“Philosophical thinking that doesn’t do violence to one’s settled mind is no philosophical thinking at all.” ~Rebecca Goldstein
Comfort zones are a curious thing. So warm and secure. So safe and reassuring. So satisfying and certain. Beliefs have a similar effect on us. Especially the core beliefs that we take for granted. But beliefs are comfort zones with reinforced invulnerability; or, at least, the illusion of it.
Such reinforcements are like prison bars that most of us are not even aware of. We’re so completely indoctrinated, so utterly pre-programmed, that we don’t even know that we don’t know that we’ve been conditioned to blindly believe in something simply because enough people convinced us it was true.
The problem with reinforced comfort zones is that there is no growth. A regular comfort zone, you can stretch. A reinforced comfort zone, you’re usually not even aware it needs to be stretched. A regular comfort zone allows for trial and error, it allows for questioning, and so there is at least potential for self-improvement and self-overcoming. But a reinforced comfort zone does not allow for trial and error. It doesn’t allow for “blasphemous” questioning, because it is taken for granted as already perfect or “simply the way it is.”
Regular comfort zones can be healthy, giving us a safe haven, a place where we can heal and lick our wounds. But reinforced comfort zones are unnecessary safety nets based upon fear (of God, the Unknown, Death) placation, and self-pity. It’s a place where cognitive dissonance rules and any notion of attempting to think outside the box is met with: You simply need to have faith in the “box”.
The Battle Against Bewitchment:
Philosophy is a battle against the bewitchment of our intelligence by means of language.” ~Ludwig Wittgenstein
Self-Inflicted Philosophy is at the forefront of the battle against bewitchment. Self-inflicted philosophy is about upsetting settled minds. It’s about toppling the reinforced comfort zones of blind belief. It’s about flattening the “box” that everyone talks a big game about thinking outside of but when it really comes down to it, they cling to the “box” out of fear of the unknown or out of faith in what they believe they know.
Foremost, self-inflicted philosophy is about questioning the self to the nth degree through self-interrogation. But you can only get so far in such questioning before you are met with the reinforced comfort zone of a blind belief. So, self-inflicted philosophy is also about questioning the layer-upon-layer of cultural, political, and religious indoctrination that led to that reinforced comfort zone to begin with.
When you don the cloak of a self-inflicted philosopher, no belief, no matter how true it may seem, is off the hook for being questioned with ruthless skepticism and unwavering circumspection. In the battle against bewitchment, the destruction of a belief, no matter how powerful, is mere collateral damage to the Occam’s razor of universal truth. Hell, even “universal truth” is not beyond questioning.
When you don the cloak of a self-inflicted philosopher, the concept of belief is nixed from your interpretation of the universe. There is no place for belief here, only thought, only deep inquiry, only imaginative curiosity. You replace all usage of “belief” or “believe” with “thought” or “think”. You don’t believe that you certainly exist, you “think” that you “probably” exist. But you could be wrong. So you remain circumspect, for even your interpretation of your own existence could be an illusion, no matter how “true” it may feel.
There will be those who will say, “You are merely believing that you don’t believe.” But that is patently false, because you are not “believing” in non-belief, you are “thinking/inquiring/imagining” through non-belief, with the understanding, the flexibility that your thinking “could” be wrong. And that’s the rub: it is much easier to alter a thought than a belief. It is almost impossible to alter a belief. You are more likely to question a thought than you are a belief. And so, rather than get trapped in a reinforced comfort zone, you stay ahead of the curve by thinking rather than believing, and then by questioning what you think so that you don’t accidentally begin to believe it.
In the spirit of upsetting settled minds, you don’t believe in having an unsettled mind, you think that having an unsettled mind is more productive, more progressive, and more open-minded than having a settled mind (an unquestioning belief). You realize that belief in general is counterproductive, because you understand that the human mind is a delusion-generator rather than a truth-generator. It pumps out delusions like a spider pumps out webs. But, unlike the spider, it tends to get caught in them. Thereby, you understand that the only window to truth is through a questioning, circumspect, and a skeptical mindset, rather than through an unquestioning, dogmatic, and certain mindset.
The only solution to a delusion-generator is a question-generator. Luckily, the human brain is both. As a self-inflicted philosopher, you don’t believe that this is certainly true; rather, you think that this is probably true. And you’re willing to question everything to “prove” it. Indeed, you’ve transformed Descartes’ “I think therefore I am” into I think, therefore I question.
Tapping into the question-generator:
“It is far better to grasp the universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring.” ~Carl Sagan
The problem with the human brain is that is never knows when it has been duped by a delusion, so it is almost always better to not believe anything just in case it’s a delusion. A kind of reverse Pascal’s Wager. It’s almost always better to, as Aristotle suggested, “entertain a thought without accepting it.” Just take it all into consideration and let it pass through the sieve of probability. Then, whatever doesn’t insult your soul, think about it, dissect it, inquire about it. Be curious about it. Just don’t make the mistake of believing it.
You are more likely to grasp the universe “as it really is” by questioning it than by believing it. You don’t believe the universe is certainly a certain way; rather, you think the universe may be a certain way, but you’re willing to question further so as to get you closer to the way the universe “really is”. If you cling to a particular belief of how the universe is, then you block yourself from ever getting closer to the universe “as it really is.” Better to simply not have a belief in the first place. Better to simply think and keep the motor running on the question-generator so as to keep the delusion-generator in check.
The opposite of belief is neither disbelief nor doubt, but clarity of a thought. Without beliefs reinforcing the comfort zone, you are liberated to stretch it. You are clear enough to think outside it, you are courageous enough to question it. When the reinforcements fall away, the comfort zone becomes a sacred rather than stagnant place. It is free to grow through self-improvement rather than remain stuck in self-reassurance. Indeed, without beliefs cluttering the mindset, you’re finally able to drop the “set” and move into “mind.”
Free of the “mindset” of a settled mind, you move into the mindfulness of a questioning mind. You become a walking, talking, question-generator, able to consistently counter-balance the delusion-generator of the human condition. You’re ahead of the curve, surfing Aslam’s Infinite Circle on the surfboard of Occam’s razor. In absolute awe over the beautiful unfolding of an ultimately unknowable universe. On the edge of your own curiosity, questioning all “answers” countering all beliefs, elusive of all delusions. You’re a self-inflicted philosopher, and not even God is safe from your ruthless inquiry.
Uncomfortable productions are the forte of director Lars von Trier. The allusions to and disquieting effect of his features and their focus is something to be realised in the prime of his works. What that area is can be debated and pulled at, but Melancholia appears to be the poetry in motion Trier fans so often praise the director for. Musical accompaniments to still shots of paintings that slowly peel and ripple. It’s a delightful piece for those that love the artisan qualities of a world falling apart and the destruction that comes from character sleights. The immovable nothing that comes from it touches deeper and deeper as Melancholia, the finest Trier work, rages on.
That much comes from the absolute beauty of its structure, of its characters. Shaped and informed by destruction, moving paintings that take place on strange canvases that display torment and passion, family and love. Melancholia has all the time in the world for its visual chemistry and the representations it can bring. There is no tiring effect brought by Trier, who trusts in his lengthy segments of two worlds, quite literally, colliding. Audiences are placed right at the end and know what is to come, what fate the characters meet and how it all comes to a crashing bit of destruction. In identifying the hopelessness, Trier brings himself to the inevitable edge that comes from discussing finality. It feels a bit like what The Fountain tried and failed to comment on, but with much, much more scope than the Hugh Jackman-led piece.
Within Melancholia is the profound beauty of visual meaning. It is a piece that relies more on the slower motions and relationships told in flutters rather than a full-on narrative that demands and desires strict following of the story. There is a fast and loose layer to Trier’s work, where his direction provides beauty and colour with that fear. Kirsten Dunst delivers a phenomenal catalyst for life. It gives the happiest moments of life and the cursed afterthoughts. Trier mixes the palette well, he provides that to the cast and relies on them so frequently to engage with the emotion, rather than dialogue. It is the choreography, and the appeal of his directing style, that makes Melancholia such an intoxicating watch.
Senseless destruction with poetic twists and turns at their finest, Melancholia is a touching and spiritually charged look at the useless tirades and meaninglessness of it all. With Melancholia exposing itself to the raw elements, it does often focus on its imagery more than its characters. Trier’s style, the unfocused extremes of the close-up shot, the shot-reverse-shot simplicity, it all has its place but where that is can come across as unfounded. His fly-on-the-wall appeal has its moments throughout this piece, with a triple threat of Charlotte Rampling, John Hurt and Stellan Skarsgård making the most of that. There is no harm in stacking the cast so high, it adds texture and richness to an already broad-in-scope feature. Melancholia feels right at home biting off more than it can chew, both narratively and emotionally.
Recent revelations that the renowned linguist and political activist met with Jeffrey Epstein several times have surprised and confused many. Why was Epstein interested in meeting with Noam Chomsky? And why did Chomsky agree to meet him despite his past? The answer may surprise you.
On Sunday, the Wall Street Journal published a report detailing information contained within a “trove” of previously unreported documents of the deceased sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein. Those documents, which have not been publicly released and appear to have been passed solely to the Journal, included Epstein’s private calendar and meeting schedules. The documents, per the Journal, contain “thousands of pages of emails and schedules from 2013 to 2017” and – as the report notes – detail Epstein’s dealings with several prominent individuals whose names were not on his flight logs or his infamous “little black book” of contacts. One of these individuals is the renowned linguist, political commentator and critic of capitalism and empire, Noam Chomsky.
Chomsky, who has previously discussed the Epstein case in interviews and who has maintained that Epstein’s ties to intelligence agencies should be considered a “conspiracy theory,” had not previously disclosed these meetings. Chomsky, when confronted by Journal reporters, was evasive, but ultimately admitted to meeting and knowing Jeffrey Epstein.
Many, largely on the left, have expressed dismay and confusion as to why someone with the political views of Chomsky would willingly meet, not once but several times, with someone like Jeffrey Epstein, particularly well after Epstein’s notoriety as a sex trafficker and pedophile. As this report will show, Epstein appeared to view Chomsky as another intellectual who could help guide his decisions when it came to his scientific obsessions – namely, transhumanism and eugenics. What Chomsky gained in return from meeting with Epstein isn’t as clear.
Why Did Chomsky Meet with Epstein?
According to the Journal, Chomsky’s meetings with Epstein took place during the years 2015 and 2016, while Chomsky taught at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, or MIT. Chomsky told the Journal that he met with Epstein to discuss topics like neuroscience with other academics, like Harvard’s Martin Nowak (who was heavily funded by Epstein). On a separate occasion, Chomsky again met with Epstein alongside former Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Barak, allegedly to discuss “Israel’s policies with regard to Palestinian issues and the international arena.” A separate date saw Chomsky and his wife invited by Epstein to have dinner with him, Woody Allen and Allen’s wife Soon-Yi Previn. When asked about the dinner date with Woody Allen and Epstein, Chomsky referred to the occasion as “an evening spent with a great artist.”
When confronted with this evidence, Chomsky initially told the Journal that his meetings and relationship with Epstein were “none of your business. Or anyone’s.” He then added that “I knew him [Epstein] and we met occasionally.”
Before continuing further, it is important to note that aside from Epstein, both Ehud Barak and Woody Allen have been accused of having inappropriate sexual relationships with minors. For instance, Barak was a frequent visitor to Epstein’s residences in New York, so often that The Daily Beast reported that numerous residents of an apartment building linked to Epstein “had seen Barak in the building multiple times over the last few years, and nearly half a dozen more described running into his security detail,” adding that “the building is majority-owned by Epstein’s younger brother, Mark, and has been tied to the financier’s alleged New York trafficking ring.”
Specifically, several apartments in the building were “being used to house underage girls from South America, Europe and the former Soviet Union,” according to a former bookkeeper employed by one of Epstein’s main procurers of underage girls, Jean Luc Brunel. Barak is also known to have spent the night at one of Epstein’s residences at least once, was photographed leaving Epstein’s residence as recently as 2016, and has admitted to visiting Epstein’s island, which has sported nicknames including “Pedo Island,” “Lolita Island” and “Orgy Island.” In 2004, Barak received $2.5 million from Leslie Wexner’s Wexner Foundation, where Epstein was a trustee as well as one of the foundation’s top donors, officially for unspecified “consulting services” and “research” on the foundation’s behalf. Several years later, Barak put Harvey Weinstein in contact with the Israeli private intelligence outfit Black Cube, which employs former Mossad agents and Israeli military intelligence operatives, as Weinstein sought to intimidate the women who had accused him of sexual assault and sexual harassment.
In addition, Barak previously chaired and invested in Carbyne911, a controversial Israeli emergency services start-up that has expanded around the world and has become particularly entrenched in the United States. Barak had directed Epstein to invest $1 million into that company, which has been criticized as a potential tool for warrantless mass surveillance. Leslie Wexner also invested millions in the company.
In Woody Allen’s case, he has been accused of sexually assaulting his adopted daughter Dylan Farrow when she was 7 years old. That abuse claim has been corroborated by witnesses and other evidence. Furthermore, Allen refused to take a polygraph administered by state police in connection with the investigation and lost four exhaustive court battles related to child custody and his abuse of Dylan Farrow. One of the judge’s in the case described Allen’s behavior towards Dylan as “grossly inappropriate and that measures must be taken to protect her.” Actress Mia Farrow, Dylan’s mother, alleged in court that Allen took a sexual interest in her adopted daughter when she was between the ages of two and three years old.
Allen subsequently “seduced” and later married another adopted daughter of Farrow’s, Soon-Yi Previn, whom Allen first met when Previn was a child. However, Previn has stated that her first “friendly” interaction with Allen took place when she was a teenager. In 1992, Mia Farrow found nude photos of Previn in Allen’s home and has stated that this was her motive for ending her relationship with Allen.
In the case of Allen and Epstein, and potentially Barak as well, their sexual proclivities and scandals were well known by the time Chomsky met with these men, making a strong suggestion that this type of behavior was not seen by Chomsky as taboo or as a barrier to socialization. It is more likely than not that there was some other major draw that led Chomsky to overlook this type of horrendous behavior toward vulnerable minors.
In terms of reaching a deeper understanding about why Epstein would have been interested in Chomsky – and vice versa, it is important to review – not just the information recently reported by the Wall Street Journal, but also what Epstein himself said of Chomsky before his 2019 death. According to an interview conducted in 2017, but later published in 2019 when Epstein was a major news topic, Epstein openly stated that he had invited Chomsky to his townhouse and he also explicitly stated why he had done so. Oddly, this early acknowledgement of Epstein’s regarding his relationship with Chomsky was left out of the Journal’s recent report.
In that interview, which was conducted by Jeffrey Mervis and later published in Science, Epstein stated that following about Chomsky:
[…] Epstein readily admitted to asking prominent members of the scientific establishment to assess the potential contribution of these so-called outcasts [i.e. MIT students Epstein described as being “on the spectrum”].
“So, I had Jim Watson to the house, and I asked Watson, what does he think about this idea,” a proposal to study how the cellular mechanisms of plants might be relevant to human cancer. Watson is a Nobel laureate and co-discoverer of the structure of DNA. “Likewise with [Noam] Chomsky on artificial intelligence,” he said, referring to one of the pioneers in the field.
