The propaganda war against Russia


Robert Parry marvels at how the US media quickly picks up and follows the official narrative of the US government when it comes to geopolitics. The latest is how Russia’s actions in the world are described when compared with US actions, and how Russian president Vladimir Putin is portrayed as a lunatic. He uses a recent New York Times article as an example.

Rather than offer the Times’ readers an objective or even slightly fair-minded account of Putin’s remarks, we are fed a steady diet of highly prejudicial language, such as we find in Saturday’s article about Putin’s comments at a conference in which he noted U.S. contributions to chaos in countries, such as Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria and Ukraine.

That Putin is correct appears almost irrelevant to the Times, which simply writes that Putin “unleashed perhaps his strongest diatribe against the United States yet” with his goal “to sell Moscow’s view that American meddling has sparked most of the world’s recent crises.”

The underlying reality of the Ukraine crisis was that Putin actually supported the country’s status quo, i.e. maintaining the elected president and the constitutional process. It was the United States along with the European Union that sought to topple the existing system and pull Ukraine from Russia’s orbit into the West’s.

Whatever one thinks about the merits of that change, it is factually wrong to accuse Putin of initiating the Ukraine crisis or to extrapolate from Official Washington’s false conventional wisdom and conclude that Putin is a new Hitler, an aggressor seeking to reestablish the Soviet Union or the Russian Empire.

But the Times and other major U.S. news outlets have wedded themselves to that propaganda theme and now cannot deviate from it. So, when Putin states the obvious – that the U.S. has meddled in the affairs of other nations and that Russia did not pick the fight over Ukraine – his comments must be treated like the ravings of a lunatic unleashing some “diatribe.”

Among Putin’s ranting was his observation, according to the Times article, that “the United States supports ‘dubious’ groups ranging from ‘open neo-fascists to Islamic radicals.’

“‘Why do they support such people,’ he asked the annual gathering known as the Valdai Club, which met this year in the southern resort town of Sochi. ‘They do this because they decide to use them as instruments along the way in achieving their goals, but then burn their fingers and recoil.’

There are more than enough reasons to criticize Putin without making him into a cartoon villain whose every utterance is ridiculed. When done by the media, that is not journalism, it is propaganda. When done by the government, it prevents serious discussions at the diplomatic level that can resolve difficult issues peacefully.

Comments

  1. says

    I think it’s fascinating that the same country that elected George Bush once (and let him steal another election) is complaining about Putin being a crazed militarist thug who stole elections.

  2. Paulo Borges says

    A serious discussion on the real issues is not beneficial to the western governments for such a discussion would ultimate lead to the conclusion that Putin’s actions are not that different from what has been US and EU the foreign policy. The US and EU must maintain the moral high ground at least in the point of view of the majority of their own population, hence the need to make Putin look like a lunatic with a thirst for power. Needless to say that Putin makes it too easy.
    All in all, there isn’t much difference between Russian actions in Eastern Europe and US and EU actions in the Middle East.

  3. sailor1031 says

    Bush didn’t win election as president. He did win election as Governor of TX. He stole the presidential elections in Florida in 2000 and in Ohio in 2004.

  4. moarscienceplz says

    I don’t think anything I’ve read or heard has painted Putin as a lunatic. His every move seems to be well considered as to the risk/reward ratio for himself.

    The underlying reality of the Ukraine crisis was that Putin actually supported the country’s status quo, i.e. maintaining the elected president and the constitutional process. It was the United States along with the European Union that sought to topple the existing system and pull Ukraine from Russia’s orbit into the West’s.

    I admit I am getting my news through a western-tilted filter, but it seemed to me that the toppling of Yanukovych was pretty much internally driven. And in any case, does anyone seriously think annexing Crimea was a good way to promote peace and stability?

  5. mnb0 says

    Let’s consider a few hard facts.

    1. Putin annexed the Crimea and the west did or could not do anything about it.
    2. Putin with very limited means totaly destabilized an entire country (the economy of Ukraine has collapsed; a negative growth of 4,7% in three months according to some sources) and the west did or could not do anything about it.
    3. Putin’s cronies shot down an airplane with lots of passengers from a faithful NATO-member (The Netherlands) and not only Putin but also those cronies got away with it.

    For a lunatic Putin has had remarkable success this year.
    And look what I read just today:

    http://www.nu.nl/buitenland/3916786/oekraine-rusland-en-eu-sluiten-gasakkoord.html

    Ukraine, Russia and EU close an agreement on the delivery of Russian gas to Ukraine.
    Mind you, I don’t like Putin at all, but I see only one conclusion: he has played his cards well.

  6. DsylexicHippo says

    Putin is one smart cookie, smarter than our Nobel prize winning constitutional law professor in my opinion. Somehow, “lunatic” is not the word that comes to my mind when I think of him. The nut in North Korea – now that’s a textbook example of a lunatic.

  7. says

    The nut in North Korea – now that’s a textbook example of a lunatic

    He probably has very little actual power. He’s in a marginalized country that has nothing to offer anyone except missile technology, now that the A.Q. Khan network poisoned the nuclear well. He’s not a lunatic, at all. His dad appears to have had a hollywood-sized ego, and was on par with some of the other clowns he used to party with, but the N. Koreans have generally been fairly rational. They periodically attempt nuclear blackmail in order to get foreign aid, and it generally works. They played the Clinton administration like a ten-cent flute. Hardly lunatic.

  8. DsylexicHippo says

    @Marcus, #7: I hear you but there is ample evidence that he has an ego that rivals his dad’s. The nut has not fallen far off the twisted tree. His dad, another lunatic, was a master of nuclear brinkmanship whereas this man-child appears to be a master at building theme parks and hosting Dennis Rodman.

    I meant lunatic as in psychopathic and there is no denying that he has shown psychopathic tendencies. His now departed uncle would have agreed.

  9. Sean (I am not an imposter) says

    The fact is the US does support neo-Nazis in Ukraine and Islamist militants (including Al Qaeda) in the Mideast. Putin is not “ranting,” he is speaking the truth. Crimea was annexed to Russia through a democratic process with most of the people there voting in favor. Contrast this with Kosovo which was torn away from Serbia with the help of NATO warplanes and Islamic terrorists and which is now run by a government that is little more than a mafia.

    The US supported the coup in Ukraine against a democratically-elected government which installed a bunch of neo-Nazi thugs who quickly banned the use of the Russian language and some of whom called for the extermination of the Russian-speaking populace. Yet somehow, Putin is the menace here.

    Putin should have been more aggressive in protecting the Russian-speaking areas which desired to secede from Ukraine. The mere presence of Russian troops would have prevented the Ukrainian army from launching its ethnic-cleansing campaign.

  10. Dunc says

    Ukraine, Russia and EU close an agreement on the delivery of Russian gas to Ukraine.

    Yeah, that’s the real elephant in the room, especially when you realise that Russian gas piped via Ukraine is what keeps the lights on all across western Europe. It constantly amazes me to here various European (and British) nutters talking about Russia as some sort of conventional military threat, when all they need to do to bring the entire continent to its knees is turn off the taps for a week. Getting into a military tussle with Russia wouldn’t be shooting ourselves in the foot, it would be shooting ourselves in the head. And that is why, for all the tough talk, we’re not actually going to do anything, no matter what they do, as long as the spice gas keeps flowing.

  11. Sean (I am not an imposter) says

    @ 11

    That the government of Ukraine is dominated by fascists is hardly news anymore. It’s not like they are keeping it a secret. Even Foreign Policy magazine–no friend of Putin the oppressor of punk rockers everywhere–acknowledges the fascistic nature of the Ukraine government and particularly the neo-Nazi Svoboda party, whose symbol was once the “Wolfsangel” worn by several Waffen SS units, which is now worn by more than one Ukrainian combat unit.

    http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2014/03/18/yes_there_are_bad_guys_in_the_ukrainian_government

    Even CNN, usually a reliable source of US government propaganda, has been forced to acknowledge the facts. The videos don’t lie:

    http://my.firedoglake.com/operationmindcrime/2014/09/06/cnn-finally-recognizes-the-kiev-coup-army-is-killing-innocent-civilians-in-east-ukraine/

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