FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Ukraine and Syria, In Orwellian Times

by

We live in the times that George Orwell predicted in his groundbreaking novel 1984.  A time of deception, where nothing is what it seems to be. Lost in a deep fog of propaganda that passes for information, we have to decipher through conflicting narratives, where stories are planted to hide other ones. In this fictional conundrum, reality has become surreal, and words have lost their meaning. In our Orwellian lexicon, a pro-capitalist and neo-colonialist such as French President Francois Hollande is called a socialist; violent imperialist  interventions conducted by the United States and its allies, or even the United Nations, worldwide are called humanitarian missions or peacekeeping missions; policies of regime change, already conducted in Iraq and Libya, and underway in Ukraine, Syria, Venezuela, and even Cuba, are called promoting democracy or strengthening civil society. In Orwellian times, a phony revolution in Kiev is concocted by neocons in Washington DC with help from so-called humanitarian non-g0vernmental organizations (NGO), and USAID takes on the CIA’s role to promote supposedly spontaneous protests in Cuba. In Orwellian times, a big lie often repeated becomes the truth. When policymakers are spin masters, truth is the first casualty.

Smoke and Mirrors: Spin as Policy

Public policy with the welfare of millions at stake should be a serious matter. But this has been treated with contempt by the so-called public servants who should take it most to heart. Politicians, especially the heads of state, are marketed and sold to the public like big-ticket items. Most citizens have become consumers of political products. As in advertising, political campaigns are tested on focus groups. Once a political brand is established, consumers develop a relationship to the brand either of trust and  fidelity or hostility. In the United States, Bush, Clinton and Kennedy are well-known political brands. In France, the brand Le Pen is trending strongly. The symbiosis of politics and marketing is symptomatic of this age. Once addicted to a brand, the political consumer will keep buying it (voting for it). In Orwellian times, branding is king.

Putin: The New Bogeyman

Before the referendum in Crimea, Hillary Clinton compared Vladimir Putin’s actions to those of Adolf  Hitler in the buildup to World War II. Historically, this was a grossly inaccurate comparison, but to the average Clinton consumer, it conveyed the simple equation: Putin=Hitler. The West always needs a bogeyman, an enemy number one. Russian President Vladimir Putin, the current popular leader of the former “evil empire” could not have been a better candidate.  To stay on message, the sycophant Western mainstream media hint that Putin’s hidden agenda is to restore the Soviet Union, and that the neo-Nazis in Ukraine and Jihadists in Syria are revolutionaries. In Orwellian times,  information is mostly propaganda and conventions such as calling the US president the “leader of the free world” have become as oxymoronic as the coal industry’s advertisements of “clean coal.” When NATO declares that it wants to “promote stability in Eastern Europe,” it is doing exactly the opposite by provoking Moscow.

Ukraine Crisis: a New Raison d’etre for NATO

NATO has received a big boost from the Ukrainian crisis: a reclaimed raison d’etre, and it will likely recruit new members such as Sweden and Finland. The military alliance plans to reinforce its ties with Armenia, Moldova and Azerbaijan as well as present a stronger presence in the Baltic states. The US has stationed six F15 in Lithuania, and plans to send sixteen F16 and four C-130 to Poland. More AWACS surveillance flights and a stronger presence in the Eastern Baltic sea, regular air patrol over Baltic states, and a boost of the number of troops in Romania are also on NATO’s agenda. Russia legitimately views NATO’s actions as a strategy of encirclement. At the end of the USSR in 1991, US President George Bush Sr., German Chancellor Helmut Khol and US Secretary of State James Baker gave the Soviet Premier, Mikhail Gorbachev, a formal guarantee that there would never be an Eastern expansion of NATO to include former members of the Warsaw Pact. But under Vladimir Putin, Russia has been investing in its military, and Western analysts, including the powerful puppet masters of the Council on Foreign Relations took notice and were impressed by the Russian troops’ performance in Crimea.

A Boost for the Global Military-Industrial Complex

The 1991 agreement between Gorbachev and the West was never respected by any US administration, and it is the major issue with regard to Ukraine. Since 1945, and even more so since the collapse of the USSR, the US has behaved as a bully even as it presented itself as the voice and conscience of the international community.  If NATO is not stopped, its Eastward expansion might continue to include Montenegro, Macedonia, and Bosnia. Importantly, the tension with Russia will serve as a pretext to continue to base US ballistic nuclear weapons in Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Italy and Turkey for a long time. This revisited Cold War provides a unique opportunity to justify a boost in military spending everywhere: especially in the US and Russia. It is also a way for the US to legitimize and expand, almost 70 years after the end of World War II, the occupation by its troops of 900 US military bases in more than 150 countries. While tensions rise in Europe over Ukraine, the top five arms manufacturing and exporting countries, which are the US, Russia, Germany, France and China, will benefit most as their merchants of death justify a boost of military budgets by the new arms race, especially between the US, Russia and China.

For Both Ukraine and Syria, Balkanization or Federation Should be on the Table

As ethnic and pro-Russian arm themselves and take over official buildings in Donetsk, demanding independence from Kiev, Ukraine’s crisis enters a phase three. Phase one was the Western-sponsored Maidan pseudo revolution, phase two was the referendum that attached Crimea to the Russian federation. On April 12, 2014, protesters in Donetsk were joined by coalminers behind barricades made of stack tires and barbed wire. The support of coalminers, a work force of about 100,000, could be a tipping point for a push at either a full-on partition of Ukraine or a federation with considerable autonomy. Donetsk is the center of Eastern Ukraine’s coal-mining area; it is historically called the Donbass and 75 percent of the population are Russian speakers. The pro-Russian secession protest seems to be gaining momentum as armed separatists take over official buildings in the smaller towns of Slaviansk and Kramatorsk. Meanwhile the benefactors of the Euromaidan coup in Kiev threaten to crack down on the protesters in Eastern Ukraine, whom they call terrorists: a surreal irony from an illegitimate government.

