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Archive for the ‘Russia’ Category

A neocon -staged resignation at RT? Stage-managed journalism everywhere?

Posted by Charles II on December 10, 2014

As regular readers know, I encourage media viewers not to trust any outlet, and to be aware of the biases of each outlet. Russia Today (RT) is state-run TV. So is BBC. So is Al Jazeera. And, due to a certain history, so–to some degree– is the New York Times. None of them should be believed credulously. Instead, the reader/viewer has to sift through the biases and figure what topics each source lies about and which ones it tends to be truthful about.

Max Blumenthal and Rania Khalek, Truthdig:

For her public act of protest against Russia Today’s coverage of the Russian invasion of Ukrainian territory and supposedly advancing the agenda of Vladimir Putin in Washington, D.C., previously unknown news anchor Liz Wahl has suddenly become one of the most famous unemployed people in America. After her on-air resignation from the cable news channel, Wahl appeared on the three major American cable news outlets—CNN, Fox News, MSNBC—to denounce the heavy-handed editorial line she claims her bosses imposed on her and other staffers.

Behind the coverage of Wahl’s dramatic protest, a cadre of neoconservatives was celebrating a public relations coup.

At the center of the intrigue is a young neoconservative writer and activist who helped craft Wahl’s strategy and exploit her resignation to propel the agenda of a powerful pro-war lobby in Washington.

[James] Kirchick acknowledged having been in contact with Wahl since August, but cast himself as a passive bystander to the spectacle….
So who was Kirchick, and what sort of commitment did he maintain to “objectivity and the truth?”

In fact, Kirchick was a senior fellow at FPI, the neoconservative think tank that had hyped up Wahl’s resignation minutes before she quit. Launched by Weekly Standard founder William Kristol and two former foreign policy aides to Mitt Romney, Dan Senor and Robert Kagan (the husband of Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland), FPI grew directly out of the Project for a New American Century that led the public pressure campaign for a unilateral U.S. invasion of Iraq after the Bin Laden-orchestrated 9/11 attacks.

Now, I stumbled across this in a very interesting piece by Margarita Simonyan of RT on how that network has been trashed by American media in the service of undermining its Ukraine reporting. In the wake of that effort everyone “knows” that RT is a propaganda outlet–as well I know from the trashing that I saw at the Daily Kos of anyone who dared link RT. There’s no question that Russia is an interested party in Ukraine–they regard it as an existential issue– and that their state-run media reflect that. But one need only mention Judith Miller to recall that our media also serve as stenographers to government. So RT’s reporting should be questioned. But look at what they have presented in defending their journalistic integrity (Simonyan):

* Evidence that one of their employees was bought off or pressured into resigning by well-known neoconservatives
* Evidence that CNN censored its own relentlessly hostile interview of an RT journalist to avoid confronting Christiane Amanpour’s conflict of interest (she’s married to Jamie Rubin of the State Dept.)
* A statement (confirmed in The Guardian) that they were threatened with closure by the British government because their reporting wasn’t truthful (as if this standard has ever been applied to a Murdoch property)
* A claim that even The Guardian has been running an unusual number of stories hostile to RT (See, for example, here)

This is unsettling to anyone who understands that we get at the truth by sifting through the lies that different self-interested parties tell. Even The Guardian, which should be the beacon for press freedom, can publish a piece of trash like Nick Cohen‘s purely ad hominem bashing of RT. Even Christiane Amanpour, who has done a lot of courageous frontline reporting, can be used as a tool by her network to try to discredit another network. Even the British press office, Ofcom, can make an Orwellian threat to silence a news outlet because it says that it lies by contradicting the British government.

If RT is silenced, it will give our own government much more freedom to lie.

Posted in abuse of power, Media machine, propaganda, Russia | 3 Comments »

Phantoms of the operatives

Posted by Charles II on December 8, 2014

John Pilger:

These are urgent questions. The world is facing the prospect of major war, perhaps nuclear war – with the United States clearly determined to isolate and provoke Russia and eventually China. This truth is being turned upside down and inside out by journalists, including those who promoted the lies that led to the bloodbath in Iraq in 2003.

