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The Prospect of Nuclear War
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Most Americans live in their myths, and these myths are immune to facts. Some Americans become angry when confronted with information inconsistent with their preconceptions. I began learning this back in the newsprint era from letters, and the lesson has continued from emails and comment sections on websites.

Postal letters and emails are outlets that permit a reader to let off steam by lambasting a writer, but comment sections permit readers to share their outrage with all the website’s readers in addition to the writer and to gang up on and slander a writer.

Websites, such as OpEdNews and Information Clearing House, that I permit to repost my columns return the favor by having comment sections in which government trolls, assorted kooks, Reagan haters, and uninformed individuals can slander me, assault my reputation, misrepresent what I write, and do their worst to counteract the information that I supply to readers. Trolls and their ilk do the same thing to any number of writers who try to compensate for the absence of an honest Western media. Look at who is under attack. It is not the presstitutes at the New York Times, Washington Post, and Fox News; it is Julian Assange and Glenn Greenwald, for example. One is said to be a rapist, and the other an accessory to the theft of documents.

I have never understood the point of comment sections. Invariably comments either praise or slander writers or consist of disputes between readers in which they come to verbal blows over subjects about which they are poorly informed.

I have heard the claim that sites have comment sections in order to attract readers and to increase visits or “hits” that raise the site’s salability to advertisers. However, Information Clearing House, for example, does not take ads, and the comments on articles posted on OpEdNews are a tiny percentage, a small fraction of one percent, of the readers who visit the article. Therefore, I conclude that these reasons for having comment sections are irrational.

Some say that comments sections are like letters to the editor of newspapers that let readers have their say. But newsprint editors reviewed the letters and only printed those few that had some merit. This is not the case in website comment sections where every fool and troll has access to the writer’s audience.

I am not saying that the solution of newsprint editors was perfect, and the intent of these remarks is not blanket condemnation of all who comment on articles. The point is that comment sections demand more knowledge, more discipline, and more open minds than are often present. It takes time and thought to produce a readable article offering new information and an analysis or perspective different from prevailing opinion, but it takes only a moment to cover it in mud and misrepresentation.


Trolls often hide their identities behind fake or pen names. The usual approach is to attack what a writer has to say by attacking the writer personally. For example, trolls “unmask” me on progressive and left-leaning sites as someone who served in the evil Reagan administration and, therefore, is untrustworthy. On conservative-leaning sites, I am “exposed” as a left-winger who publishes on CounterPunch. These unmaskings of writers help those who don’t want to hear information in conflict with their preconceptions to ignore the information.

Some sites open themselves to attack as well as their writers. That RT has a comment section is inexplicable, as it opens the site’s reporting to contradiction by government trolls. What is the point of a site canceling itself out? Sites with comment sections are in fact permitting organized political interests to undercut their own reporting and their own writers. Other sites permit anonymous readers whose merits are unknown to rate the site. As only a few readers participate, the site’s rating can be determined by a handful of unknown people.

Just as I hold the dishonesty of presidents, government officials, presstitutes, police, and banksters to account, I hold the dishonesty of trolls and their ilk to account.

In several columns this year I have pointed out that Washington’s consistent and aggressive lies about Russia and Putin’s intentions, Washington’s coup in overthrowing the elected Ukrainian government and installing Washington’s puppets, and Washington’s whipping up NATO into a military frenzy against Russia are reckless and dangerous actions that could lead to nuclear war.

Trolls portrayed this concern as the ravings of an unbalanced person who had fallen victim to forebodings of doom and distrust of his government. Nuclear war, they said, is irrational and therefore could not happen, and doomsayers should be ignored. This despite the facts that neoconservatives are advocates for nuclear weapons and their use, a majority of Americans have been convinced by propaganda that Putin is a “thug” and “worse than Hitler,” and the New York Times reports that “US Ramping Up Major Renewal in Nuclear Arms.”

I am pleased that Noam Chomsky, an intelligent and perceptive person who long has served as America’s moral conscience, has joined me in the ranks of doomsayers who perceive that Washington is driving the world toward nuclear war.

Here is what Chomsky has to say:

(Republished from by permission of author or representative)
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Russia, Ukraine 
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  1. When I write comments, I try to add or engage towards better understanding, whether I fully agree with the writer or not. I remain open to being convinced by new information and ideas, tempered by healthy skepticism.

  2. Mr. Roberts:

    Vladimir Putin Is the Leader of the Moral World

    Crap like that is enough to write you off.

    Your obvious (and quaintly “Soviet”) aversion to the free expression of opinions, demonstrated by you here in your complaints against comment sections, is another. Of course, this jibes perfectly with your pro-Russian stance and your choice to be associated with the propaganda operation RT.

