Hillary Clinton: “If I’m President, We Will Attack Iran… We would be Able to Totally Obliterate Them.”

 

 

 

In-depth Report: IRAN: THE NEXT WAR

 

Endless wars are certain no matter who succeeds Obama. Clinton’s finger on the nuclear trigger should terrify everyone. ~ Oliver Stone filmmaker

 

By Stephen Lederman

Note: This piece which is of extreme relevance to the US election campaign was originally published in July 2015.

On July 3, 2015, presidential aspirant Hillary Clinton addressed a hand-picked audience at a Dartmouth College campaign event. She lied calling Iran an “existential threat to Israel… I hope we are able to get a deal next week that puts a lid on (its) nuclear weapons program.”

Even if we do get such a deal, we will still have major problems from Iran. They are the world’s chief sponsor of terrorism.

They use proxies like Hezbollah to sow discord and create insurgencies to destabilize governments. They are taking more and more control of a number of nations in the region and they pose an existential threat to Israel.

We…have to turn our attention to working with our partners to try to reign in and prevent this continuing Iranian aggressiveness.

Fact: US and Israeli intelligence both say Iran’s nuclear program has no military component. No evidence whatever suggests Tehran wants one. Plenty indicates otherwise.

As a 2008 presidential aspirant, she addressed AIPAC’s annual convention saying:

The United States stands with Israel now and forever. We have shared interests….shared ideals….common values. I have a bedrock commitment to Israel’s security.

(O)ur two nations are fighting a shared threat” against Islamic extremism. I strongly support Israel’s right to self-defense (and) believe America should aid in that defense.

I am committed to making sure that Israel maintains a military edge to meet increasing threats. I am deeply concerned about the growing threat in Gaza (and) Hamas’ campaign of terror.

No such campaign exists. The only threats Israel faces are ones it invents.

Clinton repeated tired old lies saying Hamas’ charter “calls for the destruction of Israel. Iran threatens to destroy Israel.”

“I support calling the Iranian Revolutionary Guard what it is: a terrorist organization. It is imperative that we get both tough and smart about dealing with Iran before it is too late.”

She backs “massive retaliation” if Iran attacks Israel, saying at the time:

“I want the Iranians to know that if I’m president, we will attack Iran. In the next 10 years, during which they might foolishly consider launching an attack on Israel, we would be able to totally obliterate them.”

She endorses using cluster bombs, toxic agents and nuclear weapons in US war theaters. She calls them deterrents that “keep the peace.” She was one of only six Democrat senators opposed to blocking deployment of untested missile defense systems – first-strike weapons entirely for offense.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net.

His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 


Obama Ignores Russian Terror Victims, Killed by ISIS

By Robert Parry
Global Research, December 05, 2015
Consortium News 2 December 2015
Region: Middle East & North Africa, Russia and FSU, USA
Theme: US NATO War Agenda

President Obama has displayed a stunning lack of sympathy for the Russian civilians killed in an ISIS plane bombing in Egypt and for two Russian military men slain as victims of U.S. weapons systems in Syria, putting insults toward President Putin ahead of human decency, writes Robert Parry.

Normally, when a country is hit by an act of terrorism, there is universal sympathy even if the country has engaged in actions that may have made it a target of the terrorists. After 9/11, for instance, any discussion of whether U.S. violent meddling in the Middle East may have precipitated the attack was ruled out of the public debate.

Similarly, the 7/7 attacks against London’s Underground in 2005 were not excused because the United Kingdom had joined in President George W. Bush’s aggressive war in Iraq. The same with the more recent terror strikes in Paris. No respectable politician or pundit gloated about the French getting what they deserved for their long history of imperialism in the Muslim world.

President Barack Obama uncomfortably accepting the Nobel Peace Prize from Committee Chairman Thorbjorn Jagland in Oslo, Norway, Dec. 10, 2009. (White House photo)

obama-nobel-12-10-09-300x199

Apparently, the political imperative to display disdain for Russian President Vladimir Putin trumps any normal sense of humanity. Both Obama on Tuesday and Friedman on Wednesday treated those Russian deaths at the hands of the Islamic State or other jihadists as Putin’s comeuppance for intervening against terrorist/jihadist gains in Syria.

