Europe
Crimean war

Podcast: Ukraine & ‘the Russian menace to Europe’

In Episode 116 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg provides an overview of geostrategic and political thinking on the criticality of Eastern Europe and especially Ukraine, from the Crimean War to the contemporary catastrophe. Despite contemporary misconceptions, Karl Marx and Frederick Engels shared the perception of a “Russian menace to Europe” with theorists of Western imperialism such as Halford John Mackinder, Lord Curzon, Alfred Thayer Mahan, Nicholas J. Spykman, and Zbigniew Brzezinski. Arch-reactionary or openly fascist conceptions of “Eurasianism” were taken up by the German Karl Haushoferand the Russians Mikhail Katkov and Ivan Ilyin—the latter a formative influence on Alexander Dugin, the intellectual mastermind of Vladimir Putin’s revanchist imperial project. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon. (Map of Crimean War theaters via Wikimedia)

Planet Watch
Tengiz

Ukraine war portends new oil shock

Long-depressed oil prices are suddenly soaring in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, with impacts already being felt globally. Exports from Kazakhstan and the Caspian Basin are virtually paralyzed, as the Black Sea pipeline terminal delivering the crude to Western markets is incurring a prohibitive “war risk insurance premium.” Berlin has suspended the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which is to carry Russian gas under the Baltic Sea to Germany—and Russia has retaliated by threatening to cut gas supplies to Europe via the Nord Stream 1 line. In his executive order barring Russian oil and gas imports to the US, President Biden issued a warning to the oil companies, urging that the war should not serve as an excuse for price-gouging. But it is actually the oil futures market that plays a determinant role in fixing the international price. There’s a big psychological element involved, which is why every escalation in the Middle East (without fail) jacks up oil prices. A war in Europe will almost certainly mean another oil shock, with grim implications for the world economy and Biden’s political chances. (Photo of Kazakh oil-field via Wikimedia Commons)

Watching the Shadows
pegida

Podcast: Russia and the new fascism

In Episode 111 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg explores the legacy of Francis Parker Yockey and other exponents of the fast-growing current in the Western fascist tradition that looks to Russia as a patron and ally. Under the leadership of Alexander Dugin, “Putin’s Rasputin” and the theorist of a “Eurasian” bloc against Western democracy, resurgent far-right Russo-nationalism is building ties to neo-fascist organizations across Europe—as well as to supposed “anti-war” leftists in the United States. The Putin propaganda machine’s Nazi-baiting of the Ukrainians is yet another example of the sinister trend of fascist pseudo-anti-fascism. It is imperative that progressives in the West do not take the toxic bait of this “Red-Brown Alliance.” Any genuine anti-war position must begin with repudiating Putin’s threats and aggression against Ukraine. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon. (Photo: Far-right protesters in Germany with sign reading “Putin, save us!” Via PRISM)

Planet Watch
nuclear power

Podcast: Nuclear power? No thanks!

In Episode 110 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg rants against the current greenwashing of nuclear power, and hype about a supposedly “safe” new generation of reactors. Every stage of the nuclear cycle is ecocidal and genocidal. Uranium mining has poisoned the lands of indigenous peoples from Navajo Country to Saskatchewan to West Africa. The ongoing functioning of nuclear plants entails routine emissions of radioactive gases, factored in by the bureaucrats in determining “acceptable” levels of cancer. Disposal of the waste, and the retired reactor sites themselves, is a problem that inherently defies solution. They will be deadly for exponentially longer into the future than biblical times stretch into the past. The Waste Isolation Pilot Project (WIPP) in New Mexico, hyped as secure for hundreds of millennia, leaked plutonium after only 13 years. And finally there is the “sexiest” issue, the one that actually gets some media play, at least—the risk of accident. It is a mark of capitalism’s depravity that even after the nightmares of Fukushima and Chernobyl, we periodically get media campaigns about an imminent “nuclear renaissance.” Nuclear versus fossil fuels is the false choice offered us by industry. The imperative is to get off the extraction economy and on to one based on sustainability and resource conservation. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Watching the Shadows
antivax

Podcast: antivax is fascist II

In Episode 103 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg, still suffering from possible COVID-19 symptoms, again notes how the radical right, including neo-Nazi elements, is in the vanguard of anti-vax protests, from Germany to Romania to England to Brooklyn. A virtual industry churns out relentless online disinformation that is easily refuted by anyone who makes the effort to break out of the confirmation-bias bubble. Contrary to the conspiranoid propaganda, COVID-19 deaths are actually being underestimated. The juvenile Nazi-baiting of the anti-vax machine is another example of the propaganda device of fascist pseudo-anti-fascism. Meanwhile, Tuskegee experiment survivors are encouraging vaccinations, and the Peoples Vaccine Alliance protests the actual crimes of Big Pharma—failing to make the vaccine available to Africa and the much of the Global South, in what has been decried as “vaccine apartheid.” Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon. (Photo via Twitter)