    Whether you are right or wrong or just misinforming in any given instance, you must know that all big nations play geopolitical games, and that the criticisms you write are revealingly one-sided.

  3. Harold says:

    I don’t know why we have articles. At least those by certain authors. Instead we could just put up topics and invite people to discuss them in the comment section. After all, when compared to certain authors, the commenters are usually better informed. For example PCR expounded at length about the “goon thug” cops in Ferguson and referred in his diatribe to a picture he seemed to think pertained to the incident, which, however, was unrelated thereto. That it was so was something anyone acquanted with even the rudimentary facts of the case would have known—almost all the commenters, for example.

  4. Vendetta says:

    Had enough of this anti-commenter elitist nonsense, been seeing it elsewhere as well across the ideological spectrum. Good ideas and good writers should be able to hold up no matter what is written underneath. I don’t know how any of these people can be advocating “people’s democracy” or “no more PC language policing” when they are so repulsed by having to deal with the people’s raw opinions.

    Having a moderated comment section like this site where the posts of obvious trolls, cretins, and illiterates can be filtered out is the way to go. No ideological content policing.

  5. Kiza says:

    How would the thirld world Sri Lankans, Bangladeshis, Mawhawks and Harolds of this world earn their super minimum wage by trolling for US Government if political websites did not have comments sections? The stupid Western population would have only TV to learn that Putin is a new Hitler because he won’t lay down and die.

    This PCR text is about something which articles never discuss – the comments sections of websites – “the voice of the people”. I may not agree with him fully, but I certainly agree with the need to discuss the comments sections.

    Here are my thoughts and experiences with this subject. Comments sections are meant to be the Voice of The People, The Debate. Technically, the comments sections can be broadly divided into two types: auto-moderated and person-moderated. Auto-moderated are moderated by a computer algorithm which tries to filter out rude comments, work-from-home ads and the like. But such algorithms and comments sections are a total disaster, which RT website is a great example of. The biggest enemy of all comments sections is the USG strategy of Total Information Dominance, which uses this army of paid web trolls to blast auto-moderated websites of the enemy. A common strategy is the Dilute-the-Discussion by sending hundreds of meaningless comments, which prevent high-quality comments from standing out – the saturation with rubbish.

    On the other side are the comments sections of the Western MSM (CNN, BBC etc), which always employ cheap moderators. The moderators of such websites filter out comments in favour of the Media Owner’s and Western Government’s position on every issue.

    I once did an experiment with the BBC comments section. Using 10 different hotmail accounts I sent 10 comments about the same topic, five in favour of the “official” position and five critical of it. BBC published four out of five pro-government comments and none of the anti-government comments.

    What upset PCR the most is that some of these NGO maintained and moderated websites permit trolls to use foul language and personal insults to blast authors such as PCR who do not draw the “official” line. There, the foul language is permitted when it is used for a “good” cause.

    In summary, the comments sections of Western MSM are just another opinion shaping propaganda tool used by the Western regimes to reinforce and extend the propaganda value of their articles.

  6. Mark Green says: • Website

    I like PCR very much but he’s a bit off about comments sections.

    I often learn as much (or more) about a given subject reading the ‘comments’ as the article itself. PCR’s view that comments are useless is elitist and wrong.

    Unfortunately, there are a lot of superficial, extreme and/or unintelligent comments left in sections that have no moderator. I sometimes wonder who these trolls are, if they’re even real people or a band of zealots who post similar views and then support one another.

    Fortunately, UNZ generally attracts smart commentators. Perhaps it would be better if commentators had to post their real names and identities.

  7. Bill says:

    It’s interesting to think about how this article came to be titled “The Prospect of Nuclear War.” Whoever made the decision presumably considered “Paul Craig Roberts Hates Comment Sections” and discarded it. Why? Certainly not in the service of truth.

  8. rabbitbait says: • Website

    I am very leery of attempts to “moderate” website comments sections. They seem to invariably end up having untended consequences. These unintended outcomes usually ended up involving the censorship of criticism of Israel or Jewish political influence in the US.

    Many comments sections are fake anyway and are set up to give the impression of an open discussion. Probably the best example of a faux “moderated” news site is Yahoo, which gets its news from the Rothschild family owned Reuters. Favored commenters are given early access pro Israel/anti Russian articles before publication so that they can flood the comments section just when the article is posted to push pro Israeli/Neocon viewpoints

    You have to always remember the saying attributed to Voltaire, the true architect of the concept of free speech” “I might not like what you say but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”


  9. Take a look at the comments on a recent Daily Mail article concerning MH17 (make sure to click the “View all” button).

    People can judge for themselves as to which side is using an army of trolls to flood the comment section with propaganda. Take note of which comments are buried in an avalanche of down votes, versus which ones are showered with approval.

    This sort of thing has been going on for several months now on Ukraine-related articles.

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