At a news conference in Paris, Obama expressed his lack of sympathy as part of a bizarre comment in which he faulted Putin for somehow not turning around the Syrian conflict during the past month – when Obama and his allies have been floundering in their “war” against the Islamic State and its parent, Al Qaeda, for years, if not decades.

“The Russians now have been there for several weeks, over a month, and I think fair-minded reporters who looked at the situation would say that the situation hasn’t changed significantly,” Obama said. “

In the interim, Russia has lost a commercial passenger jet. You’ve seen another jet shot down. There have been losses in terms of Russian personnel. And I think Mr. Putin understands that, with Afghanistan fresh in the memory, for him to simply get bogged down in a inconclusive and paralyzing civil conflict is not the outcome that he’s looking for.”

In examining that one paragraph, a “fair-minded” reporter could find a great deal to dispute. Indeed, the comments suggest that President Obama has crossed some line into either believing his own propaganda or thinking that everyone who listens to him is an idiot and will believe whatever he says.

But what was perhaps most disturbing was Obama’s graceless manner of discussing the tragedy of the Sinai bombing, followed by his seeming pleasure over Turkey shooting down a Russian SU-24 last week, leading to the killing of two Russian military men, one the pilot who was targeted while parachuting to the ground and the other a marine after his search-and-rescue helicopter was downed by a TOW missile.

Even more troubling, the key weapon systems used – the Turkish F-16 fighter jet and the TOW missile – were U.S.-manufactured and apparently U.S. supplied, in the case of the TOW missile either directly or indirectly to Sunni jihadists deemed “moderate” by the Obama administration.

The Ever-Smug Friedman

Columnist Friedman was equally unfeeling about the Russian deaths. In a column entitled “Putin’s Great Syrian Adventure,” Friedman offered a mocking assessment of Russia’s intervention against Sunni jihadists and terrorists seeking to take control of Syria.

While ridiculing anyone who praised Putin’s initiative or who just thought the Russian president was “crazy like a fox,” Friedman wrote: “Some of us thought he was just crazy.

Well, two months later, let’s do the math: So far, Putin’s Syrian adventure has resulted in a Russian civilian airliner carrying 224 people being blown up, apparently by pro-ISIS militants in Sinai. Turkey shot down a Russian bomber after it strayed into Turkish territory. And then Syrian rebels killed one of the pilots as he parachuted to earth and one of the Russian marines sent to rescue him.

Ha-ha, very funny! And, by the way, it has not been established that the Russian SU-24 did stray into Turkish air space but if it did, according to the Turkish account, it passed over a sliver of Turkish territory for all of 17 seconds.

The evidence is quite clear that the SU-24 was ambushed in a reckless act by Turkey’s autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdogan who has been collaborating with Syrian and foreign jihadists for the past four years to overthrow Syria’s secular government. And the murder of the pilot after he bailed out of the plane is not some reason to smirk; it is a war crime.

Even uglier is the lack of any sympathy or outrage over the terrorist bombing that killed 224 innocent people, mostly tourists, aboard a Russian charter flight in Egypt. If the victims had been American and a similar callous reaction had come from President Putin and a columnist for a major Russian newspaper, one can only imagine the outrage. However, in Official Washington, any recognition of a common humanity with Russians makes you a “Moscow stooge.”

The other wacky part of both Obama’s comments and Friedman’s echoes of the same themes is this quick assessment that the Russian intervention in support of the Syrian government has been some abject failure – as if the U.S.-led coalition has been doing so wonderfully.

First, as a “fair-minded” reporter, I would say that it appears the Russian-backed Syrian offensive has at least stopped the advances of the Islamic State, Al Qaeda’s Nusra Front and its jihadist allies, including Ahrar al-Sham (which technically separates itself from Al Qaeda and thus qualifies for U.S.-supplied weaponry even though it fights side-by-side with Nusra in the Saudi-backed Army of Conquest).

