Grayzone Interview with Max Blumenthal 523

This covers a lot of ground – Assange, Ellsberg, Skripal, Salmond, Taiwan and more. My highlight was getting to point out that China cannot “invade” Taiwan. Taiwan is Chinese and you cannot invade your own territory. Even Taiwan accepts it is part of China, it merely thinks its side of the Chinese Civil War should be running all of it.

On social media there have been very many comments on the poor sound quality. This is an interesting reflection on expectations.

I hear no more than mild distortion. A decade ago this would have been normal internet sound quality. And for those of us who used to strain to listen in Africa to shortwave transmissions of the test match commentary, or indeed to get Radio Luxembourg in Scotland before the BBC did “pop”, it is magnificent.


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523 thoughts on “Grayzone Interview with Max Blumenthal

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  • Jack

    Aaron Maté and Katie Halper interview Norman Finkelstein on Waffen SS scandal and Ukraine war itself, check it out:

    He is making a good point around 20 minutes timestamp: why did Zelensky hail/applaud the “veteran” after the “veteran” said he fought against the Russians in WW2 since the Ukrainians fighting the Russians in WW2 was mostly on the axis side?

    • AG

      its actually not funny but I do have to laugh every time when I listen to Finkelstein (in German there is a funny expression to “finkel”) –

      he says his parents who survived the Holocaust for real (his Dad went through 8! concentration camps – one could joke, I didn´t know it was that many) after the war were more afraid of Ukrainians than Germans. Thats at TC 34:00

      Check Out: TC 40:50:

      There is a clip from CANADIAN parliament with a motion to remove any record of the speaker of the House praising Hunka from visual or other parliamentary files. (I hope I caught that right).

      Let that sink in.

      Finkelstein of course reminds then of Stalin trying to rewrite history and erasing Trotsky from photographs.

      Ukraine goes from 12:00 – 44:00
      The rest is praise of Cornel West.

      p.s. as Finkelstein stresses how dilligently Cornel West must have read his footnotes and how important the footnotes by Rosa Luxemburg were – that does strike me as revealing about US scholarship today. Since any serious scholarship will most probably take place just there – footnotes are the real meat of your work. So that should just come as natural and standard, I would think.

      But as Jack says – watch it everyone!

  • JK redux

    An interesting and imo well-argued analysis of the background to the Russian invasion of Ukraine and of the present state of the war.

    Let one quote from the long article stand for many :

    “Putin framed Ukraine as a threat to Russia and claimed that Ukraine was planning to attack Russian-occupied territories and Russia in 2022.[26] In reality, the Kremlin assessed Ukraine’s military capabilities and will to fight to be so weak that Russian forces would overrun the country in a matter of days.[27] The notion that Ukraine posed any meaningful military threat to Russia is incompatible with the contempt shown for Ukrainian military power and will by the actual Russian invasion plan.[28] ”

    A point that is obvious but rarely made.

    The article is certainly not Russo phobic but is rightly scathing in its critique of the Putin regime.

    Highly recommended.

    • Shaun Onimus

      Hmm it seems you only reply in whataboutisms you POS, western shill. How about the whole canadian parliament + Zelensky saluting a Nazi war criminal? so you support the Nazis yourself? Why?

      • AG

        I don´t agree with JK redux on political analyses of the state of things. But I would suggest his posts or statements have nothing to do with saluting Nazis. Those things shouldn´t be mixed. Because the “other” side is doing exactly that. Or as I learned on this blog: “he plays the man not the ball” -?

        • zoot

          have you still not noticed that the ‘political analyses’ of these types is always whatever the establishment consensus is? on every issue. regardless how contradictory or insane it gets.

          the Ukraine war has turned the establishment and its online parrots into Nazi apologists all while warning about democratic erosion, racism and disinformation.

      • JK redux

        Shaun Ominous

        Your post seems a bit ott.

        If POS means what I think it means?

        And accusing me of being a Nazi supporter and a shill is unfair.

        I take it that you are an unbiased observer of world affairs?

    • Bayard

      “An interesting and imo well-argued analysis of the background to the Russian invasion of Ukraine and of the present state of the war.”

