Voutenay sur Cure, France.
The US war on Iraq began on March 20, 2003 and six weeks before that catastrophic conflict which has had such terrible consequences for the entire world Republican Congressman Joe Wilson showered praise on a newspaper for its weighty support of his president’s determination to invade a country that had done no harm to the United States.
Mr Wilson declared he “would like to call attention to an excellent editorial in today’s Washington Post, written by the newspaper’s editorial staff. They have presented a definitive summary of why we must act to disarm Iraq in preserving the safety of Americans.” And there then arose overwhelming national support for what the WP called “justified military intervention.” The paper carried 27 editorials supporting war on Iraq before the ‘Shock and Awe’ onslaught began destruction of the country. In a mist of majestic inanity its leader of February 5, 2003 declared that
a war in Iraq would not be primarily a humanitarian exercise but an operation essential to American security.
Next day one of the WP’s columnists, Richard Cohen, wrote acerbically that
Iraq not only hasn’t accounted for its weapons of mass destruction but without a doubt still retains them. Only a fool — or possibly a Frenchman — could conclude otherwise.
Only a columnist with the intelligence quotient of a mentally challenged crustacean would have ventured such judgment, but his views were greeted with enthusiasm verging on veneration. Similar balanced analyses by Washington Post gurus continue to appear today and many are quite as propaganda-intense as those that advocated the calamitous war on Iraq, the failed military campaign in Afghanistan and the destruction of Libya.
In 2015 the western ‘mainstream’ media has sharply increased its campaign against Russia and President Putin. The Post joined in at the head of the race and went off the planet in its editorial on February 2 by pronouncing that Putin “is attempting to win what he regards as a war against NATO and upend the post-Cold War order in Europe. He will stop only if the cost to his regime is sharply raised — and quickly.”
This was yet another recommendation that the US should prepare for conflict. The Post is seeking escalation of the already serious confrontation with Russia that the US-dominated NATO alliance has brought to boiling point. The great danger is that this increasingly belligerent stance could result in war in Europe and even destruction of the planet that the Washington Post quit some time ago. Its anti-Russia propaganda campaign is reaching depths that one might have thought had been excessively plumbed in its anti-Iraq fiasco.
Its tactics are mirrored elsewhere, and one pathetic but spiteful anti-Russia antic conjured up by some western media was to publicize “the pseudonym used by one of the Russian president’s daughters to stay out of the spotlight.”
It is regarded as unusual or even bizarre by the likes of Britain’s pitiful Telegraph newspaper (a pale shadow of its former accomplished self) that President Putin “is so secretive about his family that most Russians have no idea what his daughters look like.” All the media that headlined the “news” about Putin’s daughter used the same wording in repeating the disclosure that a Russian media organization had “found Putin’s daughter in the Scientific Council of Moscow State University.” This was regarded by the west’s celeb-fixated media outlets as being top-notch news, and they expanded on the meagre Facebook-based unsubstantiated trivia by announcing breathlessly that Putin “has made his and his family’s private life little less than a state secret.”
Putin is considered peculiar, mysterious and devious for “keeping his rarely-photographed daughters Yekaterina, 28, and Maria, 29, out of sight and managing his divorce with the minimum fuss.” Shock horror. This is decidedly non-Western and therefore a matter of grave concern to all and especially to such outlets as Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), an anti-Russia propaganda orifice funded by the US Congress to the tune of 90 million dollars a year.
RFE/RL was owned and financed by the CIA until its cover was blown by Ramparts magazine way back, but then Congress took over directly and intends to keep paying up until “a particular nation has clearly demonstrated the successful establishment and consolidation of democratic rule.” The “particular nation” is of course Russia which to the confused minds of America’s legislators is more welcome as an enemy than the friend it could so easily be.
This third-rate media conglomerate, backed to its expensive hilt by the US Congress, remains a primary means whereby the US and NATO can spread propaganda portraying Russia in as bad a light as can be cast. It rarely broadcasts anything even-handed : there is always a twist, a slant, a skillful arrangement of not-quite-whole-truth that would be the envy of the propaganda masters of Hitler’s Reich. Most other western media, so far as can be judged, is not quite so forthright in outright propaganda — but there is decided skill in its malevolent manipulation of “news” in order to catch the anti-Russia gale being propelled by Washington.
One recent example of skewed reporting was the treatment of Ukraine president Petro Poroshenko’s claim that Russia had 9,000 troops in eastern Ukraine along with “500 tanks, heavy artillery, and armored personnel carriers.” In Sun King style he commanded there be withdrawal of “all the foreign troops from my territory.”
This was out-and-out nonsense. He had made a totally absurd allegation. It took the Chief of Staff of Ukraine’s Armed Forces, General Viktor Muzhenko, to clarify matters. He said on January 29 that the “Ukrainian army is not fighting with the regular units of the Russian army.” He made it clear that his soldiers are fighting against irregulars who “are members of illegal armed groups.” This was straight talking by Ukraine’s most senior soldier, but it didn’t receive one line in any western newspaper. There was not a word of his statement publicized in Europe or America. So far as the public in the west is concerned the absurd allegation by Poroshenko is valid.
Then there is the arrest and highly-publicized prosecution of an alleged Russian spy in New York. This is such a contrived farce that it should be ignored except to observe that the unfortunate man concerned faces the full onslaught of sanctimonious anti-Russian self-righteousness that will ensure a hefty sentence, no matter what defense may be mounted.
On the other side of the Atlantic there is the much meatier and curious case in London of the former Soviet spy Alexander Litvinenko who was murdered there in 2006. He had been in the employ of Britain’s amateur secret service, MI6, so naturally successive British governments did nothing about the matter and in 2013 the BBC reported that “UK government ministers rule out a public inquiry into Mr Litvinenko’s death, saying an inquest would be an effective investigation into his death [seven years previously].” But the following year, when the US and NATO decided to intensify their squaring up to Russia, the BBC reported that “a public inquiry into Mr Litvinenko’s death [has been] announced by UK Home Secretary Theresa May.”
It was intriguing that there should be such a change in the British government’s moral and political direction, but in January 2015 the inquiry swung into maximum publicity mode, revealing among other trivial gossip that “Vladimir Putin was a pen-pusher who lacked the experience and expertise of hardened KGB officers who had undertaken tough missions in the field.” Trifling nonsense, of course (and the opinion of such as Chancellor Angela Merkel would be interesting concerning that particular allegation about Putin’s service in former West Germany), but it all contributes to the richly unsavory broth of anti-Russian propaganda that is being fed by western intelligence agencies to their tame and unquestioning puppets throughout the media of the west.
It was headlined by the UK’s Daily Express on February 1 that a Russian aircraft had been carrying a nuclear weapon as it flew “close” to British airspace. The report contained such absurdities as “the missile was not armed, and the aircraft’s crew would have required a direct order from President Putin before making it live” and “one senior RAF source said . . . we also knew from another source that one of the aircraft was carrying a nuclear weapon long before it came anywhere near UK airspace.” While this is garbage, and although the Express is a joke newspaper run by a vulgar porn merchant and has no credibility among intelligent people the fact remains that it is a hoop-la conduit with some influence, and part of the bundle of media that is being fed scraps of misinformation that contribute to a swell of western feeling against the contrived new bogey in the east — the empire of the dreaded Vlad the Prevailer.
There is one admirable exception to this western media humbug. Stand forth the honorable Stars and Stripes, the newspaper of the US armed forces which on February 13 published a balanced piece by Steven Hurst of Associated Press in which he stated that
Since the Soviet collapse — as Moscow had feared — [the NATO] alliance has spread eastward, expanding along a line from Estonia in the north to Romania and Bulgaria in the south. The Kremlin claims it had Western assurances that would not happen. Now, Moscow’s only buffers to a complete NATO encirclement on its western border are Finland, Belarus and Ukraine. The Kremlin would not have to be paranoid to look at that map with concern.
How true. But balance is not the specialty of the Washington Post — as we remember only too well from its emotional advice concerning the US-NATO war on the Libyan government in 2011.
Libya has now been destroyed as a country. It is a catastrophic shambles in which groups of barbaric Islamic extremists are gaining ground and expanding their venomous influence. This has come about as a result of the civil war encouraged by the US and NATO which wanted rebels to overthrow the country’s leader, the nutty but indubitably unifying Moammar Gaddafi who had hinted at nationalization of the country’s oilfields. They were energetically supported by the Washington Post which on May 3, 2011 declared that “For the record, we think targeting Mr Gaddafi and his sons — if that is what is really going on — is as legitimate as striking al-Qaeda. The Libyan leader presides over military units that are intentionally targeting civilians.”
What the WP’s editorial board didn’t know was that on April 30 a US missile had killed one of Gaddafi’s sons and three of his grandchildren in what NATO called a “precision strike” against a “military command and control building.” The US and its NATO brothers in blitz claimed that their 9,685 air strikes caused not one civilian death, and their bombing and missile campaign against the Libyan government was deemed successful, with the WP editorial board observing in July that “the Benghazi-based [rebel] administration has shown itself to be moderate and responsible, and it has committed itself repeatedly to an agenda of democracy and personal freedoms. Access to funds will make it more stable and more prepared to take charge of the country when the Gaddafi regime finally goes.”
Gaddafi was murdered by US-supported insurgents on October 20, 2011 and the country was declared free and was doomed to disaster. The Washington Post had once again supported a war which had calamitous results, as it had to acknowledge on February 5, 2015 when it reported a “growing threat from militant groups that operate with near impunity in Libya” where “the country’s post-Gadhafi transition has collapsed.” So much for the embrace of “democracy and personal freedoms.”
The trouble is that this time round, while the WP continues to fulminate against Russia, the prescient Editorial Board so admired by Congressman Joe Wilson and the correspondingly clairvoyant columnists like Richard (“only a fool — or possibly a Frenchman”) Cohen, have not taken into account the fact that they are helping to whip up a campaign of contumely against a proud country that just might reject their government’s energetic attempts to destroy its economy and topple its leader.
Indeed, Russia might reject the US-led western campaign against it quite energetically, to the point of becoming so fed up with unending provocations that it could take action.
And the problem for all of us out here in the real world, far from Planet WeePee, is that the WP Editorial Board might not be around, next time, to explain why it was so wrong. Because we might not be around, either, thanks to the desire of Washington to eradicate Vladimir Putin.
Brian Cloughley lives in France.