The Afghan Memories

Obama’s reference to Afghanistan was also startling. He was suggesting that Putin should have learned a lesson from Moscow’s intervention in the 1980s in support of a secular, pro-Soviet regime in Kabul, which came under attack by CIA-organized-and-armed Islamic jihadists known then as mujahedeen.

Wielding sophisticated surface-to-air missiles and benefiting from $1 billion a year in Saudi-U.S.-supplied weapons, the Afghan fundamentalist mujahedeen and their allies, including Saudi Osama bin Laden, eventually drove Soviet troops out in 1989 and – several years later behind the Taliban – completed the reversion of Afghanistan back to the Seventh Century. Women in Kabul went from dressing any way they liked in public, including wearing mini-skirts, to being covered in chadors and kept at home.

Obama’s bringing up Afghanistan in the Syrian context and Putin’s supposed one-month Syrian failure was ironic in another way. After Al Qaeda’s 9/11 attacks, the United States invaded Afghanistan in pursuit of bin Laden and has been bogged down in a quagmire there for 14 years, including nearly seven years under Obama.

So, Obama may not be on the firmest ground when he suggests that Putin recall Moscow’s experience in Afghanistan a few decades ago. After all, Obama has many more recent memories.

Further, what is different about Putin’s Syrian strategy – compared with Obama’s – is that the Russians are targeting all the terrorists and jihadists, not just the Islamic State (also known as ISIS, ISIL or Daesh). While U.S. propaganda tries to present the non-ISIS jihadists as “moderates” (somehow pretending that Al Qaeda is no longer a terrorist organization), there is, in reality, very little distinction between ISIS and the alliance of Nusra/Ahrar al-Sham.

And, as for Official Washington’s new “group think” about the Syrian government’s lack of progress in the war, there is the discordant news that the last of rebel forces have agreed to abandon the central city of Homs, which had been dubbed the “capital of the revolution.” The Associated Press reported on Tuesday that “thousands of insurgents will leave the last opposition-held neighborhood in” Homs, with the withdrawal beginning next week.

Al-Jazeera added the additional fact that the remaining 4,000 insurgents are “from al-Nusra Front, Ahrar al-Sham and the Free Syrian Army.” In other words, the “moderate” Free Syrian Army was operating in collusion with Al Qaeda’s affiliate and its major jihadist partner.

While it’s hard to get reliable up-to-date information from inside Syria, one intelligence source familiar with the military situation told me that the Syrian government offensive, backed by Iranian troops and Russian air power, had been surprisingly successful in putting the jihadists, including ISIS and Nusra, on the defensive, with additional gains around the key city of Aleppo.

The Belated Oil Bombings

Also, in the past week, Putin shamed Obama into joining in a bombing operation to destroy hundreds of trucks carrying ISIS oil to Turkey. Why that valuable business was allowed to continue during the U.S.-led war on ISIS since summer 2014 has not been adequately explained. It apparently was being protected by Turkish President Erdogan.

Another irony of Obama’s (and Friedman’s) critical assessment of Putin’s one-month military campaign came in Obama’s recounting of his meeting during the Paris climate summit with Erdogan. Obama said he was still appealing to Erdogan to close the Turkish-Syrian border although radical jihadists have been crossing it since the start of the Syrian civil war in 2011.

“With respect to Turkey, I have had repeated conversations with President Erdogan about the need to close the border between Turkey and Syria,” Obama said. “We’ve seen some serious progress on that front, but there are still some gaps. In particular, there’s about 98 kilometers that are still used as a transit point for foreign fighters, ISIL shipping out fuel for sale that helps finance their terrorist activities.”

In other words, all these years into the conflict – and about 1½ years since Obama specifically targeted ISIS – Turkey has not closed its borders to prevent ISIS from reinforcing itself with foreign fighters and trafficking in illicit oil sales to fund its terror operations. One might suspect that Erdogan has no intention of really stopping the Sunni jihadists from ravaging Syria.

Erdogan still seems set on violent “regime change” in Syria after allowing his intelligence services to provide extensive help to ISIS, Al Qaeda’s Nusra and other extremists. The Russians claim that politically well-connected Turkish businessmen also have been profiting off the ISIS oil sales.

But Obama’s acknowledgement that he has not even been able to get NATO “ally” Turkey to seal its border and that ISIS still remains a potent fighting force makes a mockery of his mocking Putin for not “significantly” changing the situation on the ground in Syria in one month.

Obama also slid into propaganda speak when he blamed Assad for all the deaths that have occurred during the Syrian conflict. “I consider somebody who kills hundreds of thousands of his own people illegitimate,” Obama said.

But again Obama is applying double standards. For instance, he would not blame President George W. Bush for the hundreds of thousands (possibly more than a million) dead Iraqis, yet Bush was arguably more responsible for those deaths by launching an unprovoked invasion of Iraq than Assad was in battling a jihadist-led insurgency.

Plus, the death toll of Syrians, estimated to exceed a quarter million, includes many soldiers and police as well as armed jihadists. That does not excuse Assad or his regime for excessively heavy-handed tactics that have inflicted civilian casualties, but Obama and his predecessor both have plenty of innocent blood on their hands, too.

After watching Obama’s news conference, one perhaps can hope that he is just speaking out of multiple sides of his mouth as he is wont to do. Maybe, he’s playing his usual game of “above-the-table/below-the-table,” praising Erdogan above the table while chastising him below the table and disparaging Putin in public while cooperating with the Russian president in private.

Or maybe President Obama has simply lost touch with reality – and with common human decency.

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon andbarnesandnoble.com). You also can order Robert Parry’s trilogy on the Bush Family and its connections to various right-wing operatives for only $34.

The trilogy includesAmerica’s Stolen Narrative. For details on this offer, click here.
The original source of this article is Consortium News
Copyright © Robert Parry, Consortium News, 2015

Disclaimer: The contents of this article are of sole responsibility of the author(s). Unruly Hearts will not be responsible for any inaccurate or incorrect statement in this article.

Outright lies from the New York Times

 

SALON

Outright lies from the New York Times: What you need to know about the dangerous new phase in the Ukraine crisis

While establishment media toe Washington’s line, violence and instability have shaken the Ukraine this week

The slightly fetid “phony war” in Ukraine—the unsettling stagnation noted in this space a month ago—is emphatically over. Suddenly there is movement on several fronts, and some of it is promising. But this is a dangerous moment, too, chiefly because Washington’s bet on the post-coup government in Kiev, bad from the outset, is on the brink of producing a result so ugly and shameful its consequences all around cannot now be calculated.

I refer to the very real potential, as of Monday, for a coup mounted by violence-adoring ultra-rightists—those neo-Nazis airbrushed out of the news coverage even as they now maraud through the Ukrainian capital almost with impunity. “The far right won’t make a full move on the Poroshenko government now,” a Ukrainian émigré said on the telephone Tuesday. “I think it’ll be a couple of months before we see that.”

Comforting, isn’t it?

In effect, we will now watch a race between those attempting to forge a negotiated settlement in Ukraine—and the prospects for this look good once again—and the collapse of the Kiev government precisely because the European powers are now forcing it to accept such a settlement. You tell me who is going to break the tape.

Before I go any further, there is an aspect of this new phase in the Ukraine crisis that needs to be noted right away. The narrative advanced over the past 18 months by most Western media—and all corporate American media, without exception—is coming unglued before our eyes. This is going to make it even more difficult than heretofore to understand events by way of our newspapers and broadcasters.

Already we see the kind of contorted reporting always deployed when our media have to cover their tracks after long periods of corrupt, untruthful work. Per usual, the most consequential offenses occur in the government-supervised New York Times.

Example: Petro Poroshenko, the Ukrainian president, now confronts “Ukrainian nationalists” over plans to decentralize power because Vladimir Putin forced this upon him, “with a metaphorical gun to his head.” This we read in Tuesday’s paper. And here we need a trigger warning for the faint of heart, because I have two strong words for this report, written with deliberation.

Outright lies. We are beyond lies of omission now. These are the real thing.

