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Ukraine Reveals the True Nature of the U.S. Political Divide—And It's Not "Right vs Left"
In the gaming community, the acronym NPC stands for “Non Playable Character,” and refers to the AI-controlled “people” you encounter in the game. They’re designed to look real as they move in the background, and sometimes you can interact with them—although this tends to reveal them as NPCs due to their limited vocabulary.
But the term NPC is also used to describe people in real life. It is essentially a digitally inspired way of calling someone a conformist. Thus, the NPC is someone who does not think for himself, is unoriginal, and always goes with the flow. He thinks what society wants him to think, likes what society wants him to like, and never questions any of it. In short, he is an automaton that buys stuff. And he can vote.
So, what does any of this have to do with Ukraine and the possibility of Russia invading it? To answer that, let’s turn to CNN.
On Sunday, February 6, CNN’s website ran the following headline: “New satellite images show advanced Russian military deployments in Belarus.”
So far so good. That’s a nice, vaguely menacing headline.
The article then displays a handful of satellite images purportedly showing Russian troop deployments in Belarus near the Ukrainian border. Here is an example:
If you look closely, you’ll find rows of tiny dots. Those dots, according to CNN, are “tanks, howitzers and infantry fighting vehicles.” And guess what? I actually believe CNN. Those dots are very likely tanks, howitzers and infantry fighting vehicles.
But here’s the thing: how the hell did CNN get these pictures and how the hell did Tim Lister—the online content producer who wrote the article—know what the hell he was looking at once he got them? CNN never explains this.
So, the first clue is in the upper right corner of the photo. There, you’ll see a small watermark which says, “Maxar.”
Maxar Technologies is an American geospatial intelligence company that specializes in manufacturing spy satellites, as well as providing imagery and analysis. As a result, the company has multiple contracts with the Department of Defense and the Intelligence Community.
So now the question becomes, why did Maxar give these photos—as well as the analysis explaining what they depicted—to CNN?
Well, they didn’t. They gave them to Reuters—one of the two primary wire services in the United States. (The other is the Associated Press.) This is how most news stories begin. Cable outlets like CNN and Fox News rely on Reuters and AP for roughly 99.999% of the “reporting” they broadcast on air. That’s why you occasionally see videos on YouTube showing dozens of news anchors at different stations using the exact same wording for a particular story. This isn’t because of a grand conspiracy, it’s because of lazy “output producers”—the guys who write the scripts for the teleprompters—who simply copy & paste the wire article without bothering to rewrite it.
But the true genesis of most stories begins with someone—usually the government or a large company—sending a press release to Reuters or AP. These press releases often contain what is called a “handout.” This is a booklet of information prepared by whoever sent the press release—in this case, Maxar Technologies—and it provides all the relevant information for the “story,” including a flash drive with appropriate video or image files. The next thing to happen is that a “reporter” at Reuters will transform the handout into something that reads more like a news story. His editor will okay it, and then the story goes out to clients like CNN. Once at CNN, a producer will download the images and rewrite the wire copy to make it appear as though CNN discovered all this information itself.
Nevertheless, the question remains: Why did Maxar send these satellite images to Reuters, knowing that Reuters would then send them to Everyone Else?
Well, I’m just guessing here, but given Maxar’s ties to the Pentagon, it seems likely it was acting as a low-level proxy for the Defense Department, which wanted Americans to see more scary Russian troop deployments threatening our sacred, democratic ally, Ukraine. Obviously, this story alone isn’t worth much, but it is clearly part of a larger media campaign.
That brings us to the crux of this article. You may have noticed that like everything else, from vaccines to pronouns, the issue of U.S. intervention in Ukraine has become intensely partisan. Liberals are demanding a tougher stance against their favorite, racially appropriate boogeyman, President Vladimir Putin, while conservatives are loudly wondering, “who gives a shit about Ukraine?”
However, “liberal” does not necessarily mean Democrat, and “conservative” does not necessarily mean Republican. For example, plenty of prominent Republicans, including Mitch McConnell and Dan Crenshaw, have voiced support for playing hardball with Russia. Meanwhile, Fox News host Tucker Carlson is so intensely against the U.S. getting involved with Russia and Ukraine, that he actually managed to ask one of his guests, “We don’t have a military force designed to keep Italy from increasing its influence in the world, so why would we care if Russia increases its influence in Europe?” It is important to note that Carlson asked that question as if he had stumbled upon some simple and obvious truth. Yet if the man cannot see the geopolitical difference—to say nothing of all the nukes—between Russia and Italy, then perhaps this is not his best subject.
But that is not to criticize Carlson in any way, because at least he is questioning what’s happening. Unlike his peers at CNN or MSNBC, Carlson is not just following the script provided by the DoD and the CIA and God knows who else. He is looking at something that doesn’t make sense, and is asking, “Why?” That is what a journalist does. A journalist is always skeptical of power, and he is never friends with it. And while Carlson undoubtedly has many powerful friends, his instinct to ask real questions is right on the money.
Why the hell is the United States of America butting heads with Russia over Ukraine? Why does the U.S. care enough about the fate of Kiev to risk confrontation with a fellow nuclear power? Why is Moscow moving so many troops outside Ukraine’s borders? Why would they take such a huge risk in confronting NATO? And why does NATO have thirty countries in it, extending right to the border of Russia, even though the Cold War ended thirty years ago?
In short, what the hell is going on?
America today is divided into two groups. One of them asks that very question. It asks, “What the hell is going on?”
The other group does not. The other group trusts what it reads, goes with the flow and doesn’t question authority. They are, as you might have guessed, Non Playable Characters. They don’t think for themselves, and they do what they’re told.
That is the true division in American politics. It isn’t liberals vs conservatives. There are plenty of liberals shouting what the hell is going on, and there are plenty of conservatives shouting what the hell is going on, and there are plenty of both who are not.
Yet I would argue that the soul of America is not that of an NPC. The American soul does not like being told what to do. It doesn’t like authority and it doesn’t like bullshit. If it asks you a question, you better give it a straight answer, or God help you.
So now, not as some asshole writing on Substack, but as an American citizen, I’m asking the question. I’m asking, “What the hell is going on?”
Yet I know perfectly well that until enough of you join me, and ask that question as loudly as humanly possible, then none of us will ever, ever get an answer.
So join me.
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