Hersh, the US and the Sabotage of the Nordstream Pipelines

The revelations contained Seymour Hersh’s analysis of the evidence pointing to US authorship of the blowing up of the  Nordstream pipelines[1] is compelling, and in a normal world this would cause a governmental crisis, a condemnation of the terror attack by the US Congress, a call for an internal investigation into illegal activities by the CIA and Pentagon, an international investigation under UN auspices, a cautious statement by the UN Secretary-General, a Protest by the United Nations Environmental Programme, a generalized media uprising, and even require the Biden Administration to step down in the light of the magnitude of the gross violation of the UN Charter and international treaties.

It is mind-boggling:  The country that claims to be a defender of international law engages is a brazen terror operation conducted in the name of the American people, who certainly would oppose the US government involvement in false flag operations and outright State terrorism.

Of course, the White House and the Pentagon immediately denied responsibility and tried to smear Seymour Hersh.  What else is new?  Even the Romans said it:  If you did it, deny it, stonewall!  Si fecisti, nega!  Hersh, a former reporter for the Associated Press and New York Times, as well as a longtime contributor to the New Yorker, quoted White House spokesperson Adrienne Watson as calling his report “false and complete fiction.” CIA spokesperson Tammy Thorp wrote: “This claim is completely and utterly false.”  This reminded me of my childhood.  I recall my teachers referring to the expression “tira la piedra y esconde la mano” – throw the stone and hide your hand – and impressing on me that such behaviour was unethical.

Long before the Hersh revelations. all the evidence pointed at the United States and its NATO allies.  After all, the United States had done everything possible to prevent the completion of the Nordstream pipeline, imposed illegal sanctions on enterprises engaged in its construction, threatened, blackmailed, bullied.  Moreover, the attack had been announced. On 7 February 2022, prior to the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, Biden had stated: “If Russia invades … there will be no longer a Nord Stream 2 …We will bring an end to it.” All of this would have been confirmed if the Swedish investigation had been transparent[2], if the German and Russian owners of Nordstream had been allowed to see the evidence. But also Sweden stonewalled.

Edward Snowden, the CIA analyst and whistleblower who alerted the American people and the world about the unconstitutional practices of the National Security Agency, rubbished the US denials[3].  On 8 February he tweeted:  “Can you think of any examples from history of a secret operation that the White House was responsible for, but strongly denied?  Besides, you know, that little ‘mass surveillance’ kerfuffle. pic.twitter.com/AF1GyO2cmBIn He also shared a news article from April 1961 showing US Secretary of State Dean Rusk denying the US role in the Bay of Pigs invasion, assuring the American people that the invasion was not ‘staged from American soil’. Rusk claimed that “the Cuban affair was one for the Cubans themselves to settle”, insisting that the invasion was carried out by Cubans without any support from the US.

Moral High Ground

It is surrealistic that in West claims that it wants a “rules based international order” and that the war in Ukraine is about re-establishing that order.  The US and NATO pretend that they are battling Russia from a moral high-ground,  The mainstream media tends to support this untenable narrative.

Objectively speaking, the West does not occupy any moral high-ground vis-à-vis Russia.  The West’s record of imperialism and colonialism in the 19th and 20th centuries, the West’s more recent aggressions against the peoples of Indo-China, Yugoslavia, Afghanistan and Iraq were more serious and more murderous than the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Western actions have entailed war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in total impunity, thereby creating “precedents of permissibility”, which are now being followed by Russia and others.

The problem is that we in the United States, most Brits in England and Germans in Germany actually believe our own propaganda.  It is not a matter of hypocrisy, but one of faith. Since grammar school we are indoctrinated into believing that we are the good guys by definition and that we have a mission to bring democracy and human rights to the rest of the world.  This may sound amazing to a Chinese, an Indian or an African, but the brainwashing of the American and European population has been phenomenally successful.

That is why Seymour Hersh’s evidence is not likely to have much of an impact with the American public. It simply bounces off.  People believe what they want to believe, as Julius Caesar wrote in De bello civile, quae volumus, ea credimus libenter, we believe what we want to believe.  Or worse, like St. Augustin wrote Mundus vult decipi – the world wants to be deceived.  Thus, the American people will continue holding on to our claim of “exceptionalism” and our religious fervour that we are right and everyone else is wrong. I myself believed that. It took me decades to liberate myself from the spell.

There are some who would hope that the Seymour Hersh report would make people reassess the Ukraine war and the behaviour of its participants, that it might lead some in the Western alliance to take a different position and realize that the war cannot be won militarily, unless we want to further escalate and move on to a nuclear confrontation.  Mediation would appear to be the only way out.