One, these are not “nationalists.” France’s Front Nationale is nationalist. The U.K. Independence party is nationalist. The majorities on Capitol Hill are nationalist. These are black-shirted ultras who vote with explosives and assassins’ bullets. You deserve to know this, and it does not change simply because Washington backs them covertly and John McCain—ask him—does smiling photo ops with Oleh Tyahnybok, their openly fascist leader.

Two, there is no accounting at all for the “gun to his head” bit, but Putin’s view that federalization is the sensible solution to the Ukraine crisis is (1) plainly the sound way to hold the nation together while addressing its differences and (2) vehemently endorsed by the French and German governments. Chancellor Merkel, with no gun to her head, made this plain Tuesday, when she insisted that autonomy legislation now pending in Kiev must be acceptable to the leadership in the rebellious eastern regions. You deserve to know this, too.

Chronology is all if we are to understand the events of the past week or so. You have not seen a chronology, because this is the very worst time, from the official and media perspectives, for you to understand events. A brief sketch of the errant timeline, which will do for now, looks like this:

Angela Merkel and François Hollande, the German and French leaders, had Poroshenko to Berlin last week and made him stand next to them as they vigorously reiterated their commitment to a negotiated settlement based on the pact signed in Minsk last February. “We are here to implement the Minsk deal, not to call it into question,”Merkel declared in that forthright way of hers.

Last weekend, with Poroshenko back in Kiev, Germany, France and Russia—the Minsk signatories, along with Ukraine—declared that a new ceasefire would go into effect Tuesday, September 1. At writing, the very early signs are that it has a better-than-even chance of holding, previous efforts having frayed.

On Monday the Kremlin announced that the Minsk signatories would meet by mid-September “in the Normandy format.” This means the four foreign ministers will convene, probably by telephone (as they first did in northern France on the D-Day anniversary last year). Two implications: One, this is a working session, devoted to structuring terms. Two, Paris, Berlin and Moscow want concrete progress toward a settlement within two weeks. In other words, the clock ticks.

Also on Monday, the Rada, Ukraine’s legislature, held a preliminary vote on the constitutional revisions that are to provide the eastern regions a high degree of autonomy. While this is a key provision in the Minsk agreement, the Poroshenko government had previously done nothing to implement it over the seven months since Minsk II was signed.

• And finally, far-right protesters had gathered outside the Rada in anticipation of the vote. As soon as the measure was passed—by a narrow margin—they erupted into violent rioting featuring bombs, explosive devices and grenades. Three police officers are now dead, more than 100 injured. The instigator was the same party that turned demonstrations last year into a coup— Oleh Tyahnybok’s Svoboda, the Russian-hating, Jew-hating party that canonizes Nazi collaborators. Poroshenko called Svoboda’s riot “a stab in the back.” Of course: Until recently his deputy prime minister and prosecutor general were both Svoboda members. He’s no stranger to these people.

So went the past week. What do we make of it? Where are we in this story?

* * *

I see several moving parts in what is now a highly kinetic situation in Ukraine and surrounding it. In some cases these are intricately related.

Consider first the European position. The Germans and French have plainly quickened the pace of their joint diplomatic efforts. Why is this and why now? It helps to note that Paris and Berlin have chosen to work with the Russians within the Minsk II framework while excluding the Americans (as, indeed, Mink II pointedly excluded them earlier this year, when warmongers on Capitol Hill and in the Pentagon were hoisting the thought of arming Kiev up the flagpole).

Two concerns appear to be at work in the European capitals. One, Washington has stepped back but half a step from its effort to force a military solution in Ukraine. Recall: As of this summer the Pentagon is effectively managing Ukraine’s armed forces. Note: Joe Biden, the White House’s point man on the war, had little to say to the French and the Germans last week, but he called Poroshenko in Kiev to stiffen the wayward president’s back in countering rebel forces on the ground in the eastern regions. (Biden for president is an odious thought, incidentally.)

Two, and more urgent, the Europeans are well aware that the Poroshenko government is highly unstable, if not teetering indeed. Its support in opinion polls is well down in the single digits. Even before this week’s street violence, nobody in Berlin could fail to see the threat of an overthrow posed by the black-shirted ultras of Svoboda and Right Sektor, a more recently formed descendant of the Social-National Party, as Svoboda used to call itself.