Watching the Shadows
antivax

Podcast: antivax is fascist

In Episode 103 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg, suffering from possible COVID-19 symptoms, rants against the mask and vaccine refusers who are not only threatening public health amid the worst pandemic in over a century, but also enabling the worldwide rise of the authoritarian radical right. As they relentlessly bait mask-wearers and vax-rationalists as succumbing to state propaganda, they themselves have swallowed the saturation propaganda from Fox News and the Trump campaign. Last year’s militia kidnapping plotagainst Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer just had a reprise in an assassination conspiracy against the president of the German state of Saxony, similarly motivated by COVID-denialist reaction. Even Robert F. Kennedy Jr openly joined with German neo-Nazis at an anti-vax rally in Berlin. None of this is coincidental. The politics of the anti-vaxxers is actually redolent of Hitler’s “euthanasia” program, in which “useless eaters” (the disabled) were exterminated—the first step toward the Final Solution. Their juvenile Nazi-baiting is another example of the propaganda device of fascist pseudo-anti-fascism. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon. (Photo: Wikipedia)

Planet Watch
F-35A

Rapid nuclear escalation, East and West

Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov warned that Moscow will deploy intermediate-range nuclear weapons if NATO does not accede to demands to stop arming Ukraine and guarantee an end to eastward expansion of the alliance. His remarks come amid tensions over Russian military movements near Ukraine’s borders, where the Kremlin is estimated to have amassed some 100,000 troops. Amid similar tensions over Chinese incursions into the Taiwan Strait, a Pentagon report warns that the People’s Republic is undertaking an expansion and “modernization” of its nuclear arsenal to “provide Beijing with more credible military options in a Taiwan contingency.” And the US is meanwhile replacing gravity bombs with digitally guided nuclear missiles on its new design of the F-35A fighter jet. (Photo of F-35A via Air Force Times)

Iraq
Iraq mass grave

UN team delivers report on ISIS atrocities in Iraq

The United Nations team investigating Islamic State crimes in Iraq delivered its report to the Security Council, accusing Islamic State (ISIS) actors of committing war crimes and crimes against humanity. The UN Investigative Team to Promote Accountability for Crimes Committed by Da’esh/Islamic State in Iraq & the Levant (UNITAD), uncovered evidence of massacres including the deaths of at least 1,000 Shi’ite prisoners at a prison in Mosul in June 2014. The executions had been planned in detail by senior ISIS members. The team also carried out an analysis of battlefield evidence that showed ISIS developed and deployed chemical weapons as part of a long-term strategic plan. The team identified more than 3,000 victims of ISIS chemical attacks to date. (Photo: WikiMedia via Jurist)

Europe
poland border

Escalation on the EU’s eastern frontier

Tensions on the European Union’s eastern border escalated sharply as Polish border guards repulsed a wave of some 4,000 asylum seekers and migrants seeking to cross from Belarus. Poland has mobilized 15,000 soldiers to the region to prevent people from crossing, and Belarusian security forces are not allowing the migrants to turn back. The migrants are sleeping rough as temperatures plunge below freezing; a 14-year-old boy froze to death, becoming at least the eleventh person to have died attempting to cross the border. There are fears the situation could result in a military confrontation. (Photo: Visegrad24)

Europe
belarus

Belarus officials charged in ‘crimes against humanity’

Two international human rights organizations accused six high-ranking members of the Belarusian security authorities of committing crimes against humanity in a criminal complaint filed in Germany. The complaint was filed with the German Public Prosecutor General by the Geneva-based World Organization against Torture (OMCT) and the Berlin-based European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR). The complaint was filed in Germany because of its universal jurisdiction doctrine, which allows its courts to prosecute crimes against humanity that are committed anywhere in the world. The complaint asserts that security forces have reacted with extreme violence to popular protests since the contested presidential elections in Belarus in August 2020. The groups accuse the six officials of systematic repression amounting to crimes against humanity. (Photo: Pramen)

Iraq
kurdish march

Protest ongoing Turkish military intervention in Iraq, Syria

Kurdish rebels launched a mortar attack on a Turkish military position in northern Iraq, killing one soldier. The troops were stationed at the outpost as part of Ankara’s “Operation Claw-Lightning” to hunt down fighters of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). Turkey’s Defense Ministry said its forces immediately retaliated, and three PKK fighters were “neutralized” (killed). The following day, thousands of Kurds marched in Dusseldorf, Germany, to protest ongoing Turkish military operations in Turkey’s eastern Kurdish region, in northern Iraq, and in Syria’s Rojava region. The demonstration was timed for the 37th anniversary of the start of the PKK’s armed struggle against the Turkish state. (Photo: Defend Kurdistan via Twitter)

Planet Watch

Podcast: climate change and the global struggle

In Episode 81 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg takes stock of the fast-mounting manifestations of devastating climate destabilization—from Oregon to Siberia, from Germany to Henan. In Angola, traditional pastoralists are joining the ranks of “climate refugees” as their communal lands are stricken by drought. In Iran’s restive and rapidly aridifying Ahwazi region, protests over access to water have turned deadly. These grim developments offer a foreboding of North America’s imminent future. Yet media commentators continue to equivocate, asking whether these events are “linked to” or “caused by” climate change—rather than recognizing that they are climate change. And the opportunity for a crash conversion from fossil fuels that was posed by last year’s pandemic-induced economic paralysis, when already depressed oil prices actually went negative, is now being squandered. Oil prices are again rising, with the return to pre-pandemic dystopian “normality.” Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon. (Photo of Ahwazi protesters in Iran: Ahwazna)