Alas, we are caught in our own web, we are locked into our politically necessary lies and cognitive dissonance.  Of course there are politicians and academics who realize how incoherent the system is, how dysfunctional the EU and NATO.  But the mainstream media has been successful in conditioning our minds to the necessity of “consensus” among the Western powers.  That is why the dissenting Hungarian President Victor Orban[4] is so viciously attacked by NATO governments and in the mainstream media.  Meanwhile the Croatian President Zoran Milanovic[5] has also expressed dissent with the EU and US leadership, calling for peace talks in Ukraine.  Milanovic doubts whether Crimea[6] could ever return to Ukraine, because it should never have been in Ukraine in the first place, and the vast majority of Crimeans do not want to be Ukrainians. In Germany it is the Left-wing party’s Sarah Wagenknecht[7] and Oskar Lafontaine who oppose the war in Ukraine, in the United States the Republican Congressman from Pensacola, Florida, Matt Gaetz, who does not want to send further military aid to Ukraine.  Professors John Mearsheimer, Richard Falk, Jeffrey Sachs and others agree that the Ukraine war cannot be won and that it is necessary to devise a viable compromise, a quid pro quo, to end the fighting before it escalates into a nuclear confrontation. Yet, we seem to be sleepwalking toward Apocalypse.

It is odd that the US government can carry out a war like this without a declaration of war, how it can squander a hundred billion dollars without democratically asking the American people whether that is what they really want.  Notwithstanding the importance of Seymour Hersh’s revelations and their implications for the institutions of government, nothing is likely to change.  The stranglehold of the mainstream media is such that the reports of a serious investigative journalist can be brushed aside if they do not conform with the desired political narrative. In our dysfunctional democracy, there are many facts without consequences, reports without consequences, books without consequences.  The train is running fast – and the dynamic does not favour stopping it.

Prolonging the war as long as possible

The Ukraine conflict that started in 2014 festered into a war that has now lasted for a year, killed as many as 200,000 soldiers and civilians and cost billions of dollars and euros. Will it continue indefinitely?

I cannot look into the crystal ball. There have been several valid mediation efforts by Turkish President Erdogan[8] and Israeli Prime Minister Bennett – both of them torpedoed by Washington[9]. There have been appeals for mediation by Pope Francis, Mexican President Lopez Obrador and Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula. The fact remains that Washington wants to prolong the war and will continue fighting Russia to the last Ukrainian.

Therefore, this proxy war is likely to continue for as long as there is money to be made, and the military-industrial complex has already made billions, as indeed also the oil industry whose profits for 2022 are astronomical.

Even if Putin were to score significant military successes in Ukraine, the war will not end, because the US will not let Zelinsky sue for peace.  The war will continue escalating until everybody is exhausted or until there is a human miscalculation or a computer glitch that unleashes nuclear war.

I would like to see a coalition of Presidents for Peace who would insist in the UN Security Council and General Assembly that the war must end immediately, because the risk of nuclear annihilation is too great.  For the rest of the world it is irrelevant whether Crimea is in Ukraine or in Russia.  Most Latin Americans, Africans and Asians do not even know what Crimea is.  We in the West have no right to destroy the planet over our purely US/European/Russian querelle.

What country has enough clout to weigh in and try to formulate viable peace proposals?  Maybe China and India should call for an international peace conference that calls on all parties to stop the fighting and cease threatening the survival of the rest of the planet.  While condemning the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the conference should also condemn the provocations by the United States and NATO, which started as a legitimate defence alliance and over the past 30 years morphed into a criminal organization within the meaning of articles 9 and 10 of the Statute of the International Military Tribunal for Nuremberg, 1945.


[1] https://www.ibtimes.sg/us-bombed-russias-nord-stream-gas-pipeline-after-months-long-planning-by-white-house-seymour-68965




[2] https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/sweden-shuns-formal-joint-investigation-nord-stream-leak-citing-national-2022-10-14/


[3] https://www.ibtimes.sg/edward-snowden-rubbishes-us-denial-role-nord-stream-gas-line-bombing-cites-bay-pigs-invasion-68971

[4] https://www.politico.eu/article/hungary-viktor-orban-is-telling-ukraine-to-quit-russia-war/

[5] https://www.pbs.org/newshour/world/croatian-president-zoran-milanovic-criticizes-tank-deliveries-to-ukraine

[6] https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/crimea-will-never-again-be-part-ukraine-croatian-president-2023-01-30/

[7] https://philosophia-perennis.com/2023/02/10/alice-schwarzer-und-sahra-wagenknecht-manifest-fuer-frieden/


[8] https://english.almayadeen.net/news/politics/erdogan-to-reiterate-mediation-offer-to-end-ukraine-war:-sou

[9] https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/feb/03/turkish-president-erdogan-mediate-ukraine-russiahttps://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/2022-03-13/ty-article/.premium/ukraine-u-s-signal-to-israel-mediation-attempts-arent-enough/00000180-5ba7-def0-a3c3-5fff6b2d0000https://thegrayzone.com/2023/02/06/israeli-bennett-us-russia-ukraine-peace/

Alfred de Zayas is a law professor at the Geneva School of Diplomacy and served as a UN Independent Expert on International Order 2012-18. He is the author of twelve books including “Building a Just World Order” (2021) “Countering Mainstream Narratives” 2022, and “The Human Rights Industry” (Clarity Press, 2021).