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Interview: Putin is Being Heard on U.S.-Russia Policy

Interview: Putin is Being Heard on U.S.-Russia Policy

Dennis Speed and Mike Billington (Executive Intelligence Review) in dialogue with Ray McGovern (Analyst, Central Intelligence Agency (CIA-ret.), Co-Founder, Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity).

SPEED: Now, what we’re going to do is hear from a couple of people who are going to discuss this. That’s Ray McGovern and also Mike Billington. I just want to say about Ray, I wrote about you about 11 days ago at the top of something I was writing. “Former CIA analyst Ray McGovern has insisted that only a metanoia, a 180-degree spiritual bootlegger’s turn away from a self-defeating, self-destructive indifference to promoting the General Welfare of people all over the world can preserve any nation, including a declining United States.”

Now, I’m not asking you to take responsibility for my remarks, but I would like to point out that our art of analysis, of actual strategic evaluation seems to be severely endangered right now, particularly in the United States. You’re one of the few people who is still practicing it. So, I’d like you to start us off, both in terms of responding to what Helga said, but you’ve been looking at what’s been said over the last week, week and a half, and Mike’s going to have plenty to say, because he’s been speaking to a few interesting people on his own about these matters. So, make it a little informal, you go ahead and tell us what your own thinking is about these matters, and then we’ll hear from Mike, and then continue to discussion.

RAY MCGOVERN: Well, Dennis, thank you for the introduction. I hope you didn’t get too many bricks thrown at you from describing me that way. I wish I could tell you that we were further toward metanoia at present than we were back when I used that term.

We are inches further, or inches more toward metanoia now. Let me tell you what I think, and why I think it. I should sort of as a clearness or honesty in advertising, say that I’m an outlier on this, just as I was an outlier for four years on Russiagate and so forth. But I’m used to that, just so you know what you’re getting.

Watching the pronouncements by official Kremlin spokespeople and the play from these Biden-Putin conversations, and most important, what happened this last week starting on Monday in Geneva, persuades me that we’re on the road to a relaxation of tension. That Putin got a major concession from Mr. Biden, who very cleverly has told his people to play that down, and that talks will continue. I’ll say that again, the Russians didn’t stomp out of the talks, they didn’t invade Ukraine. They didn’t do anything other than to insist on their maximum position, and then sotto voce saying, well we got a big commitment here. We’re going to reinvent the intermediate forces treaty, the INF Treaty. Most Americans don’t understand this because it happened in 1987, but what was happening in those days was that the Russians had these intermediate and shorter-range ballistic missiles called SS-20s. We had Pershing 2s, the equivalent. This made the strategic situation incredibly tentative, because instead of 30-35 minutes warning from an ICBM shoot-out, you had maybe 14-15 minutes. These were bases in Europe, the European part of Russia, and Germany and elsewhere. Wise statesmen got together and said, this is crazy. We got to limit this. We don’t need this; we’ve already got a balance of strategic power here, thanks to the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty of 1972. So, we don’t need these things. Let’s get rid of them.

People like me kind of said, “Right. We’re going to get rid of a whole class of very sophisticated ballistic missiles.” But, they did. One key element there was that it was verifiable. My friend Scott Ritter, for example, was one of hundreds of U.S. inspectors who were there when they blew up these sites in Russia. So, that’s possible, and what happened more recently is not only lamentable, but stupid and reversible. Now, be the first to know that U.S.-Russian talks are in the process of getting underway to reverse that, and to reinstate something like the INF Treaty. Will it be exact? No, it won’t, but it will place limits on offensive strike missiles in that part of Europe. How come you’re the first to know this? You’re the first to be crazy enough to listen to McGovern; that’s the first answer. But the second one is, McGovern has this arcane methodology, it’s called media analysis. I mean it’s sort of a sub-discipline of political analysis, I suppose. And what he does is, he reads stuff one day, and the next day he reads stuff, and then he figures out what’s different. When Vladimir Putin called Joe Biden and says, “Look, our negotiators are going to get together in just 12 days, but I need to talk to you now.” Biden said, “OK.” And they talked on the telephone on Dec. 30th this past year.

How do we know what eventuated? Well, the Kremlin put out an immediate report, and they said—and I’ll quote it here, because I don’t want to misstate it. “Joseph Biden emphasized that Washington had no intention of deploying offensive strike weapons in Ukraine.” I’ll say it again. Biden emphasized that the U.S. has no intention of deploying offensive strike missiles in Ukraine. What about the American side? Well, they didn’t really include that in their read-out. How about Jake Sullivan? I guess he was the senior administration official that briefed all those reporters on background. Well, he said, nothing much happened. One of the reporters said, “Was there anything at all that we could report?” And Sullivan says, “Nothing I can think of.”

Well, that’s a bit disingenuous, but it’s also clever. Because he didn’t want to give these reporters, who have their own axes to grind, time to criticize what Biden had done. It’s a mixed blessing that Americans don’t know what Biden had done, but eventually the mainstream media is going to have to deal with it, because those negotiations are in train. We know from Wendy Sherman and Ryabkov that they said these arms control issues are going to be pursued now. And you know, you can’t conclude these talks in a week or a month; it’s going to take some time. Both sides agree that it’s going to take some time to do this.

Another straw in the wind, but not really for somebody who follows the media closely. Jens Stoltenberg, the head of NATO, who’s way out there as a hardliner, who says, “Our arms are ready for Russia.” What did he say? Again, you won’t see this reported, but here it is in TASS in English. Reporters can read this. He says, “‘Concrete possibilities for limits on the missiles Russia and NATO should be discussed, but not discussed publicly.’ He stressed that the Alliance was ready to discuss not only limitations, but a ban on intermediate-range missiles. ‘We have clearly expressed our willingness to sit down and discuss these kinds of limitations on different levels, banning all intermediate-range weapons which are a concern in Europe,’ the Secretary-General said.”

That’s Stoltenberg! It was missed by the western press. What am I saying here? I’m saying that if you get through all the propaganda, all the stuff that’s sort of boiler-plate—“The Russians are demanding that Ukraine and Georgia will never become members of NATO.” Is that a realistic prospect? No. How long does it take a country like that to qualify for membership in NATO? Several years, maybe decades, maybe never. If you’re Vladimir Putin, what’s more important to you? To get NATO and the U.S. to sign onto an agreement that says we’ll never let Ukraine and Georgia into NATO? When, as Putin points out, Ukraine is already being populated by all kinds of arms emplacements. In other words, Putin said, membership in NATO for Ukraine may sort of be a distinction without a difference, because what they’re doing right now is moving all kinds of troops and offensive capabilities into Ukraine.