      But hardly unbiased: “We are committed to improving the nation’s ability to execute military operations and respond to emerging threats in order to achieve U.S. strategic objectives”.

      As Mandy Rice_Davies said, “They would say that, wouldn’t they?”.

      If I wanted to read bollocks from the US MIC, I’d have a proper gander at that website, but I’ve got better things to do, as have most people who comment on this blog.

        • J Arther Nast

          Hello John. Well, certainly not on an I.S.W. site. Surely only a very one-sided, or dare I say bigoted, person would take seriously this now very dated Putin’s an idiot line.
          I feel pretty sure that in Feb 2022 Russian intelligence knew that the Ukraine had a huge army, larger in size than the forces of Germany, France and the UK combined. I am also confident that they were aware that the UA army was NATO trained and equipped with large amounts of good quality weapons.
          Whether the early move on Kiev was over-optimistic, or a fixing tactic to ensure the Crimea corridor, remains open.
          In up-to-date news the age of UA soldier is now over 40 and conscription of youngsters is being considered.

        • Bayard

          JK, Not here, not anywhere. Sorry to say, but you have to use your brain and judge to what extent a source is biased. Gone are the days, if they ever existed, when you could say, “X said it, so it must be true”. As a general rule, sources that only say good things about people and things of which they approve and bad things about people and things of which they disapprove are biased. When they do criticise their friends and compliment their enemies, they are more likely to be truthful. Sources that urge you to believe six unlikely things before breakfast, are nearly always biased, too. Probability is a useful guide. Improbable things do happen, but not all the time. When sources from both sides agree on something, like the position of the front line in the Ukraine War, they are probably telling the truth.

        • Tatyana

          Of course here! Because such independent, unbiased commentators sometimes drop by here!
          It’s just that when they recommend materials or opinions, some unfortunate circumstances prevent them from writing details, for example:
          “I offer you a source: the Institute for the Study of War, which is run by Victoria Nuland’s family.”
          “I know that Russian media are banned here, and people do not speak Russian to follow the news on their own. But look at the selection that the Ukrainian Julia Davis compiled for you”

          And, if someone might suspect such a contributor of supporting Nazism, then such a contributor will not say directly:
          “I do not support Nazism.”
          Instead, such a contributor may say evasively:
          “Your accusations are unfair”
          and this has its own logic, because one can argue that this is not support; that this is not Nazism; that this Nazism is not Ukrainian; that Nazism is not a pressing issue now; and so on, according to the list of usual ‘What about-s’

          Well, in the end, such contributors can simply write under a different nickname this time, because other discussion participants may have the habit of bookmarking and catching someone lying.

          Now, JK redux, you can ask whether this was directed at you 🙂

          • JK redux


            Very droll.

            For the avoidance of doubt, I loathe and despise Nazism.

            I also loathe and despise authoritarian populist nationalism.

            In all its manifestations.

            One of which is the current regime in Russia.

            Led by a former KGB officer.

            Which imprisons its political opponents, assassinates their leaders, conscripts the children of the State into quasi-military Pioneer groups – the better to propagandize them, controls the mass media and of course engages in unprovoked wars of aggression against its neighbours.

            Of course the real Nazis, of which the Putin regime is just a very pale reflection, attempted to eliminate whole racial and ethnic groups (e.g. Jews and Gypsies) and attempted to reduce Slavs and other ethnic groups to serfdom.

            None of which the Putin regime has attempted. I doubt if it will, as it is an authoritarian populist nationalist regime, not a Nazi one.

            But it would be good if its supporters here acknowledged its faults and those of the Stalin regime that is its true inspiration rather than harping on the singular evil of National Socialism.

            I look forward to your comments.

          • Reza

            “For the avoidance of doubt, I loathe and despise Nazism” *

            (* Except those that actually exist like Azov).

          • Reza

            Trump is a Nazi.
            Brexit voters are Nazis.
            Anti-Vaxxers are Nazis.
            Putin is a Nazi.
            Corbyn is a Nazi.
            Canadian truckers are Nazis.
            Your mum is a Nazi.

            You know who aren’t Nazis?

            The Azov Batallion and the Waffen SS.

            That’s actually a little more complicated.