Syria’s deadly three-year-old proxy war has almost disappeared from the news as the killings, displacements and destruction of the country continue. But this is about to change. On April 12, 2014, new accusations of the use of poison gas (presumably sarin gas) floated back and forth between Bashar al-Assad’s government and rebel forces. The attack, which is believed to have killed two people and injured many, was reported in the village of Kfar Zeita. The al-Assad administration immediately blamed the al-Qaeda affiliated al-Nusra Front while, predictably, the Western-backed Syrian National Coalition pointed the fingers towards the Syrian government. Since the grave crisis of fall 2013, when a NATO military attack was dissuaded by Russia and China, the al-Assad government agreed to decommission all of his chemical arsenal.

The deadline is approaching fast. So far, the political negotiations between al-Assad and the Syrian opposition, organized by Russia and the US have failed. The new tension between Russia and the West over Ukraine will make the already difficult task of a political solution for Syria almost impossible. Just like in Ukraine, a Balkanization, or loose federation of Syria along sectarian lines, as suggested in this publication on January 10, 2013, might be the only way out of a deadly crisis. In the Orwellian construct of most policymakers, it is common to pretend that gangrene is a trivial infection, as wrecking nations and  engineering permanent crisis is good for business, whereas in honest geopolitics you act quickly, inform the patient, and amputate the gangrenous arm or leg.

Gilbert Mercier is the Editor in Chief of News Junkie Post, where this essay originally appeared.

Gilbert Mercier is the editor in chief of News Junkie Post and the author of  The Orwellian Empire.

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

March 30, 2017
William R. Polk
What Must be Done in the Time of Trump
Howard Lisnoff
Enough of Russia! There’s an Epidemic of Despair in the US
Ralph Nader
Crash of Trumpcare Opens Door to Full Medicare for All
Carol Polsgrove
Gorsuch and the Power of the Executive: Behind the Congressional Stage, a Legal Drama Unfolds
Michael J. Sainato
Fox News Should Finally Dump Bill O’Reilly
Kenneth Surin
Former NC Governor Pat McCory’s Job Search Not Going Well
Binoy Kampmark
The Price of Liberation: Slaughtering Civilians in Mosul
Bruce Lesnick
Good Morning America!
William Binney and Ray McGovern
The Surveillance State Behind Russia-gate: Will Trump Take on the Spooks?
Jill Richardson
Gutting Climate Protections Won’t Bring Back Coal Jobs
Robert Pillsbury
Maybe It’s Time for Russia to Send Us a Wake-Up Call
Prudence Crowther
Swamp Rats Sue Trump
March 29, 2017
Jeffrey Sommers
Donald Trump and Steve Bannon: Real Threats More Serious Than Fake News Trafficked by Media
David Kowalski
Does Washington Want to Start a New War in the Balkans?
Patrick Cockburn
Bloodbath in West Mosul: Civilians Being Shot by Both ISIS and Iraqi Troops
Ron Forthofer
War and Propaganda
Matthew Stevenson
Letter From Phnom Penh
James Bovard
Peanuts Prove Congress is Incorrigible
Thomas Knapp
Presidential Golf Breaks: Good For America
Binoy Kampmark
Disaster as Joy: Cyclone Debbie Strikes
Peter Tatchell
Human Rights are Animal Rights!
George Wuerthner
Livestock Grazing vs. the Sage Grouse
Jesse Jackson
Trump Should Form a Bipartisan Coalition to Get Real Reforms
Thomas Mountain
Rwanda Indicts French Generals for 1994 Genocide
Clancy Sigal
President of Pain
Andrew Stewart
President Gina Raimondo?
Lawrence Wittner
Can Our Social Institutions Catch Up with Advances in Science and Technology?
March 28, 2017
Mike Whitney
Ending Syria’s Nightmare will Take Pressure From Below 
Mark Kernan
Memory Against Forgetting: the Resonance of Bloody Sunday
John McMurtry
Fake News: the Unravelling of US Empire From Within
Ron Jacobs
Mad Dog, Meet Eris, Queen of Strife
Michael J. Sainato
State Dept. Condemns Attacks on Russian Peaceful Protests, Ignores Those in America
Ted Rall
Five Things the Democrats Could Do to Save Their Party (But Probably Won’t)
Linn Washington Jr.
Judge Neil Gorsuch’s Hiring Practices: Privilege or Prejudice?
Philippe Marlière
Benoît Hamon, the Socialist Presidential Hopeful, is Good News for the French Left
Norman Pollack
Political Cannibalism: Eating America’s Vitals
Bruce Mastron
Obamacare? Trumpcare? Why Not Cubacare?
David Macaray
Hollywood Screen and TV Writers Call for Strike Vote
Christian Sorensen
We’ve Let Capitalism Kill the Planet
Rodolfo Acuna
What We Don’t Want to Know
Binoy Kampmark
The Futility of the Electronics Ban
Andrew Moss
Why ICE Raids Imperil Us All
March 27, 2017
Robert Hunziker
A Record-Setting Climate Going Bonkers
Frank Stricker
Why $15 an Hour Should be the Absolute Minimum Minimum Wage
Melvin Goodman
The Disappearance of Bipartisanship on the Intelligence Committees
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail