1. square coats

    I thought this was a fantastic conversation! Yves, I think if you ever felt like it you could do a great podcast (not a request! just an observation). I was thinking particularly during the parts when Gonzalo’s connection got lost, you had a lovely and like engagingly educational way about what you were saying.

    1. Valerie in Australia

      Yves, I totally agree. In fact, I wish (if I may be so bold to suggest) that you would have a link on your blog for interviews you have done – and hopefully will do – podcast or face to face. I often look for interviews with you and get thrown back to old Bill Moyers interviews. Would love – and I dare say, your readership would also love – links to all the interviews you have done in the last year (or two). Many thanks,

  2. Expat2Uruguay

    Enjoyed hearing you chat in real time! Good job carrying on During the sirens, which were pretty loud at the end!!

    I have to go back and listen to the first 40 minutes, but I didn’t hear any discussion about the new Chinese party paper “US Hegemony and its Perils” Do you basically just think that this document is not terribly significant right now? Or are you still reviewing it?

    I am quite curious about any thoughts you have about this…. un beso!

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      I must confess to not yet having looked at it. I had my eyes out for the China peace plan, which turned out to be a big fat platitudinous nothingburger. Gonzola as indicated did talk about the document you flagged: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mj7mauNj8DY

      From what I infer, it is a hefty integrated critique of why the US is unfit to lead even a tricycle parade. However, it also sounds as if it included many criticisms China has levied before, at least per what I have seen on Global Times: high incarceration rates, crime and gun violence, homelessness, falling lifespans, opioid crisis….

        1. Susan the other

          I think that pretty much covers it. Thanks for the link. The Chinese know how to clear the air, No? They owe a debt to Putin who clobbered us in 2007 at Davos (or Munich?) for our arrogance. I look at it through the neoliberal lens because we are prisoners in our own system and we are so strung out trying to maintain it we can’t make good decisions. we really can’t keep up the profiteering at the expense of the rest of the planet. I’m sure part of our existential anxiety is that we think profiteering is the only game and if we are not the biggest player somebody else surely will be… like China. We need a new economics based on environmental rights. Good place to start over for everyone.

  3. The Rev Kev

    A very enjoyable, wide ranging conversation between two very smart individuals. It is like a breath of fresh air when compared to the majority of talk shows featuring the latest village idiots. Just thought that when Gonzalo dropped out a coupla times, in future it might be best to have an agreement with one on one interviews that if this happens to either person, to have a mutually understood plan in place as what to do such as an agreement to send a message or if one does not arrive within a space of a few minutes, to assume that the other person has lost their internet connection. Anyway, I think that I am going to have to listen to this talk a second time.

  4. KD

    I disagree about Nuland. Neocons always fail upward. If/when Ukraine efforts go South, Neocons are going to take the tack that the Ukraine war failed because the Americans weren’t tough enough. Nuland coming out with more maximalist positions contra Biden is signaling, so she is out in front of things when the walls collapse.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Nuland cannot go “upward”. She will not become Secretary of State. Sullivan has far too long a history with Biden for her to replace him as National Security Adviser. As I said, if no one affirms her assertion that Crimea must be demilitarized, that’s a sign her influence on policy is falling.

      It is very much unlike Blinken to have walked back the former US position on Crimea. I therefore assume he finally got the memo from the Pentagon that retaking Crimea is simply impossible and continuing to talk about it will make the Collective West look even more impotent. They are hoping to rely on Americans having the memories of goldfish.

      In other words, Blinken has finally come around to limited Western military capability necessitating managing public (and Ukraine) expectations down. Nuland being off message is damaging to the Administration. She might hope to enlist Biden but recall the White House has repeatedly walked back things Biden has said that were unduly belligerent. So this bears close watching.

      Nuland does not even have the stature to get a big book deal. She could get a board seat or two but that’s the golden handshake for generals. Not very special. Her price for speaking gigs would diminish rapidly a year or two out of office.

      Boris Johnson has not failed upward. He is flailing about for a new post. He won’t get head of NATO, that is going to the horrible Chrystia Freeland. And NATO would arguably not be failing upward since NATO is on its last legs. As Douglas Macgregor has pointed out, if Poland gets aggressive, that will be the end of NATO, even though it would take time for that to play out. The rest of NATO ex the US and the UK will not support Poland adventurism and they are the ones on the Continent who have the most skin in the game.