What I’m saying here is this: You have to distinguish between the rhetoric, which is “No, no Ukraine, no Georgia in NATO.” And we, NATO, and Wendy Sherman, and Blinken and Nod and Sullivan, we all stood up to those Russians. We adamantly said, “Under no circumstances! Win!” Putin was hardly surprised by that. I think he was a little surprised—let’s be realistic—that he frightened Joe Biden with a deployment of—how many? 100,000 troops near the Ukrainian border. And persuaded him that, hey, you had a Cuban Missile Crisis which not only bears a resemblance to how we feel now, but is an exact replica. And guess what, Joe? We’re going to react the same way the U.S. when Khrushchev tried to put those medium-range ballistic missiles in Cuba.

As an aside, and as an indication of how dangerous this really is, Khrushchev did put those medium-range ballistic missiles in Cuba. We found them finally. CIA U-2s found them. But guess what? We never thought they were armed with nuclear warheads. And guess what? They were. We found that out decades later. So, just think, if John Kennedy had been more susceptible to the blandishments of our military, they wanted to give Russia a bloody nose? Long story short, we might not be here; there’s a good chance we wouldn’t be here today to discuss these things. Another sort of aside on this, is simply that here’s Putin before all his generals and admirals above a certain grade, it’s the 21st of December. He’s giving them the word. He says, this time we’re going to have mutually agreed upon signed, legally binding documents to limit arms. And he looks out, and he sees—I’m guessing here, I wasn’t there, right? He sees a couple of generals say, “Yeah, right. That was really helpful on the ABM Treaty, wasn’t it? Or, the INF Treaty? We had mutually binding international agreements, and the Americans just walked out, without explanation, for God’s sake. Tell us more about those mutually binding agreements there, Vlad.”

In the next paragraph, Putin says, “OK, the U.S. has not given much respect to mutually binding international agreements.” And he mentions the INF Treaty and the ABM Treaty. So, you know, it will be nice to get these kinds of agreements, but what Putin is most interested in is what happens on the ground. And they’re negotiating on that. If you don’t believe me, or you don’t believe Wendy Sherman, believe Jens Stoltenberg, who is on the far right of the hawks in NATO.

The last thing I’ll say has to do with analysis of what the New York Times puts out. I’m just becoming aware how war-mongering the New York Times has always been. I go back a ways. More recently, I go back to weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. And of course, the New York Times was a main culprit in selling that story. Not only Judy Miller, who did finally get relieved of duty, but a fellow named David Sanger. He was equally responsible. I have the book on David Sanger, and I’ve written about him, but suffice it so say here that in July 2002, so 7-8 months before the war, before the U.S.-British attack on Iraq, Sanger had this article in the New York Times which said, no fewer than seven times, that there were, as flat fact, weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Now, this was what he was instructed to say by his intelligence sources. It was a very interesting juncture, because that’s when W Bush and the administration were trying to sell the idea to Congress so that Congress would, in its own stupid way, authorize war.

Today, we have a lead article, right on the front page above the fold, David Sanger. What’s he saying? He’s saying that my intelligence say that the Russians, those dastardly clever Russians, do you know what they’re planning now? They’re planning to infiltrate agents to shoot up other Russians so they can have a pretext, a casus belli, a reason to attack Ukraine. They are so lusting after some kind of justification to attack Ukraine, that they’ll kill their own Russians there. How about that? What’s his source? The same guys he talked to back in 2002; the WMD guys. How do I know that? They’re the same unknown sources who are reluctant to give their names because of the sensitivity of the subject.

Just in contrast, the Russians have also warned about a false flag justification. And how did they do that? It was this fellow named Sergei Shoigu, who happens to be their Minister of Defense. At the same gathering at which Putin talked to all the top admirals and generals, what he said was that we know there are 150 or so Americans, contractors of course, who are preparing this kind of false flag attack in the area of Ukraine, and that they have sarin gas, which is one of their preferred methods of false-flag attacks. So, you have Shoigu identifying himself, he’s not an unnamed source in intelligence who’s reluctant to give his name because of the sensitivity of the subject. No, he’s gone right ahead of time.

Is this significant? It is in a sort of intelligence playing around thing. I’m sure that both sides are equally prepared to do just this kind of thing. The operative bottom line for me is simply that Putin is much too clever, much too restrained, and much too much a statesman—and I’ll say that again, statesman—to get himself involved in attacking Ukraine, much less occupying this basket case. It used to be the bread basket of Europe; now, it’s a basket case, thanks to the coup that we, the United States and other Western intelligence services, arranged on the 22nd of February, 2014, aptly called the most blatant coup in history. Why? Because it was advertised; it was advertised on the 4th of February on YouTube. Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland talking to U.S. Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt in Kiev, saying, “We’ve got it all arranged now. Yats is the guy. Incoming Prime Minister. Tell these other guys to wait in the wings here. Did you talk to Jake Sullivan?” “Yeah.” “OK, what did he say? Oh, good. Biden is free to come in and solidify this thing, and we can glue it together.” Pyatt says, “What about the EU?” And Victoria Nuland says—and I don’t want to destroy the nice tone of this conversation, but she uses the F-word. She says, “F— the EU!”

Was this a real conversation? Yeah! You had the voices. Did they know it was going to monitored? No. Did Nuland apologize? She apologized, but only for saying the F-word, not for arranging the coup. She said, I’m really sorry I said that; I didn’t really mean it. Of course, that’s exactly what she meant. And that’s what they’re doing even now. The question is, how long the EU will put up with this kind of thing.

I could go on for a while, and I’ve probably outlasted my welcome, but perhaps more can be said in what ensues. The operative thing I’d like to leave you with is that right now, many of the leading newspapers—that is, the Wall Street Journal and so forth—are very reluctant to mention that discussions will now take place on intermediate-range ballistic missiles between the U.S. and Russia. Did you know? I ask you, did you know that Biden promised that we have no plans to deploy offensive strike missiles in Ukraine? Did you know that? No, you didn’t know that. OK. Did you know that the so-called anti-ballistic missile emplacements already completed in Romania and going into Poland now, have the same kind of holes that accommodate what Putin calls “Toe-ma-hawk”? Tomahawk missiles. Now, what’s the point there? Tomahawk missiles can easily strike the ICBM force of Russia and destroy the strategic balance. Is this a real concern of Putin? Of course it is! It’s been a primary concern for years, and he said so. Right now, he’s being heard, that’s different. Right now, he’s being heard, and there’s a concession on the table from Biden about not doing this in Ukraine. The discussions will go forward. I’ve been accused of being Pollyanna, and I don’t like that, but I don’t mind seeing some progress here. And of course, the main kibosh can be done by what I call the MICIMATT. There are very strong forces there in the military-industrial, Congressional, intelligence, media, academia, think tank complex. You notice there are parts of the government in there, right? Military, Congressional, intelligence? But in this case, oddly, it’s not the White House. So, the question for the next couple of weeks is, how soon will it become the White House, or conversely, how soon will the White House’s hopeful position descend under pressure of the MICIMATT? I’ll stop there, and thanks very much for letting me go on this long.

