KEPW News producers pick their top stories of the year.
Dan Pulju: The two top stories of 2023 were, from my perspective, the failed Ukrainian counteroffensive during the summer and the genocide in Gaza. And I think it is vitally important that we keep on saying the word ‘genocide’ just for the point of getting the truth out there and into the public debate.
Now I followed the Ukraine war mainly in terms of following the military actions on the ground, and then from that perspective analyzing their effect on the American state. Both of these events are a big deal because they, in my opinion, mark a fundamental paradigm shift in how our country is governed.
[00:00:43] Washington is used to being the global hegemon and to getting its way by force, both overseas and here within the U.S., which is why this is something we all need to take personally. Over the past 10 years, however, it has been defeated by asymmetric warfare, both in Afghanistan and in Yemen, and domestically by the rise of grassroots populism against the national security state.
[00:01:08] The Ukraine war was not an asymmetrical war and the Pentagon thought that its modern equipment would prevail against a conventional army, but it found out different. Most of its armor was proven relatively obsolete in the face of modern anti-armor weapons, in particular guided drones, rockets and mines.
[00:01:26] The drones especially also improve surveillance to the point that the Ukrainians had to stop using armored columns at all and rely on infantry assaults, with armor only in support. Those assaults all failed and now the Russians are reversing the few gains that it made with a new offensive of their own. It’s a winter offensive and it’s going on right now, even though it’s not particularly considered newsworthy at the moment.
[00:01:50] Now in Gaza, the IDF made the same mistake driving armor into a densely urbanized area without having enough infantry support to stop the light infantry, the Al-Qassam Brigades, from hitting it with unguided rocket RPGs (rocket-propelled grenades) and even running up and sticking mines on them.
[00:02:07] The advanced drones of the Houthi Yemen have all but stopped all Israeli-bound shipping through the Red Sea. And while air defense is able to intercept some of their missiles and drones, the missiles and drones are simply too cheap and too many to be countered that way effectively.
[00:02:23] Missiles and drones have changed everything in warfare, just as carriers did in WWII compared to battleships.
[00:02:30] Now, politically, the Ukraine war failure has ended the Pentagon’s aura of dominance. They no longer seem invincible. In my opinion, that is a vital step to getting it off of our own backs.
[00:02:42] Our military-industrial complex wars abroad and it wars here at home against us. It has been abusing us for decades with its authoritarian rule, its influence on government. But we have not fought it very well because it seemed so invincible, it had such impunity, and in my opinion, that has changed.
[00:03:01] In Palestine, regardless of whether the IDF succeeds at whatever its goals are in Gaza, Washington has now also cast aside any pretense at moral authority. Regardless of how things started, what Israel is doing now is so massively and brazenly genocidal that there is no excuse for supporting it or for tolerating the continued manipulation of our own government by the Israel lobby.
[00:03:26] This is a sea change and has set in motion an inevitable shift in public attitude from helpless protest to boldly recognizing and exploiting the weakness shown by our elitist opponents.
[00:03:40] Stephen Cole: In Gaza, we have 25,000+ Palestinians killed since Oct. 7, including 10,000 children. And these numbers come from independent journalists that I listen to, to present all sides of the issues: Glenn Greenwald, Matt Taibbi, Aaron Maté, Max Blumenthal, and other independent journalists.
[00:04:10] But the current ethnic cleansing in Gaza is yet another example of how we’re propagandized into hating, instead of demanding that our tax dollars be used for something like health care, not warfare. A trillion-dollar budget every year goes for our ‘defense’ (in air quotes, ‘defense’). A trillion dollars.
[00:04:37] And the homeless population, I mean, Eugene is like one of the premier examples in the world of just homeless people, nowhere to go, nowhere to get out of the elements.
[00:04:50] Both of our political parties have bought in to the near-constant military aggressions. The only way to check these behaviors is to not vote for them. There are several antiwar candidates, you can just, again, do your own research, check them out. The lobbyists and the political action committees have poured so much money into the pockets of our politicians that they’re blinded and they will not act for the betterment of us.
[00:05:25] As usual, if you want to know what’s really going on, follow the money.
[00:05:32] Todd Boyle: Israel never intended to accommodate any Palestinian population amongst their new country. I found the protest by the younger Free Palestine groups to be quite refreshing, in clarifying and simplifying the logic around the current conflict.
[00:05:48] And one of the first points they made was that when people are invaded, they have a right to fight back. The war was started this round by Hamas deliberately and their actions have been effective in their goal, which was to swing public opinion against Israel and to raise public awareness of what Israel has been doing all these years.
[00:06:10] We have generations of people there who have never known anything but occupation. And so what do you expect them to do? These kids have been oppressed and killed by Israel for their entire lives. And so they’re just doing what comes natural for human beings, and that is to fight back.
[00:06:27] Now the U.S. is almost solely responsible for the killings in Gaza because we’ve not only funded them billions of dollars a year, but the military-industrial complex is joined at the hip with the Israel defense establishment because they cooperate on all sorts of different projects, R&D for weapons, security apparatus, intelligence gathering. And also, every time there’s a common sense resolution condemning Israel, the U.S. supports Israel in the United Nations.