      NATO is going to be severely diminished regardless given that it has admitted if the war continues through the summer that its weapons stocks will be drained. So what happens when it’s reduced to observer status as Russia continues to prosecute the war? And the standing of Nuland and her cronies?

      1. KD

        I think you are discounting the rhizomatic root structure by which they propagate. Nuland would have a lovely berth in the Harris/Mayor Pete Administration.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          There won’t be one. Harris won’t get the nomination and neither will Mayo Pete. He’s past his sell by date thanks to the Palestine chemical bomb train.

          The Dems’ best hope is Gavin Newsom. He will favor the California rather than DC mafia. Incoming presidents typically value loyalty. Biden shows that to an extreme degree with his elevation of the very unqualified Blinken and Sullivan. Obama let Hillary become SecState to keep an enemy close, and he was able to contain her albeit with some effort (ex her continuing to fundraise for the Clinton Foundation from her office)

          I am not up on who has foreign policy chops on the left coast, but they will be preferred. Nuland is a Clinton crony and that won’t be as valued by the Newsom contingent as it is with DC types.

          1. Anony

            Newsom is practically a member of the Getty family. Their business interests will determine his foreign policy agenda. As for style and influences, I would look to Rishi Sunak for clues. They have a similar dynamic with a regionally significant billionaire family with global business interests and even looks somewhat similar. Plus Sunak has very strong CA connections through his wife (SBS plus the infamously West Coast conservative Claremont McKenna College) and his time at SBS.

      2. flora

        Nuland and Harris and Hills herself were never going to be allowed to become anything other than high level subordinates or middle managers, so to say. They’re good for pushing programs the higher ups want and for taking the heat if things go badly. You could call it a glass ceiling for women except plenty of men are used for the same role. / my two cents

      3. TimmyB

        Nuland (aka Mrs. Robert Kagan) may have reached her expiration date, but the neocon philosophy she embodies will go on.

        Ron Paul here lays out her sordid history.

  5. Mark Gisleson

    Thank you for your recommendation of Janine R. Wedel’s “Shadow Elite: How the World’s New Power Brokers Undermine Democracy, Government, and the Free Market.” Looking forward to reading this one.

    My search for it also pulled up Jeff Sharlet’s great book on The Family whose full title seems to pay tribute to Wedel: “The Family: Power, Politics and Fundamentalism’s Shadow Elite.”

  6. Anony

    I thought it was a very good conversation, though the early comments I scrolled through were uniformly woman-hating and COVID denying.

    Not even citing to any counter evidence but just an article of faith that masking does not work. If they’re actually reflective of Lira’s audience, then this is not an audience that can be won over.

    I share Ritter’s skepticism about Lira. He’s talks a good talk but his stay in Kharkiv is spooktacular.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Ritter and Lira are engaged in personal mudslinging that it would behoove both of them to stop. The idea that Lira in Kharkiv spouting strongly anti-globalist, anti-NATO, anti-Ukraine-win positions as a collective West intel asset is ridiculous. Ritter is blinded with Lira hatred if he’s actually convinced himself of that.

      1. Insouciant Iowan

        I’ve listen to Lira several times, both before and after he was hauled by the Ukrainians. He resembles nothing so much as a blathering rich kid whose assertions he feels assured will not be challenged, and if challenged dismissed as he goes on to his next verbal barrage. You are altogether too indulgent of him. Your views are clearly and succinctly stated. Thanks for that.

    2. The Rev Kev

      ‘his stay in Kharkiv is spooktacular’

      Not really. Happens all the time when a war breaks out. One example off the top off my head was the case of Christine Knauth Arndt. Also, some guys that were basically American were caught up in Germany when war broke out and ended up serving in the Wehrmacht. There must have been scores if not hundreds of American alone that were caught up in Germany in December of 1941-


      1. Not Qualified to Comment

        Americans in still in Germany, just like Japanese in the US when the war came to America in 1941, automatically became enemy aliens subject to internment or worse. Lira is an American who could leave Kharkiv, and Ukraine, any time he wants. That he has elected to stay in what may well become a war-zone is either heroic, foolish or a noble commitment to what he sees as a greater cause – telling it as it is with the credentials of being where it is.

        1. The Rev Kev

          Lira may have been born in Burbank, California but he is actually a Chilean and identifies as such. In a video a while ago he said that he will be deliberately avoid traveling to the US or the EU for that matter.