SPEED: Well, thank you very much, Ray. And I think you had a lot to say there that I’m sure Mike is going to have both responses to and maybe some questions about, too. Mike, of course, for anybody who doesn’t know, is the Asia Desk editor for EIR, but he’s also been spending some time interviewing some interesting people recently, and he’s pursuing that, as we’re doing our best to try to resurrect the lost art of evaluations. So, Mike, why don’t you go ahead.

MICHAEL BILLINGTON: Well, thank you, Ray. That was a most comprehensive and very powerful presentation. I think you captured the overall idea in a way which is going to maybe shock a lot of people, but I think also wake them up to the fact that you have to look at the world as a whole.

There’s a lot of people, very depressed, or somewhat pessimistic within the United States right now, about the idea that everything’s lost, our country’s going to hell, our cities are destroyed, the pandemic’s out of control, we’re threatened with thermonuclear war, and so on. But if you’re willing to look at the world from the perspective of the world as a whole, as Ray just did, then you have the ability to revive optimism in a population which has been purposely degraded by the media part of the MICIMATT, and by our government in many respects, to give them some optimism, that there is a way out; that in fact, there’s a way to stop this descent into a dark age, which clearly we are in—the threat of war, the pandemic, the cultural breakdown, the social disintegration within the United States and most of Western Europe. But, again, if you look at the world as a whole, if you look at who should be our closest allies, Russia and China, then you begin to get the sense, you can begin to get the sense that what we as individuals do at a moment of crisis like this, can have a huge, huge impact on the world.

I want to say a few things about what Helga and Lyn said in the beginning, but let me fill in a few pieces of what Ray McGovern just went through, from a few other, very prominent and knowledgeable intelligence people. There aren’t that many, so the few of them that there are, have stepped forward over the last few days, in a way which really does confirm the perspective that Ray just laid out.

One of them is a guy named Gilbert Doctorow: He’s a long, long-time analyst, somebody who’s worked in Russia and around Russia for many years, as well as on other sides of this. He attended the Russian press conference, after the Russia-NATO meeting on Wednesday [Jan. 12], and when he came out, there was an RT journalist who talked with him, and he said that the reason that the Russians deployed these forces on the border with Ukraine was provoked, first, by the fact that the U.S. and the British and others were sending modern missiles, modern weapons—not ballistic missiles, not intermediate-range nuclear missiles, but war-fighting missiles, Javelin missiles against tanks and drones to deliver bombs over the Donbas, that this was happening. And the way Doctorow put it, he said, they were concerned that some of the “hotheads” in Kiev would use this equipment with the mistaken belief that the Western powers would come and defend them militarily if they got into a war with Russia. In order to disprove that to these hotheads in Kiev, they deployed their forces to the border, with no intent to invade—they’ve made that very clear—but they want to do, as Doctorow put it, “flush out the reality” of what nations would come to Ukraine’s defense if they were stupid enough to get into a war with Russia. And it worked! One after another, the U.S., the French, the Germans, others, said, “No! If there’s a war between Ukraine and Russia, we’re not going to send troops, not one troop, not one soldier, not one boot will be on the ground” (although there are people there, training already, and there’s certain activities). But what they mean is that they’re not going to put their full weight into a war with Russia. They’re not stupid enough to fight a potentially nuclear war with Russia, over Ukraine. And in fact, they said so! They said, “If Russia invades Ukraine, we’re going to give them the toughest, most never seen before sanctions against them, it’s going to destroy their economy. It’s the economic nuclear option,” and so on and so forth, but not said was, “we’re going to send any troops, we’re not going to go to war.” And that, in fact, is what happened.

Now, another extremely competent analyst on this is a guy called Dmitri Trenin: He is Russian, who spent 20 some years in the Soviet army, at that time. And he’s now heading the Carnegie Institute in Moscow. So he went to work in something called the Moscow Institute in Europe, and then the NATO Defense College in Rome; but then he began working with the think tanks here in Washington, Carnegie in particular, and he’s now heading the Carnegie Moscow center, so it’s the fellow Carnegie Institute in Moscow. He’s in Moscow, he’s in the center of these ideas; he has a long history in the military.

And he gave an interview to Christiane Amanpour—I won’t characterize her; she’s with CNN. I think that’s probably enough to indicate her character. And she was trying to bait him and he generally made mincemeat out of her. She began by quoting the hardline positions that were being stated by Russia and by the U.S.; Russia saying, we absolutely insist on written guarantees, you must move NATO back to where it was before you expanded. The U.S. was saying, we didn’t give an inch, we’re telling Russia we’re going to really destroy them if they dare to invade Ukraine; and we will never say that we cannot expand NATO, and so forth.

But Trenin said: Look, they’re talking. This is the beginning, this is not the end. And when you talk about Russia going to war, he said—and I’ll read this—he said: “Putin is very careful in using military force. In Crimea, not a shot was fired. In Syria, professionals did the fighting, with few casualties. Kazakhstan is a victory. And they’re beginning to withdraw, today,” he said, which is true. They stopped a Ukraine, a Maidan from happening in Kazakhstan, because they quickly called in the collaborators to make sure that this thing was stopped in its tracks, this color revolution and outside terrorist operation, which burned down several government buildings, but tried to literally create a Maidan, and a coup was crushed.

He goes on: “This talk of war is on the Western side, not on the Russian side. There’s no feeling of impending war within Russia over Ukraine. Putin is using the troops as leverage, to get the U.S. to listen and to negotiate.”

And as Ray said, Putin is being heard. This is a change in the dynamic of European security development. Now, as Ray also mentioned, Blinken, just yesterday, Blinken and Stoltenberg talked, and they both incurred, indeed, as reported by Ned Price, the State Department spokesman, he said that both the U.S. and NATO are ready to meet again, to pursue diplomacy and reciprocal dialogue. So this is moving forward. And Wendy Sherman, who’s the official negotiator in these talks, talked with the head of the OSCE, Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, which includes Russia—it’s all the nations of Europe; she agreed with the current Secretary General Helga Schmid of the OSCE that this is a format to continue revitalizing European security dialogue, which includes Russia and all the other nations. So this is moving forward, no question.

Amanpour then quoted the U.S. bluster and Trenin replied, just straight out, “Get beyond the rhetoric. We know Ukraine will not be a NATO member soon, maybe never,” as Ray also said. “The simple reason, the U.S. will not fight a nuclear-armed Russia over Ukraine. It is not in the U.S. interest to deploy intermediate-range missiles in Europe, since Russia could retaliate by deploying nuclear-armed submarines to patrol the Eastern seaboard of the United States.” In other words, they could put nuclear weapons, including their hypersonic weapons, which they have and the U.S. doesn’t, they could put them at the same distance from the U.S. cities, as the U.S. would be, if they moved their missiles up to the Russian border, and therefore, it is absolutely not in the U.S. interest to do that kind of thing.

Now, one other aspect of this I want to quote; this is back to Mr. Doctorow. The RT reporter asked him, “Why, now?” And Doctorow said, “That’s a question. Why has the media asked the ‘why now’?” Why didn’t Russia do this when they started moving their NATO forces east toward the Russian borders, starting, I think it was in 1999 was the first time. And Doctorow said, it’s very clear, you know, Putin gave a now very famous speech in 2007 at the Munich Security Conference, where he laid out precisely these issues of what is not acceptable to the Russians. But, at that time, the Russian economy was still in very precarious condition, and their military was not up to snuff, to put it nicely. Since that time, Gilbert Doctorow said, they have poured huge amounts of money, of brain power, of scientific and technological capacity into building their military, and they now quite rightly believe they have a military that’s equal, perhaps even in some areas like hypersonic weapons, the superior to the Western military powers. Therefore, they can do it. You can’t even pretend any longer that the U.S. is the only superpower, as we did after the collapse of the Soviet Union. It’s simply not true. You have China, as the by far the biggest and best economy in the world; and you have the Russia-China cooperation on both developing the third world. Russia is building nuclear power plants, and of course the Belt and Road is building nations, getting them out of poverty, getting out of the grip of the IMF/World Bank, by giving them infrastructure. So they were able to do it, because they now have the power to do it.

And the U.S. knows that. People, no matter how much they bluster, they know that they cannot fight a war against Russia, just like they cannot fight a war against China. The only danger, and it’s an extreme danger, is that you have some real madmen in the United States. You have Admiral Richard, the head of the Strategic Command, the guy who would actually push the button. Who said in February last year, that we used to think nuclear war was unlikely, but now with the rise of Russia and China, it’s likely. And this is madness, real madness. And you all saw, I’m sure, Senator Wicker, who literally, he’s one of the top guys on the Senate Armed Services Committee, openly saying we should prepare for a first nuclear strike against Russia: Madness.

So, could madness happen? Could we sleepwalk into a thermonuclear World War III? We have to be on guard. But, as Ray said, we have to look for the optimism where it’s there, because it’s our responsibility to push to make that happen that way, by making sure the American people do know what the American media is trying so hard to make sure you don’t know.

I want to say a few more words, in a sense go back to what you heard Lyn say, that when you have a crisis like we have today, you have to look at it in the context of an overall global crisis, an incident, which is not defined by what happened this week, or last week, but as a long-term process. And there’s no question but that this round of crisis started with the collapse of the Soviet Union, when we had a tremendous opportunity, when Lyn and Helga said: OK, we’ve broken the British Empire’s division of the world into East versus West, the free world versus the communists, and so forth. We’ve basically ended that. this is an opportunity to bring about a new paradigm for mankind, and they proposed that it be done by building high-speed rail connections between Europe and China, through Russia; that we create an environment in which we begin to work together as human beings and as sovereign nations committed to the idea that our sovereignty depends upon the sovereignty of the others, as we had in the Peace of Westphalia.

So, at that time, with the fall of the Soviet Union, some people, the neocons and others in the West thought, “we just won. We won the war. We won the Cold War.” It’s like Francis Fukuyama said, the neocon who wrote The End of History: Liberal democracy has now proven to be the superior means of running a nation, and it’ll be so from now and henceforth for the rest of time. History is over. We won. And then, just last week, Fukuyama looked around, and he said, I guess I look like a bit of an idiot when people see that I wrote that End of History back in the 1990s. So he wrote an op-ed, I think in the New York Times, which said, “well, you know, I guess I missed up some things. It didn’t occur to me that advanced democracies like the U.S. could collapse—didn’t occur to me. I thought, well, this is permanent, this is the rest of time.” And of course, what he sees as the collapse is January 6, last year, that this “insurrection” showed that our democracy has collapsed. So he’s really no different from the most wacko of the Democrats, who look at it that way.

But look at what Helga was discussing with the Peace of Westphalia. I won’t repeat what she said, but it was, in a sense, seen as the birth of the idea of sovereign nation-states, because it’s based on the idea that your sovereignty depends upon recognition and honoring the sovereignty of others, the “interest of the other,” that that was the basis on which this would take place. And the concept was somewhat built into the UN Charter.

It was emphatically adopted under something that the Chinese and the Indians first established: In 1954, Zhou Enlai from China and Jawaharlal Nehru from India, established what they called Panchsheel, or Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence. And then, in the next year, in 1995, the famous Bandung Conference in Indonesia, which was the meeting of Asian and African formerly colonialized nations, meeting for the first time without their colonialist lords, and it was sort of the beginning of the Non-Aligned Movement. Part of the purpose of that conference was to prevent what was then an emerging threat of a war between the U.S. and China. And Zhou Enlai and Nehru and Sukarno, the head of Indonesia, were the key leaders—some from Africa and others from Asia—and in that they adopted officially these Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence. And it’s worth thinking about what they are, because it’s really the nature of the Westphalia sovereignty idea and it’s the nature of the United Nations. The first, and you hear these terms, now, often, is: territorial integrity, that you have a sovereign nation. Nobody can move and take over your territory. Nonaggression, that you will not launch aggression against another nation. Non-interference in internal affairs, which of course is the daily fare of the U.S. intelligence community is interfering in other nations’ internal affairs. The equality of nations, the idea that you respect the sovereignty of the other, and cooperate with them. And then, fifth, the idea of peaceful coexistence.

So these ideas are the basis upon which we can, and we must establish a new security architecture, to replace NATO. As Helga said, at one point, they were talking about Russia being part of NATO, and perhaps NATO could have sustained itself by being a truly inclusive agreement amongst all of the nations of Europe; but that was undermined, and it’s now threatened. We need a new architecture based on this idea of peaceful coexistence. And it has to be driven, as LaRouche has always insisted, by that idea of economic development: That peace will only come through economic development.

We are now faced with both the complete breakdown of the Western financial system: Hyperinflation kicking in. To a great extent, the energy hyperinflation is driven directly by the adoption by the Western banking system of the Green New Deal, which is not something being run by AOC, or any of the silly children, running around screaming about the environment, or Al Gore and his fanaticism. It’s run by the banks. It’s run by Mark Carney, by the people who set up a banker’s cartel at the Glasgow climate summit, who explicitly said, we don’t believe governments are going to implement the policy of shutting down their fossil fuels in their economy, and therefore, we bankers will take upon ourselves, the moral responsibility to save the planet from carbon, by shutting down the world economy, and diverting every available penny into bailing out the bankrupt banking system, and funding the military buildup we need to enforce that.

So this is a moment of truth, where we can, and must, inspire optimism in people of the world, and especially the people in Europe and the United States who are drowning in pessimism and degeneracy right now. I think what Ray had to say, what some of these others, and what Lyn and Helga have to say is the antidote to the pessimism and the destruction of the minds of our citizens, that’s been so drilled into them over this systematic descent into a moral and cultural dark age. And, again, I say, we have every reason to be optimistic, and let’s pledge ourselves to bringing that optimism, while holding up the grave danger we’re in, a moment of crisis of whether civilization itself will even survive if there were to be a nuclear war, and yet, it’s precisely because it’s so dangerous that people are looking around; they know something’s gone horribly, horribly wrong. They’re looking for answers. They’re looking for who’s been telling the truth when everybody else was lying. Like what Ray said about the brilliant New York Times journalist.

I’m going to end by one short thing. This is the New York Times believe it or not [showing lead editorial, “Let Innocent Afghans Have Their Money,”]. But as you know, we’re having a conference on Monday, an emergency seminar on the extreme danger in Afghanistan, the fact that we have the threat of a genocide, as bad or maybe even worse, than Hitler carried out in his death camps and his wars—believe or not, the New York Times lead editorial this morning was “Let Innocent Afghans Have Their Money.” And the way it’s worded—I won’t go through the whole thing right here—but the way it’s worded, it’s clear that somebody at the New York Times realized that this genocide is so obvious, that if they don’t turn around from what they’ve been doing, which is peddling as they did with the war policy, the idea that we can and should punish the Taliban, they realize that this would be hanging over their heads. And somebody got through to them and said “You better turn that around.” So they did—not fully, not completely. It’s still somewhat self-serving. But they did note that if we don’t release the money that we’ve sequestered, if we don’t allow the central bank of Afghanistan to have their money, then we’re going to be faced with personal responsibility for mass murder, the mass murder of somewhere in the range of 20-24 million people, over this winter, where people have no money. And their editorial says “malnourished children with withered arms have been arriving at clinics in Afghanistan for months. Doctors, nurses, teachers and other essential government workers haven’t been paid in months and it’s not clear when they will. Targetted financial sanctions,” they say—of course, they defend their sanctions policies—“targetted financial sanctions are an appropriate and powerful tool to punish bad actors, and odious regimes. The mere threat of them can achieve results. But too often their cumulative effect over time is indistinguishable from collective punishment.” And of course, they’re guilty of collective punishment in case, after case, after case of these 20 years of mass warfare.

But nonetheless, they’re saying this has got to stop. They have excuses about why the Fed can’t release the money, but they say, we can get the money released from Europe and they interview our friend Shah Mehrabi, the former board member of the central bank in Afghanistan.

So things are moving: Our emergency conferences, our mobilization, our pulling people together on this Afghan crisis, our Committee on the Coincidence of Opposites, and the statement by Dr. Elders that humanity comes first in the case of Afghanistan, we have to release these funds and immediately launch a development program—this is having an effect. And again, there’s reason to be optimistic, if we’re willing to give our full heart and soul to this fight for the fate of mankind.

SPEED: Thanks a lot, Mike. And I’ll just say, to both you and Ray, I’ve gotten three questions which I’m going to pose. They’ll give us an arc of time, and Ray’s got something. Go ahead, Ray.

MCGOVERN: I just wanted to comment on one of the points that Mike made and that could be well elaborated on, because it’s the most important new factor in the equation: And that is, China. Now, Biden has had a bad experience. His advisers told him, before the June 16 summit that the Russians and the Chinese have this big, long border, and they have clashes on the border, and China’s so big that it must be threatening Russia. And so, what Biden said to Putin, and we know this, because Biden said this before he got on the plane coming home, “Russia is being squeezed by China. They have this long, long border, and Russia knows that China’s not only one of the biggest economic powers, but the biggest military power. So the Russians have a lot of cause to worry about China.”

Now, that’s 180 degrees away from the current situation. It might have been true in the textbooks that Jake Sullivan and Blinken read 40 years ago, but it’s not true now. Never! Never, ever have China and Russia been so close! So, consider Putin coming away from this summit, saying to his associates, “My God! These guys don’t know what end is up! They don’t know how strong we Russians really are—why? Because China will back us up! In the vernacular, China’s got our back! How do we show them that?”

Next summit, on Dec. 7, Putin reads Biden the Riot Act. He says: “You got our relationship with China completely screwed up. We’re very, very close. As a matter of fact, in one week I’m going to be talking with President Xi—tune in! Because you’ll see how close we are!” So, a week later, on Dec. 15, I think, there’s a virtual meeting between Putin and Xi, and they released the first minute of it, which was choreographed exactly the way the way they wanted it, and this is what happened. Putin: Thank you so much for the invitation to get together, and I just wish it were in person my good friend, because I look forward to meeting you in Beijing to begin the Olympics on Feb. 4. Then we will be in person and we can discuss things as we usually do. (Witness the fact, in parens here, that the U.S. had just declared that it would not go to the Olympics and it’s not going to have any official presence there and others followed suit.) What does Xi say? Xi says, “My friend, Vladimir Putin. This is the 36th time we’ve met, one-on-one, physically or bilaterally in the last couple of years. I look forward to these discussions. What I really appreciate is what you, Russia, have done to support our core interests. And also, you’ve been really good about preventing others from driving a wedge between Russia and China. Just be assured that we, China, will support your core interests, in the West, just the way you have supported our core interests here.” And then, Yury Ushakov, who’s the prime adviser to Putin, tells the press, “the way these two describe their relationship as something that exceeds, something that’s bigger than or higher than a treaty or a defense alliance, in terms of its closeness and in terms of its effectiveness.” It exceeds an alliance. I checked out the Russian and Chinese words, and that’s the word they used.

So, if Biden and his advisers, you know, he brought in the clowns, but at least they’re getting educated! If they didn’t get the message from that, they never—well, they did get the message from that. That was on Dec. 15th. When Putin insisted that Putin and Biden talk on Dec. 30th, Biden had been educated. And what Putin is really saying is, look, even your military I think should be aware of, or shy away from the prospect of a two-front war on opposite sides of the world. China’s got our back, and that’s real. Bottom line, here: What helped Putin to be so assertive, and his people like Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu? Well, because it really is two against one, now, unlike the situation that existed under Nixon, where we successfully played one off against the other. Then their relationship was very thorny. Now it could not be closer. And that’s not pretense, that’s real!

Now, one other thing I’ll just tuck in here, is that empowers what reaction our allies get when they make silly statements like German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, who said: Look, you Russians are willing to use military force? That’s where we’re moving our troops up into Ukraine and elsewhere. And so, what did Shoigu say? He says, “You know, you’re probably too young to remember, but the last time German troops moved up to our border, it really didn’t end well, so, please go study your history.”

There is a new assertiveness. It’s well founded, and I just hope that those sophomores—or, they’re rising juniors now—that Biden has advising him will read more current textbooks, or maybe even some articles from you guys and from me. Thanks.