In fact, Epstein expressed great respect for the opinions of these elder statesmen. “It’s funny to watch Noam Chomsky rip apart these young boys who talk about having a thinking machine,” Epstein noted. “He takes out a dagger and slices them, very kindly, into little shreds.”
Thus, per Epstein, his interest in inviting Chomsky to his house was explicitly related to the “artificial intelligence,” which was a major scientific interest of Epstein’s. This also provides a major clue as to how Chomsky and Epstein might have first been introduced.
Chomsky, Epstein and MIT
Chomsky is most widely viewed as a famous linguist, political commentator and critic of modern capitalism and imperialism. So, why did Epstein seek to meet with him instead on Artificial Intelligence matters?
Well, an admitted “friend” of both Chomsky’s and Epstein’s was the AI pioneer Marvin Minsky. Like Chomsky, Minsky was a long-time professor and academic at MIT. It is very possible that Minsky connected the two men, especially considering the fact that Epstein was a major donor to MIT. Epstein described himself as being “very close” to Minsky, who died in 2016, roughly a year after Epstein began meeting with Chomsky. Epstein also financed some of Minsky’s projects and Minsky, like Ehud Barak, was accused of sexually abusing the minors Epstein trafficked.
Chomsky’s views on linguistics and cognition, for those who don’t know, is based very much on evolutionary biology. Chomsky was also a pioneer in cognitive science, described as “a field aimed at uncovering the mental representations and rules that underlie our perceptual and cognitive abilities.” Some have described Chomsky’s concept of language as based on “the complexity of internal representation, encoded in the genome, and their maturation in light of the right data into a sophisticated computational system, one that cannot be usefully broken down into a set of associations.” A person’s “language faculty”, per Chomsky, should be seen as “part of the organism’s genetic endowment, much like the visual system, the immune system and the circulatory system, and we ought to approach it just as we approach these other more down-to-earth biological systems.”
Despite their friendship, Minsky greatly diverged with Chomsky in this view, with Minsky describing Chomsky’s views on linguistics and cognition as largely superficial and irrelevant. Chomsky later criticized the widely used approach with AI that focuses on statistical learning techniques to mine and predict data, which Chomsky argued was “unlikely to yield general principles about the nature of intelligent beings or about cognition.”
However, Chomsky’s views linking evolutionary biology/genetics with linguistics/cognition were notably praised by the aforementioned Martin Nowak, who had attended one of the meetings Epstein had with Chomsky. Nowak, a professor of biology and mathematics and head of the Program for Evolutionary Dynamics at Harvard, later stated that he had “once broke out a blackboard during dinner with Epstein and, for two hours, gave a mathematical description of how language works,” further revealing that Epstein was interested in aspects of linguistics. It is unclear if this particular meeting was the same that Chomsky had attended alongside Nowak to discuss “neuroscience” and other topics.
However, given the importance of evolutionary biology and genetics to Chomsky’s theories, it is hardly surprising that Jeffrey Epstein would have gravitated more towards his views on AI than those of Minsky. Epstein was fascinated by genetics and, even per mainstream sources, was also deeply interested eugenics. Take for example the following from an article published in The Guardian in 2019:
Epstein was apparently fixated on “transhumanism”, the belief that the human species can be deliberately advanced through technological breakthroughs, such as genetic engineering and artificial intelligence.
At its most benign, transhumanism is a belief that humanity’s problems can be improved, upgraded even, through such technology as cybernetics and artificial intelligence – at its most malignant though, transhumanism lines up uncomfortably well with eugenics.
Thus, Epstein’s interest in AI, genetics, and more was tied into his documented obsession with “transhumanism,” which – as several Unlimited Hangout reportshave noted – is essentially a rebranding of eugenics. Indeed, the term transhumanism itself was first coined by Julian Huxley, the former president of the British Eugenics Society and the first head of UNESCO who called to make “the unthinkable thinkable again” with regards to eugenics.
Aside from transhumanism, Epstein also had an avowed interest in “strengthening” the human gene pool, in part by impregnating as many women as possible with his “seed” in order to widely disperse his genes. These views may also explain Epstein’s interest in associating himself with people like James (Jim) Watson. As noted earlier in this article, Epstein stated in 2017 that he had invited both Watson and Chomsky to his home on separate occasions.
Watson has been a controversial figures for years, particularly after he openly stated that people of African descent are genetically inferior and less intelligent than their European counterparts. He also previously promoted the idea that women should abort babies that carried a “gay gene,” were such a gene ever discovered. He also felt that gene editing should be used to make all women “prettier” and to eradicate “stupidity”. Notably, Watson made all of these comments well before Epstein invited him to his home.
Watson was also praised, controversially, after these same comments by another Epstein-funded scientist, Eric Lander. Lander, who was recently Biden’s top science advisor, was forced to resign from that post last year after being accused of harassing those who worked under him in the Biden administration’s Office of Science and Technology. Prior to joining the Biden administration, Lander had collaborated with Watson on the Human Genome Project and later ran the Broad Institute, a non-profit born out of collaboration between MIT and Harvard.
Returning to Chomsky, though he may not have been aware of Epstein’s interests in eugenics and transhumanism, it has since become clear that Epstein’s main interest in Artificial Intelligence – his stated purpose for courting Chomsky – was intimately tied to these controversial disciplines. However, Chomsky did know of Epstein’s past, and likely also knew of Woody Allen’s similar past before meeting him as well. He turned a blind eye on those matters, telling the Journal that Epstein had “served his sentence” and, as a result, had been granted a “clean slate”. In saying this, Chomsky is apparently unaware of Epstein’s controversial “sweetheart deal” that resulted in an extremely lenient sentence and non-prosecution agreement. That “deal” was signed off on by then-US Attorney Alex Acosta because Acosta was told to “back off” Epstein because Epstein “belonged to intelligence.” Chomsky had previously told several people, including an Unlimited Hangout reader, that an Epstein-intelligence agency connection is a “conspiracy theory.”
Given Chomsky’s odd views on Epstein’s past and the fact that Epstein frequently discussed transhumanism and eugenics around other prominent scientists, it is possible, though unproven, that Chomsky may have known more about Epstein’s true interests in AI and genetics.
Would Chomsky have been willing to overlook these ethical conundrums? Given his political views on capitalism and foreign policy, many would likely say that he would not. However, finding ways to circumvent these ethical conundrums with respect to AI may have been one of Epstein’s main reasons for heavily funding MIT, particularly its Media Lab. Epstein, in addition to his own donations, also funneled millions of dollars from Bill Gates and Leon Black to the Media Lab.
According to former Media Lab employee Rodrigo Ochigame, writing in The Intercept, Joi Ito of MIT’s Media Lab – who took lots of donations from Epstein and attempted to hide Epstein’s name on official records – was focused on developing “ethics” for AI that were “aligned strategically with a Silicon Valley effort seeking to avoid legally enforceable restrictions of controversial technologies.” Ito later resigned his post at the Media Lab due to fallout from the Epstein scandal.
A key group behind this effort, with the lab as a member, made policy recommendations in California that contradicted the conclusions of research I conducted with several lab colleagues, research that led us to oppose the use of computer algorithms in deciding whether to jail people pending trial. Ito himself would eventually complain, in private meetings with financial and tech executives, that the group’s recommendations amounted to “whitewashing” a thorny ethical issue. “They water down stuff we try to say to prevent the use of algorithms that don’t seem to work well” in detention decisions, he confided to one billionaire.
I also watched MIT help the U.S. military brush aside the moral complexities of drone warfare, hosting a superficial talk on AI and ethics by Henry Kissinger, the former secretary of state and notorious war criminal, and giving input on the U.S. Department of Defense’s “AI Ethics Principles” for warfare, which embraced “permissibly biased” algorithms and which avoided using the word “fairness” because the Pentagon believes “that fights should not be fair.”