The times we live in are so dangerous and so distorted in public perception that propaganda is no longer, as Edward Bernays called it, an “invisible government.” It is the government. It rules directly without fear of contradiction and its principal aim is the conquest of us: our sense of the world, our ability to separate truth from lies.

The same is true of the Washington Post and the Guardian, both of which have played a critical role in conditioning their readers to accept a new and dangerous cold war. All three liberal newspapers have misrepresented events in Ukraine as a malign act by Russia – when, in fact, the fascist-led coup in Ukraine was the work of the United States, aided by Germany and NATO.

This inversion of reality is so pervasive that Washington’s military encirclement and intimidation of Russia is not contentious. It’s not even news, but suppressed behind a smear-and-scare campaign of the kind I grew up with during the first Cold War. Once again, the Evil Empire is coming to get us, led by another Stalin or, perversely, a new Hitler. Name your demon and let rip.

The suppression of the truth about Ukraine is one of the most complete news blackouts I can remember. The biggest Western military build-up in the Caucasus and Eastern Europe since World War Two is blacked out. Washington’s secret aid to Kiev and its neo-Nazi brigades responsible for war crimes against the population of eastern Ukraine is blacked out. Evidence that contradicts propaganda that Russia was responsible for the shooting down of a Malaysian airliner is blacked out.

I think Pilger overstates the case. Russia has dominated Ukraine and is now being challenged by the West. The intent is certainly to encircle and besiege Russia, but there are plenty of countries in Eastern Europe who feel threatened by Russia and regard the siege as a means by which they are defended. This is a contest of two empires, where neither has pure motives, and the actions of both are indefensible. The difference is that only Russians can do something about Russian imperialism, while only Americans can do something about American imperialism. And so Americans–and Britons, and Germans, and French and (like Pilger) Australians should indeed speak out against the actions of their governments.

Pilger thinks that journalists are no longer CIA operatives, as Carl Bernstein revealed in a previous era, just sycophants who print what they’re told to print by the government. I wonder.

In any case, many things that we think we know are just phantoms, produced by operatives.

Posted in Russia, Ukraine | 2 Comments »

Kissinger says US dealings in Ukraine were inept

Posted by Charles II on November 13, 2014

Crossposted from DK.

Der Spiegel:

SPIEGEL: So let’s talk about a concrete example: How should the West react to the Russian annexation of Crimea? Do you fear this might mean that borders in the future are no longer incontrovertible?

Kissinger: Crimea is a symptom, not a cause. Furthermore, Crimea is a special case. Ukraine was part of Russia for a long time.

SPIEGEL: What you’re saying is that the West has at least a kind of responsibility for the escalation?

Kissinger: Yes, I am saying that. Europe and America did not understand the impact of these events, starting with the negotiations about Ukraine’s economic relations with the European Union and culminating in the demonstrations in Kiev.

Ukraine has always had a special significance for Russia. It was a mistake not to realize that.

…the West could not accept the annexation; some countermeasures were necessary. But nobody in the West has offered a concrete program to restore Crimea. Nobody is willing to fight over eastern Ukraine. That’s a fact of life.

We have to remember that Russia is an important part of the international system, and therefore useful in solving all sorts of other crises, for example in the agreement on nuclear proliferation with Iran or over Syria. This has to have preference over a tactical escalation in a specific case…. I don’t think it’s a law of nature that every state must have the right to be an ally in the frame work of NATO.

SPIEGEL: America is very polarized. The level of aggression in the political debate is extremely high. Is the superpower still even able to act at all?

Kissinger: I am worried about this domestic split. When I worked in Washington, political combat was tough. But there was much more cooperation and contact between opponents of the two big parties.

Posted in history, international, Russia | Leave a Comment »

Tomorrow’s headlines

Posted by Charles II on November 10, 2014

Maybe not tomorrow, but soon, the frictions between Russia and the US over Ukraine and NATO are going to impinge on our existence.

Chris Johnson, The Guardian:

Mikhail Gorbachev has warned that tensions between the US and Russia over Ukraine have put the world on the brink of a new cold war.

The former leader of the Soviet Union said: “We must make sure that we get the tensions that have arisen recently under control.”

The 83-year-old former leader has accused the west – particularly the US – of “triumphalism” after the collapse of the communist bloc.

Gorbachev called for new trust to be built through dialogue with Moscow and suggested the west should lift sanctions imposed against senior Russian officials over its actions in eastern Ukraine.

Before arriving in Berlin, he gave pointed backing to Russian president Vladimir Putin, saying the Ukraine crisis offered an “excuse” for the US to victimise Russia: “I am absolutely convinced that Putin protects Russia’s interests better than anyone else.”

Ewen McAskill, The Guardian:

Close military encounters between Russia and the west have jumped to cold war levels, with 40 dangerous or sensitive incidents recorded in the past eight months alone, according to a report published on Monday.

The report, Dangerous Brinkmanship by the European Leadership Network, logs a series of “highly disturbing” incidents since the Ukrainian crisis began earlier this year, including an alarming near-collision between a Russian reconnaissance plane and a passenger plane taking off from Denmark in March with 132 passengers on board.

The Guardian:

A column of 32 tanks, 16 howitzer artillery systems and trucks carrying ammunition and fighters has crossed into eastern Ukraine from Russia, the Kiev military said on Friday.

“The deployment continues of military equipment and Russian mercenaries to the frontlines,” spokesman Andriy Lysenko said in a televised briefing referring to Thursday’s cross-border incursion.

Nato said it has seen an increase in Russian troops and equipment along the Ukraine border was looking into the reports. “We are aware of the reports of Russian troops and tanks crossing the border between Ukraine and Russia,” a Nato military officer told Reuters. “If this crossing into Ukraine is confirmed it would be further evidence of Russia’s aggression and direct involvement in destabilising Ukraine.”

I have no idea whether the West or Russia should be considered the aggressor. But this sure sounds like the sort of thing that ends up in someone doing something that we all regret.

Posted in Russia | Leave a Comment »

More yikes

Posted by Charles II on November 4, 2014

Sydney Morning Herald:

Kiev: Ukraine is rearming and deploying newly formed units to protect cities in the east of the country from threatened attempts by pro-Russian rebels to seize more territory.

Troops were in place to defend government-held cities from Mariupol on the Black Sea to Kharkiv in the north-east, near Russia, he said.

Posted in Russia | Leave a Comment »

Kiev’s neo-Nazis

Posted by Charles II on September 10, 2014

Shaun Walker of The Guardian had an interesting story:

But there is an increasing worry that while the Azov and other volunteer battalions might be Ukraine’s most potent and reliable force on the battlefield against the separatists, they also pose the most serious threat to the Ukrainian government, and perhaps even the state, when the conflict in the east is over. The Azov causes particular concern due to the far right, even neo-Nazi, leanings of many of its members.

Dmitry claimed not to be a Nazi, but waxed lyrical about Adolf Hitler as a military leader, and believes the Holocaust never happened. Not everyone in the Azov battalion thinks like Dmitry, but after speaking with dozens of its fighters and embedding on several missions during the past week in and around the strategic port city of Mariupol, the Guardian found many of them to have disturbing political views, and almost all to be intent on “bringing the fight to Kiev” when the war in the east is over.

The battalion’s symbol is reminiscent of the Nazi Wolfsangel, though the battalion claims it is in fact meant to be the letters N and I crossed over each other, standing for “national idea”. Many of its members have links with neo-Nazi groups, and even those who laughed off the idea that they are neo-Nazis did not give the most convincing denials.

Indeed, much of what Azov members say about race and nationalism is strikingly similar to the views of the more radical Russian nationalists fighting with the separatist side.

The Ukrainian armed forces are “an army of lions led by a sheep”, said Dmitry, and there is only so long that dynamic can continue. With so many armed, battle-hardened and angry young men coming back from the front, there is a danger that the rolling of heads could be more than a metaphor. Dmitry said he believes that Ukraine needs “a strong dictator to come to power who could shed plenty of blood but unite the nation in the process”.

Many in the Azov battalion [and other batallions] with whom the Guardian spoke shared this view

Anti-Semitism and strongman worship are so common in parts of the world that one hesitates to call them abnormal. They are part of the air that people breathe. But the part about the Azov fighters and others like them might turn on the Poroshenko government should give Washington pause. It’s crazy that the US has sided with Kiev given its use of neo-Nazi elements.

Posted in Russia, totalitarianism, Ukraine | Tagged: , | Comments Off

Read these

Posted by Charles II on August 13, 2014

Blame Turkey for arming ISIS.

[This is not to say Turkey is primarily to blame. This sounds like a narrative to blame Turkey for something the US either approved or acceded to.]

How US destroyed Iraq

Patrick Cockburn on ISIS.

And especially this:

In the face of these failures Iraq’s Shia majority is taking comfort from two beliefs that, if true, would mean the present situation is not as dangerous as it looks. They argue that Iraq’s Sunnis have risen in revolt and Isis fighters are only the shock troops or vanguard of an uprising provoked by the anti-Sunni policies and actions of Maliki. Once he is replaced, as is almost certain, Baghdad will offer the Sunnis a new power-sharing agreement with regional autonomy similar to that enjoyed by the Kurds. Then the Sunni tribes, former military officers and Baathists who have allowed Isis to take the lead in the Sunni revolt will turn on their ferocious allies. Despite all signs to the contrary, Shia at all levels are putting faith in this myth, that Isis is weak and can be easily discarded by Sunni moderates once they’ve achieved their goals. One Shia said to me: ‘I wonder if Isis really exists.’

Unfortunately, Isis not only exists but is an efficient and ruthless organisation that has no intention of waiting for its Sunni allies to betray it. In Mosul it demanded that all opposition fighters swear allegiance to the Caliphate or give up their weapons. In late June and early July they detained between 15 to 20 former officers from Saddam Hussein’s time, including two generals. Groups that had put up pictures of Saddam were told to take them down or face the consequences. ‘It doesn’t seem likely,’ Aymenn al-Tamimi, an expert on jihadists, said, ‘that the rest of the Sunni military opposition will be able to turn against Isis successfully. If they do, they will have to act as quickly as possible before Isis gets too strong.’

It would be a really good time to cut a deal with Putin, Assad, Abbas, and Rouhani, and get back to the business of repressing the really dangerous people in that part of the world. Too bad we don’t have a Congress intelligent enough to see this.

Posted in Conflict in the Middle East, Iran, Iraq war, Russia, Syria, terrorism | 6 Comments »

NYT notices Ukraine’s neo-Nazis. In the last paragraph.

Posted by Charles II on August 10, 2014

Andrew Kramer, NYT:

Officials in Kiev say the militias and the army coordinate their actions, but the militias, which count about 7,000 fighters, are angry and, at times, uncontrollable. One known as Azov, which took over the village of Marinka, flies a neo-Nazi symbol resembling a Swastika as its flag.

In pressing their advance, the fighters took their orders from a local army commander, rather than from Kiev. In the video of the attack, no restraint was evident. Gesturing toward a suspected pro-Russian position, one soldier screamed, “The bastards are right there!” Then he opened fire.

This via Robert Parry, who culls the items showing the role of neo-Nazis in the removal of the elected president, Viktor Yanukovych and in the violent confrontations that followed.

Kramer notes that the Ukrainian strategy is based on the theory that the Russians are going to let them overrun the nationalists and consolidate their hold on power. I would guess that the reason we are not already hip deep in Iraq has to do less with Obama’s restraint and more with fears that the Russians are just waiting for the right moment.

Also interesting: in the coup, the confederate flag was reportedly amid Nazi symbols (although this is not as evident from the video as Flounders implies).

Posted in Iraq war, Russia | 4 Comments »

Stating the obvious

Posted by Charles II on July 30, 2014

Ray McGovern et al., Consortium News:

If the U.S. has more convincing evidence than what has so far been adduced concerning responsibility for shooting down Flight 17, we believe it would be best to find a way to make that intelligence public …

We reiterate our recommendations of May 4, that you remove the seeds of this confrontation by publicly disavowing any wish to incorporate Ukraine into NATO …

These are actual intelligence analysts, telling us that it looks like the intelligence and facts are being fixed around the policy.

So, of course, the corporate media can’t interview them.

Posted in Russia | Comments Off

More on Malaysian airliner

Posted by Charles II on July 23, 2014

My take at DK here.

The Al Jazeera flavor is this:

U.S. intelligence officials said Tuesday they have no evidence of direct Russian government involvement in the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17. The statements, made anonymously to The Associated Press and Reuters, came after a train carrying the remains of many of the 298 victims of the Malaysian Airlines passenger jet – brought down over Ukraine’s restive east – arrived in government-controlled territory on Tuesday, and as experts began to examine the plane’s black boxes, which separatist rebels handed over to Malaysian officials.

U.S. intelligence officials said Tuesday that they believe pro-Russian separatists likely shot down the plane “by mistake,” and that they have no evidence the Russian government was directly involved.

The yahoos won’t admit it, but this is a huge climbdown. From ABC News:

Secretary of State John Kerry told American TV viewers that rebels shot down the plane with Russian weaponry

Except they’re not even sure that it was the rebels, and have no idea whether the weapon was supplied by the Russians or was pilfered from Ukrainian stores.

Just 14 hours ago, the Washington Post published this (granted, an OpEd by a postdoc who is probably busily eating his words at this moment):

Russian personnel may well have been involved in the decision to shoot down a civilian aircraft despite Putin’s early attempts to deny any role.

The bottom line is that Russian decision-makers are either guilty of gross negligence or have blood on their hands. If Russian personnel were involved in the decision to bring down MH17, Moscow’s own forces helped authorize and/or execute an operation which tragically resulted in 298 innocent civilian deaths.

What I hear at Daily Kos–which amounts, thanks to the lack of critical reasoning by some people, to a summary of the media narrative being pushed by corporate media and the State Department–that Russian military fired the missile deliberately, or that they trained the rebels to fire the missile and they supplied the missile, or that it doesn’t matter if the rebels fired it by accident because it’s murder all the same.

But what if the rebels procured the missile from Ukrainian stores and, through accident, incompetence, or recklessness, fired the missile at what they believed to be a Ukrainian military aircraft? Is that really worth starting the Cold War over?

Robert Parry has a different take. His sources say that the guys who fired the missile were wearing Ukrainian uniforms.

I think that getting to the most likely scenario is pretty easy. Is the Russian military a very cautious, top-down, centrally-controlled organization? Yes.
Would the Russians benefit from shooting down a civilian aircraft? No.
Suppose a Russian adviser was in charge of a battery manned by Ukrainian rebels. Would he shoot down a civilian aircraft? Certainly not if he were regular military. Possible if he were a Cossack volunteer. But still, unlikely.
So, is it likely that the Russians deliberately shot down the aircraft? No.
Repeat the same analysis with the Ukrainian rebels and the regular Ukrainian army. One of the two sounds a lot more plausible. A deliberate shootdown is unlikely, but if it were, the Ukrainian military is the only one with a plausible motive to do so.

Posted in Russia | 6 Comments »

 
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