          • Tatyana

            Mods, may I substitute ‘tiny idiotic brain’ with ‘nutters and trolls’ ? 🙂 I believe the latter is rather diplomatic

            [ Mod: Kindly follow the maxim: “Play the ball, not the man.” ]

          • Jack

            Oh come on, give me a friggin break!

            Politico’s veteran russiophobe Keir Gilles – ‘SS nazis must be looked upon more nuanced’

            I have no words for the sickness going on. But should one be even surprised? This is after all the same folks that would support nazi germany in the 30s-40s.

            Note that all Waffen SS soldiers in Ukraine were volunteers. No one forced them to enlist.

          • Bayard

            “I also loathe and despise authoritarian populist nationalism.”

            Perhaps you can explain the difference between populism, which is doing what the people want and democracy, which is supposed to be doing what the people want. Is it that with democracy, the people very rarely get what they want? If so, why is that a good thing?
            While you are about it, perhaps you could also ponder the difference between nationalism, which is being proud of one’s country and patriotism, which is, er, being proud of one’s country.
            I very much get the impression that people that one approves of are patriotic democrats and people that one disapproves of are nationalist populists, a bit like those occupations that have names that differ according to the sex of the person doing them.

    • AG

      JK redux

      I will try and read the ISW thing when I find the time but its a lengthy motherfucker of a text, considering that several of the footnotes lead to additional ISW texts which are at least as long.

      * * *
      re: Fred Kagan. He is nuts.

      Read Kagan´s texts in the Bible of D.C., FOREIGN AFFAIRS, and you will know.

      You could consider him Henry Kissinger’s younger brother. Only difference, Kagan has no executive powers, but the mindset is identical.

      You will then understand why Chris Hedges hates Kagan and his kind of people.
      There are no proof or valid judgements of this particular ISW text recommended by you.

      But for the sake to start somewhere:

      1) Chris Hedges about the Kagan Clan

      “The Pimps of War
      The coterie of neocons and liberal interventionists who orchestrated two decades of military fiascos in the Middle East and who have never been held to account are now stoking a war with Russia.”

      Hedges worked as a war reporter with PTS since and has experienced himself the tribulations, destruction and suffering caused by Kagan’s suggested policies lobbied for by him and his acolytes and realized by his governments. Millions died or were maimed because of the work accomplished by Kagan and his work friends.

      2) Hedges on NATO expansion:

      “Chronicle of a War Foretold – After the fall of the Soviet Union, there was a near universal understanding among political leaders that NATO expansion would be a foolish provocation against Russia. How naive we were to think the military-industrial complex would allow such sanity to prevail.”

      3) By the noteworthy military blogger Simplicius (on some political issues I disagree with that blog, but that’s a different topic) – a text on biased reporting by ISW and the West:

      “Victoria’s ISW Secret
      The MSM gets its war analysis from the sister-in-law of the woman who made the war inevitable.”

      4) Less substance but he points out a few things:
      Robert Wright for Responsible Statecraft:

      “A case study in American propaganda
      What is the Institute for the Study of War? And why do America’s elite media outlets trust it for all of their on-the-ground Ukraine information?”

      5) By coincidence Alex Mercouris just last night started his daily report from UKR with a a few phrases on ISW:

      just the first few minutes:

      The ISW report was co-authored by Nataliya Bugayova
      from her CV:

      “Prior to ISW, she worked on reform efforts in Ukraine in a number of roles. Nataliya was the Chief Executive Officer of the Kyiv Post, then Ukraine’s only independent English-language publication. She also served as the adviser to former Ukrainian Economy Minister Pavlo Sheremeta, appointed after the pro-democracy Euromaidan Revolution in February 2014.

      Nataliya holds a Master’s in Public Policy from Harvard University’s Kennedy School, where she was a student fellow at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs.”

      THIS CV is biased with a vengeance. You would expect a little deviation at some point. But there is none. And since the entire staff of ISW is from the same breed where should some serious scholarly analysis come from which does not conform with the interests of the US MIC?

      p.s. what does it mean if you suggest Putin is a former KGB officer?
      Did it ever matter to the Western public that Churchill had more blood on his hands as a former army man than Putin could ever have as KGB in-the-field?
      Did it ever matter that later POTUS George Bush Snr. was not just secret agent but in fact director of the adversary of the KGB, CIA?
      Did it ever matter that French presidents like Francois Mitterand were (are most likely still) operating with off-the record assassination programs?
      Would it matter if a former MI-6 director or officer became PM in Britain?

      British historian Richard Sakwa suggested that for many years of his presidencies Putin was in fact considered too soft, too cautious, led not by some clear vision which he would relentlessly follow but much more the opposite, led by the notion to: #1 not make mistakes (that administrative KGB attitude is rather typical for state officials anywhere in the world); #2 try to balance the warring factions in RU in the early 2000s.

      Stephen Cohen’s scholarship would be another recommended source on this subject: RU, Putin, history.

      p.p.s. If I type the letters “ISW” in google search, the very first result is ISW’s site. I find that unsettling. After all, it’s a site dedicated to the “Study of War”.

      • AG

        my typos, darn:
        What I meant:

        As to my links to Hedges: “THEY are no proof/disproof or valid judgement” regarding your ISW text.

  • Jack

    More recklessness from the west:

    German FM: “[The EU] will soon stretch from Lisbon to Lugansk,”

    …to the UK that spread the idea of sending some types of troops to Ukraine to the psychopathic idea of urging Ukraine to make use of more young conscripts

    When the invasion started I thought ‘Ok, this warmongering/hysteria is will be going on for a while, then the west will become normal’, but I was wrong, the west are as clueless, reckless, warmongering about the war as they were in the beginning of the invasion.
    But they will face reality of things sooner or later because the money and public interest will inevitably not last forever.

    • AG

      For the moment its seems Scholz has stopped Taurus cruise missile dlivery.

      Its amazing how a square little party of opportunistic right-wingers like the German AfD can scare the hell out of a government if polls are bad.

  • J Arther Nast

    John – So not a fan of Russia.
    Care to tell us what you think about the USA, a country owned by oligarchs that poses as a democracy?
    A country with a rap sheet for military aggression and murderous interventions as long as your arm.

    • JK redux

      J Arther Nast

      I have one (only one) Russian friend (male) and several Russian work colleagues, male and female.

      The males conform to the stereotype of Russian males. My female colleague is charming and intelligent.

      Maybe I just prefer women to men… I know such statements are now discouraged.. 🙂

      To be serious, I am not a fan of any country though I confess to liking French culture.

      I like some Russian people and dislike others…

      • Pigeon English

        I also prefer English or Danish women than Danish or English man or any other man. I have some Danish and some English friends and the rest are stereotypical!!!!! My own people I dislike are as you say stereotypical xyz! BTW you English are perceived (stereotypical) as drunk and disorderly, and I have to defend you. 🙂

        • Pigeon English

          Of course I joke if they are sure it’s English or Welsh or Scottish or Irish or American or Australian. I stopped that questioning 🙂.
          Who are Russians or Muslims or Black people?
          On this blog Scots would be offended being addressed as English, and yet we/I am addressed as East European and others as Muslims and Black community. I better stop!
          I have one minute to edit.
          Most of English are stereotypical.

          • Pigeon English

            And I Love (ed) it. I don’t think we would be a friends talking/arguing politics in a Pub.

  • AG

    As to partisanship and war analysis:

    Washington Post with a new piece stating that 80% of all retired US 4 star generals work for the defense industry.
    Which eventually compromises virtually any such individual commenting on warfare and geopolitics in the public.

    “Over 80 percent of four-star retirees are employed in defense industry
    The findings underscore the close relationship between the U.S. defense sector and its top military brass, a trend that has drawn scrutiny in Congress”
    by Missy Ryan


    “Twenty-six of 32 four-star admirals and generals who retired from June 2018 to July 2023 were later employed in roles including executive, adviser, board member or lobbyist for companies with significant defense business, according to the analysis from the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, a think tank that advocates restraining the military’s role in U.S. foreign policy.
    “The revolving door between the U.S. government and the arms industry, which involves hundreds of senior Pentagon officials and military officers every year, generates the appearance — and in some cases the reality — of conflicts of interest in the making of defense policy and in the shaping of the size and composition of the Pentagon budget,” authors William Hartung and Dillon Fisher wrote in the report, a copy of which was obtained by The Washington Post before its publication.”

    “The findings shed new light on a phenomenon examined in a 2021 report from the Government Accountability Office, which found that 14 major defense contractors, mostly weapons companies, employed 1,700 former senior officials or acquisition officials in 2019.”

    “A separate pattern was documented in a 2022 Washington Post investigation that explored the lucrative business deals hundreds of former military officers have conducted with foreign governments.
    While former Pentagon officials face some restrictions on post-government employment, they are not prohibited from working for weapons or defense companies.”

  • Greg Park

    Landmark day in Russia as people remember the West’s support for freedom and democracy in their country.

    Ashfin Rattansi of RT writes,

    “Russians are remembering 30 years since Black September, where the West’s darling in the Kremlin Boris Yeltsin attacked pro-Soviet demonstrators, which led to the deaths of 147 people, and the wounding of 437.

    The attacks culminated in Yeltsin ordering an attack on Russia’s parliament building, consisting of the Congress of People’s Deputies and Supreme Soviet. The Parliament and the protesters were opposed to Yeltsin’s disastrous capitalist ‘shock therapy’ reforms which had led to wholesale privatisation of the country’s assets and impoverishment of millions. The US & Western European countries supported and incentivised the shock therapy programme with political support for Yeltsin and promises of aid and loans.

    In 1987-1988, around 2% of the Russian population lived in poverty. After the USSR collapsed and Yeltsin imposed his disastrous economic policies, by 1993-1995, 50% of Russians had fallen into poverty. Under Soviet times, the top 1% of the country had no more than 6% of the national income share. Under Yeltsin’s reforms, the top 1%’s share of the national income exploded to above 24%.

    As Yeltsin killed protesters and bombed the Russian parliament, all the Western pretences of ‘supporting democracy and freedom’ went out of the window, with Yeltsin receiving total support from Western leaders. Yeltsin’s political victory would lead to even further impoverishment of the Russian people, and more wholesale privatisation of Russia’s most prized industries, creating oligarchic capitalism off of the suffering of millions of Russians.”

  • Ebenezer Scroggie

    It’s good that Craig has brought the absurdity of the official tale of the Skripal thing to the attention of the American public via Blumenthal.

    I don’t know what the truth is, although I have a vague theory. What I do know is that there never was a Russian attempt to snuff Mr Skripal with “military grade nerve agent”.

    There are two reasons why I do not believe there was such a plot.

    Firstly, there is the fact that Skripal was in a Russian prison for eight years. If the Russian government, or even rogue elements thereof, wanted to bump him off it would have been trivially simple to arrange for him to fall out of a top floor window or down the stairs or for him to be stabbed by a fellow prisoner or to apparently commit suicide by hanging himself with a bedsheet.

    Secondly, the prisoner swap scheme has been going for well over seven decades, to the mutual benefit of both sides which is why it continues to exist. If either side were to assassinate a released prisoner then the arrangement would instantly collapse. That’s not in anybody’s interest. That’s why it doesn’t happen.

    As Craig pointed out to Blumenthal, the official HMG narrative is absurd in the extreme.

    We’re invited to believe that one or two Russian superspies walked up to Mr Skripal’s front door in broad daylight, when he was probably in his front room with the curtains open, and applied a highly lethal nerve agent to the door handle. We are expected to believe that Mr Skripal and his daughter were both infected with the substance and that were able to visit the grave of a very close relative (his son, her brother) and then went for a walk in the park where they fed bread to ducks. A little boy asked to help feed the ducks. The laddie even ate a bit of the bread. Neither the ducks nor the boy fell ill. Neither did the Italian theme restaurant manager who shook hands with Mr Skripal who was a regular customer.

    We are expected to believe that suddenly the two Skripals, of completely different body mass index and age and gender, went into a coma simultaneously, several hours after having both been infected with a supposedly lethal “military grade” nerve agent.

