Professor of Sociology Edward Curtin discusses the attempts by the US, Britain, NATO and Israel to create false pretexts for an invasion of Syria and war with Russia. He discusses how the Deep State has concocted RussiaGate and how media and propaganda make it difficult to tell fact from fiction.
We are speaking with Professor Edward Curtin, who teaches sociology at the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts. He has been writing on the precarious situation the world finds itself in, regarding the potential for a new world war emanating from the Middle East. Professor Curtin, you’ve been writing about the American Empire on your website edwardcurtin.com. Could you tell us a bit about where you’re coming from, what prompted you to write on these issues and how you view the American empire?
Thank you for having me. Yes, I’d be glad to tell you why I write on these things and what my motivation is. It goes back a long time to when I was actually in college, and after the next few years after college. I had the good fortune to have a wonderful college teacher by the name of Bill Frain, who introduced me to, actually one book I remember in particular, it was about a German, a peasant fellow, named Franz Jägerstätter, who defied Hitler and refused to serve in the armed forces in Germany, and was subsequently beheaded. He did this against the advice from his family, from the Catholic Church, from all the authorities. And it really inspired me. [spoiler]
And then subsequently I was in the Marines and was introduced to father Daniel Berrigan, a famous anti-war priest who became a mentor to me. I became a conscientious objector during the Vietnam War, and so since that time, I’ve been disturbed by the American empire, which has a long history, which goes back to the founding of this country and what they call manifest destiny, in which Native peoples were slaughtered and people were brought into slavery from Africa.
And then over the years, I’ve been addressing these issues and the American empire has, of course subsequent to World War Two and the formation of the Central Intelligence Agency, taken on a new form and spread further around the world. And it seems to be everywhere these days, trying to conquer nations, instigate and start wars.
And so I was very disturbed from a young age by all of this. And I suppose you could say it was my conscience that disturbed me. It has gotten me very mad and ashamed of this country. And so that is why I write about it.
Did you start your blog not too long ago?
Yes, I started the blog to post what I write, probably a couple of years ago, at the instigation of my daughter and son-in-law, because they felt that my writing should have one place for it. But I’ve been writing about these things for a long time. Many of my works were never published by the mainstream press because they were too critical of the establishment and this goes back many years. But with the introduction of the internet and many good alternative websites, my voice has gotten out there more.
And one of the pieces that became recently very popular and was reposted around the internet and independent news sites and alternative media sites was The Wars to End All War, and in there you discuss how the U.S. and Israel are looking for pretext to start a proper war in Syria, which would spread into Lebanon, Iran and perhaps beyond.
Most of America’s wars have been based on lies. Some of the most famous are Vietnam’s Gulf of Tonkin. Non-incidents, Iraq’s non-existent WMDs. At this moment, Russia and Syria are being accused using chemical weapons, when we know they were, a few years ago, they were handed over to the West and gotten rid of, so there are none. We also know that the U.S. supported Jihadis in Syria are the actual culprits and the Russian military has recently openly stated this, and finally, the evidence in the London attack against this double agent Sergei Skripal, continues to support this line. There’s no evidence and Britain and the U.S. are just shouting at the top of their lungs and it sounds again like the Iraq, Vietnam, and so on.
So how can they keep on getting away with this and can you comment on this?
I think it all is what John Pilger, the eminent journalist calls a carefully constructed drama, and this drama has been going on a long time. And there have been so many false flag attacks, the list is so long, it goes way back in history. But I would add to what you said, I think perhaps before I get to this recent case of Sergei Skripal in Salisbury, England, one of the most important, if not the most important is the attacks of September 11th, 2001, and the subsequent linked anthrax attacks, which have been documented and analyzed astutely by Graham McQueen, who’s a Canadian researcher and writer and who also just wrote a tremendous piece about manufactured war triggers.
And I think the Skripal case, sometimes it just makes me laugh, it’s so absurd, but because it’s so serious, you want to cry. It’s just patent propaganda. And where it’s leading is in a very dangerous place because there’s a massive propaganda campaign to blame Russia, not only for that, but it seems for everything else in the world. I think there’s growing evidence that in Syria or in Lebanon, the Russians will be blamed, together with the Syrians, for some kind of gas attack, sarin attack, chemical attack, without any evidence, and this will lead to a greatly expanded Middle East war.
On this podcast, Geopolitics and Empire, we try to look at things objectively, everybody’s biased and we have our own perspectives, but I try not to look at it ideologically. And no one’s really a good guy here, we’re not trying to say the Russians are good guys, necessarily, because I taught a course at university on 9/11 and terrorism. I was actually asked to teach on that and we looked at everything and you mentioned 9/11, that it looks like a military intelligence operation with elements of the United States government. Anyone who seriously analyzes that.
And in 1999, in Moscow, in Russia, there were a series of apartment bombings and there’s American academics who have published on this, where the evidence shows that likely too was a state-sponsored terrorist operation. So we’re not trying to say that this is something that every state does in history, but in this moment in time what’s going on is very serious, and in this moment in time, in this context, Russia just seems to be minding their own business, and if you can just comment on Russia Gate, because to me, Russia Gate looks all concocted. Again, there’s no evidence and it seems to be either to start a war or to distract the American public or for some other reasons, there hasn’t been evidence of collusion between Russia and Trump and people like Ray McGovern and the veteran intelligence professionals for sanity, WikiLeaks, Kim Dotcom and all these other experts have explained, there was we’re no election hacks.
What are your thoughts on the whole Russia Gate and making Russia out to be a monster?
Let me say this, I agree with you about the apartment bombing in Moscow in ’99, and none of these countries are innocent little children. We’re talking about major states, whether it’s Russia or the United States, but in recent days, as you said, Russia has been minding their own business. The Russia Gate affair is again, in Pilger’s words, another carefully constructed drama.
I believe it was conjured up when Trump, probably as a surprise to him as well, was elected president. Actually, it started before then, and I would call it a plot, a conspiracy, to make sure that if Trump somehow was elected, the Russian connection would be the reason to use to undermine his presidency. And as I wrote a year ago, used the deep state forces to undermine him as best they could. And I think we know now that the Steele dossier, which was paid for by the Hillary Clinton team and the Democratic National Committee was very instrumental in that. And that the FBI, the Obama administration were all involved in this, including the people in the news these days, Comey, McCabe, Mueller, etc. It’s simply a false story.
Looking at the media, one final question that I wanted to ask about the media, which for me, this is very interesting and I’d like to hear what you have to say on this, on the coverage of this, it seems if I’m not mistaken that the right-wing media at least on Russia Gate, seems to have gotten it right, while the mainstream media and left-wing publications have been getting it wrong, except for a few.
But you mentioned in your article, what amazes me, are certain publications such as WhoWhatWhy and I’d like to say that I have great respect for Russ Baker. We’ve interviewed him a couple times and I like the work that WhoWhatWhy does, I’ve donated to them, but I can’t understand … he buys into the Russia Gate issue and I can’t understand how some organizations get things that I think are obvious wrong, and my sense is that individuals or media outlets subject themselves completely to their ideology. If you’re right-wing or left-wing, you will find any justification to support, to go against your enemies. Like if your left-wing, Trump, Republican, right-wing, Putin and Russia are your enemy, so you will use any ammunition you can even if it’s not true. I think we need to be more nuanced and follow the evidence where it leads, regardless whether if we are right or left.
So what’s your take on these media organizations that get some things right and then some obvious things wrong?
I agree with you, some of my writing is published on conservative websites as well as far left, anti-empire websites, which I’m proud of. Because I think it’s important to have that nuanced view that you speak about. Robert Parry, Ray McGovern, Paul Craig Roberts, these people have all written about Russia Gate and I think it’s very obvious if you follow their writing, that this is a conjured trick, to put it that way, to get Trump and to get Russia at the same time.
And WhoWhatWhy, for example, Russ Baker, I know him, they seem to be obsessed with Trump for some reason, and of course I don’t like Trump and I never did and I think he is more or less a real estate TV reality guy who got elected to his surprise. He’s more or less a clown, but why they keep focusing on that, to the exclusion of the obvious falseness of Russia Gate, I don’t know. I can’t really answer for them, but they’re not the only publication, there are others as well.
That’s something that’s been bother me for a while, but we’ll just have to-
A lot of the so-called liberal press is totally caught up in this anti-Russia hysteria, a great deal of it, actually, and it’s very frightening, actually, that now liberals are on this anti-Russia bandwagon, which is leading us to a possible nuclear war.
And that was my next question, to talk about your article, you recently wrote a second piece. What do you think is America’s agenda in the Middle East? We have NATO war games maps from a decade ago that show a map of the Middle East where it’s Balkanized. And there’s even a 1979 map by Bernard Lewis, which similarly shows the Middle East Balkanized. There’s this idea for a greater Israel or perhaps it’s all for a longer term game, as a forward deployment towards Russia. Once Syria is taken down, that can be used to forward deploy to the real, perhaps the real main dish, Russia. I don’t know.
What are your thoughts there?
I agree with you, the ultimate goal is Russia, to take down Russia, but it runs through the Middle East, which is another part of this chess game that they’re playing, this dangerous chess game. As the last few weeks, there have been multiple war games in the Mediterranean between the USA, NATO, Israel, major war games. There has been an Israeli military drill simulating war in the Middle East with Russia, when Russia intervenes in Syria after the Israelis attack Syria.
I believe that the overall agenda is for greater Israel, under the government in Israel today, to destroy and partition Syria, to destroy Yemen and to create chaos in the Middle East, leaving only Israel standing, and this aimed also at obviously, Iran. And I think one of the keys to it all are the Palestinians, who are considered totally dispensable to the United States and to Israel. And they are being squeezed and squeezed, more and more and suffering more and more. They’ll have the tiniest postage stamp to live on, at the end of all of this, if it keeps going.
So I think that’s basically … but the ultimate goal, Russia, I would agree with.
And in your article, you sounded almost sure you think the U.S. and Israel will invade Syria and Lebanon. They’re trying their best to sell the war to world public opinion, but you think they might back down if they can’t sell it? You think they’re going to go in?
I hope they back down, but I do think that they will … the United States is already in Syria obviously, as is Israel, and in Lebanon, but I do think that there will be a major assault on Syria. I don’t think the United States will … the U.S. works hand in glove with the Israeli, of course, it’s almost like one country in the Middle East. I don’t think they can allow the Assad government to stand and to triumph over these terrorists, who are trying to take down the Syrian government.
So yes, I do think, when it will happen? I don’t know, but I think this is where it’s moving. But I hope, as I think you do, that it never happens. But all signs point in that direction. These war games, Israeli military drill at the highest levels of the IDF, they all point in that direction. Let’s hope not.
I would agree with you, this is why we do podcasts like this and you write articles, is that to draw people’s attention to these things because we want peace, who wants war? We want peace between peoples.
We had Rex Tillerson who was just booted out, he had only financial business experience, no military intelligence experience, and he was replaced by CIA Mike Pompeo, and immediately the first reading I got was they’re going to the next level by putting somebody like Pompeo in, who has this military intelligence background, and they’re getting more serious about war.
I think that was a turning point, putting him in. He hasn’t been confirmed yet, but he probably will be, and he is far more belligerent in terms of war and further to the right then Tillison was. And that’s an ominous sign. And then they’re trying to put this woman, Gina Haspel in, as head of the CIA. She is a promoter of torture and ran a torture center, I believe it was in Thailand, and that’s a further provocation in the direction of war. But then the CIA is, as the esteemed author Doug Valentine says, they’re organized criminals, this is what they do. So if she’s ever confirmed, which I hope she isn’t of course, but it’s another sign. All these signs are popping up.
And as you said, the reason I write about all of this from many different perspectives actually, is in the hope that it can all be stopped. That we don’t move, because if we keep going in this direction, it will be a confrontation with Russia.
We haven’t mentioned also that for the U.S. midterm elections that 25% of the Democrats that were running for the Democratic offices were CIA military intelligence. So you’ve got Pompeo, you’ve got this new potential head of the CIA having personally carried out torture and then 25%, you have them moving into office, these people with CIA, military intelligence backgrounds. That’s like another sign. It’s becoming this military, full-on military state.
Absolutely, it sure is. And you I’m sure are familiar with something called Operation Mockingbird, which was the CIA program that allegedly ended years ago, but which is in full operation still, perhaps under a different name, in which the CIA places their people throughout all of the media worldwide. And now as you say, they’re placing them into elected office throughout the United States. I guess you could say the mainstream media or the corporate media or what Paul Craig Roberts calls the press-titutes, is a CIA operation. The Washington Post, the New York Times, CNN, and down the line. They have CIA analysts on all the time, or ex-CIA analysts. They don’t have Ray McGovern on there, but they have these other characters who push for war and give the viewer a sense that they’re in the know, when in fact they’re in the dark.
Before going on to talk about this conflict with Russia, what are your thoughts on President Putin and Russia? Like we said, they seem to be minding their own business, they’re trying to re-establish themselves after having suffered economic and political instability. And I was in Russia last year, I’m living in a former Soviet republic in this moment, and I think one thing Americans really don’t understand, that if they have not been to Russia and spoken to Russians, they really have to understand how bad Russians have suffered in the 20th century and the effects that are still felt here. They do not want war. I don’t believe the people want war, I don’t think the politicians in Russia want war.
And so what are your thoughts as an American and perhaps the people around you, where you live in the U.S. that you come across on a daily basis? What’s your feel for Putin and Russia?
I think most of the people that I encounter in my daily life and I’m a college teacher, so students are rather out of it when it comes to knowing what’s going on in the world, but many, quote, liberal people, think of Russia as the devil, they think of Putin as the devil and they’ve been subject to so much propaganda for so many years. But I agree with you that Russians and Putin, I believe as well, do not want war, they’ve suffered tremendously, they have been pushed into a corner by the betrayals of the United States and NATO, moving up to their border with missiles, that Putin correctly said, could be converted to offensive weapons within an hour or so. And so Russia is surrounded by American military might and if that’s not a provocation, I don’t know what is.
So I think that Putin is trying to be, and is in fact, quite statesmen like in his approach to these things, and is trying to avoid at all costs, war with the United States. Because as he said, he knows where it’s leading. If it leads to a nuclear war, that’s the end for all of us, he knows that. I’m sure he’s not suicidal, nor are the Russians.
So I agree with you, I think he’s been backed into a corner and it’s been years of propaganda, and he was lied to when NATO and the U.S. said they would not move and they’ve moved as far east as they could possibly get, to surround Russia today. And he said just recently, and I said before that, imagine if you were the United States and there were Russian missiles and troops in Canada, in Mexico, in Cuba. Think of the Cuban Missile Crisis. What would Americans think? What would the American president think?
So I respect President Putin for the efforts he’s taking to avoid war.
And recently the U.S. released their Nuclear Posture review and if I’m not mistaken, they said it was okay to use tactical nukes and foreign minister Sergey Lavrov recently stated that U.S. and NATO are preparing for war with Russia by training European armies in the use of tactical nukes. So let’s just talk about the scenario if this really happens, if the U.S., Israel went into Syria, this just escalated, World War One, World War Two, nobody knew how it would happen, things just led one thing to another. What would this third world war look like in your opinion? Would it be just the use of tactical nukes or what?
What a horrible thought, all around, isn’t it? I don’t think it could be limited to tactical nuclear weapons. I think there are too many accidents. I think there are too many unpredictable scenarios. There are too many crazy people in charge, especially here in the United States. I know that in Ukraine, the Poroshenko just this week or last week in eastern Ukraine, his so-called anti-terrorist operation, he has just handed it over as a joint forces operation under the deputy chief of the armed forces. So it’s now gone from anti-terrorism to general armed forces fight called joint forces operation or something like that. That’s a very ominous move as well.
So again, it’s all so unpredictable where it will lead, but I don’t have much confidence that it could stop at a tactical nuclear exchange. I would just add that Daniel Ellsberg recently wrote a book on nuclear war and nuclear strategy. I think he makes it clear in that book how precarious our situation is, how close to midnight we are. But most people don’t believe it, they think it’s not possible and I think they’re living in an illusion. It’s very possible.
You’ve previously written about Martin Luther King, how he was assassinated for opposing the wrongs of the empire at home and abroad. We don’t really need to discuss that he was assassinated by the government. The King family themselves, again, most people won’t know this, in 1999, they took the government to court, they reopened the case, they won the verdict that stated that government agencies were involved in the assassination. And it’s on the King Family Center’s own website, the thousand pages of transcripts there. So people can go look at that, the evidence is there, so we don’t have to discuss that.
But the U.S. likes to boast from their moral high horse about how countries around the world imprison or kill dissidents, like with the latest case with Skripal, and America is the best, we will do no wrong. It is this idea of American exceptionalism, yet in America we see dissidents blacklisted, exiled abroad, like Snowden and many others. And even die under suspicious circumstances as well, like Skripal. You had Michael Hastings, the journalist, Pat Tillman, the athlete soldier, and you can go on and on.
So if you can comment a bit, you mentioned John Pilger earlier, Daniel Ellsberg. How dangerous and important is descent today in America? Healthy descent, nonviolent descent, why are there only a handful of people like John Oliver Stone? Rand Pauls of the world. Why don’t more people speak up?
I think they’re afraid. You mentioned Oliver Stone, just a wonderful artist, citizen, world citizen, U.S. citizen. He’s known primarily, probably for his film on JFK in the JFK assassination, which is crucially important in this whole issue of descent. Because we know what has happened and continues to happen around the CIA state-sponsored assassination of President Kennedy. How many people have died, have been disappeared down through the years? The same is true to a lesser extent with Martin Luther King, and then we have Robert Kennedy and Malcolm X and a whole series of people who have been killed by the U.S. government. And I think people are afraid, traumatized, actually. And they’re living in some bubble, some illusionary world, a world make-believe because it’s too harsh a reality to face.
At the same time, dissent in America is under assault. We have Facebook and Google, all of these media companies cracking down on left-wing sites. We have RT having to declare the self a foreign agent, we have an attempt now to do the same to Al Jazeera. So it’s a very dark time and I think there’s a lot of fear, a lot of anxiety. I suppose that’s why there aren’t that many dissidents or people like Oliver Stone or Jim Douglas, the author of the book JFK and the Unspeakable, or William Pepper, the author of the book on King or David Talbott, the author of the book on the CIA and Allen Dulles. So many people like that.
Fear, I suppose, fear.
And is there any other point you’d like to comment on that I may have missed, something important?
If I could say this about how to get through to people, regular people, and I think regular people are generally of goodwill around the world, but they’re subject to so much propaganda, it’s really hard to reach them. I know for myself, speaking for myself, I tried to do this in various ways, not just by writing directly about the political, sociological, the propaganda directly, but to do it through satire and again, satire has fallen on hard times. People don’t get it these days. I guess they’re not in the mood for laughing. But we need new approaches to try to reach regular people.
I’m not sure how to do it. I’ve been trying to do it as you might notice from my blog site, my website, where I published a lot of personal essays that have this political element to them.
I would agree, satire is one of the best ways to do it, and it’s not easy, it’s difficult and just on that final thought, you teach at a college and I also taught at high school university, and I find it’s tough to get through to this generation, to get them to care. But not only … you have brilliant students as well, but they also get this huge bias at the university and I feel like we’re outnumbered in a way, because they go through this educational system that puts in so many biases and it’s hard to undo that.
Do you have any comment on the younger folks?
I do, yes, first I’d say that they have been induced to become drug addicts, the drug being the phone and they are addicted to social media, can’t keep their eyes off it, can’t keep themselves off the phone. And within the university setting, the universities have totally capitulated, totally, with rare exceptions, to this propaganda onslaught. Throughout academia, as far as I can tell, there are very few people who are willing to broach the subjects that you and I have just talked about, out of fear. Fear via runs rampant throughout the university system here in the United States. And I think it’s the liberal capitulation to the warfare state, to the propaganda, and people want careers, they don’t want to step out of line. They don’t want to dissent.
And many of them don’t realize what’s going on. Obama is a perfect example. He was just loved by most liberal university type people and he waged at least six wars, he killed people with drones, he was an abomination. And now we have Trump and they’re all up in arms about Trump, but he’s just a continuation of Obama. And Obama was a continuation of Bush. And Bush it was a continuation of Clinton, and it goes down the line, it goes all the way down the line. With one exception, I would say, and that was in the last year of his life, President Kennedy, who turned against the warfare state and was assassinated as a result. The only president of the United States who changed, by a miracle, really.
Speaking of Kennedy and that last point, just a few days ago, it was released, the speech that he was going to give that day in Dallas was reconstructed through technology with him actually speaking it. They were able to recreate him speaking that speech, so people can find that online.
And we thank you professor Curtin, people can find your writings at edwardcurtin.com, and I’ll post the link. We hope you continue writing, your pieces get reposted in many places, I know Global Research and many other websites. Thank you again.
Thank you Hrvoje for having me on, it’s been really good talking to you, even though the topics are not the happy face topics.
People can go elsewhere for that.
Yes, they can. Thanks.
Triggering War. A Manufactured “Catalytic Event” Which Will Initiate An All Out War? Are We Going to Let this Happen Again? https://www.globalresearch.ca/triggering-war-a-manufactured-catalytic-event-leading-to-all-out-war-are-we-going-to-let-this-happen-again/5632549
Further Signs of More War: A Most Dangerous Game https://edwardcurtin.com/further-signs-of-more-war-a-most-dangerous-game
The Coming Wars to End All Wars https://edwardcurtin.com/the-coming-wars-to-end-all-wars
Denying the Obvious: Leftists and Crimestop https://edwardcurtin.com/denying-the-obvious-leftists-and-crimestop
About Edward Curtin
Educated in the classics, philosophy, literature, theology, and sociology, I teach sociology at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts. My writing on varied topics has appeared widely over many years. I write as a public intellectual for the general public, not as a specialist for a narrow readership. I believe a non-committal sociology is an impossibility and therefore see all my work as an effort to enhance human freedom through understanding.
*Podcast intro music is from the song “The Queens Jig” by “Musicke & Mirth” from their album “Music for Two Lyra Viols”: https://musicke-mirth.de/en/recordings.html (available on iTunes or Amazon)