near the border with Poland. Another step that was taken recently was the Eurasian Economic Union between Belarus, Russia and Kazakhstan. And in my opinion it's a very significant step because it basically opens borders between three countries and creates a single economic market of 170 million people. For example, my teacher in economics said the span of this union can be compared to NAFTA and the European Union. So I think it's one of the steps that Putin takes to counter U.S. economic influence and whatever Eric was saying before.

Eric: Yeah, I think that's absolutely correct. I actually thank you very much for bringing up the Eurasian Economic Union issue because I have a major article coming out probably tomorrow or Tuesday on the very subject, so look for that. But yes, exactly right. The Eurasian Economic Union, this partnership between Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus is of great significance. And it's of great significance to Belarus and to Russia and to Kazakhstan, but it is also of tremendous significance to China because remember that China is also pursuing this new silk road strategy which essentially creates a trade zone stretching from western China all the way through to Turkey and then into the European market.
And the Eurasian Economic Union, that is to say, the region through which it'll have to travel, through Kazakhstan and into the western portion of Asia that is going to be critical for the Chinese policy. And so now, if they have close relations with Russia and then by extension, through the Eurasian Economic Union, it moves Russia and China even closer to a strategic and an economic, and possibly even a military alliance. Now you're talking about a fundamental change in global politics.

And I would also add for the Belarusian caller, Belarus has a lot of interests in all of this because Belarus, aside from its pipelines being 100% owned by Russia's Gazprom, Belarus has major export interests into the Russian market, in particular with heavy machinery, tractors and construction equipment and things like this. For Belarus to survive given its geographical position and its relations with its neighbors, for Belarus to survive, anything that improves trade relations with Russia is tremendously significant for them.

Kazakhstan on the other hand, is a little bit more of a complex case because Kazakhstan, unlike Belarus, is thoroughly infiltrated by western corporate interests. You have the American Chamber of Commerce very, very significant and influential in Kazakhstan. You have the World Bank being the fundamental guiding principle behind Nazarbayev University in the new capital of Astana. So Kazakhstan is going to become a battleground for influence and it's one of those particular countries that I would watch very closely for the next round of destabilizations because the United States will want to do anything it can to prevent Kazakhstan from turning towards Russia and China and turning away from the United States.

Joe: Is that it Zoya?

Zoya: Well, I have another question, if possible.

Joe: Sure.

Zoya: My question is what do you know about the involvement of other countries in the conflict, like for example Israel, specifically Mossad's role in...

Joe: In Ukraine.

Zoya: Yes.

Joe: Okay.

Eric: Well we have reports of certain Mossad operatives and other Israeli figures who have been involved there. There has been the reported - I guess we should say "alleged" accounts of Israeli special forces veteran being one of the leaders of one of the death squads in Ukraine. I think that as time goes on and more information comes out, I think it is quite likely that Israeli Mossad operatives were involved. Of course we know that Greystone Limited, the Blackwater Group, is very much involved in there as well. I know that we have reports that some of the snipers in Kiev, at Maidan might well have either been Israeli or Israeli-trained or Israeli-equipped. And of course the Israelis are notorious for exporting this sort of special forces type of quasi - I don't know what you'd call them - security specialist contractors and so forth. So I think it's not much of a stretch to believe that the Israelis were involved, nor is it a stretch to believe that U.S. mercenaries were involved.

Zoya: Okay, well thank you very much.

Joe: Alright Zoya. Stay safe and thanks for the call.

Niall: Yeah. Bye-bye. On Israeli involvement, where do they stand in this? Did you notice that when it came to the UN vote on I think the first reprimand or something towards Russia regarding its "annexation of Crimea", the Israelis managed to not be present for the UN vote. Remember, this was back in March.

Eric: The Israeli position in all of this has been quite interesting. They have significant relations with Russia and also I think in many ways more significant relations with China. In particular China is deeply involved in plans that Israel has for developing high speed rail for cargo all along through Israel to connect the Sinai Peninsula and this is seen as part of the larger Israeli move towards developing the offshore gas deposits that have recently been discovered.

So I think that Israel had certain interests in not seeing themselves aligned against China and against Russia, but I also think that Israel has a very real interest in seeing the situation deteriorate in Ukraine further. Remember that Israel has a significant demographics problem. That country, in order for it to maintain its sort of Jewish supremacist character, that is with Jews in the dominant position and Palestinians and Arabs being subordinated to Jews, they have to maintain a Jewish ethnic majority. And the way that they see the future as maintaining that is by importing whatever remains of eastern European Jewry and there is still about one percent of Ukraine's population is Jewish. So if you saw the rise of a neo-Nazi-type government with openly anti-Semitic policies, you could then very easily and very quickly see a new mass migration of Jews out of Ukraine and into Israel which would of course bolster the eastern European, and I would stress white character of Israel, which is of course a deeply racist and apartheid society as it is.

And so it's interesting that you have Jewish oligarchs like Kolomoysky in Ukraine, who are now part of a new Ukrainian ruling class aligning themselves with Nazis in the interests, in this case demographically speaking at least, of Israel, at least from the perspective of possible immigration. So as you often see with these sort of conflicts, very bizarre and strange bedfellows begin to emerge, although knowing what we know about the character of the regime in Israel, perhaps aligning with Nazis is not so out of character.

Joe: Absolutely. You realize that the kind of ideology that we the little people hold to and for whatever moral position, they're not so fixed for the people in power. They'll change their wings very often and like you just said, Jewish oligarchs in Ukraine supporting Neo-Nazi groups.

Niall: Back in 2011 Hilary Clinton said something that in retrospect was very, very pertinent to what's going on now.

Joe: Okay. We've got a little clip here. We're going to listen to it.
"Clinton: Al Jazeera is winning. The Chinese have opened up a global English language and multi-language television network. The Russians have opened up an English language network. I've seen it in a few countries and it's quite instructive. During the Cold War we did a great job in getting America's message out. After the Berlin Wall fell we said 'Okay, fine. Enough of that. We've done it. We're done.' And unfortunately we are paying a big price for it. And our private media cannot fill that gap. In fact our private media, particularly cultural programming often works at counter-purposes to what we truly are as Americans and what our values are. I remember having an Afghan general tell me that the only thing he thought about Americans is that all the men wrestled and women walked around in bikinis because the only TV he ever saw was Bay Watch and Worldwide Wrestling."
Joe: Is there more than that in American TV (laughter)? What's your take on that Eric? What's she on about?

Eric: Well what she was really talking about then and what they're even more talking about today, is the - and I know I've said the word a few times today - but it is the loss of U.S. hegemony in the information sphere for decades, and it's exactly what she referred to. Throughout the period of the Cold War, the United States maintained near total hegemony over the information sphere in the west. And we see that through various organs, whether it's from state funded propaganda like the BBC or PBS in the U.S. or the CBC in Canada or whatever, which is oftentimes good. They oftentimes can provide good reporting, but which is always ultimately aligned with the political interests of the ruling establishment.

Whether it's that or whether it's direct state and intelligence propaganda like Voice of America or Radio Free Europe or all of these types of outlets, these were the outlets that put out the U.S. intelligence talking points and the anti-Soviet propaganda throughout the Cold War. And after the Cold War the United States, seeing as Francis Fukuyama famously said in The End of History, being that the United States won the ultimate struggle for history, it seemed that the United States should naturally maintain hegemony over news, over information, over how information is disseminated. And you've seen that all throughout Eastern Europe, the use of the NGO networks and all of the rest of that has all put out the sort of Western European and United States message about global leadership, about civic responsibility and all of the rest of these things, for the purposes of putting out the U.S. message and the U.S. world view.

And what you're now beginning to see is that corporate media as well as state funded media in the west now has challengers, outlets like CCTV, like RT, like Press TV, Al Jazeera even, although to a much lesser extent and I have severe problems with Al Jazeera, but even Al Jazeera fits into that category in some sense. This is now in many ways providing a counter-narrative to the western media narrative. And by providing that counter-narrative, people are actually allowed a glimpse into a world view that does not 100% conform to the U.S., western, establishment world view. And the functionaries of the ruling class are terrified of that.

This is why you've seen attack after attack after attack upon RT since the conflict in Ukraine has begun because RT provides a very different perspective on the conflict, a very different perspective on Russia and on Russia's place in the world. And of course the United States is terrified of that because people, particularly my generation, people who came of age politically in the 9/11 and Iraq War period, those people in that age group are more and more turning to outlets like RT because they have simply turned away from the mainstream media because of lie after lie after lie, war after war after war.

Joe: Absolutely, very well said again. Eric, we're kind of running out of time here so we'll probably leave it there. I just want to say thank you very much for being on the show. It's been great.

Niall: You've been a super guest. Thank you Eric.

Joe: Super guest, full of lots of pertinent and interesting information.

Eric: Thank you very much for having me. I really appreciate it and people can check out my website, stopimperialism.org. You can follow me on Facebook, on Twitter @stopimperialism and my regular contributions at RT, Counterpunch, Press TV and various other sites.

Joe: Okay. More power to you. Thanks Eric.

Eric: Thanks for having me. Take care.

Joe: You too. Bye-bye.

Niall: Bye-bye.

Joe: Alright folks, much to your collective dismay, I'm sure, we are having a shorter show this week than we usually do for reasons that must remain unspoken. They're top secret. But we will be back next week, as usual at the same time and the same place and our guest next week is...

Niall: Oh, you'll enjoy next week's show. Next week we're going to have another awesome journalist and political analyst on: Pepe Escobar.

Joe: Pepe Escobar. You probably know who he is. If you don't, check him out. He's a great guy and he's lots of fun as well. He's one of those rare kind of political analysts who mixes in lots of dry wit and humor into his analyses, so that's one to definitely check out next Sunday at the same time. So, until then, thanks to our callers, thanks to Eric and thanks to our chatters in our chat room. We've been having the usual fun. We will be back next week as we said. Until then, have a good one.

Niall: Bye-bye.