Ochigame also cites Media Lab colleagues who say that Marvin Minsky, who worked with the Lab before his death, was known to say that “an ethicist is someone who has a problem with whatever you have in your mind.” Also troubling is the fact that Ito, and by extension the Media Lab, played a role in shaping White House policy with respect to AI. For instance, Obama called Ito an “expert” on AI and ethics during an interview with him in 2016. Ito, on his conversation with Obama, said the following: “[…] the role of the Media Lab is to be a connective tissue between computer science, and the social sciences, and the lawyers, and the philosophers […] What’s cool is that President Obama gets that.”
If you are Jeffrey Epstein, with a history of illegal and criminal activity, and interested in avoiding the regulation of controversial technologies you feel are necessary to advance your vision of transhumanism/eugenics, financing groups that greatly influence “ethics” policies that helps limit the regulation of those technologies would obviously benefit you.
Thus, Silicon Valley’s vigorous promotion of “ethical AI” has constituted a strategic lobbying effort, one that has enrolled academia to legitimize itself. Ito played a key role in this corporate-academic fraternizing, meeting regularly with tech executives. The MIT-Harvard fund’s initial director was the former “global public policy lead” for AI at Google. Through the fund, Ito and his associates sponsored many projects, including the creation of a prominent conference on “Fairness, Accountability, and Transparency” in computer science; other sponsors of the conference included Google, Facebook, and Microsoft.
Chomsky is just one of several prominent academics and intellectuals who were courted by Epstein in an attempt to supercharge the development of technologies that could help bring his controversial obsessions to fruition. Notably, many of these characters, including Chomsky, have had their work – at one point or another – funded by the U.S. military, which has itself long been a major driver of AI research.
For example, Minsky and Danny Hillis, a close associate of Epstein’s in his own right, co-created a DARPA contractor and supercomputer firm called Thinking Machines, which was aimed at creating a “truly intelligent machine. One that can see and hear and speak. A machine that will be proud of us,” according to one company brochure. Minsky was Hillis’ mentor at MIT and the pair sought out Sheryl Handler, who worked for a genetic-engineering start-up at Harvard called the Genetics Institute, to help them create their supercomputer firm.
Thinking Machines, which made poor business decisions routinely from the beginning, was only able to function for as long as it did due to multi-million dollar contracts it had secured from the Pentagon’s DARPA. With the close of Cold War, DARPA sought to use its clout with Thinking Machines to push the company to develop a product that could deal with things like modeling the global climate, mapping the human genome and predicting earthquakes. Subsequent reporting from the Wall Street Journal showed that the agency had been “playing favorites” and Thinking Machine’s “gravy train” abruptly ended due to the bad publicity, subsequently leading to the collapse of the company.
Hillis, around this time, met Jeffrey Epstein. The introduction may have been brokered by former Microsoft’s Chief Technology Officer Nathan Myhrvold, a friend of Hillis’ who grew close to Epstein in the 1990s and even took Epstein on an official Microsoft trip to Russia. Myhrvold, who was also named as an abuser of the minors Epstein trafficked, was one of the other top Microsoft officials who was close to Epstein beginning in the 1990s. Another was Linda Stone, who later connected Jeffrey Epstein to Joi Ito of MIT’s Media Lab. As previously mentioned, Epstein would later direct the long-time head of Microsoft, Bill Gates, to donate millions to the Media Lab.
Chomsky’s own history at MIT brought him into contact with the military. For instance, during the early 1960s, Chomsky received funding from the Air Force, which aimed to program a computer with Chomsky’s insights about grammar in an attempt to endow it “with the ability to recognize instructions imparted to it in perfectly ordinary English, thereby eliminating a necessity for highly specialized languages that intervene between a man and a computer.” Chomsky later stated of the military funding of his early career that “I was in a military lab. If you take a look at my early publications, they all say something about Air Force, Navy, and so on, because I was in a military lab, the Research Lab for Electronics.”
Chomsky has since denied that military funding shaped his linguistics work in any significant way and has claimed that the military is used by the government “as a kind of a funnel by which taxpayer money was being used to create the hi-tech economy of the future.” However, reports have noted that this particular project was very much tied to military applications. In addition, the man who first recruited Chomsky to MIT in the mid-1950s, Jerome Wiesner, went on to be Chomsky’s boss at MIT for over 20 years as well as “America’s most powerful military scientist.”
To Chomsky’s credit, after this program ended, he became fully, and publicly, committed to anti-war activism. This activism led him, at one point, to consider resigning from MIT, which he declined to do – likely because he was rather quickly granted professorship. As Chris Knight writes, “this meant that instead of resigning, Chomsky’s choice was to launch himself as an outspoken anti-militarist activist even while remaining in one of the US’s most prestigious military labs.”
By staying at MIT, Chomsky chose to maintain his career, in relative proximity to the centers of power he would later become an icon for denouncing. However, it shows that Chomsky, from this time onward, began to make some choices that undermined his radicalism to an extent. Chomsky may have rationalized his decision to stay at MIT in the 1960s because it gave him a better platform from which to espouse his political and anti-war views. It is not unheard of for prominent public figures to make such compromises. However, in light of the recent Epstein revelations and what they appear to signal, it seems that Chomsky, particularly in his later years, may have become too comfortable and too willing to make these types of compromises – ones that a much younger Chomsky would have surely rejected.
America is a stratocracy, a form of government dominated by the military. It is axiomatic among the two ruling parties that there must be a constant preparation for war. The war machine’s massive budgets are sacrosanct. Its billions of dollars in waste and fraud are ignored. Its military fiascos in Southeast Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East have disappeared into the vast cavern of historical amnesia. This amnesia, which means there is never accountability, licenses the war machine to economically disembowel the country and drive the Empire into one self-defeating conflict after another. The militarists win every election. They cannot lose. It is impossible to vote against them. The war state is a Götterdämmerung, as Dwight Macdonald writes, “without the gods.”
Since the end of the Second World War, the federal government has spent more than half its tax dollars on past, current and future military operations. It is the largest single sustaining activity of the government. Military systems are sold before they are produced with guarantees that huge cost overruns will be covered. Foreign aid is contingent on buying U.S. weapons. Egypt, which receives some $1.3 billion in foreign military financing, is required to devote it to buying and maintaining U.S. weapons systems. Israel has received $158 billion in bilateral assistance from the U.S. since 1949, almost all of it since 1971 in the form of military aid, with most of it going towards arms purchases from U.S. weapons manufacturers. The American public funds the research, development and building of weapons systems and then buys these same weapons systems on behalf of foreign governments. It is a circular system of corporate welfare.
Between October 2021 and September 2022, the U.S. spent $877 billion on the military, that’s more than the next 10 countries, including China, Russia, Germany, France and the United Kingdom combined. These huge military expenditures, along with the rising costs of a for-profit healthcare system, have driven the U.S. national debt to over $31 trillion, nearly $5 trillion more than the U.S.’s entire Gross Domestic Product (GDP). This imbalance is not sustainable, especially once the dollar is no longer the world’s reserve currency. As of January 2023, the U.S. spent a record $213 billion servicing the interest on its national debt.
The public, bombarded with war propaganda, cheers on their self-immolation. It revels in the despicable beauty of our military prowess. It speaks in the thought-terminating clichés spewed out by mass culture and mass media. It imbibes the illusion of omnipotence and wallows in self-adulation.
The intoxication of war is a plague. It imparts an emotional high that is impervious to logic, reason or fact. No nation is immune. The gravest mistake made by European socialists on the eve of the First World War was the belief that the working classes of France, Germany, Italy, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Russia and Great Britain would not be divided into antagonistic tribes because of disputes between imperialist governments. They would not, the socialists assured themselves, sign on for the suicidal slaughter of millions of working men in the trenches. Instead, nearly every socialist leader walked away from their anti-war platform to back their nation’s entry into the war. The handful who did not, such as Rosa Luxemburg, were sent to prison.
A society dominated by militarists distorts its social, cultural, economic and political institutions to serve the interests of the war industry. The essence of the military is masked with subterfuges — using the military to carry out humanitarian relief missions, evacuating civilians in danger, as we see in the Sudan, defining military aggression as “humanitarian intervention” or a way to protect democracy and liberty, or lauding the military as carrying out a vital civic function by teaching leadership, responsibility, ethics and skills to young recruits. The true face of the military — industrial slaughter — is hidden.
The mantra of the militarized state is national security. If every discussion begins with a question of national security, every answer includes force or the threat of force. The preoccupation with internal and external threats divides the world into friend and foe, good and evil. Militarized societies are fertile ground for demagogues. Militarists, like demagogues, see other nations and cultures in their own image – threatening and aggressive. They seek only domination.
It was not in our national interest to wage war for two decades across the Middle East. It is not in our national interest to go to war with Russia or China. But militarists need war the way a vampire needs blood.
After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev and later Vladimir Putin lobbiedto be integrated into western economic and military alliances. An alliance that included Russia would have nullified the calls to expand NATO — which the U.S. had promised it would not do beyond the borders of a unified Germany — and have made it impossible to convince countries in eastern and central Europe to spend billions on U.S. military hardware. Moscow’s requests were rebuffed. Russia was made the enemy, whether it wanted to be or not. None of this made us more secure. Washington’s decision to interfere in Ukraine’s domestic affairs by backing a coup in 2014 triggered a civil war and Russia’s subsequent invasion.
But for those who profit from war, antagonizing Russia, like antagonizing China, is a good business model. Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin saw their stock prices increase by 40 percent and 37 percent respectively as a result of the Ukraine conflict.
A war with China, now an industrial giant, would disrupt the global supply chain with devastating effects on the U.S. and global economy. Apple produces 90 percent of its products in China. U.S. trade with China was $690.6 billion last year. In 2004, U.S. manufacturing output was more than twice China’s. China’s output is now nearly double that of the United States. China produces the largest number of ships, steel and smartphones in the world. It dominates the global production of chemicals, metals, heavy industrial equipment and electronics. It is the world’s largest rare earth mineral exporter, its greatest reserve holder and is responsible for 80 percent of its refining worldwide. Rare earth minerals are essential to the manufacture of computer chips, smartphones, television screens, medical equipment, fluorescent light bulbs, cars, wind turbines, smart bombs, fighter jets and satellite communications.
War with China would result in massive shortages of a variety of goods and resources, some vital to the war industry, paralyzing U.S. businesses. Inflation and unemployment would rocket upwards. Rationing would be implemented. The global stock exchanges, at least in the short term, would be shut down. It would trigger a global depression. If the U.S. Navy was able to block oil shipments to China and disrupt its sea lanes, the conflict could potentially become nuclear.
In “NATO 2030: Unified for a New Era,” the military alliance sees the future as a battle for hegemony with rival states, especially China. It calls for the preparation of prolonged global conflict. In October 2022, Air Force General Mike Minihan, head of Air Mobility Command, presented his “Mobility Manifesto” to a packed military conference. During this unhinged fearmongering diatribe, Minihan argued that if the U.S. does not dramatically escalate its preparations for a war with China, America’s children will find themselves “subservient to a rules based order that benefits only one country [China].”
According to the New York Times, the Marine Corps is training units for beach assaults, where the Pentagon believes the first battles with China may occur, across “the first island chain” that includes, “Okinawa and Taiwan down to Malaysia as well as the South China Sea and disputed islands in the Spratlys and the Paracels.”.
Militarists drain funds from social and infrastructure programs. They pour money into research and development of weapons systems and neglect renewable energy technologies. Bridges, roads, electrical grids and levees collapse. Schools decay. Domestic manufacturing declines. The public is impoverished. The harsh forms of control the militarists test and perfect abroad migrate back to the homeland. Militarized Police. Militarized drones. Surveillance. Vast prison complexes. Suspension of basic civil liberties. Censorship.
Those such as Julian Assange, who challenge the stratocracy, who expose its crimes and suicidal folly, are ruthlessly persecuted. But the war state harbors within it the seeds of its own destruction. It will cannibalize the nation until it collapses. Before then, it will lash out, like a blinded cyclops, seeking to restore its diminishing power through indiscriminate violence. The tragedy is not that the U.S. war state will self-destruct. The tragedy is that we will take down so many innocents with us.
First, allow me to thank Mr. Taibbi for his work exposing the social media censorship agenda. The uniparty wanted to skin him alive and hang him out to dry. Taibbi didn’t back down despite ominous threats to his freedom. Thank you, Mr. Taibbi.
Now the tough part. Prior to his wake-up call before the House, Matt was fuzzy on uniparty careerists, for instance, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who thinks she’s a socialist.
Not long ago I was writing in defense of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. When she first entered Congress as an inner-city kid who’d knocked off longtime insider Joe Crowley with a Sandersian policy profile, her own party’s establishment ridiculed her as a lefty Trump. Nancy Pelosi scoffed that her win just meant voters “made a choice in one district,” so “let’s not get carried away.” Ben Ritz, director of the Progressive Policy Institute, an offshoot of the old Democratic Leadership Council, groused, “Oh, please, she just promised everyone a bunch of free stuff.”
But like aggressive, competitive, and often sociopathic government careerists worldwide, Ocasio-Cortez naturally strives for the most powerful and dictatorial seat in Congress, that of Speaker. Taibbi and others are alarmed by Ocasio-Cortez’s demand the state censor Fox News.
“We have very real issues with what is permissible on air,” she said [during an interview with Jen Psaki], adding people like Tucker Carlson are “very clearly” guilty of “incitement to violence,” a problem in light of “federal regulation in terms of what’s allowed on air and what isn’t.”
It is a common mistake to not fully comprehend that the political class is deeply Machiavellian. A Machiavellian state will impose “tyrannical methods of rule,” according to the dictionary. The state and its political class are “destitute of political morality; cunning in political management; habitually using duplicity and bad faith; astutely crafty.” This is a standard operating procedure in Congress, the Executive, and across government. It is not difficult to see, that is if one is not “inculcated” with false, misleading, and harmfully deceptive propaganda broadcast daily by the state’s media conduits, which claim to be independent.
Prior to his roasting at the hands of uniparty “democrats,” Taibbi was “attracted to liberalism as a young person precisely because it didn’t want to ban things… liberalism celebrated the belief that truth, tolerance, and forgiveness are the way to reach closed minds.”
Rank and file democrat normies may still believe democrat politicians are all about truth and forgiveness, but that is an optical illusion. Consider President Wilson, a democrat. His administration, with the blessing of Congress, censored and prosecuted speech in opposition to America’s involvement in the “Great War,” WWI. The uniparty of the day considered any such speech sedition.
The liberal icon, FDR, forced “Radio Priest” Charles Coughlin off the air for the sin of not following the Nazi demonization narrative in the lead-up to WWII. Granted, Coughlin overlooked the totalitarian policies of Nazi Germany, and its racist ideology, but the point here is that the state decided to censor and strip Coughlin of his natural right to speech.
Then there was Truman, the man who dropped two atom bombs, incinerating more than 100,000 Japanese civilians. During this democrat’s time in office, the administration and Congress used the Alien Registration Act or Smith Act of 1940 to prosecute not only communists, but folks like Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, a founding member of the American Civil Liberties Union, and defense attorneys during the McCarthy hearings (run by republicans) were cited for contempt of court and imprisoned.
Clinton pushed through the Child Online Protection Act of 1998, legislation designed to throttle speech on the then-new world wide web. Obama blocked access to government, despite a pledge to support transparency. The Obama administration used the Espionage Act to go after journalists critical of the state.
The uniparty is united on the effort to vilify, intimidate, indict, and prosecute all in opposition to the crony capitalist state, its rigged economics, endless wars, rigged elections, and unwavering service to corporations, banks, and billionaires, while the people are expected to pay for corporate gambling losses and clean up their environmental messes while the commoners slowly sink into poverty.
Unfortunately, it took a fair degree of abuse heaped on Taibbi during a House hearing on the “Twitter Files,” and the threat of perjury, before he finally disinvested himself from democrats, the uniparty faction that likes to pretend it works for “the people,” when in fact it works for a corporatist state, the “defense” (endless war) industry, Big Pharma, the insurance cartel, and, above all, the “financial sector,” that is to say bankers and their enablers at the Federal Reserve and the USG Treasury.
There is nothing mysterious, arcane, and byzantine about what is happening in America. The destruction of the Middle Class, economic warfare, violent regime change, arms shipments to neo-Nazis, bailouts of corrupt and parasitical banks and corporations—all of it plain to see, if one looks—these are not “weaponized” conspiracy theories.
Don’t get me wrong. I am thankful Matt Taibbi has finally seen beyond the facade, the window dressing and propaganda in regard to democrats and the state. As I have said for a couple of decades on crucial issues—economics, war, and peace, the attack on natural rights—there is little difference between the two factions of the corporate uniparty.
No one but the terminally naïve should be surprised that security services lie – and that they are all but certain to cover their tracks when they carry out operations that either violate domestic or international law or that would be near-universally rejected by their own populations.
Which is reason enough why anyone following the fallout from explosions last September that ripped holes in three of the four Nord Stream pipelines in the Baltic Sea supplying Russian gas to Europe should be wary of accepting anything Western agencies have to say on the matter.
In fact, the only thing that Western publics should trust is the consensus among “investigators” that the three simultaneous blasts deep underwater on the pipelines – a fourth charge apparently failed to detonate – were sabotage, not some freak coincidental accident.
Someone blew up the Nord Stream pipelines, creating an untold environmental catastrophe as the pipes leaked huge quantities of methane, a supremely active global-warming gas. It was an act of unrivaled industrial and environmental terrorism.
If Washington had been able to pin the explosions on Russia, as it initially hoped, it would have done so with full vigor. There is nothing Western states would like more than to intensify world fury against Moscow, especially in the context of NATO’s express efforts to “weaken” Russia through a proxy war waged in Ukraine.
But, after the claim made the rounds of front pages for a week or two, the story of Russia destroying its own pipelines was quietly shelved. That was partly because it seemed too difficult to maintain a narrative in which Moscow chose to destroy a critical part of its own energy infrastructure.
Not only did the explosions cause Russia great financial harm – the country’s gas and oil revenues regularly financed nearly half of its annual budget – but the blasts removed Moscow’s chief influence over Germany, which had been until then heavily dependent on Russian gas. The initial media story required the Western public to believe that President Vladimir Putin willingly shot himself in the foot, losing his only leverage over European resolve to impose economic sanctions on his country.
But even more than the complete lack of a Russian motive, Western states knew they would be unable to build a plausible forensic case against Moscow for the Nord Stream blasts.
Instead, with no chance to milk the explosions for propaganda value, official Western interest in explaining what had happened to the Nord Stream pipelines wilted, despite the enormity of the event. That was reflected for months in an almost complete absence of media coverage.
When the matter was raised, it was to argue that separate investigations by Sweden, Germany and Denmark were all drawing a blank. Sweden even refused to share any of its findings with Germany and Denmark, arguing that to do so would harm its “national security.”
No one, again including the Western media, raised an eyebrow or showed a flicker of interest in what might be really going on behind the scenes. Western states and their compliant corporate media seemed quite ready to settle for the conclusion that this was a mystery cocooned in an enigma.
Isolated and friendless
It might have stayed that way forever, except that in February, a journalist – one of the most acclaimed investigative reporters of the past half-century – produced an accountthat finally demystified the explosions. Drawing on at least one anonymous, highly placed informant, Seymour Hersh pointed the finger for the explosions directly at the US administration and President Joe Biden himself.
Hersh’s detailed retelling of the planning and execution of the Nord Stream blasts had the advantage – at least for those interested in getting to the truth of what took place – that his account fitted the known circumstantial evidence.
Key Washington figures, from President Biden to Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and his senior neoconservative official Victoria Nuland – a stalwart of the murky US, anti-Russia meddling in Ukraine over the past decade – had either called for the destruction of the Nord Stream pipelines or celebrated the blasts shortly after they took place.
If anyone had a motive for blowing up the Russian pipelines – and a self-declared one at that – it was the Biden administration. They opposed the Nord Stream 1 and 2 projects from the outset – and for exactly the same reason that Moscow so richly prized them.
In particular, the second pair of pipelines, Nord Stream 2, which was completed in September 2021, would double the amount of cheap Russian gas available to Germany and Western Europe. The only obstacle in its path was the hesitancy of German regulators. They delayed approval in November 2021.
Nord Stream meant major European countries, most especially Germany, would be completely dependent for the bulk of their energy supplies on Russia. That deeply conflicted with US interests. For two decades, Washington had been expanding NATO as an anti-Moscow military alliance embracing ever more of Europe, to the point of butting up aggressively against Russia’s borders.
The Ukrainian government’s covert efforts to become a NATO member – thereby destroying a long-standing mutual and fragile nuclear deterrence between Washington and Moscow – were among the stated reasons why Russia invaded its neighbor in February last year.
Washington wanted Moscow isolated and friendless in Europe. The goal was to turn Russia into Enemy No. 2 – after China – not leave Europeans looking to Moscow for energy salvation.
The Nord Stream explosions achieved precisely that outcome. They severed the main reason European states had for cozying up to Moscow. Instead, the US started shipping its expensive liquified natural gas across the Atlantic to Europe, both forcing Europeans to become more energy dependent on Washington and, at the same time, fleecing them for the privilege.
But even if Hersh’s story fitted the circumstantial evidence, could his account stand up to further scrutiny?
This is where the real story begins. Because one might have assumed that Western states would be queuing up to investigate the facts Hersh laid bare, if only to see if they stacked up or to find a more plausible alternative account of what happened.
Dennis Kucinich, a former chair of a US Congressional investigative subcommittee on government oversight, has noted that it is simply astonishing no one in Congress has been pushing to use its powers to subpoena senior American officials, such as the secretary of the Navy, to test Hersh’s version of events. As Kucinich observes, such subpoenas could be issued under Congress’s Article One, Section 8, Clause 18, providing “constitutional powers to gather information, including to inquire on the administrative conduct of office.”
Similarly, and even more extraordinarily, when a vote was called by Russia at the United Nations Security Council late last month to set up an independent international commission to investigate the blasts, the proposal was roundly rejected.
If adopted, the UN Secretary-General himself would have appointed expert investigators and aided their work with a large secretariat.
Three Security Council members, Russia, China and Brazil, voted in favor of the commission. The other 12 – the US and its allies or small states it could easily pressure – abstained, the safest way to quietly foil the creation of such an investigative commission.
Excuses for rejecting an independent commission failed to pass the sniff test. The claim was that it would interfere with the existing investigations of Denmark, Sweden and Germany. And yet all three have demonstrated that they are in no hurry to reach a conclusion, arguing that they may need years to carry out their work. As previously noted, they have indicated great reluctance to cooperate. And last week, Sweden once again stated that it may never get to the bottom of the events in the Baltic Sea.
As one European diplomat reportedly observed of meetings between NATO policymakers, the motto is: “Don’t talk about Nord Stream.” The diplomat added: “It’s like a corpse at a family gathering. It’s better not to know.”
It may not be so surprising that Western states are devoted to ignorance about who carried out a major act of international terrorism in blowing up the Nord Stream pipelines, considering that the most likely culprit is the world’s only superpower and the one state that can make their lives a misery.
