Puerile propaganda

The Western media / political class people who generate  – and then believe in – fake narratives about Russia have come to a point when, to everyone apart from themselves, their silliness is blindingly obvious.

This is an example from the Daily Telegraph.

The piece is headlined:

Russia to move nuclear-capable missiles closer to Europe as Vladimir Putin claims Nato expansion is threat

Well; Russia has been very explicit about this move – a move which they have long advised they might feel obliged to take. Russia explains that the US missile defence bases in Romania and Poland pose  a threat to Russia. Firstly because they alter the balance of nuclear forces. Secondly because, they claim, they missile launcher tubes could easily be used to also fire Tomahawk cruise missiles at Russia. [1] (The Tomahawk cruise missile can also carry a nuclear warhead). And (without being an expert on US military hardware) this sounds like an entirely plausible concern. You can bet the US would be up in arms if Russia placed some S-500’s in Mexico.

Russia’s move is presented here as being based on fictitious claims about NATO’s aggression. But it would seem naive in a military sense to believe that the US missile defences in Poland and Romania really have nothing to do with Russia. – And their alleged potential to be used to launch Tomahawk cruise missiles makes them (if this is correct) a very real threat to Russia – quite apart from their possible use to shoot down Russian ICBMs.  But for the Western dreamers all their actions are ‘maintaining peace and security’. And everything Russia does is ‘aggressive’.

The Telegraph writer also manages create two additional distortions in the first few paragraphs of this article. Firstly; while it is apparently true that the Iskander system can carry a nuclear warhead its primary purpose as a weapon is to use conventional warheads to target command and control posts and enemy missile installations. Endlessly referring to the Iskander system as ‘nuclear capable’ is a propagandist distortion which aims to make a defensive move appear aggressive. It is ‘near Europe’ because the US has placed its missile shield weapon – the intended target of the Iskander – near Russia! But for the Telegraph propagandist this is presented in terms of the usual stereotype about an ‘aggressive’ Russia – moving nukes close to Europe. Pure fiction really.

Then the Telegraph writer informs his readers:

It comes after the Russian leader rattled Western allies in October by placing nuclear-capable cruise missiles in the same province, which lies on the Baltic coast

These are the same missiles. The missiles Russia placed in Kalingrad in October were also Iskanders. There is one set of ‘nuclear-capable cruise missiles’ not two.

The rest of the article is devoted to the NATO line about Russian ‘aggression’ in Ukraine. The coup, the long and divided history of Ukraine (which anyone who cares to read quite mainstream UK published history books can check for themselves [2]), the fact that the people in the East were the main supporters of the deposed President and that they are far less keen on EU and NATO membership  than those in the West – all of this and much more has to be eliminated from reality and history in order to prop up the story that Russia has acted ‘aggressively’ in Ukraine.

Claims about Russian ‘aggression’ in Ukraine have the same status as those a very nasty psychopath might make as he accuses the victim he is trying to dominate of ‘aggression’ against him for putting a hand up in front of his face to defend himself against blows…

One can only speculate at the contortions that people like ‘James Rothwell’, the credited author of this piece, have to go through in order to convince themselves they are telling the truth. They certainly have to avoid doing any research.

Notes

RT. Dec 2013

RT. December 2013. Russia warns it may place Iskanders in Kalingrad

RT. May 2016. Russia explains concerns about US missile defence shield

2. For example; One Step Backwards One Step Forwards. Roger Pethybridge. Oxford University Press. 1990. Chp. 2 which is based on original documents from the 1920s give interesting insight into how even at this time Ukraine was divided between Western nationalists and those in the East who looked more towards Moscow.

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Liars get angry when caught – Embarrassment at the US State Department.

This is US State Department paid spinner John Kirby insulting a journalist from RT at a State Department briefing:

RT

The question is a  valid one (as the excellent journalist, Matt Lee, from AP points out). If the US is going to build a narrative about Russian “war-crimes” in Syria then they need to source that. It is interesting to note that John Kirby did not even have the list of “aid organisations” on which the claims he made are based, at hand. Presumably he forgot RT was at the briefing and didn’t expect to be asked any challenging questions. That’s probably why he lost his cool and insulted a journalist.

As for his absurd claim that state media organisations aren’t on the same level as “independent media” we can only fall about laughing. That would put the BBC and quite a few major French media organisations – such as Antenne 2 and Agence Presse – on a lesser footing than the ahem “independent media”. “Independent” means owned by private and/or publicly traded finance capital rather than a state, we can assume. The idea that these organisations are somehow not driven by the interests of their stakeholders is risible. It is a basic tenet of capitalism that organisations act in their profit-seeking interest, or has Mr Kirby forgotten the principle on which his country’s economy is based?