Remember the wave of assassinations in Kiev last April? Among the victims was a journalist and historian named Oles Buzina, who opposed a radical breach with Russia on numerous grounds. Buzina seems to have been much honored among Ukrainians, for some of them placed a plaque on the front wall of his home. Last week, Right Sektor members gouged it off—and then replaced it with a similar slab honoring his assassins. “In broad daylight. No police to be seen,” as Russia Insider, the Western-run news site in Moscow, reported.

A few days later Svoboda and Right Sektor staged the riot outside the Rada. There have been arrests in both cases, but we are looking at something close to impunity.

I called Lev Golinkin, a young Ukrainian writer from the eastern city of Kharkiv (and the émigré quoted above), to ask him about this. Here is some of what he said in a long telephone exchange Tuesday:

“The far right does not have enough support to win any presence in parliament. But they don’t need support. They need unrest. All they need is for people to see the Poroshenko government as just as corrupt and inefficient as the one it replaced. And of course it is.

“Svoboda sees Poroshenko as a traitor, who is letting Europeans betray Ukraine. They have no interest in equal rights, decentralization of the country, peace with Russia. There’s no room for compromise in their position…. The war serves Poroshenko because it distracts the far right. They’re for the war. But other than this, they have nothing in common with this president.”

“Why, Lev, do you think a move against the government is probable in the next couple of months?” I asked. Golinkin replied:

“It’s historical reality. Once they’re active they don’t stop until they’re completely defeated or they take power. After World War I, Poland brutally suppressed them. After World War II, the Soviet Union brutally suppressed them. And now there’s no one to suppress them…. The Ukrainian army may not be on Poroshenko’s side. The biggest question in my mind is whether the army will fight the far right.

“Right now Poroshenko’s darting around like a squirrel. In Kiev he says, ‘There’s no plan to decentralize. There’s no special status for the east.’ Then he works with Merkel and Hollande on plans to decentralize and grant the east special status.”

Let me put it this way: If I am talking about this near-chaos as I sit in a village of 1,600 souls in the New England hills, they are talking about it in Berlin and Paris. Merkel and Hollande appear to be motivated in some measure, and maybe in large measure, by the thought that they must move now if they are to grasp their last, best chance to achieve a negotiated settlement in Ukraine.

* * *

I had a note from a reader the other day—a prominent, connected man—who conveyed the thoughts of an American colonel now serving in Germany. (I will name neither my reader nor the officer I am about to quote.) The colonel was writing about “a shift toward collaborative behavior” he sees among Americans—the thought being that Washington is moving gradually away from unilateral action and an insistence on American primacy across all oceans and continents.

I, too, see signs of this in the Obama administration’s record, but only signs, and they are faint. It occurs on a here-and-there basis and there is no consistency to it. In my read, this shift reflects partly a new understanding of America’s place but mostly the force of circumstance. The colonel sees the latter at work in Europe, referring to “the pretty much complete failure of the most recent ‘regime change’ that was engineered in Ukraine.”

The note prompted me to think, and the events of the past few days confirm the thought: It is not too soon to assess Washington’s failure in Ukraine. It is, indeed, “pretty much complete” and pretty much on display as we speak. No surprise from this quarter: As argued severally in this space, this failure is has been more or less inevitable since the beginning of the Ukraine adventure in the first post-Soviet years—and certainly since the coup Washington cultivated in Kiev last year.

I do not seem to be as isolated in this judgment as I was even a few months ago. “Better to get the most advantageous possible negotiated terms,” a new piece on Ukraine in The National Interest argues, “than to set up ourselves and the NATO alliance for a high-profile defeat.”

That is a foreign policy “realist” doing his reckoning. It is the sound of tactical retreat in the face of failure. I go even further: Not only has failure been inevitable from the first; it is the best outcome for Americans by a long way.

