Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

June 5, 2015

Is the U.S. contemplating a nuclear attack on Russia?

Filed under: conspiracism,journalism,nuclear power and weapons — louisproyect @ 9:08 pm

Screen shot 2015-06-05 at 11.37.30 AM

Any normal person looking in on the latest World Socialist Web Site would pee in their pants. US officials consider nuclear strikes against Russia? Holy shit, this is serious business.

The question, of course, is whether the WSWS.org can be taken at face value. Some radicals of my acquaintance do take it at face value. A FB friend and Marxmail subscriber who is a professor of sociology frequently links to their articles. Another professor who was a houseguest for a few days told me that he prefers checking WSWS every day because it is more reliable than the NY Times. The site is also popular with college students who like to cite it in essays, according to my wife who works in the CUNY system.

It is easy to understand its appeal. Basically it is a press digest that is spiced with radical-sounding interjections. It also appears authoritative since it quotes the mainstream media. Taking the above article on nuclear strikes against Russia as an example, it states:

Most provocatively, a report published by the Associated Press yesterday reports that the Pentagon has been actively considering the use of nuclear missiles against military targets inside Russia, in response to what it alleges are violations of the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty.

Unfortunately, these people did not take the trouble to identify the reporter but a minute or two of searching revealed that Robert Burns, the AP specialist on nuclear matters, wrote it.

Furthermore, Burns’s reporting is based totally on the testimony of a Defense Department official named Robert Scher to Congress. Quoting WSWS.org quoting Burns:

Robert Scher, one of Carter’s nuclear policy aides, told Congress in April that the deployment of “counterforce” measures would mean “we could go about and actually attack that missile where it is in Russia.”

Now you can actually read Scher’s testimony here. The only reference to a “counterforce” is the following. “The ICBM force complicates the planning of any adversary contemplating a disarming counterforce strike by vastly increasing the required scale of such an attack.” This sentence can be found as part of Scher reviewing American nuclear weapons policy that he describes as a “Triad”, with ICBM’s as the first leg. In other words, all he was doing is recapitulating Washington’s long-standing policy of using a vast arsenal of nuclear missiles so as to make retaliation a complex task.

Reading WSWS.org, you would get the impression that Washington had developed a brand-new (or revival) of a “first strike” strategy that would be used to destroy missiles in Russia that the White House viewed as inimical to its interests—like Bush’s “preemptive” strike against Saddam Hussein’s non-existent WMD’s. But if you read Scher’s testimony, it is clear that he is simply recapitulating policies that have been around for decades.

Furthermore, Burn’s quote of Scher (“we could go about and actually attack that missile where it is in Russia”) cannot be found in his testimony, nor can it be found in Nexis, an authoritative database of newspaper articles I continue to have access to as a Columbia University retiree.

In other words, Burns was making an allegation about what Scher said that is not supported by the Congressional record.

My understanding is that the World Socialist Web Site is staffed by a dozen or so people who do nothing to build the fucking mass movement but see their job as writing this kind of sloppy bullshit that is badly in the need of a fact-checker. My understanding is that their cult leader owns a printing press with non-union labor. You’d think he’d have enough dough to put one on staff.


  1. The US and Russia aka/Soviet Union have had tens of thousands of nuclear weapons pointed at each other for the better part of 65 years, and at various times past much better reasons to use them than exist now, without a single attack. The reason is obvious – mutual suicide. To conclude that today’s leaders (on either side) are crazier than any who went before them is silly beyond discussion. Nobody among the so-called Great Powers will launch a first strike against another nuclear power. They all play “war games” but I don’t care who reports what – actual nuclear war ain’t happening,

    Comment by Richard Greener — June 5, 2015 @ 9:18 pm

  2. A normal person looking in on louisproyect.org would be bored to tears. A hint as to why can be found in the post:

    “A FB friend and Marxmail subscriber who is a professor of sociology frequently links to their articles. Another professor who was a houseguest for a few days told me that he prefers checking WSWS every day because it is more reliable than the NY Times. The site is also popular with college students who like to cite it in essays, according to my wife who works in the CUNY system.”

    Your social milieu is totally limited to college kids and professors. Since about 75% of the US population has never set foot on a college campus it follows that what you write about here has about as much relevance to the working class as electrical schematics have to the Amish.

    Comment by Long John — June 6, 2015 @ 1:02 am

  3. Speaking of people needing fact checkers: the WSWS actively solicits donations on the site, the SEP that is behind the WSWS runs election campaigns, public meetings and does all the other usual “mass movement building” stuff, and the WSWS is by far the most popular explicitly socialist website on the internet.

    Comment by Long John — June 6, 2015 @ 1:08 am

  4. I guess you are okay with an article that has about as much relationship to the truth as Fox News. Because the right lies, that gives us no excuse.