The tactic of citing third-party reports of questionable source is a long-standing tactic of Western propaganda. They rely, for their narratives, on various opposition groups, “social media” and “aid organisations” sometimes backed up, as here, with unspecified “other sources of intelligence” which we are perhaps supposed to think means e.g. satellite surveillance data. This propaganda tactic was used in quite a crude form in the run up to the Iraq war when Western intelligence agencies based their stories about Iraq on the tales of defectors. It was used in Kosovo when the West spread tales about alleged Serbia atrocities. It was used in Ukraine – when the State Department and other US officials made frequent reference to “information on social media”. And it is being used to the full in Syria. From the outset of the Syrian conflict it was the stated policy of the UK (in particular) to undermine the “regime” by using “activists” to build cases against it for “war crimes”. The tactic is to rely on the tales of one side in a far-off civil conflict – obviously the side whose interests can be be harnessed to fit the current regime change goals of the West – and to believe their tales absolutely. In Syria it has gone much further. They fund “NGOs” [1] with the specific purpose of getting them to generate propaganda. They think it is a clever strategy – they can rely on these opposition groups to generate the most lurid of claims. At the same time the US – as we see specifically in the clip of the State Department briefing above – doesn’t have to take any responsibility for making these claims. If a claim is ever proved wrong they can walk away from it. (But given the lack of interest by Mr Kirby’s “independent media” in investigating these claims the State Department hasn’t got too much to worry about on the score). We can add that if the “other intelligence” does exist then the US has a responsibility to put that into the public domain if it would either help identify Russia as guilty of deliberate war crimes or help them avoid mistakes in the future.

But – there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. There weren’t acres of mass graves in Kosovo. [2] The multiple convoys of Russian hardware entering Ukraine may have existed but we saw surprisingly little evidence outside of social media. And – while Russia has no doubt made mistakes in Syria they don’t have a monopoly on hitting civilian targets. The civilian death score-card may be about equal with the US overall in current wars.

This use of “war crimes” as a tactic of a propaganda war is scraping the barrel of cynicism. No wonder John Kirby loses his rag when found out by the excellent Gayane Chichakyan. As for John Kirby’s telling Gayane Chichakyan “go ask the Russian MOD your challenging questions”. That isn’t the point. She’s there, as a journalist, in your press briefing, by invitation. That is no more than an attempt to deflect away from the question. – If the choice is between a tight-lipped and somewhat authoritarian Russian or Chinese press briefing and a “free” Western one full of lies who is to say which is better?

Notes

1. RT. Oct 2016

2. Wall Street Journal

 

Liberal democracy under challenge.

Following Trump’s victory in the US Presidential elections the Guardian has been full of articles by concerned columnists about what a disaster this is. Dark days of racism and misogyny lie ahead. He won because he was a misogynist. As a result of ‘scheming’, ‘ignorance’, ‘a ruthless network of super-rich ideologues’. And so on.

The overwhelming impression is that these people – liberal Guardian columnists – don’t accept democracy. When it produces a result contrary to their ideologies – it is explained away on any other basis than the one it happened on – an election in which people went out and made their choices. Guardian liberals justify their foreign wars on the basis of ‘democracy’. They justify their privileged position in Western society on the basis of ‘democracy’. They are the class that guards democracy and ensures that – while private wealth is fine, the poor are ‘looked after’ (a profitable business in itself) and ‘fairness’ – usually deviant sexuality and strangely concocted families – prevails. But when democracy returns a non-liberal they are really flummoxed.

The violent riots in the US against Trump’s election are described  by the Guardian as ‘action’ carried out by ‘activists’. [1] A choice of words which is close to condoning violence.

As with the success of the Brexit (and let’s face it anti-immigrant) campaign in the UK liberals seem only able to pass judgement on their opponents. Their opponents are ‘bigots’, ‘racists’, ‘a basket of deplorables’, neanderthals. They deplore their backwardness and diagnose them with various conditions. But they don’t engage them with substantive arguments. And so, they lose elections.

All this gives the lie to the claims of liberals to be the champions of democracy. If you only accept democracy when it produces a liberal result that isn’t really democracy. The interesting question is how far this could go. If the West continues to see a rise in non-liberal parties attaining to positions of actual power through democratic means the liberals will be faced with a choice. Either they will have to accept democracy; something they will find hard to do. Or, perhaps they will find a reason to dispense with it. And there will be a Franco type solution. (Franco led a coup in Spain in 1936 against an elected leftist government and established a 36 year rule of a fascist state. The US accepted Franco’s undemocratic government because it saw in it a bulwark against the Soviet Union). [2]

It remains to be seen if the liberal world order is really being challenged by the rise of populist and nationalist movements, or if this is just a surface change. A lot depends on whether Donald Trump actually implements the policies he has talked about during his campaign. If there is a real directional change in the offing what will be the reaction of the liberals?

Notes

1. Guardian. Nov 2016. Report on anti-Trump ‘action’ in the US

2. WikiPedia article on Franco.

Keep up Mrs May

A couple of days ago Downing Street branded Mr Farage, interim head of the UK Independence Party and chief architect of Britain’s unfortunate demise from the EU, as an “irrelevance” [1] in terms of the UK’s relationship with the US.

However; Mr Farage has just enjoyed a two hour meeting with the person who is soon to become President of the most powerful – by miles – country in the world. Mrs May, in contrast, was no. 11 on the list of calls.

Times they are a-changing. Even if it is only the mood music.

The British political class is out of touch with the electorate. That’s why they messed up the Brexit referendum. This referendum was anything but an exercise in consultative democracy. On the contrary it was a stunt. It was always going to be fixed – by a manipulative campaign run by ad. agencies (just like the Scottish referendum was fixed) – in order to produce the ‘right’ result for David Cameron. But the out-of-touch political class got a surprise. The weary electorate seized their opportunity, didn’t fall for the obvious scare stories (e.g. leaving the EU will see us nuked by Iran), and gave them a slap in the face. The political class was so out of touch they didn’t see the risk they were running. And even now; as Mr Farage glides up the ornate lift to visit Mr Trump, it is apparent they haven’t learned… [2] If Mr Farage is an “irrelevance” what does that make Downing Street?

Notes

1. Independent. Nov 2016.

2. RT. Nov 2016.

Propaganda in the Telegraph

Just so that readers don’t think this paper only identifies propaganda in the Guardian here is a nice example of Western media propaganda in the Daily Telegraph. The story is about a new Russian tank – which the Russians are, admittedly, pretty pleased about.

The article drips with propaganda. Here are a few snippets:

There is growing alarm among military chiefs that a presidential victory for Donald Trump, who has criticised US funding of Nato, could leave the West badly exposed to Vladimir Putin’s aggression, especially in the vulnerable Baltic states

This is an excellent example of how worst case military planning is rapidly translated into the basis for action. Yes; Mr Trump could win the US Presidential election. And it is conceivable, just, that that would see some kind of decrease in US support for NATO. Theoretically. But all this is in reality highly unlikely. Then this unlikely scenario is matched to the faked narrative about “Vladimir Putin’s aggression”. No such ‘aggression’ exists. (Crimea might be cited but that was a rational action with a strong historical basis, validated by a referendum – whose results have been confirmed twice by Western polling organisations. More than 50% of the population of Crimea is ethnically Russian. [1] Crimea was part of Russia – not the USSR, but Russia – until it was transferred by Krushchev to Ukraine in 1954 as an administrative matter. Russia only annexed Crimea after a coup in Kiev swung Ukraine towards the EU and NATO; a move which disenfranchised the people in the East who are much less pro the EU than those in the West and centre of Ukraine. The West may not like it; but there is an abundance of rational reasons for Russia’s annexation of Crimea. And so, it doesn’t qualify as the kind of irrational aggression proposed by the narrative about “Russian aggression”). [2] Then we have the fiction about “vulnerable Baltic states”. As if Russia is about to suddenly invade Latvia. As Putin commented “only a madman in his dreams would attack NATO”. [3] What evidence is there that Russia is about to invade the Baltics? Yes; the USSR under Stalin did do this in 1940. But today? Even if Russia wanted to suddenly invade the Baltics as Putin notes it would be madness… “Vulnerable Baltic states” is a piece of fiction invented by the UK’s Defence sector, a fiction, which the lacklustre political class simply go along with. Notice how these narrative lines, about “Putin’s aggression” and “vulnerable Baltic states” are just cited as self-evident truths. This is how it works; rarely will you see in the Western media a serious analytic article explaining why or how “Putin” is “aggressive” or seriously assessing the likelihood of a Russian invasion of the Baltics. They just repeat these lines and hope that by the act of repetition they will be taken as true. In reality this is an exercise in self-hypnosis.

The line about “Putin’s aggression” is the characteristic attempt  to develop the idea that “Putin” is a dictator over-lording it over his tyrannised population who are, in fact, all Western liberals at heart. It is an attempt to deny the democratic reality. Putin is a popular President who has been elected because he (popular touch if you like) has managed to promote a vision which is acceptable, at least, to a lot of Russians.

Analysis for Western military leaders has suggested Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania – all Nato member states – would be overrun by Russian tanks within 60 hours of an invasion.

Quite possibly true. But, again, this is a case of worst case military planning being taken as imminent political reality.

The Ukrainian government estimates that Russian-backed separatists in their country have 700 tanks

Ukrainian government claims regarding the conflict in the East and Russian support for the militants should be treated with a degree of caution. The Western media usually takes all statements from Kiev as de facto true.

Lord West of Spithead, a former First Sea Lord, said he was “very concerned” about Russian rearmament. “At the moment, their economy is a war economy,” he said. “They have got the GDP of Italy and they are trying to spend the same on defence as America. What they are doing is unsupportable and when something is unsupportable, then anything could happen.

Lord Spitfire is simply wrong. The Russians are not “trying to spend the same on defence as America”. The US spends around 3.5% of its GDP on defence – a sum of around USD 570 billion. [4] Russia spends around 4.5% [5] (or 5.4%) [4] of its GDP. Out of a GDP of USD 1 – 2 trillion Russia spends perhaps USD 65 billion. [5] The figures for Russia are variable because of the current contraction in the economy and fall of the currency caused by sanctions and the collapse in oil prices. At any event it is not true, not even remotely true, that Russia is “trying to spend the same on defence as America”. For example; the US has 10 or 11 aircraft carriers. Russia has one; a small one.  The US has bases all around the world to maintain. Russia has hardly any bases outside of its own territory. The role of journalists should be to comment on obviously false claims, not repeat them. Furthermore; Russian state media currently report that the Russian defence budget is being cut. [6]

A typical piece of Western hyperbole. Based on quotes from delirious generals and repeating fictions about “Putin’s aggression”. Analysis is entirely absent.

Notes

1. Wikipedia article on Crimea with ethnicity figures sourced to Ukrainian census data

2. New Obs on Crimea.

3. RT. June 2015. Putin “only a madman in a dream would attack NATO”

4. Forbes magazine. Arms spending as percentage of GDP.

5. Wikipedia article on comparative defence spending as percentage of GDP.

6. Sputnik. February 2016.

 

Severed limb protests – Russia replies

Following the ‘mannequin’ protest at the gates of the Russian Embassy in London Russia has replied:

If we want to count the wrecked limbs of killed civilians it would seem that, taking the last 20 years, the UK has more to its account than Russia. Bombing of Yugoslavia to force it to give up Kosovo (1998), Iraq (2003), Libya (2011) – the current destabilization of Syria. (The UK is fully aligned with weaponising all kinds of extremely right-wing Islamic militias who are being used to bring down the government of Assad).  As far as the Americans go there is a long list of refuge convoys, wedding parties, hospitals,  shepherds, TV stations, civilian air-raid shelters and so on to their account.

But our wars are always ‘right’. In defence of ‘human rights’. Or ‘democracy’. Or ‘regional stability’. And we “never deliberately target civilians”. And so it drones on.

Incidentally, a word on “we never deliberately target civilians”. Pay attention. This phrase is casually interpreted to mean that the West nevers hits civilians except by accident. But this isn’t that they mean. (Though every illegal war brings with it hundreds or perhaps thousands who are killed simply by ‘accident’ when a missile goes off-target or the coordinates were wrong). They have chosen their words carefully. It means that they are quite happy to bomb a target knowing full well that civilians are in or are highly likely to be in the vicinity – and they they will be hit. True – the civilians haven’t been “targeted”. It was the TV station, or the telephone exchange, or the house with the presumed militant inside which they were targeting. But, accidents aside, the West in its bombing is quite prepared to kill civilians in pursuit of military objectives. It inevitably does this when it bombs civilian infrastructure such as telephone exchanges, dams, power stations, bridges, water treatment plants and even TV stations etc [1] These people were not deliberately targeted. But they are dead nonetheless. And people also die when they were simply too close to a presumed military target. (Hundreds have been killed by the current wave of allied air-strikes in Iraq and Syria). [2] The liberal press and political class is whipping up a storm about “Russian war crimes” in Syria. But – the West does what it accuses the Russians of – on a far greater scale, and usually in wars of aggression rather than defence.

The people placing theatrical severed limbs outside the Russian Embassy in London, (unless they are committed peace activists who hold all parties to account for war per se), are in the strange position of people carrying out a protest which depends on delusion and make-believe. They might as well be on LSD for all their grasp of international affairs and recent history. Perhaps they are…

Notes

1. Partial list published in Washington Post illustrating typical civilian infrastructure targets hit when the US bombs a country. From 1991 campaign against Iraq.

Wikipeda article on US bombing in 1991 Iraq war. Details of civilian infrastructure hit.

2. Some Airwars (Soros backed monitoring group) figures on civilian casualties caused by allied bombing in Syria and Iraq

Therapy can never help

The starting point for therapy is that you should focus your attention on yourself. On your emotions. On your past. On your interior life.

In truth; for almost all people who have the kind of problems which therapy claims to address the one thing they need to do is forget themselves. Get over themselves. Don’t worry about themselves all the time. Just get on with it – doubts and anxieties and all. Excessive self-preoccupation is the problem. You can’t base the resolution of your problems on the basis of the problem.

Built into therapy, as its founding rock, is a principal which will effectively block any possible resolution of the client’s problems…