There are a couple of ways to explain this. First, there are the practicalities. The shambolic Poroshenko government is simply too weak to serve as an effective client, even if you think a client regime on Russia’s border is a good idea. It long ago spent its political capital. Its support in the Rada is crumbling. The I.M.F. just completed its bailout arrangement, but in so doing it assumes responsibility for an economy that has more or less ceased to exist.

The new figure for deaths in the conflict zone bouncing around in the press is “approaching 7,000.” Bad enough. But as Stephen Cohen, the honored Russianist, pointed out long ago, this is the number of bodies counted in morgues, nothing more. German intelligence put fatalities at 50,000 or more, and that was six months or so back.

Now comes the very real threat of a far-right insurgency no one can control. Even if Poroshenko manages to keep his balance, this problem will haunt him. Equally, consider the damage to trans-Atlantic relations—already complicated by the Ukraine crisis—if a neo-fascist regime were to take power as the outcome of Washington’s 20-odd year effort to pull Ukraine out by its roots and repot it as another flower in the Western garden.

These are on-the-ground reasons Washington simply does not want to put its name on this mess any longer. A “realist” in these matters might agree. Wait for it, readers: All the blame must now be shoved off on Russia, which is never right about anything and which holds guns to people’s heads. This is going to take a lot, lot, lot of lying.

But there is another reason to applaud Washington’s failure in Ukraine, and I put a higher value on it.

Good people in Washington and elsewhere in this nation can think all the high-minded thoughts they wish, but none is going to alter the policy cliques’ conduct abroad decisively, as it must be altered if we are to avoid a series of calamities and tragedies as the 21st century proceeds. It is essential to wage the intellectual war, surely, but we also need failures. Repeated failures are the only way we will get this done. In failures lies our success, to put the point another way.

It is not a matter only of countering entrenched interests—the Pentagon, the defense industries, the intelligence and national security apparatus. I conclude that the American consciousness must also sustain a certain kind of violence before we will imagine our place in the world anew. This seems to me the colonel’s thought: We failed in Ukraine “pretty much completely,” and we can learn from this to think differently.

I see two major misapprehensions immediately at issue. One is the neoliberal model, arising as it does out of the Chicago School’s free-market ideology, econometrics, rational choice theory, and the drastic tilt toward mathematics and computer modeling in postwar social sciences. It strips all history, culture, tradition and human preference out of our thinking such that we can pile into Ukraine and expect to win the day.

Impossible. This is the irrationality of hyper-rationality. It is a proven loser. Let the losses pile up.

Two, of course, is the exceptionalist impulse, and it is closely allied to neoliberal thinking. I have little faith that we Americans will abandon our claim to providential righteousness—the ideological cloak draped over our incessant drive for markets—until the world tells us one too many times to keep it to ourselves. Drop the mythological veneer, and we Americans can have a proper debate as to whether we want to subvert nations such as Ukraine for the sake of corporations such as Chevron.

The only weakness in this argument, so far as I can see, is undue optimism—and yes, you read the sentence correctly. It may be that I overestimate this nation’s capacity to learn from its mistakes. Maybe I see higher aspirations among us than the policy cliques will ever reflect and, in a drastically changing political scene, see a chance for these to rise to the surface as they might have before the three assassinations that changed everything 50 years ago.

We will see. Let us watch how our failure in Ukraine computes out. Two wishes in the meantime.

One, the odious triumphalism that arose in the 1990s—so tinny and unbecoming when seen from the perspectives of others—will go straight to hell at last. I detest it.

Two, the shockingly bad performance of our media, notably but not only the government-supervised New York Times, will prove a turning point in the arrival of alternative media. It is they that have got the Ukraine story right, shining more light on it than news organizations commanding a hundred times the wattage. Given this performance, we should not consider them an alternative to anything, I like to think—only new growth on the old tree.

Patrick Smith is Salon’s foreign affairs columnist. A longtime correspondent abroad, chiefly for the International Herald Tribune and The New Yorker, he is also an essayist, critic and editor. His most recent books are “Time No Longer: Americans After the American Century” (Yale, 2013) and Somebody Else’s Century: East and West in a Post-Western World (Pantheon, 2010). Follow him @thefloutist. His web site is patricklawrence.us.