    A passer-by, who happened to be a nurse, administered first aid and initiated hospitalisation of the two Skripals. That bit is quite credible. Something of the order of 1% of females of working age have nursing experience. What they, the HMG story tellers, did not tell us at the time was this was not some random ‘ordinary’ nurse. This turned out, months later, to have been the Chief Nurse of the entire British Army, based at or close to Porton Down (the Brit equivalent of Fort Detrick). A Colonel who had been decorated at Number Ten Downing Street.

    There was no murder plot, I’m quite sure of that.

    So, what really happened?

    My own wacky theory has no substantiated evidence, but here it is:

    We know that Mr Skripal wanted to go home to his Rodina before his aged and ailing mother passed away. Russia has changed immeasurably since he betrayed his country in the bad old days of the Soviet crap.

    For him to ‘undefect’ (I don’t know what the correct term is, as it is such a rare event) would have been catastrophic for the UK security services for at least two reasons.

    Firstly, it would have been a massive propaganda coup for Russia.

    Secondly, and even more importantly, it would have been a massive trawl of immensely valuable Int for the Russians. Skripal had been lecturing to numerous British and American Int agencies’s training schools, such as Fort Monckton, on the structure and methodology of the GRU. He would have known who was who in all of those agencies in his audiences, including clandestine officers. Furthermore, his lectures were certain to have a Q&A at the end. He would thus have learned not only what his audiences knew, but also what they didn’t know. That sort of information is gold dust to any opposing intelligence service.

    The management levels of the security services of UKUSA would have shat bricks when they learned that Skripal was considering skipping the UK.

    There would have been a cry of “Something must be done” through the corridors of power in the riverside Vauxhall building and elsewhere in the Security Establishments of at least two of the Five Eyes countries.

    I don’t believe that the two GRU guys had any intention of killing Mr Skripal. I think they were here to facilitate his re-defection (or whatever the word is). Couriers, perhaps bringing him a false passport and other travel documents and information and perhaps to stiffen his resolve if he were to be wavering.

    It is notable that the initial diagnosis in the A&E at the local hospital was that Mr and Miss Skripal were suffering the effects of a Fentanyl overdose. The patients were treated as such and the treatment worked. They both fully recovered. I’ve no idea whether the treatment for Fentanyl toxicity is co-incidentally exactly the same as that for Novochok, but in my ignorance of such specialised medical matters I rather doubt it.

    His suspectedly intended inverse defection has been very effectively circumvented forever and the bollocks about nerve agent Novochok has been swallowed, hook line and sinker, by the MSM news outlets who unquestioningly parrot the official story, just as they did with the PA103 (Lockerbie) bollocks about Libya, and not Iran and the PFLP-GC, being the true culprits who avenged the US bombing of IR655 by USS Vincennes.

    We, the general public in the UK and USA, have been hoaxed. Not for the first or last time, but well and truly hoaxed.

    Shock Horror: our governments lie to us, routinely and repeatedly. Who’da thunk it?

  • R.A.

    Of course Craig, I am always grateful for the opportunity to hear your thoughts, regardless of sound quality issues. But….

    Poor sound quality contributes greatly to listener fatigue, especially over an hour long session. Something went wrong here, which is unfortunate — on your end it sounds like a microphone has been placed in front of a tinny little loudspeaker, with a most unpleasant effect. This is not only an internet artifact — even a decade ago it was possible to do much better over the internet. (And yes, old time shortwave and other such sources could be really terrible.) This is one of the hazards of recording people in hotel rooms, offices and other venues that were never intended for good sound quality, using whatever phones or computers are available, over whatever Wi-Fi connection happens to be available. Sometimes it sounds pretty good … and sometimes we end up with crappy sound. Ah, well…..

  • TFS

    1. The attack happened in/around a Chemical Warfare game.
    2. The alleged chemical has never been presented to Russia, which I believe it required under International Law (OPCW).
    3. Prior to the attack Russia entered into a agreement with OPCW to clear down remnants of its chemical weapons program.
    4. Prior to the attack the OPCW/Russia announced the clear-down had been completed (8 months prior to the attack)
    5. Russia was aware of or the bio-weapons labs in Ukraine.

    6 The death of Dawn, I believe the cops raided her house the day before her death for drugs?

    Cui Bono

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