politics of World War II
Following the death of Wagner Group leader Yevgeny Prigozhin, the Russian ministries of defense and foreign affairs quickly moved to reassure African client states that business as usual would continue—meaning that Moscow's unofficial boots on the ground would keep operating in these countries. Now reports indicate a transformation, with Wagner's estimated force of 5,000 troops—deployed from the Sahel to Libya to Sudan—to be brought under Defense Ministry command as a new Africa Corps. (The Conversation)
Anti-fascist protestors marched in Budapest on Feb. 10 in response to a previously banned right-wing gathering to commemorate the so-called "Day of Honor." Activists travelled from across Europe to take part. The dueling rallies came amid diplomatic tensions between Budapest and Rome, as an Italian anti-fascist activist remains imprisoned in Hungary.
In Episode 185 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg reviews the Oppenheimer movie, and discusses the legacy of J. Robert Oppenheimer 78 years after Hiroshima. Manhattan Project dissidents like Leo Szilard petitioned to stop the dropping of the atomic bomb on Japan. But such sentiment was overruled by Harry Truman's geopolitical imperatives—and what Freeman Dyson called the "technical arrogance" of Oppenheimer and his circle. Now, as open Russian nuclear threats continue to mount in Europe, we are poised at the brink of unparalleled catastrophe. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon.
In Episode 174 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg deconstructs the toxic meme that once again recycles the Nazi calumny against Ukraine—this time zeroing in on a trident insignia worn by President Volodymyr Zelensky. While the Ukrainian trident has deep roots in the country's history, the meme alleges that the version worn by Zelensky is that used by the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN), of World War II-era right-wing militant Stepan Bandera—whose role as a Nazi collaborator is in any case dramatically overstated in Kremlin propaganda. Zelensky lost family members to the Nazis (as he reminded the Russian people in his final appeal for peace in February 2022) and is something of a dissident from the personality cult around Bandera. So is he likely to be wearing an OUN symbol?
Amid deadly Israeli air-raids on Gaza, a terror attack targets the ancient Ghriba Synagogue in Djerba, Tunisia. The attack came as Jews from throughout the Mediterranean world gathered at Ghriba in the annual pilgrimage for the Lag B'Omer festival. In Episode 173 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg recalls how the Jews of Djerba have been repeatedly targeted over the past generation, with this latest attack coming in the context of a reconsolidating dictatorship in Tunisia and a harsh crackdown on the opposition. Yet the Tunisian Jews continue to resist Zionist pressure to emigrate to Israel, instead embracing their North African indigeneity. This embrace is overwhelmingly returned by the country's Arab and Muslim majority, in repudiation of extremists who would target Tunisian Jews to avenge Israeli crimes. Prominent Tunisians were among the Muslims who sheltered Jews during the World War II Axis occupation of North Africa. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon.
In Episode 170 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg predicts that Russian propaganda weaponization of World War II history, now being employed against Ukraine, will next be used to target Finland. Now that Finland has been "de-Finlandized," abandoning its Cold War neutrality to join NATO, its de facto wartime alliance with Nazi Germany is likely to be exploited by the Kremlin media machine—exactly as Israel exploits the wartime pact between Hitler and the Mufti of Jerusalem. In a pre-emptive strike against such propaganda, Weinberg breaks down the history of Russian conquest and colonization of Finland, the heroic resistance of the Finns in the Winter War of 1939-40, and how their betrayal manipulated them into the Nazi camp in the Continuation War of 1941-44.
In Episode 169 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg discusses the move by the Kyiv City Council to name a street after Nazi collaborator Volodymyr Kubiyovych, who was instrumental in forming the SS Galizien Division. The plan was quashed by Kyiv's mayor following protests from the Israeli ambassador—but not before internet tankies exploited the affair to portray Ukraine as a "Nazi state." Ironically, this came the same week that President Volodymyr Zelensky honored victims of the Holocaust at the Babi Yar memorial in Kyiv. The unseemly nostalgia for Nazi collaborators who fought the Soviets in World War II is opposed by the leadership of Ukraine's Jewish community—who also vigorously repudiate efforts by Kremlin propagandists to launder Putin's war of aggression and Nazi-like war crimes as "denazification." Russia's fascist pseudo-anti-fascism is likewise repudiated by Ukraine's own bona fide left-wing anti-fascists, in groups such as the Solidarity Collectives, who now support the Ukrainian war effort against the Russian aggression. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon.
In Episode 160 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg notes hideous ironies in the current horrific headlines. Russia was excluded from the official commemorations of Holocaust Day at Auschwitz-Birkenau as it pursues its war of aggression and extermination in Ukraine in the perverse name of "de-nazification." But Israeli flags were of course displayed at the commemoration—even as Israel escalates toward a genocidal solution to the Palestinian question. The fundamental contradiction driving the conflict is the expropriation of the Palestinian people of their lands, and the denial of their self-determination by Israel. The emergence of an explicitly anti-Zionist bloc in the protests against the new far-right government in Israel is a sign of hope. The US, however, is undertaking its biggest joint military exercises ever with the new Israeli regime, despite Biden's supposed rejection of its extremist policies of settlement expansion and annexation—viewing the Jewish State as a strategic ally against the Islamic Republic of Iran. Meanwhile, the oppressive regime in Iran treats minority peoples such as the Kurds, Baluch, Ahwazi and Baha'i much as Israel treats the Palestinians. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon.