Here comes WWIII

Former Chico State professor warns of the situation in Ukraine

Former Chico State professor George Wright tells an audience in the Performing Arts Center that what is happening in Ukraine is a precursor to World War III.

Former Chico State professor George Wright tells an audience in the Performing Arts Center that what is happening in Ukraine is a precursor to World War III.

PHOTO by tom gascoyne

The situation in Ukraine could be a precursor to World War III. At least, that’s what retired Chico State political science professor George Wright told a crowd of about 100 last week in the Performing Arts Center on campus.

Wright’s speech, delivered on Feb. 18, was titled “The Ukrainian Crisis: Prologue to WWIII?” During the nearly two-hour talk, Wright made the argument that what we are told by the “corporate-owned mass media,” as dictated by our government, is in direct contrast to what is really happening in Ukraine.

Wright is no stranger to controversy and strong reaction to the bold statements he makes that could be interpreted as un-American, or at least as against the grain of what is accepted as the truth.

In an essay by Wright titled “Going down the wrong path,” published in the Sept. 20, 2001, issue of the CN&R, the then-Chico State professor explored the attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon that had occurred nine days earlier. That essay sought to explain the cause of the horrendous assault: “We are being told that the suicide bombings were an attack on ‘our way of life’ and ‘our values,’” Wright wrote. “That is simply not true. This was an attack on U.S. foreign policy. The very choice of targets—the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, both explicit symbols of U.S. global military and economic power and policies—tells us that.”

A few days after the attack, Wright spoke in the Chico State Free Speech Area and his remarks, published in the Chico Enterprise-Record, drew a storm of local criticism that went viral, and the story was eventually picked up by the Wall Street Journal and Fox News.

During last week’s speech, Wright said he asked Ryan Patton, the chair of the Chico State Political Science Department, to arrange the talk because of his apprehensions about the state of the world at this particular moment, particularly what is going on in Ukraine.

“What adds to that concern is the enormous propaganda that has caught onto our culture and society that has totally demonized [Russian President] Vladimir Putin, which has blinded people in our society to exactly what is going on in Ukraine and who is responsible for developments there,” he said. “Since Chico State has always been a platform for me, going back to the early 1960s, to talk about current events, I’m going to take liberty today and do the same thing.”

Wright taught at Chico State from 1969 to 2003, including courses in American government, African international relations and politics of Third World nations.

“I also taught American foreign policy a few times, although some of my international relations friends didn’t want me to teach the course because I’d give a slightly different slant than they wanted their students to hear,” he said. “But I never agonized over that.”

Wright also attended Chico State as a student, beginning in 1964, six weeks after the Gulf of Tonkin incident in which the U.S. Navy destroyer Maddox was reportedly fired upon on two occasions by North Vietnamese torpedo boats. Based on the reports, then-President Lyndon Johnson authorized retaliatory air strikes against North Vietnam and the war was on.

Wright recalled walking into his Far East Asian history class and the professor announcing that the the United States was involved in a war in Southeast Asia that was “immoral, illegal and wrong.”

“From that point in time I’ve been a student of United States foreign policy,” Wright told the audience. “I began to realize that the presidents of the United States lie and many people in their administrations lie as well. A few years later, over in the Free Speech Area of the Chico State campus, I was giving a talk about the Vietnam War. When I started the speech, I thought that the issue was Vietnam, but halfway through the speech it dawned on me that Vietnam was just a symptom; that the real problem was U.S. imperialism. Fifty years later, nothing has changed—the government still lies and it’s still about U.S. imperialism.”

He said what is currently going on in Ukraine is not a reaction to what Putin is doing, but in fact preplanned strategies by the West “that have been in the works for this instance at least since 1991.”

“The Ukranian crisis is a prologue to World War III,” he said. “I’m very serious about that. This is the most dangerous moment the world has faced since the Cuban Missile Crisis and most people in our society do not have any inkling as to what’s going on.”