SPEED: I’m very glad you raised that, Ray. Actually, one of the first questions pretty much prompts that. I think before we go to this question, if we could show the map, and maybe either Mike or Ray will have a comment. This is a map of Kazakhstan, and the general area. I’m putting this up here, because of what you referenced concerning the issue of borders. It doesn’t show the whole Chinese border, but it does show something about an area people have just heard about in the world, and one of the things that should be noted is, Kazakhstan, and then you see Afghanistan on the map.

The question we have is about Afghanistan, and I’ll ask that, but I suspect either of you may have a more expansive answer. Let’s leave the map up, while I’m asking the question.

The question comes from one of our people, Anastasia, who reports: “Helga Zepp-LaRouche just had an awesome class and discussion”—this was during our meeting, as we began here—“with some 80-plus youth from around the world, who are ready to fight for Operation Ibn Sina. How can we combine the NATO/Russia crisis with the Ibn Sina initiative?”

Operation Ibn Sina refers to Afghanistan, and it’s an initiative that Helga has discussed concerning the possibility of addressing the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan from the standpoint of a new participation among the United States, China, Russia, and of course, the actors surrounding Afghanistan. You see there on the map: Iran on the west, Pakistan on the east; and then Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan. But we’ve just heard on the news about Kazakhstan and what’s happened there.

I’ll say that the concept of what was being discussed about Operation Ibn Sina—Ibn Sina was a physician and philosopher, generally from Southwest Asia; the Afghanis claim him, the Iranians claim him, a lot of people claim him. But importantly, as a physician and as a great philosophical thinker, the idea was to invoke someone from the culture of the area, so that when talking about humanitarian relief, you’re invoking a person from the area itself. You’re not just talking about outside intervention, and more importantly, a new form of collaboration: This as a process of a new strategic alliance.

So, I just wanted that map up and whatever comment either of you could have, on what can be done on the Afghanistan situation. Mike why don’t you start, since we just heard from Ray?

BILLINGTON: Actually, I wanted to respond to Ray by addressing the Kazakhstan issue, because as Ray was making fun of the geopoliticians, including Biden’s gaffe about Russia and China, the Kazakhstan thing is being portrayed by many Western geopolitical writers as “Oh, China’s very worried about this, because Russia used this crisis to step in there, and now Russia’s going to be taking over an area where China’s got its interests….” and nothing could be further from the truth. This was another example of the extremely close cooperative operation between Russia and China—based on principle! This is what’s important, it’s not just alliance of nations ganging up against people they see as their enemies. The old British imperial idea, that when there’s three powers, in order to defeat one, you ally with your enemy, who happens to be opposed to another enemy; and then you crush them, and then create another alliance to crush the other. This is geopolitics: Constant conflict, zero sum game—which deny that there’s a common aim for mankind! The relationship between Russia and China right now is based on the principle of peace through development.

What happened in Kazakhstan? Remember that the Russians’ concern with the collapse of the occupation forces in Afghanistan, they’re working with the Taliban, but they’re not agreeing to recognize them because they have a very real concern about the existing al-Qaeda, ISIS type formations that still exist in Afghanistan, that they will come across the borders into the Central Asian countries.

What happened in Kazakhstan? They tried to run another Maidan, another 2014 Maidan coup, with different predicates, somewhat, but it was done based on an economic crisis. The National Endowment for Democracy spent $1 million last year; the George Soros Open Society Fund spent $3.5 million last year, organizing the NGO/color revolution forces, to go out in the street and create chaos over some economic or other slight. And that was done. But within about 48 hours, when they doubled the price of gas, and therefore, some of these Soros types came out in the street, you then had very highly trained, armed terrorists, some of whom came from Afghanistan, some from Syria, who intervened into the mobs, with high-powered rifles, with their private communication capacities; attacked buildings, attacked the media—they took over the TV stations; they took over the airport: This is what a coup does. They burned down government buildings. And President Tokayev responded, by immediately calling in the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) forces, which includes strong forces from Russia. And the Russians immediately deployed significant numbers of forces, shut the thing down over just a few days.

Now, what’s going on in Kazakhstan: Kazakhstan is the key transport route for the New Silk Road. The Chinese already built a major pipeline from the Caspian Sea, right straight through Kazakhstan into China, which is delivering huge amounts of oil to China, so they have that to protect. Then when they decided to build their New Silk Road Economic Belt, the main route goes right through Kazakhstan on its way to Europe and Turkey. And they have a dry port on the border of China and Kazakhstan, which is an incredible place that takes 4,000 trains per year, now going back and forth between China and Europe, they go through the dry port, where they have to switch gauges; they have incredible mechanisms to move the containers from one gauge train to another in record time. So this is a strategically crucial part of the New Silk Road transformation of the economies.

And yes, there were difficulties in Kazakhstan, with a lot of corruption in the ruling circles around Nazarbayev, and other problems. But the point is, the potential for its development as a very lightly populated, but huge country, which also has Russia’s spaceport and it also has Russia’s missile training sites are in Kazakhstan. They have uranium that is processed in Russia, and then sent back to be turned into nuclear power fuel. These are totally Russia-China cooperative operations to transform the world, and especially in their neighboring areas.

Now, on Afghanistan: Of course, you also have the fact that the Uighur in Xinjiang in China—what people hear all the time is that the Chinese are committing genocide against the Uighurs. It’s such an abomination it’s almost not worth refuting: The Uighur population in Xinjiang has doubled; their standard of living has nearly doubled since China began focussing on developing the poorest parts of the country. And in lifting 700-800 million people out of poverty, a good number of those were the very, very poor Uighur people in Xinjiang, who have been lifted up, educated, given jobs, and this is called “genocide” by Mike Pompeo! They deal with their terrorist problem by educating and giving employment to the young people who otherwise are dragged off into terrorist operations, because the U.S. is dropping bombs on their mothers’ homes. I think that’s the proper way to see it.

But these networks came out of Afghanistan and Pakistan, and there are still areas of terrorist training within Afghanistan. it’s not going to be cleaned up overnight, even though the Taliban is fighting them in most cases. So for both Russia and China, the issue of the Islamic movements within the Islamic culture are crucial.

