Any normal person looking in on the latest World Socialist Web Site would pee in their pants. US officials consider nuclear strikes against Russia? Holy shit, this is serious business.
The question, of course, is whether the WSWS.org can be taken at face value. Some radicals of my acquaintance do take it at face value. A FB friend and Marxmail subscriber who is a professor of sociology frequently links to their articles. Another professor who was a houseguest for a few days told me that he prefers checking WSWS every day because it is more reliable than the NY Times. The site is also popular with college students who like to cite it in essays, according to my wife who works in the CUNY system.
It is easy to understand its appeal. Basically it is a press digest that is spiced with radical-sounding interjections. It also appears authoritative since it quotes the mainstream media. Taking the above article on nuclear strikes against Russia as an example, it states:
Most provocatively, a report published by the Associated Press yesterday reports that the Pentagon has been actively considering the use of nuclear missiles against military targets inside Russia, in response to what it alleges are violations of the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty.
Unfortunately, these people did not take the trouble to identify the reporter but a minute or two of searching revealed that Robert Burns, the AP specialist on nuclear matters, wrote it.
Furthermore, Burns’s reporting is based totally on the testimony of a Defense Department official named Robert Scher to Congress. Quoting WSWS.org quoting Burns:
Robert Scher, one of Carter’s nuclear policy aides, told Congress in April that the deployment of “counterforce” measures would mean “we could go about and actually attack that missile where it is in Russia.”
Now you can actually read Scher’s testimony here. The only reference to a “counterforce” is the following. “The ICBM force complicates the planning of any adversary contemplating a disarming counterforce strike by vastly increasing the required scale of such an attack.” This sentence can be found as part of Scher reviewing American nuclear weapons policy that he describes as a “Triad”, with ICBM’s as the first leg. In other words, all he was doing is recapitulating Washington’s long-standing policy of using a vast arsenal of nuclear missiles so as to make retaliation a complex task.
Reading WSWS.org, you would get the impression that Washington had developed a brand-new (or revival) of a “first strike” strategy that would be used to destroy missiles in Russia that the White House viewed as inimical to its interests—like Bush’s “preemptive” strike against Saddam Hussein’s non-existent WMD’s. But if you read Scher’s testimony, it is clear that he is simply recapitulating policies that have been around for decades.
Furthermore, Burn’s quote of Scher (“we could go about and actually attack that missile where it is in Russia”) cannot be found in his testimony, nor can it be found in Nexis, an authoritative database of newspaper articles I continue to have access to as a Columbia University retiree.
In other words, Burns was making an allegation about what Scher said that is not supported by the Congressional record.
My understanding is that the World Socialist Web Site is staffed by a dozen or so people who do nothing to build the fucking mass movement but see their job as writing this kind of sloppy bullshit that is badly in the need of a fact-checker. My understanding is that their cult leader owns a printing press with non-union labor. You’d think he’d have enough dough to put one on staff.