        2. hk

          Not always: there were a lot of odd cases, especially American children of immigrants from those countries and women with spouses who were nationals of the other country. As noted above, there were Japanese Americans who were caught in Japan in 1941 who wound up being drafted into Japanese military. Of course, there is the fascinating story of Mrs Alice Kurusu (nee Little), the American wife of a senior Japanese diplomat.

    3. Bosko

      I follow the work put out by a dozen or two anti- proxy war people online, names that people on this board will be familiar with, and it does surprise me how a seemingly unrelated constellation of issues often travel together with many of these people. It doesn’t bother me if I agree with people on one thing but not on another. There is definitely a lot of that going on with vaccines, masks, etc. I am also sometimes a little shocked to hear the non-US people express the view that Trump had the last election stolen from him (from vote-counting shenanigans rather than media manipulation), which is a relatively fringe view here in the US.

    4. Anony

      I am not questioning why Lira ended up in Kharkiv at the start of the war, not a great idea for his personal safety but it seems a natural move to make since he knew the area well and sometimes people just get wacky ideas into their heads.

      I’m questioning how he is able to stay in Kharkiv after he was picked up by the SBU. They could easily deport him, lock him up, or disappeared him. That could kick up a small fuss but given that they assassinated numerous officials, dropped petal mines in Donbas, etc. with barely any public notice, I’m guessing it would have been brushed aside quickly. They could also just lock him out of Western social media.

      My suspicion is that Lira is at best an unwilling pawn for the SBU and Western intelligence services, who uses him to monitor Western dissenters. They may use him to subtly provoke unwise actions, feed misinformation, get damaging information about his contacts, or discredit his contacts through their association with him. The West and especially the US has form in this going back to Operation Gladio and up to infiltration of the Proud Boys. Sure, this risk exists everywhere outside of the Overton window of acceptable Western opinions (including what Hersh and Chomsky say and do not say about the US government), but this risk seems particularly elevated given Lira’s current precarious position.

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        Sorry, that is ludicrous. Lira was and is on the Myrotvorets kill list. He is no longer able to monetize his work, which would be the best way to monitor any “followers”. The SBU has no ability to “monitor” Telegram, YouTube, or Rokefin viewers.

        When Lira disappeared, a number of people called the US and Chilean embassy about him. That is what likely lead to the decision to let him off with a slap on the wrist. If they had an interest in his personal contacts, they got that when they seized his devices. There’s virtually no incremental value in letting him rebuild his audience.

        The Proud Boys “infiltration” was through human beings participating in person in Proud Boys gatherings. Gladio was not infiltration but a stand alone group. Both were to get perceived-to-be-violent operatives. There’s no violence-threatening group lurking around and the SBU has no ability to get warrants to surveil information outside Ukraine. On top of that, pray tell the basis for getting a warrant in the US, or the EU, which has extremely strict data privacy laws?

        People like Larry Johnson and Michael Valhos, both very long ago CIA staffers who are now members of the opposition, have appeared on his Roundtables. They wouldn’t if they thought they were working against their own interests.

        I should have told you earlier that your claims are an ad hominem attack and a violation of our written site Policies. Any more remarks along these lines and you will be blacklisted.

      2. Keith Newman

        @Anony, 9:30 am,
        I too wondered about Lira for the same reasons as you. I was once in a group infiltrated by the police and its operative tried to disrupt our group fairly subtly. The police (etc.) are also known to do the rest of what you say. However my conclusion was for Lira it didn’t matter. My interest is in what he and guests have to say and he gets on interesting guests (eg Yves). In any case, in Canada I am too remote to be of any interest and am not involved at all in any Ukraine-based activities.
        Even more conclusively, Yves has outlined why the accusations against Lira are extremely unlikely.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          Your group like the Proud Boys was infiltrated in live, in person settings. You can’t influence the behavior of a YouTuber’s community. They don’t interact. There is no social dynamic to exploit.

          1. Keith Newman

            @Yves Smith,12:32pm,
            In terms of disruption what you write is true and that is usually the main objective. Nonetheless intelligence gathering regarding groups and their sympathisers can still be done online.

  7. Roger Blakely

    Yves talked absolute sense for nearly two hours, including expert opinion on COVID-19. Comments on YouTube opposed her clear thinking on all things COVID. Those comments are the perfect example of hardcore belief clusters, which was the theme of the discussion.

    1. an engineer from germany

      I agree. I enjoyed the whole conversation. The belief clusters are visible at many places, when looking at different topics and different “communities”.

      When Yyes talked about the masks (they work, if used properly) vaccinations (good thing, as long as voluntarily) and lockdowns (strict and early would have worked well), I think Gonzalo Lira enjoyed the sound of the alarm sirens – he did not mute himself, even though they were quite loud. His “politeness” seems to be stuttering if things are said, that are against his belief-system.
      I remember a guy who attended at his show, who buyed into the anti-russia/pro-NATO narrative – Gonzalo’s contenance was gone. Also he some days or weeks ago had a video, where he told unpolite nonsense about Scott Ritter.

      The more I enjoyed, that Yves just continued to go on. :-)

      Add the climate topic to the list of controversial topics, that are part of the same cluster as the covid-stuff.

      My impression: If a topic needs too much of scientific / mathematical knowledge, people from the humanities and similar fields seem to miss some knowledge. Exponential curve and dynamic systems? Not so easy to grasp.
      That some of the globalists have picked some topics as camouflage (especially the climate change issue), makes some people believe, the science is wrong. But it’s the global capitalists who just picked the topic, because it is good self-marketing. “We are only in it for the money” looks not good. “We want to spread democracy, save the climate and the nature and push ‘diversity'” looks much better – and protests will be hold off, if ‘they’ appear to be the good ones…

      On the other hand, my impression is, that people from the so called hard sciences tend to believe the political nonsense. Conspiracies do not fit into the mind of “law of nature”, the well defined world of technology and so on.

      The one group tends to anthropomorphisms (conspiracies?) even where math and law of nature is needed to decide what’s going on. The other group considers conspiracies as something that do not exist in the human interaction, and only can exist in the phantasies of non-educated persons.

      The real world is more complex than both these groups would imagine.
      Of course these two groups are idealizations, and the belief-clusters might be more complex also. So this categorization might appear as somewhat ad-hoc. That’s why I wrote, that this is my impression.

      Would be nice to have research on this kind of belief-clusters.
      I only have seen so called “fact checkers” talking about such belief-clusters (and people in those) in a derogatory way, while at the same time showing their ignorance on certain topics, which means that they reproduced just their own believe cluster – that of the media mainstream.

  8. Louis Fyne

    Yves, your microphone set-up is fantastic—clear, crisp audio.

    You definitely can teach an audio-visual production lesson to many youtubers.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Just a 2015 MacBook Pro with the highest end options with its built in mike. Interesting that the sound was so good. Also I did not plug in the ethernet cable to the modem (as advised) because the laptop is w/in 2 feet of the modem. I suspect the faint audio you often hear on these shows is due as much to WiFi bandwidth issues as mike quality.

      1. R.A.

        As an audio engineer who helps with a lot of remote sessions, I will say that your are still better off using a plug-in ethernet cable than using Wi-Fi, even if you are close to the modem. Wi-Fi is subject to occasional dropouts due to interference issues, which a good wired connection will not have.

        I’m not surprised about the built-in mic working well–older MacBook Pro laptops tend to have very good overall audio setups, including good mics. I use one myself.

      1. fresno dan

        I have learned more about what is really going on in the world in less than an hour from listening to your analysis than in assiduously monitoring the US MSM in one thousand hours.
        Is it just me, or has the US media declined precipitiously in the last two decades? I mean, the US media did correct its malreporting with regard to WMD in Iraq and seemed to me to try and make some amends for that.
        Now it seems foreign affairs reporting is all dogma all the time.

  9. John9

    Great talk show! You have another career waiting if you so choose with your improv skills when Lira went offline.
    But what I most appreciate is your persistence in maintaining NC Covid view in the face of GL’s sketchy antimask, Covid weird ideas. And the fact that you can go on his show and totally hold your own without fear of being somehow diminished by engaging someone with whom you differ on some things.
    I wish the weak pathetic left could somehow learn that.
    Thanks for all you do.

  10. Susan the other

    Thank you for that discussion. Every point made it clear that we are not accomplishing anything useful in Ukraine. Unless we had the ulterior motive to create a no man’s land. The message I’m receiving from the essence of it all is that NATO is going to probably morph into a forum for balancing out trade between East and West but will give up on being a military consortium, which it should have done 40 years ago. Because it can only be batshit crazy for so long without realizing it. I’m wondering if in that kind of an international transition if our Emily Latella rules based order and propaganda might sort of automatically improve. Hopefully, because Blinkie looks like he is circling the drain, Macnamara style.