But what should be more peculiar is that Western media have shown precisely no interestin getting to the truth of the matter either. They have remained completely incurious to an event of enormous international significance and consequence.
It is not only that Hersh’s account has been ignored by the Western press as if it did not even exist. It is that none of the media appear to have made any effort to follow up with their own investigations to test his account for plausibility.
‘Act of war’
Hersh’s investigation is filled with details that could be checked – and verified or rebutted – if anyone wished to do so.
He set out a lengthy planning stage that began in the second half of 2021. He names the unit responsible for the attack on the pipeline: the US Navy’s Diving and Salvage Center, based in Panama City, Florida. And he explains why it was chosen for the task over the US Special Operations Command: because any covert operation by the former would not need to be reported to Congress.
In December 2021, according to his highly placed informant, National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan convened a task force of senior administration and Pentagon officials at the request of Biden himself. They agreed that the explosions must not be traceable back to Washington; otherwise, as the source noted: “It’s an act of war.”
The CIA brought in the Norwegians, stalwarts of NATO and strongly hostile to Russia, to carry out the logistics of where and how to attack the pipelines. Oslo had its own additional commercial interests in play, as the blasts would make Germany more dependent on Norwegian gas, as well as American supplies, to make up the shortfall from Nord Stream.
By March last year, shortly after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the precise site for the attack had been selected: in the Baltic’s shallow waters off Denmark’s Bornholm Island, where the sea floor was only 260ft below the surface, the four pipelines were close together and there were no strong tidal currents.
A small number of Swedish and Danish officials were given a general briefing about unusual diving activities to avoid the danger that their navies might raise the alarm.
The Norwegians also helped develop a way to disguise the US explosive charges so that, after they were laid, they would not be detected by Russian surveillance in the area.
Next, the US found the ideal cover. For more than two decades, Washington has sponsored an annual NATO naval exercise in the Baltic every June. The US arranged that the 2022 event, Baltops 22, would take place close to Bornholm Island, allowing the divers to plant the charges unnoticed.
The explosives would be detonated through the use of a sonar buoy dropped by plane at the time of President Biden’s choosing. Complex arrangements had to be taken to make sure the explosives would not be accidentally triggered by passing ships, underwater drilling, seismic events or sea creatures.
Three months later, on September 26, the sonar buoy was dropped by a Norwegian plane, and a few hours later three of the four pipelines were put out of commission.
The Western media’s response to Hersh’s account has perhaps been the most revealing aspect of the entire saga.
It is not just that the establishment media have been so uniformly and remarkably reticent to dig deeper into making sense of this momentous crime – beyond making predictable, unevidenced accusations against Russia. It is that they have so obviously sought to dismiss Hersh’s account before making even cursory efforts to confirm or deny its specifics.
The knee-jerk pretext has been that Hersh has only one anonymous source for his claims. Hersh himself has noted that, as with other of his famous investigations, he cannot always refer to additional sources he uses to confirm details because those sources impose a condition of invisibility for agreeing to speak to him.
That should hardly be surprising when informants are drawn from a small, select group of Washington insiders and are at great risk of being identified – at great personal cost to themselves, given the US administration’s proven track record of persecuting whistleblowers.
But the fact that this was indeed just a pretext from the establishment media becomes much clearer when we consider that those same journalists dismissive of Hersh’s account happily gave prominence to an alternative, highly implausible, semi-official version of events.
In what looked suspiciously like a coordinated publication in early March, The New York Times and Germany’s Die Zeit newspapers printed separate accounts promising to solve “one of the central mysteries of the war in Ukraine.” The Times headline asked a question it implied it was about to answer: “Who Blew Up the Nord Stream Pipelines?”
Instead, both papers offered an account of the Nord Stream attack that lacked detail, and any detail that was supplied was completely implausible. This new version of events was vaguely attributed to anonymous American and German intelligence sources – the very actors, in Hersh’s account, responsible both for carrying out and covering up the Nord Stream blasts.
In fact, the story had all the hallmarks of a disinformation campaign to distract from Hersh’s investigation. It threw the establishment media a bone: the chief purpose was to lift any pressure from journalists to pursue Hersh’s leads. Now they could scurry around, looking like they were doing their job as a “free press” by chasing a complete red herring supplied by U.S. intelligence agencies.
Which is why the story was widely reported, notably far more widely than Hersh’s much more credible account.
So what did the New York Times’ account claim? That a mysterious group of six people had hired a 50ft yacht and sailed off to Bornholm Island, where they had carried out a James Bond-style mission to blow up the pipelines. Those involved, it was suggested, were a group of “pro-Ukrainian saboteurs”– with no apparent ties to President Volodymyr Zelenskiy – who were keen to seek revenge on Russia for its invasion. They used fake passports.
The Times further muddied the waters, reporting sources that claimed some 45 “ghost ships” had passed close to the site of the explosion when their transponders were not working.
The crucial point was that the story shifted attention away from the sole plausible possibility, the one underscored by Hersh’s source: that only a state actor could have carried out the attack on the Nord Stream pipelines. The highly sophisticated, extremely difficult operation needed to be concealed from other states, including Russia that were closely surveilling the area.
Now the establishment media was heading off on a completely different tangent. They were looking not at states – and most especially not the one with the biggest motive, the greatest capability and the proven opportunity.
Instead, they had an excuse to play at being reporters, visiting Danish yachting communities to ask if anyone remembered the implicated yacht, the Andromeda, or suspicious characters aboard it, and trying to track down the Polish company that hired the sailing boat. The media had the story they preferred: one that Hollywood would have created, of a crack team of Jason Bournes giving Moscow a good slapping and then disappearing into the night.
A month on, the media discussion is still exclusively about the mysterious yacht crew, though – after reaching a series of dead-ends in a story that was only ever meant to have dead-ends – establishment journalists are asking a few tentative questions. Though, let us note, most determinedly not questions about any possible US involvement in the Nord Stream sabotage.
Britain’s Guardian newspaper ran a story last week in which a German “security expert” wondered whether a group of six sailors was really capable of carrying out a highly complex operation to blow up the Nord Stream pipelines. That is something that might have occurred to a less credulous newspaper a month earlier when the Guardian simply regurgitated the Times’ disinformation story.
But despite the security expert’s skepticism, the Guardian is still not eager to get to the bottom of the story. It conveniently concludes that the “investigation” conducted by the Swedish public prosecutor, Mats Ljungqvist, will be unlikely ever to “yield a conclusive answer”.
Or as Ljungqvist observes: “Our hope is to be able to confirm who has committed this crime, but it should be noted that it likely will be difficult given the circumstances.”
Hersh’s account continues to be ignored by the Guardian – beyond a dismissive reference to several “theories” and “speculation” other than the laughable yacht story. The Guardian does not name Hersh in its report or the fact that his highly placed source fingered the US for the Nord Stream sabotage. Instead, it notes simply that one theory – Hersh’s – has been “zeroing on a Nato Baltops 22 wargame two months before” the attack.
It’s all still a mystery for the Guardian – and a very welcome one by the tenor of its reports.
The Washington Post has been performing a similar service for the Biden administration on the other side of the Atlantic. A month on, it is using the yacht story to widen the enigma rather than narrow it down.
The paper reports that unnamed “law enforcement officials” now believe the Andromeda yacht was not the only vessel involved, adding: “The boat may have been a decoy, put to sea to distract from the true perpetrators, who remain at large, according to officials with knowledge of an investigation led by Germany’s attorney general.”
The Washington Post’s uncritical reporting surely proves a boon to Western “investigators”. It continues to build an ever more elaborate mystery, or “international whodunnit,” as the paper gleefully describes it. Its report argues that unnamed officials “wonder if the explosive traces – collected months after the rented boat was returned to its owners – were meant to falsely lead investigators to the Andromeda as the vessel used in the attack.”
The paper then quotes someone with “knowledge of the investigation”: “The question is whether the story with the sailboat is something to distract or only part of the picture.”
How does the paper respond? By ignoring that very warning and dutifully distracting itself across much of its own report by puzzling whether Poland might have been involved too in the blasts. Remember, a mysterious Polish company hired that red-herring yacht.
Poland, notes the paper, had a motive because it had long warned that the Nord Stream pipelines would make Europe more energy dependent on Russia. Exactly the same motive, we might note – though, of course, the Washington Post refuses to do so – that the Biden administration demonstrably had.
The paper does inadvertently offer one clue as to where the mystery yacht story most likely originated. The Washington Post quotes a German security official saying that Berlin “first became interested in the [Andromeda] vessel after the country’s domestic intelligence agency received a ‘very concrete tip’ from a Western intelligence service that the boat may have been involved in the sabotage”.
The German official “declined to name the country that shared the information” – information that helpfully draws attention away from any US involvement in the pipeline blasts and redirects it to a group of untraceable, rogue Ukraine sympathizers.
The Washington Post concludes that Western leaders “would rather not have to deal with the possibility that Ukraine or allies were involved”. And, it seems the Western media – our supposed watchdogs on power – feel exactly the same way.
In a follow-up story last week, Hersh revealed that Holger Stark, the journalist behind Die Zeit’s piece on the mystery yacht and someone Hersh knew when they worked together in Washington, had imparted to him an interesting additional piece of information divulged by his country’s intelligence services.
Hersh reports: “Officials in Germany, Sweden, and Denmark had decided shortly after the pipeline bombings to send teams to the site to recover the one mine that has not gone off. [Holger] said they were too late; an American ship had sped to the site within a day or two and recovered the mine and other materials.”
Holger, Hersh says, was entirely uninterested in Washington’s haste and determination to have exclusive access to this critical piece of evidence: “He answered, with a wave of his hand, ‘You know what Americans are like. Always wanting to be first.’” Hersh points out: “There was another very obvious explanation.”
Hersh also spoke with an intelligence expert about the plausibility of the mystery yacht story being advanced by the New York Times and Die Zeit. He described it as a “parody” of intelligence that only fooled the media because it was exactly the kind of story they wanted to hear. He noted some of the most glaring flaws in the account:
‘Any serious student of the event would know that you cannot anchor a sailboat in waters that are 260 feet deep’ – the depth at which the four pipelines were destroyed – ‘but the story was not aimed at him but at the press who would not know a parody when presented with one.’
‘You cannot just walk off the street with a fake passport and lease a boat. You either need to accept a captain who was supplied by the leasing agent or owner of the yacht, or have a captain who comes with a certificate of competency as mandated by maritime law. Anyone who’s ever chartered a yacht would know that.’ Similar proof of expertise and competence for deep sea diving involving the use of a specialized mix of gases would be required by the divers and the doctor.
‘How does a 49-foot sailboat find the pipelines in the Baltic Sea? The pipelines are not that big and they are not on the charts that come with the lease. Maybe the thought was to put the two divers into the water’– not very easy to do so from a small yacht – ‘and let the divers look for it. How long can a diver stay down in their suits? Maybe fifteen minutes. Which means it would take the diver four years to search one square mile.’
The truth is that the Western press has zero interest in determining who blew up the Nord Stream pipelines because, just like Western diplomats and politicians, media corporations don’t want to know the truth if it cannot be weaponized against an official enemy state.
The Western media are not there to help the public monitor the centers of power, keep our governments honest and transparent, or bring to book those who commit state crimes. They are there to keep us ignorant and willing accomplices when such crimes are seen as advancing on the global stage the interests of Western elites – including the very transnational corporations that run our media.
Which is precisely why the Nord Stream blasts took place. The Biden administration knew not only that its allies would be too fearful to expose its unprecedented act of industrial and environmental terrorism but that the media would dutifully line up behind their national governments in turning a blind eye.
The very ease with which Washington has been able to carry out an atrocity – one that has caused a surge in the cost of living for Europeans, leaving them cold and out of pocket during the winter, and added considerably to existing pressures that have been gradually de-industrializing Europe’s economies – will embolden the US to act in equally rogue ways in the future.
In the context of a Ukraine war in which there is the constant threat of a resort to nuclear weapons, where that could ultimately lead should be only too obvious.
Brazil’s Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has called on BRICS nations to create an alternative to replace the dollar in foreign trade. Other experts suggest President Joe Biden’s policies will destroy America’s middle class for good. The news comes when China and Russia strengthen ties with Brazil and Latin America. Brazil’s leader questioned the institution of the U.S. dollar as the world’s trade currency in the first place and asked why each country could not trade in its currency.
This brings to the forefront the historical moment when the gold standard was abolished in favor of the current system. When President Richard Nixon moved to abolish the gold standard as a commitment mechanism, his administration ushered in decades of relative volatility and made hard currency.
The exchange of gold was severely curtailed through the Bretton Woods international monetary agreement of 1944. When the International Monetary Fund was established, the U.S. Dollar became the most potent currency in the world. Initially, the role of the IMF was only to assist with international transactions, but as we see today, that institution has far overstepped its original purpose. Today, the IMF is a leverage arm for the United States and a few European nations to fund countries/regimes that align with its policy. The U.S., for instance, has an almost 20% share of contributions to the fund.
The primary purpose of remaining off the gold standard is that the government can print money endlessly, with two primary goals. First, a massive defense budget and needless proxy wars would not be possible if the United States were on the gold standard. Secondly, the people who control the central banks cannot extract interest on national debts that are currently out of control. So, the fiat currency supposedly backed by the “full faith and credit” of the government, the dollar, is worth what lying politicians and finance ministers say it is.
One look at the worldwide bond market reveals a disturbing imbalance. The U.S., which now has over $51 trillion in outstanding debt, has borrowed more to finance wars and programs than China, Japan, Germany, Italy, France, the U.K., and Canada combined. The American taxpayer is responsible for almost 40% of all the foreign debt in the world. And the outlook for the short and long-term future could be better.
President Joe Biden wants to borrow even more when his administration conducts a proxy war against Russia in Ukraine. With billions flowing into Europe’s most corrupt country, Americans are on the precipice of an economic catastrophe not seen since the Great Depression.
According to the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington and the Congressional Budget Office, the government will no longer be able to pay everyone — including bondholders, Social Security recipients, and federal employees — sometime this summer or early this fall. A New York Times report from late March outlines the situation. But the problem is far worse than many experts suggest. No matter which way lawmakers move, the U.S. has almost insurmountable fiscal issues. The ramifications will be dire whether or not they raise the debt limit. And if the BRICS countries go off the dollar as a trade currency… Well.
Many experts predict that American greenbacks won’t be worth the printed paper if the world stops using the U.S. dollar as its world currency reserve. Moreover, if the dollar loses its value significantly, every American who owes a credit card loan or a home mortgage will find it ten times harder to pay off those debts.
To make matters worse, millions of jobs will be sacrificed for the Federal Reserve to get any financial stability. Analysis from RSM International shows that the central banks must “induce” a recession to get America’s economic situation in check. And the dollar being made useless by the larger world community was not a factor in their analysis.
The bottom line is if we were still on the gold standard, this would be fine. The gold standard reduced the risks of such economic crises and recessions. Income levels were higher when we were on the bullion-backed system. More importantly, the gold standard created hard limits on printing money and limiting military spending. For more intuition on this, this Barron’s report reveals how our current failing system came into being. The information also serves as a crystal ball for what will happen.
As confidence in the dollar wanes and U.S. policy overseas gets more aggressive toward BRICS nations and others, the tipping point of the American hegemony draws closer.