[00:06:56] Another point that these speakers made was that Israel is never going to quit. They are not going to quit and the people who have colonized the West Bank, all the settlers, 200,000 settlers, another 100,000 Jews in East Jerusalem, so, they’re never going to move out, like, ‘You and what army is going to make us move out?’ And they’re heavily armed.
[00:07:14] So the only way that Israel is going to be forced to give equal rights to its entire population, and in the apartheid state, is by either losing a military war—which is going to be way more violent than this because of the nuclear weapons and everything—or by a concerted effort by the United States and other powers to cut off their military and economic support that they live on.
[00:07:40] On the edge of all of our discussion was the neocons’ political structure that has been controlling policy by both the Democrat and Republican parties. The parties are run by the DNC and the RNC, totally undemocratic. In fact, just trying to figure out who’s in the committees is major research and they choose who’s going to be on the ballot. We don’t live in a democracy. We live in a kind of a Soviet system where they had one candidate on the ballot, chosen by the state.
[00:08:11] Stephen Cole: It’s the uniparty system. Duopoly.
[00:08:14] Todd Boyle: The neocons have been successful practically since the 1940s. And it is based on some underlying assumptions, that it was necessary to maintain military power because of the Cold War, because of the threat of nuclear annihilation. Okay. So they did this for 20, 30, 40 years, and they finally decided, ‘Oh, my God, let’s just have a treaty and stop having these nuclear weapons because it’s not serving the interests of either country.’
[00:08:38] But underlying it to this day is the assumption that somehow someone is attacking America. Like someone’s going to attack America. Let me think about this: We have 5,000 nuclear weapons, we have ships in all seven oceans of the world and 10 million satellites. (Yeah.) So who’s going to, who’s going to attack America anyway? I’m not sure anybody’s going to attack America.
[00:08:58] Stephen Cole: Eight hundred military bases around the world.
[00:09:02] Todd Boyle: And meanwhile, every war that we’ve been in, the big wars—Vietnam, Korea, Iraq, Afghanistan—they said that they were defending us. (Right?) They weren’t defending us. No Iraqi ever attacked America. Not one single Korean ever attacked America. Not one single Vietnamese ever attacked America.
[00:09:19] Stephen Cole: The ‘weapons of mass destruction’ lie—that’s what really has kicked off this last 20 years of constant warfare.
[00:09:29] Todd Boyle: Let’s get on to what they were doing if they weren’t defending us. Well, obviously corporate globalization is what they were defending. (Sure.)
[00:09:36] Dan Pulju: When you figure out no one’s actually attacking us, that’s when they start saying they’re defending our interests. (Right.) What are our interests? It’s to rule the world, isn’t it?
[00:09:46] Stephen Cole: Sure. It’s hegemony. (Yes.)
[00:09:49] Todd Boyle: So there are people who sit in these think tanks and they are always working, 25 hours a day, to figure out how they can get more money into their coffers, be that financial flows or rents or dividends or profits on imports and exports. And all they do is they think about: ‘Now who do we have to destroy in order to maintain this particular business?’
[00:10:09] Stephen Cole: This goes back hundreds of years, 600-700 years. And it’s been capitalism, capitalism equals racism plus death. It’s the northern people versus the southern people, and now it’s pretty much shifted to just resource ripoff and eternal conflicts that moved out of the Middle East when they moved into Somalia and Sudan and then Libya. That’s when the shift came for Africa. And you saw that happen here in the last year with the Mali uprisings, the Burkina Faso uprisings, and the French pulling out of Burkina Faso.
[00:10:57] But that’s what I mean by ‘just ongoing.’ It’s EU-Western pairing up of military aggression, of war on anybody who doesn’t agree with them. And the fading influence.
[00:11:12] But the BRICS (nations)—Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa—are about the best example of the loss of hegemony. The BRICS expanded this last summer to six more countries, and there’s 23 more that want to join, and none of them are in Europe. They’re just not letting Canada, or the U.S. or Australia or New Zealand or any of those people in. It’s a fading Western hegemony.
[00:11:47] Dan Pulju: Washington has not been winning its wars anymore. When it comes to opposing this stuff, people are selfish. They care about what affects them personally. And it’s easy to sell a war to a populace if you’re winning the war and you give them the spoils of war and they get a share. That’s not happening anymore. Our country is poor and the people are oppressed. The government is authoritarian. We’re getting negative returns from all this military activity and that sets the stage for a successful opposition in my opinion.
[00:12:19] Todd Boyle: And I would add that rewards for wars like Vietnam and Iraq have largely been psychic gratification for people’s egoic investment into this idea of America, ‘a great America,’ you know, religion and so forth and racist symbols. So those payoffs are being reduced because we’re not winning.
[00:12:38] Dan Pulju: There’s also a mounting sense of just disgust over what’s happening in Palestine right now. People are just waking up to how grotesque it is and it’s not something that most of us can live with, I think.
[00:12:52] John Q: KEPW News producers Dan Pulju, Stephen Cole, and Todd Boyle pick their top stories of the year: The failed counteroffensive in Ukraine and a growing divide over indiscriminate killing in Gaza.
Dan Pulju hosts Body Count on KEPW 97.3 FM every Sunday at 1 p.m.
The original BRICS nations—Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa—are being joined by Argentina, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. While John McDermott suggested the new name BRISIESAUCE, the group, which now represents 46% of world population and 29% of GDP, will stick with BRICS.