Professor Jackson Lears warns the Ukraine war has wrought “the ultimate technocratic fantasy: a winnable nuclear war.”

By Scheer Intelligence

The Doomsday Clock continues to tick toward nuclear war, but at its fastest pace ever. Professor Jackson Lears, a former naval officer serving on a U.S cruiser carrying tactical nuclear weapons, considers the current moment more frightening than at any time during the Cold War. Then, there was intense alarm for the fate of the earth and the survival of the human race. Today, rather than diplomacy or negotiation, talk revolves around new weapons shipments, disappointment in Ukraine’s counteroffensive failures, and even drone strikes in Moscow. But far less attention has been paid to the prospect of nuclear war between Russia and the U.S that threatens to end all life on this planet as we know it. That is the alarm sounded by cultural historian and author Jackson Lears who joins host Robert Scheer to discuss Lears’s essay for Harper’s Magazine, “Behind the Veil of Indifference.

Lears’s piece warns that despite the public indifference, a “winnable nuclear war” has entered the minds of American strategists and politicians once again, undermining years of work towards nuclear disarmament. Lears tells Scheer that it is similar to the attitudes from the Cold War, yet this time, there is an eerie disinterest from the American side about even talking to someone like Vladimir Putin. “[T]his is, in a sense, a return to the worst kind of confrontations of the early 1960s but there’s a big difference because even Kennedy and even Reagan, cold warriors that they were, were eager to create common ground ultimately between the U.S. and the Soviet Union. And that common ground no longer exists between the U.S. and Russia, and there is no interest in diplomacy at all,” Lears said.

Scheer and Lears highlight a critical factor in shaping public perception: the Russiagate controversy and the media’s role in complying with government demands for secrecy, beginning in  the late 1970s, while also promoting narratives that fostered consent for war with Russia. Scheer said, “if you even dare suggest there’s some complexity to this issue, or that the other side might have a point of view, or there’s something even worth negotiating about, you’re now considered unpatriotic.” Lears agreed: “We have former directors of the CIA who have perjured themselves before Congress, now posing as professional wise men and professional truth tellers on MSNBC and CNN.”

Wrapping up the discussion, Lears gives an insight into his latest book, Animal Spirits: The American Pursuit of Vitality from Camp Meeting to Wall Street. In it, Lears explores the history behind thinkers in America who honed in on vitalism rather than the restrictive nature of traditional cultures involving religion, science and commercialization.