    Comment by louisproyect — June 6, 2015 @ 1:14 am

  5. I read about Louis Proyect in a recent WSWS article about the Chicago conference of pseudo-leftists, and this article completely vindicates everything the WSWS said! Proyect here openly defends American imperialism’s preparations for nuclear war. This blog post essentially says: “don’t worry, the US government isn’t that bad, and anybody who calls attention to their reckless drive to war is a conspiracy theorist.” Pathetic, right-wing American nationalist.

    For those who want to read the WSWS article I referenced, check it out below.


    Comment by Jim S — June 6, 2015 @ 1:47 am

  6. Another SEP fellow traveler fails to reply to my critique, namely that the article quoted a reporter who made up a quote. It only took me 5 minutes to detect that. I guess these morons can’t distinguish between the truth and a lie.

    Comment by louisproyect — June 6, 2015 @ 2:00 am

  7. Freakin’ ludicrous! A 1/4 century after the the collapse of the USSR and the End of the Cold War, yet we hear this shit from both leftist sites as well as pseudo libertarian sites like Prison Planet. If this is what Ralph Nader means by a Left/Right alliance then it’s the 1st vestiges of his senility.

    Historians should recall that the only real Dr. Strangelove nuclear maniac that ever existed was JFK who threatened world disaster simply because he swore to unleash nuclear holocaust if The Soviets stuck a couple nukes 90 miles from the US in retaliation for the US installation of 1000 nukes on the Soviet border in Turkey. Few people realize that part of the Cuban Missile Crisis settlement deal was that yes, the Soviets would pull the Cuban missiles but only if JFK yanked the nukes from Turkey, which he ultimately did.

    If the late great attorney William Kunstler were alive today I’ll bet he advocate yanking that Nobel Peace Prize from Obama and giving it posthumously to Lee Harvey Oswald.

    Lets get some economic facts straight to disprove abject ridiculousness. The 1% of the USA, the Masters of the Planet, are still giddily pinching themselves over the biggest swindle ever recorded, that is, the largest transfer of wealth in the history of the Universe with the 2008 Bank Bailout orchestrated & consummated by BOTH political parties in the US that are really 2 bickering factions of a One Party State run by the Pentagon, an entity that has always got it’s way since at least 1975 when Saigon was overrun by NVA troops.

    Although it lost that final battle it still won that War insofar as the almighty dollar is the primary currency in Vietnam today.

    The point is when the Ruling Class is at it’s strongest & richest, precisely when the working class, the unions, & the anti-war movement are at their weakest, is NEVER going to be the time the 1% lashes out in suicidal maneuvers like nuke strikes against Russia. NEVER.

    Especially since Russia, now part of the world stock market swindle, with all kinds of ex-pats squandering capital into places like Miami real estate, nevermind Putin’s Russia practically financing the entire Afghan war with billions in crude oil revenue every month billed to the Pentagon, nevermind the Pentagon turning a blind eye towards Russia’s slaughter of the Chechens and the razing of Grozny, nevermind the Ukraine, the coordinated destruction of the Maidan Movement and the shooting down of a passenger plane.

    Suicidal actions are the resort of fascists, like the Nazis, who are driven primarily to their dirty deeds by the FEAR of the organized working class opposition, eg, back in the day, the Communist parties & their trade union proxies that willy nilly drew strength from the very existence of the USSR. The point is that the only reason that fascism doesn’t have a stranglehold today is because there is no organized working class resistance movement… at this juncture.

    It’s no accident that despite the historic professed anti-communism of the American Trade Union leadership, their red baiting machinations, etc.. that as soon as the USSR collapsed the American Trade Union Movement collapsed along with it.

    If the Occupy Movement wasn’t crushed, that is, if it grew and caught fire amongst the toiling 99%, then you’d know what all that military equipment the Pentagon gave local police forces was for, that is, then you’d know what fascism in America really looks like, and then you could talk about nuclear strikes against Russia for real, because foreign policy is always just an extension of domestic policy.

    Comment by Karl Friedrich — June 6, 2015 @ 2:12 am

  8. “Proyect here openly defends American imperialism’s preparations for nuclear war.”

    Genuine LOL.

    Comment by John Gamey — June 6, 2015 @ 10:33 am

  9. The article by Niles Williamson in the WSWS is accurate [http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2015/06/05/ukra-j05.html]. AP correspondent Robert Burns correctly reported the testimony of Assistant Defense Secretary Robert Scher. The WSWS will post a reply on Monday to Mr. Proyect’s pathetic attempt to cover up for the nuclear policies of the Obama administration.

    Comment by David North — June 6, 2015 @ 3:27 pm

  10. I definitely don’t support the sectarian SEP that sold names of communists to Gaddafi and Saddam but even I can recognize that their website is popular and useful even if it does occasionally run overblown posts like the one mentioned here.

    I can also recognize falsehoods. The WSWS constantly tries to raise money on the website, they have a large staff and the SEP does all kinds of activity and organizing including going to all major picket lines which is sadly something most “communist” groups stopped doing when post modernism disappeared the working class and shifted focus to skin tone, gender, sexual preference, etc

    Comment by Todd berl — June 6, 2015 @ 4:01 pm

  11. Going to a picket line? That is not what we expect from revolutionaries. We expect them to *lead* workers struggles. The Socialist Equality Party is a tiny presence on the American left. The only presence it has is electronic.

    Comment by louisproyect — June 6, 2015 @ 4:45 pm

  12. WSWS, when it comes to their Iran analysis, is comprised of half-literates who tried their best to cover for theocracy in Iran, after the 2009 elections. Here are a few samples of their muddle-headed ‘analysis’:

    1) http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2009/06/iran-j18.html
    2) https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2009/06/prop-j24.html
    3) http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2009/06/iran-j16.html

    The readers will find the articles filled with half-truths that ultimately end up supporting one of the most reactionary dictatorships our country has experienced, ever. Shah’s regime had nothing on the mullahs and their sadistic torturers.

    The reactionary nature of the regime is well know to all Iranians. That is why when MILLIONS of people took to the streets in Iran, days after the announcement of the results in a highly irregular manner, we were not surprised. The articles by WSWS, however, allude in different forms and wordings to “covert U.S. plans”, as if any plan by the U.S., just like that, can bring out 3 MILLION people onto the streets of Tehran alone, plus MILLIONs more in other major cities.

    I am sure CIA dudes in charge of keeping tabs on different publications must get a good chuckle when they read about their God-like powers, as reported by the likes of WSWS or Global Research. Come to think of it, maybe CIA actually contributes to those websites, just to keep them going and make things more interesting for themselves.

    Notice be served: WSWS sided with THEOCRACY in the aftermath of the 2009 elections. They have no rights calling themselves socialist.

    The fact that they feel compelled to respond to Mr. Proyect puts a smile on my face!!

    Thank you, Louis!! Well Done!!

    Comment by Reza F. — June 6, 2015 @ 6:06 pm

  13. ‘Washington’ does believe it can win a nuclear war with Russia and China. I suspect that given their weakness though, Russia and China (but especially Russia) would be more likely to engage in a first strike. Putin has been incessantly rattling about the nuclear option , particularly in respect to Crimea.(http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-31899680)

    Comment by purple — June 6, 2015 @ 7:26 pm

  14. http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2015/06/08/proy-j08.html

    Hahahaha! Here is the excellent WSWS rebuttal. Completely makes a fool out of you!

    Comment by Chris — June 8, 2015 @ 1:50 pm

  15. Whatever Scher said (and it does sound as though he used the word “attack,” based on his use of the word “attacking” in the sentence following the one with the glitch in it) it does not constitute evidence of an Obama conspiracy to start a nuclear war with Russia. On its own merits, that is a gobstopping bit of paranoia, far more worthy of Alec Jones than of some latter-day Lenin or Trotsky.

    As Richard Greener wisely points out, the US continues to enjoy (well, some people enjoy it) a massive nuclear first-strike capability which has existed for more than fifty years and never been used. To say that a nation would create and maintain such a capability without having considered a plan for its use is transparent nonsense. Is such a strike impossible then? Oh no–it is very possible, and has been so since Louis Proyect and I were children. Is it probable? Unless someone can show that mutual assured destruction is no longer on the cards, IMHO, it is highly improbable and a waste of time. In the meantime, Scher has revealed nothing really new and WSWS has uncovered nothing new.

    Predicting another big war started by the United States–while, again, such a thing is not impossible–is a clear failure to grapple with the specific historical qualities of contemporary American militarism and imperialism and the objective character of the ongoing development of class warfare in the United States. Many things–including the impossibility of implementing mass conscription without political revolt–argue that a forthright big war is something the United States cannot even attempt to put on successfully. Among other things, it would completely reverse the Bush doctrine of specialist warfare supported by a citizenry whose sole duty is to go shopping–and the happy-face concept of a “service-oriented” United States populated by savvy investors who are glad to leave all the productive labor to lesser breeds abroad and by helpful entrepreneurs whose whole duty is to service the whims of the savvy investors. Such people do not sacrifice themselves in warfare for the State.

    Basing a conspiracy theory on Scher’s use of the word “attack” is far-fetched, irresponsible, and nothing if not unscientific. Even if you think Louis shouldn’t have cussed out David North.

    Comment by Pete Glosser — June 9, 2015 @ 6:59 pm

  16. Does WSWS have to sound like the headmistress of a posh girls school. The sort where pupils are required to wash out their mouths after using words like ‘fucking’; as in ‘Between Central Committee meetings Stalin was fucking Alex Kollontai in the broom cupboard’. Have these comrades never read the first ever working class newspaper, Le Pere Duchesne, (‘Je suis le veritable pere duchesne, foutre.’) Kinnel, what a shower.

    Comment by Sam Simpson — September 19, 2015 @ 7:09 pm

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