Now, what has Helga done, by launching the Operation Ibn Sina? This is not something that came out of the blue. Helga’s studied this for many, many years, and has written extensively about the golden age of Islam. She’s written about Ibn Sina in particular, and she knows that he is a beloved figure in the Islamic world. My interview with Graham Fuller, the former CIA station chief in Kabul, and stationed all over the Islamic world, very much an Islamic scholar himself, made the point that there’s absolutely no reason that you could not have another golden age of Islam! It’s most likely going to come as part of what Lyn and Helga always argued, which is that you’re not going to have a localist renaissance any more. We have to have a global renaissance, in which each culture pulls out the best moments of its history. The Christian Renaissance, the European Renaissance, the Islamic Renaissance during the Baghdad Caliphate, the Confucian Renaissance during the Sung Dynasty; and similar things in Africa and elsewhere, this is what can and must happen. So this Ibn Sina project, of course, it’s aimed at stopping genocide in Afghanistan, it’s aimed and bringing modern health facilities to Afghanistan and in fact every nation on Earth. But it also is crucial to getting people to think in terms of why we, non-Muslims, have to understand who Ibn Sina was and is, today, to the Islamic community internationally, but also that we have to internalize that in our hearts, with the sense of the Peace of Westphalia, that we have to understand the Confucian Renaissance and Chu Hsi in the Sung Dynasty in China. We have to understand what went on during the golden age of Islam, and embrace it as part of what we do, by embracing the Platonic period and Augustinian era, and especially the work of Nicholas of Cusa and Schiller and Leibniz and so forth. This is the basis on which we have to look at every one of these crisis moments as a moment that can change history as a whole.

SPEED: Ray, if you have a response to that, and if you don’t, I have two questions for you.

MCGOVERN: Let me just make a quick remark and about the strategic significance of Kazakhstan. I think you’re showing that map was a really good idea. Not many people known where Kazakhstan is. Now they do. It sits atop the other “stans,” and needless to say there still is a terrorist threat as Mike has elucidated. And so, what’s the problem? Well, the problem is, that the border between Kazakhstan and Russia is—most people say—the longest contiguous border in the world. Look at it! It’s pretty ragged, and it goes for a long way.

Now, also look, in the middle on the left there, the Caspian Sea: What’s there? There are deposits of natural gas, that exceed by far all the oil deposits in Iraq in value. All of them. That’s where the TAPI pipeline was going to come from—Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India, and then out into the ocean. And who was going to take care of all of that? Enron! [laughs] That was a totally corrupt enterprise from the beginning, but that accounted in many ways for Bush Jr. and other interests in that TAPI pipeline—which never happened, of course.

But the riches there are incredible. Uranium? Mike mentioned that, which is incredibly important, for anybody who’s working with nuclear materials. So the strategic significance of Kazakhstan is in many ways more important than Ukraine in terms of natural resources; not in terms of strategic importance. But when people try to overthrow governments like that, the prompt response of the President Tokayev in Nur-Sultan, in getting the Russians in there, and then the naïve response from my friend Blinken—“Oh, once the Russians come in, you’ll never get them out of there!” Well, as Mike also mentioned, they’re out of there, or they’re getting out of there. So again, Mike is quite right in saying that is a success, that Russia can crow about. And they’re going to watch it very closely, because this in its own way is a very critical, strategic area.

SPEED: These will also be pertinent to you, Mike, and we also have a couple other maps to reference here. But the first question is from Cade, and it is: “Thank you for these wonderful analyses of the current situation. My question is to Mr. McGovern: It does seem we have moved a few inches away from a new Cuban Missile Crisis. The Schiller Institute’s interview with Director General of the Russian International Affairs Council Andrey Kortunov also pointed toward a trust from Russia put into Biden individually as a negotiator.

But what about the potential, let’s say, of a ‘new Bay of Pigs’? The prospect of rogue elements outside of Biden’s control, such as those training Ukrainian paramilitaries to ‘kill Russians,’ as Yahoo News reported yesterday, inciting either of the false-flag scenarios mentioned or any other operation?” So that’s one question.

I’m putting it together with the other question, for reasons of time, but also because they relate. The second question to both of you is from Kynan. He says: “It is quite a relief to hear that there were some positive developments from the talks that took place between Russia and the United States, and the fact that Biden has taken seriously Putin’s concerns about the deployment of nuclear weapons on Russia’s border, is important.

“This also coincides with another very significant development in which the leaders of the UN Security Council affirm that a ‘nuclear war could never be won, and therefore must never be fought.’ Why is it that the media aren’t actually reporting on these developments? What do they gain from portraying Russia in this malicious way, and by saying that nothing significant happened in these talks?”

MCGOVERN: The first question I discussed a little bit about these false-flag things, and these operations. You know, our intelligence services have lots of money, and if they don’t spend it, they won’t get as much next year. And sometimes there are cockamamie ideas, but they say, well maybe they’ll succeed and you get really fast promoted, so who’s going to be held accountable? It’s all secret, right? So, none of that can be dismissed. Is Biden fully in control? The answer is: No. If he told Bill Burns, head of the CIA, “you make sure that those CIA-nics don’t cause any trouble for us in the border area between Ukraine and Russia,” and Bill Burns said, “Yessir!” would they do it anyway? My guess is—of course, they would! Bill Burns is not in control either. The guys with the money are in control. And they have all these assets and they want to use ’em.

That’s the problem. And Putin knows that better than McGovern knows it, because he’s been kind of mouse-trapped in this way before, namely, the ceasefire in Syria, which blew up in the face of Putin and Obama, each, when the U.S. Air Force decided to violate it, a brief week after it had been concluded—after negotiations of 11 months.

The other thing here, is, OK, the UN Security Council: that was really nice. “No one can win a nuclear war.” Right. Well, that’s what Putin and Biden said at the end of their June 16 summit. They issued a statement, that’s the same as the one we remember with Reagan and Gorbachev: “No one can win a nuclear war…” That doesn’t really matter! What matters is what Mike mentioned before. Adm. Thomas Richard, who puts his finger on the button. He’s the Strategic Air Command, which used to be called “SAC.” Those guys are real patriots, and they’re not going to let the Russians do anything bad to us, and you know, Richard has never rescinded his notion that nuclear is probable. Has Biden told him to shut up? No, he hasn’t told him to shut up. And so, what is Putin looking at? He’s looking at a very, variegated command structure. In Russia, they have what they call “yedin nachaya” [ph]—leadership in one person. Everyone knows Putin is in control, and I think that’s a good thing.

In our country, well, you have the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff telling the Chinese late the year before last, “look, if Trump tells me to take you out, I probably won’t do it” you know? What the hell is that?! I mean, it may have been a good thing in the vast scheme of things, but what conclusions do Putin and his Defense Minister Shoigu draw from this kind of, let’s call it, insubordination?

All I’m saying is, the situation is much more itsy-pitsy than anyone realizes. When you look from the Kremlin and you see, that despite all these statements, and they come fast and furious, the guys in charge—you know, if you read Daniel Ellsberg’s book on The Doomsday Machine, you’ll see that the executive authority to authorize nuclear weapons devolved into some of the smallest units you could ever imagine. I don’t know if it’s better now. But neither does Putin, and that’s the point: He’s got to be really careful.

SPEED: We may be dealing with one of that kind of Sterling Hayden/ Brig. Gen. Jack Ripper and Slim Pickens/Major “King” Kong! Let’s hope not! [referring to characters in Dr. Strangelove]

All right, lets again go the maps, but I want to have respond coming to the conclusion here. But let’s show three maps of NATO in 1990; this is 32 years ago, those were the NATO boundaries when the U.S. promised it would not expand one inch eastward from the German border. That was Secretary of State James Baker speaking to Gorbachev. All right, let’s go to the next one, NATO’s eastern boundary in 2019. Flip back to 1990 for a moment, and then 2019, so people can get the idea here. And then the third map is NATO in 2021, these are the proposed expanded NATO boundaries.

Let’s go to the final image, the larger map: This shows what is sometimes referred to as the “Eurasian Heartland,” but more importantly can assist everybody, having seen the map of Kazakhstan, having seen the map of NATO expansion, to get a sense of the entirety of what we’re talking about. There, you’re seeing the border between Russia and China, there in the east. This is what Biden was referring to. Of course, you see the border of Kazakhstan and Russia, which Ray just discussed a moment ago.

So, having shown these maps, here’s my question: How can people conquer the fragmented picture that is supplied by media and also supplied by bad education, to think about how these world leaders are required to think about strategic matters; what we are also talking about here as a higher security architecture, how would you approach that kind of thing? And how could we, as citizens think about this, or play a role in thinking about this in such a fashion as to call these people to account?

It’s a large question, but I wanted to put it out there, and let each of you give me a sense of it. Mike why don’t we start with you.

BILLINGTON: I agree, this is key. What Ray said a minute ago about the fact that the President doesn’t run things, is absolutely true. This was just as true with Trump as with Biden. Trump ordered the military to get out of Syria, and they told him to go to Hell. He said, we’re going to be friends with Russia, and they ran the Russiagate operation against him, and he basically capitulated. Same thing with China: He was friends with China, but then Pompeo and company made up the line about China gave us the coronavirus, and Trump needed somebody to blame or whatever reason. He clearly didn’t run things: he wanted to rebuild U.S. industry, but what did Wall Street do? They kept bailing out the banks. So he failed in everything he said he was going to do, which is why he was voted in by a population that was delighted to hear that we’re going to be friends with Russia, we’re going to rebuild the economy, we’re going to end these damned wars, we’re going to get out of the climate change hoax.

This is absolutely true with Biden. Is that reason to be demoralized? I must say, a lot of people I talk to feel demoralized for the reasons I was saying before: they think there’s no leader who can do anything. Well, in a sense that’s true. But I’ve talked about this before: LaRouche always emphasized the institution of the Presidency as more important than the President per se; that sometimes a President plays a crucial role in the institution of the Presidency, but, really, it’s the institution of those who are part of governing, including people in Congress, in the intelligence community, in the private sector, and individuals like Lyndon LaRouche, or Ray McGovern, who’s no longer official in a government agency. But, in other words, citizens who take responsibility for their nation and for the world: That really is the institution of the Presidency.

So what does that say to the American people? It says, it’s up to us! Like I said before, there’s a tremendous reason for optimism, in the midst of this descent into a dark age, that because it’s so damned serious, people are looking around for answers and for leadership. I’ve said, many times, when I first met Lyn in late 1971, he said people aren’t going to want to hear my warnings that Nixon’s pulling the dollar off gold and ending the Bretton Woods system is going to lead to depressions, and hyperinflation, and pandemics and wars. But when it happens, we’d better be there to lead, because people are going to look around for who was telling the truth, when everybody else was lying.

So this is a wonderful moment for the individual: I think it answers the question about the individual rights and the common good. You know, you have a horrible problem in America, where people think individual rights are the rights to be anarchistic, and say, “I refuse to do what I’m being told to do, because I’m American,” you know. Well, the importance of the individual is in their capacity to effect the Good. This is Platonism. This is the American Founding Fathers. And a moment like this, people have an opportunity to do the Good, which is to change the descent into Hell that the world is going through right now—the Western world in particular, and to act in a way that we make sure that this very interesting potential that’s emerged, that Ray and I discussed, coming out of this last week, that this does go in the right direction, that it does not collapse into Admiral Richard pushing the button. But that it’s going to depend, really, on us. You don’t get demoralized about the fact that Biden doesn’t run things: You take a good that he has put forward with Putin—largely because of Putin’s direction in this—but you take that as the basis on which, this is what we fight for; that’s what we fought for with Trump, that if he had succeeded in doing what he said he was going to do, he would have won the election with or without vote fraud. But he did.

And the same thing is true, here. We don’t just sit back and say, “Gee, I hope Biden can do it. We fight like hell to get the American people to understand that there is an opening here which is going to depend upon how the American people act, in conjunction especially with our friends in Russia and in China.”

SPEED: OK, fine. Ray?

MCGOVERN: Thanks, Mike. It’s been a pleasure to be one with you. I would my gloss on this, this way: things change. Maybe it’s an advantage being so old as I am, you see a lot of change. When I was working, as my first job at CIA as an analyst, it was to analyze the Sino-Soviet dispute, to convince people that the Chinese and the Soviets hated each other with a passion! And that we could take advantage of it. Now, I thought, and most of my colleagues thought that this would be forever the case, that they would hate each other from previous movies! They had irredenta, they had everything! And all of a sudden—not all of a sudden, actually; we watched it gradually dissipate, to the point where no two allies have been ever closer. And this is the reality.

So what am I saying? I’m saying that things change.

Now, I think we have to leave open the possibility, that people will change, too, and that there is a common enemy here. When the Chinese and the Soviets hated each other, the common enemy was the United States, but the United States took advantage of this. And now, the common enemy is twofold: climate change—I have ten grandchildren. I care about this!—climate change, and the pandemic. We have to do something about all that.

Now one has to allow for the fact that more progressive people, less bound to the MICIMATT, will eventually come to the fore and recognize that, you know, it’s over for all of us, if we don’t do something about climate change, and reining in pandemics. And then, then comes individual initiative, where people will come together, individually at first, but without fear and do what is necessary. I would finish with my favorite theologian, Annie Dillard, who said, “Who shall ascend to the mountain? Who shall do the work for us? There’s only us, there never has been any other.” So let’s put our nose to the grindstone. Thanks.

SPEED: And thank you, very much, Ray. I just want to say, also, at this point, this has been a particularly both stimulating and informative discussion. And it’s also important to say, and this explains why I’m saying this, that the opinions expressed here are not necessarily ones on which everybody agrees, and that’s exactly what we’re trying to do. Let me repeat that: It’s going to be important, in particularly a United States that has become so sclerotic, that you rarely get a forum in which people can discuss ideas, that people get used to the notion of changing their view and of thinking about matters from a different standpoint.

It’s fine—well, it’s not so fine, but it can be tolerable, when people find themselves in what they call “factional positions,” but really, actually, a lot of these are a product of advertising, the product of media. They’re not even opinions that people have formed. I’m saying that for anybody who is watching right now, and also in the future, this is exactly what we all are trying to pursue at this point in our nation. It’s important to get a platform, whereby we can not only talk about these things, but recognize that in the dispute comes wisdom.

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