  11. LilD

    I’m quite shocked at the comments, nearly all dismissing the COVID discussion. Is Lira’s commenter universe in consensus on
    – Masks are useless
    – Vaccine is bad
    – It came from the lab
    – it’s really not bad and lockdown was more destructive
    – Campbell is right about everything including being wrong in 2020


    Most negative comments are simply harsh slams with no countering info, but perhaps this crowd is either in their own epistemic bubble, or they know things that I am wrong about

    I’d like to dig deeper. Calling Yves “uninformed” re COVID is ludicrous to me

    1. playon

      I was likewise stunned at the comments regarding COVID. I have gotten into arguments on twitter with people on the left who call COVID the “scamdemic” and many on both left and right seem to think the entire thing is/was a psy-op.

  12. timbers

    Regarding Mercouis saying 2017 being “THE” turning point/end of US hegemony, I think he’s referring to Putin’s speech at the Munuich conference that year…which if I have my ducks lined up correctly, is his famous, seminal speech on why Russia can have no part of Western ideology. Loved his description of the horrorified expressions on the faces of US Congress critters and Western officials in the audience as Putin spoke.

    1. timbers

      Ok my ducks are not lined up. He gave that speech 2007? In which case maybe Mercouis misspoke and meant 2007? Anyway he called that speech the most important ever in recent history. Which is why I am guessing that is want he meant.

  13. Bruce F

    Hi Yves,
    I liked how you talked about masking, CV-19, and vaccines. Thank you for doing a fantastic job of saying, forcefully but politely, “No, I disagree. And here’s why…”. A great model for talking about “controversial” subjects to someone who might not see things the same way you do.
    You come across as a thoughtful, informed, and interesting person.
    I hope you keep doing these kinds of appearances.

  14. Insouciant Iowan

    Russians have no need to take over all of Ukraine, nor was it ever part of their plan. They went in to liberate the Donbas, to destroy Ukraine’s ability to make war, and to de-nazify Ukraine.
    If the Russians control the Black Sea coast, what’s left of Ukraine is a huge ag plantation.
    Beyond that, Lira’s view that Russia will take over all Ukraine not only misses those points, but how Ukraine is already being sold off under Ukraine’s beingvswamped by neoliberal privatization. That issue was raised by a Ukrainian grad student on, wait for it, Democracy Now on 2/24/23. Goodman did not pursue the matter. R. Desai on a program with M. Hudson hosted by Danny Haiphong also discussed the privatization of Ukraine’s ag. So that the urgency for exporting Ukraine’s grain was not to feed poor nations, but for large private owners to sell in Europe.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      It’s not even that. The best land is in the East, although more total acreage west of the Dnieper.

      These privatization plans will go nowhere. We ran that film in Greece 2015. Just about nothing got any bids.

  15. Irrational

    Terrific roundtable, Yves. You did a great job “managing” GL present (he can get carried away) or absent. The Ukraine section was a nice juxtaposition to the mostly delusional Links section on that topic on Feb 24.

  16. TimmyB

    I’ve been reading Naked Capitalism for years and have greatly admired your reporting. That being said, your Roundtable with GL was amazing. And not just because I agreed with every word you said on every topic. Great job carrying the show during those times when GL dropped out. You may have a second career in talk radio.

  17. vidimi

    i had a bit of a different take on the chinese peace plan. wang yi flew to moscow and publicly showed that russia and china were closer than offer. privately, however, i suspect he gave the russians a dressing down. the chinese want this war to end and their peace plan would actually have russia give back the annexed territories and pull out. under their peace plan, both sides lose big, and russia did not have the choice but to accept the chinese peace plan. luckily for them, the US shot down the chinese peace plan which now forces the chinese to get more involved in order to end it.

  18. podcastkid

    To tell you how much it meant to me I’d have to go into tor, which I don’t know how to do (it would make public too much about me otherwise). I don’t even want you to publish this. Sometimes I wonder if G is a very skilled devil’s advocate…what he said re John Campbell for instance. Just have to be content to get no answer on that.


    1. Yves Smith Post author

      No, Lira genuinely approves of Campbell, who was an early and loud to claim you could not get reinfected from Covid, and now is touting “natural immunity”. Lira adheres to strong libertarian dogma on Covid.

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